Welcome to The Morning Read.
Devin Faraci's been chasing this story for a while now, and it's good to see he finally got it pinned down. It's probably the biggest story breaking today, and it's one that we'll be feeling the ramifications of for a while. We've talked about the plan at Marvel Studios to get from "Iron Man" to "The Avengers," with all the films in-between, but there's been very little talk about what happens after they get there. Devin finally got a peek at what's going on over there, and it's promising. Evidently, Marvel is quietly meeting with writers and directors about a series of smaller films, somewhere in the $30 - $50 million range, that will allow them to bring some of their lesser-known characters to the screen for the first time, and with far less risk than if they were asked to carry a giant tentpole film. I love this idea because it seems both business-sensible and creatively challenging. Devin included several titles that he says are under consideration right now, including Dr. Strange, Ka-Zar, Luke Cage, Dazzler and Power Pack. I know the last time I saw Kevin Feige (during a still-embargoed set visit for a film that rhymes with "Thor"), he spoke about how much he loves Dr. Strange, and I got the sense that it was one of the most important characters for him to get on film in the future. I would imagine anyone who grew up reading Marvel Comics has their own list of characters they'd love to get their hands on, and I doubt Marvel's going to have any trouble getting filmmakers excited about this opportunity.
Is anyone else bitterly disappointed in Comedy Central? One of the reasons that "South Park" is enjoying a successful 14th season on the air is because they are fearless satirists. You may not like what they do, but it would be hard to deny that they have stayed on top of their game the entire time they've been around by simply refusing to buckle to fear, no matter how powerful their targets. In their 200th episode, they brought together many of their earlier targets, and in particular, they brought back the Prophet Muhammad. As a result, they were threatened repeatedly this week, and there was a website that went up that included photos of Theo Van Gogh, the filmmaker who was killed by Muslim extremists. As a result, Comedy Central censored last night's new episode completely, rendering it nearly incoherent in the process. Look, what happened to Theo Van Gogh was awful and terrifying, but anyone who reacts out of fear as a result is only feeding into the idea that the Prophet Muhammad is somehow beyond the same criticism and commentary as any other religious icon or even public figure. I'm sorry that there are people who consider themselves Muslim who feel that murder is the way to handle their disagreements with the world at large. I am. But the only way to give them power is to give in to their bully tactics, and Comedy Central is now officially complicit in making violent Muslim extremists more powerful today, when the whole point of Matt and Trey's comedy is to make them less powerful. Way to go, Comedy Central. Way to go.