There’s a nice piece in The Hollywood Reporter, that’s getting lots of ink right now, in which Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige goes pretty in-depth (along with Paul Rudd) regarding a number of details about their upcoming slate, Ant-Man, why they aren’t coming to SDCC this year, etc.
But one of the quotes that caught my eye was Feige’s fairly pointed response to Warner Bros’ Greg Silverman recently stating that the difference between DC and Marvel films is that WB’s slate will be filmmaker focused and that they make “films about superheroes rather than superhero films”. Of which, Feige had this to say:
Warner Bros.’ Greg Silverman told THR that the difference between the DC/Warners movies and Marvel movies is that Warners allows directors to fulfill their visions. How do you respond?
FEIGE My response is: Look at the movies. Iron Man and Iron Man 2 are as Jon Favreau films as you can see. Kenneth Branagh has his stamp all over Thor. Captain America: First Avenger is very much a Joe Johnston film. The greatest example of that, look at Guardians of the Galaxy with James Gunn. And the one I always point out is Avengers. We knew the general structure when we sat down with Joss [Whedon]. But I don’t want you to think we gave him a story. We gave him a “Here’s where we think the movie should start, here’s where we think this character should come into it; it would be fun if something like this happened in the middle and in the end a hole opens up and aliens pour out into Manhattan.” So arguably, there were many pieces in place, and yet now that everyone has seen the movie, it’s completely a Joss Whedon film. He was able to take all the elements that were handed to him – that were studio-imposed, if you want to look at it that way – and make it his own. We wouldn’t have hired any of the filmmakers we’ve hired if we just wanted somebody who would do what we say.
To be honest, I’m not sure I agree with Feige here, and it’s worth noting that he mostly only highlights “Phase 1” films, whereas the offerings of “Phase 2” have seemed far more of a piece with one another structurally. My biggest beef with Marvel films, beyond the fact that their stakes are constantly huge yet the danger never feels immediate, is that each film carries a very similar A to B to C plot structure. The fact that literally every movie in Phase 2 (except Iron Man 3, which people don’t like talking about for some silly reason) has something falling from the sky in its third act (or rising as the case may be in Age of Ultron) tells you that there’s definitely a formula, set by the first Avengers film, that these movies are being poured into.
Yes, there are some superficial differences, Guardians of the Galaxy has some of James Gunn‘s wit, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier covers itself in a fairly entertaining conspiracy tale, but criticism is definitely warranted in this case.
The fact that Phase 2 firmly kicked into place right around the time of the Disney buy-out of Marvel, well, I’ll leave you to make your own conclusions.
Entertainment Editor for The Beat covering film, television and the occasional comic book. His work can also be found at GeekRex.com and can be heard on the GeekRex podcast. Also, your go-to Grant Morrison/Love & Rockets/Hellboy/Legion of Super-Heroes expert.