It’s all about 2018 and 2019. That is the mantra at Marvel Studios, where the engineers behind one of Hollywood’s greatest success stories of the past decade pursue a fitting finale. The emphasis on the present and near future is key, as there are no guarantees beyond 2019, including Kevin Feige’s status as president of the studio.
When last we heard, Kevin Feige’s current contract with Marvel Studios runs through 2019. That will allow him to finish what he started with Iron Man in 2008 by completing Avengers 4 in 2019, with a Spider-Man: Homecoming sequel thrown in for good measure.
As far as we know, there has not yet been an extension of Feige’s deal. Vulture brought up the subject at the Black Panther press junket, drawing the usual response the Marvel boss gives whenever he’s asked about the future beyond the culmination of the studio’s 22-movie narrative with Avengers: Infinity War this year and Avengers 4 next year.
“I think about it through 2019, through the movies we’ve already shot or are about to start filming. I’m hoping to deliver on everything we’ve promised thus far.”
No one should take this as any indication that Feige is ready to leave after 2019. His hats may change, but his mindset doesn’t, as he always sets his focus primarily on the immediate tasks at hand. An eye is always kept on the future, of course, but never at the expense of the present and Feige has a lot going on, presently.
The good news is that Feige remains excited about the work he and his team are doing at Marvel, especially their most recent projects.
“That’s the reason we make the movies we make and the way we make them. For years, predating the history of Marvel Studios itself, people asked me about superhero fatigue and if it was a fad or a phase. I say, if they’re all different, if they’re all special, nobody will get tired of these things before we at Marvel Studios will, since we live and breathe these things 24 hours a day. You make films like Thor: Ragnarok, like Homecoming, like Guardians of the Galaxy, certainly like Panther, and the upcoming Infinity War to keep it interesting and change it up. And we will continue to do that.”
Changing things up is critical to maintain the interest of the audience and, I’d imagine, Feige. As long as Marvel can keep things fresh, he will probably be inclined to stay. Even though he’s already been leading the studio through a decade’s worth of movies, we’re still only a few years into Feige having wrestled full control of Marvel Studios’ creative direction away from the rest of Marvel Entertainment.
The results have been the studio’s best and most ambitious work, including Thor: Ragnarok and Black Panther (which is great and I can’t wait to tell you why when the embargo lifts next week). Feige isn’t thinking about X-Men yet, but if the Disney-Fox deal is finalized, that franchise provides its own universe full of bold, new stories to tell.
The only thing that can pull Feige away from Marvel Studios is a better job, or at least one that is just as good while allowing him to work on projects he simply can’t do in his current position. The list of opportunities matching that description is fairly short, especially when Lucasfilm already has a president in Kathleen Kennedy.
Feige is often listed among the potential successors for The Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn. That job would allow him to continue watching over Marvel Studios, along with Lucasfilm and every other Disney-distributed movie brand. It’s a great gig, but remember that Feige is a producer first and an executive second, so he may not be tempted to take a job that will require even more time in the office and less in the field.
One thing’s for sure: Kevin Feige has options. He’s earned the opportunity to write his own ticket, so don’t be surprised if limiting the discussion of his future to 2019 is simply a continuation of how he’s aways operated, perhaps mixed with a little negotiating. When it’s time for a contract extension, one rarely gets the best deal by shouting to the press, “Yes, I will definitely sign an extension, no matter what!”