After working for years as a producer on Marvel movies made by other studios (X2, Hulk, Spider-Man 2, etc.), Kevin Feige became President of Marvel Studios in 2007 and has since developed and overseen the insanely successful and influential Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Not only did Marvel create the first shared universe between their superhero films, but almost every one of their movies has been consistently successful. The Avengers was the first Marvel film to gross over a billion dollars, and Iron Man 3 soon followed. Captain America: The Winter Soldier, their ninth and latest film, is currently sitting at the top of the box office for its third week in a row.
Feige's legacy at Marvel Studios has been firmly cemented, but this hasn't stopped him from continuing to push for bigger and better films. Speaking with Empire Magazine, Feige teased a few of those bigger and better films. Specifically, Edgar Wright's upcoming Ant-Man and its connection to The Avengers: Age of Ultron. He also commented on Batman vs. Superman moving to the same weekend as Captain America 3.
But first, Feige confirmed not only that Thanos will appear in this summer's Guardians of the Galaxy, he also hinted at the casting, saying, "There is an actor. I'm not sure we want to announce it yet." Which could mean one of two things, seeing as we don't know how Thanos is going to be realized in Guardians.
If Thanos will again be created through CGI, then it's possible the actor Feige is speaking of is another placeholder (like Damion Poitier in The Avengers). Then again, it's only a matter of time before Thanos appears in the MCU in a meaningful way. If the studio has an actor in mind, why not bring him in as soon as possible and begin laying the groundwork for Thanos' grand entrance? Feige doesn't elaborate, so we might not know anymore until the release of Guardians.
Moving on to Ant-Man, Feige reveals it's a film that's been key to the MCU for years, and in fact, it appears Ant-Man is what set a lot of their earlier films in motion:
"It was two things - a story Edgar wanted to tell that we'll see with Michael Douglas and Paul Rudd, and now we're 11 films in, it's looking at the characters we've already introduced who already have the technology and the brains to do...certain things [laughs].
"We changed, frankly, some of the MCU to accommodate this version of 'Ant-Man.' Knowing what we wanted to do with Edgar and with 'Ant-Man,' going years and years back, helped to dictate what we did with the roster for 'Avengers' the first time. It was a bit of both in terms of his idea for the 'Ant-Man' story influencing the birth of the MCU in the early films leading up to 'Avengers.' "
This sure sounds like Wright was crucial to the inception of the MCU. It also sounds like Feige is implying that whomever's responsible for Ultron - the "endearing and funny and strange" villain of The Avengers 2 - is someone we've already met, and that his creation is also related to Wright's original Ant-Man pitch.
With such a vague comment it's hard to be sure, but the current accepted theory is that Tony Stark will be the creator of Ultron. If Feige isn't referring to Ultron, then perhaps he's talking about Vision, another technologically advanced character expected in Avengers 2 and one with even closer ties to Tony.
Whether Tony is responsible for Ultron, Vision, or both, it's possible he doesn't do the work alone. In the comics, it's Hank Pym who is responsible for Ultron, so it isn't out of the question to speculate the character will still play some role in Ultron's creation in the MCU. If so, the consequences of that and the subsequent fallout from the events of Avengers 2 will surely factor into whatever Pym does in Ant-Man.
And truthfully, we don't even know how large a role Pym has to play in Ant-Man. Feige explains the general jist of Rudd's Scott Lang character and it gives the impression Ant-Man will focus almost entirely on his redemption arc from thief to hero:
"Look at that origin of the petty crook who comes into contact with a suit and does his best to make good, and then look at someone like Paul Rudd, who can do slightly unsavoury things like break into people's houses and still be charming and who you root for and whose redemption you will find satisfaction in."
Leaving all this speculation aside, Feige is all too aware of the recent readjustment to Batman vs. Superman's release date and how it now pits the film against Captain America 3, but he isn't fazed:
"We had the flag there first. What other people do and where has always been less of our concern. It's about keeping our head down and doing what we would believe would be cool for an audience to see."
And honestly, keeping their eyes on their on work and not bothering with what the "other people" are doing seems to be working out just fine for Marvel. Though it's worth noting that Disney's Alan Thorn recently said they were "struggling with" releasing Cap 3 at the same time as Batman vs. Superman, so it may not be up to Feige in the end.
Feige currently has a lot of spinning plates over at Marvel, but which are you most excited to finally see: Thanos in Guardians of the Galaxy? Ultron in Avengers 2? Or Edgar Wright's Ant-Man? Drop a line in the comments below!
Guardians of the Galaxy hits theaters on August 1, 2014, The Avengers: Age of Ultron on May 1, 2015, and Ant-Man on July 17, 2015.