There are many reasons the MCU keeps on winning: consistent quality, blockbuster action, and interconnected storytelling on a scale never put to screen before. Across the Infinity Saga, Marvel Studios spent over ten years introducing audiences to heroes and villains and building towards an epic conclusion that got audiences so invested that it went on to become the biggest film of all time.
Naturally, the numerous projects that have released over the latest 14 years have come courtesy of countless creative geniuses, but one man sits at the helm of it all: Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige. The popular producer has been involved with every film and series to come out of the MCU and is ultimately the one making the final decisions and plans that keeps it all connected.
For years, fans have been talking about Feige's master plan for the MCU, with the producer said to have the next decade of Marvel stories mapped out. But based on recent comments from one Marvel director, things may not be quite as planned out as many had come to think.
Marvel Director Reveals There is No MCU Plan
During a recent sit down at the Sands International Film Festival, via Deadline, Avengers: Endgame co-director Joe Russo discussed Marvel Studios' lack of planning for the future of the MCU.
Russo was asked if he and his co-directing brother Anthony were forced to include Spider-Man and Black Panther in Captain America: Civil War to set up future projects. In response, the director explained that "there isn't really a plan" because if "the movie [they're] making tanks" then plans would have to change:
“No, the way it works at Marvel is… I’m sure at some point somebody will talk in detail about this, but part of Kevin [Feige]’s brilliance is that there isn’t really a plan. There’s an idea, but you can’t have a plan if the movie you’re making tanks. There’s no plan after that, right?"
The director went on to explain how the enthusiasm after a movie's success would see them beginning to consider "what else could [they] do," revealing that "a lot of stuff was made up" between Infinity War and Endgame:
"So it’s really about, as the movie succeeded, then there was sort of enthusiasm about, ‘Well, what else could we do?’ And then that’s when new ideas would come out, right? And there were hopes, we hope one day we can get to the story if you keep doing this, right? Maybe we can all get there, you know, like Infinity War and Endgame, but a lot of the stuff was made up in between the movies, right?"
Russo even confirmed that many references to the past or future were "thought of after the fact." The popular filmmaker cited Bucky killing Tony Stark's parents as an example, as the revelation was teased in Captain America: The Winter Soldier but apparently not thought of until Civil War:
"And… I think [those] call-forwards or callbacks were thought of after the fact, right? Like we didn’t have Civil War [broken down] and we didn’t know that by showing you the scene with Zola as this old Hydra villain in Winter Soldier… [and he’s] telling him about the Winter Soldier and there’s an image of Stark’s parents, right? He had them killed… And it’s implied that it’s connected. That was happenstance. Then, after the movie came out, and we had to make Civil War, we’re like, ‘Hey, that’s a crazy idea… that’s how Tony could get so angry at Cap that he’d want to kill him, is if Cap’s buddy had killed his parents.’
The Marvel director continued to explain how "retrofitting these ideas" after the fact can be enjoyable and is "in a lot of ways the secret sauce of Marvel:"
So we’re retrofitting these ideas and that’s all part of the fun of it. But I think that was in a lot of ways the secret sauce of Marvel was riding a bucking bronco. It was not premeditated.”
Is Kevin Feige's MCU Masterplan a Myth?
Having taken the helm on The Winter Soldier, Civil War, Infinity War, and Endgame, Joe and Anthony Russo were at the crux of the MCU's biggest outings for five years. Given the intricate role the duo played in bringing the Infinity Saga towards its climax, they're the perfect people to explain just how the MCU plans its future.
Based on Joe Russo's comments, it appears many of the biggest the MCU's biggest twists and surprises may not be quite as planned out as fans had thought. But naturally, it makes sense to plan out where things will go next after gauging the reactions of audiences, as opposed to rushing down a path that may only lead to disappointment.
Just because these decisions are only being made as the MCU progresses, that doesn't mean seeds aren't being planted that may or may not grow into something. Avengers: Age of Ultron teased Steve Rogers' ability to lift Mjolnir; obviously, that later paid off years later in Endgame, but that doesn't mean it had to.
This doesn't necessarily mean Feige doesn't have any idea where things are going. The Marvel Studios president almost certainly has a roadmap of the projects he wants to make and the stories he wants to tell, but specific story beats are probably decided on closer to the time.
The Russo brothers have already teased they are still in discussion to return to Marvel directing in the future. But for now, their entire MCU portfolio - including The Winter Soldier, Civil War, Infinity War, and Endgame - is streaming now on Disney+.