Marvel Studios has been quietly making some major changes to their infrastructure. Yes, plenty of sites are covering the “shake up,” a term some consider to be overly dramatic in its description. However, it is the opinion of this writer that “shake-up” is the apt term. Moreover, I think the words aren’t strong enough. In reality, a major tectonic shift has occurred right under our noses. Using a word synonymous with “Earth Shaking” is a far more interesting description. And here’s why.
It all started with The Hollywood Reporter’s article about Marvel Mastermind and overall swell guy Kevin Feige now reporting to Disney head honcho Alan Horn. When I first read of the news, I didn’t think twice about it. Makes sense, right? Disney owns Marvel. Kevin Feige runs Marvel. Of course he’s going to check in with the brass at Disney. It’s a forgone conclusion as such in my opinion, when dealing with two billion dollar entities.
I then read into the move a little more and noticed something I didn’t even think about. Coming from THR:
Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige has pulled off a reorganization of the vaunted film company that has him reporting to Disney studio chief Alan Horn as opposed to the infamously micromanaging Marvel Entertainment CEO Isaac “Ike” Perlmutter.
Ike, rumored to be a sort of bogeyman of studio heads, was allegedly so bad at micromanaging his team that Kevin Feige has been miserable for quite some time. THR also reports him as,
…a low-profile billionaire who has contributed to Marvel’s reputation in Hollywood for frugality and secrecy (as THR reported in a 2014 feature, he attended the premiere of Iron Man in a disguise to go undetected and once complained that journalists at a press junket were allowed two sodas instead of one).”
Those last two get me: he appeared at the Iron Man premiere in disguise? He monitor’s soda distribution? Some would even call this… eccentric; the Howard Hughes of Hollywood even. Either way, it brings up an interesting thought for me… Even while being under the overpowering, eccentricities of a Hollywood weirdo, Kevin Feige has managed to still make Marvel (and subsequently their movies) something special.
And it makes me love Kevin Feige even more.
Now let’s look at another story posted today from Devin Faraci over at Birth.Movies.Death: The Marvel Creative Committee is no more.
And what exactly is the Marvel Creative Committee? Picture the brain trust over at Pixar, now compiled of Toy Story director and CEO John Lasseter; Andrew Stanton (Finding Nemo, Wall-E) Joe Ranft (writer of Toy Story and A Bug’s Life) Brad Bird ( The Incredibles) and Pete Doctor (Monsters Inc). With Marvel, it’s the group of seasoned writers/producers who give notes and thoughts to the writers and directors of their movies.
Some of the guys on the committee included Alan Fine, who came with Perlmutter to Marvel through Toy Biz, Brian Michael Bendis, who is a prolific Marvel Comics writer, Dan Buckley, publisher of Marvel Comics and Joe Quesada, former editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics and the current Chief Creative Officer of Marvel Enterprises.
Now, as Faraci (and Birth. Movies. Death) are reporting, the creative committee is no more. Basically, and for the uninitiated Marvel-phile; they were given their walking papers. (I’m also not suggesting that Pixar’s brain trust is doing the same thing – they are quite the opposite. Their committee works).
Back to Marvel; no more will their committee be giving their “notes” to the filmmakers. This, to me, is the biggest step going forward. Marvel will be inherently different. And by all accounts, this is a good thing.
Devin Faraci is a very reliable source when it comes to all of this and this report, coupled with the news from THR, lends a ‘Where there is smoke, there is certainly fire’ dialogue. I truly believe, now, that Marvel was busting at the seams and precariously close to crumbling under this structure.
I had no idea things were operating as such; or that Kevin Feige was “frustrated.” Sure, some of the Marvel movies were executed better over others (Captain America: The Winter Soldier vs. Thor: The Dark World comes to mind). But in my mind, I chalked it up to movie making in general: it’s a tough game and sometimes, relatively speaking, a creative endeavor can fall short, given they’re compared to every past movie.
But as I did some digging, I found more and more examples of how the Creative Committee really got in the way of Feige and the filmmakers. Add in the eccentric billionaire Ike and you’ve got yourself a tough work environment.
One Marvel creative talked to me about battles with the Creative Committee where they focused on details of nit-picky science that ignored the general tone of the script itself. The notes that drove Edgar Wright off Ant-Man came from the Creative Committee. What’s more, the Creative Committee was often very tardy with their notes, making movie development a much slower process. All of the Committee members have other, very important jobs, so you understand why that would be the case, but it was a pain for filmmakers. And that’s before taking into account the political divisions within Marvel that also created friction with the Creative Committee.
This particular line get’s me the most: “The notes that drove Edgar Wright off Ant-Man came from the Creative Committee.”
You’re saying the Creative Committee, designed to help the filmmakers, actually harmed the movie in question? It’s easy to imagine what could have been with the Edgar Wright Ant-Man movie. Geeks everywhere, including me, mourn the loss of Edgar Wright playing in the Marvel sandbox. But since that is old news, I’m more interested in the other “what could have beens….” What could have been the outcome of notorious Marvel slip ups? What could Iron Man 2 have been like without these extra added distractions? Would Patty Jenkins, original director of Thor 2 succeeded in putting out a more enjoyable second chapter for the God of Asgard? Would Joss Whedon still be on Avengers: Infinity War? No way of knowing.
In moving forward, Faraci rightly supposes that these changes won’t (possibly) be felt with Captain America: Civil War or even Dr. Strange (the two were shooting and/or were in active development when the story broke) but that’s not the case with the rest of the upcoming slate for Phase Three.
With Kevin Feige, Louis D’Esposito and Victoria Alonso on all creative decisions moving forward, I’m happy to know that Marvel is, essentially, done with the “too many cooks in the kitchen” model of development that has plagued so many studios in the past.
Which leads me to my overall point; can you believe Marvel has been operating at such a high level since Day One? As I mentioned, not all of their movies landed perfectly but you can’t deny the level of quality from each release. More over, comparing a Marvel movie to say, a Fantastic Four movie, the general consensus would be that Marvel hasn’t made a true stinker… well, ever. Comparing the failure of FF over at Fox to every single release from Marvel since 2008’s Iron Man, it’s obvious who knows how to make a superhero movie well.
And now, all roadblocks have, seemingly, been removed. Feige and his team can do their thing without waiting for notes, criticism or outlandish requests from an insecure, bull headed studio head (Ike) or a busy creative trust that has too many obligations anyways.
Phase Two inside Marvel Studios is here… I hope it’s nothing but smooth sailing from here on out.
We hope you keep checking back for more updates – right here on GeekNation.
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