Spider-Man Far From Home marks the end of Marvel’s Phase 3. Kevin Feige has been behind the scenes since the beginning, raising the MCU from its infancy to where it is now, 22 films later. Kevin recently sat down with Screen Rant to discuss all things Spider-Man, Marvel Zombies Easter Eggs to Peter finding a new father-figure in Mysterio.
In Homecoming, obviously, you know where Spider-Man’s arc is going. What are some things about Peter’s journey from Homecoming that you wanted to address in Far From Home?
Kevin Feige: Well, the idea when we started working on this was the notion of tracking his growth through high school. So we always know we wanted to advance him through high school a year or so. There were ideas while we were figuring out what could you do other than just sophomore year, junior year, senior. One of the early things I think Eric brought up was Summer break, Summer trip. That led to us being on the press tour for Homecoming, around Europe, around Paris and London. We were in Germany, and we were like, “This should be the next movie.” Traipsing around Europe with Peter and his class would be fun, and a way we’ve never seen Spidey before.
So from Homecoming, the thing we thought about most was knowing that Aunt May knows his secret at the end of Homecoming, how does that impact his life going forward. And from the idea that she doesn’t get upset or mad, she kind of embraces is and brings in the fundraisers. “Are you doing a good job? Are you catching up on all your crime-fighting that you need to do? Your Peter tingle?”
But one of the great storytelling advantages to the MCU is that most of our sequels aren’t just follow-ups to the prior movie, they’re follow-ups to the movies in between. And clearly with Infinity War and Endgame, we have a massive change for Peter. Not only has he been to space, not only has he encountered that he disappeared for five years, most importantly he’s lost his mentor. Peter traditionally loses mentors in the comics and in the earlier movies with Uncle Ben, but seeing how he deals with that and even when he tries not to deal with it early on in this movie, just going on this trip. So those were the two big things that really tapped into early development on Far From Home, taking advantage both of where we left him in Homecoming and the events that we knew were gonna happen to him in Endgame.
Ever since we were introduced to Peter in Civil War, it seemed like he was always trying to find a father figure, whether it be Tony Stark or in this case Mysterio, or even Nick Fury to an extent. Can you talk to me about why Beck was the right choice to almost be that best friend-father figure for Peter in this film?
Kevin Feige: Getting into spoiler territory, so you’ll be careful how you use this. How exciting for us to actually do Mysterio. The fishbowl illusionist who everybody rolls their eyes out in the comics; the green smoke trails, we were like, “We gotta do that. We gotta swirl them around.” Which we really wanted to do, and showcase his illusion powers in a way that it kind of was in the comics always too: science-based, not necessarily magic. And when Jake got the part, or took the role that we offered him, he looked so awesome in that suit. He’s so charismatic that of course he could fill that part. Of course he could, as he’s making a play to fill that void as he mentions in the movie. And just like life parallels art, the way Tom Holland looked at Robert Downey from that first audition to every day on set is not that different from the way Tom Holland looks up to and thinks about Jake Gyllenhaal.
He revealed at some point, I’m sure he talks about it in the press, that the year after Homecoming or something, he had his agent or an advisor be like, “Write down on a piece of paper all your hopes and dreams for the next year. Who do you want to work with?” And he said the first name on the like was Jake Gyllenhaal. He very much looks up to Jake, so it was that same vibe and that same magic which in rehearsals Jon started to utilize even more and Jake started to embrace and Tom, and our writers Chris and Eric started to cater the scenes towards it a little more.
And also to make the turn not just an obvious “Well, of course he’s going to be bad, he’s bad in the comics,” but also to make it more of a heartbreak. Because even though you know on some level it must be coming, you like that relationship so much that it hurts you when it happens.
Another thing that I love that this film does is it doesn’t shy away from fan questions about the blip. Whose idea was it?
Kevin Feige: That was an idea very early on, and I don’t remember how formal it was, but at some point we sat down with Jon and our writers and with Amy, and pitched them Infinity War and Endgame. We pitched them what would happen and the ideas of dealing with the loss of Tony, how different this blip is, how weird it is that it’s five years later and some people are older and some people aren’t. How much fun can that be?
And I think it was probably Jon, or maybe the screenwriters, who was like, “Well, you know what we do? We start the movie off with school news just like we started the last film with Peter’s home movie of Civil War.” And catch them up in a way that is funny, you can literally just spell out the information because it’s the morning news show. And we got more and more specific even as we kept working.
We shot twice as much as what’s in there, because we thought people were going to have questions about Captain Marvel or whatever. But in the end, once we put it together, we said these are the core things that happened. The biggest thing was people who blipped came back the same age. People who didn’t aged five years.
Sam Jackson plays Nick Fury, we all know that. The way he plays him was a little bit different. I was able to catch a couple Easter Eggs, but I didn’t know what was going to happen. Does that set up a bigger picture type of thing? I wouldn’t say Secret Invasion so much, but maybe Sword?
Kevin Feige: I think the fun of it, without talking about anything specific that’s to come because we are still holding off on that until this movie comes out, is it does bring up a lot of interesting things. The most basic of which is Talos and Nick have stayed in contact over the years and clearly have some sort of tit for tat going. How often have they done that?
That’s the first question I had when I walked out.
Kevin Feige: How often have they done that, and why are they doing that? Where’s Nick, and what is that thing?
My jaw was literally on the floor when I saw the post-credits scenes. You guys have probably my favorite one in this film. JK Simmons and Info Wars? I was like, what just happened right now? What made you decide that if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it?
Kevin Feige: It was one of the early ideas when we started working with Amy and Sony on the Spider-Man franchise and the kind of things we wanted to do. A younger high school-based Peter, taking him to places he hasn’t been before, interacting with the other MCU characters. J. Jonah Jameson was one of them. He wasn’t in either of the two Amazing [Spider-Man films], so we felt like we had to do that at some point. Homecoming didn’t seem like the right idea, and then 95% of Far From Home takes place outside the city. So it felt like that was the opportunity to do a number of things. One: to have Mysterio win in a way that you’re not expecting, to have Mysterio pull one last trick on him. And in those conversations with Jameson, it was always about how the notion of the powerful publisher doesn’t exist anymore. Selling newspapers, “get ‘em out, they gotta go to print!” is a very romanticized notion that doesn’t exist anymore. So, you know, in the Ultimates there was the Daily Bugle website and things like that. But taking it into an even more contemporary radical left and radical right news journalist that kind of scream in front of the camera. And thinking, “Who could do it?”
The thing is, JK Simmons is such a versatile actor. Look at what he’s done over the years since his iconic portrayal of this character in the Sam Raimi films. And then all of his work, Whiplash being one of the biggest ones. It can be the same actor with that somewhat similar voice inflection, but with a totally different persona. That had never been done before. We really liked the idea that it’s a new Jameson, he’s not from another dimension or multiverse or something like that. It’s a new Jameson in this world played by the same actor.
This is a lot of speculation based on the Sony-Marvel deal and when it’ll end, but it seems like you guys have a lot of plans for Spider-Man in your universe. Is it fair to say that Peter Parker will be sticking around the MCU for the foreseeable future?
Kevin Feige: Well, any future questions fall into that “not until after this movie comes out will we start talking about that.”
There’s so many things I loved about this movie, so many Easter Eggs. One thing I caught was Hydro-Man, looking at the Buzzfeed thing. Are there a ton of Easter Eggs that, if people watch on multiple viewings, they’re going to be able to catch?
Kevin Feige: Yes, for sure. Isn’t there in all of our movies? This one in particular, for a number of reasons. You caught the Hydro-Man one. There are clues to the Nick Fury twist laid throughout that you can look at. Jon Watts likes to bury in issue numbers and comic writers and artists’ names in signage and things around that you can see. It will be interesting for you to watch this movie a second time knowing what the con is, because there are things you can see in the background. Beck’s team, for instance, throughout the movie before the reveal in the bar.
I gotta ask about Zendaya’s character, Michelle. She’s great as MJ, it just seems like there’s so much more to explore with that character, that she has her own mask per se. Do you have a definitive future plan for that character in the long run, or are you discovering it as you go along? How much more are we growing with that character as we see Peter’s journey?
Kevin Feige: I hope a lot. I think there are amazing layers to her, and I think Zendaya’s an incredible actress. We just did a live Q&A streaming thing, and she’s so eloquent in the way that she speaks about MJ and about exactly those layers of the onion. I think as much as we have an opportunity to keep peeling that back, she’ll be able to keep delivering and surprising us.
Is Zombie Iron Man a shout out to Marvel Zombies?
Kevin Feige: Yeah, I guess it sort of is. We hadn’t thought of it that way, that was more just [thinking] how could Mysterio twist the knife in such a crude and abrasive and scary way. But we do like the Marvel Zombies.