Who Is Kevin Feige, Marvel Studios’ Main Maestro
Oct 4, 2019   •   Matthew Arcilla
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Oct 4, 2019   •   Matthew Arcilla
We’re in the second month of a nearly year long hiatus for the Marvel Cinematic Universe but that doesn’t mean Marvel Studios has suddenly taken a vacation, least of all its head honcho, Kevin Feige. In the time between July’s Spider-Man: Far From Home and Black Widow next year, the 46 year old super producer is spending lots of time with Hollywood creatives to shape the next phase of the MCU.
And yet while we take Feige’s existence for granted, the general moviegoing public doesn’t really know a lot about him. It’s not that he seeks to be some kind of creative enigma as much as he prefers to talk about the movies and keep the light shone directly on the talents that bring the Marvel Cinematic Universe to life.
Born in Boston, Massachusetts and raised in New Jersey, Feige wanted to get into movies at a young age. After graduating from high school, he applied to the University of South California’s School of Cinematic Arts (USC SCA), the most reputable film school in the United States. Feige was rejected five times and accepted after his sixth application. “I applied every semester, basically, until I got in,” he tells Vanity Fair.
Feige decided early on that scoring a great internship would be the smart move for his career. When he saw a position as a production assistant with Donner Shuler-Donner, he went for it. As a production assistant, he walked dogs, got lunchs and washed cars. But at the time, he thought his lowly position was a big deal. “I thought I’d made it,” he tells NPR. “I thought I had reached the pinnacle of success in Hollywood.”
Eventually Feige began picking up more meaningful responsibilities on the set of films like You’ve Got Mail and Volcano. When Lauren Shuler Donner began work on the X-Men movies, it was then he became a producer which was when he got the attention of Avi Arad, the business executive who had become the chief creative at Marvel Entertainment and founder of Marvel Studios.
As Arad’s second-in-command at Marvel Studios, Feige’s extensive knowledge of the Marvel Universe and passion for film led to a promotion. Working on thirteen movies ranging from Daredevil and Elektra to Spider-Man 3 and X-Men: The Last Stand, it’s safe to say that Feige has probably seen almost all there is to see in trying to adapt comic books to film. One can be sure the valuable lessons learned inform his oversight of the MCU.
After a lot of scripts supervised, talents wrangled and egos soothed, Feige became President of Production at Marvel Studios. While his promotion was part of the restructuring of Marvel, it was also a result of successful negotiation that scored a $525 million investment from Merill Lynch in exchange for precious Marvel IP as collateral to finance the very first films in a Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Feige often cites the work of blockbuster auteurs like Spielberg, Lucas, Zemeckis as an influence and so it’s no surprise he’s also mentioned being a fan of Star Wars. And with all the success that Marvel Studios has racked up under his leadership, it’s no surprise that he’s working with Lucasfilm boss Kathleen Kennedy to determine how he can bring such massive financial and critical returns to a galaxy far, far away.
Feige is reportedly a big fan of Spider-Man, which might seem unremarkable as he’s in the employ of Marvel. But he’s such a big fan that he sent feedback to Sony Pictures on how they could refine 2014’s Amazing Spider-Man 2. His love of the webslinger is so true, he offered input on a film whose failure would have been a win in his court.
I’m not one to pledge allegiance to corporations like Disney just because they possess a majority of the world’s pop culture childhood but Spider-Man existing outside of the Marvel Universe is criminal. Feige knew this and it’s why he brokered the deal directly with then Sony Pictures chair Amy Pascal that let Sony keep a lion’s share of the profits from Marvel-produced Spider-Man solo films in exchange for appearances in the MCU.
It’s a deal that rewarded both Sony and Marvel/Disney with a shit ton of box office revenue and this year’s Spider-Man: Far From Home became the first Spider-Man film to rake a billion dollars. The partnership was reportedly in jeopardy when Disney wanted a bigger share of profits in exchange for Marvel’s continued participation, but in just a few weeks Feige repaired the relationship ensuring Spider-Man’s MCU future.
What are your thoughts on Feige’s influence on the MCU and SW? Tell us below!
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