Much has been made recently about the fact that Robert Downey Jr.’s contract with Marvel is currently up for re-negotiation. When Downey finally landed the lead role in Iron Man back in 2007, he signed a contract with Marvel for a set number of films. Cut to five years later and RDJ is now the most recognizable face of a unique and ambitious cinematic universe that culminated in last year’s The Avengers, which currently holds the record for the highest grossing opening weekend of all time. While Downey’s performance as Tony Stark was certainly one of the keys to Marvel’s success, that crazy Marvel Cinematic Universe plan and its execution are the brainchild of Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige.
Steve recently spoke with Feige for an extended interview, and during the course of their wide-ranging conversation, Steve asked Feige when his contract with Marvel ends. While it’s tough to think of an Iron Man movie without Robert Downey Jr., it’s impossible to consider the whole Marvel Studios going forward without Kevin Feige at the helm. Hit the jump to for Feige’s response and how long he thinks he’ll be running Marvel.
Steve: A lot of people are discussing Robert Downey Jr.’s contract and how it will impact the Avengers sequel and Iron Man movies. But I think the bigger question is, when does your contract end?
KEVIN FEIGE: You’re the first person that’s ever asked me that question.
I think a lot of people should be asking that question because being honest, there is a reason why all the Marvel movies are good and I think it has your name on it.
FEIGE: Oh, that’s very nice. My contract negotiations are not nearly as exciting as Mr. Downey’s. I’m here for a while, certainly through Phase Two.
Do you see yourself still running Marvel in five years?
FEIGE: I don’t know, the truth of the matter is, I always sort of set a goal or set a horizon line and look towards that. Then say, “Once I get to that horizon line I will see where we stand.” For a long time it was X-Men 2 and then for a long time it was Iron Man and Incredible Hulk – are we going to be a studio by then or not? Is it going to work or is it not? Then it was Avengers, now it’s Avengers 2. So, two years after that, three years after that, I can’t even begin to guess.
So it sounds like Feige’s contract might be up for re-negotiation at the close of Phase Two, which would be the release of The Avengers 2. This crazy plan of making five different movies with five different superheroes that maintain connective tissue and culminate in a team-up movie—which, in theory, shouldn’t work—was made possible with Feige at the helm, and Iron Man 3 marks an incredibly promising start to Phase Two, so it’s really tough to imagine what Marvel Studios looks like without Feige in charge. Here’s hoping he sticks around for a long, long time.