Kevin Feige talks Spider-Man, diversity, Robert Downey Jr. & more
President of Marvel Studios Kevin Feige is celebrating yet another win with CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR, and he recently sat down for a lengthy interview with Deadline in order discuss Marvel's latest film, Spider-Man, Robert Downey Jr., diversity, and much more. It's no secret that Tom Holland's Spider-Man is one of the stand-out characters of CIVIL WAR, but it was a long road to get the character back under the creative control of Marvel. Feige said that things finally began to progress when he had lunch with Sony's Amy Pascal and suggested that they allow Marvel to creatively produce the film for them.
I said the only way, the best way that we could help is if you let us do it for you. It stays a Sony character and Sony pays for it and Sony makes the profits from the film and it is marketed and distributed by the entire Sony team. That deal was agreed to, over many discussions. Thankfully, it’s now been well over a year and step one in our two-step plan is unveiled this weekend. So far, the response has been a dream come true in introducing him. Instead of it being the third reboot of the Spider-Man character, it becomes the first version of the Spider-Man character that we reveal has been inside the MCU. To Amy’s credit and to Tom Rothman, who now has been at the helm at Sony as we’ve been actively putting it all together, their support has been spectacular in allowing us to bring him into this world.
On Spider-Man acting as a counterpoint to the other Marvel heroes:
His presence in Civil War was meant to be the counterpoint. The other heroes have a lot of history together. They have a lot of angst, they have a lot of geopolitical issues that they’re dealing with, and it’s heavy. This kid basically feels like he hit the jackpot. The most famous man in the world, Tony Stark, asks him to go to Germany and participate with the Avengers and he loves every minute of it. That’s fun. That’s who Spider-Man is, and we can and will do much more of this in Spider-Man: Homecoming. You saw it in the comics; he constantly talks. In Civil War he goes up against Falcon and at one point Falcon says, “I don’t know if you’ve been in a fight before, but there’s usually not this much talking.” That’s Spider-Man to us. That’s what we love. Tom Holland, God bless him, is that in real life. This amazing young English actor who was brought over here, got into our audition process and suddenly found himself in a room, doing a scene with Robert Downey. I swear it, the exact dynamic that we wanted between Peter Parker and Tony Stark, we had between Tom Holland and Robert Downey Jr.
On the Tilda Swinton/The Ancient One casting controversy and bringing more diversity to the MCU:
The casting of The Ancient One was a major topic of conversation in the development and the creative process of the story. We didn’t want to play into any of the stereotypes found in the comic books, some of which go back as far as 50 years or more. We felt the idea of gender swapping the role of The Ancient One was exciting. It opened up possibilities, it was a fresh way into this old and very typical storyline. Why not make the wisest bestower of knowledge in the universe to our heroes in the particular film a woman instead of a man? We made changes to some of the other key character in the comic for similar reasons.
We cast Tilda out of a desire to subvert stereotypes, not feed into them. I don’t know if you saw [Doctor Strange director] Scott Derrickson’s tweet the other day. He said we’re listening and we’re learning, every day. That really is true. As long as we’re starting on this topic, it means so much to us that people know that. We also know that people expect actions and not words in a Q&A, and I’m hopeful that some of our upcoming announcements are going to show that we’ve been listening.
On Robert Downey Jr. and how he influenced the casting for every Marvel film:
We’re built on his shoulders of that performance of Tony Stark, humanizing the hero outside of the costume, outside of the suit, outside of the superhero name. I love that people use Iron Man and Tony Stark interchangeably. We said, as we were developing Iron Man 1, and working on these films, that our characters need to be as interesting out of their costumes as they are inside their costumes, fighting and flying around. Robert embodied that and became this icon, as Tony Stark. In a way that, with every casting decision since then, at some point we go, you know, this person’s going to have to do scenes with Robert so we’ve got to make sure they’re great. We really did that with every role that we cast since then. One thing that brings me great, great joy is reading the reviews of Civil War and seeing the much deserved credit that Chris Evans is getting for his performance as Captain America. He gets better and better; I think both Chris and Robert give their best performance as these characters in Civil War. That’s saying a lot considering how many times they’ve done it.
On what it would take to get a stand-alone Hulk film:
Disney and Universal would need to come to an agreement to allow Marvel to do a stand-alone Hulk film for Disney. What’s so great, and as you just said, Ruffalo lights up any room he’s in, any Twitter feed he’s engaged in and any movie that he’s in. It’s just a great pleasure to have him in The Avengers films and as you know his next appearance will be in Thor: Ragnarok, which is a whole other type of fun Hulk adventure for him that we can’t wait to get started on.
CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR is now in theaters.
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