Kevin Feige Explains How X-Men Helped Kick Off the Marvel Cinematic Universe

For many, Kevin Feige has had an immeasurable role in crafting the modern-day blockbuster, thanks to his work in crafting Marvel Studios' film enterprises. While that has grown into the billion-dollar-grossing franchise that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Feige got his start as an associate producer on some of Marvel's earlier films, beginning with 2000's X-Men. In a recent appearance on The Hollywood Reporter's Awards Chatter podcast, Feige spoke about how the Fox film essentially paved the way for the modern-day success of Marvel movies, by taking a decidedly character-driven approach to the storytelling that was at hand.

"[Producer] Avi [Arad] very much believed in all of these characters, and very much believed in the potential that these characters had to be movies," Feige explained. "I think, in years before that - and some of this is based on things I heard when I first started, some of it is based on books that I’ve read about the time at Marvel before I joined. There was a fear that if you mess it up, you would devalue that character. And that’s a fair enough fear because there had been some Marvel characters made into movies that were not shining examples. They didn’t kill the characters, but they were not good. I think you can look back on them now, and they’re “of the time”, and I could make arguments for fun things in them, but they didn’t light the world on fire. Avi very much believed that is what we should do, and it was X-Men as the first that allowed him to keep pushing to do more. And to move out to Los Angeles full time, he was only coming to LA a few days a week at that point, and being based in New York. I got to know him very well during the production of X-Men 1. I sort of became the person on the set, in the production, that he could call and get information from and be kept in the loop. And I was happy to keep him in the loop about things and how they were going. For the most part, they were going well on that movie with that cast."

"At the time, we weren’t using the words like ‘cinematic universe’ and things like that," Feige went on to explain. "But it was very simple - we knew the movie we were making, for the budget we were making it, which was quite low, certainly low in today’s dollars, even low then. So, there were so many things that we couldn’t do. Which in hindsight was great, because it forced all of us to focus on the characters and to focus on the emotion of the characters and the pathos of the characters, and the inner turmoil of what makes the X-Men great, about all of the analogies to those who are different and those who feel different or are made to feel different, which is all of us. And that’s ultimately what X-Men is about, and that is ultimately why it succeeded. But I remember having discussions - as we always had, and we still do - about ‘Wouldn’t it be cool one day if we got the opportunity to do x, y, or z?’ So I think there were a lot of conversations, a lot of talk about that."

Of course, these comments take on a whole other level given the current state of the MCU, with the X-Men and other characters previously owned by Fox now falling under the Marvel Studios umbrella. While fans have been looking forward to the characters' reintroduction into the universe, Feige recently hinted that that won't happen for a while.

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“It’ll be a while. It’s all just beginning and the five-year plan that we’ve been working on, we were working on before any of that was set,” Feige previously said. "So really it’s much more, for us, less about specifics of when and where right now and more just the comfort factor and how nice it is that they’re home. That they’re all back. But it will be a very long time.”

Upcoming Marvel Studios projects include Black Widow on May 1, 2020, The Falcon and The Winter Soldier in Fall of 2020, The Eternals on November 6, 2020, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings on February 12, 2021, WandaVision in Spring 2021, Loki in Spring 2021, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness on May 7, 2021, Spider-Man 3 on July 16, 2021, What If…? in Summer 2021, Hawkeye in Fall 2021, Thor: Love and Thunder on November 5, 2021, and Black Panther 2 on May 6, 2022.