The guy who commanded the ship that became the Marvel Cinematic Universe is crossing over to a galaxy far, far away. Late Wednesday, news broke that Kevin Feige, producer and president of Marvel Studios, will collaborate with Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy on at least one new Star Wars film. But what will this project be about? And will Marvel’s influence turn Star Wars into a series of superhero films? Based on what Feige has said over the years, chances are his vision of Star Wars would crib from the other massive space franchise — Star Trek — way more than any Marvel movies.
Okay, so Feige is a huge Star Wars fan. That’s pretty clear. He’s talks about Star Wars in interviews, and in 2018, The Star Wars Show had him on right before Infinity War dropped. In that interview, Feige copped to being a huge fan of the old Star Wars Expanded Universe, and said he played with his Star Wars toys “a little longer than the other kids did.”
But … when you consider Feige’s approach to character arcs and big story beats in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, he actually talks about Star Trek a lot more than Star Wars. Back in 2017, Feige said both Iron Man 3 an Thor: Ragnarok borrowed from Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. And then, in 2018, in response to criticism that more superheroes didn’t die in Marvel movies, Feige used a protracted analogy about Star Trek: The Next Generation to underscore his views about what makes a solid ensemble cast.
“I talk a lot, because I’m a big-ass nerd, about Star Trek: The Next Generation, ‘All Good Things…’ That to me is one of the best series finales ever. That wasn’t about death. Picard went and played poker with the crew, something he should have done a long time ago, right?”
There’s also the fact that Feige brought back an absurdly minor character from Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home for a one-off cameo scene in Spider-Man: Homecoming. So sure, he likes Star Wars, but I’d wager that deep down, Feige is an even bigger Star Trek guy. Which, if you’re a Star Trek fan, is great news. That’s because — spoiler alert — Star Trek is slightly more intelligent than most other big sci-fi franchises. I’m not saying better, but as Rainn Wilson once said, Star Trek is more “contemplative” than Star Wars.
Feige is a guy who thinks not only about hardcore worldbuilding, but he cares about characters and their journeys very deeply. That’s why Feige’s Trek fandom may be even better news for Star Wars fans. We don’t want (nor do we need) Kevin Feige to make Star Wars films feel like Marvel films, or even like the existing Star Wars films. If anything, the next iteration of Star Wars needs to shake things up. It needs to explore stranger, weirder corners of this galaxy, along with characters who feel new. Prior to 2008, little kids would never say their favorite Marvel hero was Thor or Iron Man. Back then, Spider-Man and the X-Men were far more famous. But Feige has proven he’s good with underdogs and underdog stories, and Marvel and Trek share a focus on ordinary people becoming extraordinary through their own choices, rather than fate. There are no “chosen ones” and destiny is something you can actually screw up if you’re not careful.
The new Star Wars trilogy has done a great job of integrating new faces into a complex world, but they’ve always played second fiddle to the legacy characters. According to rumors, there is one Star Wars character Feige wants to bring back. According to Slashfilm: “One knowledgeable source says Feige has told a major actor that there’s a specific role he would like that person to play if and when he makes the movie.” Regardless of who this character is or who ends up playing the role, Feige will surely bring a bold (and deeply nerdy) energy to the new Star Wars projects. If J.J. Abrams is like Iron Man and Kathleen Kennedy is like Captain America, Kevin Feige is probably somewhere closest to Vision. He’s a guy born of several different influences and wears his geeky heart on his sleeve. Most importantly, he also takes chances, which means he won’t necessarily do what everyone thinks he should do.
Because really, what Star Wars needs is a bold leap forward. Fan service won’t work anymore. We need Star Wars: The Next Generation, and maybe a not-so-closeted Trekkie is the guy who can make it happen.