Warning: This post contains spoilers for Spider-Man: Far from Home.
Spider-Man: Far from Home, the twenty-third entry in the MCU, marks the end of Marvel’s monstrously successful Phase 3. It’s hard to pick which is more incredible: that this whole connected cinematic universe worked at all, or that it doesn’t show any signs of stopping after 11 years, especially after Peter Parker’s latest film. The person behind all of it from day one has been Kevin Feige, who Nerdist‘s own Maude Garrett had a chance to talk with about Spider-Man’s new movie, the challenges facing the character now that his identity was revealed to the world, and the past, present, and future of the MCU.
“The minute you believe the hype or the minute you believe everything’s going to be great, just because you think of it, is the minute it all falls off a cliff,” Feige told us about Marvel’s apparent Midas touch. “Nobody thought that 13 years ago. Everybody thought, ‘Oh, they can’t do it,’ or ‘Who’s Iron Man?’ or ‘What are the Avengers?’ or ‘Why do they think they can become their own studio now without the rights to all their most famous characters?’ And we sort of prefer that, because everybody just presumed we’d fail, so we got to put the noise aside and focus on doing what we believed in, and what we thought would work. Whether it would or wouldn’t, we didn’t know, but we knew it would be something we’ve believed in and we’ve tried to hold true to that.”
Building a decades-spanning franchise takes as much planning as you’d imagine, but not by mapping out a ten-year plan. “It’s more like five years at a time,” Feige said. “And things change, and things evolve, and we can evolve the plan as we go, but having a plan and having a path set forward, even if it’s just a path to deviate from, has served us well and we’ve done that. I mean, we’ve spent the last four years not only making these movies that you’ve seen come out, but also we’ve been working on the next five years. We just haven’t been talking about it.”
As for what comes next, Feige still isn’t saying. But now that Far from Home has closed what Feige calls the MCU’s Infinity Saga, which started with the first Iron Man, he says the studio is “almost there” when it comes to announcing specifics about the secretive Phase 4. However, Feige said that Spider-Man’s adventures through Europe offers clues for where Marvel is going next, thanks to a lot of Easter eggs in the film. “There are a large number that point to future MCU stories,” he said, “[and] that point to future Spider-Man stories.”
One place he told us to search for them is in Italy. “If you look at some of the street signs in Venice, they’re inspired by some of the more recent Spider-Man comic writers and artists. And in this one in particular, there are Easter eggs that, once you know the twist and you watch the movie again, you can look for signs that point towards both what happens with Mysterio and what happens with Fury at the very end of the movie.”
The shocking end of the movie worked as both a callback and a way to move the franchise forward into entirely new territory. “You can go back to the end of the first Iron Man film, where Tony Stark outs himself,” said Feige. “Superheroes don’t traditionally stand in front of the press and out their secret identity, but we did that then. And we did what’ve we done now, and everything in Endgame, and everything in Phase 1, 2 and 3, essentially lead you to a place where you have to do something different. Where you have to do something unique for the next time. And that’s the way, I think, we’ve continued for over a decade with 23 films, and it’s the way we’re plotting the next decade of just as many films.”
While the ending of Far from Home was a huge shock for Peter Parker and audiences alike, Feige said it did help “return Spider-Man to his roots, in which he is a misunderstood hero with a J. Jonah Jameson cursing his name from a loud platform,” all while introducing a new type of problem. “His identity’s revealed for the first time in a movie. How’s he going to manage that? How is he going to deal with the fact, not just that this new DailyBugle.net personality is screaming at him in a very public fashion, but that people believe he is now to blame?”
For a movie that Feige said was intentionally smaller in scale following the epic nature of Endgame, it was a world-shattering revelation that continued Marvel’s different kind of Spider-Man villains, ones who are far more timely than the “science-gone-wrong” types Peter Parker dealt with on the big screen before. Feige says just like Vulture was a “blue collar character who uses all the high tech and alien equipment,” Mysterio “taps into drone technology today,” as well as another growing problem the real world faces now: deepfake technology. “Being able to put somebody’s face on somebody else’s face,” Feige said. “What if a villain used it toward his own ends?”
But even if his enemies are using new technologies and sharing his identity with the world, Feige said Far from Home did do something every Spider-Man fan always loves to see: “swing around New York, ’cause that’s awesome.”s
Even after seeing Tom Holland play Spider-Man in five movies, and after 11 years and 23 films, the MCU is still doing the seemingly impossible and keeping fans wanting more.
Images: Marvel, Sony