Recently I had the opportunity to sit down with several other bloggers to interview Kevin Feige, the President of Marvel Studios. He is also the Producer of the film Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which comes out on Friday, April 4, 2014.
I knew he was the producer of the film. I didn’t know at the time that he was also the President of Marvel Studios. That’s pretty neat.
Here is an excerpt from the interview where Mr. Feige not only touches up on Captain America: The Winter Soldier, but also discusses upcoming movie releases from Marvel Studios that I’m sure many fans will be excited to know about.
Q: Can you tell us what comes next?
KF: We’re spending a lot of time now in the cutting room on Guardians of the Galaxy, which comes out August 1st. We just released the teaser for it recently. In about two weeks we start filming Avengers: Age of Ultron. That’s coming up very fast and that will be the next movie up in May of 2015. In about ten weeks, we start filming Ant-Man with Michael Douglas and Paul Rudd. That comes out in July of 2015.
We haven’t announced what comes after that in 2016/2017 but we’re actively working on any number of things and are beginning to hone in on sort of exactly what the movies will be in ’16 and ’17.
Q: Is it intentional that you always incorporate older superheroes?
KF: Well I think its indicative of our development process. We just believe that’s the best way to bring the villains into it. It’s more personal in this movie than in any other movie because of who the Winter Soldier is.
Q: Are there perks with working with celebrities?
KF: No. The only favor I want is for them to do the movie and to do an amazing job in the movie and they have done that up to this point.
Q: Talk about the controversy around Winter Soldier.
KF: Comic fans always knew sort of two things – characters die and come back to life in comics, like in soap operas. But there are two characters in the Marvel Universe that are never going to come back to life – Uncle Ben and Bucky Barnes. About 10 years ago a comic book writer, Ed Brubaker, went to publishing. I didn’t have anything to do with it. He went to publishing and said, “I have an idea to bring Bucky Barnes back.” And I’m sure they’re like “what are you talking about? You can’t do that.” And they pitched the idea and it was great. And it was the Winter Soldier idea and it was done so well. I think fans went “No, you can’t – Oh that’s great, we love that.”
Q: Talk about the difference in the tone.
KF: Well it was two things. I mean one was we always want our movies to feel differently. We have two movies a year coming out. If they start to feel redundant, they start to feel like cookie cutter, you know, off the same assembly line, people are going to lose interest. And we will lose interest. I’m not interested in making the same movie over and over again. So it’s very important to us that we mix them up and that they feel very unique, each of the films. We had a wonderful opportunity where you have a character whose origins were in the 1940’s (referring to Steve Rogers from Captain America). At the end of that movie we reveal that he’s now alive in the present day. He’s got a brief adventure in the Avengers film but doesn’t have a lot of time to think about his current stay where he’s living, He’s got to stop this horrible event from happening.
So now this was the movie where we got to say OK, here’s Steve in the modern day, let’s do something totally unique, and that led us to the notion of doing the Marvel Superhero version of a ’70s Action Movie, a ’70s Political Thriller. He doesn’t fly and he doesn’t go visit other planets, so that gave us an opportunity to do the kind of action that we haven’t necessarily done before in our movies which is a ground base and visceral, you know, car chases and hand to hand combat. What Steve’s super power is other than sort of his strong moral foundation is he’s a super soldier. We wanted to showcase him in this movie. And we wanted to put him up against somebody that is equal to that, which is what the Winter Soldier was in a bad guy.
I’m glad people are responding to how unique the tone of this movie and how different, not just from the first Captain America film but from any of our movies that it has.
Q: Is there any hope to get other characters with other studios?
KF: No. I think we’re all busy. SONY’s busy working on Spiderman movies. Spiderman II is coming out very soon. Fox is working very hard on X-Men and they’ve got an X-Men Movie coming out very soon. And we clearly are spending a lot of time doing our two movies a year. I don’t want to say never say never necessarily but I don’t know that that would happen any time soon, and we’re certainly not planning for it.
Q: Talk about casting people.
KF: It varies. I mean sometimes we do (cast people they know/already worked with). And sometimes it’s auditioning actors. Sometimes it’s a case where we (knew who we wanted). Frankly, with Anthony Mackie (they knew they wanted him). That’s who the Russos wanted. We thought he’d be great and he agreed. Sometime you know.
Getting a call from Mr. Redford’s agent saying do you have anything that might be good for him and we went Holy Mackerel, we sure do. And we made some adjustments to that character – to increase his stature and to make it worthy of Robert Redford playing it.
Often times it’s just meeting with people and finding people who are interested. Michael Douglas on Ant-Man and Paul Rudd – both were sort of first choices in terms of the characters they’re playing for us.
People seem to be excited about joining us and seem to trust that they’re not going to look silly in a costume or talking to a comic book character. They realize we take this very seriously and when somebody like Robert Redford or like Anthony Mackie or any of our actors sign up, that’s a big responsibility for us the film makers. We have to bring our best to the script and to the production and to the final product.
Q: With the backlog of Films, do you find this to be a challenge or is it easier?
KF: I don’t know if it makes it easier. It’s a bit of a challenge but it also is just fun. You know the challenge frankly as I sort of eluded to before is not to overdo it. As you know until the movie comes out, we’ll reveal that there are goings on at Shield and we want to say “Hey, what if a US Senator was part of this?” Well we have a US Senator and he was in one of our movies, Gary Shandling, so let’s bring him back. Let’s see if he might be willing to do it and he absolutely was and he flew to DC and shot that for us. Now that we’re approaching a dozen movies now, it is fun to go back and connect dots, in ways that you would do anyway.
Q: What are you most excited about?
KF: I am most excited about how the world reacted to that teaser which I’m very, very happy with because that teaser, you know, represents the tone and the vibe of the movie quite overtly. So we were sort of leading with our most unique and different element, which is not always what movie markers do. We were leading with what the most unique elements of the movie are which I’m very happy with and more happy that people seem to be on board with it.
As we’ve been talking about today, each Marvel Studio’s movie needs to be unique, needs to feel like its own fresh entity, but Guardians takes that to the extreme. It really is more different and a fresh original movie. It happens to be based on a Marvel comic book but for all intensive purposes though, from an audience who has no idea who those characters are from the comics, it is an original movie.
Summer where there are a lot of sequels. There are a lot of remakes, so I hope people are as excited as we are to see something wholly new and wholly original. That’s what I’m most excited about.
Q: Do you hope that Guardians becomes a series of films?
KF: Well sure. I mean, it takes place on the other side of the galaxy but at the same time, there are elements in it that quite directly link it into the other movie so it absolutely is a part of our cinematic universe. The truth is we don’t make every movie one at a time so we’re putting everything we have into that first movie. There other stories to tell – are there ways we could take them on other adventures? Absolutely. But we never find ourselves going “Oh, this is a great idea. Let’s save this for Part 3?” No if you don’t put it in here, there won’t be a Part 3. You need to put all the great ideas in the movie at hand. So that’s where all of our energies is going right now into Guardians.
For your entertainment here are the trailers for Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy.
Look for my interview (tomorrow – April 3, 2014) with Scarlett Johansson and Friday, my review of Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy
*I was not compensated for this post. I did attend the press junket. All my travel expenses were taken care of.