Spoiler Interview | Kevin Feige on Thor: Ragnarok, Beta Ray Bill and More
There’s a pretty big problem with big giant movies like Thor: Ragnarok. Well, okay, if you think about it there are probably a lot of problems but the one that comes to mind today is that it’s pretty hard to talk about them for fear revealing huge spoilers. Lots of people want to see Thor: Ragnarok without any knowledge of what happens in it, and we want to respect that.
So with that in mind, be warned. Our interview with Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige is FULL OF SPOILERS. Some big, some small. You may not want to read it until after you’ve seen the movie – which is why we waited to publish it until Thor: Ragnarok was actually in theaters – but if you do decide to read it, you have been warned.
And more importantly, if you do decide to read it, you’re going to learn a lot about characters who didn’t make it into Thor: Ragnarok, and why some devastating major plot points made it into the movie in the first place. You’ll read the moment when Kevin Feige suddenly realizes that every third entry in a Marvel Studios franchise follows a very specific formula. You’ll find out what he thinks about MCU/DCEU fan rivalries, and maybe – just maybe – you’ll read some sort of tease for a horror-centric Marvel property in the future.
MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD!
Crave: When last we saw Thor and Loki they were at two big cliffhangers. Thor was going off to find Infinity Stones, Loki was in the throne of Asgard.
Kevin Feige: Yes.
At the beginning of this movie we kind of burn through those storylines pretty quick. Was that always part of the plan, or did you have other ideas in mind when you set those up?
That was sort of always the idea. The idea is always to go where inspiration takes us. [Laughs.] And the primary driver of this was that notion that there’s a third cliffhanger, which is where was Hulk going on a ship at the end of Ultron. An idea early on came up to combine all of those cliffhangers into one movie that tonally took advantage of the glimpses of personality and humor that we saw in Hemsworth in the first Thor, in the first Avengers.
I mean, you look at some of the… “Another!” in Thor, “Adopted” in Avengers, him hanging – which was a Chris improv – him hanging his hammer on a coat hook going into an apartment in The Dark World, and a lot of the interactions he had in Ultron. How do we take that and make [that] more of the movie? Because by this point… Thor, when we started, was a guy with big muscles, with blonde hair, with a hammer and a red cape. And now Thor is Chris Hemsworth. So we can cut the hair. We can rip off the cape. We can smash the hammer.
And that’s what we wanted to do, was to showcase this side of Hemsworth, team him up with Ruffalo and get gladiator Hulk, which we’ve wanted to see for a long time in movies, and do this much more… You know, even though we have the action in this movie, and the stakes in this movie are as big as they’ve been in any of our films, lead up to those stakes with a sense of fun and pacing and humor that we hadn’t seen in the previous Thor movies.
That’s true, Thor has always had this balance, and think that’s what I’m talking about. It had this big, epic, cliffhanger quality, and now we’re really bringing it down to a more intimate, almost “buddy movie” level. Does that concern you? Thor has always had a tricky balance between sci-fi, fantasy, bigness and humor.
It’s always been very tricky. It’s always been a fine line. But for us that’s what was fun about it. When people like yourself used to ask me, when we were just starting the production of the first Thor, “How the heck is this going to fit into the world that you’ve established Iron Man?” And I said well, that’s what the movie is about, is sort of doing that.
Now I think the audience, and I think largely inspired by the way audiences responded the first Guardians [of the Galaxy], even Ant-Man, Doctor Strange, they’re willing to follow these characters into very surreal circumstances.
Right, but they are following the characters. We have this investment in what happens to them and when that shifts a bit, between movies, sometimes it can be jarring. Sometimes it’s a lot fun because it’s unexpected. And sometimes we just have unanswered question, like, Hogun moving out of Asgard in Thor: The Dark World was treated as a big moment. Now he’s just back and there’s no discussion of that. Is that something that was on the page that didn’t make it into the film?
No, that wasn’t and that’s a real deep cut, which I appreciate. No, and even that big moment in Dark World, the way we always looked at it was not a goodbye from Asgard forever. It was a – and again this was all sort of subtext, even in that movie – but it was a, “I need to deal with my home world right now, and I will see you again. Take care of what you need to take care of, friend.” And we just always presumed that he had taken care of that and had returned to Asgard.
Where is Sif? She’s set up as such a big deal, we love her, and she’s not in the movie at all at the moment.
There is an actress portraying Sir in the Matt Damon/Loki play for one second.
Well, that counts.
Exactly! Check! Sif… there’s a great quote which I love in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Maz Kanada says, when asked “How the hell did you get Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber?” “That is a good question… for another time.” [Laughs.]
You have way to much fun with questions like that, don’t you? Are you prepared for every single one of those? Do you have a list?
No, but you’re the only one who’s asked me about Sif, so I’ll be very curious many other Sif questions I get.
I will say this, and I’ll happily save the answer for another time because I don’t want to spoil it, but we kill off The Warriors Three kind of quickly, and we move past it. There’s no time to mourn them. Are you prepared for people to be upset about that? They’ve very likable characters.
Yes, and to them I will say I just saw Ray Stevenson again last night, who portrays Volstagg, and who we’ve been huge fans of for many, many years, and he’s not that upset about it. He understood and he said “Boy, if you’ve got to go out by somebody, it may as well be from Cate Blanchett.” And he flew halfway around the world to shoot that, because we were shooting in Australia.
And it really was symbolic of two things. Of how dangerous and scary Hela is, because we love the notion of introducing a villain into a movie who, within the first five minutes, destroys Thor’s hammer and kills off most of everyone you’ve ever known surrounding him, therefore forcing Thor into entirely new circumstances with entirely new players.
And I had never even thought out of this until right now, but maybe that is a trope that we… I had never thought of this before, but what do we do in Iron Man Three? Blow up Tony’s house, blow up all of his suits. What did we do in Captain America 3? Shatter the Avengers, shatter his relationships with Tony Stark and half of the characters that have become his present day foundation.
So now you can never do that again.
In every part three, we can. And we’ve blown up Asgard in this! Oh my god, we’re one-trick ponies. Oh my god… Search what happens in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.
Oh, I’m aware.
They blow up the Enterprise.
That’s where we got it.
That works though, in that movie, because it’s the only movie where they act selfishly. So they pay for it.
Because the needs of the one outweigh the needs of the many?
Yeah, in only that one, and you’re like… that’s not Star Trek. You deserve to blow up the Enterprise for that. But then it became a trope and they blew up the Enterprise practically every time.
It was nuts.
Every movie! [Laughs.] It’s true. “Oh nooooo!” [Mimes Enterprise crashing.]
We gotta get back on track. This also might be a deep cut but I don’t care, he’s one of my favorite characters. I saw a statue in honor of Beta Ray Bill but there’s no god damn Beta Ray Bill. This was a great opportunity to have a Beta Ray Bill, and yet…
There was a Beta Ray Bill, but it was so quick that you would have the same complaints that you have now. He was in it a little bit more and it just didn’t do justice. And the feeling is, if you can’t do it justice, do it later.
So we got Hulk back and he’s finally kind of starring in a movie again. He’s been a supporting player a lot. Have we figured it out? Was there a legal issue saying he couldn’t have his own movie for a while?
There are complicated issues in regards to a solo, standalone film. There are certain rights that Universal has, certain rights that we have, there are certain rights that we share. So that when he’s included in an ensemble, like he was in Ragnarok and Avengers, that’s fine. And standalone Hulk film, there are issues that need to be addressed with Universal.
Is it trickier than it was figuring out [Spider-Man] with Sony? Because that ended up working in everyone’s favor in the end.
It’s different. It’s different. I think it has potential to be resolved someday.
There was talk about, I think Mark Ruffalo mentioned an ongoing arc for Hulk?
Yeah, when did he mention that? Because everybody’s asking me that.
Yesterday, and I think it raises the question, if you can’t do a solo film how much can you do with Hulk?
I think a lot. I think a lot, as I think we’ve seen. I mean Mark Ruffalo is as iconic a Bruce Banner and there’s been, certainly since Bill Bixby for those that remember him, and he’s done that as a supporting player in all the movies. So I think there’s a lot to do.
I love that Mark… sometimes I talk with people and I don’t know if they actually are registering what I’m saying, so I love that Mark is. And yes, there is an arc that we’ve set up, that is the arc between Banner and Hulk.
That’s something that we’ve seen in the comics a lot. They’ve shared the same body, they’ve become separate people. Are you interested in going that far or is a sort of Wolfman where the Hulk lives?
No, I think where the Hulk lives is any of the places you’ve mentioned, and all of them are interesting to us, and the arc that Mark is referencing, yes, is played out from Ragnarok, through Infinity War, and into Untitled Avengers.
Do you remember when you set up The Leader in The Incredible Hulk?
What happened? Do you ever want to go back to that? It just feels like it sort of sat there.
It is an embarrassment of riches of places we could go or characters we could reprise or bring back now that we’re… I think Ragnarok is our seventeenth MCU film. And you would be surprised how many… it’s come up. It’s come up. Just finding the right place. And as I said, if you can’t do it right, don’t do it or do it later, and the notion of “Hey, I’m here too! Next!” is not interesting to us. Abomination is in a prison somewhere too.
I did like that you mentioned that. There has become a very big divide between some fans, between DCEU movies and fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, that has become very passionate. I’m curious what your thoughts are on that. Is there common ground? Can we all just like superhero movies?
Of course. I do. I mean, I don’t know exactly what you’re referring to. I assume it’s Twitter feuds or something?
A lot of social media.
But I think it’s ridiculous. I think movies are awesome and people should go out and support awesome movies, and I go support those movies and I thought Wonder Woman was awesome. I can’t wait to see what Geoff Johns and Joss [Whedon] and the gang has done with Justice League. I guess people like rivalries, I guess? I don’t know. But I’m seeing Geoff Johns in a couple weeks for dinner. We went to this Dick Donner event together. Dick’s Superman is still the best archetype of superhero films. So yeah, just go see cool movies. What are you fighting about?
So we’re getting Cap-Wolf sometime, right?
I’m going to keep pushing. I’m going to keep pushing, every time.
You want that, or you want the story of Hogun’s journey from Vanaheim to [Asgard]?
I want a Marvel Cinematic Universe Halloween special where everyone turns into monsters and we get Cap-Wolf. It’s not a bad idea.
It’s funny you say that…
Top Photo: Rich Polk/Getty Images for Disney
William Bibbiani (everyone calls him ‘Bibbs’) is Crave’s film content editor and critic. You can hear him every week on Canceled Too Soon and watch him on the weekly YouTube series What the Flick. Follow his rantings on Twitter at @WilliamBibbiani.