Based on my enthusiasm for the Marvel game plan as of late, one might think I am incapable of being critical of the studio or their efforts.
I'm sure there will be plenty of opportunities for me to dislike Marvel movies in the future. I've certainly had issues with many of the films they've made already. It's just that they've started making choices in the last few years that might or might not pay off creatively in the end, but they are cool gambles in the meantime. They make interesting choices. They make big choices. And it sounds like they're going to be following up on an idea they were discussing not long ago in an unexpected way.
George Roush over at Latino Review caught a great scoop this week, reporting that Marvel Studios is considering a series of short films that will introduce some of their classic new characters in the future. It's a great move because it has both business and creative potential. Marvel Studios has the opportunity, and one might argue the obligation, with these short films to not only test out potential characters on the mainstream, but also filmmakers with the passion to bring some of these lesser-known characters to the screen.
I've heard many reactions over the year to the idea of Edgar Wright making an "Ant-Man" movie, and I understand... it's "Ant-Man." There's nothing about that when you hear the title that demands that the movie exist. But several years ago, Edgar explained his initial idea for the movie with me, and it really was this crazy groovy weird sideways way into the Marvel Universe that suggested a much bigger world just outside the frame of the story he wanted to tell. I have no idea how much of that early premise will or won't end up in the film if he ever decides to make it, but I can tell you... it wouldn't just be a phoned-in cookie-cutter movie. There's too much genuine passion behind it, and if that's not there anymore, I guarantee Edgar wouldn't end up making it.
So if you're trying to convince the general public that they want to see a full-length "Black Panther" film, why not make sure the person who makes the short film is a person who is absolutely insane for that character? Someone who is going to do their best to highlight the things that made them love the character in the first place. And the idea of using these short films in front of the live-action films they've got coming like "Captain America" and "Thor" is huge fun. I think the audience has been primed for the return of short films, and based on Pixar's success and the stories about Warner Bros. getting back into the Bugs Bunny business, now's the time for Marvel to innovate like this. You could do a lot in ten minutes with a character like Iron Fist or The Wasp or Cloak and Dagger. It'll be fun to watch what happens with these.
Right now, keep in mind that this is a rumor, but of course Latino Review's track record on scoops is solid, and so this is worth paying attention to, worth considering. In the meantime, it looks like Marvel Studios is moving forward on "Dr. Strange," at least on a script level. They've hired Thomas Donnelly and Joshua Oppenheimer, who were part of the new "Conan" that is shooting now. These are the same guys behind "A Sound Of Thunder" and "Sahara," and I'll admit... that filmography makes me nervous. It made me nervous when they were announced for "Conan," and it still makes me nervous.
The thing is, who knows where they are in the process on "Dr. Strange"? They're not talking about a director yet, seems like, and the process could go anywhere from here. This is one of the wildest of the Marvel characters and worlds, and it's going to take someone with a truly commanding visual style to bring "Dr. Strange" to life properly. And, yeah, I think it would be a slam-dunk for someone like Guillermo Del Toro (who, as it so happens, loves the character), but the main thing is just making sure whoever does it is willing to embrace the weird. You can't shy away from how outrageous Dr. Strange is... that's just the way it is. That's the appeal of it. So far, Donnelly and Oppenheimer don't strike me as guys who are far enough outside of the box, but mainstream enough to make it fun, for this character.
Both "Dr. Strange" and these possible short films are a long way from happening, so this is all sort of speculative, but it certainly seems like Marvel is working constantly to find striking new ways to expand the universe they're building.
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