Marvel Studios Head Honcho Kevin Feige like The Idea. Here’s How I Would Make it Work
Marvel Studios made some news recently. Or more importantly, some actresses who work for Marvel did when they put studio head Kevin Feige on a very bright spot.
Lead by Tessa Thompson (who plays Valkyrie in next month’s Thor: Ragnarok), a handful of actresses tracked Feige down at a public event and politely informed him they’d like their own movie (or at the very least a movie for the MCU’s female heroes). And apparently, Feige was receptive to the idea (Hulk actor Mark Ruffalo even chimed in with a bad joke during the exchange).
There was the usual groaning from the “women in movie suck” Internet crowd (though less than I was expecting) as well as some token snarkiness from the DC Fanboy Club shouted that anything and everything bearing Marvel’s standard is toxic waste (don’t go getting onto your high horse Marvel fans because you have a similar if less vocal equivalent). But the reception seemed to be positive and soon fans were throwing out their ideas with nerdy abandon.
And after about thirty seconds of genuinely reflecting on the idea, I came to one inescapable conclusion. Count me freaking in.
Even if Feige’s agreement wasn’t just for the cameras (a very real possibility), an all female Avengers movie is a long shot. Marvel has a pretty full slate for the foreseeable future, with dates pegged for releases through to the end of 2019. You also have to figure that they’re already deep in the pre-production stages of movies (and TV shows) beyond that. And since neither Marvel nor its parent company Disney go small, an all female Avengers film would be a significant investment it both time and money. So adding that kind of commitment to Marvel’s carefully tailored schedule would take more than just a photo op whim, even if its from the guy in charge.
But what if?
The whole idea got my geek engine revving and I couldn’t help but sketch out a ludicrously rough outline for a potential movie, including which characters I would include, the cameos I’d have and some story ideas I’d pursue.
If you’ve read this far, feel free to indulge my Hollywood pipe dreaming further.
The Presumption . . .
While everyone’s initial impulse was to start naming every female hero who has appeared in the MCU so far and toss them all into a super hero salad, shared cinematic universe’s don’t work that way and the road to Hollywood Hell is paved with grand ambitions (sigh, hello Blade Runner 2049).
So for argument’s sake, let’s take a look at the current state of the MCU and where I think it’s going.
Thor’s final stand alone film will be out next month while Captain America and Iron Man’s solo trilogies have wrapped up. The contractual involvement of the three actors who have brought those characters to life (Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth and Chris Evans) will likely wrap up when Avengers 4 answers its blockbusting curtain call in the summer of 2019. But Marvel looks like it’s already transitioning to a new “Big 3.” Doctor Strange (played by Benedict Cumberbatch) looks primed to replace Thor as the MCU’s source of fantasy and mysticism. February’s Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) will slide into the vacancy Cap leaves behind and 2019’s Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) will take over Iron Man’s sci-fi spot on the roster. This isn’t to say that those three characters and their movies will be Xerox copies of the characters they’re replacing-they’ll offer their own strengths and dynamics-but I’m pretty sure we can expect those three to become the core of the Avengers after the old guard retires in 2019.
I kept that belief firmly in mind when formulating my lineup (not to mention future additions). But before we get that . . .
The Name . . .
Typing “female Avengers movie” over and over is tiring and feels stupid. Fortunately, Marvel already has perfect name on standby. In 2015, Marvel published a titled starring a team of female Avengers titled A-Force. Simple, short and and addressing a built in fanbase, A-Force is what both the movie and the team will be called moving forward.
The Roster . . .
The foundation of my roster would include Wasp (Evagline Lily), Valkyrie (Tess Thompson) Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) and Black Widow (Scarlet Johanssen). I’ll get back to Captain Marvel and Black Widow in just a sec, but I would A-Force to introduce She-Hulk, Ms. Marvel and Ironheart to the current MCU and they would round out my roster.
That would give you a team of seven characters with Widow, Marvel, Wasp and Valkyrie having already been established (saving the film from having to devote screen time to their origins or back stories). Fans have been aching to see She-Hulk for years (she’s one of the most influential female heroes in Avengers history) and her inclusion would have fans salivating. Ms. Marvel is one of the Marvel’s most popular heroines right now (who also had a brief stint with the big team before she left to found the Champions) and Ironheart would prove to be an exciting, fresh young substitution for Tony Stark/Iron Man.
While I do include Captain Marvel in the above list, it would be more of an exaggerated cameo, comparable to Tony Stark’s role in Spider-Man: Homecoming. It would be a support role lending the film Captain Marvel’s name brand recognition and Brie Larson’s star power. Her role wouldn’t be a mere throwaway, she could still be an impactful presence and some details could still be added to her character before she returns to her solo franchise as well as the Avengers films.
And I would use A-Force to bid Black Widow a fond, respectful farewell. Assuming she survives the next Avengers movies (and rumours are rampant that one or more of the original team won’t be around when the credits role on the fourth film), A-Force would be a perfect chance to retire her. She’s been around since Iron Man 2 and it appears she won’t be getting the solo movie we all hoped she would. If she died would be a moving death pivotal to the plot, one respecting her character and the significant role she’s played in the MCU. If she survives she can ease into a happy and well earned retirement following one last world-saving battle. But either way she would get a strong, satisfying ending.
And removing those two would provide She-Hulk the room necessary to stretch her legs, assume leadership of the team and establish herself as one of the dominant characters in the MCU.
You will also notice who isn’t on this list, notably Gamora and the Scarlett Witch. Right now it just feels that the Scarlet Witch is too weak a character to get a movie like this of the ground. As for Gamora, the storytelling necessary to get her from space to Earth to appear in A-Force and back again before the next Guardians of the Galaxy movie might be a little too strenuous for a two hour movie that will have a lot of other narrative juggling to do. Besides, she’s going to be showing up in one of the next Avengers movies on top of the Guardians films, so she’ll be getting plenty of exposure. But speaking of face time.
The Cameos . . .
There are lots of characters deserving an appearance or two in an A-Force movie. I’d have Maria Hill assume the role of spymaster and throw in a shot or two of Sif (maybe training or shooting the breeze with Valkyrie?). I’d somehow work in an appearance by Agent Carter and get Kat Danning in there too (she killed as the comedic conscience of the first two Thor movies).
And for the piece de resistance, I’d sneak a few shots of Jessica Jones in as well. Fans have been screaming to see some characters from Marvel’s Netflix shows appear in the movies and this would be a huge shout out to both them and that branch of the Marvel Universe.
You’d still have to get some male cameos in there too (for reasons I really don’t want to think of) but if you pull off the above (and really, after Marvel turned obscure properties like The Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man into blockbusting franchises, should we really be doubting their silver screen prowess?) it would be a nerd buffet.
The Big Bad . . .
This could be the trickiest and most necessary part of the film. While Marvel’s rep for weak villains is somewhat exaggerated, there is some merit to that argument. You would need an imposing, charismatic villain to bring the ladies together, to challenge them as both individuals and as a team. You would need a furnace hot enough to forge them into a functioning team.
It’s too bad Marvel doesn’t still own the film rights to Dr. Doom because he would be perfect for this role. But instead of mining Marvel’s remaining roster of unused villains, why not create someone new?. Something dynamic and fresh yet recognizable. What about a famous, powerful and influential industrialist (with a few suer-powered henchmen secretly on the payroll) making a global power grab via politics?
It’s an obvious metaphor for Donald Trump, but think about it. Given the current President’s views on women (not to mention the ugliness of the Harvey Weinstein debacle, which has given Hollywood a well earned and justifiable black eye), having him opposed by a group of female heroes would be fitting. But my villain would also be oozing genuine charm, poise and cold, calculating intelligence (while he would also be a truly ruthless and power mad manipulator behind the scenes). The MCU has never really ventured into the political arena outside of espionage and this would provide a perfect opportunity to explore that storytelling avenue.
And I have the perfect actor in mind; Colin Farrell. How many other actors have as much natural charisma as the weathered yet still handsome Farrell? Farrell has proven he can thrive in a supporting role as two-faced a villain, bringing plenty of malice and dignity to the same role. He would be the perfect foil for A-Force to and would probably get a few more paying butts into theatre seats.
The Story . . .
A-Force’s big bad would have been laying the foundation for his ascent to power for years, gathering intel, making connections and allies on both sides of the law, identifying and quietly removing rivals and patiently plotting his victory. One reason the ladies might have to band together to oppose him and is because, in his hubris, he may not have considered heroes of the fairer sex dangerous enough to concern himself with.
His defeat would be neither easy nor without significant cost. While it would bind the remaining members of the team into a cohesive unit, A-Force’s victory would be expensive. Perhaps it would include that death scene for Black Widow after, calling on the former assassin to sacrifice herself for her new teammates mission?
But while I would initially produce A-Force as a one and done movie, I’d leave the door open for future films, giving A-Force the potential to run parallel to the Avengers movies moving forward (possibly exchanging characters at times). In the process, you leave the door open to introducing new female heroes like Spider-Woman, Tigra, Mockingbird (a possible covert replacement for Black Widow?), Hellcat, maybe even Medusa from the already struggling Inhumans TV show. The list is endless.
Which is why . . .
The End Credit Scene . . .
Having said all that, I would tease the female Thor (and her inevitable debut in the MCU) in the end credit scene. I probably couldn’t make her Jane Foster like the comics did for obvious reasons, but I would go out of my way to introduce a character in A-Force who would prove worthy for a wayward Mjolnir. A female Thor could be the central premise for a second A-Force movie, a future Avengers movie or even a new stand alone franchise. The possibilities are infinite.
So that’s it. The first few baby steps of an A-Force movie. Along with a killer soundtrack (by the way, what ever happened to those?) I think these could be the ingredients for an awesome movie. Or I could be impossibly wrong. Either way, it would be a helluva ride.