One of Marvel Studios’ top executives revealed what qualities directors need to have if they want to lead an MCU project.
Marvel Studios is home to some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry, which applies just as much to behind-the-scenes personnel as well. From Oscar-nominees like Black Panther: Wakanda Forever‘s Ryan Coogler to fan favorites like Guardians of the Galaxy‘s James Gunn, Marvel employs a wide range of creatives to bring its movies and TV shows to life.
This trend will continue in Phase 5 and beyond with both newcomers and Marvel veterans alike, although many continue to wonder – what exactly does it take to be considered for a directorial position within the MCU?
Thankfully, one of the studio’s leading executives took a moment recently to answer that question as the Multiverse Saga gets ready to continue in the next few months.
Marvel VP on Choosing Marvel Studios Directors
During an appearance on The Town with Matthew Belloni, Marvel Studios Vice President of Production & Development Nate Moore spoke about what the studio looks for when choosing its new directors.
Belloni looked back to Marvel’s “unprecedented run with filmmakers who are not conventional choices” for those movies, specifically touching on Jon Favreau’s work on the original Iron Man movie while also mentioning Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok) and James Gunn.
When asked what the studio looks for in these directors, Moore noted how the directors have to “have at least done something exceptional once” and have to be “passionate about the movie that (they) want to make:”
“I think the things we look for, there are two things, I think, and in my experience this has been true. We look for filmmakers who have at least done something exceptional once, right? Because making a movie’s hard and sometimes a movie that someone is really invested in doesn’t come together for a lot of reasons that are in their control or out of their control. But, have they shown excellence? And are they passionate about making the movie that we want to make?
Moore pointed out Joe and Anthony Russo before they started their work on Captain America: The Winter Soldier as an example:
“And that sounds pretty simple, but I’ll give you the example of Joe and Anthony Russo. So we were making Winter Soldier, we had a draft from Markus & McFeely, we were really excited about it. This was, again, this was ten years ago…”
Although the Russos were pulled from the TV world, they got a general meeting with Marvel after their work on Welcome to Collingwood and Community and explained that they “always wanted to do a political-thriller” during their chat:
“… Because, I am a fan of Welcome to Collingwood and I loved Community. And Kevin [Feige] loved Arrested Development. So even though their last movie wasn’t a big hit, it was called You, Me and Dupree, and it sort of didn’t connect in the way they wanted it to, we had a general meeting with them and we really liked them. And Joe said in that meeting, ‘Hey, I know you think we’re comedy directors, because we’ve been in TV comedy for certainly a long time, we’ve always wanted to do a political-thriller. I love political thrillers.’ ‘Oh, you do, Joe? That’s interesting.’ He’s like, ‘Yeah.’”
Moore and the team asked the Russos what they would do with a Captain America story set in modern times, leading to the Russos explaining the ideas that they’d already come up with:
“And we said, ‘What would you do if you were doing a Captain America movie set today…’ And he and Anthony sort of described a version of the movie we were already developing. Now certainly, the details weren’t the same, but their point of view on the character… and the tone was exactly what we wanted to achieve. And so even, they didn’t have anything in their filmic resume that said, ‘Hey, they should do Winter Soldier,’ we were like, ‘Yeah, but they’ve done something great.’”
The pair also wanted the challenge of working on a movie with Marvel Studios due to how difficult it is and because Marvel is “hard on filmmakers,” always being “willing to roll with the punches” throughout the process:
“I think Community is great, Kevin thinks Arrested Development is fantastic, let’s just try to see if we can help them move over. And they also really wanted to do the movie, because filmmaking is hard and we are hard on filmmakers, because we’re always trying to make the movie as good as we can. And the filmmakers that are dying to do the movie are the ones who tend to have the stamina to get through kind of the ‘Dark Night of the Soul’ moment where everything’s going wrong, or everything’s over budget, or what we wanted to do isn’t working out, and they were always willing to roll with the punches, because they wanted to make the movie.”
How Marvel Continues Bringing Top-Notch Directors
Looking at the MCU’s history with directors and the names that are lined up for the future, Marvel’s trend of finding people who have done exceptional work and have passion for that work seems to have paid off well.
Although directors like Jon Favreau and the Russos Brothers didn’t have a great deal of critically-acclaimed work on their resumes before joining Marvel, Moore and the team saw something special in them that led to them making movies that are still loved to this day. Although this isn’t an easy task for the MCU’s director (Ryan Coogler admitted to having plenty of doubts about making Black Panther), the Marvel Studios team continually offers support and resources in order to accomplish their lofty goals.
This trend will continue into projects being developed for Phase 6 and beyond, with a few specific movies boasting director positions that are highly coveted like Fantastic Four and Avengers: Secret Wars. Movies like these will certainly need directors who boast the exceptional talent and passion that Marvel is looking for, although the MCU team has certainly been trending in the right direction recently.