It’s great to talk to the cast of Iron Man 2 to find out about the biggest movie of next year, but when you talk to Kevin Feige, you can find out about the next three years. He’s got Marvel working on Thor, Captain America and The Avengers while Iron Man 2 is in post. Here’s the latest update from Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige, straight from the Comic Con press room.
Crave Online: How reticent were you to go on with a second movie? What were the choices you had to make to make this second movie a better than the original one?
Kevin Feige: Thankfully, the first film was a big enough of a success that nobody was reticent. Certainly the studio was like, “Make another one, make another one.” The fear always is to make it good and to improve upon what you did last time and it was well received but there were things we thought we could improve. That’s always the best part of the sequels. It’s two things: one, you get a chance to do it again and maybe improve elements that you disappointed with, even if the audience wasn’t, but it happened that we were on a few tiny, tiny things that we looked forward to redoing. And also, when you’ve got 50 years of comic book stories to tell, we had all sorts of stories we hadn’t gotten to yet. You know, an origin story is great and it’s kind of pre-packaged if you do it right. It’s the sequel that frees you up. We committed ourselves to a direction. We had Tony out himself as Iron Man in the last frame of the last movie and we were like, should we do this? We’re locking ourselves into something. And we said, yes, let’s do it. It’s locked us into something which has opened up the whole franchise in that senate scene that you saw. That’s kind of what the whole movie is like. Everyone knows who he is now and he has to deal with that.
Crave Online: When you brought the first one to Comic-Con, you just killed. How did the reaction this time around compare? How did you pick what you were going to show to top that?
Kevin Feige: It was very overwhelming out there. It was great. There was a standing ovation the minute Jon [Favreau] walked out so that was very different than it was last year. All that was great but we wanted the footage to speak for itself and we followed the method we did last time. We didn’t really get a chance to do a preamble but that’s not footage we would show to any crowd. We put that together for this crowd which is essentially bringing people into the cutting room and that senate scene is a long, raw, rough version of that scene. But this audience is very savvy and we give them credit for that.
Crave Online: Were there other things that you wanted to tweak for improvement?
Kevin Feige: Little things. I mean, really little things. I think our end battle this time will be slightly more epic in scale. It’s that balance of delivering the character. All we really care about in these movies are the characters, but also delivering a spectacle, which on the highway and the rooftop in the last movie was great and the connection between Jeff [Bridges] and Robert [Downey, Jr.] was great, but we wanted to give it a little more spectacle this time around for its finale.
Crave Online: How much pressure is there on you to deliver a movie that is going to be as commercially successful as the first one?
Kevin Feige: Tremendous amount of pressure.
Crave Online: How do you deal with that?
Kevin Feige: You just work hard. I mean, that’s all that we do out here is work very, very hard on the movie. I think we maybe stopped for about 4 weeks after the release of the first Iron Man and then jumped right back into it, and that continues for me through Thor and Captain America and the Avengers.
Crave Online: How is Zak Penn doing bouncing between three films to work on the Avengers script?
Kevin Feige: It’s great. We’re learning as we go. It’s a new thing. Jon clearly is enthusiastic about it, Ken Branagh is enthusiastic about it. Joe Johnston is just getting into the mix now on Cap so it’s actually fun having the screenwriters. They have conference calls amongst themselves in terms of what we’re doing. Sometimes we’ll change something. It’s a big dialogue back and forth. It’s the bullpen. We’re not reinventing the wheel here. It’s just on a much different scale.
Crave Online: Will you introduce more supporting Avengers in that film?
Kevin Feige: Probably, yeah, a few.
Crave Online: Is Scarlett’s Black Widow in it or are you thinking of doing that as a solo?
Kevin Feige: Maybe, yeah. She’s signed up for all of those should we be lucky enough to have the audience want to see them.
Crave Online: How much will Nick Fury be in these movies?
Kevin Feige: That remains to be seen. I think you saw a good chunk of it today. I think he’s gone on the record as saying he hasn’t busted into badass action mode yet. At the end of the first one, for those people patient enough to wait through the end credits, they met this guy named Nick Fury that they or Tony had no idea who he was. In this movie, he opens that door a little bit more for Tony and invites him to walk through it. Tony may or may not do that in this movie but Nick Fury is the conduit by which all the other characters will connect.
Crave Online: Scarlett said when she first met with you guys, she didn’t know which superhero she would be playing. Can you talk a little bit about that process?
Kevin Feige: Not really. I think she’s always been interested in doing a character like this for us. We were always talking with her about it.
Crave Online: How important was it to sign Sam (Jackson) on to set that up for all the films?
Kevin Feige: We wanted to do it. We wanted to do it for the continuity. Clearly he had inspired the ultimate incarnation of Nick Fury in the past 10 years in the comics. So we were very happy when we got him involved in all the movies.
Crave Online: How much of an eye do you have on the future versus sticking to Iron Man 2?
Kevin Feige: It’s a combination. Clearly, the four films that we’ve announced, Iron Man 2, Thor, Cap and Avengers, which are all happening, are all in various stages not just of development but of prep, clearly we’re sowing seeds within them. I’ve always been very vocal about saying we’re not just going to cram in Easter eggs that 1/10th of the audience will understand at the expense of the experience of watching the movie. That’s really all that matters, the movie itself. I think we successfully navigated that in the first Iron Man movie. Nobody knew what the hell SHIELD was, but by the end of Iron Man, all you need to know is that there’s some secret organization, the guy wanted to get a meeting, kind of helped out in the end, call us SHIELD. And if you wait through the credits, Sam Jackson popped up in a long coat. I’ve always been a fan of, even if there’s only five fanboys in any given packed auditorium, there’ll be vocal enough that when there’s a little globe beneath the water at the end of X-Men 2, they’ll go, “Oh, that’s cool!” Everybody else goes, “What is that?” They’ll start to think. Same thing happened here. You get excited because it’s Sam Jackson, you recognize him, why such a big actor in this tiny five second thing at the end of the movie? There are enough people to whisper and to tell them. That picked up very quickly and I’m very pleased about that. A lot of magazines the next week were doing sidebars on Nick Fury and who he is which I thought was great for a character that’s never been in anything other than a TV movie at one point, and the comics.
Crave Online: How do you sell Captain America internationally when you need worldwide income on these big budget movies?
Kevin Feige: It certainly comes into play. I think that we’d be foolish to just forge ahead without considering that. But the truth is, Captain America’s really the story of Steve Rogers, like Peter Parker, like Bruce Banner, like Tony Stark. By the way, Tony Stark’s about as jingoistic a guy as there is. He’s constantly talking about America, what’s right for America, making weapons to go to war with the rest of the world with, and it did extremely well overseas because his story was engaging. This movie is Steve Rogers’ origin story and I think it is our burden and our job to make Steve Rogers as appealing as any of our other characters, appealing in what he wants, what he thinks is best, doing what he thinks is right regardless of orders that he’s given. He is not just the perfect boy scout who follows the orders every time. He’s got an ideal that he wants to live up to. I think that’s going to be fascinating. Also setting it on World War II, the Marvel version of World War II I think is going to open it up in another big way. Then the rest frankly is marketing. What’s funny is, it’ll actually end up being I think our most diverse and our most international film in terms of the movie itself. It takes place overseas much more than any of our other films do, and in terms of cast there’s a group that Steve works with that will have an opportunity for many more international actors than any of our other films.
Crave Online: Does the Marvel WWII set Captain America outside the history of other Marvel movies?
Kevin Feige: All of our movies take place in the Marvel Universe. Iron Man is the Marvel version of present day. We are going to explore those aspects of World War II that made Cap special, the Super Soldier program, Red Skull, Hydra, all those things that exist in the Marvel version of it. As you know, if you read the comic books, the origin of Captain America is really the origin of the Marvel Universe. There’s a very cool comic called The Marvels Project that I have nothing to do with but it’s very, very cool and interesting. It’s not dissimilar to what we’re doing with The First Avenger: Captain America. There’s a reason the movie’s called that and it’s because it’s about that time in the Marvel history when the idea of a superhero began to emerge.
Crave Online: When do you cast it?
Kevin Feige: We’ll see. I think if we make any announcements before October, I’d be surprised. We’re always looking.
Crave Online: Do you plan on playing Thor as a god in this other-wise pseudo-real world?
Kevin Feige: I believe that none of our movies are all that realistic. If a billionaire industrialist were to be ambushed and stuck into a cave, the odds that he would build a suit of armor that can fly away I think unfortunately is pretty slim. What is real in our movies are the way the characters interact with each other and the emotional dynamics between characters and the way they respond to the situation at hand. That will absolutely apply whether you’re in a cave in Afghanistan, in a mansion in Malibu or in a small town in the Midwest in which strange storms are opening or on a throne in Asgard. That’s really the emotional core and the realism that we’re going to try to keep to.
Crave Online: Does Hulk factor into the Avengers?
Kevin Feige: I think so. In the comics, he has.
Crave Online: Are you in a good place with Edward Norton to bring him in?
Kevin Feige: I don’t know. We should ask him.
Crave Online: How much is set present day?
Kevin Feige: 30%? Don’t call me.
Crave Online: Does Stan Lee cameo in Iron Man 2?
Kevin Feige: Yes, yes.