Marvel Entertainment has announced an impressive list of writers and directors for its first wave of self-produced movies (see 'Marvel to Produce Its Own Films') including director/writer/actor Jon Favreau (Elf, Zathura: A Space Adventure), who will direct an Iron Man film and develop the script along with the writing team of Arthur Marcum and Matt Holloway (Convoy). 


Zak Penn, who worked on the scripts for X2, Fantastic Four, and X-Men: The Last Stand, will write the screenplay for a new Incredible Hulk film, which like Iron Man is now slated to debut in 2008. 


Writer/director Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead) will co-write (with his writing partner Joe Cornish) a feature film based on Ant Man, while David Self (Road to Perdition) is writing a Captain America script, Andrew Marlowe (Air Force One, End of Days) is scripting a Nick Fury film, and Mark Protosevich (Poseidon) is working on a Thor feature.  Marvel plans on producing these films itself utilizing a $525 million financing facility set up by Merrill Lynch, which insulates Marvel from financial harm, although it does potentially endanger the character rights if the film bombs. 


There is some question as to whether the first two films, Iron Man (which was reclaimed from New Line, see 'Marvel Starts Over on Iron Man') and Hulk 2 (which was originally a Universal project, see 'Marvel Happy to Reclaim the Hulk') will be covered by the Merrill Lynch financing. 


Marvel made the leap into self-production because the Hollywood studios kept the lion's share of profits from movies based on Marvel characters.  According to CNN, Marvel only made $25,000 on the first Blade film, which grossed $133 million worldwide.  The success of Blade helped Marvel get a much better deal with the Spider-Man films, where Marvel gets up to 10% of the studio's gross box office (which translates to $75 million for the two Spider-Man films, which took in $1.6 billion worldwide).  But the studio's reluctance to part with more than 1% of the DVD gross provided the impetus for Marvel to go into movie production for itself.


Favreau, who played Foggy Nelson in Daredevil in 2003, plans to combine CGI with miniatures and standard effects shots in Iron Man, which he hopes to begin filming early next year. 


It is still not clear which project will be the first 'all Marvel' release, but it is likely that it will either be Iron Man or Hulk 2, which Arad described to CNN as 'a diet Hulk, lighter -- focusing on the love story with Hulk as hero battling the villain,' which in this case will be Abomination, a 980-pound Eastern Block spy turned monster.


Reportedly Marvel was hoping that Captain America would be one of its first releases, but Avi Arad told CNN that the director he wanted for the film wouldn't be available until 2009.  The fact that Arad was willing to put off making the Captain America film until he had the person he felt was the 'right' director for the project testifies to the importance Marvel is putting on behind-the-camera talent.