In addition to the excitement surrounding the introduction and unveiling of a slew of upcoming Marvel movies today, Screen Rant was lucky enough to be invited to stick around after the presentation for a bonus Q&A session with Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige.
Ever the master of the misdirect and vague descriptions, Feige didn't address those Benedict Cumberbatch Doctor Strange rumors but he did answer other burning questions about how Captain America: Civil War will differ from the comic book storyline, confirmed that we will see Black Panther and The Inhumans introduced much sooner than their stand alone films, as well as why there are no current plans for solo Black Widow and Hulk movies.
Last week DC announced their slate through 2020, were you guys always planning on announcing this many films at this time?
We wanted to make this announcement at Comic-Con this year and things were not set. Guardians hadn't come out yet so the comfort with dating the other movies wasn't set yet, so a few weeks before Comic-Con when we realized we weren't going to be able to do everything we wanted to do, we said let's do something we haven't done - which is a singular event. I thought that might be early August, I thought that might be September, it ended up being today.
Speaking of things not being set, what can you say about confirmed casting for Doctor Strange?
If that had been confirmed, we would've announced him today. I like that there is speculation about lots of different actors, but [with regard to the announcement of Chadwick as Black Panther], I'm glad that didn't leak in earnest. Every single actor in history of a certain age has been for Doctor Strange so like everything else, that will be announced later this afternoon, later this week, sometime before the release of the movie.
Seeing that Black Panther and Captain Marvel have their own movies, are we going to see them show up before then in other movies?
With Black Panther, what our little fun dance at the end was meant to signify, and I'll just clarify, he is definitely a big part in Civil War. We will meet him for the first time in Civil War, in costume.
So will we Cosmo have a bigger part in Guardians 2?
The great thing about the Guardians series is there is no lack of awesome characters we can do awesome things with. Is Groot going to be small? Is Groot going to be big? Is Cosmo going to come back, will he speak? What's that duck doing after he took that swig? Where is the Collector? All of those questions we like having fun with, when Mr. Gunn returns from Tokyo, all of the questions, we'll start to go through with him.
Are we going to find out, if anything, about a possible actress for Captain Marvel?
My guess is rumors will start flying this second. The initial announcement in terms of who is attached to the film will be writer announcements and director announcements which I do expect will be quite soon. In terms of the actress, I think there's more time on that.
The Russo brothers have spoken vaguely about the difficulties involved in making and even announcing a Civil War movie, what are your thoughts on that?
It is very hard, which is why we couldn't announce it at Comic-Con and why we couldn't announce until today. In terms of story line, of course it is. Winter Soldier is a big story line. Make no mistake, this is the great civil war of the cinematic universe which will be greatly inspired by the great civil war of the comic book universe but we have different continuity going now. This will be Civil War based off of all the other movies you've seen at this point, particularly Winter Soldier, particularly Age of Ultron.
Looking at the green elephant in the room, what are the plans for a standalone Hulk movie?
I wouldn't say Hulk is absent from the timeline. I'd say Hulk is going to appear in many of those movies, particularly all the Avengers movies leading up to the Infinity War. Mark Ruffalo is on board for all those films and we're excited for all those films. What happens with a standalone Hulk film? I'm going to say what I would have said about Black Panther last week or Captain Marvel before that, or Guardians of the Galaxy two years ago or Ant-Man ten years ago: We'll see. We'd love to do it, we'd love to find a place to put it, but right now Hulk will be appearing with his friends in the other films.
Other rumors hanging in the air like Hawkeye and Howard the Duck...
And what? Hawkeye and Howard the Duck in the same sentence. I'm going to tell Jeremy [Renner] you said that. I'm going to tell him.
Please do. So does that mean you're already working on Phase 4 or are fans going to have [to rely upon] rumors and hopes?
I hope fans will always have their rumors and their hopes, yeah we're not going to talk specifically about the story line or plot lines of any of those films, what happens to any of the characters and frankly even to talk about a character like the Hulk, who will be what in what movie is contingent upon as to what may or may not happen to them in earlier movies, so let the rumors continue.
Can you confirm any reports that the Russo brothers might direct that two-part Avengers movie and the rumor that Spider-Man might appear in any Marvel movie?
No. Anything that wasn't specifically and obviously announced today is either not true at all or still rumored until it's worked out.
Can you talk about the expansive slate, Phase 3 seems enormous, what is your plan going forward putting movies into each phase?
Well I don't think we set out to put a particular number, Phase 1 was six films, Phase 2 and for those following along you realize Ant-Man is the end of Phase 2 and Civil War is the beginning of Phase 3 so that leaves us with six films in Phase 2 and nine films in Phase 3. One of the reasons is one film is being split into two parts, Infinity War, and because frankly the success we've had, which is beyond our wildest dreams - ten films over seven billion dollars - it is amazing and gave us confidence. Frankly the studio is firing on all cylinders right now. We have the absolute best team in front of the camera and behind the camera working on these movies which made us comfortable, as you see in 2017 and 2018, that we have the ability to increase to three films a year instead of just two without changing our methods. That's why there were two additional films put into that Phase.
That was a really good misdirect with the Captain America title but I think for all of us just to clarify, are there any plans for Serpent Society?
There are always plans but they're mainly jokes. I want to say one more thing about Serpent Society. Civil War is first up, but we didn't want to blow our wad on the presentation with Civil War right up front. Mike Schula had the idea to put Serpent Society up there and I thought it was awesome, hilarious and then part of me thought, "You know people are going to love Serpent Society, they're going to think it's really cool," but we were betting they wouldn't think it's as cool as Civil War, but now it's on the radar.
Black Panther and Captain Marvel, African-American and female-led superhero films, what are your thoughts in looking for directors, Reggie Hudlin wrote Black Panther for a long time, are you looking at minorities and women directors for those titles?
Well we are and we always do, which is look for the best filmmakers, best writers possible. I'm not going to say for sure that we're going to hire any one demographic but we're certainly meeting with a lot of people. I've known Reggie for many many years and he's a great guy. I think I'm meeting with him again shortly, but we will do what we've always done, which is hire the best people to write the films and direct the films.
Not only has the film slate increased but you also have two TV shows and the Netflix shows, how does that affect your end of things?
It doesn't affect my end of things at all because my end is exclusively features and Jeph Loeb runs our TV division which is of course Agents of SHIELD, Agent Carter and all the Netflix series. I have some smaller involvement in Agent Carter because Hayley [Atwell] and Louis D'Esposito did the short on which the show is based, he directed the pilot and just finished it. It's awesome even in its rough form, and I had asked to be a little more involved in that one so I'm helping them out there but primarily and exclusively I want to make the movies.
I can either ask about Inhumans or Big Hero 6, which do you want?
Well I don't know much about either, so try.
My favorite comic book series ever when I was growing up was when the Fantastic Four discovered the Inhumans, obviously no Fantastic Four in this upcoming one but can you say anything about how you're raiding the Inhumans world?
Well obviously I know a lot about the Inhumans, where they fit into the universe, you may find out sooner than you're expecting, frankly. I already mentioned in the presentation that there are seeds leading to Black Panther, leading to Wakanda, starting very very soon in things you've already seen and will see soon. Likewise with Inhumans, there may be Easter Eggs starting before you know it. Will those include the Fantastic Four? No. They will be introduced as they exist with Marvel Studios.
What do you think about Disney's Big Hero 6?
I think it looks awesome. The trailers are awesome, the characters look awesome and I think Disney Animation is on a roll. Frozen has dominated not only the planet but my household, my five and a half year old daughter. True story, I could not get to sleep last night because "For the First Time in Forever," was stuck in my head. They're on a roll and I think that's going to continue with Big Hero 6.
You've touched on the reinventing of Captain America and Thor, I'm wondering what's the Marvel mindset with regard to the tonal changes with characters?
I like to think it's a natural evolution based on what has come before and where we want to go. In general, the tone of all of our movies are equal parts very very serious and lovingly respectful and humorous and funny and some more than others. I think that is our default tone because that's the kind of movie we want to see and to make. Sometimes as in Winter Soldier, the storyline calls for it to be a little more serious. Sometimes like in Guardians, there are incredibly emotional moments and very serious moments like in the opening of the film but also liberties to be much funnier and much sillier. We like having both ends of the spectrum to play with in all of our films and franchises, regardless of what the A plot is.
I'm a Nick and Nora fan and am wondering whatever happened to the Runaways?
The Runaways is still an awesome script that exists in our script vault by Drew Pierce. Frankly the best thing that has happened with that script is it brought our attention to Drew Pierce, who ended up co-writing Iron Man 3 with Shane Black. We'd love to do something with Runaways someday. When there are television and film discussions it's always one that we talk about because we have a solid draft there but again, we can't make them all.
What challenges do you face with dating and so many superhero films on the market?
I think that's a challenge that we've faced for many many years. My general feeling is let's stick to our plan and what we believe in and let's stick to what the audience is telling us we're doing right and our plan has never altered one way or the other based on what anyone else is doing, in any genre. In terms of the dating, that's why we plant flags as early as we do to mark some territory, so that you can hopefully have some room but the truth is that there are almost always going to be big movies on almost every weekend. What we've found so far is if the movie delivers it will do well and that's what we can focus on, that's what we can control, the quality of the pictures.
With Scarlett Johansson being one of the biggest stars on the planet, why did you decide not to give her her own movie?
As I said, it's about bringing new characters to the screen. Black Widow couldn't be more important as an Avenger herself, and like Hulk, the Avengers films will be the films in which they play a primary role. Her part in Avengers: Age of Ultron is very very big and further developed and further answers the plans we have for her character throughout the saga is very big and linchpin to those films. So instead of taking her out of there or instead of doing a prequel which we haven't done yet, continuing the forward momentum of the cinematic universe, of which Widow is a key part.
You talked a little bit about Civil War, the comic book story line deals with secret identities but there really aren't that many secret identities in the cinematic universe and you don't have Spider-Man, so how are you going to do Civil War?
I don't want to give too much away but needless to say, the generalities of the acts are the same. Something happens, perhaps it's cumulative from things that have happened in other movies leading up to this film, it's made the governments of the world say, "We need to have some oversight on these guys, they need to report to somebody," so it falls a little more under that umbrella versus "Take off your mask." It's not about the secret identity thing as much as it is about who reports to who and who can agree to an oversight committee because as of now in Avengers 2 there is no more Security Council, there is no more SHIELD, Stark is paying for it, Captain America is running it, and things occur that make the government begin to question that.
You talked about separating the movies and TV but when you have something like Infinity War which impacts the entire universe conceptually, is there room for The Defenders to show up in the movie?
There are a lot of people from the movies in Infinity War and a lot of it is about stakes, a lot is about what happens between now and then, but all of it those things, however far on the outskirts, inhabit the same continuity. Certainly that opportunity exists.
The Avengers: Age of Ultron releases in theaters on May 1, 2015, followed by Ant-Man on July 17, 2015, Captain America: Civil War on May 6, 2016, Doctor Strange on November 4, 2016, Guardians of the Galaxy 2 on May 5 2017, Thor: Ragnarok on July 28, 2017, Black Panther on November 3 2017, Avengers: Infinity War - Part 1 on May 4 2018, Captain Marvel on July 6 2018, Inhumans on November 2 2018 and Avengers: Infinity War - Part 2 on May 3 2019.