Going back to 2008, Marvel Studios has been synonymous with big blockbusters. The upcoming Ant-Man & The Wasp is their 20th feature, and all of them have notably been large-scale sci-fi/fantastic action movies with budgets generally over $150 million. Given the company's penchant for trying to mix things up, you might think they'd be game to try and release some smaller titles at some point -- but Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige recently explained to me why that's not something you should expect in the future:
We love the idea of playing with genres, and playing with different kinds of genres... but I think even as we play with those kinds of genres it's within the overarching sense that this is the MCU, and there is a certain amount of price-of-admission spectacle that I want to be entertained by. And [Black] Panther is a great example, and [Avengers:] Infinity War, and [Ant-Man & The Wasp].
As noted by the executive/producer, it's been a major year for Marvel Studios, with three significant releases, and one thing they all share in common -- despite all being very different films -- is the fact that they are packed with eye-widening action. And if you were wondering if we might someday see one of the franchise's films without that element, as I was, then you might not want to hold your breath. I sat down with Kevin Feige at the Ant-Man & The Wasp junket this weekend and asked him about that potential approach, and he explained that fans should pretty much always expect spectacle to be a part of the Marvel package.
As Kevin Feige noted as he continued his answer, the key to making things work consistently is actively creating an important balance in the story of every film. Taking his studio's 2018 releases as prime examples, he broke it all down:
[With Ant-Man & The Wasp], you want to tell a great story of family and loss, and of the relationships between fathers and daughters. That's great! I also want to see the giant guy come up to a boat. I also want to see shrinking cars! I want to tell the story of grief and loss, and obsession in Infinity War; I also want to see a guy pull a moon out of the sky and throw it. In [Black] Panther, Ryan Coogler exploring the themes of what it is to be African-American. I also want to see Wakanda and spaceships flying around. So if we did a noir thing, that would be awesome, [I still want the spectacle.]
Since 2015 Marvel Studios hasn't released a film that has made less than $500 million internationally, so on paper they certainly appear to be in a strong position where they can casually give an upcoming project a pre-marketing budget of $200 million-plus. Creating a target cost isn't how the company does business, however, as Kevin Feige told me in my interview. Noting that most of the franchise's titles have budgets within the same tier, I specifically asked about mid-budget approaches, but he explained why that viewing angle not really a part of the creative approach. Said Feige,
I think a movie costs what it needs to cost, right? At no point do we go, 'Oh, we're not spending enough money, we need to add a building collapsing.' It's never like that.
This was just one of many topics I touched on with Kevin Feige, and I have plenty more stories to come -- up to and through Ant-Man & The Wasp's theatrical release on July 6th. Stay tuned here on CinemaBlend for all that, as well as my interviews with Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Douglas, Hannah John-Kamen, and director Peyton Reed.