This has been floating around in the ether for awhile now, but to see it “confirmed” is pretty interesting none the less:
The gist of it is that Marvel Entertainment (formerly Marvel Enterprises, formerly just Marvel Comics) will now be self-producing it’s own superhero movies as opposed to farming out characters to other studios (as has been the case with “Spider-Man,” “X-Men,” etc.) Also announced is that Paramount will handle the distribution.
The lineup that Marvel boss and exaggerator-extraordinaire Avi Arad has been announcing along with this is probably purely theoretical, but it tells a lot about what Marvel thinks is going to work and what won’t. Included are…
CAPTAIN AMERICA: Looks like a no-brainer until you actually try to make it work. The fact is, the title alone means you can kiss most of the international boxoffice goodbye unless you’ve got the shrewdest marketing campaign in history to make it work. Mums the word on what this will actually be about: The character started out as one of many WWII-era patriotic adventurers, but for the majority of his existence (since the mid-1960s to the present) “Cap’s” stories have centered around his being frozen just before the end of the war and unthawed in the modern world, and his attempts to readjust. Domestically, this could be a MASSIVE hit for them, which is why it’s being named as the most-likely candidate for the first of this wave to get made.
THE AVENGERS: This is kind of a cheat, as it’s already been announced that the adaptation of the superhero team book will actually be a direct-to-DVD animated feature based on “The Ultimates,” which reimagines the Avengers characters through the prism of a Jerry Bruckheimer movie. Big mistake, if you ask me.
NICK FURY: Kind of an American James Bond, in the comics a WWII-era hero kept young via a youth serum. Left unsaid is whether this will be the “original” Nick Fury or the “Ultimates” incarnation of the character who’s drawn as a dead-ringer for Samuel L. Jackson. Bruce Willis has been mentioned for this, I think the eyepatch would work for him.
BLACK PANTER: This would be interesting. Lead character is chief of an African tribe. Not only is he a superhero on the side, his “tribe” actually maintains a super-advanced city under their jungle and only use the spears-and-war-paint routine as a cover. If this is seriously on the table, it could be a starmaking turn for the right actor. Me, I’d hope for Djimon Honsou.
ANT-MAN: I really doubt they’d really make this any time soon, but it could be fun. Lead guy is Dr. Henry Pym, who can shrink himself and uses a special helmet to talk to ants. Really. In the books, Pym is notable for stretching the secret-identity bit to the extreme: He’s ALSO “Giant-Man” when the shrinking-process is reversed AND for while he changed costumes and called himself “Yellowjacket.”
CLOAK & DAGGER: Seriously? Okay, whatever. This was a late-80s/early-90s bit that was more noted for being ahead of it’s time than really good. Heroes are a street-tough black guy/super-hot white chick team. He has a big flowing cape that contains a kind of black-hole in it’s folds, and she throws light waves at people and wears a spectacularly revealing (for an 80s Superheroine) costume.
DR. STRANGE: Goody! Think Alastaire Crowley as a superhero. Former surgeon practices the occult, uses it to fight demons and crime. Could be great, could be ridiculous, but I want to see them try.
HAWKEYE: Now this is puzzling. This guy fights crime with a bow and arrow, wears a purple costume. VERY similar to DC comics’ “Green Arrow,” who fights crime with a bow and arrow while dressed like Errol Flynn-as-Robin Hood. An archer-vigilante movie would be cool, don’t get me wrong, but what makes this a head-scratcher is that Marvel very publically killed this fellow off a few months ago.
POWER PACK: And now we know why Marvel brought these guys back. A family of cute little kids who all get super powers. It’s pretty basic stuff, more popular in it’s day for the incongruity of it’s preteen heroes interacting with the increasingly-dark grownup heroes of the Marvel catalogue. As a family feature, though… sure, why not?
SHANG CHI: They’ve been talking this one up since “Blade” came out. This was a popular 70s book. Hero is a martial arts master, ongoing story has connections to the Marvel Universe incarnation of Fu Manchu (or am I thinking of someone else.)
Other names you might be looking for, (Iron Man, Silver Surfer, etc.) are, of course, previously-engaged to other studios.