June 3, 2023

Because the boss of a agency studio estimated to be price $53 billion, it’s exhausting to imagine that Kevin Feige ever struggled to get into the trade.

However the president of field workplace large Marvel Studios revealed this week he was not solely rejected from the movie program at his alma mater, the College of Southern California, he needed to apply to the course six instances earlier than he was accepted.

Chatting with the graduating class of 2023, Feige recounted that story and the important thing lesson it taught him: “My want for you graduates is that you just get snug with failure, with rejection. Settle for that it’s a risk however by no means let it outline you. By no means let it maintain you again.”

A fast scan by means of Feige’s resume proves that adversity by no means dampened his skilled trajectory.

Feige started interning at a manufacturing firm free of charge throughout his research—paying the $40 shuttle price to the studios himself—earlier than touchdown a job as producer on the X-Males movie in 2002.

Within the coming years Feige labored on initiatives like Spiderman and the Improbable 4, and in 2007 was named president of manufacturing on the firm. Then, 2008 noticed the launch of initiatives like Iron Man and The Unbelievable Hulk, characters which went on to outline the Marvel universe in later years.

In 2019, Feige was given a further title, chief artistic officer, which means he now informs the artistic route of the whole Marvel model throughout movie and TV.

In his graduation speech, Feige highlighted the necessity to adapt, both in response to alter or off the again of failure, and credited this talent amongst these which received him to his place as arguably one of the crucial influential individuals in Hollywood.

Origin story

Feige, who was given the honorary doctorate this yr by his alma mater, outlined in his speech he dreamt of working in movie on the age of 10 and what he hoped could be the “biggest job on this planet”.

His Hollywood dream was easy, he recalled: “You get accepted to USC, you get accepted to the College of Cinematic Arts, you make a scholar movie that will get become a significant movement image, you make Star Wars and you then turn out to be George Lucas.

“It didn’t work out that method.”

As a substitute, Feige struck “sixth time fortunate” stepping into the College of Cinematic Arts, after which landed his first “glamorous job” as a manufacturing assistant.

“I picked up a whole bunch of lunch orders, washed dozens of automobiles, watched individuals’s canines, chauffeured individuals to conferences, chauffeured individuals’s canines,” he remembered.

“In case your story’s much like mine and you recognize what you need to do, that’s improbable. When you’re uncertain of your subsequent chapter, that’s additionally improbable. When you solely have this diploma and some scraps of an concept, that’s okay.”

The principle distinction between those that succeed and those that received’t is motion, Feige added: “Success comes from doing. It comes from attempting new issues, by taking dangers, by main with ‘sure’ as a substitute of ‘no’.”

Underdog mentality

Marvel’s heroes fail on each small and “spectacular” scales, Fiege stated, however what’s necessary is that failure is “by no means the top of their story.”

That was a lesson Feige discovered early, and took it with him to Marvel Studios—which is a part of Disney.

Remembering the studio 15 years in the past, Fiege recounted “a scrappy group sitting on prime of a dingy constructing in a automobile dealership” attempting to create a cinema phenomenon out of lesser-known characters when “many in Hollywood thought [they] had been doomed to fail.”

“We had been near agreeing with them,” Feige admitted. “However you recognize what it’s important to lose if you’re an underdog? Nothing.”

That mentality is “relished” at Marvel Studios, its president continued, and has been engrained within the firm for the reason that starting—regardless of creating the largest film franchise in historical past.

“We always remember the place we got here from,” Fiege stated. “It pushes us to maintain difficult ourselves and check out new factor, to work with new filmmakers and check out new varieties of tales. Even after you identify your self having that mentality can actually serve you effectively.”

Know who you’re

Whether or not it’s the spirit of Spiderman’s Peter Parker, the arrogance of Avengers character Black Widow, or the genius of Improbable 4’s Reed Richards, Fiege stated crucial factor was to make sure of who you’re as a person.

“To achieve success you have to perceive you strengths and your weaknesses no matter they could be,” he defined.

Quoting a Marvel film he provides: “The measure of an individual, of a hero, is how effectively they succeed at being who they’re.”

He suggested the graduates to “lean into” their flaws and “embrace failure”, in addition to understanding the facility of teamwork and collaboration.

He completed his speech with a revelation concerning the casting the Iron Man lead—Tony Stark—and a “stroke of luck” that put Robert Downey Jr. within the function.

“Being our first Marvel movie out of the gate, the stakes couldn’t have been greater,” Fiege stated. “The success of the movie and the way forward for our complete studio rested on the shoulders of this one particular person.”

They pinpointed the “proper man”, an actor who they had been “assured could be an enormous hit”—Clive Owen, a British actor finest recognized for his work in Kids of Males.

“He was not ,” stated Feige. “Not getting your first alternative would possibly simply be the best factor that may occur to you. You recognize what’s higher than getting your first alternative? Getting the proper alternative. In our case after all that was Robert Downey Jr.”