Marvel Studios Boss: Female-Led Marvel Movie is a "Challenging Thing"

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Marvel Studios Boss: Female-Led Marvel Movie is a "Challenging Thing"

Black Widow Scarlet

Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige says he believes in making female-led films, but it all comes down to them being able to tell the right story.

With Guardians of the Galaxy continuing Marvel's hot streak of movie hits, some have been wondering when the studio will finally launch a film with a female character in the lead role. It seems people looking forward to that might have to wait a little bit longer, In an interview with ComicBookResources, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige was asked how close are we to seeing a Marvel film with a female-led protagonist, since some fans have been demanding for it. Feige admits that even though he "very much" believes in doing it, it's a "challenging thing" and they're still looking to be able to tell the "right story."

I think you're right about that, and I think it comes down to timing, which is what I've sort of always said, and it comes down to us being able to tell the right story. I very much believe in doing it. I very much believe that it's unfair to say, "People don't want to see movies with female heroes," then list five movies that were not very good, therefore, people didn't go to the movies because they weren't good movies, versus [because] they were female leads. And they don't mention "Hunger Games," "Frozen," "Divergent." You can go back to "Kill Bill" or "Aliens." These are all female-led movies. It can certainly be done. I hope we do it sooner rather than later. But we find ourselves in the very strange position of managing more franchises than most people have -- which is a very, very good thing and we don't take for granted, but is a challenging thing. You may notice from those release dates, we have three for 2017. And that's because just the timing worked on what was sort of gearing up. But it does mean you have to put one franchise on hold for three or four years in order to introduce a new one? I don't know. Those are the kinds of chess matches we're playing right now.

In the same interview, Feige confirms that Avengers: Age of Ultron is costing the studio more compared to The Avengers; and he thinks film director Joss Whedon will deliver a spectacle that is unmatched in any movie Marvel has ever made, or "maybe amongst any movie ever made."

Well, sometimes I think raising the bar can be equated with spending more money or making a bigger action scene, and while "Avengers [Age of Ultron]" cost more than the first one did, and while there will be big action scenes, what we think raising the bar means is surprising people, exceeding their expectations in ways that they weren't expecting. If all anybody was expecting were more explosions, that would be the easiest thing in the world to do. We get to deliver that every time -- that would be simple. But I don't think that's what people want. I don't think that's what people mean by raising the bar. I think they want to be surprised, and they want to learn more about the characters. What Joss is doing in that movie is both. [He's] delivering a level of spectacle that is unmatched, certainly, in any movie we've made, maybe amongst any movie ever made. But at the same time, and more importantly, [we're] growing the characters and altering the character's relationships in unique and surprising ways which can impact movies that come after.

Do you think the time is ripe for a female-led Marvel movie? Should Marvel start with the Black Widow since people are familiar with the character after being introduced in The Avengers and Scarlet Johansson is a known name in Hollywood? Or should the studio start kick this off with another superhero character altogether? And if so, which one?

Source: Comic Book Resources

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They probably put it off because they don't know how to market it so they consider it a risk.

I think there's a lot of legitimacy to his concerns and I don't envy him for all of the stuff they really do have on their plate. That said, if they need to find some space on their roster for a female led title, I don't get why they have such a continuous hard on for the Ant Man movie. That thing is a total disaster in the making that I doubt more than a few people really care about at all.. if you need room, then there you go. Put that lame duck out of it's misery and you've got some.

The time is obviously right now considering the success they are having.

I'm not convinced Scarlet/Black Widow is the answer though.

I felt the previous Captain America installment, kind of stole the concept for what you would imagine a Black Widow film would run with. That and she's just not really that interesting a character unless you went deep into her past which wouldn't really work either (again that idea has already been superseded by the Agent Carter TV series).

Providing she rocks it in the next Avengers, I'd really like to see them give Elizabeth Olsen the green light for a post-Avengers:AoU Scarlet Witch film. Would be especially interesting since they'd be forced to come up with an original back-story given the whole mutant thing is off the table.

You've just released a movie that contained a tree and talking raccoon as characters Marvel, if anyone can pull off a female comic/superhero movie it's you.

I like this guy, he knows how to PR without sounding like one of those people that take a whole paragraph to say absolutely nothing. He also isn't making any excuses, it's not that they (or at least he) don't want to make a female superhero movie it's just that they like making money off their more established franchises.

Let's face it though, a Black Widow movie would definitely make money, we all know guys who would go see it because of the sex appeal. Just as long as we don't get another Catwoman and they actually put some story in too, and it isn't incredibly cringey.

Winter Soldier already did the political intrigue/spy game thing so making a Black Widow movie would be redundant. Especially since she co-starred with Cap in that movie anyway. IMO she works better as a supporting character and may not be able to carry a movie on her own.

Let's start fast tracking Carol Danvers/Ms. Marvel instead. The world is ready and Marvel could do it.

Ed130 The Vanguard:
You've just released a movie that contained a tree and talking raccoon as characters Marvel, if anyone can pull off a female comic/superhero movie it's you.

Yes, but a talking tree and raccoon won't put off the fan base like a woman will.

What a load of bovine excrements.

You don't need "special" stories just because you have a female in the lead role. The movies he quoted as succesfull examples even show that. Kill Bill for example is just the Count of Monte Cristo with some rape and katanas thrown in in regards to the story. Likewise, Hunger Games and Divergent (as far as the movies are concerned) are just basic coming of age stories.

You don't need to read some mystical book called "Stories for female characters" in order to pull stuff like that off. And so far the Marvel Movies have all been very basic in regards to the story they told. It's not like each of them had an inception-like plot that was special or convoluted.

And the part about handling too many franchises? That's pretty close to the Ubisoft statement about playable female characters being too much work. "Sorry guys, we can't do a Black Widow Movie, we are too busy making Captain White Male saves the day 8!"

Don't get me wrong, I love the Marvel Movies, but when freaking Ant Man gets a Movie before Black Widow, someone really has dropped the ball.

Sounds like a cop out answer, Mister Fiege.

ron1n:
The time is obviously right now considering the success they are having.

I'm not convinced Scarlet/Black Widow is the answer though.

I felt the previous Captain America installment, kind of stole the concept for what you would imagine a Black Widow film would run with. That and she's just not really that interesting a character unless you went deep into her past which wouldn't really work either (again that idea has already been superseded by the Agent Carter TV series).

Providing she rocks it in the next Avengers, I'd really like to see them give Elizabeth Olsen the green light for a post-Avengers:AoU Scarlet Witch film. Would be especially interesting since they'd be forced to come up with an original back-story given the whole mutant thing is off the table.

So there are only two spy stories to tell? I'll let the James Bond people know they can stop then.

Nowhere Man:

Let's start fast tracking Carol Danvers/Ms. Marvel instead. The world is ready and Marvel could do it.

That's what I'm hoping for too. If they're going to start bringing in the cosmic aspect of Marvel, as Guardians suggests, there's no reason they can't get Carol in there to absorb some alien energy and start that storyline going.

With the newest Captain Marvel series doing well at the comic book shops, now's the time to start planning.

The MCU is in the unique position, as the man said, of having to juggle a bunch of properties that exist parallel to one another. Tossing out a film with a character with no connection to the current metaplot isn't necessarily a bad thing, and it'll need to happen eventually if they want to keep this train moving, but in the middle of act 2 is a risky time to pull that particular move regardless of gender.
(Meaning a Moon Knight or Punisher movie at this stage would be just as risky a move as a Spider-Woman or Elsa Bloodstone solo pic.)

Given their current state of affairs I think their best bet would be to make a Ms. Marvel film. It ties in the earth based core series with the newly minted Galactic setting, and it gets a good strong female lead without any strong previous affiliations to bog down the story.

Diddy_Mao:

Given their current state of affairs I think their best bet would be to make a Ms. Marvel film. It ties in the earth based core series with the newly minted Galactic setting, and it gets a good strong female lead without any strong previous affiliations to bog down the story.

ditto, especially with the kree involvement in guardians of the galaxy I would love for them to make a ms. marvel film

I think the title of this article kind of miss characterized the statement. I think everything he said was absolutely right and going back to what bob said, eventually one of these has to fail, and if it's the first female lead one in this universe than what message is that going to send? I think waiting for the right moment is important, and not rushing out with something half assed just because people are asking for it.

The title is a bit misleading. The "challenging thing" he mentioned was managing a lot of franchises, not making a female-led movie.

Zachary Amaranth:

Ed130 The Vanguard:
You've just released a movie that contained a tree and talking raccoon as characters Marvel, if anyone can pull off a female comic/superhero movie it's you.

Yes, but a talking tree and raccoon won't put off the fan base like a woman will.

Depressing and often repeated, but still very true.

EDIT: Or at least the thinking goes that way. Just because female led movies can't ever succeed doesn't mean they won't ever succeed.

I think they could easily make a great female lead movie but really I don't think they have the time or the team to do it since they have already announced like 4 or 5 sequels for the next decade.

I want a Black Widow movie so badly. Or perhaps Black Widow and Hawkeye.

thaluikhain:

Depressing and often repeated, but still very true.

EDIT: Or at least the thinking goes that way. Just because female led movies can't ever succeed doesn't mean they won't ever succeed.

Not to mention, it seems to be a rather self-fulfilling prophecy:

We don't want female-prominent media because it doesn't sell, so we'll drag our feet.

Well, we begrudgingly give in, but we won't promote it or put money into it.

Well, that didn't sell well, it must have been because it featured A GIRL.

You have a property that features a woman? We don't want female-prominent media because it doesn't sell, so we'll drag our feet....

Lather, rinse, repeat.

And then there's sometimes executive meddling with the process, too. Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network come to mind, though they're on the TV end of things. But again, this isn't just Hollywood. I mean, it's telling that the report a lot of people use to show games featuring girls don't sell also indicates that they receive about half the marketing. And somehow, the takeaway isn't that these games aren't on equal footing in the first place, it's that gamers don't want to play as girls. Because cooties or something.

Exterminas:

You don't need "special" stories just because you have a female in the lead role.

Yeah, I mean, just follow Marvel movie formula that has worked so well. Make the character chase a McGuffin that can destroy the world, give her some funny quips, some infighting with her allies and all of them culminating to a large battle at the end. Don't see the issue here...

Zachary Amaranth:

Ed130 The Vanguard:
You've just released a movie that contained a tree and talking raccoon as characters Marvel, if anyone can pull off a female comic/superhero movie it's you.

Yes, but a talking tree and raccoon won't put off the fan base like a woman will.

... ah, good point.

(But thankfully, the appeal of the Marvel movie universe now extends beyond any toxic fanbase.)

StriderShinryu:
That said, if they need to find some space on their roster for a female led title, I don't why they have such a continuous hard on for the Ant Man movie. That thing is a total disaster in the making that I doubt more than a few people really care about at all.

I have loads of friends who love comics, and I was in the comics society at university. I know a grand total of one person who gives a shit about Ant-Man. I completely agree with you about this - nobody cares about him, the film's gearing up to be a total train wreck, so they should just scrap the whole thing and make a fucking Captain Marvel movie already. When even Aquaman thinks the power to shrink is kind of sad, you know you're in trouble.

Women aren't mystical, unfathomable entities that are incredibly difficult to write stories about, they're people, just like everyone else in the Marvel movies. I don't see why a film with a female lead needs to have a different approach to one with a male hero. Marvel just scored a major critical and commercial hit with a tree and a raccoon. We're ready for a female superhero. In theory I can understand his point about juggling franchises, but it's still a bit of a cop-out.

Oh! Can we have a movie where Black Widow is sent to track down Squirrel Girl? Pretty please? I think that would both be interesting and highly amusing.

I get what he's saying, but it sounds a lot like a hole they dug for themselves. They were the ones who decided that the solo movies they needed to make were Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Ant-Man, Dr. Strange, and Hulk. Nobody forced them to choose those characters over Wasp or Ms/Captain Marvel or any number of other female heroes.

Zachary Amaranth:
Yes, but a talking tree and raccoon won't put off the fan base like a woman will.

At this point the movie fans outnumber the comics+movies fans by such a huge margin it isn't even funny. Avengers the movie made something like a billion dollars. Avengers the comic book sells about 54,000 copies a month. Even if every single person buying the Avengers comic book is a completely stereotypical basement dwelling misogynistic asshole (And I assure you they aren't) it still wouldn't matter if they thought a Carol Danvers movie was a terrible idea.

It's kinda sad, but at this point every single person who reads the comic for a character were to boycott that character's movie the lost ticket sales would not be noticed.

Oh for Christ sake. Marvel you were doing so well until this guy opened his fat mouth and did the whole "Women are hard!" bullcrap.

To boot, "we have so many franchises to handle!" So all the male lead ones just have to be done first for whatever reason?

They really need to drop Ant-Man.

Kameburger:
I think the title of this article kind of miss characterized the statement. I think everything he said was absolutely right and going back to what bob said, eventually one of these has to fail, and if it's the first female lead one in this universe than what message is that going to send? I think waiting for the right moment is important, and not rushing out with something half assed just because people are asking for it.

This is an extremely good point.

Yes, it would be easy for Marvel to just spit out a Widow story or a Gamorra story now that people know who she is. Yes, they don't necessarily need anything special to make a workable female led superhero movie. Yes, you can view the entirety of the statements in the original story as just corporate PR talk and excuses.

But, the fact is, it's much better if Marvel is extra careful about what they do and how they approach this. As nice as it would be to see a female led Marvel movie, if that movie tanks at the box office or is a critical bomb, that's only going to make things worse for female led superhero movies in the future. Just look at games for some clear examples of that. We're still seeing references to games like Beyond Good and Evil and Mirrors Edge when developers/publishers are asked why they don't make more female led games. Both were considered good/great games but for various debatable reasons both did poorly in terms of sales. I would say caution is actually advisable otherwise the "first" female led superhero movie that we see may end up being the last.

I think the title of the article paints what he said in a bit more negative light than it actually was. The title would suggest that he meant "challenging" in the sense of creating a movie with a female lead that people would want to watch. But what he really said was he knows people want to see movies with female leads, but due to their massive schedule of films within their franchise and their desire for quality they haven't gotten around to it.

And I get that. I would rather have a great Black Widow movie a few more years out than a rushed one that doesn't have a proper place in their current canon next year. I rather like the web of stories Marvel is weaving, and they shouldn't let any outward demands change their course.

I have nearly been driven to my wit's end when it comes to heads of franchises or projects giving bullshit reasons for avoiding female leads, or any sort of female presence at all within their movies or games. But, this one is totally respectable, and delivered in a totally respectable manner. So lay off Escapist, let's not shove somebody in front of the firing squad until they've actually done something wrong.

Oh, come on. Movie Black Widow is barely a superhero. I'd say the best female superhero to get her own movie is Jubilee. They'd have to make her not a mutant, of course, but apart from that I think it'd really work. All the other MCU superheroes have some sort of connection to the government (the Guardians of the Galaxy don't count, okay?) or secret experiments. It'd be fun with someone who doesn't.

RA92:

... ah, good point.

(But thankfully, the appeal of the Marvel movie universe now extends beyond any toxic fanbase.)

I'm not sure that's true, since Hollywood logic says women don't sell in big blockbusters. And ignore any examples to the contrary, they don't seem to count. I'm not even sure comic book fans are more toxic than the rest of the population.

Continuing that thought:

Falterfire:

At this point the movie fans outnumber the comics+movies fans by such a huge margin it isn't even funny. Avengers the movie made something like a billion dollars. Avengers the comic book sells about 54,000 copies a month. Even if every single person buying the Avengers comic book is a completely stereotypical basement dwelling misogynistic asshole (And I assure you they aren't) it still wouldn't matter if they thought a Carol Danvers movie was a terrible idea.

Which still only matters if the overall audience will accept it. Just because they're different audiences doesn't mean that they won't have the same problems. Hell, Heimdall had the Neo-Nazis (sorry, Godwin's Law) and comic book nerds butthurt over the same thing, albeit for different reasons, though I'm still unconvinced racism wasn't a factor in comic book fans protesting.

Which brings up the previous questions: would Marvel do a Carol Danvers movie? Would the MCU fans be behind it? Would Marvel put the same level of promotion into Ms./Captain Marvel as they would the Avengers, or at least Guardians of the Galaxy?

As I pointed out in a previous post, female leads are heavily resisted in a lot of genres, and tend towards underpromotion. We know Marvel can really sell even their B and C listers, but the question is, would they? Would they put as much of an effort in making the movie-goers care about Captain Marvel or She-Hulk as Iron Man, Hulk, or even Groot?

And at best I can say "...maybe?"

This isn't about comic book fans.

It's kinda sad, but at this point every single person who reads the comic for a character were to boycott that character's movie the lost ticket sales would not be noticed.

I really don't think that's sad. Because if Marvel gave a single damn about what comic book fans wanted, these movies probably wouldn't get made. And while I'm still somewhat of a comic fan, I really, really enjoy the movies.

RA92:

Exterminas:

You don't need "special" stories just because you have a female in the lead role.

Yeah, I mean, just follow Marvel movie formula that has worked so well. Make the character chase a McGuffin that can destroy the world, give her some funny quips, some infighting with her allies and all of them culminating to a large battle at the end. Don't see the issue here...

Exactly! Personally, I even think that Captain America: Winter Soldier would have worked perfectly as a Black Widow Movie, with the roles of Cap and Black Widow reversed. Obviously the script needed the Cap in there for certain plot points, but the majority of his screen time the average Marvel-Hero spends beating people to pulp and that would have worked just as well for Black Widow as the main Pulp-Maker.

I don't see why they think making a Black Widow movie is a risk at this point. I mean, Scarlett Johansson has basically proven she can carry a movie on her own at this point (Lucy beat Hercules last weekend - badly, and Hercules had the Rock to hold it up, no pun intended) and a lot of people REALLY like Black Widow. Heck, throw in a little Hawkeye if Jeremy Renner is game for it, he's got star power too. (Bourne Legacy did good numbers worldwide, iirc) It'll be great!

It's hard to argue with him. I've been saying it for a while that our incessant desire to only put our money down on the highest quality / most popular media is holding it back as attempts to differentiate underperform, giving credence to the idea that that all the calls for diversity aren't as important to people as they claim, and studios should just focus on what was working. Hence, you can't just throw out a female character without making the movie "that good" or you risk further feeding the mindset. I mean, I prefer to smack people in the head and point out how much they love a group of z-listers in a movie just because of how it was marketed, so what are they missing that isn't plastered everywhere, but that's just me.

And on that fact, I know Marvel's lineup of women isn't as pronounced as DCs, and most of the better ones are tied to lines Marvel can't bring to film, but can we get a bit more variety in who we ask for? I swear, most people are demanding a Ms Marvel movie than reading her book.

I mean, my first instinct is Phylia Vell as done during her run as Quasar. Leave the clone crap out and just have a story of a child trying to live up to their father's potential. Great for diversity too: women, lesbian, and as a pink skined kree seen as an inferior second class citizen. (i realize the last one might have issues, but it could get a point acrosss.)

I'm not so sure Black Widow is the way too go with this. She's already pretty entrenched in Cap's story.

I don't read comics, so I don't know if there is plenty of plot worth exploring with her character. But, like others have said, Marvel has deviated from the source material before, and outright ignored it at some points. So, it wouldn't be a stretch for them to make up something.

Thing is, I don't think marketing would go for that. Wonder Woman is about to make her first appearance in the Batman v Superman film. They'll be watching the reception of that closely. Wonder Woman doesn't have her own stand alone movie, just like Black Widow doesn't, but if Marvel are going to go with a movie with a female lead, they'll want someone who can compete with WW in popularity. I don't think Black Widow is the character to do that.

So, Miss Marvel then? I'm not opposed to any of these heroines getting the spotlight. But Marvel's only going to do what's best for business, and I as a rule of thumb, DC's heroes are more iconic than Marvel's. That's just the impression I get.

Way to misrepresent what the guy actually said OP.

Honestly, where did the desire to have a Black Widow movie so much come from? I'd understand it if they wanted Captain Marvel or She-Hulk etc. but BW? She was in 3 movies that aptly showed what she can do, is the most featured secondary hero and isn't her past being unclear part of her gimmick? Hell, she's got it a lot better than War Machine, Falcon, or Hawkeye.
If they want to elevate a secondary character I'd rather it'd be Falcon, his flying ability could lead to some creative set pieces that differ enough from Iron Man's to be entertaining. And if they want a female lead than go for a heavy hitter like Captain(Ms.? Always thought Cap Marvel was Shazam) Marvel, not freaking Black Widow..grumble..grumble

MC1980:
Way to misrepresent what the guy actually said OP.

Honestly, where did the desire to have a Black Widow movie so much come from? I'd understand it if they wanted Captain Marvel or She-Hulk etc. but BW? She was in 3 movies that aptly showed what she can do, is the most featured secondary hero and isn't her past being unclear part of her gimmick? Hell, she's got it a lot better than War Machine, Falcon, or Hawkeye.
If they want to elevate a secondary character I'd rather it'd be Falcon, his flying ability could lead to some creative set pieces that differ enough from Iron Man's to be entertaining. And if they want a female lead than go for a heavy hitter like Captain(Ms.? Always thought Cap Marvel was Shazam) Marvel, not freaking Black Widow..grumble..grumble

I agree. What about a She Hulk Movie? Or a Carol Danvers movie. Or even a Squirrel Girl movie? I don't know where all these Black Widow fans came from. She's not really that interesting a character.

MC1980:
And if they want a female lead than go for a heavy hitter like Captain(Ms.? Always thought Cap Marvel was Shazam) Marvel, not freaking Black Widow..grumble..grumble

a) I totally agree with you a Captain Marvel movie would be sick, especially if they worked it in correctly

b) The Captain Marvel thing is actually a hilarious story of copywrights and various infringements, basically Fawcett owned Captain Marvel who was bought out by DC and sued for being too like Superman. Marvel then created a character due to a loophole called Captain Marvel who was... actually an alien so even more like Superman than before.

Incidentally, he was actually a captain in the Kree army and his name was Mar Vell so when he introduced himself everyone assumed he was a costumed hero because... well, his Kree army uniform looked superheroic. Carol Danvers is a human airorce pilot who got similar powers due to Mar Vell f*cking up with some alien technology. Anyway, Mar Vell dies of Cancer and Ms Marvel carries on and eventually at Captain America's insistance, takes on his name and becomes Captain Marvel as she's been for the last few years now.

So, maybe this is just me, but given Mar Vell was originally like an Anti-Superman (he was sent to work out plans for an invasion after all) it could be a really movie to have the first 2/3rds be Mar Vell on Earth and then last 1/3rd is Carol being the new Captain Marvel and kicking some ass. I'd be worried it'd play too much like Thor but it could still be pretty amazing.

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