The comments come from a one-on-one interview with CBR News’ Josie Campbell as part of the promotional blitz leading up to May 4th’s The Avengers release. That film was a main talking point, but Feige also touched on Marvel Studios’ past and future.
Let’s start with the now-expected post-credits button scene. Feige explained what that scene will contain:
There’s a reveal at the end — the notion that Loki has made an arrangement with somebody, that somebody has provided these extremely deadly and creepy and cool aliens to fight alongside him and then to reveal who that somebody was, that’s all Joss and that was sort of the big payoff
So, who could the the big baddie of the button scene be? This modus operandi sort of fits Thanos, the cosmic Marvel Comics bad guy that has been long rumored to be included in the film. However, the fact that Joss Whedon appears to be the one who came up with the bad guy could lend credence to the rumor that the villain would be Ord from Whedon’s run on the Astonishing X-Men comic book. Personally, I think it will be the former rather than the latter, if only because Thanos would have more of a wow factor for the comic book fans in the audience.
Feige also touches on the casting of Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner. If you recall, the recasting of the character caused a bit of controversy back in July of 2010 as Edward Norton was removed from the role, which cause a flurry of statements from Marvel, Norton’s agent, and Norton himself over the brouhaha, before it was announced that Ruffalo signed on. Well, if Norton’s fans were looking for a black hat in all of this, Feige gave them one–Joss Whedon.
There had been discussion as to where to take that character and where to take the part and Joss had some ideas; he came to us and said, ‘I’d like to think about another actor,’ and we said, ‘Well, much of what we like about ‘The Avengers’ is we’re taking all the actors we had before and putting them together again, so we said it depends on who you’re thinking of — if you’re thinking of A, B or C maybe not, if you’re thinking of Mark Ruffalo we’d be open to a conversation. And he goes, ‘Holy shit!’ and takes a list out of his pocket, and at the top of his list was Mark Ruffalo! We had said that because Mark had come very, very close to playing Banner in ‘The Incredible Hulk,’ which Joss had no idea, we never talked about it before. It was one of those moments when you’re so deeply on the same page without even realizing it.”
It’s pretty clear from this quote that jettisoning Norton was Whedon’s idea. Feige doesn’t give a reason, but presents Marvel Studios as being okay with the decision as long as Whedon didn’t go too far off the reservation. It also goes to show how popular Mark Ruffalo is within this realm of Hollywood.
Feige also gave us a little insight into the creative process of how the studios worked with Whedon to keep The Avengers in line with the rest of the Marvel films:
We told him what characters we wanted, we told him how we wanted S.H.I.E.L.D. to be sort of the umbrella organization that tied it all together, we wanted the Helicarrier and we wanted Loki to be the bad guy and sort of that final, final battle in New York. All of the specifics, all of the dialogue, all of the humor and the emotional states of the characters and the interconnected way the characters relate to each other is from the books, from the other movies and from Joss.
For something completely unrelated yet something that caught my eye was Feige’s comment on the differences between the Marvel film adaptations and the DC film adaptations:
I haven’t seen ‘Dark Knight Rises.’ [Christopher] Nolan’s tone is very specific and is pretty awesome and we’re very different. I think that while we have, particularly in ‘Avengers,’ very serious moments and [it] is as dark and serious as the moments in any of our films, there’s a sense of humor that goes along with it that Joss is an expert at and that we believe very strongly that Jon Favreau really helped define in the ‘Iron Man’ films, that allows, we believe, the audience to get in even deeper into the story. There’s a lot of crazy stuff going on in our movies and we want people to believe in them and we want people to relate to them. When they’re laughing, when they’re cheering, you can suddenly hit them with something else — you open up through humor and that tone, that fine line between the epic, the bombastic, the moving and the humor is to me that favorite part of stringing all these movies together.
I find this to be either a savvy piece of marketing or a subtle dig at the DC film slate (or possibly both). This comes on the news reports that the new Superman film, Man of Steel, will be “edgier,” confirming that Warner Brothers’ film group President Jeff Robinov wasn’t joking when he said again and again that DC films would be better if they were as dark and gritty as The Dark Knight. I always thought that Robinov’s belief that every DC character would benefit from a darker tone was asinine at worst and ill conceived at best, but with this statement, Feige is saying two things. One, we have no problem getting people to see lighter superhero fare and, two, if you want an alternative to the darker, less kid-friendly DC films, bring them over here! Either way, it’s a genius statement.
Feige also hinted at the future of the Marvel film universe, stating that Iron Man 3 will “redefine” the franchise:
‘Iron Man 3’ being the next one up is a very different film than the others. I am a big fan of continuing to redefine what a Marvel movie is, what a comic book movie is; I think we did that with ‘Iron Man,’ we did that with ‘Thor,’ we did that with ‘Cap’ and Joss [Whedon] has helped us doing it now on ‘Avengers.’ Shane Black is helping us do it on ‘Iron Man 3.’
I get the feeling that many people consider Iron Man 2 to be a disappointment. I don’t, so I really don’t think that it needs redefining. However, I do appreciate the fact that they are tweaking the concept in franchise instead of doing a reboot, which seems so common these days.
And, when asked which of the four most talked about forthcoming Marvel franchises–Guardians of the Galaxy, Ant-Man, Runaways, and Inhumans–would be the next to come down the pipeline, Feige offered this cryptic statement.
Two of those four are much closer than people realize, and we’ll be talking about them in the coming months!
Go ahead. Place you bets as to what two he’s talking about. I’ll dare ya. You can pick just about any two from the list and have justification in guessing those particular films. tell you what, here’s my choices–Ant-Man and Guardians of the Galaxy. My reasoning: if they will be talking about them in the coming months, they will probably have something to do with The Avengers. Ant-Man is an Avenger in the comic books, and of the four it seems like the one furthest along in the production cycle. And if you are going to introduce a cosmic, intergalactic villain in the final frames of your big summer blockbuster, wouldn’t you want audiences to see them again in the near future? And what better concept to showcase a threat to the Galaxy than in a film centered on the Guardians of the Galaxy?
There’s a lot of other good stuff in the interview. I recommend everyone to check it out.