Marvel Studios’ president Kevin Feige is really good at saying a lot without saying anything. With the amount of secrecy necessary for the eternally massive Marvel Cinematic Universe, you can’t have any leaks, especially not from the big guys. In a room in San Diego’s Hard Rock Hotel, Feige was told anything he said to us would be under embargo until after the Marvel panel Saturday night and so was free to share things. He shared only little bits and bobs but still let us incredibly tantalized and wanting more. He’d be an excellent politician; the Governor of Secrecy, the Comptroller of Continuity. Below are some of the more intriguing facts he let us in on.
– Thanos will not be The Avengers: Age of Ultron… probably. After (spoilers) appearing briefly in Guardians of the Galaxy portrayed by Josh Brolin, in his trademark haughty-throne-sit, it would seem natural that the galactic overlord with a fistful of rings would be on his way to making his biggest appearance in The Avengers sequel. Not so, says Feige, who quips, “Thanos shows up where he wants” and alludes to a longer game plan, perhaps even the Phase 3 culmination Avengers 3.
– Marvel’s usage of digital characters and motion capture isn’t going away, but it also isn’t just a voice performance they’re looking for. Ruffalo’s Hulk, Spader’s Ultron, and Brolin’s Thanos are all mo-cap performances. Spader was there on set for every one of his scenes in Age of Ultron and brings a lot of specific physicality to it.
– No one’s trying to win a Guinness record for the most characters in a superhero film, though Feige admits they have joked about the It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World comparison. He said that managing so many characters is an issue of pacing. Every character can pop up anywhere, but they want to make sure the characters are being served in the proper way. This is one of the reasons for accelerating the release schedule to be around 3 films a year instead of the two that have been going. There’s no sense, Feige says, to have the people in place to make the next film and not let them do it just because they only have two movies slotted for a particular year.
– Marvel has never been about only doing characters that are in the public consciousness. Feige feels that alternating between established franchises and newer, untested ones (the way Marvel did this year with Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy) will be the way to go.
– The continuity is fun, but he doesn’t want the movies to only exist as part of a huge canon; they should be able to stand on their own terms, in terms of their own particular series, and as a link in the greater saga. Someone could sit down and watch all three Captain America movies, for instance, in one evening and be fine, or they could watch all of Phase 3 and be fine, or everything all together.
– The in-production Netflix shows will exist in the same universe and continuity as the rest of the MCU, including Marvels Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the upcoming Agent Carter. How they will connect and/or overlap is still yet to be seen.
– Further Guardians movies will be a good place to introduce more cosmic characters, like Nova, and will probably only get their own solo movies if they work in that context.
– Ant-Man is going to have the feel of a heist movie. Obviously, the continuity from the comics of Hank Pym being the one to create Ultron has changed, but Marvel Studios will also not be touching the spousal abuse storyline. Though, Feige says, there will be hints of that kind of darkness and anger in Pym as portrayed by Michael Douglas.
– Doctor Strange will be a classic hero origin story “because he has one of the best ones,” and will then give the MCU the go-ahead to make a left turn toward the paranormal and the idea of alternate dimensions and realities.
All good stuff, but as ever, nothing too spoilery. Feige is one of the main reasons people look forward to these movies coming out so much; he knows what breadcrumbs to leave and which ones to keep safely hidden in the back of the breadbox until the feast. If that metaphor makes sense.