Posted on Thursday, April 26th, 2012 by Germain Lussier
Many lessons can be learned from Kevin Feige, the president of Marvel Studios and producer of The Avengers. One would be that it is possible to link the worlds of five seperate movies and culminate them in one epic superhero blowout. After all, Feige is the guy who had the vision that will culminate May 4 when Joss Whedon’s The Avengers hits the screen. A second lesson would be that mum is the word. Though Feige has intimate knowledge and input into the films of the Marvel Universe, he’s notorious for not letting out any significant information. And three, don’t tweet something unless you can back it up.
I recently sat down with Feige to discuss The Avengers and the rest of the Marvel Universe but before I could even get into my questions the man with the plan called me out for some minor criticisms I tweeted about the film. The exchange is humorous, slightly embarrassing but broke the ice in a way that gave me a window talk bout a lot of cool stuff coming up in with Marvel such as the journey into the cosmic, a possibly Disney animated film, how he keeps track of all the connections, Iron Man 3 and more. Read the interview below.
Here are the two tweets I put up on April 12, the evening I saw The Avengers:
I’d tweet about The Avengers but my body is still recovering from non-stop geeking out. So, so, so much fun (for the most part).
— Germain Lussier (@GermainLussier) April 12, 2012
Literally still getting goosebumps writing about The Avengers. So many chill scenes. Problems for sure but they’re overshadowed by the good.
— Germain Lussier (@GermainLussier) April 12, 2012
I believe it was the phrases “for the most part” and “problems for sure” that set off the following conversation. (Also of note, this was mere minutes after Robert Downey Jr. dropped the news that they were shooting a new scene that evening. I was literally the second person to talk to Feige after that happened.)
/Film: Robert Downey Jr. just keeps letting stuff out of the bag, huh?
Kevin Feige: About what?
About shooting something tonight.
You believe everything Robert Downey Jr says?
Yeah. No? You’ve got everybody in town, right?
What is the problem with the first half of the movie? Tell me this.
How do you know that already?
What are you talking about? You are tweeting up a storm.
That’s true. No, I don’t know, it takes a while to get it going compared to the second half. The second half is so good and action packed.
Is the second half so good, because you’ve got through the first half?
Definitely. That definitely helps. For sure, you know what’s going on. All right, what was the most important thing to get right?
Twitter. Everybody reads Twitter, my friend.
That’s fine. No problem. I stand by what I think. I like the movie a lot, but you know it’s not perfect. Few films are. What was the most important thing to get right when you guys came to this?
The first half.
Right? You get it right, it’s just like there’s a lot to build up. You have to bring all of these movies together and it’s a tough task.
You know what’s funny though? In the early screenings that we have done, it’s very polarizing, because there are a lot of people, women, people that aren’t big action fans or comic book fans, that say the exact opposite to me. They go “That first half…” And with the end they are like “You have all of those things blowing up, it’s cool.”
I love the interactions and I loved seeing these characters interact and stuff and I loved the chemistry between them all.
That was the hardest thing, to answer your question. It’s the notion of trying to meet the expectations that we have and the fans have, fans of the comics or just fans of the other films, or just fans of the notion of “What? Those guys that I saw in those commercials? I didn’t see their movie, but they are all in one movie?” Even that, I’m hoping, I’m thinking that the whole is going to be bigger than the sum of its parts on this one and that’s where Joss [Whedon] came into the equation two years ago who was so gung-ho, who has such a unique voice, who knows these characters already. We had pitched him what we were doing with… Only IRON MAN and IRON MAN 2 had been out at the time and we pitched him sort of what we were doing in THOR and what we were doing in CAPTAIN and how we envisioned at least the bones on AVENGERS and the fact that he was into it and saw through it. He very easily could have gone “Yeah, I don’t buy what you guys are doing, good luck.” But he got it and he sort of really endorsed it and did a pass for us on CAPTAIN AMERICA. That was always my biggest thing and by the way the Helicarrier… Having the Helicarrier happen without breaking the reality of whatever little tiny thread of reality is left here was a big piece and I say that, because once they are all on the Helicarrier there’s a big chunk, and maybe this is what you didn’t love, but there’s a big 20 minute chunk in the center of the movie where they are just on the helicarrier and it’s scene after scene of them talking and that’s my favorite part, because it’s so funny and because it’s so moving. My favorite scene in the movie is between Black Widow and Loki in the cell.
Question: Yeah, that was good.
And that’s just sort of pure Joss and Scarlett rising to the occasion to finally sort of portray this character the way she wants to. So there are a million difficult things about it, but that’s one answer that comes to mind.
So Joss was given… So you basically just gave him the outline with THOR and CAPTAIN and said “This is sort of what’s happening in it,” right?
I think we had a draft on THOR and a draft on CAPTAIN and THOR had just started filming. I think we had already cast it, but yeah we sort of took him through all of that stuff.
Okay, my question is, obviously you can’t go into specifics, but how does the construction of this whole universe work? Is there a big board that you guys have that says “AVENGERS, IRON MAN 3, THOR 2, CAPTAIN 2” or is it just in your head?
Yes. It’s a combination. I won’t say there’s a master board that somebody can break into a room and look at, but we have that stuff and a lot of it is, because again the most important thing is that the movies work on their own. The majority of movie goers are not tracking all of the stuff, but it can’t be LOST, which I love LOST, but you’re either in or your out, right?
You can’t pick it up in the middle.
You can’t just watch an episode and go “That was cool.” You have to be able to do that with our movies. You have to be able to just watch one and understand it and think it’s cool. So that’s what the writer, the director, the cast at the time is all tasked with. As those storylines are coming together, I’ll usually keep a tally of “Oh, we could use that later” or “We could bring that to he forefront” and they’ll go “What?” I’ll go, “No, nothing. That’s good for this movie.” And then some times you know I’d say half of those work and half of those just end up not, where those dots don’t connect or there’s no reason to connect them or we have to bend one or the other movies too far to connect them, then it’s not worth it.
Are you worried about getting a little too sci-fi? I mean obviously you have the Thor sort of fantasy, but it ends up in our world. Cap is obviously realistic but now we are in space and we have aliens, we have the [spoiler removed] and you’re showing us into this world. How far are we going to go with this?
Well I mean look, I’ve always said that I love and would one day want to explore every aspect of the Marvel universe, with the street level heroes, the fantasy or cosmic with Thor, which really is a cosmic hero, period with Cap, magic some day with Social Supreme and some of those characters. But the Cosmic Universe is a big part of that and I love space movies and I love JJ’s STAR TREK and can’t believe there’s another STAR TREK film being filmed right now, which is awesome, and obviously STAR WARS. So I certainly like the notion of exploring some of that. That will probably not be in another IRON MAN movie, because it doesn’t make much sense. That will not be in another CAPTAIN movie. THOR does inhabit a certain part of that world and there are other characters and other properties that we’ve talked a little bit about, but have announced anything yet that will really bare fruit in that arena.
Is that the GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY?
That’s where a lot of that will really come to fruition and to me it’s okay and AVENGERS is the place to mash it all up, because that’s what Avengers is for [HIGHLIGHT FOR SPOILER] and you can have Iron Man in outer space. How’s that going to affect him in IRON MAN 3 or 4? Well the truth is that’s in there now. (Laughs) He’s seen some shit, but he’s also Tony Stark and can blow a lot of stuff off, [SPOILERS END] so the story of IRON MAN 3, as we’ve already talked about, is very insular and very Tony Stark centric as redefined by Shane Black. To me, THOR was a much bigger leap than AVENGERS. THOR was the one, “Are they going to buy this?” “Norse mythology… Intergalactic traveling on beams of light… Are they going to buy it?” They did and we constructed that whole movie to be about the intro to the worlds, a portal opening in space and aliens coming out seems frankly minor by comparison.
[AT THIS POINT WE TALKED ABOUT SOMETHING THAT I'M NOT COMFORTABLE PUBLISHING YET FOR SPOILER REASONS, BUT CHECK BACK OPENING WEEKEND. BACK TO THE INTERVIEW.]
Okay, an animated movie with Disney, is that something that might actually happen? I know you always said “No” to Pixar, but Disney animation…
Well I haven’t said no to Pixar, but Pixar is clearly doing their own thing. Yeah, no I’m not going to be the one to say what it is, but as you might imagine when we have thousands of characters and properties and now are owned by Disney, who has the greatest animation studio on earth, there are going to be discussions.
So I don’t know what you’re alluding to. I don’t know what’s out there now online.
There’s nothing specific, just that something might… There might be an animated Marvel movie.
There are certainly discussions.
Cool. Thank you, Kevin.
The Avengers opens May 4. Check back soon for interviews with Chris Hemsworth and Joss Whedon.