Comic-Con: Kevin Feige, Directors and Stars on the Marvel Cinematic Universe

Kevin Feige, Directors and Stars on the Marvel Cinematic Universe

Marvel presented one of their most comprehensive Hall H panels in memory Saturday at the San Diego Comic-Con (live-blog recap here), presenting updates and clips from various Marvel Cinematic Universe films currently in production, including Doctor StrangeGuardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2Spider-Man: HomecomingThor: Ragnarok and Black Panther. And to top it off, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige introduced Brie Larson as Carol Danvers in the upcoming Captain Marvel film, before getting all of the casts of the various films together for a group photo.

“It’s something we’ve never done before,” Feige told at the press line following the Hall H presentation. “And it’s indicative of where we’re going – which was not spoken off during today’s presentation – which is ‘Infinity War.’ Joe and Anthony and Stephen and Christopher are hard at work on that and we start shooting at the end of the year. It will really be the capstone to all of this material we have been working on since 2006.”

Despite her introduction at this year’s Hall H, Brie Larson’s Carol Danvers doesn’t seem likely to take part in that event as Feige stated that she wouldn’t be appearing in anyone else’s films until her own launches in 2019, “unless she does.” The upcoming film does not yet have a director, but Feige has narrowed it down to a short list of 10 and expects to make a decision by the end of the summer. With Ant-Man and the Wasp expected to enter production in June of 2017 (according to Feige, Peyton Reed and Paul Rudd are still working on the script), it suggests cameras won’t roll on Captain Marvel for more than a year yet.

With Infinity War coming, Feige plans for all the galactic and Earth-based Marvel films to start to relate to each other (“if you’ve been following along, it will all connect”) and the biggest piece of that puzzle lays with the upcoming Doctor Strange.

“He [Doctor Strange] is certainly going to be much more involved in the MCU, I can confirm that is happening,” Doctor Strange director Scott Derrickson said. “His function, what we’ve wanted from the beginning, was to bring in these other dimensions and realities, which is something Doctor Strange can do. The Marvel Cinematic Universe will become the Marvel Cinematic Multiverse.”

The character who will do that will actually be Mads Mikkelsen’s Kaecilius, who is the villain of Doctor Strange. He is a combination of multiple Doctor Strange antagonists – according to Mikkelsen – who was developed “to allow us to introduce the idea of certain individuals who live in other dimensions, and we’ve done that,” Derrickson said, the closest anyone would come to mentioning classic Doctor Strange villain Dormammu. Mikkelsen himself was even more circumspect [and don’t even bother asking him about Star Wars].

“He’s a man of skill and inner strength who has certain ideas about how the world should be but keeps running into a little bump in the road called Doctor Strange,” Mikkelson said, but neither he nor star Benedict Cumberbatch would divulge more about the plot of the film. “It’s ultimately about a man who is struggling with himself, who is very arrogant, who has to overcome himself and that’s what was exciting about it,” was all Cumberbatch would say about the story. “We have a great director and a great overlord [in Kevin Feige] who help us place where we are in the overall scheme of things because day to day it’s just about the work, about the scene you’re in, about the dialect if you’re like me playing an American when I’m clearly not, and just getting through it.”

One of the results of the decision to create a new villain for the film meant that one of Doctor Strange’s classic antagonists – Baron Mordo – was placed in different circumstances for his cinematic debut.

“Mordo’s not just a villain, he’s very ambiguous,” actor Chiwetel Ejiofor, who plays the character, said. “He’s a mentor to Strange and there’s a growing respect between the two of them – he see’s a lot of skill in Strange – and then things get complicated.”

Much of that decision to change Mordo was based on Ejiofor’s casting and conversations Derrickson had with him early on, but the director (and co-writer of the script) is very aware of that history and plans to tap it. “Definitely we were thinking about the future and where to go with Doctor Strange and that [antagonism between Mordo and Strange] is a place we want to take the story.”

With Doctor Strange in post-production, finishing scoring and visual effects, at least the actors can speak about their work. Many of the other films, such as the upcoming Black Panther, are so early in the process the actors know little more than the names of their characters.

“I haven’t even actually seen the script yet,” Michael B. Jordan – who plays villain Erik Killmonger in the film – said but he wasn’t worried. “When you’ve got a director [like Ryan Coogler] who you trust completely, you know you’re in good hands. I’d been wanting to play a villain for a while, it seemed about time, and this is the right place to do it,” with the extra bonus of being able to do so against a talented actor like Chadwick Boseman. “I’m excited more than anything else. I can’t wait to do it.”

It will likely be a film well-connected with the rest of the MCU, something almost every director there was trying to wrap their minds around as they put their films together.

“It’s definitely a part of something we’re thinking about when we’re making the film,” Spider-Man: Homecoming director Jon Watts said, stating that his Spider-Man will be well ensconced in not just high school life but in the MCU and the Avengers. “How do you depict being a high school student in a world where there are Avengers? That’s a real exciting thing we can actually explore.”

The only man who wasn’t so worried about any of that was Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 director James Gunn. “We’re off on our own again, we still have nothing to do with anything else going on anywhere else,” he said, stating that the new film would be even stranger than the first now that he had proved there was an appetite for that sort of thing. Based on the scenes shown, a lot of that strangeness would likely revolve around Kurt Russell’s Ego the Living Planet and Michael Rooker’s more prevalent Yondu [who was walking around in full costume and make up, complete with a big fin].

“He [Rooker] is really the crucifix I’ve been cursed to carry around on my back,” Gunn joked. “No, there is a scene in there when he goes face to face with [Sylverster] Stallone which – when I showed it to Kevin – he said ‘Rooker is going to get nominated for Best Supporting Actor.’”

The other strangeness will revolve around Pom Klementieff’s Mantis, who few would say much about, but Klementieff did say there had been talks about the character joining the Guardians and potentially having a role in future films. “I’m very much looking forward to that.”

And she is certainly not the last new face we will see before Infinity War arrives (and pulls Guardians out of its little corner), though Feige wouldn’t say exactly who those faces will be.

“I hate to say anything definite, because you end up like we did with Doctor Strange where you’re talking about the same character for 10 years before a movie actually comes out. But I’ve definitely got some more people in my pocket,” for Phase 4 and they will likely appear first in a Phase 3 film to come.

In fact, even as the studio grows to producing three films a year for the next three years — the most it has ever done – while still under one person’s control, Feige and his team continue to cast their eyes to the future.

“We’ve announced through 2019, we have ideas through 2021 – it sounds like the future but it’s not so far away – we’re determining what we’ll be doing then and certainly Inhumans will be a part of that.”

Check out photos of the Marvel Cinematic Universe panels in the gallery below!