Marvel Studios is always looking to the future. With the imminent release of this week’s “Avengers: Infinity War” — the nineteenth film in a series that started in 2008 with the release of “Iron Man” — the studio is grappling with what’s to come, especially after Phase Three wraps up in 2019 with the release of the currently untitled fourth “Avengers” film, long touted as a conclusion of sorts.
According to studio head Kevin Feige, there’s still plenty of material to mine, and much of it is likely to spring from a hunger for more diverse and inclusive stories.
“I think that’s what’s fun to us, to continue to go to different places, different genres of film, which you hear us talk about a lot,” Feige said in a recent interview with IndieWire. “I do think that Marvel Studios is only limited by the imaginations of the filmmakers that we collaborate with, [and] to try all different types of genres and all different types of films. I think that’s what we’ve done over the course of these 19 movies leading up to ‘Infinity War,’ 22 movies leading up to Avengers four next year, and certainly want to continue to do that.”
Feige pointed specifically to Ryan Coogler’s smash hit “Black Panther” for proof that Marvel moviegoers are eager for new stories made by diverse talents. “As audiences stay with us and audiences keep telling us, as they certainly did all around the world with ‘Black Panther,’ that they’re embracing new ideas and new visions and new places and new ways of telling stories, we will just continue to grow and build on that,” Feige said.
As conversations in the industry regarding a greater desire for diversity and inclusion have started to produce results, Feige said he was confident that the MCU will be able to keep pace, and noted that the success of “Black Panther” and the excitement around “Captain Marvel” are indicative of those aims.
Before Phase Three wraps, the MCU will roll out its first feature focused on a superheroine: the Brie Larson-starring “Captain Marvel,” which will open just before the final “Avengers” film. The long-rumored project will also mark another sea change for the company, as it’s co-directed by Anna Boden, alongside her filmmaking partner Ryan Fleck, making it the first MCU film to have a woman behind the camera (while Lexi Alexander directed the Punisher sequel “War Zone” in 2004, it’s not considered a part of the MCU).
“I think it’s only the beginning,” Feige said. “I think you’ll see more and more of that in front of the camera, behind the camera and that that is what is required of us as storytellers. I think there’s a lot to pull from from the existing comics that they’ve been doing that for many, many years. Certainly with the support of Bob Iger and Alan Horn at Disney, we want these movies to reflect the world in which they are made, and be brought to life by all types of people behind the camera.”
“Captain Marvel” (and perhaps even a rumored “Black Panther” sequel) will be followed by another much-anticipated female-focused movie: a Black Widow spinoff, written by Jac Schaeffer. Plus, there are all those rumors of a female-fronted A-Force film, though nothing has been officially announced, and even MCU star Elizabeth Olsen admits to being mostly in the dark when it comes to the possibility of such a feature. Still, the studio has staked out release dates for films well into 2022.
“The films for 2020 and 2021, we’re beginning to hone in on,” Feige said. “We’ve started to work on some of them in secrecy only because we don’t plan on making any grand announcements or revealing future slates until we’ve delivered on the promise that we promised many years ago of completing Phase Three.”
“Avengers: Infinity War” opens on Friday, April 27.