A Glimpse Behind The Marvel Cinematic Universe Curtain With VP and Producer Nate Moore

Posted in Blu-Ray/DVD, Interviews, Movies, Theatrical by - May 18, 2018
A Glimpse Behind The Marvel Cinematic Universe Curtain With VP and Producer Nate Moore

It’s been that kind of summer…and it hasn’t really even started yet…

The cinematic box offices all across the globe have been awash with the madness and the glory that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe or the MCU for short.  Ten Years and 19 (soon to be 20) movies in to this grand sweeping narrative that has been unfolding in front of us for the past decade you can’t help but marvel (no pun intended) on the sheer skill that it takes just to keep everything straight and you have to believe that it would have crippled other studios and other filmmakers to even attempt something this broad sweeping.

Enter Marvel Studios…

With this year seemingly being so pivotal in the MCU we got the unique chance to take a look behind the curtain somewhat to see what goes into not only making movies like Black Panther which are unique and stand alone pieces of film making that also effortlessly tie into the grander vision at play from a storytelling stand point.

With the recent release of the smash hit Black Panther now available on Blu-Ray and so many other formats we got the chance to talk with Nate Moore; an executive producer on Black Panther along with being a VP of development and production at Marvel Studios reporting directly to Marvel president Kevin Feige.  I asked him about the complexities of dealing with so many different directors like The Russo Brothers, or Taika Waitti and even Ryan Coogler for Black Panther while still trying to keep the grand vision of the story straight going forward and he had this to say…

Knock on wood that we can keep doing this but I think that it has helped and in many ways really forced each of the films to strive to feel more and more different as we’ve made them.  I really feel like the Phase I movies in the MCU probably feel more similar to one another than the Phase 3 movies for instance because in Phase 3 I think we did put more of a focus on finding directors who had a bigger vision on tone for the characters then we had seen in previous films.  I really feel like Taika’s Thor: Ragnarok is brilliant because it was such a departure from what audiences had previously expected.  I know some people compare it to Guardians in many ways but to me the humor really does feel a lot more different.

Conversely, with Ryan (Coogler’s) take on Black Panther feeling pretty singular and it allows that film to not feel like a rehash of Iron Man or Captain America even though you really could argue on paper that there are a lot of similarities between all of those characters, but because Ryan’s take is so different I really feel like it allows Panther to feel like a whole different kind of experience then audiences had seen previously.

Plus going forward, I really look forward to filmmakers who have different points of view on these characters while still playing inside the same tapestry because it allows these films to go to different places and we can active redefine what the definition of a super hero movie can be. 

As Marvel Studios actively pushes boundaries on so many fronts, I got to ask Nate about his track record as a producer given that his very first producer credit was for Captain America: The Winter Soldier and I asked him to describe the trial by fire that producing such a massive film must have been and I was blown away by what he said, both creatively and professionally…

You know I really think that’s what makes this place (Marvel Studios) so special.  Everything we do is sort of trial by fire.  When I started here I was running the Marvel Writers Program which is more in line with my experience up to that point of working with writers and being in the room that sort of thing, and not being not quite so hands on.  When Kevin (Feige) came to me one day and said I want you to work on Captain America: The Winter Solider which at that stage was just Captain America 2 and for me it was obviously a great opportunity as a young executive to show what I was made of but at the same time I really think that you have to be afraid of something this size.  The fear of working on something like this honestly keeps you so sharp and always asking all the right questions and making the right decisions because the one thing that you really don’t want to do when someone invests so much in you at that point in your career is fail.

Much like the filmmakers that we pick for any of our movies, I knew I was hell bent on making sure that movie ended up being the absolute best that it could possibly be and as a result for two and a half years I ate, slept and drank Winter Soldier right alongside the Russo Brothers.  I was a huge leap for them as well because it was an opportunity for them to break away from their very successful comedy career and embrace something that they had always wanted to do in tackling a big giant action franchise thrillerKevin and all the executives here at Marvel have always been about taking those big gambles and showing faith in people, I mean none of us on Winter Soldier had ever been in that position before and we all had to take a big step up.  Marvel had such faith in us, and we just made sure that we repaid it in kind and didn’t let them down.  When someone has so much faith in your personally, it inspires you to make sure that you live up to everything they see in you.

So much of this makes sense because while it’s an obvious risk to make anything with a nine figure production budget attached to it, but these Marvel movies do have an inherent sense of risk to them because they are pushing boundaries and doing things that you certainly wouldn’t expect from Hollywood Tent Pole type productions, and Nate agreed with me…

You know I really think that is just built into the DNA around here because when you look at Iron Man 1, it was not an obvious home run.  It had been in various stages of production for years and just couldn’t get made and then for Marvel to raise the capital and essentially make it independently was a pretty big deal.  Structurally it’s a film with a truly interesting feel to it and it kind of plays out like a two act play all of which was centered around an actor in Robert Downey Jr who wasn’t necessarily a super bankable leading man.  I really think that is all sown into how this place started; there was success early on in actively taking some calculated risks it actually makes Marvel a place that isn’t necessarily risky from a production standpoint but as the kind of place that rises to the challenge and feeds off that energy, it’s what makes all of us excited to make these films.

Obviously, Marvel Comics as an intellectual property has been around for some time but when cinematic adaptations were attempted before Iron Man the results have been somewhat mixed.  I asked Nate simply about what made 10 years ago the right time and this the right team to set us off down this road that in many ways has changed cinema forever…

You know I even remember as a  fan at the time, because I had grown up such a fan of the comic books but after the Batman iterations of the 90’s that kind of fizzled out towards the end there just wasn’t much demand.  But then with Blade which kind of went underground a little bit and did its own thing and the X-Men franchise which all the hardcore fans had been clamouring for, the door got reopened just a little and the idea of what a comic book movie could be had changed, leading us to Iron Man.  What I think that film does really really well is to place a leading character that really felt like he was just outside of our window.  For the first time it felt like a comic book movie that didn’t have to be in a comic book world and that sort of feels revolutionary just because it had such a different tone.  While we have branched into the fantastical elements a little bit with the Guardians series the rest of the films still feel grounded for me as an audience member.

While I can’t deny that at least on a surface level it could be terribly easy to dismiss the movies of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, there’s just so much going on right underneath the surface for both the hardcore fan and even the casual fan because these movies are at the very least conscience of the potential for creative malaise along the way, and after having a few word with VP Nate Moore, I just can’t wait to see what happens next.  Not just from a narrative standpoint but as a moment in the current pop culture zeitgeist as well because I can’t remember the last time we all got to experience something so engaging yet so damn successful at the exact same time.

Black Panther is available now on DVD, Blu-Ray and On Demand from all major providers.

Avengers: Infinity War is now in theatres everywhere.

Ant Man & The Wasp is in theatres on July 6th.

As the Marvel Cinematic Universe marches on…

This post was written by
David Voigt is a Toronto based writer with a problem and a passion for the moving image and all things cinema. Having moved from production to the critical side of the aisle for well over 10 years now at outlets like Examiner.com, Criticize This, Dork Shelf (Now That Shelf), to.Night Newspaper he’s been all across his city, the country and the continent in search of all the news and reviews that are fit to print from the world of cinema.
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