Marvel's Kevin Feige on Why the Studio Won't Make R-Rated Movies, 'Guardians 2' and Joss Whedon's DC Move

If Monday was a comic book, it would have had “Special Collector's Item” written all over it.

In a rare move, and with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2's opening just a few weeks out, Marvel Studios opened the doors of its headquarters on the Walt Disney Studios lot in Burbank, California, offering a peek inside its movie-making process.

Designs of characters and worlds were glimpsed (Thanos!), dailies were shown (Black Panther!), directors such as Thor: Ragnarok’s Taika Waititi and Ant-Man’s Peyton Reed shared thoughts on their process. (Read that here.)

And Marvel head Kevin Feige sat for a small group of reporters to talk on a wide range of topics, while confirming the studio will return to San Diego Comic-Con this year. 

Here's what Heat Vision learned from Feige:

Joss Whedon called Feige about Batgirl.

Whedon spent years at Marvel not just as the writer and director of the two Avengers movies but also as a consultant, giving input on other projects. And thus when it was revealed he was taking on Batgirl for DC, fans were shocked at the news. It turns out Feige had known about it for a while. And was cool about it.

"He called a couple months ago, which he didn't have to do and was super cool of him and super nice of him," said Feige. "And we couldn't be more supportive. We want to see a Joss Whedon Batgirl film be awesome."

Spider-Man is in Avengers 4 … and Marvel has no involvement in the Spidey spinoffs.

Marvel's landmark deal with Sony has allowed the wall-crawler to enter the MCU, and Feige confirmed Spider-Man will appear in 2019's untitled Avengers 4. That's after his starring turn in Spider-Man: Homecoming and 2018's Avengers: Infinity War.  After the second Avengers appearance, it will be back for a Homecoming sequel, set for 2019. 

"That's as far as it goes for now," said Feige. (For now? Hmm.) 

Sony is moving ahead with Spidey spinoffs for Venom and a Silver Sable/Black Cat teamup movie, but Marvel isn't involved.

"We had a very particular plan about Spidey himself," Feige explained when asked why Marvel wasn't involved in Sony's projects with those characters, although he kept those plans to himself.

James Gunn's role could extend past Guardians 3.

Gunn revealed Monday that he will return to write and direct Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, and he teased that just as the first 10 years of Marvel's movies built to 2018's Avengers: Infinity War, the third Guardians film would help set up the next 10 years of movies. Feige suggested Gunn's relationship with Marvel could extend past that film, which does not yet have a release date.

"I think James in particular has an amazing connection with these characters and with this cosmic world. So he, I think, could easily oversee additional stories beyond Vol. 3," said Feige. "And I think has them and just continues to come up with them, which is cool. All of our core writers and filmmakers know what we are doing in other places and help give input on the various projects."

There's nothing wrong with Josh Brolin playing multiple comic book roles.

The geek world was abuzz last week when it was confirmed Josh Brolin, who plays Avengers: Infinity War's villain Thanos, had been cast as Cable in Fox's Deadpool 2.

"We don't have anything written into our contracts about other roles that people can do," said Feige when asked if that was an issue. "Indiana Jones and Han Solo are the same person … it hasn't been a problem. And I think Thanos and Cable are two very different characters."

Feige has no plans for an R-rated movie.

Don't look for an R-rated Marvel movie in the wake of the success of such bloody and potty-mouthed movies such as Logan and Deadpool any time soon.

"My takeaway from both of those films is not the R rating; it's the risk they took, the chances they took, the creative boundaries that they pushed," explained Feige. "That should be the takeaway for everyone."

While the R rating is an easily identifiable trait of those movies, Feige cited the breaking of the fourth wall in Deadpool and the finality of the Wolverine story as examples of what made those movies stand out.

Marvel hasn't had to change for the foreign box office.

The global box office has grown in importance since 2008's Iron Man, Marvel Studios' first movie. On its opening weekend, Fate of the Furious made $500 million globally, but just under $100 million in the U.S. And China is the world's second-largest film market, which is why the Transformers movies and other blockbusters have Chinese actors or Chinese locations — to ensure screens in that country.   

But so far, Feige says Marvel hasn't adjusted its films creatively to appeal or appease.

"An amazing thing happened as we started making movies: The world started responding to the movies we were making and therefore we didn't have to change or cater them in any way outside our own natural instincts," said Feige. "When it comes to marketing, you'll find us taking different tactics. But when it comes to the actual film itself, I cannot think of a single example where we altered anything, made a decision based on trying to appeal to the 'global market.'"

Black Panther, which had just two days of shooting left when reporters spoke to Feige, did a few weeks of second unit in Busan, South Korea, because it fit with the film, which Feige described as a globe-trotting adventure akin to a James Bond movie. (It is worth noting that Marvel included a Chinese-tailored scene for Iron Man 3 that was only seen in China.)

Humor is key to the MCU's success.

Humor is a key ingredient to the MCU's success, and that's not going to change. Marvel has been praised for the humor in its movies, none more so than Guardians of the Galaxy.

"We don't sit there and say, 'We need 15 jokes in the first 45 pages,' but it just is something that we are naturally entertained by," said Feige. "Certainly in the Guardians films, as James would point out, in the Ant-Man films — it might rise to the surface more. It's been a long time that we haven't done a screening of a film that humor and action aren't the top two things that are listed in those movies."

Humor is also one of the few things that Marvel can see whether or not it's working early on its testing process, as much of the work in its special effects-heavy movies is barely done. (Feige calls watching these movies at this stage “horribly, horribly painful … Imagine watching a Guardians movie without Rocket, without Groot, without any of the ships.")

But you know it works when the audience is laughing. "That's the only sign you get when you're in the dark theater that they are with you," he said. He added: "I also believe that laughter is the way you hook the audience. Then you can scare them. Then you can touch them deeper than they were expecting to in a film about a tree and a raccoon and aliens that don't understand metaphors. Humor is the secret into the audience's other ranges of emotions."

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