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USC alum Kevin Feige: Master of Marvel’s universe

Studio president oversees record-setting comic-book blockbusters, including Avengers: Age of Ultron

The Avengers: Age of Ultron is another hit for Marvel Studios. (Photo/Marvel/Disney)
The Avengers: Age of Ultron is another hit for Marvel Studios. (Photo/Marvel/Disney)

Kevin Feige ’95, known as the Mastermind of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, has achieved incredible success with the comic book franchises he oversees.

As president of Marvel Studios, he has produced each of its superhero films, including Iron Man, Captain America, Guardians of the Galaxy and now The Avengers: Age of Ultron, which scored the second-biggest U.S. box office opening of all time, second only to its predecessor, The Avengers.

With hit after hit, Marvel’s impressive streak of blockbusters is due in no small part to Feige’s dedication to making entertaining films and a creative vision for his army of superheroes.

Feige, who has received the Pickford Award given by the USC School of Cinematic Arts, visited the University Park Campus to speak in Professor Leonard Maltin’s “Theatrical Film Symposium” class on the same night that Age of Ultron opened in theaters.

Planning and plotting

Speaking to an audience that had just seen the film, he outlined his goals for the studio and his approach to planning.

We’re dreaming, always, 10 to 20 years ahead.

Kevin Feige

“We’re dreaming, always, 10 to 20 years ahead, but realistically working, actively, within a five-year stretch at any given time. We have release dates through 2019, and that feels like tomorrow to me. I’m leaving here and going to keep working on the movies to try to make sure they’re ready.”

Age of Ultron sets the stage for “Phase 3” at Marvel, the next slate of nine films planned for release, which includes the newest installments of the Captain America, Guardians, Thor and Avengers franchises, in addition to a few new faces, such as Black Panther, Doctor Strange and the Inhumans.

Even with meticulous planning, filmmaking is an uncertain business.

Feige stressed the importance of flexibility both in being able to adjust to necessary change and recognizing when change is for the better.

“We change things every day when new ideas come along and better ideas come along or when an idea in a movie that is currently filming will somewhat impact a movie that’s still in development,” he told a packed audience at the Eileen Norris Theatre.

Those considerations are especially important, given Feige’s efforts to ensure that the Marvel universe is consistent and logical across each branch of its sprawling and varied franchises.

Globally, The Avengers: Age of Ultron has already hit $626.7 million (and counting) in box office sales. Like the success of Marvel itself, its heroes are not content to only dominate in the states.

“We shot in Seoul, South Korea. We shot in Johannesburg, South Africa. We shot in Northern Italy. We shot at Dover Castle, in Dover, England. And our primary base of operations was in Shepperton Studios in London. When we were developing the movie early on, we very much wanted it to have a globetrotting aspect to it,” Feige said. “Avengers are not American heroes. The Avengers are heroes for the entire planet.”

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USC alum Kevin Feige: Master of Marvel’s universe

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