Marvel Head Honcho Kevin Feige On How It Feels For Movies To Be Bringing People Back Into Theaters Again

screenshot dr. strange trailer
(Image credit: Marvel)

To say the last couple years have been weird would be an understatement, as the COVID-19 pandemic shook up all areas of everyday life. Limiting our focus to the entertainment industry, among the biggest shakeups was movie theaters being shut down for a long time starting in March 2020. While the pandemic still isn’t over, theaters have been able to bounce back for more than a year now, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe has played a big role with that resurgence thanks to the release of Marvel movies like Spider-Man: No Way Home, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and Thor: Love and Thunder. However, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige wants to make sure people don’t solely attribute his company for people coming back to theaters again.

CinemaBlend’s own Sean O’Connell chatted with Kevin Feige at San Diego Comic-Con after Marvel Studios’ Hall H panel, which showed off the first Black Panther: Wakanda Forever trailer, unveiled the official Phase 5 slate and revealed some details about Phase 6, among other things. Sean asked Feige how it felt to be “leading the charge” with bringing people back to movie theaters after so much time away, and the executive responded:

As I said on stage at Hall H today, there were dark times over the last couple years where I thought maybe we’d never be able to get in a room with 7,000 people again, and there were darker days where I thought maybe we’d never be able to get in a room with hundreds or thousands of people again. And the fact that we can and that they’re coming back, and not just for Spider-Man and Thor and [Doctor] Strange, but for Top Gun and for Minions, all of it, the success is wonderful because there’s nothing like it. There’s nothing like Hall H here at Comic-Con, and it’s only once a year and you only fit 7,000 people. But every day in movie theaters around the world, you can have that experience with the right project and the right film that bring people together.

While Black Widow was available to view both in theaters and with a Disney+ subscription (specifically to people who paid for the Premier Access tier) when it came out in July 2021, it was Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings the following September that marked the MCU’s return to delivering theatrically-exclusive movies. Since then, Marvel has experienced tremendous box office success, with Spider-Man: No Way Home becoming the highest-grossing movie of 2021 and Shang-Chi taking the #9 spot. Looking at 2022, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and Thor: Love and Thunder respectively rank in the #2 and #7 spots in the global box office hierarchy, and you can be sure Black Panther: Wakanda Forever will draw a lot of people to theaters too.

But as Kevin Feige noted, audiences aren’t only interesting in watching superhero fight the forces of evil in the MCU. Last year, No Time to Die and F9 were among the movies that performed admirably on the big screen, and this year’s highest-grossing movies include Jurassic World Dominion, The Batman and Minions: The Rise of Gru. And, of course, we can’t forget Top Gun: Maverick. Not only has the Tom Cruise-led sequel been met with critical acclaim from both professional reviewers and the general public, but Maverick is also so far the only movie this year to soar past $1 billion. So while Kevin Feige is obviously pleased people are keen on checking out the upcoming Marvel movies in a theatrical setting, he’s even more pleased that this kind of communal experience has made a comeback overall.

The MCU will be back to entertaining people in theaters when Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is released on November 11. Before that though, Disney+ subscribers should keep their eye out for the premiere of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law on August 17. You can also now stream Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness on the Mouse House’s streaming platform.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore, Adam is a Senior Content Producer at CinemaBlend. He started working for the site back in late 2014 writing exclusively comic book movie and TV-related articles, and along with branching out into other genres, he also made the jump to editing. Along with his writing and editing duties, as well as interviewing creative talent from time to time, he also oversees the assignment of movie-related features. He graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Journalism, and he’s been sourced numerous times on Wikipedia. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.