For someone in the middle of producing the most anticipated film of next year, and having to follow up on one of the biggest films of all time, Kevin Feige seems completely at ease. Probably being feted as one of the most visionary tent pole producers of the modern age for the way he has shepherded Marvel Studios since the mid-00s helps. Getting ready to present Avengers: Age of Ultron clips to a very friendly audience at Hall H of San Diego likely helps even more. But before he did that he stopped to talk to SuperHeroHype about what to expect from the film.
SuperHeroHype: So my understanding is that when Joss pitched for Avengers…
Feige: “Avengers 1.”
SHH: Yeah, that he ultimately pitched this film.
Feige: It wasn’t in the first pitches, but soon into the development of the first film, as happens on many films you talk about whats next, and Ultron came up. Joss was like what do you mean what do you do? You do Ultron, that’s it. There are certain images and story beats from Ultron’s appearances in the comics, and we’ve been thinking about it so long, and its near the culmination of Phase 2, so every choice in Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World and Captain America: Winter Soldier, was to make the world of “Avengers 2.”
SHH: Are we getting Thanos? After Guardians he feels like he’s becoming a bigger and bigger deal.
Feige: I’m glad it feels like he will be a big deal. He’s not a part of “Avengers 2.” I think Thanos does what he wants and shows up where he wants to, and you don’t tell him otherwise. But we are still making “Avengers 2” so nothing is ruled out. In “Guardians” Thanos is just another step forward from Avengers. We wanted Ronan to be the bad guy, did not want to spend too much time with Thanos but wanted to show there was a guy behind the guy, the Emperor from “Empire Strikes Back,” behind Darth Vader. Just to get him in his throne, leaning back and smirking.
SHH: There’s a trend towards creation of characters entirely CG but with recognizable voices. You have infinite characters to introduce but not rely on big name casting? WIll that be in 3 and 4?
Feige: Utilizing technology is a lot of what these are about. Thanos is not just vocal it’s facial as with Mark Ruffalo in Hulk. That’s with Thanos, but not just Rocket and Groot. Andy Serkis is the king of that but you don’t go, ‘We don’t have to hire a big actor now!’ It’s about getting a great actor who will put the dots on his face and do it. James Spader is more than just the voice. He was on set for all of his scenes with the MoCap gear on. That is why we were comfortable pulling the trigger on Ultron. There are a lot of robots in movies, how do we do it different? You have Joss Whedon write dialogue for them and James Spader perform it.
SHH: As you introduce more and more characters, do you think about having something really big with all of them, like Secret Wars?
Feige: Do you ever do a “Mad Mad Mad World” version of all them? We’ve joked about that, but I don’t think it’s about setting a world record for most characters in a movie. That’s daunting and ripe with opportunities for disappointment. But for each character introduced, they have a chance to pop up in different movies and in different ways.
SHH: You announced several new dates recently for Marvel films. Can you talk about what will be released on those dates?
Feige: No I cant talk about new dates scheduled or if I will announce them today. That was just a scheduling thing based on what other studios were doing. We haven’t’ talked about date for “Avengers 3,” yet, hoping for 3 years between.
SHH: How are you balancing sequels and new films going forward?
Feige: Looking forward, I like the idea of an existing franchise, taking it to new places, and then the next being a new franchise, each year. Like next year with “Avengers” and Ant Man.
SHH: How difficult is it to continue going forward each year, rather than just rebooting after a certain period of time as has happened at WB and Fox?
Feige: We want to be wary of continuity collapsing in on itself. I like the idea of watching all the “Captain America” films as just one series. Or just the “Iron Man” or “Avengers” films. But you could also watch them in each phase.
SHH: Is there a chance the Netflix guys will come into one of the films at some point?
Feige: Haven’t talked about that yet, it’s early days for that yet. Daredevil is in production now, but it is the same universe.
SHH: When it is new people you are introducing – how do you choose which it will be?
Feige: Ultimately comes down to what we think is cinematic. With “Guardians” it comes down to wanting to see the other side of the cosmic stories, and it felt like time with our 10th Marvel Studios movie. If it was just public consciousness, we wouldn’t’ have done half the characters we have.
SHH: Just as you developed the ideas for “Avengers 2” during the first film, has the same happened during this film as far as “Avengers 3?”
Feige: We have some notions for “Avengers 3.”
SHH: We’re hearing a lot now about people getting signed on for many, many films. Is that the standard now? New actors being signed for very long contracts?
Feige: Everyone signs on for multiple films; the 9 or 12 is more rare, usually 3 is more the norm. Everyone is locked up through “Avengers 3.”
SHH: You talked about the different feel you were looking for in “Guardians,” what are you looking for in Ant-Man and Doctor Strange?
Feige: Ant-Man is a heist movie, also a mentor/mentee movie, a hero passing the torch which we haven’t done. “Strange” is about as classic an origin story as you get, and also more about left turn into supernatural. What is the definition of that? We like the idea of alternate dimensions. playing with perceptions of reality.
SHH: As you continue to introduce more films, how do you manage all these franchises?
Feige: We’re going to three films in a number of years, it is about managing franchises when you have teams ready to go. You don’t want to tell them to go away for four years because you don’t have a slot.
SHH: Will one of the next films be introducing more cosmic characters?
Feige: If “Guardians” works, that will be the franchise to meet other cosmic folk and if we meet them in that and they work then we’ll get another.