During an interview yesterday on the set of Iron Man 2, Marvel Studios executive Kevin Feige explained what lies ahead for the rapidly expanding universes of Marvel movies, providing information on everything from Captain America to Ant-Man to The Avengers.
Perhaps the biggest revelation was that, despite the lackluster performance of last year's The Incredible Hulk, the character will indeed be returning for The Avengers. Considering the Hulk is a major player in almost every big Avengers story, from their sixties origins to Ultimates, his involvement had long been suspected, but this marks the first official confirmation. Feige also said another standalone Hulk movie is a possibility, but it would need to be more clearly linked with the other film franchises than the last one.
Indeed, with so many of their preceding projects in the newly dubbed Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) underway, Feige is now ready to begin serious work on The Avengers. He explained why the Hulk is returning and what progress has already been made on the movie:
It will have been four years since he was in a movie by that point. By 2012. I'd like to see him in it. I'm not being coy. We're just starting the story. I was on the phone with Zak Penn this morning. He's coming in next week and he's going to work on the outline this summer. It's so intertwined with what we're doing before it. I almost wanted to get done with production on Iron Man 2, and the scripts to Thor and The First Avenger: Captain America well underway, before we even started The Avengers.
Moving further afield, Feige confirmed that director Edgar Wright's Ant-Man project is still in the works. As would be expected from the co-writer and director of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, Feige emphasized the comedic aspects Wright looks to bring to the movie:
"I want to make Ant-Man one of these days. I think that'll be surprising and funny. I love Edgar Wright. What he likes about it is that when he says he's doing Ant-Man, people go, 'Ant-Man? What the hell is that?' I think that's funny."
It would appear absolutely no part of the Marvel Universe is off-limits for the films. In particular, Feige is hopeful Thor will open the door to the more mystical parts of Marvel:
"I think Doctor Strange would kick ass. I think we've done very well at this street level superhero aspect of the Marvel Universe. I think with Thor, you'll see us cracking into the cosmic side of the Marvel Universe in a very good way that's never been done before in our movies. I'd love to get into that supernatural element. I think that Doctor Strange could be a good lynchpin into that universe with 'Werewolf By Night'. Maybe with Blade again someday. I would like to see that side of the Marvel Universe on screen."
And he confirmed that the Thunder God's alter ego, Donald Blake, won't be appearing in Thor.
As for The First Avenger: Captain America, Feige focused on the casting rumors. He noted that there are very few actors that are both American and well known enough internationally to pull in foreign box office. At the same time, he noted the success of hiring a brilliant but previously non-blockbuster actor, like Robert Downey Jr., or having the freedom to choose an unknown from Australia, like Thor's Chris Hemsworth.
It would however appear that Will Smith is not in the running to play Captain America. Acknowledging the "Truth" storyline, which posited the existence of a black Captain America before Steve Rogers, Feige explained why they wanted to stick with the more iconic version of the character:
"I love the 'Truth' storyline. I think that's very cool. I wouldn't do that as a first Captain America movie though. I think that arc came about four or five hundred issues into the "Cap" run. I don't see us launching with that particular comic."
Finally, Feige touched upon what sort of movie The Avengers will be:
"I think The Avengers is going to have it's own vibe. It'll have a different tone than the other Marvel movies. It is about saving the world, because there's no other reason for characters that powerful to band together. I think the scope and the scale will feel like a much bigger thing."
And he said that Marvel aims to ramp up to putting out four movies a year, drawing on the company's diverse cast of characters. Iron Man 2 is due out May 7, 2010, while Thor and The First Avenger: Captain America are on track for May 20 and July 22 of 2011. The Avengers, which may or may not be the greatest thing in the history of cinema (not that I'm getting my hopes up or anything), is currently scheduled for May 4, 2012.