Kevin Feige is proving himself to be one very smart man over the last couple of years in his capacity as Marvel Studio’s President of Production. Look at what Marvel has managed to produce since coming together under the watchful eye of Feige as a legit film making company: $300 million plus (in the US and Canada alone!) ’08 blockbuster Iron Man (based on a “B-level” character no less!), the first quality big screen adaptation of Bruce Banner’s alter-ego in The Incredible Hulk, and a whole slew of projects lined up for Marvel’s other big names, including: Ant-Man, Captain America, Iron Man (sequelized!), Thor, Doctor Strange, and The Avengers. Marvel Studio’s are certainly on the right track, and it’s hard not to expect their upcoming projects to be at the very least exciting.
Some of these projects have been under way for a while now, with Iron Man 2 currently filming and Thor already having a script and actors for the key roles. So we’ve been hearing occasional reports on the future of our favorite Marvel heroes. Perhaps one of the most talked about project is The Avengers, which would serve to be the first major super-hero team up film of it’s kind. People want to know who the heroes will be, who the villains will be, and what the story will be like. Since the project is so far away, there has been little news of any substance, until now. Kevin Feige came out and dropped a major Marvel bomb on fanboys, announcing that the Incredible Hulk will be in The Avengers, amongst other things of course. Hulk fanboys everywhere just made a mess in their pants. Here’s what Feige had to say about big green:
“It will have been four years since he was in a movie by that point. By 2012. I’d like to see him in it. I’m not being coy. We’re just starting the story. I was on the phone with Zak Penn this morning. He’s coming in next week and he’s going to work on the outline this summer. It’s so intertwined with what we’re doing before it. I almost wanted to get done with production on Iron Man 2, and the scripts to Thor and The First Avenger: Captain America well underway, before we even started The Avengers.”
The exciting news doesn’t stop there for all you Hulk fans, as Feige refused to rule out the possibility of a third solo film for the character: “Now at least we can talk about Hulk being onscreen and Hulk being in a movie. I think we can go to something that isn’t a surreal experience and is more a Marvel movie experience. It can tie into and be a part of this Marvel Cinema Universe that I’ve talked about.” I’ve been vocal about my skepticism about making another solo Hulk film before developing other characters, but this news still excites me. Being a Marvel fanboy before being a fanboy of any one character, I really want to see some new characters on the big screen. There are plenty of them to choose from, and they are all deserving of screen time. But I still like the Hulk, and I really enjoyed Ed Norton’s interpretation. I’d love to see something exactly like Feige is explaining; not so much a big time money making film that has to adhere to genre specific rules, but a movie that is about Hulk, for Hulk fans, and nothing more. Don’t worry about turning the character into a successful movie character, which could be considered to be one of the major flaws of both Hulk films so far. Just make a really good Hulk story, and I’m 100% certain it will make money.
For the Marvel fanboys who don’t like Hulk, Feige had way more to say on another couple fan favorite characters,discussing the future big screen prospects for Ant-Man and Doctor Strange; in the process he gave a few small hints at the big screen future of Thor and Blade.
Ant-Man – “I want to make Ant-Man one of these days. I think that’ll be surprising and funny. I love Edgar Wright. What he likes about it is that when he says he’s doing Ant-Man, people go, ‘Ant-Man? What the hell is that?’ I think that’s funny.”
Doctor Strange – “I think Doctor Strange would kick ass. I think we’ve done very well at this street level superhero aspect of the Marvel Universe. I think with Thor, you’ll see us cracking into the cosmic side of the Marvel Universe in a very good way that’s never been done before in our movies. I’d love to get into that supernatural element. I think that Doctor Strange could be a good lynchpin into that universe with ‘Werewolf By Night’. Maybe with Blade again someday. I would like to see that side of the Marvel Universe on screen.”
Now there is some exciting stuff. First off, I feel like Ant-Man is essential to doing a true, and interesting, Avengers story. He was an integral member of the team and his addition could provide the beginnings for a foe who is arguably the Avengers’ #1 villain, Ultron. IF they are going to include Ant-Man in The Avengers, they need to get the ball rolling quickly. I’m sure Ant-Man fanatics will cry heresy because of Edgar Wright’s involvement in the project – the thought here being that his Ant-Man film would be nothing more than a super hero spoof or a low brow comedy. I ALWAYS want film makers to stay true to comic characters’ origins, but I just don’t feel like Ant-Man needs to be a serious character to succeed. Ultimately, he is a hero with some major flaws (he is mentally unstable) and those issues need to be addressed, so I think Wright needs to be willing to take the project a little more seriously than some of his comedic efforts. I firmly believe he can do that, and if you don’t believe me go rent Hot Fuzz and see what he can do with action.
I’ve never been a big Doctor Strange fan, but I thought the animated origins story DVD release a short while back was well done, and a live screen adaptation of the character should be done along the same lines for audiences to accept it and take the character seriously. Yes, Strange is involved in the “mystic arts.” I think they can stay true to that and still craft a story with enough action and compelling drama to be considered a quality piece of film making. What I found most interesting about Feige’s comments about Strange were the possibilities that Marvel could start exploring the more mystical characters. I’m sure few know this, but Marvel actually had a large slate of horror-related characters, and Marvel horror comics sold well in the 70’s. The characters have made their triumphant return to the pages of Marvel comics recently with the Marvel Zombies related stories, so seeing some of them appear in films for larger characters like Strange, Blade and (dare I say it?) Ghost Rider. I mean, let’s face facts: We won’t be seeing a good Ghost Rider film unless Marvel get’s the character’s rights back, and Blade would be even more bad-ass if done by those who actually CARE about the character. I have my hopes up now. This is definitely something to keep and eye on.
All that news, and still more??? Yes! Feige also spoke on the casting possibilities for The First Avenger: Captain America: “There are only a handful of stars that mean anything here, much less overseas. I do think that will be a factor in it. As long as we have the freedom to cast the best actor for the part. Whether it’s an actor who’s been a great actor, but hasn’t starred in marquee action movies before like Robert Downey, or somebody that came out of Australia that we’ve never heard of.” Fans and press in attendance then nearly went into shock from fear of what Feige went on to saw about Will Smith and his love of the “Truth” comic storyline from Captain America comics many many years after the character was well established in the eyes of fans and America itself. The story introduced a black Captain America that pre-dates Steve Rogers. Not to worry though, Feige isn’t willing to do that story right now: “I love the ‘Truth’ storyline. I think that’s very cool. I wouldn’t do that as a first Captain America movie though. I think that arc came about four or five hundred issues into the “Cap” run. I don’t see us launching with that particular comic.” That is reassuring. I’ve actually read that storyline, and I think it’s a tremendously good story that deserves to be seen by kids everywhere. It sends a great message – But not now. Cap is who Cap is, and Marvel needs to establish him that way on the big screen first before they touch that story. But who knows? Maybe after two Cap films, or one Cap flick and The Avengers, Marvel could do an animated DVD release of the story to test how well it would be received. I hope it gets done eventually, but it won’t get done any time soon.
Finally, Feige spoke about his vision for The Avengers a little more in depth, and what he had to say was like music to my ears:
“I think The Avengers is going to have it’s own vibe. It’ll have a different tone than the other Marvel movies. It is about saving the world, because there’s no other reason for characters that powerful to band together. I think the scope and the scale will feel like a much bigger thing. Like Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. Whatever you had seen, whether Starscream was your favorite character or Megatron is your favorite character or Soundwave is your favorite character, you’re going to see the experience of that epic thing coming together. I think it’ll be the same thing with The Avengers.”
Say what you will about Michael Bay and his movies, or more specifically his first Transformers film, but it’s hard to argue that there wasn’t a great story about a possible event so massive that it would require the teaming of many powerful individuals to stop it. Basically, what I think Feige means is that they are planning on crafting a story that feels as large as Transformers did. The story needs to be epic. Fans of Transformers such as myself will say that the story was indeed epic in scale. Critics of the film will say otherwise, but it all doesn’t really matter. The thing to take from this is that he plans on making a big time film – one that fans would not soon forget. I’m excited about that.
So, is that enough Marvel news for you??? Let us know what you think! Does any of this change your mind about any of the mentioned films or characters?