Exclusive Interview: Marvel’s Kevin Feige talks IRON MAN 2, THOR, THE AVENGERS, Future Movies, the Marvel Movie Timeline, More!

     April 26, 2010

Kevin Feige Marvel President slice - Iron Man 2 and The First Avenger Captain America.jpg

If you’re a fan of Marvel movies and are looking forward to Iron Man 2, Thor, The Avengers, and what else Marvel might be doing in the future, you’re about to be very happy.  That’s because over the weekend, I got to sit down with Kevin Feige (the President of Production at Marvel) and conduct an exclusive interview.  As you might imagine when you get to talk with the President of Production, if you ask the right questions, you’ll get some great answers.

During the interview we talked about where does Iron Man 2 take place in relation to the other Marvel movies, what exactly does Sony and 20th Century Fox own in the Marvel universe, will they make an R-rated Marvel movie soon, what other Marvel characters could be getting movies in the near future, is there any truth that Nick Fury is ageless, how are they going to get the same audiences that buy Iron Man being real to accepting the Gods of Thor, and he talks about why The Avengers is going to be cool.

Trust me, it is an awesome interview and one you’re going to enjoy.  Hit the jump to read or listen to it.

As always, you can either read the transcript below or listen to the audio by clicking here.  I really recommend listening to this one.

iron_man_2_imax_movie_poster_superherohype_branded.jpgAnd for the people that might not have the time to read the entire conversation, here are some of the things I learned:

  • There is scene in Iron Man 2 that clearly shows where in the Marvel movie time frame the movie takes place.  From what I can gather, Iron Man 2, Thor and The Incredible Hulk take place around the same time!
  • 20th Century Fox owns ALL the mutants.  Meaning The X-Men, Dazzler, etc. Also, the contract with Fox lists each and every character they own.  Meaning, don’t expect Marvel to make a New Mutants movie anytime soon.
  • Sony owns Spider-Man and Ghost Rider and those “family of characters”
  • The characters he talks about wanting to make movies of include Iron Fist, Dr. Strange, Black Panther, and Ant-Man
  • They are open to doing an R-rated Marvel movie
  • He talks about how they ask the audience to make “one buy” in every movie.  In Iron Man it’s that a billionaire could make Iron Man come to life.  In Iron Man 2 it’s that a “Russian grease monkey with the plans can make one.” In Hulk, it’s that Gamma Rays could make the Hulk real.  In Thor, “there are other realms that you don’t know about that exist in our universe.”  Meaning if you only ask the audience to jump so far, they’re likely to believe it could happen.
    He talks about how Thor will help Marvel tell other stories as the audience is going to be exposed to off-world adventures.
  • Says Joss Whedon doing Avengers is not official
  • Captain America mostly takes place in the early 40’s
  • But the best part is the very end of the interview.  He talks about The Avengers movie and how the best part of the film will be the character dynamics.   He says:
  • The fun thing about Avengers is the character dynamics and seeing Tony Stark come against somebody like Steve Rogers who they couldn’t be more different. And who is going to give Tony Stark an order at some point in the movie. And I don’t know how Tony Stark’s going to take that necessarily. But I’ll be interested to find out. And Tony…and how is Steve Rogers going to meet the new world and how is he going to feel about the modern age and the modern day. That’s obviously sincerely 60’s but one of the great elements of the comic books. How is Tony Stark, who thinks he knows everything about everything, going to react when Nick Fury tells him about the other worlds?”

Here’s the full interview.  As I said, it’s a good one:

kevin_feige.jpgCollider:  I asked people on Twitter to tweet me questions that they want to know. You mentioned downstairs that this film takes place around the same time as Incredible Hulk.

Kevin Feige:  If you…there’s a thing in the movie that will tell you exactly the time line. Exactly where it takes place. Did you see that?

No. They have not shown us the Easter egg at the end of the movie.

Feige: That’s not it. It’s in the movie-movie.

Really?

Feige: Yeah.

Because there’s a conversation with Agent Coulson and Robert Downey, Jr. that talks about New Mexico and that leads me to believe that it’s a different time line. Unless, everything…. ooh interesting! I think I just put it all together!

(laughter)

So you’re trying to say there’s a lot of Marvel moments that are taking place at the same time?

Feige: There is some cross-over. Yes, there is some layered…just because it’s 4-5 years between movies doesn’t mean it’s 4-5 years in movie time.

I’ve been hit in the face. I completely understand now.

Feige: But there is something in the movie, towards the end, that if you look carefully and this is for people like you and people like me, not the mainstream audience, there’s a clear marker of where Hulk fits in in the timeline.

Yeah, I was talking about it the other night that I needed to see it again. But jumping in, how nice is it for you to finally be able to talk about this movie instead of trying to talk in riddles?

Feige: I don’t like talking riddles actually. I really don’t. But you have to do it so often because if we talked openly with the enthusiasm that we have, we’d give everything away. If you’d run that piece, I don’t remember what the heck we said now back then, but I’m sure it would have ruined everything. A couple people today have told me, hey I thought the commercials gave away everything and we saw the movie and it didn’t and how exciting that was. But I wish you’d held back on the suitcase suit. Truth is, they’ve got to use almost everything to sell the movie, right? That’s how it’s…

Totally.

Feige: That’s how you sell tickets. But I like the experience of going to a movie and seeing something I didn’t expect to see. And I’m glad there are a few of those left in Iron Man 2 and I’m hoping we can get to Thor and Captain America and people feel the same way.

iron_man_2_teaser_movie_poster_01.jpgI wanted too if you could talk a little bit about the delicate balancing act between having to promote the film, having to hold stuff back, and the fact that the interest level in Iron Man 2 is so huge that you guys…this is your, if you will, this is your Twilight.

Feige: Wow!

No, I don’t mean to be on MTV like that but they at Summit have the delicate act of trying to preserve something for the movie but still promoting it. And I mean I’m sure that you guys are dealing with it in Iron Man.

Feige: Do they….

I’m going to get ridiculed for bringing up Twilight by the way.

Feige: I was going to say do you cover Twilight on your….I guess you have to.

I’m a whore for movies. I cover movies.

Feige: But those are based on books….everyone knows the secrets and stuff don’t they?

Well you know a lot of people know the Iron Man secrets but that doesn’t…

Feige: That’s true.

I mean the comics have been around for a little while.

Feige: I’ve not read the Twilight books. Does the first movie diverge from the….

I’ve not read the books.

Feige: That’s why I don’t know.

I have no idea.

Feige: I think what’s fun and what people come to expect is okay, how are they going in interpret the comics. That’s what I think is fun for us developing the movies. And that’s why I think it’s becoming….as people become more comfortable with Marvel producing their own movies, I think….until we blow it….but they expect that oh, they’re not going to change something just to change it, which has been known to happen occasionally in other place, but they still expect, oh how are they going to change it? How are they going to adapt this? Whiplash is a great example. Of course visually but even the back-story of the character is kind of a melding of a few different things. And I think fans are coming to expect how are they going to sort of change those things?  Which is my way of saying just because they read the comics doesn’t mean exactly how we’re going to unfold things in the movies.

I definitely got a whole bunch of questions from people who follow me on Twitter, and one of the things that a lot of people ask me was can you clarify which mutants Marvel owns and which Fox/Sony/Universal might have or is not something that you want to talk about?

x-men_2_oval_office.jpgFeige: Well, Fox has mutants and Sony/Universal…Universal doesn’t have anything. Sony’s got Spidey and Ghostrider, and those family of characters. And Fox has X-Men and Fantastic Four and Daredevil and those family of characters.  But any mutants in particular? Mutants are X-Men.

Is there a possibility for any of the X-mutants that are maybe lesser known to be in a Marvel movie or is it all encompassing like the Fox deal?

Feige: It’s pretty all encompassing. I mean they’re very specific character by character.  Every character they have the rights to have is named specifically in contracts. And it’s a long, long, long list.

Is there a thing…

Feige: So Dazzler for instance would be Fox.

Oh.

Feige: Because she’s a mutant.

Interesting.  Let’s go into the story that broke a few days ago online that you guys were thinking about doing lower budget Marvel movie like maybe the $20-40 million range with some lesser known characters – maybe take some more risks.  Is that story accurate or is that…?

Feige: Well I don’t know if the budget numbers are accurate. We haven’t talked budget yet necessarily, but it is accurate…taking risks I think we always do and always try to do. Because taking risks is kind of code for not doing the standard thing, right?

Totally.

doctor_strange_animated_movie_image__3_.jpgFeige: And we don’t want to….so I don’t look at it necessarily as taking risks, we just look at it as not just doing what’s expected necessarily. But the story was accurate in that there’s the development department at the studios right now is actively looking and speaking with people and figuring out post Avengers, you know, what characters we were going to bring to life. I’ve talked a lot about Iron Fist and a lot about Dr. Strange and Black Panther and clearly been working on Ant-Man with Edgar on and off for many years. And what are the next batches? Whether they’re Runaways, whether they’re big known characters or not. Blade was a great franchise and it wasn’t us…it was before my time…the first one. But I loved that it was a character that no one ever heard of. Never even had his stand alone book even. He was just an interesting character in Tome of Dracula, right? And that became a very cool, more or less a very cool franchise.

Do you think Marvel might make an R-rated film in the future with….or is that something that you guys are still thinking the PG-13 arena is great?

Feige: I think we’re open to anything. I think we’re open to PG and clearly PG-13 is our wheelhouse.  And the Blade movies we just talked about were R. So, at some point, certainly we haven’t closed the door on anything. We don’t have a policy that anyone’s told me about that would preclude any of that.

Another thing that I got from a lot of people online was is there any way for you guys to reclaim the characters that the other studios got before you got there, or is it pretty much as long as they keep making movies, they have them?

Feige: You know all the contracts are different and they’re all very specific.  So for the time being the projects within those other studios are licensed films I think will be there for awhile.

thor_comic_image_02.jpgThere’s a lot of rumor that maybe Sam Jackson and Nick Fury might be, I want to use the term ageless. Is there any truth to that rumor?

Feige: There is truth to rumor that in the comics that’s the case. I think in the Ultimates II they reveal that. Let’s put it this way, we want to be very delicate with the big buys that we ask of the audience. Believe that this billionaire can come up with a big metal suit. Believe that this Russian guy, this Russian grease monkey with the plans can make one. Can do what no one else in the world can do other than Tony Stark can make one of these things. Believe that this scientist was exposed to gamma rays and he turned into this. Believe in Thor that there are other realms that you don’t know about that exist in our universe. And it’s kind of like one buy per film is what we like to live with. And  I don’t know if we’re going for that buy with Nick Fury necessarily.  And he’s the God of Thunder and he was exposed to gamma rays and he’s a super solider who’s frozen and he has the infinity formula and was frozen. When is it too much?

That’s an excellent point. You brought this up and you’ve talked about it in the past but for people that don’t know, the big thing that you guys are doing with Thor is that you guys are moving the audience into another place, if you will.  Can you talk about the delicate balancing act for Marvel opening the door to almost the supernatural or the Gods if you will or what that is and how that’s also going to help you in the future?

Feige: Well, it’s opening the door in this…there are sides to the Marvel universe in the comics that have everything you just said to the supernatural to the magic. We look at Thor as the cosmic, right? We look at Thor as the…sort of heading into to off-world adventures. And the whole Thor film has been constructed and the story that we’re telling is about our worlds meeting each other. And that slow reveal of pulling….making it feel plausible. Certainly fantastic. Certainly amazing but believable that these worlds can exist in the same universe. That’s what the entire Thor movie is about essentially on one layer. And how does that help us?  It opens us up to a whole other buy that we’re going to ask the audience to buy into. If technology is the big buy in the Iron Man franchise, this notion of the cosmic of the portals and travel to other worlds is the big buy of Thor.

There was a lot of talk about Jon Favreau possibly doing Avengers for you. He’s doing Cowboys and Aliens and the rumor, I don’t know if it’s solid or official, is Joss Whdeon might be doing Avengers for you?

Feige: Not official.

iron_man_2_movie_image_robert_downey_jr_02.jpgThat’s what I was going to ask you. How is that with you guys? You’re obviously trying to bring a lot of characters together and tell one really big story. Do you feel that is almost the most daunting of the challenges thus far?

Feige: No. They’re all daunting. Iron Man was daunting. Making it feel like not a robot. It’s funny, people buy it now but the earliest, earliest concerns that we had going into the marketing of the first Iron Man film was people think he’s a robot. People just think he’s a robot. How do you counteract that? We made a whole movie that counteracts that and now people talk about Tony Stark as much as they talk about Iron Man, which I love. I sat in a meeting with Paramount execs two years before the movie came out and said, “I want Tony Stark…the name Tony Stark to be as recognizable as James Bond. Even more so than Peter Parker, even more so than Bruce Wayne because it doesn’t just stand for the secret identity of the other, he’s the hero. It’s one and the same.” And it’s kind of worked and it’s kind of worked in a way that I like very much.  I forgot what your question was dude?

We were talking about the daunting…oh I asked you about the challenges…

Avengers (1).jpgFeige: Oh how challenging….so that was the challenge of Iron Man 1. The challenge of Thor as you well know is how do you loop in these other worlds?  He’s got a hammer, he’s got blonde hair, he’s got a cape. How’s that going to work? A challenge of doing an adventure a big Marvel comic book movie that takes place primarily in the early 40’s. So they’re all daunting. They’re all challenges. The challenge of Avengers frankly is the character interactions is the fun part. That’s the reason to make the movie. It’s not so we have more people that can run really fast and hit something. Who cares about that? The fun thing about Avengers is the character dynamics and seeing Tony Stark come against somebody like Steve Rogers who they couldn’t be more different. And who is going to give Tony Stark an order at some point in the movie. And I don’t know how Tony Stark’s going to take that necessarily. But I’ll be interested to find out. And Tony…and how is Steve Rogers going to meet the new world and how is he going to feel about the modern age and the modern day. That’s obviously sincerely 60’s but one of the great elements of the comic books. How is Tony Stark, who thinks he knows everything about everything, going to react when Nick Fury tells him about the other worlds? That’s the reason to make that movie and that’s why that movie frankly is going to feel….it needs to feel like a part 1 and not like a part 5 or a part 6.

Yeah, what you just said actually is the reason I’m incredibly…because you’re right. The action sequences are just action sequences. They’re not the reason to do the movie. It’s the dynamic between the characters.

Feige: Totally.

Iron Man 2 movie image

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