Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Sweet Christmas! Marvel Moves Beyond Avengers

As we all know, last summer's The Avengers marked the culmination of Marvel Productions' "Phase 1," which began its rollout in 2008 with the first Iron Man. With the record-breaking success of the team-up opus, the comic giant-turned-Disney subsidiary is now planning to expand the roster of the Marvel Cinematic Universe beyond the core Avengers-related titles (though those are continuing apace, with Iron Man 3 and Thor 2 due later this year, and Captain America 2 and Avengers 2 due in 2014 and 2015 respectively).

While the studio already announced the space-based Guardians of the Galaxy, spinning out of the post-credits sequence in Avengers, for fall of 2014 (with director James Gunn already ensconced in the casting phase), the Marvel powers-that-be are also apparently casting their gaze a bit more street-level for the next phase, with rumors trickling out yesterday via Bleeding Cool that a big screen version of Power Man & Iron First, otherwise known as the "Heroes for Hire," is in the development pipeline.

For those of you not steeped in decades of Marvel arcana, Power Man (a.k.a. Luke Cage) was a product of the blaxploitation trend that briefly captivated filmgoers in the '70s, a buff, silk-shirted prison escapee (wrongly convicted, natch) with steel-hard skin (and trademark catchphrase "Sweet Christmas!" -- not stereotypical at all) who tries to make his way on the straight-and-narrow by hiring his super-powered services out for pay. Meanwhile, Iron Fist was Daniel Rand, a mystic-powered martial arts master who popped up at the height of the Bruce Lee/Enter the Dragon fad, also in the '70s.

While both heroes headlined their own titles for awhile, falling sales eventually led to the two being folded into one book, which lasted well into the mid-'80s. The pair have since popped up both as a team and separately, with Cage even becoming a leader of the Avengers in recent years. No word on what exactly is planned or who's involved with the rumored film project, but assuming this happens, it makes a whole lot of sense, especially with Marvel recently reclaiming the rights to other "street-level" characters like Blade, the Punisher, and Daredevil from other studios.

There's a whole other tier of Marvel heroes just under the "big gun" Avengers characters that are rife for exploitation and exposure that the white hot Marvel Productions magnifying glass can offer, while at the same time opening up the big screen movie-verse for more intimate stories with smaller stakes but with characters who are just as engaging. As a fan of both Cage and Fist going back to my childhood, I'm really hoping this one pans out, but let's see if anything official emerges anytime soon.

(Source: Bleeding Cool)

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