Must be a nice time to work at Marvel Studios, wouldn't you say, True Believers? I mean, sure, you might have to occasionally talk your boss out of doing something stupid like not bringing Jon Favreau back for Iron Man 2 or keeping Edward Norton from Hulking out in the lobby after he realizes that you cut out the "Bruce Banner sings karaoke with his rabbi best friend" scene in The Incredible Hulk - someone has to give the Marvel boy some perspective. But, all in all, Marvel has had a nice recent lucky streak when it comes to turning their roster of super heroes into summer-movie tentpoles. Forgetting Iron Man and the Hulk (a certified hit and a new release with halfway decent tracking numbers), Marvel's made a mint off of the Spider-Man and X-Men franchises, and they've more than broken even with some of their lesser releases (Ghost Rider, the Fantastic Four movies, Blade, etc). In other words, unless the Hulk tanks hardcore and the cast of the Avengers is arrested for treason, expect lots and lots of Marvel super hero-based films to hit your local movie theatre in the very near future.
However, just because Marvel now has the cache to turn even their most obscure characters into the stars of $60-100 million dollar, FX-heavy action epics, it doesn't mean they necessarily should. Not every super hero is destined to hang upside down in New York and make out with Kristen Dunst and, as such, Marvel needs to look really, really hard at their upcoming development slate and decide whether or not a Magneto movie is actually a good idea (we're leaning towards "No").
So, as a service to Marvel Studios and the hordes of Marvel Zombies everywhere, (and with the release of The Incredible Hulk hitting this weekend), we here at The Deadbolt have assembled a list of five Marvel super hero movies we definitely, no questions asked, want to see in active development and five that we think should be banished to the Negative Zone. A few of our choices are deep in pre-production, others have merely been announced as TBA, and others are just a gleam in our nerdy capes-and-tights-lovin' eyes.
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FIVE MARVEL SUPER HERO MOVIES WE DEFINITELY WANT TO SEE:
Movie: Captain America
Release Date: May 6, 2011
Talent Attached: David Self was hired to write a draft in July 2006; Kevin Feige, president of Marvel Studios, debunked a rumor that Matthew McConaughey was being pursued to play the Captain
WHY DO WE WANT TO SEE IT?: Because, without a doubt, this might be the hardest Marvel character to adapt for film. Yes, Captain America has decades of history, an impressive rogues gallery, and some fantastic storylines aching for a film version, but he also has the potential to look almost criminally silly - in his less-subtle-than-Uncle-Sam's red, white, and blue costume with the big white "A" in the center of his head - especially in the hands of the wrong filmmaker. The Captain is one of Marvel's most A-list heroes, but he comes with SO much baggage since, by his very design, he's a symbol of American nationalism. That might help a Cap film break the bank in Salt Lake City, but don't expect the London, Paris, or Baghdad premieres to be very well attended. This movie is going to NEED an amazing filmmaker to bring it to life, and if they find the right director, it'll be brilliant.
Aside from the fact that Cap is a much more challenging character to adapt than, say, Ghost Rider, we also desperately want to see a Captain America movie because Kevin Feige confirmed that the film would be a period piece set in World War II. Maybe it's just all the Call of Duty that we've been playing recently or the fact that we're still miffed that we'll never get a Rocketeer sequel, but the idea of super heroes and Army grunts throwing down against Nazi supermen in a Captain America film makes our pulses race with nerd euphoria. Plus the Cap movie is allegedly one big set-up for an all-out Avengers movie, so there's definitely a lot to be excited about, regardless of whether or not you're proud to be an American.
Release Date: TBA
Talent Attached: Director/co-writer of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, Edgar Wright, is attached to direct and is co-writing the script with English comic Joe Cornish
WHY DO WE WANT TO SEE IT?: Two words - Edgar Wright. Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz are two of the best written, best directed, nerd-friendly action comedies of the past twenty years, and Spaced, the BBC sitcom he co-created with Simon Pegg and Jessica Hynes, is so hilariously awesome and packed with comic book references that it could make Joss Whedon blush with envy (it FINALLY hits Region 1 DVD in July). So the fact that Marvel has turned over the reins of one of their most famously odd heroes to such a creative genius... it just has so much potential for coolness. In March, Wright told Empire Online, that the movie would star both Hank Pym and Scott Lang (who both took up the Ant-mantle) and that the film is "going to be less overtly comedic than anything else I’ve ever done. It’s more of a full-on action adventure sci-fi film but with a comedic element – in the same spirit of a lot of escapist fare like that. It’s certainly not a super hero spoof or pastiche and it certainly isn’t a sort of Honey I Shrunk the Kids endeavor at all."
And Wright's words make us all kinds of happy. We love that he's trying to make the film a kick-ass adventure film rather than just a comic book movie (perhaps because Ant-Man doesn't really have any "classic" stories to adapt), we love that he knows the character well enough to include both Pym and Lang, and we love that, while the movie won't be a Shrunk-the-Kids riff, it will get into the cool sci-fi elements of Ant-Man's shrinking powers, which should give the film a totally unique visual palette - which will be a welcome change from all the gritty downtown skyscraper backdrops that every other super hero flick has beaten into our retinas. All that, and Ant-Man is one of the original Avengers, so, hopefully, since Marvel is jonesing to team up all of their big movie heroes soon, that will help the producers fast-track Ant-Man and get us a new Edgar Wright movie sooner than later.
Release Date: TBA
Talent Attached: It was announced in May 2008 that series creator Brian K. Vaughn would be writing the Runaways adaptation with Kevin Feige producing.
WHY DO WE WANT TO SEE IT?: Have you read the comic? It's amazing. Funny, action-packed, and heart-breaking - all in the perfect balance. It's not surprisingly that the series came from the mind of Brian K. Vaughn (who co-created the series with artist Adrian Alphona), since, aside from being on the writing staff of ABC's Lost, Vaughn has authored some of the hands-down best comic books in recent memory, including Y the Last Man and Ex Machina. And the premise is a killer - a group of teenagers realize that their parents are, in fact, super-villains, running a crime syndicate in Los Angeles, so the angsty avengers use their newly discovered "abilities" to team up to bring down their naughty mothers and fathers and try to right some of the wrongs that their families have been responsible for. Forget Doc Ock or Venom. When mom and dad are your arch-enemies, that makes for some mind-blowing drama. And Vaughn's characterizations are so dead-on and engaging that you'll immediately find yourself loving Molly, Gertie, and all the rest, completely giving into the concept and not even blinking about the genetically-engineered dinosaur on the team (too hard to explain now).
Aside from the fantastically cool premise, one of our favorite things about Runaways is that it only takes place within the Marvel Universe tangentially. Don't get us wrong, they are Marvel super heroes, but Wolverine doesn't show up every issue and Doctor Doom and Mole Man aren't the kid's parents. Runaways just dips its toe into the larger Marvel 'verse, which gives it access to all of the good stuff with none of the bad (continuity problems, crossovers, clones, etc). So, with such a universally accessible premise (kids vs. the legacy of their parents) and the fact that the series isn't mired down with continuity - Runaways has a great chance to be a big crossover hit... if it's done right, that is. (Admit it, teen super heroes could turn into Gamma-Irradiated Gossip Girl way, WAY too easily.)
Movie: Doctor Strange
Release Date: TBA
Talent Attached: In February 2008, Guillermo Del Toro told Empire Online that he was considering directing a Dr. Strange movie and had approached Neil Gaiman to write it. Of course, thanks to the Hobbit movies, that probably wouldn't happen now until 2027
WHY DO WE WANT TO SEE IT?: Because, in the age of Criss Angel and Celeb-Cadabra, we really, really need a Sorcerer Supreme to show up and kick a little magical ass. Doctor Strange is one of the coolest/most perpetually misused characters in Marvel's entire publishing line. Stephen Strange was an expert surgeon until a car accident robbed him of the use of his hands. Searching the ends of the Earth for a cure to his condition, Strange meets a guru named The Ancient One, who takes Strange on as a student of the mystical arts. Learning of the vast number of otherworldly threats to humanity, Strange takes his new magical knowledge back to his tricked-out Sanctum Sanctorum pad in Greenwich Village and fights a variety of fiendishly magical foes like Baron Mordo, Dormammu, and David Blaine (OK, we made that last one up). Strange is a great character - he's like the lone sheriff in Marvel's wild west world of magic - but a lot of comic writers have always written him as this stiff stage magician who shows up at the last minute and saves the day with an overly convenient save-all spell. (Fortunately, more recent writers like the aforementioned Brian K. Vaughn and Brian Michael Bendis have done a terrific job at turning the good Doctor into a multidimensional character.)
Doctor Strange just has a lot of qualities that would make for a bad-ass movie. Del Toro called Strange "an interesting character because you can definitely make him more in the pulpy occult detective/magician mould and formula than was done in the Weird Tales, for example...the idea of a character that really dabbles in the occult in a way that’s not X-Filey, where the supernatural is taken for granted." Doesn't that sound awesome? DAMN YOU, Hobbit, for keeping us from a Doctor Strange movie! Hopefully, Marvel will keep Neil Gaiman on as the screenwriter and realize the potential of a new super hero franchise that has nothing to do with mutants or spandex, but rather pits one man against the unstoppable hordes of the demon dimensions. It's part Harry Potter, part High Noon, part X-Files... how can that not outgross Ghost Rider?
Movie: Damage Control
Release Date: TBA
Talent Attached: Honestly, this movie will probably never be made.
WHY DO WE WANT TO SEE IT?: Because at least 70% of you are now scratching your heads, thinking, "What the hell is Damage Control?" For those who don't know, Damage Control is one of Marvel's funniest concepts that has never, ever gotten it's due. Kicked off back in 1989, DC (whoops, bad initials for a Marvel book) follows those poor bastards who have to clean up after super heroes and villains after they decide to throw down in the middle of a crowded city street. They're a larger-than-life construction company that, after years of having to rebuild New York again and again, have found themselves intimately (and often hilariously) entwined with the personal affairs of Marvel's wide fraternity of superpowered good and bad guys. Damage Control's co-creator Dwayne McDuffie described the concept as something akin to a sitcom taking place in the Marvel Universe - you can read his original pitch for the series right here.
So, why do we want a Damage Control movie? First, we adored the original Damage Control series (which, admittedly, were never huge hits, though the company did show up during Marvel's recent Civil War event), and there is so much potential in the concept. The insurance adjuster scenes in The Incredibles were funny enough, but the idea of exploring how exactly you rebuild the Empire State Building after it was attacked by Doombots has so much comedy potential, it's scary (think of the contractors on the Death Star scene in Clerks). Plus, now that Marvel is working to interconnect their films with SHIELD and all of those other Easter eggs in Iron Man and Hulk, the DC concept could really work into that infrastructure easily. Fine, it's obscure and it probably won't happen, but a Damage Control movie could have a lot of fun taking the piss out of the traditional super hero movie and in a much more intelligent way than lame-ass spoofs like Superhero Movie and X-Men: Last Stand (that was supposed to be a comedy, right?).
FIVE MARVEL SUPER HERO MOVIES WE NEVER WANT TO SEE:
Movie: Namor the Sub-Mariner
WHY DON'T WE WANT TO SEE IT?: Namor is a big gun in the Marvel Universe, but in Hollywood, he's just the poor nerd's Aquaman. Watching a dude in a Speedo command fish and fight Mermen just sounds like a lame way to spend two hours, and we're not even convinced that the technology is there to make a Namor movie yet. Unless James Cameron really did figure out how to make Vinnie Chase believable as Aquaman during a lunch break on the Entourage set, how the hell do you film actors interacting underwater without it looking... um... what's the word... stupid?
Movie: Fantastic Four 3
WHY DON'T WE WANT TO SEE IT?: Did you see Fantastic Four 1 and 2? Oh, you did? Then we don't need to explain any further.
WHY DON'T WE WANT TO SEE IT?: Here's the thing - we love Hawkeye as a comic book character, but unless he's pre-established as a badass Jack Sparrow-ish rogue in an Avengers movie, there is no reason why anyone, except the nerdiest nerds, would go see a Hawkeye movie. We're not trying to pick on ol' Clint Barton, but Hawkeye was listed as one of the ten properties that Marvel Studios was actively developing when they first obtaining their independent funding back in 2005. But, like we said, unless he has an amazing supporting turn in The Avengers, let's not tempt fate by making a super hero movie about a dude in purple tights fighting crime with a bow and arrow, OK?
Movie: Young X-Men
WHY DON'T WE WANT TO SEE IT?: Mostly because X-Men 3 left such a bad taste in our mouths. But it doesn't help that Josh Schwartz, creator of Gossip Girl, is writing the screenplay for this teen-focused continuation of the floundering Fox X-Men franchise. Fine, we had friends that dug The OC and everything, but the idea of a young team of mutants, text-messaging each other "OMFG" while they fight teenage Magneto, just turns our stomachs.
WHY DON'T WE WANT TO SEE IT?: This is probably going to piss off some fanboys, but we've never really liked Marvel's "Merc with the Mouth". He's the poor man's Lobo and he's a stupid relic of the Rob Liefield era of bad comics you wish you could forget. (For those who don't know, Liefield is the Steven Seagal of comic book creators who, for some reason we have yet to figure out how or why, was really popular for a few years in the 1990s.) Ryan Reynolds, who has long petitioned for the role of the unkillable, amoral assassin, is playing Deadpool in a cameo in Hugh Jackman's stand-alone Wolverine movie. Let's all hope that the 'Pool just shows up in flashback set during the nineties (Logan battles the dot.com boom) and that's where he remains.-- Tom Burns