Profile on Marvel Studios with Big Updates from Kevin Feige
by Alex Billington
June 7, 2009
I spent most of the later half of my day today at the Sony Pictures lot in Culver City where the Produced by Conference was being held. One of the presentations was a profile on Marvel Studios being moderated by the LA Times' Geoff Boucher featuring Marvel's president of production Kevin Feige. A few days ago, we posted a big update on Marvel's upcoming projects featuring quotes from Feige, but Paramount quickly had us pull down the post. In lieu of that missing update, we now have this one, with a few more tidbits from Feige on upcoming Marvel projects as well as just a general sense of his direction and ideas for the studio.
Boucher began the profile by saying that when Marvel first started back in 1939, superheroes were all the rage, and they still are today, but in a different way. Marvel Studios and Kevin Feige have a history that extends back to Blade, but Feige says it was the failure of Batman & Robin in 1997 that he identifies as the first time there was a big change in comic book movies. From there, he realized that the characters were the most important factor, and has since helped get Marvel Studios off the ground and turned into a full-featured studio of its own with Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America, and The Avengers in the works.
In regards to Iron Man 2, Feige says that at the start they sat down and talked about their favorite sequels and why they worked so well. What they discovered was that "they told a relativity simple story so they could focus on the characters and crack open the mythology instead." He explains that they really wanted to carry over the sense of humor and the tone from the first movie, as that tone was the most delicate element that they had to establish the first time around and it turned out so well. What they wanted to improve upon for the sequel was to add more characters, to see if they could maintain that tone with a wider ensemble, and up the action.
As we already know, they're halfway done with shooting, and almost all of the dialogue is finished being shot, with the next six weeks dedicated to action. Earlier today I posted a brief update from Mickey Rourke, and while Feige talked highly of Rourke and Sam Rockwell's involvement as villains, he also dropped an interesting hint about Scarlett Johansson. He said her character has "two sides" - her entrance is as an assistant to Tony Stark, but she is later revealed to be a character named Black Widow. Is this a veiled confirmation that her character stays true to the comics and eventually betrays Stark? I think so.
Feige also confirmed that Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston were officially cast in Thor. He spoke very highly about both actors, but focused more on Hiddleston, who plays the villain Loki. Feige explained that finding a classic villain that could be sustained over the course of many films and provide the hero with a challenge while also being a mirror of that hero himself was very tough. "Loki has those aspects." He also did say that Thor takes place on both modern Earth and other worlds like Asgard, confirming what we heard the other day about Donald Blake not being a part of the story and the setting be primarily Earth. And lastly, he said that director Kenneth Branagh would not let them use any classic Shakespearian dialogue like was often used in the comics.
We already know that Iron Man 2 is up next, then Thor, then Captain America, then The Avengers in the summer of 2012. Feige said that they're "ordered this way for a reason." And confirmed that Samuel Jackson and Scarlett Johansson as well as Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston are signed on for multiple movies or "multiple franchises," further extending that hint that Loki will be a villain who shows up quite often. Feige kept saying often that he'd love for audiences to have the same experience that comic book readers have - where characters make surprise appearances almost out of nowhere in issues they pick up.
But let's get back on topic, specifically The First Avenger: Captain America. Feige confirmed that it's "primarily" a period piece that takes place during WWII. He said they went and looked at Raiders of the Lost Ark, which he says he "didn't know" was a period piece when he was watching it. They want to make Captain America with the "same level of fun" as that. And in regards to director Joe Johnston, he said that this would be a little bit of The Rocketeer, lots of October Sky, and a little bit of the ship designs that Johnston did for Star Wars, alluding to how this is the perfect movie for him to direct. "It's the movie his entire career has been leading towards."
One reveal Feige did make is that Cap's sidekick Bucky would indeed be in Captain America. When asked by Boucher if he'll appear, Feige said "it's a safe bet" that he'd be in the movie "in some capacity." Moving into The Avengers, he was asked if Cap would be involved right from the get go: "Yes." Feige initially said that they talked about making The Avengers animated because it was so big and had so many characters (refer to this old article). But then he said "why don't we wait" until they introduce the characters in their own movies and then have them all come together in a "surprise" manner in a big Avengers movie.
What was so great about listening to Kevin Feige talk is that I could tell he's a fan and knows how to do things right. "Having an idea is one thing, bringing an idea to life is another," he said at one point. His recurring message was that they only do things if they can do them right. As for other projects on Marvel's slate, he did mention early on that Edgar Wright is currently finishing up another draft of Ant-Man for them to look at after he finishes Scott Pilgrim. Lastly, Feige also said that they'll be announcing another new movie for 2012 within the next few months. It's probably not Ant-Man, so what else could it be?