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On a recent media trip to Los Angeles, thanks to Disney, I had the chance to interview most of the Captain America: The Winter Solider cast, but I also sat down with Kevin Feige, the president of Marvel studios and producer of The First Avenger, Captain Steve Rodger’s second feature film starring Chris Evans. It was hard to remain calm in front of this monumentally successful Marvel know-it-all mastermind producer president guy, but I somehow did. Kevin has a very calming presence, which made the interview feel more like friends talking. Kevin Feige chats Marvel and Captain America The Winter Solider during a recent press day at The Beverly Hilton Hotel.
Over the years, Kevin has played an instrumental role in a slew of blockbuster feature films adapted right from the pages of Marvel comic books, including the hugely successful Spider-Man and X-Men trilogies. In 2013, Feige produced the mega-hit Marvel’s Thor: The Dark World and Marvel’s Iron Man 3. The two films have earned over $630 million and $1.2 billion worldwide since their openings. Feige produced Marvel’s The Avengers, which set the all-time domestic three-day weekend box-office record at $207.4 million. The film went on to gross over $1.5 billion worldwide, becoming Disney’s highest-grossing global and domestic release of all time. That’s not even half of Kevin’s impressive resume.
Kevin oversees all creative aspects of Marvel’s feature films and home entertainment activities – and I thought I had a lot of responsibilities. Creating a “shared universe” with comic book villains and heroes was Feige’s goal back in 2007, and it has worked, so well in fact fans have come to expect great things and look forward to their two Marvel features a year. Fans are continually treated to plenty of “easter eggs” and sneak peeks after the roll credits and a trip to the movies is a little more exciting. Feige’s job is to keep the Marvel Cinematic Universe interconnected and yet let each film stand alone, so every movie goer, wether they are die-hard comic book fans, or new to the Marvel universe can have an exciting movie going experience. Feige went on to say that “the biggest challenge is making that continuity and that interconnectivity broaden the Universe, broaden the audience as opposed to making it feel like a “club”, making it fold in on itself and say ‘oh you need to know everything that’s going to see any of these movies’.”
Q: Were you worried about the fan controversy surrounding bringing back The Winter Solider?
Kevin Feige: No, they had already done it. There are two characters in the Marvel Universe that are never going to come back, that’s Uncle Ben, and Bucky Barnes. But the idea was pitched and the idea sounded great.
Q: Is it intentional that you always incorporate older Superheroes?
Kevin Feige: It’s more personal in this movie than in any other movie because of who the Winter Soldier is but that’s how comics work, you know? Plus, mythology has been around for thousands of years and that helps too and makes it easier to link the heroes and villains.
Q: Is there any hope to get other Characters with other Studios?
Kevin Feige: No, SONY’s busy working on Spiderman movies, Spiderman II is coming out very soon. Fox is working very hard on X-Men and they’ve got an X-Men Movie coming out very soon, and we are clearly spending a lot of time doing our two movies. Two movies a year. I don’t want to say “never” necessarily, but I don’t know that it would happen any time soon, and we’re certainly not planning for it.
Q: Can you tell us a little about the casting process?
Kevin Feige: Sometimes it’s just auditioning actors. With Anthony Mackie, the Russos wanted him. That’s who we thought would be great to play the role of The Falcon. Sometimes it’s just getting a call from an agent. Robert Redford’s agent called asking if we had anything that might be good for him and we went, ‘Holy Mackerel, we sure do!’ We made some adjustments to his character to increase his stature and to make it worthy of Robert Redford playing the role.
Often times, it’s just meeting with people and finding people who are interested. and you know, Michael Douglas, [of the upcoming movie] Ant Man and Paul Rudd, both were sort of first choices in terms of the characters they’re playing for us. 9 movies, 10 movies into our Cinematic Universe that people seem to be excited about joining us seem to trust that they’re not gonna look silly in a costume or talking to a comic book character. They realize we take this very seriously and somebody like Robert Redford or like Anthony Mackie or any of our actors, sign up, that’s a big responsibility for us the filmmakers. We as filmmakers have to bring our best to the script and to the production and to the final product.
Producer Kevin Feige adds, “The biggest thing that we wanted to deliver is a movie unlike any other Marvel movie. It is tonally very, very different. It has the humor, it has got the action, but at the same time we see characters exploring their situations in a much deeper and richer way than we’ve done in the other films, and there’s a level of action in this film that is above and beyond anything we’ve done any of our films. So we’re excited to have something be so important to the foundation of what has come before it and what’s to come and at the same time delivering a self-contained adventure film that I think is going to surprise a lot of people.”
Then we got off topic a bit and briefly asked a few questions about ABC’s Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and how this latest movie will affect the show.
Q: Will we be surprised?
Well I think you probably will be and I think if you tune in after the movie comes out, you will; the repercussions will be felt.
Q: Does it trickle through?
That’s the idea. This script, the idea for this movie exists before the show Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D so they know what we’re doing.
Kevin is currently producing Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, which opens August 1, 2014, Avengers: Age of Ultron, opening May 1, 2015, and if that wasn’t enough to look forward to, there is Ant Man set to release on July 31, 2015. Feige’s plate is pretty full, and there is even more to come. “We haven’t announced what is coming in 2016/2017 but we’re actively working on a number of things, and are beginning to hone in on sort of exactly what the Movies will be in ’16 and ’17, but it is too early to talk about.” Kevin went on to say.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier in theaters April 4th!