15 years into its reign of box office dominance, Marvel Studios has accustomed both fans and general audiences to its winning formula — multiple films (franchises unto themselves with their own unique stories, cast, and characters) that ultimately build to a grand “season” finale.
In 2012, it was The Avengers, which hailed from director Joss Whedon, a once-beloved figure now despised by fandom and the industry alike. Say what one will about the exiled Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator but Marvel wouldn’t be where it is right now had he not stuck the landing. To argue otherwise would be revisionist history that would downplay the film’s impact simply to avoid giving credit to its maligned director.
When that blockbuster opened in May 2012 and broke the record for Hollywood’s biggest opening weekend — taking in a gob-smacking $207 million in three days — not only did Marvel’s strategy pay off but it gave them the confidence to be even more ambitious with its next “Phase,” thereby paving the way for the studio’s next big “season” finale, Avengers: Endgame.
Arriving seven years and 16 films after the original Avengers, Endgame managed to do the impossible and topple expectations for the conclusion of Marvel’s Infinity Saga, this time under the direction of Anthony and Joe Russo.
These days, we are deep into the Multiverse Saga, which is leading toward the next “season” finale — the superhero smorgasbord Avengers: Secret Wars, based on the limited-run comic book series and accompanying toy line from the mid-’80s.
Set for release on May 1, 2026, the question is who Marvel will trust with the responsibility of ensuring that its latest finale meets expectations, just as The Avengers and Avengers: Endgame did before it, and keeping in mind that Phase Four yielded more mixed results than in the past.
It’s hard to imagine that Marvel Studios CEO Kevin Feige would be willing to hand the reigns to a wet-behind-the-ears newcomer to the House of Ideas, let alone someone green when it comes to blockbuster filmmaking. In all probability, Secret Wars will be assigned to an MCU veteran.
Logic would therefore dictate that Destin Daniel Cretton — whose Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings was one of the few highlights of Phase Four — be at the top of the list, especially given that he’s already been assigned to direct Avengers: The Kang Dynasty. After all, the Russo brothers directed Infinity War and Endgame. However, were that the case, Cretton likely would have been announced as the Secret Wars director upfront. No, unlike Infinity War and Endgame, which were really two halves of one story, Marvel considers The Kang Dynasty and Secret Wars to be two separate entities, which is why I expect they will have different directors.
Well, what about Ryan Coogler, director of Black Panther and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever? His MCU entries are the movies that Marvel is most proud of, and there’s no doubt that the Secret Wars gig would be his… if he wanted it. But does he? After everything he endured directing Wakanda Forever? Besides the payday, what would Coogler stand to gain? If anything, we imagine being responsible for Marvel’s big wham-bam multiverse finale is the last thing Coogler wants to do. Something Coogler himself told Variety simply stating “That’s crazy!”
How about the aforementioned Russo brothers? After all, they’ve been Marvel staples ever since their debut entry Captain America: The Winter Solider was so well-received. That tantalizing possibility was broached during a recent chat with Variety, though the Russos shot it down right out the gate, confessing, “We won’t be ready to do anything with Marvel until the end of the decade.”
That may well be true. But there is a growing sentiment that the Russos — while deserving their share of credit for steering the Endgame ship — were very much the beneficiaries of The Marvel Way — particularly the savvy decision-making of a certain CEO/producer. Hence why their post-Marvel projects (Cherry, The Gray Man, Citadel) have underwhelmed critics as well as streamers’ internal expectations.
Our own EIC Jeff Sneider recently suggested that Marvel had made an overture to Jon Favreau, who launched the MCU with Iron Man, but he’s quite busy working on Star Wars inside of Disney’s other powerhouse silo, Lucasfilm. There are other possibilities, of course. Marvel’s most experienced filmmaker is Sam Raimi (Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness) while its hottest filmmaker may very well be Jon Watts (Spider-Man: No Way Home). But until either of them throws their hat in the ring, we’re right back at square one. Right?
Not exactly. To put it in Marvel-appropriate terms, what if… the answer has been there the whole time? That’s right. You saw the headline, so you know what I’m getting at. Let’s just throw caution to the wind and put the question out there, for the sake of conjecture:
What if… Kevin Feige… as his last hurrah before stepping down as Marvel’s commander-in-chief — directed Avengers: Secret Wars himself?
That isn’t as far-fetched as you might think.
People by their very nature have a tendency to hate change. Once we’ve settled into a routine that works, we never want it to end. That most certainly applies to Marvel fans, who have grown accustomed to Feige running the factory. But we just can’t escape the sneaking suspicion Feige’s time atop Marvel is coming to an end, with Nate Moore, Marvel’s VP of Production & Development — the perceived heir to Feige’s throne — groomed to take over.
Now, who be it for I to suggest that Feige is even entertaining the thought of moving on to greener pastures? It’s a fair question, to which I would point to the fact that he’s producing his own Star Wars film, as first reported by THR.
While it appears that project may very well join the ranks of unmade Star Wars films ranging from Rian Johnson‘s proposed trilogy to the untitled movie from Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B Weiss, its mere existence suggests Feige is thinking about the future — and his mind is wandering.
Yes, he’s a devout fan of Marvel comics and has spearheaded so many classic characters on their journey to the big and small screens. But what else is realistically left for Feige to tap into? Successfully rebooting Fantastic Four would be one thing, if only because that property deserves better on the big screen, but other than that, I’m not sure that a new Blade movie or the MCU’s version of X-Men strikes me as enough to keep him engaged.
It also wouldn’t be that big of a stretch to imagine Feige changing his signature baseball cap from CEO/producer to director — as the late great Robin Williams once quipped about the producer/director combo as “one of the few creatures on the planet who can blow smoke up his own ass.”
Not to throw shade at anyone here, but let’s be brutally honest: It’s the unspoken truth that many major creative decisions in Marvel movies — from casting to story beats to VFX action sequences — are made years in advance, sometimes even before a director has been settled on. And who has been the person making those decisions?
One Kevin Feige.
While Coogler and James Gunn bring a certain level of authorship to their MCU entries, most Marvel movies practically direct themselves at this point, and not only does Feige know that, but he knows better than anyone else how these movies don’t necessarily require much directing experience. It doesn’t even matter to the general public who directs these Avengers movies, which is why Secret Wars may be the perfect opportunity for Feige to move from behind the curtain to behind the camera.
Besides being the closing chapter of Phase Six, it’s going to be the most jam-packed installment with the current roster of MCU characters, and there isn’t a doubt in our minds that the likes of Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans will return — the latter reported by our pal Justin Kroll at Deadline, and if there’s anything I’ve learned while covering this industry since 2008, it’s to Never Doubt the Kroll!
Like James Gunn being offered the chance to run DC Studios and thereby hire himself to direct a Superman movie, I just cannot fathom Feige passing this opportunity up… if he wants it. And I don’t know that he does. I don’t know his personal career ambitions. But I do know that he has certainly earned the opportunity to try his hand at directing, even if it’s with the biggest Avengers movie Marvel has ever made.
Given the scope of Secret Wars and that looming May 2026 release — which will be here quicker than you think — it shouldn’t be too much longer until Marvel announces a director. We’re not saying it will be Kevin Feige… but the signs are certainly there, true believer!