The Marvel Cinematic Universe is currently the highest grossing film franchise in history, amassing nearly $23 billion worldwide. The creative force behind it is Kevin Feige, producer and President of Marvel Studios.

One of Marvel’s long-awaited offerings, The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, premieres on Disney+ on Friday March 19th, 2021. The series continues the story of Sam Wilson, aka The Falcon (Anthony Mackie) and Bucky Barnes, aka The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) as they team up on a global adventure that will test their superhero abilities.

Kevin Feige talked with the TV Critics Association about the launch of the show and the ongoing legacy of the Marvel Universe.

Storytelling Opportunities

WandaVision 109 - Paul Bettany and Elizabeth Olse
Paul Bettany as The Vision and Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff in WandaVision 109 © 2021 Marvel Studios

What is the difference between the way you tell stories in MCU movies versus MCU shows?

It all comes down to the storytelling. I guess the short answer is we don’t distinguish too much. The bar is set high for the features and for the series. We try to exceed that bar every time.

Obviously, the week-to-week unveiling gives us opportunities, as we’re now seeing with WandaVision. But we’re building the shows to be experienced that way.

Dictated by the story

You have a lot of exciting upcoming projects – Ms Marvel, She-Hulk, Moon Knight and Loki. Are they stand-alones or series?

It will be dictated by the story. We’ve already said that Lizzie Olsen will go from WandaVision to the new Dr Strange film. The fun of the MCU is all of the crossover that we can do between films, between series.

So it will always vary based on the story. Sometimes it will go into a Season 2. Sometimes it will go into a feature and then back into a series. We’ve announced that Ms Marvel, after her debut on Disney+, will be going into a second Captain Marvel film.

Interaction

Falcon / Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) and Winder Soldier / Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) in Marvel Studio’s The Falcon and the Winter Soldier ©2020 Marvel Studios

Why was it important for you to have a two-hander for The Falcon and The Winter Soldier?

Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan are spectacular actors. We felt like we hadn’t explored their backstories or personal stories enough as Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes. So it was always the thought that we wanted to learn more about both of them.

Seeing them interact in Civil War, as friends of a mutual best friend in Captain America, was a fun dynamic. We thought if we ever had that opportunity, we’d watch a whole show with the two of them. And Disney+ finally gives us that opportunity.

Dictated by Story

Why is the series only six episodes?

Six hours is what we landed on as the best way to tell our stories. Six hours, whether it’s six episodes, as it is in the case of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, (or) nine shorter episodes.

Unexpected ways

ABC’s “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” stars Ming-Na Wen as Agent Melinda May, Clark Gregg as Sarge, Natalia Cordova-Buckley as Elena “Yo-Yo” Rodriguez, Henry Simmons as Director Alphonso “Mack” MacKenzie, Chloe Bennet as Daisy Johnson, Iain De Caestecker as Agent Leo Fitz, Elizabeth Henstridge as Agent Jemma Simmons, and Jeff Ward as Deke Shaw ©2129 ABC, photo by Matthias Clamer

It seems like Marvel has struggled up until WandaVison to find success in television.

I think there are legions of fans for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Daredevil, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage that would disagree with you. There’s a very big fan base for those shows.

It just comes down to it’s a different team of storytellers telling stories in a different way. We are continuing into the series just as we did as we developed our features. Delving into the amazing characters that we get to utilize from the books. [Trying] to bring them to life in new and unexpected ways.

We have such a solid team here at Marvel Studios that we are anxious, willing and excited to take chances. To take risks; to go to places we haven’t done before. And to presume that fans will stay with us through a black-and-white sitcom to see where we’re headed. But it’s just telling stories (the) way we have since (the first) Iron Man.

WandaVision Season 2?

WandaVision 109 - Paul Bettany and Elizabeth Olse
Paul Bettany as The Vision and Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff in WandaVision 109 © 2021 Marvel Studios

WandaVision, as you said, leads into Dr Strange 2. Is there a possibility of a second season for WandaVision after that?

We are developing all of these shows the way we’re developing our movies. When we start with a movie, we hope there’s a part 2; we hope there’s a part 3. But we aren’t factoring that into Part 1. We are trying to make something that hooks people. That people enjoy enough and want to revisit; that they want to see the story continue. So that is the way we’re proceeding (with) television as well.

I’ve been at Marvel for too long to say a definite yes or no to anything. Some of the shows that I mentioned that we’re about to start filming, we are keeping in mind a structure that would lead into a Season 2 and a Season 3 in a more direct way. A show like WandVision clearly goes into a feature. But it’s new. That’s part of the fun, exciting, adrenaline-boosting creativity that we’re able to do, thanks to Disney+.

The Future

How do you see the future, the relationship between streaming and theatrical?

I’ve been asked this question before, understandably. As far as the storytelling aspect of the MCU goes, we were lucky that if this had to happen, which we all wish it didn’t, this was the year. (It did) not interfer with our storytelling. We had completed the Infinity saga. Endgame and Far From Home were released.

A lot of what we were doing was about reintroducing characters, exploring new things, like WandaVision. (We’re) exploring a very specific period in time with Black Widow; and new characters in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and Eternals. So the storytelling has not been affected too much.

I think most people know that The Falcon and The Winter Soldier was the first series we started with the intention of releasing that first. Because of the delays and because of 2020, WandaVision ended up going first.

The Falcon and The Winter Soldier - Anthony Mackie, Director Kari Skogland and Adepero Oduye
Falcon / Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie), Director Kari Skogland and Sarah Wilson (Adepero Oduye) on the set of Marvel’ The Falcon and The Winter Soldier ©2021 Marvel Studios, photo by Chuck Zlotnick
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Judy Sloane

Judy is Film Review Online's regular Los Angeles based reporter.