If "Phase 3" of the Marvel Cinematic Universe - which begins next summer with Captain America: Civil War falls short of expectations, there's going to be one less person to blame. The already tight knit creative team at the top of Marvel Studios just got smaller.
Any film buff familiar with the happenings of superhero movies over the last decade, most notably the formation, acquisition of, and success of Marvel Studios as a top tier movie production powerhouse, should know the name of producer Kevin Feige very well. He's the main guy responsible for what the MCU is. He's the guy who helped get Robert Downey Jr. to sign for more Marvel movies (including the aforementioned Civil War) when certain executives didn't want to pay his high salary. And he's even the guy who just managed to get his boss out of the picture.
THR has the scoop on a major restructuring at the top of Marvel that will change the way Marvel Studios - the company's film division - will operate going forward. Feige, the mastermind and overseer of the MCU, is now top dog when it comes to Marvel films and will report directly to Disney studio boss Alan Horn going forward instead of Marvel Entertainment CEO Isaac "Ike" Perlmutter.
Ike, who's been instrumental in helping Marvel transform into the profitable business it's now known as, has for years reportedly been a of "frustration" for Feige and others at Marvel but with him out of the way on the film side, Feige now doesn't have to battle his way through big decisions like keeping stars such as RDJ around - stars he has a direct line of communication to when it comes to making movies. Even Chris Hemsowrth talks to Feige directly when it comes to sharing ideas about his character Thor, as we learned on the set of Avengers: Age of Ultron. Ike doesn't have any of that. He's not the film guy. He's the money guy and is notoriously tight when it comes to spending, a big reason Marvel earned the reputation of being "cheap" when it comes to its talent.
The report details that Feige shared his frustrations to Horn and Disney CEO Bog Iger earlier this summer which put the wheels in motion for this shake-up. Ike will still oversee Marvel TV, the comics, and animation divisions out of Marvel's New York HQ (Marvel Studios is based out of an LA office). Disney confirmed the Marvel Studios change in the following statement:
"Marvel Studios is taking the next logical step in its integration with The Walt Disney Studios, joining Pixar and Lucasfilm in centralizing many of its film-related functions in Burbank, with Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige and co-president Louis D’Esposito continuing to lead the Marvel Studios team reporting to Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn."
Feige will never need to concern himself with job security with his accomplishments but we know he's currently signed with Marvel Studios all the way through the end of Phase 3 which concludes in 2019 with Avengers: Infinity War Part 2 and Inhumans. As long as Marvel's success and growth continues in light of growing competition from Warner Bros.' DC movie franchise and Fox's X-Men series, he can stick around forever as the figurehead of Marvel Studios, much like Kathleen Kennedy is the face of Lucasfilm and John Lasseter is the face of Pixar. Fans know to expect Feige to give the big presentations at events such as Disney's D23 and Comic-Con, etc..
According to rumors heard by BMD, Feige might have a long-term interest in one day taking over Lucasfilm and helping run it like he does the MCU, but with the Star Wars franchise only just relaunching this year that could be a long, long time away. If anything, this gives Feige time to plan and execute Phase 4 without some of the major roadblocks he's dealt with previously.
The news however, does seemingly confirm the figurative distance between Marvel Studios and Marvel TV. Marvel movie directors, writers, and producers have all told us how they don't follow what's happening on the TV front, and with that division under different leadership than the film side - leadership Feige doesn't want to deal with - there's even less reason for them to work together. That could mean Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will continue to have little to do with the films or that the Defenders characters from Marvel's Netflix programming schedule may not be as necessary to the film plans as some would hope. Time will tell though.
Captain America: Civil War opens in theaters May 6, 2016; Doctor Strange – November 4, 2016; Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – May 5, 2017; Spider-Man– July 28, 2017; Thor: Ragnarok – November 3, 2017; The Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 – May 4, 2018; Black Panther– July 6, 2018; Captain Marvel – November 2, 2018; The Avengers: Infinity War Part 2 – May 3, 2019; Inhumans – July 12, 2019.