Get ready for Marvel Phase Three news! Kevin Feige promises “a whole slew of casting announcements over the next few months”
Marvel Phase Three officially begins for the “cinematic universe” when Captain America: Civil War hits the big screen May 6, 2016. Doctor Strange will soon follow on November 4. Then, moving into 2017, Marvel will start to deliver three movies a year. As studio President Kevin Feige can attest, overseeing such a grand tapestry of story is no small feat. Speaking last night at a special Avengers: Age of Ultron Blu-ray and DVD release art show, Feige joined fellow Marvel Studios producer Jeremy Latcham for a Q&A in Los Angeles’ Hero Complex gallery. As one might imagine, the topic of Marvel Phase Three came up quite a bit.
Also revealed at the gallery show was a new Avengers: Age of Ultron poster by Tyler Stout. Click on the image above for the full version.
“It is very much Cap’s story,” Feige says of Civil War. “It’s very much a sequel to ‘The Winter Soldier.’ As that conflict builds, it is represented as a conflict between Cap and Tony.”
After leaving the team at the end of Age of Ultron, one might wonder where Tony Stark is, exactly, as Marvel Phase Three begins.
“He’s still funding the whole thing,” says Kevin Feige. “He’s not necessarily going too far. He’s funding that whole operation in his father’s warehouse, as we learned in ‘Ant-Man.’ …I think we are seeing a Tony who is trying to become more responsible. There are things that happen between the movies that we’ll learn about in ‘Civil War’ that make [his arc] even more personal.”
Feige also made it clear that, while Civil War is set to feature a massive ensemble cast, it’s not going to take away from the central Marvel Phase Three story.
“There’s a lot of characters in ‘The Winter Soldier,'” he explains, “but it still felt like a very singular and relatively simple thrill ride. Cap, in Civil War, follows very much that same way. That something that we pride ourselves on. Our screenwriters — Chris Markus and Stephen McFeely — are excellent at giving each character just enough. It’s not full arcs for everybody. It’s just enough so that their presence is felt and is important, but that the very clear, single story that is being told is being served at all times.”
After Doctor Strange, Marvel Phase Three is set to bring us Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2, Spider-Man and Thor: Ragnarok in 2017. It won’t be long, though, before we start hearing some of the big casting.
“I think we’ll be having a whole slew of casting announcements over the next few months,” says Feige. “Before the end of the year. I think that on both [Thor: Ragnarok] and [Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2] and some other films.”
Naturally, the team at Marvel Studios is overjoyed to the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man entering the MCU in Marvel Phase Three.
“Making that deal with Amy [Pascal] and Michael Lynton and Tom Rothman at Sony was just great,” says Feige. “It was really amazing. On a personal level, making these movies, it means a lot because I think that we can do great things with Spider-Man. I think Spider-Man can serve a great purpose in our universe and that’s where he belongs. That’s what’s unique about him in the comics. It’s not that he’s only super hero in the world. It’s that he’s a totally different kind of super hero than can compare against all the other ones in the Marvel Universe.”
“Very, very early in development, there was a notion that there could be a ton of new people,” said Latcham of Age of Ultron‘s final scene. “And then it was like, ‘We haven’t really introduced them. We don’t know where they’re gonna come from. Joss kind of did not love that idea… It was an early discussion. Then it became, ‘We’ll just see Captain Marvel.’ Then that felt weird. Just to have one new person.”
“The truth is, it didn’t seem appropriate to have this new person in a new costume just literally come out of nowhere at the end of the story,” adds Feige. “It would have been a disservice to what, by the time this movie was coming out, people knew was coming anyway… Part of it, too, is that Cap says, ‘They’re not the ’27 Yankees.’ If Captain Marvel is there, what are we saying about her? There’s a notion that they — Wanda and Vision and, I think to a lesser extent, Falcon and Rhodey — need to learn what it means to be a team.”
Speaking of learning to be a team, Feige also laid out exactly what tends to land Marvel Studios directors the gig and there’s every reason to suspect that the same process is going to continue throughout Marvel Phase Three.
“We always usually have a kernel of an idea of what we want a story to be or even just the tonality of a particular movie to be,” says Feige. “I’m hiring a lot of filmmakers right now. It really comes down to numerous meetings. John Watts is the most recent one on Spider-Man. Numerous meetings where we sort of pitch them what the movie should be. Then we start a discussion. If, over the course of three or four or five meetings, they make it way better than what we were initially spewing to them, they usually get the job.”
A big topic of conversation moving into Marvel Phase Three revolved around the “visions” that Elizabeth Olsen’s Scarlet Witch uses against the team. In Iron Man’s vision, for instance, we see a number of non-Avengers that have also fallen alongside the team. Are these people that we’re going to learn more about at some point in Marvel Phase Three?
“There was always a sense that, whatever this big thing is that the Avengers have to pay the price to save everything,” Latcham explains. “At least that was kind of the idea in that vision. The question, going forward with Infinity War, is ‘Were those literal visions? Were those your worst fears being projected at you? Is that a prediction of the future, or is it a sense of impending doom that keeps you awake at night? That’s something that we’ll have to explore in Infinity War and kind of figure out how literal or not those are. I think it’s more — if I was to guess — that’s more just fear. The fear of other people paying the cost for what he’s done.”
Behind the scenes, though, the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is both steady and ever-changing.
“Yes,” Feige said when asked if Infinity War had been fully plotted, “In broad strokes. Sometimes in super-specific things. But, for the most part, in broad strokes that are broad enough and loose enough that if, through the development of four or five movies before we get to the culmination, as you say, we still have room to sway and to move and to go and to surprise ourselves in the place we end up.”
“I think it definitely is an end of some version of the team that we’ve come to know as The Avengers,” Latcham says of the Marvel Phase Three capper. “Who knows exactly what’s going to happen yet in that film… It’s not the end of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but it is the end of part of it, for sure. We’re still trying to sort out which parts that means.”
One aspect likely to change about the MCU moving forward through Marvel Phase Three and beyond is the relationship between television and film. Although we’ve seen the effects of the movies on Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD, Feige suggests that it’s only a matter of time before television events will be referenced in the films.
“I think that’s inevitable at some point as we’re plotting the movies going forward,” he says. “The schedules do not always match up to make that possible. They’re more nimble and faster and are able to produce things more quicker than we do. That’s one of the reasons you can feel the effects of The Winter Solider or Age of Ultron on the show. Going forward and certainly as they tend to do more shows and cast as such great actors as they have — particularly on the Daredevil show — that may occur… By the time we start doing a movie, they’d be midway through a season. By the time our movie comes out, they’d be done with the second and starting the third season. Finding the timing on that is not always easy.”
Feige also directly responded to one question about the possibility of Vincent D’Onofrio appearing in a Spider-Man film, specifically stating that nothing like that is currently being planned.
Scheduling is also what’s currently preventing additional Marvel One-Shots from going into production.
“We talk about them a lot!” says Feige. “We have characters like that that Jeremy is always talking about. “When are we gonna do Howard?When are we gonna do Cosmo?”…We are relatively small team, now moving into three movies a year. It’s just about finding the time and place to do that. But there’s a backlog of ideas.”
Avengers: Age of Ultron is available on DVD, Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D this Friday, October 2. Marvel Phase Three will officially kick off with Captain America: Civil War on May 6, 2016.
Which Marvel Phase Three film are you most looking forward to? Do you think that Marvel Phase Three will be superior to the previous phases? Let us know in the comments below!