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December 5, 2012

Feige @ SCA

President of Marvel Studios Discusses The Avengers

By Valerie Turpin

Ten years ago, if a studio executive had proposed setting up an entire slate of superhero movies as origin stories for a single film that would bring all of these household names together, they would have been laughed at. Kevin Feige, a USC School of Cinematic Arts alum and President of Marvel Studios, accomplished just this with The Avengers. On November 27, Feige visited Jason E. Squire’s Art and Industry of the Theatrical Film course as the final guest speaker of the semester to explain his role as a creative producer.

Alum Kevin Feige, Jason E. Squire and alum/ Head of Alumni Relations
Justin Wilson

Feige explained that, as a producer, part of his job is knowing which scenes to keep and which to cut, although that decision isn’t always immediately clear. “We were shooting a scene for Thor [3] today,” said Feige. “Sometimes you shoot a scene and it’s great, sometimes you shoot a scene and it’s not great, and sometimes you’re wrong – you get to the cutting room and the scene you thought was great is terrible, or the scene you thought was not very good comes together extremely well.”

Feige has been the President of Marvel Studios since 2007 and has brought many superhero blockbuster hits, including Iron Man, Captain America and Thor, from the comic book pages to the big screen. As a producer, Feige is credited for the X-Men films, the Spider-Man films and the Fantastic Four films to name a few, as Feige has produced more films with superheroes in main roles than any other producer in history.

Part of Feige’s success is having a balanced style in which he stays very involved in the filmmaking process but stops short of micromanaging. “I try to be on set as much as possible because usually so much is going on,” explained Feige, “and while we’re involved in every level and every detail, we’re not going to stand there and direct the actors. That’s the director’s job.”

Squire’s Art and Industry course is known for bringing high-profile industry professionals to come and speak with students, with each semester focusing on a specific film. With the fall class dedicated to The Avengers with top guests as Writer/Director Joss Whedon and ILM Visual Effects Supervisor Jeff White among many others, it was fitting to have Feige wrap up the course. As a special preview, Feige brought animatix and production footage from the upcoming film Iron Man 3, which is scheduled for release in 2013.  

Feige addresses questions from the class

Feige noted that every stage of filmmaking, not just production, is integral in creating the finished product. “Production is obviously very important, but it is only one aspect. It is only one aspect,” Feige emphasized. “And on movies this size with this many visual effects, there are so many decisions that get kicked down the line.” Through the film’s extensive visual effects work combined with elements of physical production, Feige attributed the highlight of his career to seeing audience reactions to the Avengers team standing back to back in the film’s finale.