Marvel Studios has come a long way since 2008’s Iron Man. At the time, who would’ve thought that box office hit would pave the way for a superhero frenzy in Hollywood? Perhaps Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige — the man that helped build the Marvel Cinematic Universe — knew. Feige’s latest offering is Captain America: Civil War, a superhero showdown pitting Team Cap and against Team Iron Man.

Directed by Anthony and Joe Russo, Civil War is a rather large ensemble story, full of familiar and new characters. Both Black Panther and Spider-Man get plenty of screentime, but more importantly, they serve a purpose in the story. We discussed these two new additions to the MCU with Feige, who also talked about the lessons he learned from the first Iron ManCivil War‘s airport set piece, Ant-Man and the Wasp, and more.

Below, read our Kevin Feige interview. Warning: SPOILERS ahead.

I interviewed Jon Favreau last week.


And when I revisited the first Iron Man for that interview, I felt that movie didn’t get enough credit for what it did for the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

It sure should.

What lessons did you learn from Iron Man?

Every lesson. I learned every lesson. I mean, that was our first movie. I have been at Marvel 16 years now. In the first six or seven years, we were working on our films that other studios had the rights for, that other studios paid for, and other studios had all the control over. There were a lot of great learning experiences there. There were some awesome movies in that run, and there were some movies I felt could’ve been better in that run. But we learned all sorts of lessons along the way. When we finally got to do it ourselves, it was time to put up or shut up. It was saying, “Everything we believe could be done with our characters, let’s put into this movie.” If it hadn’t worked, we would’ve thought, “Oh, I guess our ideas maybe aren’t the right ones.” [Laughs.]

Jon helped lead the charge on that. There are a lot of the things we continue to do at the studio that Jon helped initiate. It comes down to collaboration. Jon was a spectacular collaborator. Instead of just looking at designs by himself, he’d say, “Come on, everybody, let’s go in a room, put up the designs, and all talk about them.” He did his early cuts on the movie, and we started submitting notes, and he said, “Ah, I don’t want to get all this paper. Just come in here and let’s talk about it.” That’s how we make movies now.

At the time, Robert Downey Jr. was an odd casting choice to some, but since then, you’ve continued to make out-of-the-box casting decisions, like Chris Pratt or Paul Rudd.

Even then we believed our heroes were the marquee, and that liberates you from the need to hire a movie star or to look for someone that has a proven box-office record. We just want to find the best person to inhabit this. Now, most people that have inhabited this are now big marquee movie stars. Everybody here is. As I said in the press conference, they’re all A-listers now and could carry their own movies. It’s always been about finding the person who best inhabits the character, whether audiences have ever seen them in a movie like that or not.

Casting for a Marvel project, I imagine, is a different experience compared to casting most movies. You need to know if they’ll fit with the cast and if it’s someone you want to work with for years.

Sure. That’s true.

And you mentioned how Robert Downey Jr. read with Tom Holland for the part of Spider-Man, to see if he was right for the role. Do you have any previous examples of that?

Yeah, it was a unique case, but we had… Chris Pratt and David Bautista did a chemistry reading together. I don’t know if we officially hired Chris by that point or not, but often… that’s what helped get Dave Bautista the job: how great he was opposite of Chris together in a camera test. Sam Jackson was very gracious when we were searching for Maria Hill. He read with a bunch of actresses, and obviously, Cobie Smulders rose to the top that way. You often don’t have that, because it’s often based on timing. Downey was down in Atlanta shooting Civil War in the early days, so we brought Tom and some other actors down there. It does help. It’s great to see. Frankly, now Tom is doing it with some of the actors and actresses we’re looking at for his Spider-Man film.

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