At the end of last year's "Avengers," they teased a character known as Thanos, a kind of celestial overlord looking down at our heroes and, undoubtedly, pulling the strings. If there's a real-life equivalent, then it's probably Kevin Feige, the producer of the Marvel movies and head of Marvel Films, who has been instrumental in the ambitions, multi-phase rollout of the Marvel superheroes (even before Disney bought the properties).
Kevin Winter/Getty Images
With "Thor: The Dark World," Feige is not only following up 2011's "Thor," but also using the opportunity to explore some of the things brought up in "The Avengers." If there's one guy who knows what the next 10 years of Marvel superhero movies look like, it's him. Except that Feige is basically a politician at this point, knowing when to dole out remarks that will keep the fanboys fed but keeping the meatier aspects of his future plans to himself.
When we spoke to Feige, he talked about how long the plans for "Thor: The Dark World" have been around, fans' unexpectedly overwhelming response to Loki, using directors with distinctive voices in Marvel projects, and the future of Marvel movies in Disney parks.
Moviefone: When you made the first "Thor," it was something of an X-factor.
Kevin Feige: Well, back then we knew where we wanted to go, which was right into "The Avengers." We knew that we wanted Loki to be the main villain in that first film, and sort of focus on Loki's origins as much as Thor's origins in that movie. Coming out of "Avengers," we wanted to do another Thor movie to continue exploring the complicated dynamics of that relationship, which is why, at the end of "The Avengers," you see Loki and Thor flashing into the sky and the World Security Council says to Nick Fury, "What the hell? You're letting that war criminal go? He's not even going to get punished?" And Nick Fury says, "Oh, I think he will be." And that's where we start off this film.
One thing you probably couldn't have predicted was the overwhelming response Loki has gotten.
We were betting that Loki was going to be a good villain. We were fully invested in that because we started filming "The Avengers" before the first "Thor" even came out. We figured that people would respond to Loki as a bad guy, in the same way we were talking about, This Robert Downey Jr. could be a cool choice for Tony Stark, just like Johnny Depp was for Jack Sparrow. We were thinking Loki could be an interesting, layered villain like Magneto is in the "X-Men" franchise. So, in that respect, we thought that he could be a very dynamic choice. To the extent that Tom Hiddleston has brought this character to life and I've been on the junket tour with Tom in South Korea and 7,000 screaming fans at a mall in South Korea for the bad guy? That I would not have expected and couldn't be happier.
What was so great about "Iron Man 3," and looks like it will be the case with "Guardians of the Galaxy" and "Ant-Man," is that you're hiring filmmakers with strong, original voices. Will that be the case going forward?
I hope so. We always look for filmmakers with the hope that they'll add their own talents and spin to what we're working on. I think that's the case with Shane [Black], it's certainly the case with Alan [Taylor], and its definitely the case with Edgar [Wright], because we've been working with him longer than any other filmmaker since it's been almost eight years since our initial meeting with him. And I have no doubt it'll be really great.
Can you talk about the expanded Marvel TV universe that was recently announced? Is there any possibility of an HBO-ish Marvel show?
I think if you look at the variety of comic-book storylines, of course. You could do a preschool kids series based on certain comics and you could do an R-rated drama based on certain comics. Jeph Loeb runs our TV division and he would certainly be able to speak more about all of those things. Anything that's about anything besides "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." is just rumors at this point.
What is Joss Whedon's place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?
His day job is "Avengers: Age of Ultron." And that needs to take up 23 and a half of his 24 hours a day, because it's coming up fast. But that said, leading up to the script, and leading up to what we wanted to do with "Avengers 2," we kept him in the loop on what we were doing; he read the drafts, saw the early cuts, and in some instances gave some lines of dialogue for some sequences. Everything we're doing has ramifications for his film, so keeping him in the loop for those things in smart, and if we can get that Joss Whedon wisdom peppered throughout the other films, we'll take it.
Are you interested in keeping Joss on in some capacity after "Avengers: Age of Ultron" is through?
Well, that's a long, long way off, but we'll have to see. It's certainly all about Phase 2 right now. That being said, Edgar is in the office now starting "Ant-Man" and Joss has connected with Edgar as well.
There are things in "Thor: The Dark World" that certainly point toward "Guardians of the Galaxy," particularly the tease.
Well, the best of our tags help tie up some of the movie you've just watched, which this one does with the safe keeping of the Aether, and teases something to come. And I like this idea where the audiences stayed through the credits of the first "Iron Man," they'd say, "What is Samuel L. Jackson doing with an eye patch?" And in the same way we hope that people say, "What is Benicio del Toro doing with the weird hair and the pink girl?" And that it will hopefully get the conversation going in anticipation of "Guardians of the Galaxy."
Where does "Ant-Man" stand?
"Ant-Man" is officially in pre-production, as I think Edgar tweeted a few weeks ago. He comes to the Marvel offices every day. He and Joe Cornish are doing tweaks to the draft, and they're going to start casting soon, with production starting in the middle of 2014.
You wore an EPCOT hat to Comic Con. What is your dream Marvel attraction?
Well... I wore that hat because I bought that hat and I liked the way it fit. But I bought it because I grew up going to those theme parks. And EPCOT opened in '82, when I was 9 years old and it sort of hit me at the right time. I would love to go on a Marvel dark ride. What's so great in those theme parks is being able to walk through a movie. So every time I walk along those sets, I think, Wouldn't this be amazing to walk through in a theme park?
"Thor: The Dark World" hammers its way into theaters Friday, November 8.