Iron Man Movie Back at Marvel

The superhero movie news rolls on as Daily Variety reports that film rights to the Iron Man comic book franchise have reverted back to Marvel following an unsuccessful two-year development period at New Line Cinema. Company CEO Avi Arad tells the trade that Marvel may license the property to another studio or produce the pic itself and release it through partner Paramount.

A lesser-known comic book staple created by Larry Lieber, Iron Man chronicles the adventures of Tony Stark, a driven inventor and enigmatic heir to the Stark Enterprises fortune. Like most Marvel characters, he leads a double life, commanding his empire by day and at night becoming Iron Man, the living embodiment of decades of defense spending and innovation. With billions of dollars worth of state-of-the-art armor and weaponry at his disposal, Stark fights crime, terrorism and corporate espionage.

Actor Tom Cruise was at one time considering taking the starring role in the film adaptation but never committed to the project. Likewise, helmer Nick Cassavetes (The Notebook, She’s So Lovely) was attached to direct but has yet to ink a deal. Marvel will apparently throw out the baby with the bathwater, dismissing screenplay drafts by Alfred Gough and Miles Millar (Smallville) and David Hayter (X-Men) in favor of seeking another writer.

Marvel Enterprises Inc., which recently changed its name to Marvel Entertainment Inc. to reflect its expansion into film production, will be producing ten features based on Captain America and nine other superhero comics including The Avengers, Nick Fury, Black Panther, Ant-Man, Cloak & Dagger, Dr. Strange, Hawkeye, Power Pack and Shang-Chi. Set on a two-per-year release schedule, the pics will be financed through a $525 million loan deal with Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Inc. Since Iron Man was not part of that deal, Marvel may have to look at other funding options should it decide to keep the production at home with Arad and Angry Films’ Don Murphy producing.

Marvel properties licensed to other studios are coming soon to a theater near in the form of X-Men 3, Ghost Rider, Spider-Man 3 and Iron Fist.