Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige loved Star Wars long before you probably did, persevering through what he calls “the dark times” between Return of the Jedi in 1983 and The Phantom Menace in 1999 when there were no new movies to keep fans from drifting away. But that’s all hyperbole because if Star Wars fans have proven anything in the last 40 years, it’s that they really don’t need movies to keep celebrating Star Wars. In fact, plenty of them hate the new movies enough that they’d prefer to keep the Expanded Universe instead.
On Wednesday, Feige appeared on an episode of The Star Wars Show to talk Avengers: Infinity War and how his love of Star Wars influenced the development of the MCU over the years. Feige says he’s a dedicated Star Wars fan that watched the Star Wars fandom redefine the franchise during the “dark times.” Feige credits the dearth of new Star Wars films as something that spawned the original fandoms around Star Wars, which seems true enough. But to say fans grew “desperate” because there were no new movies seems a bit far-fetched. As Feige himself says, fans like him merely clung to things like the sourcebook for the Star Wars tabletop game, or new toy lines, to celebrate the franchise. And there was a huge demand for Star Wars comics throughout the Nineties.
“I was the kid that kept playing with Star Wars toys maybe a little longer than the other kids did,” Feige admitted. He talked about collecting the Power of the Force line of Star Wars toys in 1985 and made jokes about having a Sarlaac Pit in his backyard. It comes off as a point of pride, that he kept up his interest in Star Wars as other would-be fans drifted away. The anecdotal evidence points to the idea that we need new movies to keep interest going, which is an effective and subversive marketing scheme for pumping out more Marvel movies after Avengers: Infinity War, but it might not be altogether true.
Almost to the contrary, Feige notes how important it’s become for franchises like Star Wars and Marvel to infuse enough depth to keep fans interested for years and years, and to reward repeat viewings. Items like the Star Wars Sourcebook expand our knowledge of these worlds and inform our future viewings. Marvel’s seemingly hoping to do the same.
Feige also talked about how he infused some of his Star Wars enthusiasm into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, especially with regards to “The First Ten Years” idea that Marvel used to celebrate Avengers: Infinity War. Feige confirmed that the “First Ten Years” logo for Marvel was “directly ripped off” from his “very positive memories of 1987” when Star Wars celebrated its first decade.
But the Star Wars franchise didn’t even need new movies to keep fan enthusiasm going. Just because young Kevin Feige was more hyped on Star Wars toys than all of his friends doesn’t make it an indication of the franchise’s success or failure. At this point, neither Star Wars nor Marvel needs more movies to keep fans enthralled. These dynasties are here to stay.