Ron Howard and Akiva Goldsman may be the men making the groundbreaking move to tell one story, simultaneously in movies and television but, let’s face it: Marvel Studios needs to steal this idea and make it their own as soon as possible.
Don’t get me wrong; I think that Howard and Goldsman’s take on what is necessary to give The Dark Tower the appropriate scale and scope onscreen is a wonderful, brave thing that’s only slightly in danger of real world concerns completely ruining things (What if, for example, NBC decides that the ratings for the show aren’t good enough to keep it on air? What if the first movie tanks and Universal doesn’t want to pay for a sequel?). But the model of using movies and television shows to tell one giant story seems, to me, something better suited not for one particular story but for building one particular universe. I’m sure you can see where I’m going with this.
Marvel is uniquely placed to take advantage of this model; not only does it have a history dealing in shared universe storytelling through, what, almost 50 years of comics, but it has movie and television divisions, IP ownership and, in ABC, ABC Family and the various Disney cable channels, multiple networks that’re within the corporate family and eager for new content. Disney even has experience with taking TV series and turning them into movies! It’ll be perfect! Well, okay, maybe not – But it’s definitely something that both Kevin Feige and Jeph Loeb should be considering.
I’m not necessarily saying that someone should try and convince Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans and Scarlet Johannson that they should spend seven years of their lives on television in Avengers: The Mighty Weekly Series – In fact, I’m not sure I can imagine a worse idea, for multiple reasons – but I think, just as there are Marvel comics that benefit from big spectacle event storytelling and more measured, longterm storytelling, so should there be adaptations that offer both options. Obviously, for the full benefit, the streams should – to almost quote Ghostbusters – occasionally cross, whether it’s a cameo from whatever character needs to hype their next summer blockbuster (Iron Man wouldn’t even need more than a voiceover from Downey; they can just CGI the dude in the armor) or TV characters making appearances in that year’s big screen blowout, just to remind viewers that everything is connected (and also to show off the breadth of the Marvel Media Universe). It strikes me as an idea with such obvious benefits – Everything acts as advertising for everything else! Everything can be springboard for spinning off new projects in each others’ medium! – that I can’t believe that it’s not already been at least considered, if not already put into some kind of production.
This year is, of course, way too early to expect anything, but all I’m really asking for is this: In September 2011, a new television show debuts on ABC that, by the time its’ first season finale airs in May 2012, will have been revealed to lead into Joss Whedon’s Avengers movie, released two months later in theaters. Is that really too much to ask?