Kevin Feige is making a Star Wars film, which is likely to have big ramifications for Lucasfilm, its President, Kathleen Kennedy, and even Marvel Studios. Feige is the mastermind behind the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and now, after 23 MCU movies, he's taking those talents to a galaxy far, far away.
Feige is set to produce a Star Wars movie, coming after Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, although there are still a lot of unknowns at this stage. The reports indicate that it's just going to be one movie for now, but since things are in a state of flux then there's a lot of potential for that to expand and change as it moves along, especially if - as you'd expect - Feige's Star Wars movie ends up being a success.
Since Disney owns both Marvel and Lucasfilm, then it makes sense for them to have the guy who has overseen the franchise of the last decade shift across to help with their other major tentpole property, but it also leaves plenty up in the air. We know Feige is making a Star Wars movie, and he even has an actor in mind for it, but the impact of this could go beyond just a single film and change the futures and structures of both Marvel and Star Wars.
Star Wars' Future Is Uncertain
Phase 4 of the MCU is completely mapped out, with various release dates and movies confirmed, and even Phase 5 has taken a loose shape, meaning Marvel movies look reasonably set for the next 4-5 years. By contrast, the future of Star Wars is much less clear. Always in motion, the future is, but even Yoda might be surprised at just how little is on Lucasfilm's slate: Star Wars 9 will release this Christmas, but beyond that there are only three release dates, in the Decembers of 2022, 2024, and finally 2026, and it's not yet confirmed what all those movies are.
Officially in-development are two different Star Wars trilogies; one from Rian Johnson, and the other from David Benioff & D.B. Weiss. It's expected that Benioff & Weiss' movie will release in 2022, but it's notable that both trilogies have faced a lot of backlash. Johnson's because of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and Benioff & Weiss' because of Game of Thrones season 8. All of that is also an extension of other issues Lucasfilm have faced. That's included the fan backlash to The Last Jedi, which then helped feed into Solo becoming a major box-office failure, and a general air of negativity among some Star Wars fans to the entire Sequel Trilogy.
There have also been various behind-the-scenes problems too under Disney's ownership, with almost every Star Wars film of the era beset by one problem or another. Star Wars: The Force Awakens had to undergo major re-writes after Michael Arndt's script; Gareth Edwards was quietly pushed off Rogue One for the reshoots; Josh Trank and Colin Trevorrow were both hired and then fired; Phil Lord & Chris Miller were replaced on Solo after shooting almost an entire film; and the plan for the anthology movies has had to be shelved. Kathleen Kennedy has faced the brunt of criticism for this (a lot of it undeserved), and Feige coming in as producer isn't going to strengthen her position. Kennedy renewed her contract last year through to 2021, but that period only covers one Star Wars movie release. Kennedy's future, like that of Star Wars itself, looks more uncertain now.
What Does Kevin Feige Offer Lucasfilm
Kevin Feige's involvement with Star Wars, as it stands, extends to one movie. That's all that has been announced, and it's possible that's all it will be. Possible, yet it also feels a little unlikely, because Feige working within the Star Wars universe is something you'd imagine Disney will want to capitalize on as much as they can. He is, after all, the person who has masterminded the rise of the MCU, taking Marvel Studios and a bunch of B-list characters and turning them into a multi-billion dollar shared universe that has dominated cinemas for 11 years and counting.
It might not be quite so formal as Feige replacing Kathleen Kennedy as Lucasfilm President, but it'd be surprising if there weren't conversations about in what capacity he could work on Star Wars. He's provided the blueprints of the MCU's many phases so far, and could do something similar for Lucasfilm as Star Wars moves beyond the Skywalker Saga. It's at this junction, having movies that don't involve those familiar and beloved characters, that making and selling Star Wars is going to be a little trickier, so having Feige's talents onboard would undoubtedly be a big help.
It could be that Feige works on one of, or even both, of the Star Wars trilogies in-development, or it might be the end of them altogether. He's a producer who clearly gets what is going to work and what isn't, and with neither series getting off to the best start, then it isn't impossible he could push Lucasfilm to shelve those and go in a different direction. Feige is a super-producer and master planner, and so you bring him in for those traits; he's also a big Star Wars fan. Combine those things, and he's someone who could well have a strong vision for what the future of the franchise looks like, which is something no one else seems to have right now.
What About Marvel?
Within the talk of Kevin Feige going to Star Wars, there's also the not-so-small matter of what this would mean for his continued involvement in the MCU. As it stands, with him producing a movie, there's no reason for his role there to change: Feige's shown with Spider-Man he can balance multiple projects, and one Star Wars film wouldn't distract his attention so much that he couldn't keep running Marvel, especially with Phase 4 well set.
It's also worth noting that while Feige is the architect and mastermind of the MCU, and so often the face of it at events like San Diego Comic-Con, he doesn't do all of this alone. He has a large team of executive producers who do a lot of the on-set and more day-to-day work, allowing him to have more of an overseeing role and create the overarching visions that drive things forward. The likes of Vanessa Alonso, Trinh Tran, and Nate Moore have worked on multiple Marvel movies, with Alonso in particular seemingly well-situated to help run things if Feige is off busy with other projects. She has worked on every MCU movie apart from The Incredible Hulk, and as EVP works very closely with Feige on individual movies and the overall planning.
This is a very busy period for Marvel, with Phase 4 including multiple Disney+ shows as well as the MCU movies, but again Feige is the man creating the big picture, rather than coloring in the finest details. That's not to downplay his importance by any means, as he has been and remains a key part of Marvel's success, but what he's built means he can be more up in the air than down on the ground. With a trusted team around him, who by this point have years of experience of working with him and knowing his processes, then it's more possible for Feige to work on Star Wars and, if it comes to it, move across from Marvel Studios to Lucasfilm, without the MCU being affected too much.
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019