The Marvel Studios head will work with Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy to develop a new movie for Disney's hit franchise.
Kevin Feige is on loan from the Marvel Cinematic Universe to that galaxy far, far away.
The Hollywood Reporter had the exclusive Wednesday night that Feige -- a huge Star Wars fan -- is developing a movie in that franchise as Kathleen Kennedy gears up plans for "a wave of projects set in the universe."
The meeting to get Feige onboard occurred late summer 2019, according to THR. Feige met with Kennedy and Disney Studios co-chairmen Alan Horn and Alan Bergman. "We are excited about the projects Kathy and the Lucasfilm team are working on, not only in terms of Star Wars but also Indiana Jones and reaching into other parts of the company, including Children of Blood and Bone with Emma Watts and Fox," Horn said in a statement to THR. "With the close of the Skywalker Saga, Kathy is pursuing a new era in Star Wars storytelling, and knowing what a die-hard fan Kevin is, it made sense for these two extraordinary producers to work on a Star Wars film together."
Feige, since 2015, was often rumored as taking over Lucasfilm from Kennedy. Those rumors heated up in 2017 and 2018, when Solo's behind-the-scene struggles became public -- the firing of directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller mid-production -- as well as Kennedy butting heads with then-Episode IX director and co-writer Colin Trevorrow, which lead to that filmmaker being let go from the project. (JJ Abrams' stepped in and The Rise of Skywalker will wrap up the entire Skywalker Saga when it is released December 20.) So is Feige in line to succeed Kennedy at Lucasfilm, or take on a larger role at the company? A top Disney source told THR that "Kennedy remains in charge with no plans for any changes. One knowledgeable source says Feige has told a major actor that there’s a specific role he would like that person to play if and when he makes the movie."
Why All This Is a Good Thing
Feige is coming off an unprecedented streak of hits with the MCU with this past summer's release of the highest-grossing movie ever, Avengers: Endgame, which caps off 11 years of successful movies that changed how we make movies. To install Feige -- and his character-first vision for tentpole movies -- in a role to create a new movie in a very old franchise is a good idea. And a potentially revitalizing one.
There's "nothing new here." That was George Lucas' reaction after screening 2015's The Force Awakens, according to an excerpt in Bob Iger's new book released this week. The movie, for Lucas, did not introduce new worlds or execute the story with new tech -- the way the films under Lucas' tenure did. And Iger agreed that Lucas wasn't wrong with his critique.
In this one, he said, “There weren’t enough visual or technical leaps forward.” He wasn’t wrong, but he also wasn’t appreciating the pressure we were under to give ardent fans a film that felt quintessentially Star Wars. We’d intentionally created a world that was visually and tonally connected to the earlier films, to not stray too far from what people loved and expected, and George was criticizing us for the very thing we were trying to do. Looking back with the perspective of several years and a few more Star Wars films, I believe J.J. achieved the near-impossible, creating a perfect bridge between what had been and what was to come."
The future of the current Star Wars franchise is tethered very much to its past. Blame Hollywood's recent obsession with nostalgia plays; you would repurpose what worked in the past, too, if it netted you over $900 million domestic at the box office -- the way Force Awakens did.
While Feige is a fan, and his Marvel movies follow a certain "assembly line" pattern -- and don't upset the apple cart too much in terms of what they deliver and how -- he could be a strong dose of whatever the franchise needs to be reinvigorated. Not quite the big, outside-the-box swing of Rian Johnson's controversial The Last Jedi (with it's "let the past die, kill it if you have to" ethos) and not quite the Abrams' mostly vanilla approach. He's the Goldilocks solution to a franchise suffering from too many movies released, whereas before a Star Wars movie's release was more special given how infrequent they were. As opposed to one every two, or three years.
The future of the franchise is to chart a path similar to what Marvel and Feige have done with their Phases. Different heroes and characters fighting similar struggles as the Phase One crew that just recently/mostly retired, building to some larger epic conflict. The world-building and dedication to story and character required to pull that off for over a decade now seems to be exactly what Star Wars could use -- and fans need -- to help steer the franchise into a future full of new ideas and bold choices that the old guard embraces and that new fans can get onboard with. Less more of the same, and more "give them what they want in ways they didn't know they needed or expect." Which is a vital lesson for all filmmakers to learn, master, and execute.
For if anyone can turn Yoda's "do or do not, there is not try" mantra into a creative and commercial success, it's the guy who gave us a movie starring sentient tree and a machine gun-toting raccoon.
What do you think about Feige's role in the Star Wars universe? Good or bad idea? Sound off in the comments!