Comic book legend Stan Lee is teaming up with Hollywood studio Sony, makers of the Spider-Man movies, to bring a completely new superhero to the big screen, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
Lee will work with producer Avi Arad, who has overseen four films about the masked crimefighter otherwise known as Peter Parker. Few details are available, but Arad is in no doubt that the 90-year-old co-creator of Spider-Man, the X-Men and the Hulk still has plenty of superhero magic at his fingertips. "He's as sharp as a Japanese cooking knife," said Arad. "His mind is as young as it used to be."
The nurturing of new superheroes would mark a new phase in the development of comic book movies, which have exploded in number and scale since the turn of the century. It is also perhaps inevitable, given that the best known characters are unevenly shared between the major studios.
Disney owns rights to The Avengers, Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and Hulk through its purchase of Marvel Studios in 2009. Warner Bros owns screen rights for the back catalogue of rival publisher DC Comics, which fostered Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman. Twentieth Century Fox snaffled the X-Men and the Fantastic Four.
Sony has only Spider-Man plus associated characters, and the studio's tentative efforts to expand the webcrawler's world have so far met with failure. Plans for a movie about Venom, one of Spider-Man's perennial foes, were shelved after the character was poorly received in Spider-Man 3.
Lee is no longer actively involved with Marvel comics, but has occasionally dreamed up new characters for print and small screen. So far, none have proven so enduring as his famous creations of the 1960s, though the Annihilator (a Chinese prisoner-turned-superhero named Ming) is also set for the big screen in a film directed by Dan Gilroy.
Sony certainly has the financial clout to make a success of the new superhero, having overseen the $3.2bn box office of the Spider-Man films. Producers will now look to recruit a screenwriter to help take the project to the next stage.
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