Exclusive Interview: Kevin Feige on Thor and Marvel’s Future
Damn it. We asked Marvel Studios' President of Production Kevin Feige about whether the new Marvel TV series would be more diverse, and we couldn't publish it until the day after he announced the Netflix deal for Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, Daredevil and Iron Fist. Why did we wait, you ask? Because we also talked in detail about that teaser at the end of Thor: The Dark World, and we got Kevin Feige to drop a revelation about a cornerstone of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. We couldn't release that information until audiences had a chance to see it. That doesn't do anyone any good. Why spoil it?
But read on, dear readers, for Kevin Fiege will also talk about the evolution of the Thor franchise, the role of magic in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, how long you'll have to wait to see the follow-up to that big cliffhanger, the upcoming plans for Hawkeye, the current fate of the Runaways movie, and hints as to what direction the "Daredevil" TV series will take.
MAJOR SPOILER ALERT.
CraveOnline: To the outside observer, it looked like you were really eager to hire a “Game of Thrones” director to work on Thor: The Dark World. Is it a coincidence that so many directors from the show were up to direct this?
Kevin Feige: No. It was a conscious effort to look to a place that we hadn’t looked for our filmmakers, which was television. I had admired the way the producers of the Harry Potter franchise had found David Yates, who ended up doing their four final movies, and he’d come from television. So I hadn’t necessarily avoided that, but I hadn’t ever necessarily paid particular attention to television directors. So there was an effort to look into that pool of directors. I think television is as good today as it’s been ever, and that there are very talented people doing it, and that led us to both Alan Taylor and the Russo Brothers, who are doing Captain America: The Winter Soldier for us.
What was it that gave Alan Taylor the leg up? What was it about him that inspired you?
I think it was the fact that, if I were to list the best shows of the last ten years that had brought about this new golden age of television I was talking about – “The Sopranos,” and “Mad Men,” and I was talking about “Boardwalk Empire,” and I was talking about “Game of Thrones” – and I started to look at the directors of those projects. There was one name that started popping up amongst all of them, and that name was Alan Taylor. Clearly, most recently, his work on “Game of Thrones” had somewhat of a parallel to the realms of action and fantasy that we touch on in the Thor movies, and to my great happiness he was very interested and agreed to come on board.
In many respects, it feels like Thor: The Dark World is Loki’s movie. It feels like he has the most character development over the course of the film. Is this a reaction to the fan craze over Loki? There’s a cult of Loki out there.
[Laughs] Yes. We’re mid-way through the press junket now, and I would say that’s 100% true having walked through a South Korean mall with 7,000 screaming fans for Loki. It was pretty amazing for Tom. I think it’s a testament both to the character of Loki that we’ve developed over three movies now, and of course to Tom Hiddleston’s portrayal, being able to be so likable and charismatic a villain.
We see in the film that Selvig has been driven mad as a result of Loki’s mind control. Can we expect to see Clint Barton going through the same thing the next time we see Hawkeye?
Well, I think we saw that in The Avengers already. We saw the scene where he is with Widow, and he’s coming out of that, and he’s dealing with the repercussions of that. That was sort of it for Hawkeye. Selvig was held in that Loki trance a little bit longer and only popped out at the very, very end, so I think his repercussions [are more significant]. And also, Hawkeye is a field operative of SHIELD. Selvig is a university professor. [Laughs] So they deal with it in different ways.
Hawkeye is my favorite superhero. He’s the first Marvel character I ever read.
Are there big plans for Hawkeye? He’s the one Avenger whose future in the films is still a question mark.
Well, he definitely plays a very large part in Age of Ultron. So that’ll be the next place to further evolve the Hawkeye character.
Do you think it’s ironic that of the Marvel Studios films, the ones that seem to have the most actors of color as the ones about Norse gods?
Is that true?
We have Nick Fury, obviously, but we have Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje in this film, we have Idris Elba, we have Tadanobu Asano… It just seems like it’s a very diverse cast. It also seems like there are more women in the Thor movies in major roles. Or am I crazy?
No, I wouldn’t say we necessarily said, “The Thor franchise will be our most diverse!” but it’s always an important aspect when we make our movies, and obviously with Jim Rhodes in the Iron Man franchise, and in the next Cap film we’ve got Anthony Mackie playing Sam Wilson, The Falcon, for the first time. And again all that is from the Marvel comics. In the case of Thor, it was just casting the best people for the part. Ken Branagh had the idea to cast Idris Elba as Heimdall and we didn’t blink at that chance to do it. Adewale, I think he read for the part, but ended up being by far the best actor for Algrim. So it was just focusing on the most talented person for the job.
It seems like there’s a shift from the Kenneth Branagh version which was more operatic, and now you’re trying to ground it a bit more. Was that an intentional shift away from gods and Shakespeare?
Well, I don’t know that we wanted to move away from gods and Shakespeare necessarily. I would say that what is operatic about the first movie is the sense of fathers and brothers and sons and the family story, which certainly continues and I think grows even further in Thor: The Dark World. But in terms of this world, and wanting to explore other worlds, we wanted it to feel more lived in, to feel more expansive, and the way to make something feel more expansive is to root it in some kind of reality. We shot on location in Iceland for one of the planets. We shot in London for London, which adds a big scope to the Earth scenes. We shot in Bournewood, outside of London, for one of the worlds. And much of Asgard is built on a second unit that we had in Norway. While the city of course is built and created, the landscapes and the camera moves and the helicopter moves are all real.
One of the other ways you grounded Thor at the beginning is to say that the magic of the Norse gods is actually a form of science. In fact, all of the Marvel Studios films so far seem to be very science-based. Would that be the take on any magical characters? This is a science-fiction based universe, and any magic is just a form of science?
Well, I think as we get into the supernatural and Dr. Strange and things like that, there’s always other explanations for things. We’re very interested in that, as we were in Thor, to say, “Well, it might look like look like magic to you, but that’s technology to them.” There could be equal explanatory layers to any of the things that we put onto film from any of our comics, just because that’s interesting. Some days maybe the answer is, “No, you could look a million different ways, the answer is it’s magic.” Some characters will buy that, some characters won’t. That’s part of the interesting thing about this diverse universe we’re creating in the movies.
I know the feature film slate is set for the next couple of years, but in the TV series that were just announced, do you think that’s a chance to showcase heroes of different genders and ethnicities?
Yeah, well, I don’t think anything was actually announced. I think anything beyond “Agents of SHIELD” is a rumor right now. But, that being said, the success of “Agents of SHIELD” has inspired Jeph Loeb and his Marvel Television division to continue to look for Marvel characters that would make great series, of which there are some that could fit that build.
You just got some characters back recently from other companies, like Daredevil. Did you get Daredevil back?
I’ve been saying for years that Daredevil would be better suited for a TV series than a feature film. It just seems like a superhero lawyer working on a case-by-case basis could work wonders. Has that occurred to you as a possibility?
The future of that particular character is being discussed right now, and could be anything. You know, you look at the procedural, is that what they call it? “The Procedural,” on television?
That could fit the bill.