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The Marvel Cinematic Universe is dominating the superhero game right now, riding high on a series of massive successes, and it is all building towards next year's release of Avengers: Infinity War. Theories about the cause of Marvel's success vary, but according to Avengers: Infinity War co-director Joe Russo, it all stems back to the presence of Marvel Studios president, Kevin Feige. When asked about what sets Marvel apart from the competition, Russo addressed Feige's vital role and explained:
Simple. They don't have a Kevin [Feige].
Short, sweet, and to the point. Joe Russo's response to a question about why Marvel has been successful is not particularly complicated, but that does not mean it's wrong. Kevin Feige has been at the helm of the Marvel machine since the earliest days of Iron Man in 2008, and the Marvel Studios president (apparently often referred to as a "fanboy" by Marvel insiders) has proven himself as a massive asset. Marvel's singular, overarching vision for its cinematic universe has become the gold standard because of its coherence and consistency, and that seems to have roots in Feige's presence as the driving force behind the franchise.
Beyond his stellar work in the Marvel Cinematic Universe over the course of the last decade, Kevin Feige has also been a presence in the superhero genre since it entered the modern age with Bryan Singer's X-Men in 2000. He has credits on blockbusters like Spider-Man, critical duds like Spider-Man 3, and even underrated darlings such as the Thomas Jane-fronted Punisher solo film from 2004. In short: he has experienced the good and bad of the comic book movie world, which appears to have given him an even hand in the direction of the MCU.
That experience also seems to have endowed Kevin Feige with a sense of clarity over the fallibility of even the most successful franchises. Elsewhere in the Vanity Fair cover story about Avengers: Infinity War, Feige himself admitted that he regularly thinks about possible future misfires and laments the eventual "movie that's going to mess it all up." That day has not come yet, but a full decade into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it remains a possibility that worries even the most high-ranking studio official.
This Marvel method seems notable because many other franchises didn't start with a Kevin Feige to keep the ship on-course. For instance, the DCEU started off its run by touting a more filmmaker-driven approach, but after a series of misfires, it moved Geoff Johns to a Kevin Feige-esque showrunner position to help keep a coherent vision. Marvel has found a business model that works, and it's starting to catch on.