If you're a close follower of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and its development over the years, then you're no doubt familiar with Marvel Studios president of production Kevin Feige. The producer and film geek was put in charge of the young studio in 2007, a year before Iron Man hit theaters, and its his ideas and planning that saw the following Marvel films release when they did, how they did, leading up to The Avengers.
Feige and his small committee of decision-makers at Marvel Studios, all with comic book backgrounds, orchestrate the hiring of the writers and directors for each project, deciding when and where they'll fit into each phase of the franchise to establish and grow the shared cinematic universe. It's an unprecedented formula, from a unique culture of creatives, and one that scared their overseers at Disney at first. Everything changed with the success of The Avengers, and while Captain America: The Winter Soldier represents only the mid-way point of Phase 2 of the franchise, fans are already looking far ahead to Phase 3 and 4. Feige however, is looking ahead all the way to the year 2028.
We spoke with Feige on the set of Captain America: The Winter Soldier and more recently at the junket, Don Kaye had the opportunity to chat with Feige again on behalf of Screen Rant about the followup. Their conversation touched on changing the tone and genre of the Cap sequel and why Marvel Studios is trying out non-summer release dates. He also teases the effects The Winter Soldier may have on the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. TV Series on ABC.
I’m curious – what prompted you to put this out in the spring instead of going the traditional summer route?
Well, there are two things: one, Sony had a Spider-Man movie on that first weekend in May, and we also want to try to expand that summer season, frankly. There are so many movies every weekend, and we started to look at other films that had done extremely well in March, extremely well in April, and really of the belief that if you put out a good movie, a good product, you can put it out any time of the year. We will test that in three weeks.
Now, does “The Winter Soldier” have ramifications for what the plan is going forward – the other movies, and does the reaction to the movie have an effect, a ripple effect on what’s going to come?
Well, I think the reaction to any movie has a certain amount of ripple effect, based on how the audience perceives a film or responds to a film. But the truth is, we plan so far in advance that we’re baked into a number of things, and one of the things that we’re baked into and that we always wanted to do is for this film to change the foundation of the Cinematic Universe. So, as you know, things are very different at the end of this movie than they are at the beginning of the film, and therefore that goes directly into “Age of Ultron,” into the next “Avengers” film. We really wanted the landscape that the Avengers operate in to be very different at the beginning of “Age of Ultron” than it was at the end of the first “Avengers” film and that is entirely because of “The Winter Soldier.” “Iron Man 3” was very much about a Tony Stark adventure, a very personal story for him, Thor of course is going to traverse the Nine Realms, so it came down to Cap to really sort of keep that “Avengers” thread going. So in many ways this is more of a direct sequel to “The Avengers” and a precursor to the next “Avengers” film than any of the other Phase 2 movies.
Does it have ramifications on the TV front as well?
I think it’s safe to say that if you tune into the show (“Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”) in the coming weeks, the events will be felt, yes.
Whose idea was it to do this as a ‘70s-style political thriller? When did that come up?
It came up in the early days of development. It’s hard to talk about it without giving away too much, but I always had a notion of how the SSR – which was the precursor to S.H.I.E.L.D. showcased in the first Captain America movie – sort of evolved into S.H.I.E.L.D. and what that sort of meant. And there are clues, there have been clues in the other films, particularly in “The Avengers,” as to S.H.I.E.L.D.’s motives and sort of what they were doing and how they were doing it. So to me that always led to an endgame which would be fun to explore, which became the foundation for this movie. At the same time, we wanted to do a film that had a very different feel than our other films, and very different from the World War II film which we made the first time around. So the notion of a man who is unsure of the orders he’s getting, who’s unsure of who to trust within his own government organization, is inherently a Cap story – which is what you saw Cap dealing with in the ‘60s and the ‘70s in the comics – and it very much leads to the kinds of films that were made then: “Three Days of the Condor,” “All the President’s Men.” So it became a fun idea to take “What would Cap be like in a ‘70s political thriller, but with all the action and the humor from a Marvel movie?” And that is what our screenwriters, Chris Markus and Steve McFeely, got very excited about, and what our initial meetings with the Russo Brothers were.
Impressed with how Captain America: The Winter Soldier bridges The Avengers and its upcoming followup? Are you happy with how Kevin Feige has planned out each phase of the MCU so far? Can Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. successfully take advantage of what's happening in the films? Share your thoughts in the comments!
Captain America: The Winter Soldier is produced by Kevin Feige, directed by Anthony and Joe Russo, from a screenplay by Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely, and stars Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Cobie Smulders, Frank Grillo, Emily VanCamp and Hayley Atwell, with Robert Redford as Alexander Pierce and Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier hits theaters April 4, 2014, Guardians of the Galaxy on August 1, 2014, The Avengers: Age of Ultron on May 1, 2015, Ant-Man on July 17, 2015, and unannounced films for May 6 2016, July 8 2016 and May 5 2017.
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