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.


  1. Well – to pick on one of your points, I LOVE talking about “Irom Man 3.” In fact, I think it ranks right up there with the very best of the MCU films, in that it’s so auteurish and so completely a product of the clever minds of Shane Black (and Drew Pearce) and RDJ, who probably ad-libbed a great deal of it, because that’s what he DOES so brilliantly. The only ones that got their knickers in a twist were the highly conservative fanboys. who always want more big CGI Iron Men clashing with each other, which is BORING (and IM3 subverted that by giving us Tony Stark OUT of the suit and Macguyvering his way to success), and who for some ungodly reason hated the Mandarin twist (so Marvel was supposed to give them that problematic, well-nigh racist-stereotype supervillain who really was Just Another Supervillain? Nope – it gave us the best flip of expectations ever, and it WORKED). I hope Shane Black directs more MCU films, and especially hope he teams with RDJ again, because they are made to work together (if you haven’t seen “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” yet, SEE IT). ALL THE LOVE for IRON MAN 3 forever.

  2. Definitely with you, at least until that third act kicks in, which I’m not sure Black had a great handle on (or interest in). But I really enjoy that movie for the most part, and that twist was BRILLIANT. Maybe my favorite thing in a Marvel movie by far.

  3. Marvel films may be slightly formula, and I think Marvel has a little more say over story structure than Feige lets on. However, to simplify, Marvel movies are fantastic. DC movies are like funerals. Marvel movies have wit, humor and a joy of life to them that is undeniable. DC movies celebrate death and destruction and, to my mind, have no redeeming creative value. With most Marvel Studio movies, it looks like the director and art director have at least peeked at a comic book (with the exeception of the new FF movie, but then that’s not Marvel Studios). Just look at Aquaman for evidence that DC filmmakers don’t give a !@#$% about the source material. Plus, Ben Afflek? C’mon!

    Unfortunately, if you’re keeping score, it’s Marvel movies good, DC movies bad. No heart, little color, no sense of humor, boring. I hope they can change, but all promotions for Batman v. Superman only strengthen my point.

  4. Answer to the articles author and a few comments here – DCCU will fail because they don’t respect canon. MCU has succeed because it respects the original stories. They are not carbon copies but the films respect and follow canon. Writers write what they want and deal with editors before, during and after. Directors in the MCU do the same. As long as they respect the original origin universes the stories and characters are lifted from, everyone wins. There is nothing wrong with a a good idea, anyone and everyone will forgive that. Changes are not always new good ideas. They are departures from foundational elements that adulterate and destroy. WB doesn’t get that and thinks making another Catwoman or Green Lantern type DC film with more to come is all they need to do. DC is a superior comic over Marvel but in cinema they are still attempting to think they know the answers in spite of a template for success right in front of them. Canon. It’s why MCU is working to date. Ant-Man is about to be their weakest offering. The one guy here swooning over Iron Man 3 is so alone in his opinion but somehow thinks the world agrees is awfully funny. Dude, when you argue with a friend, one can be wrong and the other right. When you argue with 20 people that disagree. You need to look in the mirror. Your not making a Tumblr post where only the social justice warriors parade their tripe. This is more real world opinions. Get a grip. LOL

  5. Except, Dangerman, that Iron Man 3 is actually pretty decent and much better than the terrible (in my opinion) Iron Man 2 and Thor movies. You’re doing exactly what he said and looking at them as a fanboy instead of looking objectively

  6. I would have more respect for him if he was honest. The moment he says Iron Man 2 is Jon Favreau is movie, I can’t believe he is telling the truth. It was reported many times, even by Jon Favreau himself, that the opposite was true. I would respect him much more if he said our movies our coloration and we have to make sure the individual movie is put together a certain way so our universe makes sense. But no, he decide to have a corporate response. Disappointing.

  7. The Marvel movies are more producer-driven. Their process is more like a TV series (albeit one with a much larger budget) with Feige essentially acting as the show runner. That’s not a bad thing. There’s nothing inherently better or worse about this approach than a more traditional director-driven model. It’s just different. Generally speaking I happen to prefer the DC movies, but the Marvel movies are still entertaining and deserve credit for making the shared universe concept a mainstream idea in film.

  8. One critic described the Marvel movies as “great TV,” and that’s about right. They’re like very long, very expensive TV episodes that happen to be projected on a theater screen. The most “cinematic” Marvel movies were Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man movies and Bryan Singer’s X-Men movies, which apparently don’t count because they weren’t produced by Marvel Studios.

    Kevin Feige is deluding himself (or just spewing BS) if he denies there’s a house style involved in the Marvel Studios movies.

  9. Looks like Jeff Smith has never watched a DC movie or is one of these Marvel fanbois who hate anything DC. But whatever Jeff, hates gotta hate.

Comments are closed.