By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist May 17, 2013 at 3:56PM
It's a good time to be Kevin Feige. The producer is responsible for the output of Marvel Studios, and if the third-biggest-film-in-history success of "The Avengers" wasn't enough, "Iron Man 3" looks like it'll come close to equalling it, having just crossed the billion-dollar mark at the box office, and still on track to take much, much more.
It's about as strong a start to the Phase Two of Marvel movies as Feige could hope for, and bodes well for the rest of the company slate leading up to "The Avengers 2" -- namely "Thor: The Dark World," "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" and "Guardians Of The Galaxy." But already Feige is looking to the future, and he sat down with EW to discuss what might be included in the company's Phase Three plans, which will follow "The Avengers 2" in the summer of 2015.
The only confirmed picture, and hitting theaters on November 6th 2015, is Edgar Wright's long-awaited "Ant-Man," which will have been in the works for nearly a decade by the time it hits theaters. As it turns out, the film could have been a part of Phase Two, or even Phase One, but Wright wanted to hold out, telling EW “I actually made the choice to make 'Scott Pilgrim' and 'The World’s End' before this one. And 'Ant-Man' is such a big special-effects film, it’s almost like the further it goes on, the easier it is to do, in a way." Wright and Feige aren't spilling too many beans here, but we'd be surprised if we didn't see a big announcement -- casting, perhaps? -- at Comic-Con this year. But the rest? Here's the breakdown.
"Doctor Strange" has been in a quiet form of development for a while, but Feige talks the Sorceror Supreme up, saying "I would love Strange to be a part of that only because he’s a great character. He’s a great standalone character... There’s a whole supernatural/magic alternate dimension going on in the Marvel comics that we haven’t ever touched on. So I think that’s exciting."
The X-Men Aren't The Only Uncanny Heroes
Meanwhile, the "Inhumans," a superteam made up of an alien royal family trapped on an abandoned world, haven't been part of discussion so far, but Feige is enthusiastic about them, saying, and suggests that the upcoming weirdness of "Guardians Of The Galaxy" could help pave the way, saying "all the craziness that comes with Inhumans, we’ve done in the other movies already. But this would have some of the social drama that we haven’t really done yet. [Fox’s] X-Men, obviously, has been touching on that stuff for a while.” Could they be Phase Three's answer to 'Guardians?' It sounds like it's a definite possibility.
The Hulk Could Smash Again
Also conceivable for the next stage is a solo "Hulk" movie. Speculation's gone back forth after Joss Whedon made the tricky-to-translate character a fan favorite in "The Avengers 2." Mark Ruffalo recently expressed worry that he'd soon be too old for the character, but Feige dismisses it, saying "If anyone could be a great 55-year-old Hulk, it’s Mark so I’m not worried about that." Feige admits that they're talking about the movie, though there's no script in the works. But he again rules out the rumored idea that the "Planet Hulk' storyline could be the source material, saying "What we’re excited about exploring and expanding is Mark — and Banner’s not in Planet Hulk at all. The fun of the Hulk is his interaction with humans.”
But there's a few other properties that you shouldn't be holding your breath for. Brian K Vaughan's excellent teen-centric series "Runaways" was part of Marvel's early plans pre-"Avengers," but subsequently stalled, and Feige admits that it's a tricky project to give the greenlight to, saying "The way the business is working now, you either have really inexpensive, sort of surprise movies that can come out and be hits, but don’t cost much. Or you have the big giant summer blockbusters that really swing for the fences. Right now, we’re just swinging for the fences every time. 'Runaways' sort of falls in between those, in a way. We just haven’t found where or how to do it… right now.” Meanwhile, he pretty much rules out the idea of what-if scenarios like fan-favorite "Marvel Zombies," saying “Are you going to draw figures in chalk with your 3-year-old with Hulk eating someone? Or Captain America with his brains coming out of the top of his head? Probably not,”
Likely for similar reasons (i.e, they don't appeal much to kids), darker properties like "Daredevil," "Blade," "Punisher" and "Ghost Rider," the rights to which all recently reverted to Marvel, don't seem to be in a rush to get on screen, with Feige saying "I think we need to find the right time." So, it seems like a possible line-up for Phase Three would include "Ant-Man," "Doctor Strange," "Inhumans" and "Hulk," but what about the other "Avengers." We're sure that third "Thor" and "Captain America" movies (and a second 'Guardians') are possibilities, as Marvel won't want to go into Phase Three with all unknown quantities, but Robert Downey Jr is still being cagey about a possible "Iron Man 4." As such, Feige is preparing fans for the possibility that they'll have to recast at some point, saying "I believe there will be a fourth Iron Man film and a fifth and a sixth and a 10th and a 20th. "I see no reason why Tony Stark can’t be as evergreen as James Bond. Or Batman for that matter. Or Spider-Man. I think Iron Man is a character just like that.”
Speaking of the "Avengers," Joss Whedon's been updating IGN about the film's sequel, and confirms that regardless of the outcome of Downey's negotiations, and *SPOILERS* the fact that he initiates the 'Clean Slate' protocol at the end of "Iron Man 3," Tony Stark is part of his plans for the movie. He tells the site, "I feel like in 'Iron Man 3,' even though he said, ‘I’ve changed' -- he blew up his remote suits, but I don’t think anybody thinks he doesn’t have one anymore. The question is, if The Avengers are called, does he show up? And the answer is, ‘Yes!’” *END SPOILERS*
Whedon also confirms recent reports that two new characters, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch -- usually associated with the "X-Men" universe, but able to be used by Marvel and Fox due to some rights complications -- are going to be part of the movie. The mutants -- one who has lightning speed, the other with the power to control reality -- seem to be antagonists in the film, at least at first, according to Whedon, who says "They’re interesting to me because they sort of represent the part of the world that wouldn’t necessarily agree with The Avengers. So they’re not there to make things easier. I’m not putting any characters in the movie that will make things easier.” Could they be the film's Big Bads, in conjunction with Thanos? We'll find out when "The Avengers 2" opens on May 1st, 2015. And head over to EW for much more from Feige.