Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige offers a wide range of updates on several projects including “Black Panther 2” and the “X-Men” joining the MCU…
Few people can command an audience’s attention like Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige, who has largely served as the mastermind behind the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).
While other studios have attempted to duplicate his formula, no one has managed to even come close to Feige’s success when he decided to begin building a larger world inhabited by superheroes with characters crossing over from one film to another while inching towards a massive event much like the comic books.
After “Avengers: Endgame” closed the “Infinity Saga,” while becoming the highest grossing film in history, Feige began working on plans to expand the MCU thanks to the launch of Disney+.
In the past, the MCU has only existed in films but starting with “WandaVision” launching on Friday, Jan. 15 on Disney+, Marvel Studios will begin interconnecting storylines and characters between television and movies. It’s been well documented that “WandaVision” will feature characters such as Monica Rambeau, who will eventually go onto star in “Captain Marvel 2” as well as plans for Elizabeth Olsen’s Wanda Maximoff to play a major role in “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.”
Of course, Marvel Studios has been forced to change and adapt plans thanks to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic as numerous projects have been pushed back as well as several films being pulled from the release calendar while awaiting the return of audiences to theaters.
Despite those hurdles, Feige has been hard at work plotting the course of Phase 4 in the MCU and he revealed some of those plans while promoting “WandaVision” this week. Let’s take a look at some of the biggest revelations made through various interviews.
X-MEN ARE COMING
Perhaps the biggest question that Feige gets bludgeoned with every time he sits in front of a microphone is the inclusion of the X-Men into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
It’s been well documented that the X-Men where a key addition to the MCU thanks to Disney’s multi-billion dollar purchase of the majority of assets from FOX in 2019. Numerous other characters such as the Fantastic Four were also returned to Marvel Studios and while plans for a new film starring the first family of Marvel is already in the works, very little has been heard about the X-Men.
Not to worry, Feige definitely has big plans in store for those characters, especially after he got his first production credit while working the original “X-Men” film in 2000.
“You know how much I love the X-Men,” Feige told ScreenRant. “I already said that’s where I started. I can’t tell you anything before we actually announce it, but rest assured, the discussions have been long and ongoing internally.”
Feige wouldn’t confirm or deny that “WandaVision” could also tie into a possible introduction for the X-Men but there’s been a ton of speculation regarding that rumor considering Wanda Maximoff aka The Scarlet Witch is a major mutant character from the comic books, whose father just so happens to be Magneto.
BLACK PANTHER 2 WILL FOCUS ON WAKANDA
As part of the big end of the year investor meeting at Disney, Marvel Studios officially announced plans to move forward with “Black Panther 2” from writer and director Ryan Coogler following the tragic death of lead star Chadwick Boseman, who lost his battle with cancer in 2020.
It was confirmed that the role of T’Challa, played so brilliantly by Boseman in the first “Black Panther” movie as well as several other Marvel films, would not be recasted.
Instead, Coogler will shift his focus to the rest of the characters inhabiting the land of Wakanda and while “Black Panther 2” will certainly honor Boseman’s work, Marvel Studios won’t attempt to resurrect him through some kind of CGI trickery.
“So much of the comics and that first movie is the world of Wakanda,” Feige explained when speaking to Deadline. “Wakanda is a place to further explore with characters and different subcultures. This was always and initially the primary focus of the next story. We’re not going to have a CG Chadwick and we’re not recasting T’Challa.
“Ryan Coogler is working very hard right now on the script with all the respect and love and genius that he has, which gives us great solace, so it was always about furthering the mythology and the inspiration of Wakanda. There’s also the task of honoring and respecting the ongoing learnings and teachings from Chad as well.”
Obviously, Coogler reworking the script will delay a start to production but “Black Panther 2” is definitely on the way with the full support of Marvel Studios behind the film.
SECRET INVASION COMING TO DISNEY+
Another recent announcement was the news that Samuel L. Jackson would be returning to the MCU to play Nick Fury again, but this time he’ll be taking the lead in a new event series called ‘Secret Invasion,” which will air on Disney+.
Of course, savvy comic book readers recognized that title right away thanks to a massive crossover event titled “Secret Invasion” that took place in 2008.
In that story, it’s discovered that the shape-shifting race known as the Skrulls had replaced several prominent superheroes — some of them for numerous years — in an elaborate plot to take over the world.
An event that expansive could easily turn into a series of films but instead Marvel Studios decided to tackle a different version of that story with the “Secret Invasion” show headed to Disney+ starring Jackson alongside Ben Mendelsohn, who returns as the Skrull commander Talos.
According to Feige, the plans for “Secret Invasion” will mimic the original comic book in some ways and not in others and he admits the sheer number of characters involved won’t be anywhere nearly as large. The importance to the larger MCU, however, will remain a vital part of “Secret Invasion” when the show finally debuts.
“Well, there were more characters in the ‘Secret Invasion’ comic series than there were in ‘Endgame’ so, no,” Feige said about the size of the series. “It’s not that but it very much is a showcase for Sam Jackson and Ben Mendelsohn and tapping into the paranoia elements of the ‘Secret Invasion’ comic series that was great with the twists and turns that that took.
“So, that’s certainly our focus more than, ‘Can we cram in more characters than ‘Endgame’ like publishing?'”
NETFLIX’S DEFENDERS’ FUTURE
For all the characters that the MCU has introduced over the years, a separate corner of the same universe was created when Marvel inked a deal with Netflix for several shows, which eventually culminated in an limited event series called “The Defenders.”
Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and eventually the Punisher were all introduced with individual series at Netflix but one by one each was cancelled as the streaming service prepared to do battle with Marvel once Disney+ actually launched.
While all of the actors involved with those series have been released from their contracts and most gone onto do other films or TV series, there’s still been an outpouring of support from fans who would like to see at least some of them return as part of the MCU.
Perhaps the biggest support comes for the characters introduced in the “Daredevil” series, which was the most well received Marvel show that aired on Netflix. Particularly, fans have put a lot of support behind Charlie Cox returning as Matt Murdock/Daredevil with rumors abounding that he might even make an appearance in the upcoming “Spider-Man 3” film starring Tom Holland.
That remains just a rumor for now and Feige didn’t sound too willing to commit to any of those actors returning to portray the same characters in the MCU but then again he didn’t exactly shut it down either.
“Well, certainly you’ve seen what we announced at Comic-Con a year and half ago and on Disney Investor Day a few weeks ago, so that’s our focus,” Feige said. “But I’ve been at Marvel long enough to never say never about anything.”
DISNEY+ RUN TIMES
One final bit of news revealed by Feige this week was the run time plans for the series headed to Disney+.
Much like “The Mandalorian,” which aired episodes that typically ran anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes in length, Marvel will be exploring a similar plan with the series on the streaming service.
According to Feige, “WandaVision” is set up as a half-hour sitcom that will eventually dip into a bigger storyline involving Wanda Maximoff and Vision. That will be a similar format for the upcoming “She-Hulk” series starring Tatiana Maslany, but then “Falcon and Winter Soldier” will feature longer episodes with a shorter number of total episodes in a season.
“Well, we’re looking a little differently,” Feige explained to Collider. “We’re looking at it as developing them as either six hour-episodes, or nine or 10 half-hour episodes. So, for instance, ‘WandaVision’ started that way and ‘Falcon and Winter Soldier’as 30 minutes, but because it’s streaming, it’s Disney+, and the rules have blurred over the years, yes.
“Some can be 23 minutes. Some can be much longer than that. But ‘She-Hulk’, for instance, is being developed as 10 30-minute episodes. Some will be longer and some will be shorter. ‘Loki,’ ‘Falcon and the Winter Soldier‘ is being developed as six 40 to 50-minute episodes.”
Feige also confirmed that the upcoming “Moon Knight” series, that will reportedly star Oscar Isaac in the lead role will fall into the six episodes at 40 to 50 minutes.
Make sure to stay tuned to Nerdcore Movement for more news on the MCU including our weekly recaps for “WandaVision” starting on Friday, Jan. 15!