Comic-Con Exclusive: Marvel’s President of Production Kevin Feige

For just about every Comic-Con International in San Diego for the past few years, Marvel Studios has taken the plum Saturday night position in order to bring the most excitement to the gathering throng and they almost always have lots of surprises to offer. This year, SuperHeroHype/ComingSoon.net got on the phone a couple hours before the anticipated Marvel Studios panel to try to get some sort of preview of what to expect, but having spoken to Marvel Studios President of Production Kevin Feige many times in the past, including earlier this year, we knew that we wouldn’t be able to get the surprises out of him so we focused on a few other questions we had for him.

As it would have it, the panel mostly focused on the four Phase 2 movies that are currently in production, bringing out the cast, some logos and the first footage for the two movies that are furthest into shooting, but Feige also took the opportunity to announce the title of the “Avengers” sequel as Avengers: Age of Ultron (similar to the recent mini-series).

We talked to him about some of the other things going on in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the connections it has to the new ABC TV show that kicks off on September 24, the “Marvel One-Shot” shorts and other things.

SuperHeroHype: This is a very exciting Comic-Con for you guys—”Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” really exploded for you guys on Thursday and it’s a really good year for you guys with a lot of stuff going on and you haven’t even gotten to the big presentation yet in a couple OF hours. I’m not sure what I can ask you, because I’m sure you’re probably saving a lot of stuff for surprises in a couple hours. 
Kevin Feige: Yeah, but go ahead, you can ask anything. I will say that it’s an incredible Con and not just for the film side, but when Joss screened the episode it was wonderful, and Hayley Atwell showed the Agent Carter short to great acclaim yesterday, and it feels like the whole company is really moving forward in a fun way right now.

SHH: That’s right, I forgot about the One-Shot, and that looks and sounds amazing, can’t wait to see that.
Feige:
Yeah, it’s great, it’s great.

SHH: It seems like Fox and Warner Bros. and Sony are following suite a little bit with their announcements although many of them got leaked early, but it sounds like everyone else is following suit and trying to make Comic-Con exciting for the fans by making big announcements again, which is great. Doesn’t happen very often.
Feige:
Yeah, I love that if you succeed enough that people are inspired by you to do similar things that’s also good for you and I love being in that position, it just makes sense.

SHH: As we spoke last time, 2015 is sounding like a very big year. I was curious, do you think there’s too much worry about having too many comic book movies out there at this point? I’m not sure if we spoke about this before, but it definitely seems like there’s a lot being announced, a lot coming out. Is there any danger of too much coming out or are you still in a pretty safe place?
Feige:
I think there’s always a danger, I think it’s always something we have to be aware of, but it’s been a danger. I think in 2003 there were three Marvel movies that came out that year so we’ve been dealing with it a long time so the sense that there have been a lot of movies and is there going to be too many movies has always been a concern, but frankly we try not to chase anybody else and just keep our heads down building the cinematic universe and one of the canons that we have in making these films is making sure they’re different, that they stand on their own and that we’re exploring new territory with each film so that at least our movies, movies that we control, don’t start to become homogenized and feel too similar to one another.

SHH: Fair enough. You’re pretty much set with Phase 2, which you’re working on right now,  and you have a couple of movies for Phase 3– I guess “Ant-Man” is Phase 3–and you’ve scheduled some dates into 2018. Do you think tonight we’ll find out a little bit more about those or are those still in progress and you’ll remain focused on Phase 2?
Feige:
Still in the works. Unfortunately, the way film distribution works nowadays is you have to announce dates early to secure them, to plant your flag. The problem with that is that people start asking you about information about those movies and the pure fact is that everything today is about Phase 2 and it’s about the four significant, gigantic movies that we’re working on now that’s taking up all of our time, so we’re really focusing on that for this Con.

SHH: Are you feeling pretty good about the Thor and Cap movies being made right now that you’ll want to continue them as solo movies in the future? Now that the characters have been introduced and you’re building up to the second “Avengers” movie, do you feel that Thor and Cap have more to say as solo characters like Iron Man did in his three movies?
Feige:
I do, yeah, I think they at least have enough for three movies. I think they have enough for many more after that, but it’s just like the comics—they have their own solo adventures for 12, 24, 32 issues and then combine for six, twelve issue events and then they go back to their own storylines and I think very much we can emulate that from the comics in our futures.

SHH: One of the things today is that you guys are following after Fox and one of the big questions our readers have had is about the “dueling Quicksilvers” in your two movies. They have Quicksilver in their X-men movie and you’re introducing him in the next Avengers. We’ve discussed this before, the differences between them—what you guys can do, what they can do—will that be addressed at all tonight? Will there be any kind of face-off?
Feige:
I can’t speak for Fox—I think Fox might do something—but we’re not prepared to do anything with that. It’s early days for us. We just know that there’s enough Quicksilver in the comics and there’s a reason that each studio has a right to that character, it’s because he’s a certain way in the Avengers comic, he’s a certain way in the X-Men comic, and from what I know now, we’re treating him as very, very distinct and different characters.

SHH: Are you still involved with the Marvel characters being developed by the other studios? Do you read the screenplays and keep on top of what they’re doing?
Feige:
Not necessarily. Moreso with Spider-Man, but we’re pretty busy with the characters we control 100% as opposed to the movies that we have very little control over, but there are people… we certainly keep tabs on it to a certain extent and Sony in particular is very upfront about sharing materials and keeping us involved.

SHH: I spoke to Avi Arad and Marc Webb and it sounds very exciting what they are doing with the character and they seem to be on the right track as far as doing a similar thing where they’re grabbing dates, but they’re also setting things up for later movies which is important to do to keep people excited and keep them coming back for more.
Feige:
Oh, yeah, absolutely right.

SHH: As far as the connections to the TV world now because that’s a whole other factor. Is that something you’re trying to stay connected to, because obviously now having this TV show, you have an opportunity to do a promo for a Marvel movie by having characters appear on the shows, so is that stuff you’ve been working out with them as well or with ABC?
Feige:
Yeah, we’ve talked about it, we’ve talked about it. The studio is only involved on the periphery of that show. That’s really a TV position and Jeph Loeb’s the showrunner, but of course because of Joss, there’s a bit of back and forth and they keep us in the loop of the overview. The main rallying cry for that show as both Joss and Jeph will attest is just like we want all of our individual movies to stand alone and to work as movies in their own right, that show is very much going to be about Coulson and that new team of characters and the new adventures that they go on. There will be acknowledgements reminding audiences that it takes place in a very, very nearby universe, but that it doesn’t rely on the Easter Egg of the week. It’s a better show than that.

SHH: A few readers have asked about any chance of doing One-Shot shorts cinematically in front of the theatrical releases as well. You’ve been saving them for the Blu-rays, but people enjoy them and wonder if we might see them theatrically ever to introduce other Marvel characters and heroes. Have you ever thought about that?
Feige:
We’ve talked about it. That’s kind of how it started as “Wouldn’t it be fun to do something like Pixar does and have shorts in front of it?” but for two reasons: the production schedule, just the way it falls and where we’re available to do a One-Shot is closer to the home video window than the theatrical window, and also now “Agent Carter” is almost 15 minutes long and I think that’s the best one yet and if you look at 15 minutes that gets too, too long in front of a feature.

SHH: Also the movies are getting long as well with “Iron Man 3″ being almost 2 ½ hours and there’s a lot more meat in it so that’s a long amount of time to ask moviegoers to sit through.
Feige:
Exactly, exactly.

SHH: I don’t know what you can say about tonight, but are you guys any closer to having more casting news for the next “Avengers” you might announce tonight? I know there’s been talk about Aaron Taylor-Johnson for Quicksilver and you have a lot of options for the Scarlet Witch? Will that be announced tonight?
Feige:
We haven’t cast anyone and we’re just getting into casting now. Nobody’s been cast for “Avengers 2″ so we’re just getting started with that.

While I missed the panel myself, you can read our live blog of last night’s Marvel Presentation by clicking here with footage descriptions from Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy, which is just two weeks into filming.

(Photo Credit: Getty Images)