Marvel is king right now. They took one of their second tier characters and turned him into the surprise hit of the summer. They have The Incredible Hulk coming next month, attempting to bring that franchise back from a dead spot. And they’ve announced an ambitious slate of films for the next few years, all leading up to The Avengers. They’re not fucking around here.

When you get a bunch of internet journalists in a room with Kevin Feige, the head of Marvel Studios, as happened today while we visited the Universal lot to see some Hulk footage, talk will eventually turn to the other Marvel films. Here’s a rundown on what Feige had to say:

On Future Crossovers

The sky’s the limit right now. It’s us being very cautious and careful
about how we do these crossovers so that we don’t collapse under our
own weight – as even every 12 or 15 years the comics do; they revamp
and do new number ones and get back to what the characters were all
about. I don’t want [the movies] to forget what the characters are all
about and, knock on wood, the interconnectivity will be that extra bit
of fun for comic fans. And I think that everybody that stayed in their
seats to watch the Nick Fury scene at the end of Iron Man are, whether
they read comic books or not, fans of the bigger Marvel continuity.

On Getting Spider-Man or The X-Men Into Crossovers

Never say never. Who knows. When I was a kid I remember seeing Mickey
Mouse and Bugs Bunny parachuting together in Who Framed Roger Rabbit.
The truth is that we’re not even considering or thinking about it right
now because we’ve got three to five years of I hope great movies with
the characters that we do control, all leading up to The Avengers. We
have that core Avengers group, but what happens after that…

I was on the phone with Marvel Studios right after their big announcement a couple of weeks back, and while nobody would tell me the terms of their deals with Sony and Fox, the gist seems to be that as long as the characters are being used, they will not revert back to Marvel Studios. Unless Fox and Sony feel like having some fun, I wouldn’t expect to see Spidey or any mutants showing up anytime soon in a Marvel crossover.

On Captain America

First of all, Feige confirmed that the Matthew McConaughey as Cap story was bullshit, as is just about every ‘scoop’ that comes out of Cinemablend. He also confirmed that the film will be a period piece, set in World War II. He also sadly confirmed that the title is The First Avenger: Captain America and not Captain America: The First Avenger. Boo.

With The First Avenger hitting six weeks before The Avengers, it’s sort of obvious that the film will end with Cap frozen somehow, to be awoken in the second film. But I wondered if that meant audiences would need to see The First Avenger to get on The Avengers train. Feige gave the answer comic book guys always give when talking about companywide crossovers:

Each of them have to stand on their own. You won’t have to have seen
any of the films to understand The Avengers… but it will help.

On The Avengers

Speaking of The Avengers… we know Thor, Cap and Iron Man are in. What about the Hulk? He’s been an integral part of the team’s history in the Marvel and Ultimate universes.

This is three years down the line, so it’s a long way down the road. But surely the Hulk is one of the core members.

As for how The Avengers coming down the pike would affect other Marvel movies, in terms of constraints:

If Louis had come in and said, ‘I really want to kill the Hulk’… if
someone came in and said, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to kill Captain America
now?,’ we probably wouldn’t let them. But other than that, it’s all
about the movies themselves. I don’t want to say, ‘You can’t do this
because we want to do that…’ because we’ll be twisting and turning
and have a big mess on our hands. The Thor film is 100% about Thor and
is focused on the best way to introduce Thor to the biggest audience.
Same thing with The First Avenger. Same thing with this film, with the
next Iron Man film.

On Thor

When asked if Thor was a hard concept to pull off in the real world, Feige said:

It’s not the real world. The film is not all Asgard, but it’s a big chunk.

There is no director or actor attached (look for a director announcement by the end of the summer), he says, but the script continues:

I’m actually getting a new draft in a couple of weeks, but it’s
the same screenwriter, Mark Protosevitch, who is continuing with some
very good input that Matthew [Vaughn] gave us.

On Iron Man 2

Recently Jon Favreau said that he hasn’t been signed on to Iron Man 2.

Like most directors, they sign on for one picture. Like Sam Raimi, like Bryan Singer –

So they can fire our ass!

It’s a rarity to have a multi-picture deal with filmmakers. That said, of course negotiations have started.

What will happen in Iron Man 2? Feige won’t say, but he did say that the question will be who is pulling the strings behind Stark Industries and who is pulling the strings behind the Ten Rings. That seems to point directly at The Mandarin.

Come back next week for more on The Incredible Hulk, including what Feige has to say about the possible villain in Hulk 2, and some of the easter egg characters I saw in just three minutes of footage.