Where does Marvel go after getting bigger than any other superhero movie when they release The Avengers? They rein it in and get smaller.
Marvel Studios is currently taking meetings with writers and directors to work on small scale movies based on some of their third tier characters. The movies would cost in the range of 20 to 40 million dollars (very small when we’re talking studio films) and would allow them to take risks with less obvious characters and with interesting talent.
Filmmakers are being offered their pick of characters whose names are only familiar to comic fans. Properties like Dr. Strange, Ka-Zar, Luke Cage, Dazzler and Power Pack are among the many that are being tossed around right now. And the attitude seems to be that Marvel is open to bringing any of their characters to the screen at the right price point.
In a lot of ways this is revolutionary. While superhero movies such as Kick-Ass have been made at a lower price point, the big studio system seems unable to keep costs down (Marvel has been just as guilty of this, by the way. Their films were supposed to be cheaper originally). This plan allows Marvel much more flexibility; a 100 million dollar Dazzler movie makes no sense, but one budgeted at 25 million – done right – could be a moneymaker. And at a lower budget these movies don’t need to be quite so mainstream. A 20 million dollar film can take much bigger risks than one that costs a hundred million more than that.
Who knows what will be the first small film announced; Marvel has been meeting with people for some time now, and I don’t think they’re going to wait for The Avengers to be released before they start planning the next phase. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if a smaller film was being developed alongside The Avengers.
This initiative is going to allow Marvel (and new owner Disney) to get more of their brands out into the public eye, and it will allow them to continue building their cinematic universe in intriguing ways. It could also mean that up and coming filmmakers or less mainstream directors could suddenly have the chance to play in the big Marvel sandbox. While Warner Bros is still just revving the engine of their DC Superhero movies, Marvel seems to have a plan that’s going to allow them to keep their characters at the forefront.