Annenberg Radio News

A chat with Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige

We spoke with Feige about his time at USC and his upcoming commencement address.

Photo of a man on stage with a microphone

Marvel Studios president and USC alumni Kevin Feige is returning to campus on May 12th to speak at this year’s commencement. Feige took the world by storm in 2008, when Tony Stark delivered that bombshell announcement.

And since then, Feige has taken movie-goers across the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He brought us to the battle of New York, when the Avengers defeated Loki and the Chitauri, Thanos’ home planet at the Avengers’ lowest point, and of course, to the futuristic nation of Wakanda.

Marvel Studios is now the highest grossing film franchise in history, and it’s not even close. The modern superhero movie Feige helped pioneer has become Hollywood’s go-to blockbuster. And the ones Marvel makes are a creative force, to the tune of over 27 billion dollars in box office earnings.

But Feige’s story doesn’t start at Marvel. The chief creative officer of the studio was rejected from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts a total of five times before getting in on his sixth try.

When he got to USC, he majored in film and tv production, graduating in 1995. Since graduation, Feige has remained active at the university. He currently serves on the Board of Councilors at the School of Cinematic Arts and regularly speaks at student events.

We had the chance to sit down to chat with Feige to speak about his time at USC. He reflected on what drew him to the school.

Kevin Feige: USC for me was like “Star Wars,” was like “Back to the Future” and Robert Zemeckis. It was this dream to attain... and I had not yet been accepted to the film school and I used to longingly walk past the film school on my way around the campus and the George Lucas Building at the time, hoping to one day get in. And eventually, after many attempts, I finally did.

He also discussed how being a Trojan has impacted his current work in the industry.

Feige: I would go to Norris and try to get into overflow for 466 or various screenings, and the notion of watching something and then hearing somebody at any level who’d been a part of that discuss the process was really something that made me appreciate being at USC, being at a school that was right in the middle of the industry with such a cachet that people who were working in that business would would come in and speak.

This will actually be the first time Feige attends USC’s commencement because during his graduation, he was busy working at the Warner Lot. Now, he looks to leave students with a message of ambition.

Feige: Dream big, which is generic but true, and the notion that if I could do it, anybody listening to that speech could do it. I did not have a lot of contacts in the business. I didn’t have a parent that ran a film studio. Not that not that if you do, you can’t also do good work, but I didn’t have any of that stuff. I was a kid from New Jersey who luckily got into the school and and PA’d on student films and then worked on my own student films with my friends, and then was an intern, and then was a receptionist, and then was a production assistant, and then was an assistant, and then was an associate producer and really climbed the ladder, which I think I’m proud of every rung.

USC’s 140th commencement ceremony will be livestreamed on YouTube at 8:30 am Pacific Time on Friday, May 12th.

For Annenberg Media, I’m Ethan Huang.