In recent years, we’ve seen a boatload of comic books and graphic novels make their way to the silver screen, from “big two” stalwarts like Spider-Man and Batman to independent titles like Scott Pilgrim and 30 Days Of Night. Among the various adaptations, translations and remakes, there’s one guy that has carved out a niche to become the godfather of comic books and movies: Stan Lee.
At the tender age of 17, Stan Lee began a long and fruitful career at Marvel Comics (then known as Timely). Lee went from assistant to editor to editor-in-chief and later publisher and icon. And all through those years he wrote — diligently, prodigiously and prophetically, it seems. During that time he co-created the enduring comic icons of Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, Daredevil, Doctor Strange and a host of others. Although he’s best known for his creations during the 1960s and 70s, Lee continues to this day to create new characters through his own ventures and partnerships through other companies.
With such a broad and diverse landscape of concepts he’s created and co-created over the years, even after the recent comic book movie successes with his name on them, there’s a mountain of material up for grabs.
Nick Fury: Samuel L. Jackson has defined carved his name into the Nick Fury (Hassel-who?), but he’s yet to get his own movie. There’s been talk of a Fury film going back years, but until I’m sitting in the theatre I won’t believe it. The Nick Fury character has an immense wealth of material to go from — he bridges the gap between war comics, spy comics and into super-heroics. There could be a WW2-era Howling Commandos movie, a latter spy movie in S.H.I.E.L.D., and even a twilight swansong in Secret Warriors. If Joss Whedon’s Avengers does well, I’d sequester Samuel L. Jackson now to film a trilogy back-to-back with him and a younger version of him for the early 1940s stuff. Get on it, Marvel!
Ultimo:Ultimo might be one of Lee’s more recent creations, but this manga epic really has a special story that movie-goers could love. Co-created with manga-ka Hiroyuki Takei (Shaman King), it tells the story of two brothers named Ultimo and Vice born to be the perfect good and perfect evil in the world. Ultimo chronicles their fight over thousands of years, going from feudal Japan to a far off future.
Doctor Strange: Although other Marvel characters might be more popular than Stephen Strange, to me Dr. Strange and the Silver Surfer seem the closest to Lee’s heart. Envisioned as proud surgeon who gets a lesson in compassion after a terminal injury to his hands and becomes the world’s best sorcerer, it would be a special-effects bonanza. At one time, Marvel had both Guillermo del Toro and Neil Gaiman signed up for a movie version of the character but it sadly fell through. If they’re unavailable, how about we get director David Yates and newly-minted screenwriter Brian K. Vaughn in to make Dr. Strange real?
Heroman: Another manga creation (this time with the manga studio Bones), Heroman carries an origin that mixes Spider-Man and Captain Marvel, and could be an ideal platform for an animated TV series or even a live action movie. I admit the title “Heroman” has some negatives, but it could be a positive if posed sardonically.
The Rawhide Kid:One of several western characters Lee created over the years, the Rawhide Kid has been brought back in the past few years by Marvel as an example of a homosexual hero in the Wild West. With or without the blatant sexuality put on it recently, the Rawhide Kid could be an interesting foray for Marvel Studios into westerns if done in their near-trademarked style.
The Inhumans: Marvel Studios has already gone on record with their desire to do a feature film version of The Inhumans, and there’s a load of potential to be had. A secretive society that was hyper-evolved past what humans could be, living in seclusion with other bizarre creations by the space-faring Celestials. Take the success of Game of Thrones and put it into the super-hero mixer and you’re close to what this could be. And I’d pay serious coin to see a live-action Lockjaw.
Wonder Man: While most people might not see a boatload of potential in Simon Williams, he is tailor-made for Hollywood; in fact, it’s a part of his story. A failed industrialist turns to villainy, then hero-dom and later Hollywood to make his way. While he’s been used unevenly in recent years by Marvel in the Avengers titles, a lot could be made of a hero who moonlights as a Hollywood movie star.