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Marvel Studios’ Kevin Feige on THOR: RAGNAROK, MCU Timeline, Phase 4, & the Future of the Hulk

Kevin Feige talks about his relationship with Thor: Ragnarok director Taika Waititi, the convoluted MCU timeline, Phase 4, the cinematic influences of Jack Kirby and Walt Simonson, and the future of the Hulk. 

The noise surrounding the upcoming Thor: Ragnarok continues to grow exponentially as Marvel Studios has officially launched their assault on our senses promotional campaign. Yesterday, Marvel held a press event for new space opera and studio head Kevin Feige opened up about a range of topics pertaining to the newest chapter in the MCU.   

Over the years, Marvel Studios has fostered relationships with several directors that have blossomed into long-term partnerships. The Russo brothers made a name for themselves by revamping the Captain America franchise with The Winter Soldier and Civil War, so they were handed the keys to the next two films in the Avengers franchise. James Gunn went from a B-movie director, to a living geek legend when he sheparded Guardians of the Galaxy to the big screen and was rewarded by being given oversight over the cosmic side of the MCU. Provided that Thor: Ragnarok will be as big of a hit as expected, it would seem that it would be beneficial to keep Waititi in the family. This is what Feige had to say about the director and attempt to include elements from the Golden Age of comics in the film:

“Well, we’ll see. I would love, love, love to work with Taika again and I have every confidence that we will. What we’re working on right now is the next six movies. The next six movies that will bring us to Untitled Avengers in May 2019, which carries off a lot of what you see in this movie. In some cases very directly, and continues to build and grow. The notion of the Jack Kirby elements. Walt Simonson has always been an influence on the Thor series for us, obviously, he’s done such amazing work in Thor. Jack Kirby has been an influence on every Marvel movie we’ve ever made because he built the Marvel Universe with Stan, Steve Ditko, and the whole gang there, but this movie, and coincidentally being the 100th year anniversary of Jack Kirby’s birth, we really wanted to be that unabashed love letter, and a film by Taika, when talking to the art department, and saying, “oh look at that, it really should be like this”, looking at Jack Kirby costumes and background panels, and the art department doing something inspired by it and then Taika going no, no. Do this! [referencing exact Kirby art] And that’s why you have, it’s direct to translation of Kirby’s artwork which hasn’t been seen in a movie before.”

Marvel Studios is seemingly on track to continue their historic win streak of blockbuster movies with the release of the upcoming third film in the Thor franchise. The movie has already screened for critics, internet influencers, and a handful of lucky fans, and the response has been largely positive according to a barrage of Twitter posts and word of mouth. A large measure of that success could be attributed to Waititi, who reportedly has brought a whole new energy to the Marvel cinematic universe, while clearly respecting the source material.

Speculation is running rampant for Avengers: Infinity War, as all of the Marvel cinematic universe combine their forces against the biggest threat to the Earth ever seen Donald, Thanos (Josh Brolin). The third Avengers film looks to fulfill the promise by the post-credits scene from the first film when the Mad Titan grabbed the Infinity Gauntlet and threatened to take care of the Avengers “himself.” Now that it’s only a matter of months before the release of Infinity War, theories about what the future holds for the heroes of the MCU. Feige had this to say about the Phase 4 of the Marvel Studios:

“And where we go beyond that? Of course we will go places beyond that. And, of course, we have ideas of where we go beyond that. But, really, it is all good stories. And as the series finale of Star Trek: The Next Generation said, ‘All good things must come to an end.’ And part of what makes them special, there is a finite quality to the best of fictional stories through history. And we wanted to do that at the end of our first three phases and 22 movies. How we start anew and wherever we go beyond that is a story for another time. This is really about 10 years on, bringing something to a head in a satisfying and unexpected way.”

Every year Marvel continues to trail blaze new territory in their ever-growing cinematic universe. However, particularly after the release of Spider-Man: Homecoming, the timeline has become increasingly convoluted. It seems that the braintrust has been taking this into consideration and will soon be supplying fans with an official timeline of the Marvel cinematic universe:

All of that debate has encouraged us. We are going to be publishing an official, and I’m not sure when, or in what format, an official timeline. It’ll probably be apart of ah, I don’t know, apart of an in print that you can fold out and look at. But suffice to say, only in limited cases do we ever actually say what the actual years are because we never want to be tied down to a particular year and I think people assume that whenever the movie is released is when is when the movie is taking place, and that is not the case.

Clearly, there’s a road map that has been written in pencil for the fourth phase. It’s possible that it was a lesson learned from the original trilogy of Star Wars or even Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, that long-form storytelling still needs a beginning, middle, and end, in order to be emotionally satisfying to the viewers.

Recently, actor Mark Ruffalo spilled the beans that the Hulk would have a character arc that spans three films; Thor: RagnarokAvengers: Infinity War and the fourth untitled Avengers movie. Marvel/Disney doesn’t hold the rights to distribute a Hulk solo film, so the character will remain a supporting character in the MCU. It’s a clever business loophole solution to the rights issue that should satisfy both movie and comic lovers. Feige commented on Ruffalo’s future as the Green Goliath: 

“It is something when we were talking to Mark about this movie and trying to get him excited and getting him to agree to be in this movie, I did pitch to him a potential, sort of three movie arc for the character starting with this and that is what we ended up doing. Now, I won’t say where it goes, but it’s the continuing evolution of the relationship between Banner and Hulk and you see a side of it here. There’s a great line. He [Banner] says, “it’s different this time, usually it feels like we both have a hand on the wheel, but this time he was driving and I was locked in the trunk.” Are they ever going to be able to resolve that?”

While the next six films are currently in various stages of production, Thor: Ragnarok, has already opened up several new avenues for the characters and overall look of the MCU going forward. Audiences should have a clearer idea in just a few short weeks as the new movie is released and in February when the much anticipated Black Panther should pose another set of interesting questions. Time will only tell where things will go from here, but we will be sure to bring you all of the latest.

Thor: Ragnarok opens on November 3rd, 2017.

What do you think of all that Feige had to say? What are you expecting for Phase 4? Let us know on the comment boards, FacebookInstagram, and Twitter! Share our stories by simply clicking your favorite social media below!

Source: ScreenRant (1, 2, 3)

Braxter Timberlake

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