The Road to The Avengers – The Countdown Begins

Luke Owen sets off down the road to The Avengers as Flickering Myth’s countdown begins…

Crossover movies. They’re every fanboys dream. Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman, Alien vs. Predator, Freddy vs. Jason. Many have been rumoured, only a few have come to fruition.

Marvel didn’t always have the best times when it came to movies. Unlike DC Comics’ movie success with Superman and Batman, Marvel had to settle for lame adaptations of their characters, like the 1994 Roger Corman-produced Fantastic Four that took less than a month to film, or Captain America in 1990, which featured an Italian Red Skull.

Also unlike DC, Marvel didn’t sell the rights to their characters to one source. Instead they palmed them around to anyone who would take an interest, with a deal that if the studio did’t make a movie within a certain amount of time, the rights would revert back to Marvel (this is why we got the awful 1994 Fantastic Four movie and that’s why the series is being rebooted in the upcoming years). While the possibility of a Batman vs. Superman movie could realistically be on the cards (if I Am Legend is to be believed), a Marvel crossover was never looking likely.

During the late 90s, Marvel struck a deal with 20th Century Fox for the movie rights to some of their characters, including the X-Men, Daredevil, Silver Surfer, Fantastic Four, Namor and Mort The Dead Teenager. After the surprising success of Stephen Norrington’s Blade in 1998, 20th Century Fox believed they could turn over a pretty penny using some of the licenses they’d bought up. In 2000, Bryan Singer’s X-Men was released in cinemas and started a comic book movie explosion that no one could have predicted.

20th Century Fox were quick to follow up on the success of X-Men with a sequel in 2003 as well as Daredevil in the same year and Fantastic Four in 2005. Other companies snapped up Marvel licenses including Sony (Spider-Man and Ghost Rider), Universal (Hulk) and Lionsgate (The Punisher, Man-Thing). Some were good (Spider-Man), some were bad (The Punisher) and the rest were pretty awful (the rest of them). They spawned sequels including 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer, X-Men: The Last Stand, Spider-Man 2, Blade II etc., and even spin-offs movies like the truly awful Elektra. Moviegoers were getting swamped with seemingly endless comic book movies and needed something new.

But Marvel Studios and Kevin Feige had a plan and they wanted to put it into action. They wanted to assemble. In 2004, Marvel Studios struck a deal with Paramount for them to make movies based on Ant-Man, Black Panther, Captain America, Cloak & Dagger, Doctor Strange, Hawkeye, Nick Fury, Power Pack, Shang-Chi and – more importantly – The Avengers. In 2005 they gained the rights to Iron Man from New Line Cinema and in 2006 they regained the rights to The Incredible Hulk from Universal and Thor from Sony. That same year Marvel presented to Wall Street analysts a plan to release individual movies to establish the characters with audiences before bringing them together for a big crossover movie – The Avengers.

Marvel announced their plans to the world to quite the internet buzz. However, just like the proposed Justice League of America and Batman vs. Superman movies that had been promised before, it all seemed too good to be true. But as we now all know, it did come true. On April 26th 2012, cinemas will be flooded with the movie comic book fans never thought would happen. We will see the team up of Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, The Incredible Hulk, Black Widow, Hawkeye and Nick Fury as Earth’s Mightiest Heroes – The Avengers.

Over the next week, I will be walking down the road to the Avengers to see just how we got to this landmark…

Tomorrow: Iron Man

Luke Owen is a freelance copywriter working for Europe’s biggest golf holiday provider as their web content executive.

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