Kevin Feige on Spider-Man, X-Men, & Fantastic Four Not Being in Marvel’s Movie-verse and Why ‘The Avengers’ Was Such a Risk
Kevin Feige has become something of a nerd news darling. Marvel Studio‘s producer has been out making the press rounds giving hints and dropping clues about the upcoming Avengers as well as putting out the fires caused by silly rumor. Today he addressed some of the issues with the Marvel movie-verse, or Marvel Cinematic Universe, and revealed for how long Marvel had been planning it.
First, let’s hear about all those Marvel characters who have their own movies, like Spider-Men, the X-Men and the Fantastic Four, but aren’t connected to to the MCU. These quotes come from Feige’s recent chat with Wired,
Well, look, clearly we would prefer everything be at home, so to speak. But all the contracts are different. Some of them have very firm reversion dates, and some of them we don’t expect to get back any time soon, let’s put it that way. We’re fine with that. We have a great relationship with Sony and Fox. Would we like to have them all back? Sure. But we are more than comfortable with the way things stand now, because it worked out pretty well, right? The Avengers is a gargantuan part of the Marvel Universe, as big a part or bigger part than X-Men, bigger than Fantastic Four. There’s no doubt that Spider-Man is the most well-known, but in terms of families of characters, Avengers is bigger. Yes, the book has been around so long that almost every single character has popped in and out at some point. But there was a little bit of planning and a lot of luck that we ended up with Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, Captain America, Hawkeye, Widow, Fury, SHIELD, all within our rights. Because that obviously led up to The Avengers.
At San Diego Comic-Con in 2006 we were in one of the smaller halls, 2,000 people or so. I had been going for many, many years with other studios for the Marvel films but this was our first Marvel Studios panel. Jon Favreau was on the panel talking about Iron Man, and Louis Leterrier was talking about The Incredible Hulk, and Edgar Wright was talking about Ant Man. And somebody asked, “Could the characters cross over? Is this person ever going to meet this person?” I was asked, “Are we ever going to see the Avengers on screen?” And I said, “Who knows. This is a big new experiment for Marvel. But it’s no coincidence that we have the rights to Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, Cap –” and the whole audience started cheering. That was one of the moments where I went, boy, if only, if only we could actually sort of pull this all together.
It’s kind of crazy to think when Iron Man was happening there was no clear plan to eventually lead up to The Avengers. Guess it was lucky for them Iron Man was such a huge success.
Hit the jump. More of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe’s mysteries will be revealed!
So, if there wasn’t a plan how did everything work out so perfectly? Was there a writer’s bible to keep everyone on the same page with the same vision?
People come in expecting the bible to be a hell of a lot bigger than it actually is. The secret, the not-so-secret secret, is each individual film is actually more important than the whole of the connected films. Because if any one film doesn’t work the house of cards comes down. So the most important thing is each individual movie. Loki is the main antagonist, interesting, layered, tragic figure in Thor. So of course he’s going to be the bad guy in Thor, it makes all the sense in the world. Loki is the reason the Avengers were brought together in Avengers No. 1, so it made sense.
Could it be someone else if we’d never made a Thor movie before that? Probably. But was it sort of laid out there perfectly for us to take advantage of? Yes. The Cosmic Cube is, you know, one of the primary McGuffins in the Captain America stories, in the Red Skull stories. So, tying it into the mythology of Asgard was helpful from a storytelling device, because in the comics I don’t even want to spend 45 minutes explaining to you what its backstory is.
Oh yes, comic continuity can be quite the headache. And speaking of the cube, it made an appearance in Iron Man 2, did you catch it?
In Iron Man II there’s a scene where Tony is flipping through his father’s old notebook. I told Jon that we thought the young version of Howard Stark was going to be a character in Captain America, because we need a gadget guy, sort of a Q for SHIELD. I said, “What if the prop guy just draws a little cube on this page of this notebook? You never have to mention it, never even talk about it, it’s just there.” Jon said, “Sure, whatever.” The trick is, the Easter eggs have to enhance the experience for those who know what they are, but not detract from the experience for those who don’t.
Clever, clever. But after all this, did you know of the massive risk Marvel took in bringing The Avengers to the big screen? Well, in order to make all these individual films, Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, Captain America, Marvel needed mucho moola. To get the $525 million needed they sought out Merrill Lynch for a loan, which they got but with the condition that the film rights to those characters would be held as collateral!
Now we know just how lucky they are! Had any one of those movies bombed it could have been the end of the might Marvel movie-verse. Even with Marvel’s money troubles abated, Feige runs a tight ship and doesn’t condone unnecessary spending. Talking with Variety, Feige said,
It means questioning every cost, every dollar. We don’t take any of [our success] for granted. We always ask, ‘Do we really need this?’ If the answer is no, then you do it another way. It makes things much harder, because it’s easy to spend money. But it can often lead to just more efficient ways of doing things.
What do you think? Did their gamble pay off? I think so. The Avengers is going to be HUGE, and it wouldn’t be such an event had those earlier films not earned them both the money and adoration of fans. Which of the tie-in movies was your favorite? And who are you most excited to see in The Avengers?
Oh, and it’s releasing nationwide in less than two days!!