Even though their brothers in Disney, Lucasfilm, don't participate in the practice, it's no secret that Marvel Studios test screens their movies ahead of their release. A pretty standard practice for movies, the test screenings are often used to help shape the edit of the Marvel movies ahead of their release, and Marvel President Kevin Feige hates them. While appearing as guest speaker at the New York Film Academy, where Feige participated in a lengthy Q&A session, Feige was asked about how Marvel Studios is able to stay true to their artistic visions while also navigating the expectations of movie goers and fans. Feige took the question and used it to relay his experiences with test screenings, which due have some use as he points out.
"Test screenings are horrible," Feige said. "They're painful, they're terrible. All these people that aren't making movies go 'I'll give ya my opinion!' and I sit in the back and pull my hat down, but I stay there and I listen because there are things you don't see."
Feige went on to talk about how both hardcore MCU fans and newcomers to the series view the films in this test screenings and how their answers to the post-screening questionnaires show that what Marvel is making really works.
"In those test screenings there are questionnaires, and from probably Avengers 1 we've had the question 'Which of these movies have you seen? and now it's just come down to 'Have you seen other MCU movies before?' and the next question is 'Do you have to have seen the other movies to enjoy this movie?' And here's what happened almost every time. The people who write 'Yes I've seen every one,' and then go 'Do you have to see them to enjoy the movie? Absolutely.' But for the people who go 'No, this is my first time,' they go 'How many have you seen? Zero. Do you think you have to have seen the other movies? No, I loved it. I enjoyed it.'"
Regarding the full topic though, Feige had an extensive answer about the though processes at Marvel Studios and how they navigate the "expectations" of their fan base.
"If we thought too much about it, if we thought too much about pleasing everybody about everything we'd collapse into a fetal position and never do anything," Feige said. "So we don't do that. We think mainly about what we think would be interesting, what we think would be cool, what we think would fulfill a promise we'd set up, what we think would grow the MCU in an unexpected way that people aren't anticipating, killing half of your heroes for instance. But, it is true that we always make the films with the intention of them working for people who've watched every other film we've made and for people who've never seen one of our movies. And yes with Infinity War and Endgame it gets tougher at that point, but we test screen all of our movies. Like additional photography, test screening, never become too arrogant to think that you don't have something to learn from the audience would be one piece of advice I would give you."
In the coming weeks Marvel Studios will no doubt go through this same process with the upcoming Black Widow movie, set to be released in May of 2020. As has previously been reported, a lot of good could come from a Marvel test screening, like hilarious lines that made it into the final cuts.
Other upcoming Marvel Studios projects include The Falcon and The Winter Soldier in fall 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, What If? In summer 2021, Hawkeye in fall 2021, Thor: Love and Thunder on November 5, 2021, and Black Panther 2 in May 2022.