We interview Kevin Feige about Captain America 2, Hulk, Avengers 2, & more!
During the recent press junket for the latest adventure from Marvel Studios, CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER, JoBlo.com had the opportunity to talk to the man behind it all. It is hard not to be a little bit in awe of Kevin Feige and the massive success he has had bringing the Marvel Universe to the big screen. And things just seem to be getting better thanks to an impressively solid second adventure for Captain Steve Rogers incredibly well played by the film’s star Chris Evans.
Walking into the room to speak to Kevin I was shocked at how well he puts you at ease. Considering he is one powerful man behind a massive movie-making team he sure seems to be a down to earth bloke. During our conversation we discussed a number of things in the Marvel realm including why they chose to follow THE WINTER SOLDIER storyline. We discussed utilizing Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) as well as just how much of The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) we will be seeing in AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON. It was an enlightening conversation, and as a fan I look forward to witnessing how far they can take this rich and exciting world.
What was it about taking on Ed Brubaker’s “Winter Soldier” for this film?
Well we loved it. And I’d say it’s the best Cap run of the last twenty… or for the last ten years if not more. The best kinds of villains are the ones that have such a close connection to the hero. And we always knew that we wanted another Cap movie to focus - because we didn’t have enough time in THE AVENGERS - on the man out of time element of Cap’s journey. So we really wanted this movie to focus on his struggle with living in a contemporary world and putting aside his other life because it’s gone – or so he thinks. We see Peggy Carter, a very different version of Peggy Carter in this movie. Other than that, everything is gone from 1945 and we see Black Widow encouraging him to move on, and what about going on a date, or what are you going to do… And just as he is maybe beginning to realize that he is going to make a go of it in the modern day something from his past just comes from out of nowhere, and shocks him in Bucky. We just love that idea exploring that. And Winter Soldier is awesome! He is just an awesome looking character. He is a great, great, iconic character and people who read the comics know he has a great arc.
And with the first film you took a more “pulpy” approach. This is more straightforward action. Was that always in the cards?
It was always in the cards that we were going to have to do something different. The first movie was set in World War II and we loved that notion, we’d never seen it before to do a period superhero movie. A period World War II superhero movie and blend the genres. We always knew we weren’t doing that again and in part two he is in the modern age and we wanted to see that struggle. It also became clear that Tony (Stark) was going to go back to Malibu, Thor was going to go back to Asgard and Steve was stuck. He would probably stay with S.H.I.E.L.D. and the group of people he got to know when he first woke up and how that would lead to great conflict, the morals and how they do things would come into conflict. And that led us to, okay, the first movie was a superhero film crossed with a World War II movie so what is this going to be. It suddenly became very, very clear that it needed to be a superhero movie with a thriller, with a Seventies political action-thriller film. Like THREE DAYS OF THE CONDOR, ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN, PARALLEX VIEW.
And that is what we talked about in our early meetings with Joe and Anthony Russo - and of course with Chris Markus and Stephen McFeely, the screenwriters - and everybody started to get on board and get really excited about this. We’d never seen a WWII superhero movie, we had never seen a political, sort of paranoid action-thriller crossed with a superhero movie. I’ve always been of the belief that if you graft these sub-genres onto our films that suddenly you don’t just become “comic book movies” or they are all superhero movies. And I don’t look at the books that way. Ed Brubaker’s run as Joe Russo said in the panel today is an espionage thriller. THOR is a Norse sci-fi fantasy. IRON MAN is a technological thriller. THE AVENGERS is a disaster movie. All of these have sub-genres and that keeps if fresh for us and we got very excited when we had this notion of grafting this Seventies thriller onto a CAPTAIN AMERICA movie. Then we found filmmakers who believed in the idea and were able to bring it to life.
What was it in Joe and Anthony Russo that you felt this was something they could take on?
I liked what they’d done on their TV shows. I like what they did with “Arrested Development” and I loved what they did on “Community.” There are not a lot of good sitcoms and what “Community” is I think a lot of credit goes to the creator of that show, who I’m very impressed with. I kept seeing the same names start to pop up on things that I like and I thought, well I probably should meet these people. And that is what happened. We sat down and I was very, very impressed with them in person. They came in and we pitched them a very broad and very general idea of what we wanted for part two. Then they came back to us and they started pitching specifics and more specificity when it came to tone, look and action sequences. What they wanted to see in a CAPTAIN AMERICA movie. I was very excited about what they could do.
One of the many things I really loved is that you now have The Falcon and The Winter Soldier here. Are there any thoughts of expanding them into THE AVENGERS or will they remain in the CAP world?
Look, I mean Garry Shandling’s Senator Stern shows up in this movie from IRON MAN 2 right? That’s part of the fun of the universe, so anything is possible at this point. I told Anthony Mackie today that it’s going to become harder to walk down the street because I think people are going to love him in this movie. So like the comics, part of the fun is that anybody can sort of appear in anybody else’s move. I don’t think people quite understand how prominent Natasha Romanoff’s role is in this movie. It’s almost a two-hander between she and Cap. Just as an example of another character from another movie coming in and playing a huge part.
The two of them together were great.
Speaking of changing things around, how likely is it that you would be killing off a main character? Is that something that you are considering?
Sure. But you want to do it in a way that can stick. The comics are famous for this, Bucky being a good example of people that go away and are coming back. I think anything is on the table as you make more and more of these movies.
So we have CAP 2. We have THOR 2. When are we going to get an INCREDIBLE HULK sequel?
It’s a good question. I would love to do that with Mark Ruffalo. But part of the fun of AGE OF ULTRON was saying, you’ve seen another IRON MAN adventure before, you see another THOR adventure and another CAP adventure, but we haven’t seen the Green Goliath again. So that was important in the characters you haven’t seen – Hulk being one of them and Hawkeye being one of them – ULTRON will make up for it. They have very big parts in AGE OF ULTRON.
Who has the most control of the film, you or Joss Whedon?
Both. It really is both. The only way we can work is with a very, very intense collaboration. And I think Joss was aware of that when he signed up for us the first time. It’s still the case this time. But to his credit, he hasn’t said, I directed the third highest grossing movie of all time, I don’t need anybody. He is very, very collaborative and he is also very, very, very good. Just like the Russo’s and like James Gunn right now on GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY. We are very lucky to work with people that are so collaborative with us and can elevate our initial idea. Even to elevate something in the way that we weren’t expecting. That’s their job and the best of them are able to do that very, very well. There are things that Joss is doing in AGE OF ULTRON that will be amongst the best elements that we’ve ever brought to the screen.
You definitely seem to have a knack for picking the right director for each film. And it is usually a surprising choice. What is the secret for you of making these films work? Is there a single guide that you follow?
If there was I’d write it down and sell it to all the other studios and make a lot of money [Laughing]. I don’t know the answer to that. We don’t take anything for granted and we try not to get big egos when nice folks like yourself compliment us. We really make every movie as if it is the last movie we will ever be able to make. We make every movie as if it doesn’t succeed we will never be able to make another one. I don’t think that’s really true anymore but it keeps us going. I think we are very lucky in that the instincts we have the audience has proven to agree with and to like. That means a lot. It gives us a lot of confidence to keep doing things like we are doing. And it is finding filmmakers that will elevate your material and elevate your initial instincts. As opposed to, say, okay this is an interesting idea, I’ll see you in two years at the premiere. I don’t know if there are even a lot of movies that really work like that anymore. And certainly not with us.
This film in particular is a game-changer. I walked out of this wondering what is going to happen to “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”
Well that’s the fun right? And that was always the idea. The idea for this movie was even before the show. So they were well aware of what was coming and tune in after the movie comes out and see what happens. But the idea was always to change things up drastically, specifically for AGE OF ULTRON. We meet THE AVENGERS at a very different place as to when we left them at the beginning of the first movie in large part because of what happens in this movie.
Where is Captain American going to be heading in THE AVENGERS?
I don’t want to give too much away but it is very much a continuation of this story line and sort of going back into THE AVENGERS fold. Steve is now torn between is he just a soldier? You know there is a scene in WINTER SOLDIER where Anthony Mackie asks, “Well what would you want to do if you are not a soldier anymore?” and part of his journey in THE AVENGERS is to answer that question.
CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER opens this Friday, April 4th!
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