CHUD are reporting today (right HERE) that Marvel and Disney are developing an idea to put together a series of budget range movies based on some of the more obscure superheroes from the Marvelverse. With Iron Man 2 set to score big at the box office, and this year’s news dominated by reports on the casting and development of the Captain America and Thor movies, along with the Avengers movie that will tie all the heroes together, Marvel are in a great position to consolidate their position as the cinematic comic publisher of choice.
On the surface, this is a fantastic idea, and great news for Marvel fans. I’d been thinking recently that i’d much rather watch a series of sub-par comic book adaptations than average remakes and rehashes like next week’s Friday the 13th reboot. There are scores of lesser known Marvel characters, all with a rich story history, ready to be mined for the gold contained within. The diverse range of third and fourth tier characters would allow for some very different movies, and some very interesting storylines.
If the company are able to release a movie every six months or so, it would also have a fantastic effect on their comic book sales. As it stands, only the best known characters are adapted into movies, and because they are catapulted more into the public consciousness, they become even more well known. It’s a very symbiotic circle. By introducing some of their lesser known properties, they can generate more interest in the comic series that have a smaller circulation.
There is a danger here, however, that Marvel are overstretching themselves. Big, expensive movies like Iron Man make a lot of money because they look expensive, there are big stars to draw the public in, and there is plenty of time to develop good story concepts. By pulling themselves in too many directions, they risk overstretching their creativity. Yes, they do have Disney as support, and Disney are clearly committed to using all their resources to create new live action franchises.
But Disney are new to the comic world, and whilst they do have a wealth of big budget production resources, it will be the Marvel people that will have to oversee the story ideas, and keep some kind of quality control. If these budget productions are not up to scratch, they could have a negative effect on the better known franchise movies. If movie goers stumble into too many low quality superhero pictures, there is a risk they will be alienated to the whole concept.
There is a low number of cut price directors and writers that can craft a great film on such a low budget. Kick-Ass was a low budget production, but it was put together by a talented director and writers, and a lot of time and effort was put into putting it together well, and putting it together right. And as it stands, it is at risk of financial failure. It will make its budget back, and will probably end up making a small profit, but if this is the outcome with a respected filmmaker, what can we expect from the kinds of directors and writers that Marvel’s discount projects are going to be able to attract?
There will be a big positive impact though, from this news, along with the other big movie announcements Marvel are making. DC only have one property that currently has a movie in production, that being the Green Lantern. Superman is only at the screenplay stage, and the early draft stage at that. Batman 3, assuming it does go ahead, is even further behind. Marvel’s actions, and the press their developments are drawing for the company should be a real kick up the backside for the entertainment arm at DC.
DC Entertainment’s Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns recently hinted at some announcements due to be made regarding the DC/Warner future as far as comic book adaptations go. These announcements will now need to be pretty exciting if they hope to compete. There have been rumblings of a potential Flash movie, and i expect this movie will be DC’s first announcement. Alongside this, there could very well be plans unveiled for the first Green Arrow movie. This is probably unlikely to be the potentially awesome Super Max project. With David S Goyer’s involvement with Christopher Nolan’s superhero projects, Super Max seems to have entered development hell. We’d be more like to see a more traditional Green Arrow film, with hints at a potential Justice League or even JSA movie on the horizon.
The ace up DC’s sleeve may just be a Wonder Woman movie. Joss Whedon’s attempt was aborted, and he is now on Marvel’s movie team. But a WW movie done well could well be the best chance DC have of grabbing a new following. Marvel haven’t got a female superheroine movie on their slate, so DC could make a grab for the women’s vote with a full bore, big budget Wonder Woman adaptation.
DC have grabbed a lot of momentum within the comic book world. Last year’s big Blackest Night multi-character event has lead into this year’s new comic series, Brightest Day. They need to try and carry over this momentum into other media before Marvel becomes the name synonymous with superheroes in the broader, mainstream sphere.
Whatever Marvel decide, there is no denying they have made a very successful transition into the movie business, and are doing their bit to erase the bad memories of awful Marvel adaptations like Daredevil, Elektra and The Fantastic Four movies. If they go ahead with their budget range, i will certainly be in the audience, i just pray they do their due diligence before making this big step.
Bazmann – You can follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/baz_mann