Just ten years ago it appeared that Marvel couldn't get a movie made to save its life.  Many of its top properties were tied up in legal wrangling because the publisher had made some ill-advised deals with some of the Tinseltown bottom feeders (remember the FF movie?).  How times have changed.  This week the second Blade film topped the box office, and everyone expects that Sony/Columbia's Spider-Man movie is going to be one of this summer's biggest hits.  In the bad old days, a comic property would be optioned and all sorts of announcements and hoopla would be forthcoming, but after four or five years and a dozen bad scripts, the comic-based film might well end up going direct to video if it ever even got made at all.  Not anymore, Marvel is getting films made with dispatch and, more importantly, with top drawer talent, not the dregs of poverty row.  Best of all for Marvel, which is still saddled with an enormous debt, the success of Marvel-based movies has given the comic publisher the clout to demand and get (according to Variety) 'gross' profit participation in the Spider-Man film plus a share of the potentially enormous video/DVD earnings.  The success of Marvel's movie endeavors is important for pop culture retailers, whether or not they carry movie-based merchandise, simply because Marvel's Hollywood success is helping to keep the company afloat and changing the perspective of the financial community, which held a very pessimistic view of Marvel's financial future only a few short months ago.


A prime example of Marvel's new and better arrangement with Hollywood is the Daredevil film, which recently started principal photography in Los Angeles.  Ben Affleck stars as Matt Murdock, with TV phenom Jennifer Garner as Elektra, Michael Clarke Duncan as the Kingpin, and Jon Favreau as 'Foggy Nelson.'  The talent behind the camera is equally impressive starting with cinematographer Ericson Core (The Fast & the Furious), art director Barry Chusid (Blade), fight choreographer Cheung-YanYuen (Iron Monkey), and editor Dennis Virkler (The Fugitive).  Fox plans to release Daredevil in 2003 along with X-Men 2 (in which the A-list cast and crew of the original Marvel blockbuster reunite) and the Incredible Hulk, which is being directed by Ang Lee, one of the major talents of our era (see 'Marvel's Monster Movies Mash the Screen').  It's hard to imagine more impressive turnaround from the situation back in 1992, when Marvel's cinematic prospects looked bleak indeed.