It’s not controversial to suggest that Kevin Feige‘s run at Marvel Studios is the most impressive aspect of mainstream pop culture storytelling of the past ten years. But Feige doesn’t want fans to look at Marvel’s successful track record and just blindly accept everything that the studio releases. In a new Q&A, the acclaimed producer talks about continuing to work hard to make the best movies possible, and offers updates on Eternals, Shang-Chi, future Disney+ shows, and more.
Feige recently traveled to the New York Film Academy, where he was a guest speaker in a moderated conversation and Q&A with several students in attendance. During the wide-ranging conversation, he touched on several topics that are worth discussing here.
Expectations Have Shifted with Marvel Studios’ Success
“Up to this point, staying true with our vision has connected with fans. Even when that’s [with] unexpected choices…with filmmakers they haven’t heard of or actors, which still happens sometimes,” Feige said. “What used to happen was there’d be a big outcry and people would bemoan the choice and say it’s terrible. I’d say, ‘Alright, everybody. Let’s prove them wrong and do the work.’ Now – and I don’t know if this makes me any more comfortable – they say, ‘Oh, I don’t know who that is, but we trust them.’ I’m like, ‘Don’t trust us. We have to prove it. We have to work to prove it to you.’”
Diversity in Future Movies and Disney+ Shows
It took them many years to get there, but Marvel seems to have fully stepped into a new era, one in which its directors and showrunners are not all white men.
“Both films we have coming out in 2020 are directed by women,” Feige beamed. “Two of the three Disney+ shows that I just mentioned [Falcon and the Winter Soldier, WandaVision, and Loki] directed by women. We’ve got three other shows that we’ve announced, but we haven’t announced the players. Spoiler alert: two out of three of them are women. It makes for better stories. I say, when you’re sitting at a table and if everybody looks like you? You’re in trouble. You’re not going to get the best story out of that.”
Much has been made about how Eternals, Marvel’s upcoming film from director Chloe Zhao, is going to introduce a gay superhero to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But when Feige was asked if there were any plans to specifically introduce transgender characters into the MCU as well, Feige seemed to imply that would happen in the same movie. “Yes, absolutely, yes. Very soon. In a movie that we’re shooting right now.”
As for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Feige said that the cast will be “98% Asian,” which is good news for everyone who’s been hoping for more Asian representation in big budget superhero films. “Shangi-Chi‘s gonna be so much more than a kung fu movie, but it has elements of that, which is what we’re excited about,” he said.
A Willingness to Adapt
One of the things I’ve seen lots of complaints about in the wake of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is how Lucasfilm should have planned out the sequel trilogy like Marvel plans out their movies. But while a large framework of an idea for where the MCU should go is in place, one of Feige’s comments shows just how drastically their movies could shift – even during the script phase. When referencing the recent dealmaking process with Sony to get Spider-Man back in the MCU, he explained how Civil War could have been a wildly different thing had multiple things not fallen into place:
“That was happening the first time while we were writing and making Civil War. So while Joe and Anthony Russo and Chris Markus and Steve McFeely and Nate Moore on that movie were in the room developing it, I’d be running in and out going, ‘I think it’s going to be Spidey.’ [mimics writing] And then I’d go, ‘Forget it. Not going to work.’ And by the way, also even Downey, we didn’t have a deal with Downey. ‘Looking good on Downey! OK, it’s Cap vs. Iron Man.’ [And then it’d be like,] ‘I don’t know, might not be Downey.’ ‘All right, it’s going to be Cap vs. who?’ So we started developing – not writing full versions, but being prepared to make a shift if we had to…It was during those conversations that Nate said, ‘What about Black Panther? What about bringing T’Challa into this Civil War as a third party who didn’t have an allegiance to either side, who had his own issue? And if we don’t have Spider-Man, and God forbid, if we didn’t get Robert, there’d be another element, a new fresh element to make the movie worthwhile.’ We ended up getting it all, and it being great.
Check out the entire conversation below:
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