Marvel’s Kevin Feige Discusses Diversity, Meeting With Ava DuVernay, Spider-Man & More

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Whenever interviewers have a chance to sit down with Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige, they take the opportunity to ask him every question they can think of. So when I read the interview posted by The Hollywood Reporter, it didn’t surprise me how many topics they cover in a short amount of time.

Other than the obvious questions about Ant-Man and how important it is in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (a lot, apparently), he goes on to cover everything including diversity in Hollywood, Spider-Man, and creative control.

Marvel Studios doesn’t allow creativity

Earlier in the month, WB executive Greg Silverman discussed the differences between WB/DC’s strategy and Marvel. He stated WB hires “master filmmakers” that are going to make their own movies with creative control, and suggested it is in some way different than what Marvel Studios does with their films.

In response to this, Feige says, “Look at the movies. Iron Man and Iron Man 2 are as Jon Favreau films as you can see. Kenneth Branagh has his stamp all over Thor. Captain America: First Avenger is very much a Joe Johnston film. The greatest example of that, look at Guardians of the Galaxy with James Gunn.”

Feige goes on to talk about Avengers in depth. He says, “And the one I always point out is Avengers. We knew the general structure when we sat down with Joss [Whedon]. But I don’t want you to think we gave him a story. We gave him a ‘Here’s where we think the movie should start, here’s where we think this character should come into it; it would be fun if something like this happened in the middle and in the end a hole opens up and aliens pour out into Manhattan.’ So arguably, there were many pieces in place, and yet now that everyone has seen the movie, it’s completely a Joss Whedon film. He was able to take all the elements that were handed to him – that were studio-imposed, if you want to look at it that way – and make it his own. We wouldn’t have hired any of the filmmakers we’ve hired if we just wanted somebody who would do what we say.”

Diversity in Hollywood

A huge topic of conversation lately is the lack of diversity amongst the creators behind big budget Hollywood films. With films like Captain Marvel (featuring a female lead) and Black Panther (featuring an African lead), people have been looking at Marvel to make strides in their upcoming films.

Along with confirming that Marvel Studios has met with director Ava DuVernay, Feige discusses diversity, “It’s an issue across the industry, for sure. And the issue is, we need to find the best director for any given movie. And that’s really where we always start. If diversity is part of that, it’s great. It’s important. You will start to see things across the industry as a whole change as more filmmakers come up through the ranks and become part of making movies like this.”

When asked if he would have liked to have a female director aboard one of the movies by now, he says, “I think it will happen sooner rather than later, without giving too much away. But you look back sometimes, and it’s just the nature of this industry, or the nature of the culture. But there’s a big shift happening. What’s exciting about Marvel, go back and look at the source material: It’s been diverse in a cutting-edge way going back to the ’60s, and I think we’ve represented that effortlessly and accurately in the movies we’ve made up to this point, but certainly with Black Panther and Captain Marvel doing it in a much more overt and purposeful way.”

So, it definitely sounds like Feige is thinking about diversity when hiring directors for both Black Panther and Captain Marvel. Directors for those two films should be announced by the end of Summer.

Spider-Man

Yesterday’s Spider-Man film, there’s confusion about how much of a say Marvel Studios has in the production. Fans are worried Sony still has complete control, and we are going to see yet another Spider-Man film that doesn’t meet expectations.

“Well, we’re producing it for Sony. It’s exciting, and we’re treating it like we treat all of our films. To try to make the best version now of Spider-Man and a version of Spider-Man that inhabits this universe that we’ve created. We’re in lockstep with [Sony Motion Picture Group chairman] Tom Rothman and [producer] Amy Pascal at every turn,” says Feige. He also confirms that Spider-Man films could have appearances by other Marvel Studios characters.

Kevin Feige is a very smart man. He knows exactly what to say, and to be fair, his track record with Marvel Studios is pretty flawless. Sure, fans can discuss which films were better than others, but the truth is they’ve released 11 films since 2008 and there hasn’t been one financial bomb yet. In Feige I trust.

Look for more tidbits coming from the Ant-Man junkets over the next few weeks.