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Kevin Feige isn't as famous as Robert Downey Jr., and probably doesn't even make nearly as much money, but in the Marvel Cinematic Universe there's nobody more important. As Wired explores in a fascinatingly in-depth feature on the Marvel Studios executive, Feige is essentially the one brain that's mapping out the future for superheroes onscreen, the guy bold enough to think, way back in 2006, that Iron Man and Captain America and Thor could have not only their own movies, but unite for one big one. It seems obvious now that The Avengers was a slam-dunk, but it took a lot of planning to get there-- and for the next big hit of the same size, there's a lot of planning already happening.
“I could arguably say what we’re planning for the year 2021," Feige tells Wired in the piece, which recounts how Samuel L. Jackson's appearance as Nick Fury at the end of Iron Man was originally intended as a one-off in-joke. "Will that happen? I don’t know. But what we planned for 2015 in 2006 is happening.”
Wired attempts to dig into the reasons that DC has yet to come up with its own answer to Feige, and why the most likely candidates-- Christopher Nolan, or DC Entertainment president Diane Nelson-- don't seem to be taking up his example. But DC, maybe for obvious reasons, wouldn't talk to them for the article, which puts most of the focus on Feige and DC's most visible mistakes. They allowed Nolan to make his Dark Knight movies completely self-contained, with little room in that universe for a figure more outlandish than Batman himself (Wired argues pretty convincingly that the biggest problem with Bane was that he was too powerful). They made Green Lantern, period, and put in it Angela Bassett's Amanda Waller, who could have been a Nick Fury-type figure for the DC Universe if that movie had worked. Most importantly-- though Wired doesn't say this-- DC stood back cautiously and watched as Marvel established their universe, killing their plans for a Justice League movie just months before Iron Man opened and defined the superhero landscape for the next 5 years. Now they're going to be trying to catch up, and Feige is many, many steps ahead of them.
It's foolish to write the history of DC Entertainment right now, though, with Man of Steel's big success now leading to Batman vs. Superman team-up and all signs pointing to many, many more team-ups in the future. No matter where you stand on Batman vs. Iron Man or any other Marvel vs. DC loyalties, the best situation for comics fans-- and those of us who just like a good comic book movie once in a while-- is for both Marvel and DC to have consistent plans, allowing them to make bigger, more well-thought-out films, with the confidence that they'll make enough money to be worth it. If the great Justice League movie you're hoping for is ever going to happen, DC's equivalent of Kevin Feige will need to emerge from the woodwork soon.
(Kevin Feige and Joss Whedon image via s_bukley / Shutterstock.com)