As we’ve detailed here before, Fox's Marvel film guru Mark Millar thinks there are "5-10 golden properties" for <i>X-Men</i> movie spin-offs and now Sony reportedly wants to get into the 'Cinematic Universe' act, this week announcing ambitions to create <a href=http://www.newsarama.com/19645-sony-head-hints-at-big-screen-spider-man-spin-offs-thor-2-passes-500m-at-box-office.html>“a bigger universe around Spider-Man.”</a> <p>But let's face it - the Marvel Studios Cinematic Universe proper still holds vast more potential for big-screen properties if for sheer volume alone - volume Marvel may have to mine soon considering they still have three prime reserved opening weekends in 2016 and 2017 not yet attached to a title. And that's not even mentioning Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige <a href="http://www.wired.com/underwire/2013/08/kevin-feige-marvel-dc-movies/all/">has implied in interviews</i></a> that Marvel may have a tentative plan in place through the year 2021. <p>So all that in mind we got to thinking about what new properties Marvel Studios could launch on the big screen and why, especially now that Daredevil, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and Jessica Jones have been removed from contention. <p>Here are ten properties to consider as we look to Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Some are properties that have been mentioned before, some are new ideas, but we’ll explain why we wouldn’t be surprised to hear any of these title pop up in the Hollywood trades any time now.
Let’s face it, Marvel is a multi-media entertainment company in the truest sense of the word now. Yes, no doubt the comic book division still operates with a certain amount of autonomy and we’re not suggesting <i>everything</i> is developed as a comic book with eyes toward a feature film, live-action, or animated TV series in mind. <p>But Marvel has spent a looonnggg-time and undoubtedly some considerable legal fees to apparently finally iron out the rights issues surrounding Marvelman. So the question becomes, did they go through all that strictly for the comic book publishing rights? <p>Maybe. But could there be a bigger play here? <p>The Marvel Universe doesn’t really have a Superman archetype among its core stable of characters (though Hyperion, a direct Superman analogue, is now in the <i>Avengers</i> comic book cast and as a guest star on animated series <i>Avengers Assemble</i>), and no doubt Marvel Studios is probably feeling pretty good about what they could turn out if they had one. <p>Marvel/Miracleman has an interesting enough back-story to fuel free press were Marvelman developed into a big screen property and Neil Gaiman potentially being in the mix offers some intriguing possibilities as well. <p>A long-shot yes, but something to keep an eye on.
We’ll talk about Marvel, Fox and the rights to the <i>X-Men</i> in more detail a little later, but Sony having perpetual control over <i>Spider-Man</i> has got to be a thorn in Marvel Studio’s side. <p>And given the dueling Quicksilver appearances 2014’s <i>X-Men: Days of Future Past</i>and 2015’s <i>Avengers: Age Ultron,</i> its been made clear there’s obviously some ambiguity in the margins of some of these licensed IP deals. Could a <b>Spider-Woman</b> feature make it through the legal gauntlet and onto the big screen? <p>Spider-Woman was never a true Spider-Man family concept/character (i.e. <i>maybe</i> not included in the characters covered by Sony’s deal), and her and her alter ego Jessica Drew has been entrenched in the worlds of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Avengers for decades now, the center of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. <p>And it would offer Marvel Studios an opportunity to put a female hero front-and-center, with <i>some</i> brand recognition attached, as opposed to say Captain/Ms. Marvel (who apparently has had a screenplay written for her). <p>Sure, that brand recognition would be the product of some slight-of-hand/misdirection on Marvel’s part, but it would certainly garner a fair amount of attention if they had the cajones to throw “Wo” into “Spider-Man“ and give it a spin; however, like <b>Marvelman</b>, this one goes down for now as a long-shot.
Oh right, like <i>Guardians of the Galaxy</i> was an obvious, likely choice? <p>This one would need some liberal adaptation of its comic book roots, however. Just think ‘gladiators and descendants of superheroes in a post-apocalyptic Marvel Universe.‘ <i>300</i> meets well, any post-apocalyptic film ever, really. <p>And the apocalypse could be from any number of events – aliens, robots, or how about zombies? The Marvel Cinematic Universe decades <i>after</i> <b>Marvel Zombies</b>. <p>Sign us up.
Another title that’s been on Marvel’s public shortlist for sometime now. And for good reason. This one has a lot of things going for it. As a long-time, well-regarded member of the Avengers he fits seamlessly into that now-established world. <p>As a potential mash-up of the Batman (street-level, technically-advanced, ninja-like rich guy) and James Bond (hard-edged, globe-trotting adventurer), the cinematic potential is as wealthy as the nation of Wakanda – which he also happens to be the leader of, for a little Kingly icing on the cake. <p>And while <i>Blade</i> already beat him to the big screen some 15 years ago, and the Falcon will beat him there next year, there are definitely some positive vibes to be generated by putting one of the first prominent black superheroes in a starring role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Yes, we want a Black Widow movie, too, and you already heard our Spider-Woman idea but despite her lack of appearance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe thus far, we think a Captain Marvel movie may actually be easier to make happen, and better for the MCU. <p>With Captain Marvel, and we're talking about Carol Danvers here, you fill several holes in the MCU. You have a female lead, someone who is another established military commander (sorry Rhodey, you're not getting a solo movie anytime soon), and someone who can be a bridge between the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy. There's little doubt, thanks to the teaser in the middle of the credits of <i>Thor: The Dark World</i> that we'll be seeing a <i>lot</i> more of the cosmic side of the MCU in Phase 3, and Captain Marvel gives them a perfect way to both ground the cosmic back to Earth and expand it further. <p>There's also the obvious branding opportunity. Since DC has all but given up on the name, and it has "Marvel" right there, Marvel Studios fans may be more likely to check this out than something that sounds like it's about a spider.
Ever wonder why out of all their thousands of properties, Marvel/Disney picked <i>Guardians of the Galaxy</i> to be the next new property to make it to the big-screen? <p>Parent company Disney likes mining genres, and clearly wanting to be in the sci-fi/space opera business influenced the decision to pluck <i>GotG</i> out of relative obscurity (bear in mind, the film was set in motion <i>before</i> Disney acquired <i>Star Wars</i>… who knew?) <p><i>Thor: The Dark World</i> was certainly more pointed in the <i>Lord of the Rings</i>/’<i>Thrones</i>’ direction than the original was (though it has more sci-fi than anyone was probably expecting. <p><b>Dr. Strange</b> could be the platform Disney could use within the now mighty Marvel movie machine to branch off into the world of supernatural magic, witchcraft and wizardry. <p>That genre kind of worked out well for Warner Bros. for a number of years, didn’t it? <p><i>And</i> we think Johnny Depp and Disney could put <i>the Lone Ranger</i> behind them by having him bring his star power to the Marvel U. But that’s a discussion for another day.
If Disney likes mining genres, they also like mining demos too. Young Adult genre fiction is one of Hollywood hottest categories as the major studios chase the audiences that still actually go to the movies. <p><b>The Runaways</b> has often been mentioned as part of Marvel’s shortlist in the past, no doubt due to the teen (i.e. highly-desirable) demo it hits closest to home with. A cast of young, diverse teens, developing superpowers, rebelling against the adult establishment, who just so happens to be their own parents? <p>Ding! <p>If this wasn’t a Marvel property, this would probably <i>already</i> be on Summit Entertainment’s release list. And Brian Vaughan’s now-growing Hollywood cache can’t hurt the odds of this one getting more attention in the coming days.
And speaking of mining demos, let’s not forget with whom Disney’s bread and butter still lies. <p>Kids like watching kids on the screen (notice how few Disney Channel and Nick Jr. hits feature adults in the lead role?) With the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s appeal among families/younger audiences on the upswing after <i>Avengers</i>, wouldn’t a team of superhero kids set firmly in the MCU and even more firmly in the pure-PG category be a good bet for the movie studio that both defined and is defined by family entertainment? <p>Hell, there’s been four <i>Spy Kids</i> and a fifth on the way, and none of them can feature cameos by the Avengers. <p>Even a high-end CGI-animated treatment could give Disney a cousin to Pixar’s <i>The Incredibles</i>. The possibilities here are endless.
It wasn’t using Loki as a rag-doll and the “Puny God” line that signaled Marvel had finally gotten the Hulk right. It was a few minutes prior, when having crashed though Grand Central Terminal with Thor, the Hulk sucker-punched his ‘teammate’ in the side of head, with a nonchalant, but self-satisfied “hrrmmffff”. <p>THAT’s the Hulk people would go to a solo movie to see. The tortured soul trying desperately to NOT be the Hulk for 2 and 1/2 movies was a war of attrition for audiences. They WANTED to see the Hulk 'smash', Bruce Banner didn’t, and the conflict between those dueling purposes caused the films to sputter. <p>A Hulk let loose of his iconic but actually historically short-lived 'hunted-wounded animal' persona and allowed to heroically beat the tar out of the RIGHT foes (monsters, demons, aliens, machines) with <i>just enough intellect</i> to do it all with a self-aware hint of humor <i>is</i> the <b>Hulk</b> moviegoers would flock to the multiplexes to see. <p>Who can’t relate to rage these days? <p> And it doesn't hurt his chances that a slightly more intelligent (and heroic) Hulk is the star of not one but <i>two</i> animated series by Disney now, <i>Avengers Assemble</i> and <i>Hulk & the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.</i> <p>The Hulk <i>was</i> the star of the third act of one of the most successful movies of the modern cinematic era. While it might seem risky to try for a third time after two unsuccessful attempts, the audience reaction to the Hulk in <i>The Avengers</i> should provide enough evidence a third time will be the charm. <p>We DO like the Hulk when he’s angry, is the point.
It’s becoming clearer and clearer all of Disney’s Marvel divisions are working in concert more than ever before. So looking to the comic books could offer strong clues to what the Hollywood division has up their sleeve the immediate future. <p>Marvel no longer owns or controls the live-action rights to their once-flagship mutant X-verse, featuring a strange-but-superhuman, highly-allegorical sub-race/culture within their superhero universe. And Fox apparently has no plans to give up those rights anytime soon. So it appears Marvel’s using the DNA of a classic Lee-Kirby Marvel concept to seed a brand new mutant-like sub-verse… a sub-verse whose media rights they would happen to control. <p>Marvel Comics major upcoming <b>Inhuman</b> launch <i>may</i> strictly be a publishing-only initiative, but our money is on this being the Marvel Studios’ answer to no longer being in the <i>X-Men</i> business.