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Marvel Studios has decided that 2018 is the year they will begin their benevolent takeover of America, and honestly, after the perfection (and box office success) that was Black Panther, no one is complaining. Marvel’s chokehold on pop culture will only get tighter when Avengers: Infinity War, reportedly the longest Marvel movie, is released on April 27. It promises to be the biggest superhero movie ever, with as many as 67 superheroes having some sort of role in the movie.
As is to be expected in the lead up to such a movie, news about what we can expect from the next Avengers movies and the direction of the comic book studio in general has been slowly trickling out of Marvel headquarters. We already know that Wakanda will be a major part of Infinity War (Marvel knows how to give the people what they want) and that we should start preparing ourselves to say a final goodbye to some of our favorite characters. Marvel just isn’t holding back this year, and a new Entertainment Weekly interview with Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige only confirms that the studio is prepared for all the hype that it’s generating.
First and foremost, Feige immediately stoked the Black Panther sequel flames by confirming that the studio will “absolutely” go ahead with a sequel.
“One of the favorite pastimes at Marvel Studios is sitting around on a Part One and talking and dreaming about what we would do in a Part Two,” Feige said. “There have been plenty of those conversations as we were putting together the first Black Panther.” Although he wouldn’t reveal any specific details, he did say that Marvel has “ideas and a pretty solid direction” on where they want to take the second movie.
Although that’s a no-brainer—Marvel would have a death wish to give up on Wakanda—we should be aware of Marvel’s usual setup. If you look at how other character arcs have been, it tends to look like three standalone movies for one hero, plus a few appearances in other team-ups and movies within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Black Panther was so rich in characters, though: we’d happily watch three more T’Challah movies, but imagine a Dora Milaje movie? Or a Shuri stand-alone film?
For Feige, “there’s a lot of potential” there. Although his job is to find “a balance between leaving people wanting more and then giving them too much,” it’s hard to deny the appeal of some Black Panther spin-offs. “I think Shuri’s astounding, and you’ll see much more of her in our universe,” Feige said. “Okoye, I think I’d watch three action films just Okoye.”
“I’m not saying we’re doing that, but I’m saying that we’re intrigued by them,” Feige added.
No matter how exciting that sounds, there is a certain method to the Marvel madness. Feige admits that Marvel is focused on a very specific order of projects for the moment: “It’s all about getting Infinity War finished and out, starting Captain Marvel, Ant-Man and the Wasp, Untitled Avengers, the next Spider-Man, and Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 3,” he said. “These are the ones that are keeping us busy.” Anything beyond that—like, for example, how they’ll deal with finally having rights over the X-Men and Fantastic Four if and when the Disney and Fox deal goes through—is a bridge they’ll cross when they have to.
With that said, one thing Marvel will continue to uphold is diversity. Besides Black Panther, one of their upcoming movies is Captain Marvel, starring Brie Larson as the first female title character in a Marvel Studios film, with Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck co-directing. Feige says that Marvel is committed to getting more women and people of color both in front of and behind the camera, since “we’re seeing it shift from a very purposeful initiative to just a fact of life, to just a way of doing business.” Feige even hinted that “there are people we hired that we’re not ready to announce in all different capacities, particularly behind the camera.”
“As Panther has so loudly declared, [representation] can only help you, can only help you tell unique stories, can only help you do things in a new, and unique, and fresh, and exciting way,” Feige added. “If you do that, audiences will notice it, and appreciate it, and support it.”
Looking ahead to Infinity War, Feige described the upcoming movie as a “climax” that will set up the eventual conclusion if Marvel’s first 22 movie arc with the fourth and final still untitled Avengers movie in 2019.
You can read the rest of Kevin Feige’s interview over at Entertainment Weekly.