For the better part of the last decade, Marvel Studios has been building their cinematic universe. Through solo films, crossovers and team-ups, we’ve followed the Avengers and their ilk on their journeys, watching the characters grow and evolve along the way. With Captain America: Civil War, much of that set-up comes to a head in a superhero showdown that pits two of their franchise headliners — Chris Evans‘ Captain America and Robert Downey Jr.‘s Iron Man — against each other in a battle that is both ideological and strikingly personal.
It’s a film that carries a lot on its shoulders. It not only delivers resonant emotional arcs for both heroes, but accommodate their many and varied teammates, introduces two new marquee heroes in Tom Holland‘s Spider-Man and Chadwick Boseman‘s Black Panther, and lay tracks for the future of the MCU that will no doubt pay off in directors Joe and Anthony Russo‘s two-part Avengers: Infinity War. It’s an impressive achievement, and that’s thanks in no small part to the oversight of Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige, who has been producing Marvel brand films since 2000’s X-Men, and shepherding the MCU proper since Iron Man‘s 2008 debut.
With Civil War arriving in U.S. theaters this week, I had the opportunity to speak with Feige last month. For more of a dive into Civil War itself, look forward to an interview with screenwriter Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely later this week, but as the man who knows all the MCU secrets, I had to ask Feige about what lies ahead in the future of the universe. In particular, for Civil War‘s two breakout debuts. We also discussed the status of the Inhumans movie (which has now been officially bumped off Marvels calendar), Ant-Man and The Wasp, and Doctor Strange. Check it all out in the interview below.
So as the press conference has made abundantly clear, people are pretty into Spider-Man and what’s going on in there.
KEVIN FEIGE: Yes, awesome.
Looking ahead to his solo movie a little bit. How heavily is Marvel involved with the production on that? and how much was it a part of the deal that he would come be in Civil War, and you let them do their thing? Or are you guys working very much [together]?
FEIGE: We’re working very much [together]. It is a— I don’t know exactly what the credits will be, but it is a Sony Pictures production of a Marvel Studios film. The agreement was that it is very much a Sony Pictures movie. Amy Pascal is co-producing it with us and [Sony Chairman] Tom Rothman is leading the charge for Sony and that we are the creative producers. We are the ones hiring the actor, introducing him in this film, and then working right now on the script and soon to be shooting the actual Spidey film.
Did you guys make that deal looking ahead for a while, or is that a one picture thing to see how it goes?
FEIGE: Right now the focus is on what we’ve now accomplished for Civil War and what we hope to now accomplish on his standalone movie.
There was just a story the other day where you basically confirmed that it’s an open universe now and characters can cross back and forth. Was that something where you had to work that out before the deal was signed? Who was fair game to crossover? Or was it more on good faith that you would both deliver what the stories needed?
FEIGE: I think good faith is a better way of putting it. We were basically saying, let them join our universe and we’ll be able to have more toys to play with as we put together a story.
Awesome. Killer job, he’s just wonderful. Just to confirm, does the story your putting together take place before or after Civil War?
Okay, good, good. The thing that you guys did so beautifully was not regurgitating the origin story, which I’m sure you hear a lot.
Is that also the plan for the stand alone? Are you working from the assumption that people just know that.
FEIGE: FEIGE: We spend a lot of time as we work on these movies saying ‘Don’t take it for granted that the audience saw the other the other movies or that the audience is as versed in the comic books as we are.’ We take great pains to give you everything you need to know within the context of whatever movie you’re actually watching. However, we did say, if it’s safe to assume anything, it’s safe to assume that everybody knows how Spider-Man became Spider-Man and what that backstory was. We’ve seen it a number of times now, it’s its own well-known mythology. So we said, let’s reveal that there’s been a Spider-Man in the MCU and we meet him, as you see, in this movie.
There are events that made Peter who he was, and we’ll certainly allude to those events, but we’re much more focused on his future and how he continues to grow and have a steep learning curve after, certainly, the adventure he had in Civil War on how to be his own hero
So moving on, I think the other big break out in Civil War is going to be Black Panther. He is amazing. So where are you guys at on that script? Do you have a finished script?
FEIGE: Very soon, very soon. We have a number of writers on it, including Ryan Coogler who is also directing. He’s working on the draft right now. I think between now and the end of the summer there’ll be more casting announcements. We start filming at the very beginning of next year.
Last year, there was this crazy rumor that the Inhumans movie was not happening. Can we squash that rumor?
FEIGE: No, look, since we made our initial phase three announcement, we added Spider-Man, which was a big joyous coup for us. We added Ant-Man and the Wasp, which was a big fun continuation of that story for us. Walt Disney Company has announced an Indiana Jones film for right around that same time. So I think it will shuffle off the current date that it’s on right now. How far down it shuffles, I’m not sure yet.
But it’s not a matter of “they’re already doing that on TV, we’re not doing it?”
FEIGE: No, It’s a question of when. Especially because we have nine very big very important movies that we’re actively working on right now. It was ten, but now [Civil War’s] done, so it’s just nine.
FEIGE: Nine giant movies.
No big deal.
FEIGE: I’ve said before, it’s a testament to Marvel and to the characters, and I think to the studios and to the films that we make, that we could announce 100 movies and people would go, “Well what about this character? What about this movie?” Someone brought it up in one of the panels today, it’s a nice problem to have.
Yes it is. That’s actually something I wanted to ask you about. You’re now bumping up to three movies a year shortly, and while there’s all this talk of superhero fatigue, it seems to be just talk for now. How high can you see that out number reasonably going?
FEIGE: I don’t really know. I mean we only really spend most of our time thinking about the things that we control completely, not the things that we cannot control. So when it comes to our slate, and it comes to the movies we release each year, you see the pattern; 2014, Captain America: Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy. Two totally, if you didn’t know who the purple guy was who sits in the throne and smirks, you’d never know that worlds were connected. 2015, Age of Ultron, Ant-Man. But for a passing reference of Stark and the Avengers here and there, and encountering Falcon, they are two totally different movies.
FEIGE: This year, we’ve got Civil War and we’ve got Doctor Strange in November, two completely different movies. To me, and to all of Marvel Studios, that’s what keeps it going. As long as we’re surprising people, as long as we’re not falling into things becoming too similar… next year, Guardians of Galaxy Volume 2, Spider-Man, Thor: Ragnarok. Those are three totally different movies – well, Ragnarok and Guardians probably have slightly more in common than Spidey, but that’s how it works. We think that as long as the only shared thing is they come from the same source material and they’ve got our Marvel logo in front of the movies. Other than that they can be very distinct. What other studios do, what other properties, nothing we can do about it.
You guys have teased some far-out stuff that you’re going to be doing with Doctor Strange, are you guys looking to set up some really next level 3D sequences to highlight that?
FEIGE: Yes as a matter of fact, we were in a, the effects were viewed everyday, we were the first ones for that movie, now we’ve just wrapped, we finished in New York. I don’t know if you saw those paparazzi pictures. I thought those paparazzi shots were the greatest shots I’ve ever seen. That was amazing, and Ben going into the comic shop and the café was totally him.
But we did one of the first reviews and it was pretty exciting. It was pretty cool in terms of how 3D can serve that story. You know, sometimes 3D is a tool, like it is in Civil War, a tool of –another toy in the sandbox of how the Russos (Joe and Anthony) can present this movie. Then there are times like what Disney is putting out with The Jungle Book –it’s certainly gonna be the case with Doctor Strange– that it serves the storytelling, that it advances the storytelling. And hopefully it helps bend people’s minds even more than just the flat screen will.
You guys said that Wasp was potentially in an earlier draft of Civil War, and that’s a character I’m very excited to see evolve. Being that Scott has come so far already, and considering what we see in Civil War, is Ant-Man and the Wasp going to heavily lean into the second half of that title?
FEIGE: I think it will be fairly even. But it’s a good point, bringing the audience up to speed on where she is might take a little more time, but I think it’ll be a two-hander. That’s certainly the intention.
And I’m out of time, thank you so much.
FEIGE: Thank you.
Click here for all our previous Captain America: Civil War coverage which includes clips, images, interviews and a lot more.