Kevin Feige Says Marvel Doesn’t Worry About Trying To Please Everyone

Avengers: Endgame

Considering the Marvel Cinematic Universe is statistically one of the most popular franchises of all time, what Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige has just said might seem a little surprising.

Attending a panel at the New York Film Academy, the producer discussed how the studio handles the balancing act between maximizing a film’s mass appeal without harming its artistic aspirations, saying the following:

“It can become, ‘Oh, if we thought too much about it, if we thought too much about pleasing everybody about everything, we collapse into a fetal position and never do anything. So, we don’t do that we think mainly about what we think would be interesting, what we think would be cool, what we think would fulfil a promise we set up what we think would grow the MCU in an unexpected way that people aren’t anticipating. Killing half of your heroes for instance.”

“But, it is true that we always make the films with the intention of them working for people who have watched every other film we’ve made and for people who’ve never seen one of our movies. Yes, with Infinity War and Endgame, it gets tougher at that point but we test screen all of our movies like additional photography test screenings. I don’t know why, never become too arrogant, never think you don’t have something to learn from an audience. That would be one piece of advice I would give you. Test screenings are horrible, they’re painful, they’re terrible. All these people who aren’t making movies, ‘they look good, I’ll give you my opinion.’ And you sit in the back and I pull my hat down, and I listen. Because, there are things you don’t see.”

After 11 years and 23 films, not a single MCU-produced movie has suffered the relative ignominy of a rotten Rotten Tomatoes score. That’s in stark contrast to the DCEU (had enough with the acronyms yet? Me too), where a whopping 4 out of its 7 outings so far have been given the green splodge.

Taking into account Marvel’s numbers, I’m inclined to treat Feige’s assertion with caution. I’m not saying they don’t have any kind of artistic interest in their movies, but they have created a film universe where nothing’s even remotely risqué and almost everything has corporate social responsibility at its core.

Marvel have a metier, and it’s always been targeted at safety in numbers. Some films are better, some films are worse, but we all know by now what we’re getting. Separating themselves via individual brilliance has happened fleetingly – Thor: Ragnarok was particularly remarkable for pushing its boundaries to their limit – but even that had its innate constrictions.

If there’s one thing that summed up the flaws in Feige’s contention, it’s “killing half your heroes.” After all, we all knew they were coming back, that’s just the nature of the beast. It robbed one of the Marvel Cinematic Universe‘s most ostensibly emotional moments of any impact, though the preceding 140 minutes of CGI fist-fighting and fetch-questing may also have sucked my feelings dry.