On October 15, Disney announced that Kevin Feige has been promoted to Chief Creative Officer. Previously the President of Production, the new position puts Feige as not only head of Marvel Studios but of publishing, animation and live-action Marvel productions.
I’ve been on board for the MCU since the beginning. At this point, I had already fallen in love with superhero movies and am eager for more. However, I also had my hopes dashed by the cruel harbingers called Studio Interference and Rewrites. After experiencing “X-Men: The Last Stand,” “Superman Returns” and “Spider-Man 3” in a single year, you’re hardly the same person.
When “Iron Man” released in 2007, we were excited but cautiously optimistic. We have all been burnt before. At the time, what Marvel pitched was ambitious but impossible. Before 1999, there weren’t a lot of successful Marvel comic book movies on the scene. It was strictly DC’s ballgame, even with how both the Superman and Batman movie franchises were faring.
At that time, Marvel’s successful franchises were “Blade” and “Men in Black,” both of which are low on the Marvel comics hierarchy. The fact that genre films were a niche thing didn’t help matters much. Yes, outlets like Jurassic Park or Lord of the Rings did hit it big. But for the most part, sci-fi and fantasy movies were a big risk.
These movies had to appeal to a wide audience and thus had to tone down the weirder side of the genre. I always wanted the MCU to fully leap into the stranger side of the comics, but Marvel always downplayed it. Things like Thor being a Norse god but technically an alien or character redesigns. I understood certain elements were harder to translate into live action, but I still wanted Zola as a floating head in a robot suit. Was that really so much to ask, Marvel?!
Originally, I thought Marvel’s adherence to “realism” was to protect “Infinity War.” When you’re betting a twenty-movie franchise on one event, you have to insure yourself, right? But then I did some research and discovered Isaac “Ike” Perlmutter. While Feige was the president of production, Perlmutter was the studio’s owner until the Disney buyout in 2015. Kevin Feige helped make the MCU what it is today, and Perlmutter was there battling with him every step. Remember that cruel harbinger I mentioned earlier? Studio Interference? Well, he’s back!
Perlmutter was the head of the creative committee for the MCU and often fought Feige for control. Frequent film productions derailed, causing problems for both film and crew? Ronan the Accuser‘s lackluster appearance in “Guardians of the Galaxy”? Joss Whedon quitting after Age of Ultron? Edgar Wright leaving Ant-Man two months before filming? All the committee’s doing.
The last straw happened during the production for “Captain America: Civil War.” Angry about the film’s large budget, among other creative disagreements, Perlmutter wanted to scale things back. This was after Feige had spent 12 movies proving how invaluable his influence was for Marvel Studios. This was further than any other franchise had journeyed! Furious, Feige laid down his demands. Perlmutter and his committee would back off or he’d walk. (In case you’ve made it this far and have mixed feelings about Perlmutter, you should know he’s friends with Donald Trump. Yep!)
Disney interfered, allowing Feige to report to Alan Horn and basically banished Perlmutter from the movies. After that, you can really see how Feige and Company spread their wings. In Phase 3 alone, we saw the first POC-led film in “Black Panther” and the female-led “Captain Marvel.” Stage 3 even shifted from the boring cookie-cutter villains. We finally saw the scope of the Marvel universe with magic in “Doctor Strange” and gods in “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2.”
All it cost was the “Inhumans” TV series. A Perlmutter project, the series completely flopped after eight episodes. A moment of silence for the “Inhumans” and their noble sacrifice. Never forget …
From what we’ve seen from both D23 and Comic-Con, Feige finally has the chance to lean into these movies. They’re expanding the diversity of the casts and characters on literally every front, adding more space opera storytelling and weirder adventures. All of this before the official announcement of his promotion. So who knows how much further this could grow?
Admittedly, discovering Feige now has control over Marvel publishing first had me worried. Big changes like this are bound to cause disruptions, and Marvel has many ongoing series happening right now. Fortunately, Feige himself looks to be the only major change. For the most part, none of the chains of command will shift, save them ultimately reporting to Fiege instead of Perlmutter. Oh, sweet victory!
We’ll probably see changes in 2020, but I anticipate Fiege’s influence being more help than a hindrance. He’s pushed for more diverse and lesser-known players to take the spotlight, both in the writer’s room and on the big screen. We can see that with the impressive ways he’s used Ghost, Killmonger and M’Baku in the MCU. It’ll be interesting to see how his new involvement will shape Marvel’s future. Hopefully, it won’t include stealing more arcs and traits from less popular characters. Yes, I noticed that and I’m still angry.
There’s no telling if Marvel putting all of their eggs in one basket will be a good or a bad thing in the long run. Marvel has had its ups and downs. I will say, however, that this is long overdue. From battling Perlmutter, launching countless careers, building on Stan Lee and Jack Kirby‘s vision and beyond. Congratulations, Kevin Feige. You’ve earned it.