Kevin Feige: Marvel maestro, box office bellwether


Is Kevin Feige good for the film industry? Depends on whom you ask.

What’s not up for debate is that as head of Marvel Studios and the creative mastermind behind the interconnected Marvel Cinematic Universe, Feige has been instrumental in transforming Hollywood storytelling.

Feige is the highest-grossing film producer of all time, with his movies soon to cross $30 billion, and currently has four of the 10 highest-grossing films ever, not adjusting for inflation. He was nominated for an Oscar for best picture with “Black Panther.”

Marvel’s campaign for worldwide cultural domination had largely been on an unbroken upward trajectory until 2023, with one seeming mishap after another. “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” was seen as a disappointment by critics and fans earlier in the year and “The Marvels” had the lowest opening-weekend box office since the launch of the MCU. Then Marvel fired Jonathan Majors, cast as a central figure of ongoing storylines, after the actor was found guilty of charges of assault and harassment.

Beginning with 2008’s “Iron Man,” a carefully cultivated fandom made Marvel into a seemingly unstoppable hit machine. Yet many recent film efforts have been seen as underperforming both creatively and at the box office relative to their outsize budgets, while Marvel’s mandate to produce shows for Disney+ has gotten mixed responses.

Through it all, Feige, 51, has remained unflappable, always evincing the casual, friendly air you might expect of someone rarely seen in public without a ball cap, a movie fan made good.

By being the public face of Marvel, Feige rightly or not also has become a frequent target of ire from those troubled by Hollywood’s relentless chasing of IP-driven, franchise-focused filmmaking.

In a September interview with Vanity Fair, Nia DaCosta, director of “The Marvels,” described reaching out to previous Marvel directors to ask about their experiences. On her mind were the questions, “‘Are they going to kill me and destroy my soul? Is Kevin Feige a bad man?’ And they were like, ‘No, he’s just a good guy who was a nerd.’”

Delivering a commencement address at USC in May of last year, Feige recalled that he had to apply six times to be accepted to the film school there. Though it may be difficult to remember the time before Marvel took over Hollywood, Feige explained the creative mind-set that helped put it on top and why even in the face of recent problems it should still not be counted out.

“But you know what you have to lose when you’re an underdog? Nothing. I truly, truly relish that underdog spirit,” Feige said. “It’s ingrained in me from our earliest days as a studio. … We never forget where we came from. It pushes [us], to keep challenging ourselves, and try new things, to work with new filmmakers and try new types of stories.”



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