Recently Marvel screened Captain America: Civil War for Academy Award voters, hoping to get the film some consideration for the prestigious Oscars. After the screening, a variety of creative players involved with the film spoke about its production. Among those speaking was Kevin Feige, the president of Marvel Studios. He shared his thoughts on what made Captain America: Civil War work.
“If the audience leaves arguing over who was right [Captain America or Iron Man], then we’ve been successful.” When Feige and the Russo Brothers finally tested the movie and got a split reaction from the audience, they knew the cut was really working.
The attention to this dynamic was important to Civil War. While the comic storyline was a one-sided affair in which most fans took Cap’s side, the movie adaptation was more personal and conflicted. Many fans went into the theaters feeling one way and left feeling another. Even if a viewer took a side, they likely felt empathy for the other.
Feige was also asked to look back on the history of the Marvel Cinematic Universe films and share what brought him the most pride. His answer was a bit generic, but harkened back to the early days of the studios.
Kevin Feige stated the Marvel films he’s most proud of are all the Phase One films. Before Phase One, Iron Man, Captain America , and Thor were secondary characters that nobody knew of and the press discounted – so the fact Marvel was able to re-introduce and popularize these characters was an achievement unto itself.
It is hard for many commentators and fans alike to remember what the comic movie landscape looked like in 2008. When Marvel announced that they would be producing films for Iron Man and Hulk, some thought it a fool’s errand. How would mainstream audiences ever get behind movies featuring heroes either out of the public’s general knowledge, or who had proved a box office failure already? The only reason those properties were even available for Marvel was because they were not considered lucrative enough to be worth purchasing by other studios. In retrospective videos (like those in DVD/Blu Ray editions of the films), Feige and others often remind fans of just how tenuous the position was for Marvel when the films began. The success of the franchise is a testament to gutsy decision making.
But what about the failures? Are there any things that Feige wishes he could do over again? He was understandably reticent to deal with mistakes, but he did identify a backhanded way to get at one decision he wishes he could do over.
When pressed on his biggest disappointment during his tenure at Marvel, Feige diplomatically sidestepped the question but did offer that, “Mark Ruffalo’ s Hulk portrayal set a lot of things right in a way that made us all very happy.”
The re-casting of Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo took over for Edward Norton) was one of two high profile re-thinks in Phase One, with the other being the move from Terrence Howard to Don Cheadle for War Machine/James Rhodes. The divorce from Norton has received almost universal praise from fans and Ruffalo is now firmly planted as the definitive cinematic Hulk. Clearly the folks at Marvel would have loved to have made that decision right on the first crack. If they had, who knows how The Incredible Hulk would have performed and if a sequel would have happened.
The Oscar screening has provided fans with a lot of other great tidbits of information, particularly on the sound and VFX production. To read more check out the summary over at Collider.
What do you think is the greatest achievement for Marvel and Feige? Who is your favorite Bruce Banner? Do you think Civil War has a serious shot at any Oscars? Share your thoughts in the comments below.