Marvel has been in the news so much lately – but not because of anything they’re releasing – that it was only a matter of time before someone asked Kevin Feige about it. That someone turned out to be Ash Crossan of Entertainment Tonight, who spent a few minutes questioning the Marvel Studios president on the red carpet for the premiere of The Marvels. Crossan asked Feige about some of the topics we’ve all been speculating on since that Variety piece ran a week ago, and his answers were alternately evasive and revealing. You can see the interview in the Twitter post below:
— Entertainment Tonight (@etnow) November 8, 2023
Okay, first of all, do you notice how good at this Feige is? I don’t just mean his answers, but his demeanor. He’s light, loose, and even made me laugh once. And most importantly, he doesn’t go out of his way to denigrate anyone or anything. Why can’t he teach some of the obnoxious Disney stars how to give interviews without seeming like the smuggest human being on the planet?
First, Crossan asks him about “the MCU going forward,” and Feige wisely keeps his focus mostly on The Marvels and the Loki finale, the two big events (for them, anyway) releasing this week. While Crossan speculates about Easter eggs and X-Men, Feige sidesteps and asks that The Marvels be taken on its own as a movie with “a beginning, a middle, and an end.” This is a sparring match; Feige wants the attention on the movie opening now, but Crossan – though she won’t say it, nor should she – knows nobody cares and wants to get some information about new projects down the road. And Feige handles himself well, which, unfortunately, means we don’t get much out of him on this topic.
Well, at least, we don’t get much till the X-Men come up. Feige talks up X-Men ‘97, the upcoming continuation of the excellent 90s animated series, and again, he says all the right things. He claims the finished episodes he’s seen “bring you back to that core of who the X-Men are and that soap opera that those characters represent.” I have no idea if he’s on the level about this, but it’s a much better way to sell the show than talking about the race and sexuality of the writers. But regarding the X-Men’s live-action debut, he says we’ll see “perhaps soon.” With this, he’s playing up the rumors that The Marvels will see the X-Men enter the MCU without confirming or denying anything, and it’s a brilliant answer. This is Feige doing more to entice people to see The Marvels than any of the trailers or cat posters have. If the X-Men don’t show up, he can say he wasn’t talking about this movie, but if they do, this will be seen as a sly hint from Feige. But he put the idea out there, and he did it on purpose.
This next bit is less significant, but it speaks volumes about how badly phases 4 and 5 of the MCU have been going. Crossan asks Feige when we may next see Harry Styles, who played Eros in the mid-credits scene of Eternals. Feige completely evades this with a “We will see.” This is because Eternals bombed, nobody liked it, and it’s mostly been disappeared from the MCU. If Eros turns up again, it will probably be in something that has nothing to do with Eternals, like a Thor or Avengers movie, so he can be folded into a film that might draw a crowd. The lack of cohesion or an overarching plan is something many have noticed in the post-Endgame MCU, and that new book says that there was no plan, that even Kang being the central villain was a spontaneous decision. Eros was met with so little fanfare that I don’t think anyone would care if he’s dropped and never mentioned again, and something tells me Feige wishes he hadn’t come up in this interview. Would the same be true of, for example, Hercules, who was introduced in the mid-credits scene of Thor: Love and Thunder? (I also like how he plays off the suggestion of Taylor Swift playing Dazzler in Deadpool 3: “Lot of musicians.”)
Then comes the biggie when Crossan asks him about “fallen Avengers” coming back, specifically Iron Man and Black Widow. Feige’s answers to this are very interesting. First, he pretends he has no idea what she’s talking about, which is utter nonsense; there’s no way on Earth he’s not aware of every detail in the Variety article. He’s dodging because he wants to hide Marvel’s desperation. I get it, but don’t believe that bewildered reaction. But his answer is pure politics: “We did not discuss that at the retreat.” That prepositional phrase is the key; specifically at that retreat, they didn’t talk about begging Robert Downey Jr. to accept tons of cash and a solid gold Mickey Mouse statue to return. Maybe it happened at the water cooler, maybe there was a lunch at Spago, but it wasn’t at the retreat. It’s the only way he could do it, but it’s transparent as hell. Whether or not this happens, I have zero doubts that it’s being discussed, wherever those talks are happening, and Feige is covering his bases should it pan out. He does, however, mention that they’re “doing a project with Scarlett,” referring, of course, to Scarlet Johansson. Um… what? He said “We,” meaning Marvel, not just Disney, so either this is some kind of documentary, or she’s playing Black Widow again. It could be a flashback in another movie, like Thunderbolts, or maybe she recorded a video that gets unearthed… or maybe they’ve spoken with her about Secret Wars. One doesn’t preclude the other, but stuff involving at least one of the original Avengers is happening.
Oh, and he also confirms he is not making a Star Wars movie, in case anyone still thought that was going to happen.
This quick chat is more illuminating than it seems, not only about the big stuff down the road but the state of the Marvel Cinematic Universe after a few years of blunders. And Feige played this just right. It’s funny, people used to say he seemed awkward in interviews, but now, he’s a pro. I’m not saying I love what he’s doing with Marvel, but credit where it’s due.