Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige deserves a lot of credit for having an enormous role in shaping the past decade of blockbuster movies (he’s credited with the post-credits stinger in Iron Man, which is huge on its own), but Feige recently revealed a big source of inspiration he used when making all of those Marvel movies. Speaking at the New York Film Academy (via IGN), Feige explained that it was the Harry Potter series that showed him how to adapt a story or character in a way that appeals to a bigger audience than the source material, but Feige didn’t discover this secret by intensely studying those movies. Instead, it sounds like he did it by barley paying attention at all—and that, apparently, is the trick.
Feige says he didn’t read the books before seeing the Harry Potter movies, and his kids weren’t old enough to see them/explain them to him, so he saw each one with no prior knowledge and just had to go off of what he remembered from previous movies. “I saw it and I enjoyed it and then I forgot all about it,” Feige said, “and didn’t think about it again until the next Harry Potter movie came out.” The brilliance of the series, as Feige explains it, is that he was still able to understand and enjoy each movie without really needing to try. “I could follow it, I could track it, occasionally I have to go ‘who was that?’ but for the most part I could totally track it.”
That’s the approach that Feige says he wanted to bring to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, creating a series of movies that told a cohesive story that the average user could follow, but with enough details and Easter eggs lifted from the comics that people could pick up on if they were paying attention. Feige adds that if some reference in a Marvel movie is “so prevalent that it gets in the way of the story,” they’ll “usually pull back on it.”