Kevin Feige. The man, the myth, the legend, the death stare. Despite starting off small as an assistant to an executive producer on the set of the 1998 romance/drama film You’ve Got Mail, Kevin Feige went on to single-handedly take the Marvel brand beyond the stratosphere, and accumulated a heap of new Marvel fans in a little over a decade. No matter how you feel about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, you have to give credit where credit is due.
If you’re trying to make your way into the President’s seat at Marvel Studios, here’s what you can do to get yourself started on the right foot.
1. Study film basics
In this day and age, a degree is definitely a booster in many creative fields, but not a requirement. However, it does help to understand as much as you can about film before you get into the field. From cinematography to production, it’s important to at least understand the fundamentals of as many facets of film as you can. Feige is known to almost always be on set and providing his feedback.
Feige applied to University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts five times and was accepted on his sixth attempt. Life could have been very different for Feige, considering he only applied to one school. Now, USC School of Cinematic Arts is an extremely tough program to get into, and it’s absolutely not necessary to go to a prestigious school in order to learn what you need to understand the basics. We have so many resources available to us nowadays that you can learn virtually anything…well…virtually.
2. Start learning the source material
Executive producer Lauren Schuler Donner appointed Feige as an associate producer of 20th Century Fox’s first X-Men film (2000). Now, I’m sure you’re asking yourself, “How did he get bumped up to AP so quickly, and so soon in his career?”
The simple and honest answer? He knew the source material and was very well-versed in the Marvel Universe. Feige didn’t learn the source material for the film — he was already a fan of the comics, and his knowledge of the material proved to be an asset. His knowledge impressed Marvel’s big boss Avi Arad (who, to this day, has basically been credited as producer on nearly every non-MCU Marvel film since the late ’90s), and was promoted to be second-in-command at Marvel Studios.
Feige loves comics so much that he even went as far as handing out comics to people on the X-Men set, despite director Bryan Singer communicating a strict rule that comic books were not allowed on set. He “didn’t like them.” It’s worth mentioning that Singer’s disdain for comic books and lack of source material understanding was translated very clearly, because X-Men and X2 were terrible films.
If you want to be involved in future Marvel projects, you have to know what you’re working with. Knowledge of the MCU alone isn’t going to help you. Your enthusiasm for the world that Marvel Studios has created can help with the networking portion and can help you charm your way into the right rooms, but ultimately, you need to be able to effectively work with the original material, so that you have something to help you further build the MCU.
Don’t know where to start? A quick tip: Pick your favorite Marvel character, and just start a series. You don’t have to start all the way at the beginning. Don’t worry, the creases will smooth out as you start to read the comics.
Once you get the basics down, start creating. It doesn’t need to be a huge production with the fanciest equipment. Our cell phones are basically computers with an installed camera that fits in the palm of our hand. Social media also makes connecting with other creatives (who are starting out small just like you!) ridiculously easy.
The video above is a young Barry Keoghan (you know, the guy who plays Druig in Marvel Studios’ Eternals, and is starring in the upcoming The Batman movie as GCPD Officer Stanley Merkel), who started out making YouTube videos with his friends in Ireland. He made a short Spider-Man film, a Batman and Nightwing film—and look where he is now.
If you’re wondering where to find people to collaborate on small productions with, I highly suggest browsing the relevant hashtags on Instagram and TikTok to find a local group of people.
As Marvel Studios continues to create content that garners a wider audience, more and more people will find themselves competing with one another for a chance to work for Kevin Feige and his web of secrets. With dedication to the material and persistence when things don’t go as planned, there’s a good chance you’ll find yourself the perfect place in the industry. If all else fails, you can try and help Warner Bros. build out and organize the DC Extended Universe.
Photos via Emma McIntyre/WireImage, Marvel