Kevin Feige on the Upcoming Infinity War Team-Ups, and the Majesty of Cate Blanchett

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Which superheroes will face off in the next Avengers film? Photo: Marvel

As Marvel continues to add new superheroes to its cinematic universe, the potential roster of the Avengers grows ever larger, and the next two Avengers movies — which will pay off the franchise's long-teased Infinity War story line — promise to add just about every caped crusader and second banana introduced to the Marvel Cinematic Universe thus far. With all this superpowered commingling, which brand-new interaction between two heroes is Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige most looking forward to seeing on the big screen?

"There are so many," Feige told Vulture last week, "but I would say, both because of the characters and the actors who've created them, Doctor Strange and Tony Stark." And while Benedict Cumberbatch and Robert Downey Jr.'s clash of goateed titans is practically guaranteed, Feige encouraged fans to think outside the box when pondering which other characters might share scenes. "Particularly in Infinity War and the movie after that," Feige teased, smiling, "there are … unexpected team-ups."

Might Bucky forge a new romance with Thor? Could Captain Marvel, Scarlet Witch, and the Wasp take to the air for a girls' night out? Or will Black Widow, riding her motorbike, dispatch foes by stashing Baby Groot in her backpack and letting his stretchy tree limbs bash any baddie who draws near? (Geez, now that I've written that, I need to see it.)

One Infinity War inclusion Feige wouldn't confirm: Cate Blanchett. The Oscar-winning actress plays Hela, goddess of death, in the upcoming Thor: Ragnarok, and Marvel fanboys may remember that ultimate villain Thanos kicks off the Infinity War in an attempt to woo a female manifestation of Death. Might Marvel simply use Hela as a stand-in for Death, since Blanchett is already on the payroll?

Feige wouldn't say, but he hinted that Thanos might have other motivations beyond the ones from his classic comic-book story line. "Anything is possible," he said, "but knowledge of the comics can be both beneficial to fans anticipating things, and also misleading. So you'll have to see." Still, he's enormously high on Blanchett's addition to the Thor series. "I would be psyched if I were you," he said. "Put it this way: Her part is wrapped, and we haven't done any effects yet. Even without any effects at all — I'm talking dots on her costume, and green screen — it's amazing."

Perhaps it's for the best that Blanchett's participation in Infinity War is iffy: Joe and Anthony Russo, who are directing that Avengers film and its sequel at the same time, have said that the two-part project's massive ensemble could include over 60 Marvel characters. As these cast lists balloon ever bigger — even Captain America: Civil War, an ostensible stand-alone film, featured more superheroes than any Avengers film yet — I asked Feige if he worries about where the Avengers franchise can go after Infinity War is concluded. Can the series truly tighten its scope after a massive crossover event that throws in everything but the kitchen sink?

"I think it's possible to have more intimate movies after that, or to have more interesting, unexpected combinations of characters after that, absolutely," Feige said. "It never is intentionally about 'being even bigger.' Arguably, one of the biggest scenes we've ever had in a movie was the airport battle in Civil War, and there weren't world-ending stakes in that scene, there wasn't an asteroid smashing into a city in that scene, but there was a conflict between the characters that made you feel something." And as long as there are still unexpectedly fruitful character combinations to mine, Feige thinks the Avengers franchise has nothing to worry about: "To us, it's less about continuing to go bigger with spectacle — although in some cases, we will — and more about continuing to go deeper with those character interactions."