FOR FORGING THE FUTURE OF MEDIA
When Kiwi indie director Taika Waititi pitched Marvel Studios on why the company should hand him its third Thor film, he set his sizzle reel to Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song.” Marvel not only hired Waititi but also included the iconic rock anthem in both the campaign for Thor: Ragnarok and the film itself, underscoring Marvel’s delight in nonintuitive creative choices, which have made the studio an unparalleled success story in Hollywood. The movies in its interconnected universe continue to energize the comic-book genre while reaping outsize rewards at the box office. “We’ll say, ‘We want to do a space movie. We want to do a high school movie. We want to do a heist movie. We want to do a thriller,’ ” says Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige of the company’s approach. “The shared universe is always the fun, added ingredient. But the exercise is: What’s the best individual film that we want to make?” Marvel’s past three movies—guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 ($864 million globally), Thor ($850 million), and Spider-man: Homecoming ($880 million)—all outperformed their franchise predecessors and surprised audiences with distinct tones and styles dictated by the films’ directors. Up next is Black Panther, the first superhero movie with a black lead, directed by Ryan Coogler (Creed).
“I came to this movie not just as a comic-book lover,” he says, “but as someone of African descent. Making the film made me think about what that meant.”
With Marvel’s Black Panther, director Coogler says he’s made “a very personal film about African identity.”