My colleague Josh Dickey has a good story today on the challenges posed in assembling the sequel to "The Avengers."
As a recovering comic-book geek, some free advice to Disney and Marvel.
Although the temptation will be to bring together as many elements from the original as possible -- after all, why tamper with success? -- the key to what Marvel has accomplished in its extremely ambitious gambit has been to create an interlocking universe of super-powered personalities, as I noted in a recent column.
So "The Avengers" offers a prime platform to introduce second-tier characters from the Marvel portfolio, using the comforting confines of the movie to expose them to viewers and potentially make them viable as stand-alone entities.
Of course, the comic books themselves provide a template for this, with a dizzying assortment of Marvel characters who have borne the title "Avenger" through the years. And since Marvel frittered away rights to many of its top-tier stars (Spider-Man, X-Men, Fantastic Four) in the past, that makes the opportunity created by something like "The Avengers" even more tantalizing as a way to test the viability of lesser-known heroes.
Put simply, I'm not sure the plans to forge ahead with developing Ant-Man or the Inhumans on their own makes as much sense as piloting them, as it were, through other existing channels, whether that's other planned sequels or animated and/or live-action fare on Disney-owned outlets Disney XD and ABC. As an ever-changing team of heroes, Avengers lends itself to such experimentation more to that than most.
Moreover, this approach might help avoid missteps, or characters a little too out-there to connect with a mainstream audience. Indeed, it's hard to think about an Ant-Man movie without flashing back to a classic "Saturday Night Live" sketch, where the Hulk (played by John Belushi) and Flash (Dan Aykroyd) ridicule Ant-Man (Garrett Morris) for having "the strength of a human."
While I'm sure none of this will come as news to Marvel -- where the minions are doubtless wading through the ranks of everyone from A to Z, just as comic-book fans are already speculating about everyone from Ant-Man to Vision and the Wasp -- one suspects a lot of folks at Disney, eager for another sure-fire smash, won't want to mess with a proven winner.
Still, it's possible to be smart while still being greedy. Marvel and Disney's next steps in developing a second "Avengers" will give a pretty good indication of where they stand on both fronts.