The leading mastermind behind the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige, has been enjoying the success of his 11-year comic book masterpiece. In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Feige told his personal journey that began with his love for Star Wars and the movie dreams he planned to chase in Hollywood after graduating high school. He delved into his climb from unpaid intern to assisting producer Lauren Schuler Donner on films like 1997’s Volcano, 1998’s You’ve Got Mail, and eventually his introduction to comic book moviemaking, 2000’s X-Men. During that interview, Feige also revealed how using lesser known characters ended up benefiting the MCU’s longterm success.
“When we were looking at ways to set ourselves apart: 1) Produce and finish Iron Man 1, and make it as unique an experience as you could. There had been a lot of Marvel movies up until that point, and we wanted to stand apart from it. One of the ways that I knew we could stand apart was not through marquee characters. Because, at that point the definition of a marquee character was: do they have a TV show or a movie already or an animated series in the past few years? All of those characters had been licensed out already…
But, we had everything else already. And having everything else meant that we could blend them together and build a universe on the big screen the same way as in the comics. So, it wasn’t any epiphany of any kind, but simply so much of what we do is replicating that experience for comic book fans up on the big screen. One of the big pleasures from that experience is when one character from another book pops up in someone else’s.”
With the first Iron Man, the potential franchise hung on the shoulders of actor-turned-director Jon Favreau and star Robert Downey, Jr., who’s incredible talent on-screen had been overshadowed by his troubled personal life. Adding to those factors was the idea of using a character who until recent times was not one of the top popular names in Marvel Comics. Feige explained:
“We really believed in the character of Tony Stark. We believed in being able to do a version of a hero that people hadn’t seen before — the redemptive arc that he has through the film — and the notion that it’s not superpowers, it’s a vehicle, and the vehicle sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t. That his intellect is the superpower, we thought was very interesting.”
The rest is history, as Tony Stark is a household name, Robert Downey Jr. has enjoyed a career resurrection, and the MCU is easily one of the strongest franchises in film history. Marvel Studios focused more on story development and attention to detail rather than who their top draws were, unlike the rival DCEU who seemed compelled to rush out their big names–and suffered some missteps as a result.
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