Axel-In-Charge: Navigating the "Civil War II" Landscape, Bringing DMC to Marvel
David Letterman’s farewell last night after 33 years on television was packed with tributes from the likes of Tina Fey, Bill Murray, Peyton Manning and the Foo Fighters. While the Simpsons apparently weren’t able to appear in person on the Late Show — hey, Beavis and Butthead pulled it off in 1996 — they did send along a clip that pokes fun both at Letterman and their own long-running series.
What did you do last weekend? Nothing much, probably; no real reason to get excited. After all, it was just another awesome Marvel movie opening. Granted, “awesome” isn’t an objective description, and surely some people had a pretty miserable time. But judging from reviews, user ratings and my own anecdotal observations, odds are a significant majority of the approximately 11 million people who watched Captain America: The Winter Soldier enjoyed it.
The film has been thoroughly reviewed — you can read CBR’s take here — so I won’t get into a big assessment. (Suffice it to say, I liked it.) Instead ,what I want to talk about is the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe, and how it hasn’t just successfully adapted stories and characters, but the very experience of the Marvel Comics Universe.
It is now well-documented that Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige is a big comics fan. The difference, however, is that he didn’t grow up with them, but schooled himself on Marvel’s stories while working under producer Lauren Shuler Donner on the first X-Men movie. That distinction might have given him the ability to view the characters and concepts without being hindered by nostalgia, and helped him to dissect how Marvel’s framework could be used for future movies. Hollywood is an even more collaborative business than comics, so it’s unlikely that credit rests solely with Feige. But he certainly was an advocate for leaning more faithfully into the source material.
Bloomberg Businessweek‘s profile of Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige, timed to coincide with the release this week of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, naturally focuses on the film division, but it also drops some fascinating nuggets about the company’s corporate culture and the 2009 purchase by Disney.
• “In March, Feige gave me a tour of Marvel Studios at Disney headquarters in Burbank, Calif.,” writes Devin Leonard. “The offices are furnished like a college dormitory, with threadbare couches. The hallways are decorated with cardboard superheroes hawking Pizza Hut and Burger King. There’s barely enough room in Feige’s office for a replica of Thor’s hammer.” While that description may come as a surprise to some, Marvel CEO Isaac Perlmutter has a well-established reputation as a penny-pincher, reusing paper, limiting the number of coffee pots and even fishing paperclips out of trashcans.
“… Since X-Men 1, frankly, where a photo was stolen off a wardrobe thing and it was the very first look of Hugh Jackman in costume as him under fluorescents … it looked awful. It was just like, ‘Oh, this is the world we are living in. This is the reality.’ So we’ve always just accepted it. Spy pictures will leak and we used to try to run ahead and put out a cool picture first and now if we have a cool picture we will put it out, but if we don’t, that’s OK. Misinformation … You know, it gets a little annoying when somebody is like, ‘This is what’s happening! This is what Kevin Feige is doing!’ It’s annoying when they are right and it’s equally annoying when they are wrong, because everybody passes it. ‘Planet Hulk is the next thing’ and everybody talks about it and you’re just like “OK, but you’ll be disappointed if you’re expecting it.’”
– Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige, discussing how the company deals with leaks and rumors
Although a lot of folks are focused on Comic-Con International and the roll out of the panel schedule this week, Disney’s D23 Expo announced their “arena schedule” for their next event, scheduled for Aug. 19-21 in Anaheim.
I attended the first D23 event two years ago, and the arena presentation were by far the highlight of the weekend. They were announcement-filled, star-studded affairs with all sorts of Disney flair. For instance, the presentation by Walt Disney Studios included appearances by John Travolta, Nicholas Cage, Robert Zemeckis, Tim Burton, the Muppets and Johnny Depp dressed as Jack Sparrow, as they announced the latest Pirates of the Caribbean movie. And during the Disney Parks presentation, Darth Vader and a load of stormtroopers came out to announce the Star Tours upgrade.
The first D23 Expo was held right after Disney had announced they were buying Marvel, so the House of Ideas didn’t have a presence. But what a difference two years makes, as Marvel CCO Joe Quesada will host a session on Marvel on Sunday, and Kevin Feige, president of production for Marvel Studios, will join the movie presentation on Saturday. Does that mean we’ll get to see all the Avengers come out on stage in their costumes? One can only hope.
You can find the complete arena schedule after the jump.
“Frank Castle is under the roof of Marvel Studios now and we hope to bring him into the fray shortly.” As our sister site Spinoff is reporting, that’s what Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige announced to the crowd during the Marvel movie panel at the San Diego Comic-Con last night. This appears to mean the Punisher is now as much a potential part of the Marvel “Cinematic Universe” as Iron Man, Captain America, the Hulk, Thor, and the rest of the Avengers gang.
Previously, film rights to the Punisher had belonged to Lionsgate, which made two Punisher movies — 2004’s The Punisher, starring Thomas Jane, and 2008’s Punisher: War Zone, starring Ray Stevenson. The latter film was the source of much behind-the-scenes controversy, with Jane departing the franchise and rumors of strife with director Lexi Alexander. Like the Spider-Man, X-Men, Fantastic Four, Ghost Rider, Blade, and Daredevil films, Lionsgates’ Punisher movies were made outside of the control of Marvel proper. (As was, of course, the infamous Roger Corman-produced, Dolph Lundgren-starring version from 1989.)
Feige’s brief statement appears to be the only info about the Punisher making his Marvel that’s out there, so it remains to be seen exactly how and when he’ll join the fray.