With the announcement that Joss Whedon would be writing and directing the next Avengers film coming May 2015 was a further statement saying he would be overseeing the development of Marvel's 'phase two' characters, the coming three years cinematic arcs and be involved in the development of a live action television series.
Its huge news. Whedon has a history of producing excellent television and winning big fan bases quickly; its not something everyone can do. But what can we look forward to? Lets take a wander through my hopes shall we?! Excellent.
What's the best way to go? Obviously I think many will clamour for the obvious Avengers Television show, or the X-Men series but these are flights of fancy. Its not going to happen. Give it up. So as the musical Buffy once asked; 'Where do we go from here?'
Take a universe, yes, a whole universe! That's what Marvel has. This universe is filled with ten of thousands of recognisable characters, from heroes and Villains to support characters, victims, lovers, partners parents, kids and real figures like Obama. The question is not where they go but rather how far they should go? Do you chase down the ultimate characters? No.
First I'd like to see Marvel categorise the characters into fame, suitability and ease of casting. Then they should take some and place them on the 'Movie heroes' pile. The next big things so to speak. That should thin out the pack and leave them with some clear options of where to go.
Phase two characters need to be able to bring something new to the universe, expand the world and the people in it. They need to be strong enough to carry a movie and be potentials for guest stars when the big guys come knocking in 2015, but I'd also urge Marvel to go for ones that can slot into the small screen. They have a unique opportunity to build a television base too that actually has guest stars from big movies! That's a big deal.
For me several people stand up as possible Phase two characters; Black Panther, Ms Marvel, Dr Strange, The Beast, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Shang Chi, The Vision...there are more than a few out there to be honest. So long as whomever you cast to play these characters agrees to do guest appearances on the small screen then go for it.
THE BIGGEST SMALL SCREEN IN HISTORY
So to the small screen! At this point I can see two ways of bringing Marvel to the people and their Friday night televisions.
RUNAWAYS: The Runaways are a bunch of powered teens who have powers due to their parents. The 'Rents' just so happen to be evil and each represent a power origin. There are mutants and Aliens, wizards and time travellers. All are in some strange pact with a demon for eternal life or something.
Take this comic and you have a group of kids who find out about their evil parents and go on the run. They bump into Marvel's heroes and Villains along the way and try to find a way to stop their evil parents from killing everyone.
You got powers, teens, a conspiracy that they have to fight against, rebelling against their elders in time honoured tradition. Its easy to see how this would work and if you have 'Phase Two' heroes dropping in, played by the actors from the movies then you have a very marketable product. Yes the characters are little known but that gives you room to move without upsetting the die hard fans that cant accept change.
This is the first option and its juicy...but what I really want is to see something a bit bolder.
HEROES FOR HIRE: Iron Fist, Luke Cage, Dakota North, Misty Knight, White Tiger; Heroes for Hire! These heroes stand up against evil and corruption but they also take paid jobs to keep themselves a float. The group is made up of a very varied mix of power levels and attitudes and it would reflect a cultural melting pot that feels New York through and through.
Cage could easily be a 'Phase Two' big boy but he could also be a lynch pin in Marvel's attempt to assault the small screen. He has it all too; power, toughness, grit, urban authenticity, a main character who isn't a white due? He's smart, a natural leader and a figure you look up to. He. Has. It. All.
Backing Cage comes Iron Fist. A martial Artist...perhaps THE martial Artist of the Marvel Universe? He could be a' Phase Two' giant too but as a small screen man he could be even better. We are used to seeing a level of Martial Arts that's off the scale but if you could get a real fighter to play this part and bring a physicality to the action and you could blow other shows out of the water while still keeping it accessible for the young teens.
These two can be backed by a host of characters like Dakota North (Gina Carano would be amazing in this role)as the Ex SHIELD agent and spy turned female private detective. Or White Tiger a currently active female martial artist. Perhaps Misty Knight may be a bridge too far though...
Take these characters and have them head around the Marvel universe, bumping into villains, heroes, and solving episodic crimes while working their way through universe driven plots.
Excited yet? I am.
Obviously I'm not saying this is the only way Marvel can fly and certainly they aren't listening to me but if they did I'd tell them to be bold and go for the throat. Knowing you have a huge fan base, Disney's money and a constant turnover of characters and almost endless plots to draw from you have to think they need to push this as hard as they can and make sure they get it right.
They can and if they do it could be amazing. Bowie has a song that fits; 'We could be heroes', I think it fits.