Kevin Feige, the president of Marvel Studios, has proven himself the undisputed master of managing film franchises. While Hollywood history has seen plenty of lucrative mega-franchises — James Bond and Star Wars come to mind — nothing with the complexity of the Marvel Universe series of movies ever been attempted.
With The Avengers, Iron Man, Captain America and Thor soon to be joined by Guardians of the Galaxy, Ant Man, Black Widow and more, Feige has managed to keep track of multiple characters through numerous films, each with an intertwining plot line — all taking place in the same “universe.”
Feige recently mapped out Marvel Studios plans through 2017, including the next Avengers movie in 2015 and the third Captain America flick the year after that.
But in a recent interview with BusinessWeek, Kevin Feige went even further. As an interviewer got a behind-the-scenes glance at the complex chart of upcoming Marvel films on the wall of Feige’s office, the Marvel boss offered a major revelation.
“It’s like looking through the Hubble telescope. You go, ‘What’s happening back there? I can sort of see it,’ ” said Kevin Feige, checking out the map himself. “They printed out a new one recently that went to 2028.”
2028. That date, of course, takes the Marvel film universe almost a decade and a half into the future. Kevin Feige is assuming of course that the public hunger for superhero movies will remain at a fever pitch until almost the end of the next decade.
That may not be a bad assumption. It has already been 14 years since the Marvel movie craze kicked off with the first X-Men movie in 2000. But if Feige plans to continue the storylines now being unfolded in Marvel films, with the same popular characters, there may need to be some adjustments.
For example, Robert Downey Jr., whose three Iron Man films have grossed about $2.5 billion in worldwide releases — and that doesn’t count his appearance in the first Avengers movie, the third-highest worldwide grossing film of all time — will be 63 years old in 2023. Will audiences still flock to see a superhero old enough to collect Social Security?
Kevin Feige hopes to find out. For that matter, Captain America actor Chris Evans will turn 47 — not so bad considering Downey Jr. is already 49 — and Scarlett Johansson, aka Black Widow, will turn 40.
For that matter, Kevin Feige himself with be 54, but for a studio boss, he may just be entering his prime.