Marvel Planning Slate For Third-Tier Characters

With their slate of comic-book adaptations set through 2012 with blockbusters Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America and The Avengers, Marvel Studios is looking to diversify the size of their films beyond that.

CHUD is reporting that Marvel has been quietly meeting with writers and directors recently about developing films based around some of Marvel Comics’ third-string characters.

Filmmakers are being offered their pick of characters whose names are only familiar to comic fans. Properties like Dr. Strange, Ka-Zar, Luke Cage, Dazzler and Power Pack are among the many that are being tossed around right now. And the attitude seems to be that Marvel is open to bringing any of their characters to the screen at the right price point.

Business-wise, this makes good sense for the studio. While I have been excited by their plans to have their current super hero films interweave their continuity to pave the way for the team-up film The Avengers. But it is also a risky proposition. If one were to spectacularly fail at the box-office, it could jeopardize the remaining films on their schedule. Peppering their production schedule with smaller films spreads the financial risk around a bit, letting the studio’s fortunes not rest each film released. In fact, a number of smaller, $20-$30 million films would probably be more consistent money-makers for the studio than one or two blockbusters budgeted at over $100 million each. A smaller budgeted film could also take some more creative risks, as not as much would be resting on its shoulders financially, if it doesn’t pay off.

This would also allow the studio to start building a stable of talent that could conceivably graduate from one of their smaller films to one of their bigger pictures. Marvel could use the films as a way of “auditioning” talent that they are interested in working with.

It is also a win for Marvel Comics fans, as it increases the chances that some of their favorite characters who don’t have a large recognition factor outside of comics of making it to the big screen.

Currently, we know that Marvel is actively developing at least two films beyond The Avengers.

Ant-Man, based on their size-changing, has a script written by writer/director Edgar Wright but no start date has been announced. Wright is also busy developing The World’s End, his third collaboration with Shaun Of The Dead and Hot Fuzz stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, which could factor in to when Ant-Man gets in front of the cameras.

Marvel has also recently tapped Nick And Nora’s Infinite Playlist director Peter Sollett to helm Runaways, based on Marvel Comics’ series about a group of teens and pre-teens who discover that their parents are a cabal of Super-villains. Series creator Brian K. Vaughn is reportedly at work on a screenplay.

Marvel Studios President of Production Kevin Feige has already stated back in 2008 that the studio was looking to develop a Dr. Strange film, so I expect that that character will definitely show up at some time after the 2012 release of The Avengers. As to who else will be making the jump to from the comics page to the big screen, we’ll just have to wait and see.

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About Rich Drees 7211 Articles
A film fan since he first saw that Rebel Blockade Runner fleeing the massive Imperial Star Destroyer at the tender age of 8 and a veteran freelance journalist with twenty-five years experience writing about film and pop culture. He is a member of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle.
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