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Marvel-ous Day: Marvel Optioning Off Smaller Projects on Smaller Budgets

I hope you aren’t tired of comic book movies, because it seems like the past few summers have just been an attempt to whet our appetites for even more of the four-colour heroes. Marvel, ever keen to stay one step ahead of their “distinguished competitor”, have announced a scheme to allow the less well-known of their characters a day in the spotlight. DC is still struggling to get its iconic heroes to the screen, let alone put together a coherent shared universe, and Marvel is already scouring the depths of its published materials for new films. I have to admit, I’m kinda excited about the news.

Who's next?

Okay, let’s be honest, the last thing we need is more films like Ghost Rider or Punisher: WarZone or Elektra, all three examples of more obscure Marvel characters making matinees. So what’s different about this particular proposal?

At the moment most superhero movies are huge affairs. The Dark Knight, Spider-Man, X-Men and Iron Man all require quite sizeable budgets to produce as huge summer tentpole flicks, fixtures of the box office season. What Marvel is proposing is to offer directors or writers with an interest in more fringe properties a much smaller budget – $30m to $40m – to bring their movie to the screen. This means that quirky characters might get a shot at adaptation, rather than simply big blockbuster stuff. It’s very hard to compete with the iconic films on sheer scale with a budget that small, so I’d hope it would encourage more… shall we say creative superhero film making.

Imagine The Hurt Locker of superhero films. Or the (500) Days of Summer of superhero films. With lower budget comes lower expectency, and also less studio imput – much more artistic freedom. I wouldn’t mind at all seeing cult works like Marvels – a grounds-eye view of the history of the Marvel universe through the eyes of a human photographer capturing iconic moments – coming to the screen. A chance to really cast off the three act structure and dependency on spectacle within the subgenre.

Perhaps it’s a sign that the superhero movie is truly a genre of itself, rather than a subset of the fantasy, science fiction or action genres. Recently we’ve seen films like Kick-Ass and The Dark Knight and Watchmen deconstruct it, and this move suggests it might truly diversify – perhaps to the point where treating it merely as a subgenre would be unfair.

I don’t know. I might post a list of graphic novels and superheroes who deserve an adaptation within that price range – the long rumoured Ant-Man seems a deserving choice.

7 Responses

  1. Dr. Strange would be a fun low-budget comic book actioner.

    • I must confess I’m not overly familiar with Strange as a character (I just know him as a guest character in Spider-Man or Daredevil). I imagine you’d need big set pieces and effects, though?

  2. Fun fact for no reason, that picture up top, I have a shirt with all of them all on it. Just saying…

  3. Greate. This is awesome. I like it.

  4. I definitely hope this will allow for less mainstream comic book movies and unleash the creativity that is so lacking in major studio Hollywood movies (ah ah.. I’m dreaming).

    • Yep, but at least with “only” $40m budgets they can encourage risk taking. Or at least that’s what I’m mumbling to myself. (Imagine what we could do with $40m…)

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