Marvel Studios has come a long way since the inception of this movie-making venture. Kevin Feige talked to The Hollywood Reporter about his journey with the company. One thing that was a hot topic of discussion over the course of the conversation was how this entire experiment came to be. It seem as though Feige thinks that the lack of seemingly iconic characters available to the studio at the beginning of this run helped their longterm success along. As many have noted, Iron Man was the first step toward the dominance they demonstrate in theaters with regularity now. As opposed to DC's offerings, there are no Superman or Batman to hang their hats on and heroes like Spider-Man or X-Men were tied up in other companies' projects back then. But, the studio has made do with their own stable and all the success speaks for itself.
"When we were looking at ways to set ourselves apart: 1) Produce and finish Iron Man 1, and make it as unique an experience as you could. There had been a lot of Marvel movies up until that point, and we wanted to stand apart from it. One of the ways that I knew we could stand apart was not through marquee characters. Because, at that point the definition of a marquee character was: do they have a tv show or a movie already or an animated series in the past few years? All of those characters had been licensed out already."
"But, we had everything else already. And having everything else meant that we could blend them together and build a universe on the big screen the same way as in the comics. So, it wasn't any epiphany of any kind, but simply so much of what we do is replicating that experience for comic book fans up on the big screen. One of the big pleasures from that experience is when one character from another book pops up in someone else's."
Marvel made a huge gamble on Robert Downey Jr. They signed him to a three-picture deal originally. Iron Man was a big success and paved the way for everything that came afterwards.
Feige explained, "We really believed in the character of Tony Stark. We believed in being able to do a version of a hero that people hadn't seen before — the redemptive arc that he has through the film — and the notion that it's not superpowers, it's a vehicle, and the vehicle sometimes works and sometimes doesn't. That his intellect is the superpower, we thought was very interesting."
There was a burgeoning potential in the formation of a Marvel Cinematic Universe and Feige recognized that. "the notion of epic storytelling that encompasses the same characters through many different periods." He offered, "We could begin to blend them together and build a universe on the big screen the way it exists in the comic book universe."
"For the longest time, Avengers [the first Marvel release to bring together a large group of its superheroes] was our horizon line, what we were aiming for," Feige reflects. After Marvel got acquired by Disney in 2009 for $4 billion things changed. "[It was] the greatest thing that ever happened to us," He added.