Marvel Studios has come a long way in the last eight years. While the Marvel Cinematic Universe has become the biggest franchise in Hollywood, back in 2008 the industry didn’t know exactly what audiences would make of Iron Man, and the company basically threw a series of consecutive Hail Mary plays that worked out. In the early days, every move made could sink the ship, but success has dissipated that stress and led to a much more hands-off for creatives – what writer/producer Stephen McFeely considers to be the biggest change behind the scenes at Marvel since Phase One.
Writers Stephen McFeely and Christopher Markus have been working with Marvel Studios since the early days, writing the screenplay for Joe Johnston’s Captain America: The First Avenger, so when interviewing them recently over the phone I took the opportunity to ask them about how the experience working on Captain America: Civil War and The Avengers: Infinity War is different now than it was in the early years of the MCU. McFeely explained that the need for The First Avenger to work led to a lot of suggestion and input from higher up the ladder, but now that’s something that has greatly changed. Said the writer/producer,
When we first started, they were maybe a more nervous studio. Any movie that bombed would really destroy them, so there were a lot of hands on deck on that first Captain America movie. And as we’ve gone along I think everyone trusts each other more, so that we bring a lot more to the table with every subsequent movie. I think it’s fair to say.
In his comments, Stephen McFeely also spoke to the behind the scenes shake-up that happened at Marvel Studios last year. In September 2015, it was reported that Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige would start reporting to Walt Disney Pictures head Alan Horn instead of Marvel CEO Ike Perlmutter – and this meant that all of the Marvel Studios film projects would no longer have to go through their “Creative Committee” to be made. McFeely says that this change hasn’t really changed daily routine at Marvel Studios, but he did say that he and Christopher Markus no longer writing drafts based on ideas they don’t love:
Now that there’s a bit of a split between… there was a change in how the structure of the company works, that has not affected us in our daily life, but I assume it’s kind of like much easier. At no point are we doing notes or drafts that we don’t all believe in. Sometimes we would have to kind of do some things to get to the next step of the line, to move a project along - even if we were mild on the idea. But now we’re all of the same mind for sure.
It’s been firmly established that audiences want what Marvel has to offer, and as the movies continue achieving success and gaining popularity, hopefully it will translate to even more creative freedom that leads towards a common goal.