Exclusive: Kevin Feige Is Fighting Disney To Do R-Rated Marvel Movies

We've exclusively learned that Marvel boss Kevin Feige is fighting with Disney over future Marvel films.

By Faith McKay | Published

This article is more than 2 years old

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Kevin Feige is known as the head guy for Marvel. He has a tough job. He has to make decisions that affect keeping the Marvel Cinematic Universe cohesive. That was quite the feat during earlier Phases for the Marvel universe, but these days there are characters in the Disney+ series and the films to worry about. On top of that, recent deals mean that Marvel can now work with characters like Jessica Jones and the X-Men, bringing them into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While Kevin Feige may be the boss for Marvel, he still has a boss of his own. Disney is Marvel’s parent company. We’ve now learned from one of our trusted and proven inside sources that Kevin Feige is fighting with Disney.

Why is Kevin Feige fighting with Disney? It’s fairly simple. Kevin Feige, who has a passion for Marvel’s content, now feels that he is running into a wall with the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s PG-13 rating. Right now, they’re about to break that for the first time with Deadpool 3. While Disney is permitting the R-rating for the upcoming Ryan Reynolds movie, they’re drawing the line there. Kevin Feige wants to do more R-rated Marvel movies (beyond Deadpool) and Disney doesn’t. So now, they’re fighting.

It was probably a lot easier to maintain the rating on Marvel movies when there were fewer of them. As Marvel is acquiring characters like The Punisher (Frank Castle), Jessica Jones, Ghost Rider, and other stories that would likely benefit from an R-rated project, that rating wall may represent a frustrating problem for Kevin Feige and the storytellers who work with him. We weren’t able to learn at this time what projects specifically Kevin Feige wants the freedom of an R-rating for. It seems most likely that this issue came up with a specific project, but it sounds like the argument has blossomed into Feige wanting wider permission as a whole. After getting the go-ahead for Deadpool 3, Marvel and Disney must have seen that this would come up again at some point in the future.

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The possibility of this argument between Marvel and Disney is something that Kevin Feige has been asked about. Previously, he has publicly said that if their storytelling was ever held back by their rating ceiling, then they’d have a “discussion” about that.

We haven’t been held back by [PG-13]. If we ever are, then certainly there can be a discussion that can be had now that there are other [outlets]. But that just hasn’t been the case. We’ve told all the stories that we wanted to with the tonality and the rating we have now.

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As the Marvel Cinematic Universe expands, they’re not only going to want to develop more characters. They’re going to want to create new tones. When Kevin Feige said they’d talk when it came up, he had to know it was coming sooner rather than later. While Thor: Ragnarok and Iron Man are fairly different movies, a project for The Punisher would be something else entirely. There are so many projects in the Marvel Cinematic Universe happening right now, and so many more open for them to explore. Can they really do that while maintaining a PG-13 rating ceiling? And what kind of agreement will Kevin Feige ever realistically be able to get from Disney? It doesn’t seem like the company will want to issue a blank check to Marvel, allowing them to do whatever they want.

Of course, this disagreement between Kevin Feige and Disney comes at the same time that Disney is facing a lawsuit from Scarlett Johansson over her Black Widow contract. All around, it seems like a tough time between Disney and Marvel. In terms of future projects, it’s going to be interesting to see how Kevin Feige negotiates with Disney to allow his storytellers to maintain their integrity while keeping the family-friendly brand of Disney in check.