Under the leadership of Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige, the MCU has become the most successful movie franchise in history with more than 30 movies and almost a dozen Disney+ shows to date. Even with concerns about the franchise’s stability and survivability during the pandemic, Marvel Studios continued to thrive, helping bring movie theaters back to prominence along the way.
Before Black Panther: Wakanda Forever closed out the MCU's Phase 4, producer Nate Moore explained part of what makes Feige so successful with the MCU, praising his boss for the way he "truly loves movies...all kinds of movies."
But considering how the MCU has withstood the test of time for the past 15 years, the question now turns to how Marvel Studios has adapted over the years to continue this incredible run of success.
The MCU's Biggest Changes Since Phase 1
In an interview on the D23: Inside Disney podcast, Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania producer and VP of Production & Development at Marvel Studios Stephen Broussard discussed the company's biggest changes he's seen since the MCU began in 2008.
Broussard explained that "it was a very small operation" at the beginning before the Walt Disney Company purchased Marvel Studios, noting how he was one of ten people that shared a single office:
"Oh, that’s a great question. It was a very small operation when we started. I think I was one of literally ten people in an office… This is the pre-Disney days too, so it was a much smaller operation. And we had big hopes and dreams to start our own studio and back then, we were very much the underdog."
He looked back to a time when people questioned whether Marvel "would be successful in launching their own studio" and highlighted characters that weren't considered A-listers at the time. Without big names like Spider-Man, the X-Men, or the Fantastic Four available, Broussard explained that the team "had a lot to prove" and celebrated how much fans have responded to their efforts:
"There was some questions about whether or not Marvel would be successful in launching their own studio and telling stories with characters that weren’t necessarily what was considered at the time marquis characters, like Spider-Man or the X-Men. And so, we had a lot to prove, and we were eager, and hungry to make movies. It was a group of like-minded individuals that just love movies and flash-forward all these years later, and it’s been awesome to see the audience respond to the MCU, and respond to these movies. So, definitely wouldn’t consider ourselves the underdog anymore."
While the scale has changed internally for what Marvel Studios is doing, Broussard noted that the team still has a "pure desire to just tell great stories" and to make movies that are entertaining when translated from the comics:
"People are paying attention, which is exciting and comes with its own different set of challenges when you’re just trying to get noticed and make movies that capture people’s imaginations. One thing that hasn’t changed, I would say is the pure desire to just tell great stories, and to really make movies that are as fun, and as entertaining, and brings these comics to life in ways that we respond, and that we wanna see on screen, and hope that that translates."
Broussard concluded by heaping praise on Kevin Feige for setting the "creative tone for the studio," keeping the same feeling of responsibility no matter how big the operation is at Marvel Studios:
"And that kinda starts with Kevin Feige, my boss, you know, he’s always set the tone, creative tone for the studio. And whether we were the people in the small office trying to make things happen or where we are now knowing the world is watching what we’re doing, and we take that responsibility very seriously, that’s been the creative throughline all the way through."
Marvel Studios' Growing Operations Since Infinity Saga
Since Marvel Studios started its interconnected universe with 2008's Iron Man, the franchise slowly built towards being the most financially successful in movie history, currently boasting four of the ten highest-grossing movies ever. The MCU's total gross now exceeds $28 billion worldwide after Ant-Man 3, with Phase 5 and Phase 6 continuing to build incredible levels of hype over the next couple of years.
But according to Stephen Broussard, not all that much has changed internally as the team continues to use its love and appreciation for movies to continue telling the best stories possible.
Although Kevin Feige can't be as hands-on with the franchise as he once was, he does everything he can to be as involved as possible with the MCU's movies and Disney+ shows as they continue telling this grand narrative.
While it's unclear how much bigger the process and story can get for Marvel Studios, especially with so many new characters on the way, Broussard and the team are intent on keeping the same passion that's driven them since Phase 1.
The MCU continues with Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania, which is currently playing in theaters.