Kevin Feige, producer and President of Marvel Studios, and Jeremy Latcham, executive producer, were on hand at Los Angeles’ Hero Complex gallery to unveil Tyler Stout’s artwork inspired by Avengers: Age of Ultron and to promote the home video release of the film. After screening three featurettes available on the upcoming Blu-ray, Feige and Latcham engaged the audience in a revealing question and answer session. Few Infinity Stones were left unturned, with many questions concerning the evolution of the Avengers team and its future.
“It’s definitely is an end to some version of the team we know as the Avengers,” teased Latcham on Avengers: Age of Ultron‘s final scene. “One of the things that we loved about the comic was that the roster was always changing, that new people were coming onto the team, and you could pick up an Avengers book ten years later and you wouldn’t recognize who was on the cover. But the ideas and ideals and things that make the Avengers the Avengers still exist.”
The change in the Avengers roster included the possibility of introducing a number of new characters, including Captain Marvel. Feige explained that a plate - meaning an empty background shot where things can later be added digitally -- had been shot to include her.
“The thought was maybe to have her in there,” added Feige. “But the truth is, it just didn’t seem appropriate to have this new person in a new costume literally come out of nowhere at the end of this story. It would have been a disservice.”
Still, the remaining members of the Avengers and their new recruits will have to become a cohesive unit, despite being what Feige calls the “most dysfunctional team in history of teams.”
The Marvel films and television shows have slowly built a cinematic universe, allowing for character crossover appearances and crossover films, including the upcoming Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War. Feige stated the seeds to the two-part Avengers: Infinity War started as early as 2009’s Iron Man 2. One of the key throughlines in the Marvel Cinematic Universe leading up to the Avengers: Infinity War films are the Infinity Stones and the Infinity Gauntlet. Feige and Latcham cited the stones and Thanos, the death-obsessed intergalactic despot played by Josh Brolin, as the links between films.
“There’s a gauntlet that needs to be filled,” teased Feige. “The Cosmic Cube was always important to the Red Skull and Captain America. We always knew in Age of Ultron that there was one in Loki’s scepter that would end up the Vision’s forehead. Some of the other ones come out of a structural plot need sometimes for McGuffin.”
Thanos’ appearance in Avengers and in Guardians of the Galaxy sets the stage for crossover potential between the earth-bound MCU and its outer-space characters.
Feige and Latcham added that while they have an overall plan, they still allow for the natural storytelling.
“So all the movies ultimately, when they are finished can feel like they were all interconnected and meant to be and planned far ahead,” said Feige, “but can live and breathe as individual movies that can be satisfying by themselves”.
“One of the keys is to let the filmmakers go make the movie they want to make and not let too much of the craziness of the world get in the way of it,” said Latcham. “And then afterward, we look at it and make sure everything lines up. But I think the main thing is to make every film stand on its own.”
Feige noted that 2016's Captain America: Civil War is one such film that is both a giant crossover movie and character-focused story.
“Civil War in particular is very much Cap’s story and a sequel to Winter Soldier,” he added. All of the Avengers except the Hulk and Thor are announced for the film, in addition to Ant-Man and the debuting Spider-Man and Black Panther. Still, Feige promised the film will make every character count, and is “excellent at giving each character just enough, not a full arc for everybody, but it’s just enough so they’re presence is felt and important, but that the very clear single story being told is served at all times.”
As for more cross-pollination between television and film worlds, Feige believes it is inevitable but difficult, reinforcing that a television show’s schedule is more nimble and moves faster than that of a film.
Naturally, the topic of Marvel and Sony’s joint handling of the next Spider-Man movie arose. Feige was noticeably excited at having the wallcrawler appear alongside the Marvel/Disney roster of characters. When asked if the late inclusion of Spider-Man into the MCU disrupted Feige and Latcham’s plans, Feige stated, “The most important thing is relaunching Spider-Man in a standalone movie. The connective is gravy, doesn’t drive the train. It’s been a dream of ours for a long time, but we’ve always had contingency plans.”
Feige briefly expanded upon those “contingency plans” by explaining every film is approached with alternate ideas to be used in the event of an actor not returning or other potential production disruptions.
Returning to Spider-Man, Feige continued his excitement over the wall-crawler’s future. “Making the agreement with Sony is great and amazing.” He added that while Spider-Man was not the only super-hero in the world, “but he’s unique to compare against the others.”
Feige and Latcham remained mum on any of the details regarding Spider-Man’s own film in 2017, though he did say audiences would learn how long Peter Parker has been active as Spider-Man.
Feige and Latcham promised more new cast members for Doctor Strange and Guardians of the Galaxy 2 would be announced by the end of the year.
Feige’s favorite “nerdiest” question of the evening concerned one eagle-eyed reporter’s query as to whether or not the gauntlet seen in Odin’s treasure in Thor was the same one worn by Thanos.
“No,” answered Feige with a smile, “Not the same one. “
Avengers: Age of Ultron is available on Blu-Ray, DVD, and download on October 2, 2015.
Tyler Stout’s prints, and other art inspired by Avengers: Age of Ultron, can be seen and ordered from the Hero Complex.