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How Marvel Studios Really Works

Marvel Studios' Power Structure

When Marvel Enterprises and ToyBiz, Inc. merged in 1998, Marvel Entertainment was born. As it stands, Ike Perlmutter is the still the Chairman with Marvel Comics icon Stan Lee serving as Chairman Emeritus. Meanwhile, former Creative Committee members Dan Buckley and Joe Quesada remain as President and CCO, respectively. But with the 2015 restructuring, Marvel Studios and president Kevin Feige operate from under Disney and Alan Horn.

Feige is joined by a variety of creatives and producers, with a few key directors like the Russo Brothers and James Gunn helping to craft the MCU's future. Feige also works closely with Marvel Studios co-president/executive producer Louis D’Esposito and producer Victoria Alonso. It's Feige, D'Esposito, and Alonso who remain intimately connected to each film, while other producers such as Nate Moore help guide individual projects. Though Feige does have to answer to Horn and Disney, it's clear that the scope of the MCU and the decisions on the creative front are clearly within his control. Luckily, Feige's more than willing to let the directors and writers he chooses work to bring their own stories to life.

How Marvel Makes Movies

Chris Hemsworth as Thor Robert Downey Jr Kevin Feige and Chris Evans as Captain America

Most every film that Marvel brings to the big screen has been years in the making. Projects like Black PantherDoctor Strange, and Ant-Man date back to the earliest days of Marvel Studios and their plan to self-finance films. But the journey can still be a long one. First, Marvel typically secures a writer (or a pair of them) to nail down the character and story. Over the course of the film, more writers tend to be brought on and changes made to the script, with only some of the biggest films being the results of a dedicated person or duo. James Gunn and The Russo's collaborators Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely fit into this latter category thanks to their history of success.

Related: Avengers Theory: Infinity War Secretly Features Multiple Timelines

From there, a director and star are sought, though sometimes this can even predate a writer - as when Chadwick Boseman was cast as T'Challa and Tom Holland as Peter Parker so they could appear in Captain America: Civil War ahead of their solo films. Marvel then has their team of concept artists begin crafting the look of the characters and the film, with regulars like Ryan Meinerding and Andy Park often revealing their alternate designs after the films are released.

When it comes to directors, the studio casts a wide net. Marvel has a VFX crash course for the directors they pluck from indie success to move into big-budget filmmaking. The tactic hasn't always worked out for Hollywood, but directors like Gunn, the Russos, and Peyton Reed have proved adept at handling the new genre. It's to Marvel's credit that they're able to find skilled and inventive writers and directors with strong bodies of work who can transition from indie films and TV to working on blockbuster films. Ryan Coogler, for example, gained prestige from Fruitvale Station before graduating to Creed, but with the tentpole Black Panther serving as only his third film, it's all the more impressive that it's dominating the international box office and has become one of the most successful films of all time.

Black Panther is also an example of how Marvel's slate means multiple fans are in the works at once; Feige and his team have to oversee more than one film at a time, and sometimes the creatives of each film need to collaborate to ensure a consistent tone and continuity. For example, the Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War teams worked closely together to make sure the characters and environment of Wakanda worked for the big team-up film. Meanwhile, James Gunn wrote the Guardians dialogue in Avengers 3 while working on the script for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. While the connection of the MCU can sometimes lead to continuity issues, Feige and the rest of the Marvel Studios' team have also made sure to honor the voices of the people behind each film, which has allowed for a sense of unity even if precise dates don't always match up.

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Marvel may not have a story group and keeper of mythology like Lucasfilm, but they've proven adept at given audience's stand-alone experiences that still tie into a larger world. And though the disconnect between Marvel Studios, Entertainment, and Television may mean things will never truly be as connected as some die-hards want, the autonomy Feige has puts the fate of the MCU in the hands of someone who's a fan above all else.

MORE: Summer Movie Season is Over – And It’s All Because of Marvel

Key Release Dates
  • Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019
  • Avengers: Infinity War / The Avengers 3 (2018) release date: Apr 27, 2018
  • The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
  • Ant-Man & The Wasp (2018) release date: Jul 06, 2018
  • Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019
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