Who is the most powerful man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Is it Iron Man, with his nice goatee and shiny army of drones? Doctor Strange with his nice goatee and shiny cape? Black Panther, with his nice goatee and shiny necklace? Thor, with his nice goatee and shiny armour? Or Hulk, who is clean shaven so possibly owns a shiny razor?
None of them, actually. It’s Kevin Feige, who is by all accounts a normal human.
Feige is the president of Marvel Studios - the films he’s produced have grossed over $13 billion at the box office. That’s $13,000,000,000. Crackers.
He’s basically the driving force behind the Marvel Cinematic Universe - well, money is probably the actual driving force, but he’s the steady hand on the wheel. Actors, screenwriters and directors come and go, project by project, but he’s the constant presence, the man with the plan. He’s the dude who figures out how to sprinkle plot points in Movie A that’ll come to fruition in Movie J, while still having both of them make sense on their own. It’s a good job.
There were always two Marvel-based cinematic universes at play at the same time, though - the Avengers/Iron Man/Hulk/Thor one in films made by Marvel Studios, and the X-Men/Deadpool one, in films made by Fox. That was why we ended up with weird stuff like multiple versions of the same character - Quicksilver appears in the X-Men films played by Evan Peters and the Marvel ones played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson, with the word ‘mutant’ never stated by an Avenger. It was a bit of a mess, especially when Spider-Man (also a Marvel character) was thrown into the mix - Sony owned the rights to him.
So, loads of characters that are free to punch each other in the adamantium guts all the time in comics couldn’t, for complicated legal reasons involving huge amounts of money, ever be seen on screen together. But that’s changing now… kinda, possibly.
After the complicated, lengthy process of negotiation between Sony and Marvel that meant Spider-Man could meet the Avengers (in Captain America: Civil War, Spider-Man: Homecoming and the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War), 20th Century Fox (which owned the rights to the X-Men) was bought by Disney (owners of Marvel Studios). So, in theory, this should mean that everyone can wallop seven shades of shit out of each other.
Except, it turns out Kevin Feige only learned about the Fox deal when it happened.
“I read about it in the press like most people did,” Feige told Vulture. “These are big deals, and certainly above my pay grade.”
Why… why didn’t the heads of Fox or Disney give him a heads-up? The man has masterminded the most lucrative series of movies in history, has turned second-tier heroes into marquee names and brought in billions of dollars. Why, as soon as the deal was even a remote possibility, didn’t they have him figuring out how to integrate a Colossus/Iron Man scrap into the next film, how to merge the two franchises’ history so it isn’t weird that none of the Avengers ever said, “Maybe we should ask the X-Men for help” or vice versa, or maybe, just maybe, considering the possibility of making a non-rubbish Fantastic Four film?
Depending on what time you got up the day the deal was announced, you might have read about it before Kevin Feige. That’s ridiculous to think.
What this means is that, despite all the possibilities, there are no plans in place to have Deadpool give Thor a noogie or Jean Grey and Doctor Strange get into a telekinesis-off. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is all planned out until at least the beginning of 2020 (seven films are coming out between now and then - Black Panther, two Avengers, the Ant-Man sequel, Captain Marvel, a second Spider-Man and a third Guardians of the Galaxy), so we’re at least a couple of years off seeing the whole gang coming together. And, who knows, the separate series might have just gone far enough that they’re impossible to integrate.
But it feels like, if everyone had been a bit more organised, Black Panther could have included a bit where Black Panther punches Cyclops in the face, and it feels like a real missed opportunity.