Kevin Feige Interview

When I sat down to interview Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige, I had not yet seen Avengers: Infinity War. No one at the junket had seen it. And maybe that was a good thing. If we had seen it, all we would have talked about was spoilers.

So when I sat down with Feige, I decided to focus on the history and legacy of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, his future plans as a producer, and Disney’s acquisition of Fox.

Kevin Feige Interview

It’s been a long wild ride, this whole thing.  

Yes.  Are you talking about the junket today or are you talking 10 years of the MCU?

The last 10 years. I was there at Comic-Con the first year and watching this whole thing happen.

Which one in 2006?  Or with Iron Man?

No, with the footage.  The Iron Man footage, so ’07.  I wasn’t there in ’06.  You know, there’s been a lot of looking back at this first 10 years.  I realize you’re not gonna be able to say anything about Infinity War, so… I thought instead I would ask you questions you can answer, like…

Great.

What happens at the end of Avengers 4?

Well that I can definitely talk about. [laughs]

Looking back at the last 10 years, what about it would you have changed if you could?

In terms of [if] we could sit down and watch any movie we’ve made together and I’ll cringe at certain things and I’ll go, oh my God, oh I can’t believe we did that, I wish we had done this instead of that instead.  That’s the minutiae level.  And we…I don’t envision us doing special editions to change any of those things or anything like that.  But that’s just the nature of working on something for so long and then at a certain point you just have to send it out into the world.  In terms of big picture and looking at this Infinity War poster and all these cast members and all their costumes and all their looks and all their storylines that have brought us to this point, and I’m unbelievably proud of all of them.  Every single one of them.

So I think in big picture ways, I wouldn’t change anything.  There’s a costume here or there or a look of a character…I go back and look at Chris Hemsworth’s eyebrows that we dyed blonde in the first Thor movie and go, what the hell?  Why did we do that?  But for the most part, I look back and go I can’t believe that everything we pitched actors, everything we sat down and talked to actors about in a room at one point…about sitting with Sebastian Stan, who had auditioned for Steve Rogers, but who we met with and [asked] would you like to play Bucky Barnes?  And by the way, in this movie, you’re his friend who dies.

Someday you could come back as this guy with a metal arm, Winter Soldier.  And it seemed like a pipe dream.  And I’m sure he sat there like okay, producers promising the world just to do a job.  And Sebastian [was] on the stage today and had him looking cool on that poster.  We did it.  Talking to Paul Bettany doing the voice of Jarvis.  And now he’s Vision.  It’s incredible.  My first meeting with Benedict where he brought up the potential of Doctor Strange.  And now not only did he have his own beloved movie, but he’s such a big part of this.  It is, it’s remarkable that we’ve come this far.  And Robert Downey at the center of it all.

You know the interesting thing about that, I know that this wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for Iron Man and Robert Downey.

And Jon Favreau.

And Jon Favreau.  But re-watching the films, it seems evident to me that Captain America, Steve Rogers, is more of the central character of this whole first phase or at least the Avengers films that ties it together.  It almost seems like if I were to go back I would have made Captain America first.

Oh, the first one?

Yeah.  I mean, it probably wouldn’t have been as successful, but just like story-wise.

Right.  It was always, I think it’s worked out the way it should have and Iron Man was first because Tony Stark has such a great story.  And it was unique in the notion that he didn’t have superpowers.  He built this suit.  It was, it felt like a great entry point into the world to us.

Yeah.  Now that we’re 10 years in, when is your contract up with Marvel and Disney?

It’s coming up.  I don’t necessarily know.  But it’s…  It was a long contract.  It’s coming up.  I’m gonna have to deal with it at some point.  Soon.  I think this year.

Do you have aspirations beyond Marvel, like producing or like a studio head or something?

I love making movies.  I love making movies.  I love being part of movies.  I love having a large say in the way that movies are made.  And that’s what I wanna keep doing.

In the comic books, the Infinity Gauntlet has a huge amount of power.  Like–

The Infinity Gauntlet has…yeah.

He can snap and destroy everything.

Right.

In this movie, I mean, we haven’t seen it yet, but can you talk about kind of managing that overpowered device?  Like, is it brought down a little bit?  Or like how do you manage something that is all that powerful and you know…one flip of a switch?

You’ll see.  I mean, it’s…  It’s extremely powerful.  How he wields that power, how many of the stones he gets to keep growing the power, is what remains to be seen.  But he’s very…is in our film, he is driven to a single purpose.  And he wants to do everything he can to get to that purpose.  To fulfill that purpose.

Everything we’ve seen thus far seems to be leading to this point.  To this event. When in the process did you come up with the idea of let’s do Infinity War?  Was it when Joss suggested let’s put Thanos at the end of Avengers or was it later on?  How did that happen?

It was an evolution.  Your question about Captain America, the first Captain America, we really wanted to do Captain America as a World War II film.  That was considered a risk.  A period… there’d never been a period piece superhero film.  And one of the ideas that we had was to include the Cosmic Cube in it so that the villain could have all sorts of weapons and a more science fiction alt history version of World War II.  We then started to build the Cube into the mythology of the other movies, we started to realize that a lot of these films required MacGuffins like the Orb in Guardians of the Galaxy, the scepter in the first Avengers film.  And the notion that all of them could be a Stone started to come about right around the time Joss wrote that little tag in Avengers 1.  But we always knew that if we were gonna do any justice to the Infinity Gauntlet storyline there had to be more characters.  So Thanos was never gonna be the bad guy in Avengers 2.  He was never gonna be the bad guy in Guardians of the Galaxy.  Because there weren’t enough heroes to fight him.

For sure.  I know this Disney-Fox deal isn’t done.  I know you can’t talk about it.  But as a fan, I’m wondering like X-Men has this whole established universe over there, which doesn’t seem like it could be combined with this universe, so how would that work out?  Would it have to be rebooted or like could it be combined?  What are your thoughts?

I honestly…you’re right, it’s not just not being able to talk about it. There’s nothing to talk about. They’re still making movies.  We’ve been told in no uncertainty until you get a phone call saying, it’s done, you can start thinking about it, we have enough to think about.  You made me think about Thanos and when we started doing Infinity War.  It was about four years ago, five years ago where we said we could culminate all of this in the Thanos story and it would take two movies to do that.  And we’re still in the midst of that.  We’re still in the midst of delivering on that.

It’s interesting too because since Avengers I feel like all the fans knew that this is where we’re eventually gonna head.  And now that we’re in the midst of Infinity War, we have no idea where Marvel’s going in the next 10 years.  So where do you think Marvel’s gonna be 10 years from now?

I love that nobody knows.  I love that we’re about to release a movie and we’ve shot another movie that comes out next year that will put everything in question.  And that will force people to not take filmmakers and storytellers included, not take anything for granted.  22 movie interconnected narrative.  I felt it was very important that there was an ending.  A lot of my favorite stories, including Star Wars, which ended up having prequels and ended up having sequels, but for a good 25 years there were three movies.  And they were contained.  And I carried them with me.  And Return of the Jedi was a finale, great finale to my 10 year old self.  And 22 movies in 10 years with the MCU, it felt like we need to do that.  Where it goes from there, further stories of characters who’ve only had one movie so far and audiences wanna see again…we have stories and we have ideas of where that will head.  But where in overarching narrative will it begin and where…what is an Avengers team made up of and who leads movies and who stays on their own in movies and all of that being in question because of the events of these, of this conclusion for the first three phases is exactly what we wanted, is exactly what we needed for the storytelling.

They want me to wrap it up so I have one last nerdy question.

Good.

The opening of Black Panther takes place just months after Howard Stark’s death.  

You mean in Oakland.

Yes. That Black Panther flashback in Oakland takes place months after Howard Stark’s death.  Is there any connection between the stolen vibranium by Klaue and Howard Stark? Could the death be somehow related?

That’s a good question.  That is a good question.  And as Maz Kanata says…  That is a good question…

For another time. 

For another time.

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