Marvel’s Kevin Feige on ‘Guardians Of The Galaxy,’ ‘The Inhumans’ and Edgar Wright
It’s kind of remarkable that Marvel Studios has already green-lit ‘Guardians of the Galaxy 2‘ — a sequel to a movie that, itself, doesn’t come out for another few days. But this says less about Marvel’s confidence that ‘Guardians’ will make money (and, let’s not kid ourselves, it certainly will), but more about how the Guardians fit in with the larger story Marvel is trying to tell with the episodic nature of its films. And this episodic nature might just be what doomed Edgar Wright’s version of ‘Ant-Man‘ — as opposed to it just being “too weird,” which Marvel studio head Kevin Feige has denied.
We spoke to Feige, who answered that question, as well as discussed the movie that’s coming out this week — ‘Guardians of the Galaxy,’ starring Chris Pratt as the leader of a rag-tag group of space outlaws that includes a talking raccoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper) and a walking, talking tree who only says “I am Groot” (voiced by Vin Diesel) — as well as if a less popular name brand like ‘Guardians’ opens the door for a whole slew of lesser-known-in-the-mainstream titles like ‘The Inhumans.’
The last few times we’ve spoken, we’ve started with Vin Diesel. Here we are. You did it.
[Laughs] He’s here. He’s in.
On the Blu-ray of ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ I’d like to see the footage of Vin Diesel saying “I am Groot” over and over.
We not only have that — not on the Blu-ray, necessarily — but we have that material in English and we have it in five or six other foreign languages, which he did. So if you want to travel the world and hear Vin Diesel as Groot in six or seven different languages, you could do that.
I can’t afford to do that, but I would like to hear that.
[Laughs] Yes, he has done it.
Please put that on the Blu-ray.
That would be fun.
What are the chances that one of the untitled Marvel movies that have been announced is ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Origins: Groot’?
You want a standalone Groot movie?
I’d pay money to see that.
One of my favorite things about ‘Guardians’ is that they’re at least three or four characters that all attempt to steal the movie and come very, very close to succeeding in stealing the movie. Groot, without a doubt, is one of those.
Does this surprise you?
No! No, I’m very pleased with it. I mean, that was always the idea; that was always the intention and I’m very, very pleased that James [Gunn] and Vin and the amazing effects team on the film have achieved it.
With a movie like ‘Guardians,’ if this winds up being as successful as it’s supposed to, does it make you feel that anything is possible as far as the more obscure Marvel properties? Most people didn’t know ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ when this was first announced.
Well, listen, I’m knocking wood because the movie’s not out yet…
I did say “if.”
Anything can happen. And we certainly don’t think that we could do anything because we only do things that we really, really believe in and we believe have a chance of succeeding. Mainly because all of us at Marvel are excited about it. And we’ve always said, and it’s been a mission statement of ours, of translating the great characters and the great material from the comics onto the big screen for as many people as possible. Whether it’s something that people know very well and is very famous and have heard of, or something that was less well known. Certainly ‘Guardians’ falls into that category. But, as I’m sure you remember, ‘Iron Man’ and ‘Thor’ and ‘Captain America’ and even ‘The Avengers’ fell into that category in the years prior to the release of the film.
Not as much as this, though.
I would say Iron Man had probably appeared in some cartoons series in the ’60s and guest starred in other people’s cartoon series, which gave him an ever so slight edge, yes, than ‘Guardians.’
But I feel ‘Guardians’ opens the door for something like ‘The Inhumans,’ which isn’t as well known in the mainstream, but now seems more possible.
[Pauses] I think it would be a reminder that it’s not about the previous popularity of a character that is the driving factor in the success of the movie, it’s the quality of the movie and the marketing that is a success. You know, people seem to — listen, one of the reasons I wanted to do the movie, we wanted to do a big space opera, we wanted to explore the far reaches of the cosmic side of the Marvel universe in the comics and bring it into our cinematic universe. Which we did with Thor and Avengers — but, really, really blow it out. And we also wanted to something that could be deemed original and unique. And other than the Marvel logo above the title, this may as well be a brand new film-going experience for people. And I go back to my own childhood in the ’80s and I had no idea who Indiana Jones was before I saw ‘Raiders.’ I had no idea who Luke Skywalker was before I saw ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Empire,’ I had no idea who Marty McFly was before I saw ‘Back to the Future.’ And it is possible, I hope — knocking on wood before we come out in a week and a half — that we can get back to that. That we can get back to a point where it’s not about how famous something is before the movie, it’s about the movie itself.
You announced dates for movies out until 2019, do you know what every single one is? Is it 100 percent locked in, or can they change if something happens?
Well, listen, you can change anything. Not our movies, but look at some movies this year that were scheduled to come out in a particular month and it gets pushed or moved. And, sometimes, that’s what’s best for the movie. So, anything can happen. But, we do know what the movies are and what we’d like the movies to be. And, like we’ve always had, is a game plan that we’re not afraid to, I don’t know, I’m sure there’s some sports term — a “call on the fly” or something? I’m not a sports guy! — but we’re always open to adjusting when need be. But, yes, we know what they are and what we’d like them to be and how we’d like to proceed on them.
I’ve read your quotes on Edgar Wright departing from ‘Ant-Man’ and you’ve been adamant it has nothing to do with his version being too bizarre. The Marvel Studios movies have become like episodic television now. Is this just a case of his ‘Ant-Man’ not fitting in with the episodic nature of the rest of the movies? Does it still need to “fit” with the rest of the movies?
I think it does, to a certain extent. Sure. But, again, if somebody were to do a double feature of just our two most recent movies — for example, you do a double feature of ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ and ‘Guardians of the Galaxy,’ you would have no idea those two are related, probably, except for the Marvel logo and the fanfare at the beginning. So, we like all of the movies to stand apart and, yet, fit together. So, we’re always finding that balance. For sure.
Mike Ryan has written for The Huffington Post, Wired, Vanity Fair and GQ. He is the senior editor of ScreenCrush. You can contact him directly on Twitter.