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Kevin Feige certainly had cause to celebrate at the Black Widowfanpremiere event in Los Angeles on Tuesday -- and not just because it was one of Marvel's first in-person red carpets in over a year.
The Marvel Studios president caught up with ET's Ash Crossan at the event, and expressed how thrilled he was to spot fans decked out in cosplay uniforms referencing the TVA -- the quirky-yet-ominous Time Variance Authority, currently doing their best to manage the multiverse on Loki, Marvel's latest Disney+ series.
"That makes me so excited," Feige raved. "Nobody outside of very, very particular comic nerds like myself had heard of the TVA [before Loki]. And now that's something that people are embracing and wondering, when will the TVA come back?"
The success of serialized shows like Loki, WandaVision, and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier has not only kept Marvel at the front of fans' minds during the pandemic, it's also helped the studio navigate what comes next in the vast comic canon after the major Phase 3 bow that was Avengers: Endgame.
"I hope what people have taken away from Wandavision and Falcon and the Winter Soldier and Loki, and seeing Black Widow soon, is how unique and different all the corners of the MCU can be," Feige noted. "That's what Disney+ has given us, is an ability to tell more deeper, further stories that will have ramifications across features and series."
Now, with the world finally returning to a semblance of normalcy -- and blockbuster movies returning to their rightful home on the big screen -- it's finally time for fans to see Black Widow, a solo project for Scarlett Johansson's titular assassin-turned-Avenger that has been many years in the making and helps the MCU kick off a new phase of film and television, by saying goodbye to a beloved hero.
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‘Black Widow’: Scarlett Johansson and Florence Pugh Talk Playing Sisters (Exclusive)
It should be noted, however, that Feige isn't committing to the film -- which takes place following the events of Captain America: Civil War and, therefore, before her character's Endgame death -- as the last time we see Johansson as the MCU's Natasha Romonov.
"Marvel is always about new beginnings and Scarlett Johansson is such an amazing partner for us," he said. "She was a producer on this film. She was the one that brought us our amazing director, Cate Shortland, and I am excited to continue working with her in any way possible if we're so lucky."
Black Widow introduces fans to Natasha's pre-Avengers life, as she goes on the run post-Civil War and encounters figures from her history as a Red Room-trained assassin and spy. "It was important to Scarlett that she wanted to create a new ensemble for this film, to inform people about Natasha's past, about her origins. And that meant a new family that we hadn't seen before," Feige explained.
That family includes Rachel Weisz as Melina Vostokoff and Stranger Things fan favorite David Harbour as Alexei Shostokoff, aka Red Guardian -- the Soviets' answer to Captain America -- parental figures to Natasha and her surrogate sister, Yelena Belova, played by Florence Pugh.
"Yelana is a character we've wanted to bring into the universe for many, many years," Feige shared. "And Florence Pugh is such a spectacular actress. Soon after we hired her, she was nominated for an Academy Award [for 2019's Little Women]."
"I can't wait for people to see it," the producer shared of Pugh's performance. "The scenes between [her] and Scarlett in this movie, that banter and that new relationship, elevates both of them and the entire MCU."
Elevating the comic canon, and expanding the MCU format to includes serialized and streaming projects might also help Marvel Studios push towards an as-yet-elusive goal: awards recognition for its leading actors. There's already early Emmys buzz for stars like WandaVision'sElizabeth Olsen, which Feige said he's anything but surprised by.
"All of the casts on these shows have done such tremendous [work]: Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Paul Bettany. They're amazing," Feige said. "That's one of the reasons to do the show, because Lizzie Olsen is a spectacular actress. We wanted to give her a showcase to show everything that she could do. And boy, did she."
As for newer additions potentially joining the MCU in the near future, Feige kept tight-lipped beyond his praise for the Black Widow cast.
"Everything we make is hopefully with the intention of exceeding expectations and fulfilling surprises," he noted. "Not every rumor you read about online is true, not by a long shot, but not every one is false either. So that's the fun."
That means fans will have to wait a little longer to find out if any of those Fantastic Four rumors might be true. (We do know, however, that Alfred Molina will be returning as Doc Ock in Spider-Man: No Way Home, thanks to a cheerful, spoiler-filled interview from the actor himself.)
"We'll see what happens with upcoming gatherings and fan events where we can release more news," Feige teased. "I hope sometime in the near future."