Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige was awarded the Visionary Award from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films at the 37th annual Saturn Awards. Accepting on behalf of Feige, VP of Production Tom Cohen represented the studio. I got two Avengers questions in while he was taking photos, but then he stayed to chat with me about all the Marvel projects in the works. Perhaps most interesting in this interview are the possibilities of more Punisher movies, and the studio’s comparison of several potential reboots to the publishing industry.
Crave Online: How has the transition from Paramount to Disney been?
Tom Cohen: So far, it’s going to be a new distribution agreement so it kicks in with Avengers. So far the relationship with Disney has been really terrific. It’s been great to be part of the Disney family.
Crave Online: It’s one thing to have been talking about it, but what’s it like to be on the set of Avengers?
Tom Cohen: It is exciting. I’ll tell you, I grew up a fan, especially a Marvel fan, a comic book fan and I also love movies. So to be able to work at a company and work for a great boss like Kevin Feige, he really is a great boss, it’s really a fun place to work. It’s a real dream to be able to work with these characters.
Crave Online: You’re working on The Avengers now. At what point do you get to start thinking what other characters can we look at?
Tom Cohen: That’s a big topic of discussion within the company. There’s 8000 characters in the Marvel library so there’s a lot of possibilities there. Not every character necessarily has to be a $100 or $200 million effects film. Right now we’re constantly talking about what other characters we can bring to life in movies. Yeah, there’s a lot of talks going on right now about that.
Crave Online: Will we ever see a Luke Cage movie?
Tom Cohen: It’s a possibility.
Crave Online: Black Panther?
Tom Cohen: That’s a possibility too. Black Panther’s something that we’ve been developing so those are all definite possibilities, definitely characters that are talked about.
Crave Online: Would you give Punisher a third or fourth chance (depending where you start counting)?
Tom Cohen: Yeah, we have the rights to that character. We got the movie rights back from Lionsgate. I think it’s just all a matter of waiting for inspiration to strike. He’s a great character and I feel like there’s still a great Punisher movie that can be made. That’s a possibility as well.
Crave Online: Are there any intentions to make Hulk movies with Mark Ruffalo after The Avengers? Was that accounted for in his contract?
Tom Cohen: Honestly I don’t know what the particulars of his deal are but we’re definitely excited about him being in the Avengers movie and thinking he’s going to be a really great Bruce Banner, a really great Hulk. Again, we’ll have to wait and see.
Crave Online: We keep hearing about Fantastic Four or Daredevil getting rebooted. Where do those stand?
Tom Cohen: They’re in development. Fox is developing, they recently announced a director involved with Daredevil. The movie’s currently being scripted and same with Fantastic Four. Those are still early development projects but Fox intends to make movies of them.
Crave Online: But those are characters Marvel really believes in, with a chance to try again?
Tom Cohen: Yeah, I think they see these movies as opportunities to try and do something new. With Spider-Man, I think comic book fans are already familiar with that notion because if you’re a comic book fan, over the years they’re constantly being rebooted and changed and restarted in new directions. The same thing I think applies for movies too.
Crave Online: Also those movies were early, 2003 and 2004. Have you learned a lot more you can do with a Daredevil and Fantastic Four movie now?
Tom Cohen: Those movies predate me. I’ve only been at Marvel for four years. I do think that they look back at a movie, there’s always something new and different no matter how good a movie. In retrospect we can always say there are things you can do differently. I think we see these potential reboots as a way to do something different with the characters that wasn’t done before.
Crave Online: How involved is Marvel still in the X-men series?
Tom Cohen: It’s funny because I am actually the executive production liaison to Fox and Sony for those movies, so even though Marvel, we don’t have control over those movies the same way we do with say Iron Man, Thor, Captain America or Avengers, Marvel is still a producer on those movies and we have input on every decision from the script to decisions on directors and casting and costume designs, things like that.
Crave Online: Can we expect more X-Men adventures in the First Class world?
Tom Cohen: Oh, I think definitely. There’s no definite plans yet. There’s definitely been talk about doing sequels in Fox. Fox has the rights to the X-Men characters so there are so many possibilities.
Crave Online: It sort of undid the prologue to Last Stand, so is there room to continue stories in two timelines?
Tom Cohen: You know, I think right now the future’s unwritten so to speak. Like we said, there’s so many possibilities. There could be more sequels that are set in this kind of retro continuity that’s been established. Who knows, Fox might do movies set in modern day. That’s the beauty of the comic books and serials in general is that there’s so much mythology to pull from and you can do just about anything. So the movie possibilities are endless.
Crave Online: Are those [Wolverine sequel] independent of the First Class world, even though he had a cameo?
Tom Cohen: Yeah, I think it’s a standalone Wolverine adventure movie.
Crave Online: How did you keep that cameo a secret?
Tom Cohen: A lot of it I think was luck, careful planning on the part of Fox to keep that a secret. But in this day and age, when anything and everything gets spoiled, with Iron Man people heard about Sam Jackson being in the first Iron Man two days after the scene was shot. So in this day and age it’s just impossible. So I’m still shocked that it was able. There were some rumors but they managed to downplay it so it worked out really well. It was a great surprise.
Crave Online: With The Amazing Spider-Man, have you seen any 3D?
Tom Cohen: I’ve been involved. I was going to set and was there all during production.
Crave Online: But to see Spider-Man slinging around in and out of the screen…
Tom Cohen: I can’t say too much about it but I can say, no pun intended, it’s really going to be amazing. The 3D looks phenomenal.
Crave Online: I had fun talking to Sam Raimi about the Down With Organic Webshooters website on the original trilogy. Are they happy now that in the new movie he builds them?
Tom Cohen: Yeah, I think the idea with this movie is to start a new chapter, a new direction for the Spider-Man character. Again, the beauty of the comic books is there are so many possibilities open for potential for sequels in all the various elements of the character mythology can be used to build a new direction.
Crave Online: Is the idea of Captain America to take him back to WWII after Avengers?
Tom Cohen: No, I can’t reveal too much now. You look at the comics, I think you can always [go back.]
Crave Online: Do you have to wait and see how people respond to this WWII era story?
Tom Cohen: Oh yeah, I think any movie you’ve got to wait to see what the reception is before you decide to go straight into a sequel. Hopefully viewers will really dig the World War II setting of the movie. I think it has a really fun, fresh take on a superhero movie because other than X-Men, you don’t really see many period superhero movies.
Crave Online: That was the debate DC has had over Wonder Woman.
Tom Cohen: Yeah, yeah. I hope they do something great because Wonder Woman is such a terrific character.
Crave Online: Maybe Captain America will pave the way for a World War II superhero.
Tom Cohen: Absolutely, so again there are just so many possibilities for these characters. It allows you to do just about anything you want.