As soon as discussions began for a sequel to The Avengers, Marvel head Kevin Feige knew the man who gave us those The Avengers quotes, Joss Whedon, would have the perfect plan for a follow-up.
“What could you do? Joss was just legitimately like, ‘What do you mean what do you do? You do one thing. It’s Ultron,’” Feige told Movie Fanatic as he was set to launch his Marvel Comic-Con presentation.
Feige went on to explain why Ultron made sense as the next step for the superhero collective in Avengers: Age of Ultron.
“There’s certain images and story beats from Ultron’s appearance in the comics that we’ve loved for so long. Also because it’s now the culmination of phase two. So every choice that was made in Iron Man 3, The Dark World, and Winter Soldier, was all to make those movies as good as we could make them,” he said.
“But, also knowing that it means things would be very, very different at the start of Avengers 2 than they were at the end of Avengers.”
One of the things fans have long been anticipating is when the villainous Thanos would appear. We caught a glimpse of him at the end of The Avengers, but it took until now to see much more of the Josh Brolin-portrayed character in Guardians of the Galaxy.
When it comes to Thanos and when to bring him in, Feige states why he and his team took the route they did.
“In Avengers you didn’t see anything. You saw the back of his throne and you saw his turn into camera three-quarter smirk. We wanted Ronan to be the bad guy,” Feige said of Guardians of the Galaxy.
“We wanted to focus on the creation of the Guardians team itself, so we didn’t want to spend too much time with Thanos. But, we wanted to showcase that there’s a guy behind the guy behind the guy behind the guy -- the emperor in Empire Strikes Back to Darth Vader.”
But will he be in an Avengers movie, perhaps the third one, or even in Avengers: Age of Ultron? “He’s not a part of Avengers 2,” Feige admitted.
“I think Thanos does what he wants and shows up where he wants to. And I’m not going to tell him otherwise, so you don’t know exactly.”
Speaking of Guardians of the Galaxy, we marveled at how real, emotionally powerful, and even funny the CG characters are -- speaking of Groot, Rocket Raccoon and also Thanos.
“Utilizing technology is what all these movies are about. I would say that the technology, it’s not just a vocal performance. It’s a facial performance. Like Mark Ruffalo with Hulk. It’s not just Mark Ruffalo with Hulk. It’s not just him grunting, it’s him acting. It’s his face,” Feige said.
“You want a great performance. And the reason we were comfortable moving forward with seeing as much Thanos as we do in Guardians is because we had a great actor who was willing to put the dots on his face and do the performance.”
And yes, that means Ultron too in The Avengers sequel.
“James Spader is more than just the voice. He was on set for every single one of his scenes in those mo-cap rigs. That, again, was another reason we were ultimately comfortable pulling the trigger on Ultron. Yes, we liked him. Yes, we talked about him a lot. The fear always was that there are a lot of robots. There are a lot of robots in the world,” Feige said and laughed.
“There are a lot of robots in movies. How do we make a different one? One, you have Joss Whedon write dialogue for him. And two, you have James Spader bring him to life.”
When Feige talks about these new people that Marvel is introducing, such as Guardians of the Galaxy and Doctor Strange, how does he look over the catalog that is Marvel comics and decide who he wants to spotlight? Does it have to do with the stories that are already out there? Does it have to do with what people want and awareness of who these characters are?
“Ultimately [it] comes down to what do we think would be cinematic. With Guardians we very much wanted to go to the other side of the cosmic universe. There’s an amazing amount of outer space-based storylines in our comics and we’ve only begun to scratch the surface of that in the other movies. And it felt like time with Guardians of the Galaxy being our tenth Marvel Studios MCU movie to do that,” Feige said.
“We’d earned the right to say, ‘Let’s bring a bunch of characters nobody’s heard of.’ If it was just about public consciousness I’m not sure we would have done half the characters that we’ve done up to this point. But it's about what we think the public would be interested in because it's what we’re interested in as we spend two or three years working on a project.”
Feige described Captain America: The Winter Soldier as a political thriller. What can we expect Ant-Man and then Doctor Strange to mirror cinematically?
“Ant-Man is a heist movie. It’s also a mentor/mentee, a hero passing the torch film, which we haven’t done before. So those are two unique elements for us in that film. With Doctor Strange it is a classic Marvel origins story, because he’s got one of the best origins ever and it’s our opportunity to take that left turn into the supernatural,” Feige said.
“Now, what is the definition of supernatural? It varies. We love the idea of playing with alternate dimensions. Strange in the crazy acid trip way, traveling through other dimensions and realms is something we think is very, very cool.”