In the years since the company's inception, Marvel Studios President of Production Kevin Feige has become the official source for what's going on and what's to come from the publisher's cinematic universe. Even as the head of an organization that famously keeps things close to the vest, Feige has spoken out regularly and enthusiastically about the projects and films that fans desperately want to know about.
Over the course of the past few weeks, Feige has become more vocal about Marvel Studios' plans for Phase Two, explaining to SFX Magazine (via ComingSoon) most recently that his excitement for the second arc of Avengers films hinges on its transcendence of the superhero genre.
"That's exciting to me about 'Cap' — sort of about 'Iron Man 3' too if you look at it — is it's tonally almost like a different genre. Shane Black's described 'Iron Man 3' as a Tom Clancy sort of political thriller, which I like a lot," Feige said. "We hired our directors on 'Cap' because they loved our explanation that we really want to make a '70s political thriller masquerading as a big superhero movie."
While the prospect of genre jumping within superhero films should excite fans as an original and different approach to what's become a familiar arena, it's what Feige said about the still-mysterious "Guardians of the Galaxy" film that may turn out to be the most daring move so far on the studio's part.
"It's much more of a standalone film. It takes place in the same universe," Feige said. "And when we've been on the other side of that universe in other movies, you might see those characteristics in 'Guardians,' but the Avengers are not involved with what's happening out there at this time."
What defines a "standalone film" for Feige is left somewhat vague, but anyone familiar with Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning's 25-issue run of "Guardians" in the late aughts might have a pretty good guess about what he means.
A brief set-up: The Guardians of the Galaxy are a rag-tag group of aliens that band together to explore the universe and stop catastrophic cosmic events before they happen, no matter the cost. That last point matters because [*spoilers*] by the end of the run, Star-Lord, the team's leader, and three other members, Martyr, Adam Warlock, and Drax, pay the ultimate cost to stop Thanos, the teased "Avengers 2" baddie. Future retcons aside, the celebrated run ends on a stark down note, something the Marvel Cinematic Universe has yet to toy with. [*end spoilers*]
If Feige means "standalone" in a greater sense than "The Avengers won't show up," and instead is hinting that there won't be a series of "Guardians of the Galaxy" films, Marvel would do itself an enormous storytelling favor and achieve something unprecedented for the series. Having Thanos wipe out the Guardians by the end of their movie would be the pitch perfect set-up for the heightened stakes of "Avengers 2." Whedon won't have to spend so much time establishing the threat of Thanos, since we just saw him kill a team of characters we really liked the previous summer.
If Feige and Marvel are serious about forgoing the expectations of the superhero genre, that should include giving up the happy ending, at least for one movie, and making a film with the intention of never making a sequel.
What do you think? Would you like to see "Guardians of the Galaxy" truly stand alone, or do you want a franchise? Let us know in the comments below and on Twitter!