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Why Marvel Needs To Hijack Dark Tower Multimedia Plans

Ron Howard and Akiva Goldsman may be the men making the groundbreaking move to tell one story, simultaneously in movies and television but, let’s face it: Marvel Studios needs to steal this idea and make it their own as soon as possible.

Don’t get me wrong; I think that Howard and Goldsman’s take on what is necessary to give The Dark Tower the appropriate scale and scope onscreen is a wonderful, brave thing that’s only slightly in danger of real world concerns completely ruining things (What if, for example, NBC decides that the ratings for the show aren’t good enough to keep it on air? What if the first movie tanks and Universal doesn’t want to pay for a sequel?). But the model of using movies and television shows to tell one giant story seems, to me, something better suited not for one particular story but for building one particular universe. I’m sure you can see where I’m going with this.

Marvel is uniquely placed to take advantage of this model; not only does it have a history dealing in shared universe storytelling through, what, almost 50 years of comics, but it has movie and television divisions, IP ownership and, in ABC, ABC Family and the various Disney cable channels, multiple networks that’re within the corporate family and eager for new content. Disney even has experience with taking TV series and turning them into movies! It’ll be perfect! Well, okay, maybe not – But it’s definitely something that both Kevin Feige and Jeph Loeb should be considering.

I’m not necessarily saying that someone should try and convince Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans and Scarlet Johannson that they should spend seven years of their lives on television in Avengers: The Mighty Weekly Series – In fact, I’m not sure I can imagine a worse idea, for multiple reasons – but I think, just as there are Marvel comics that benefit from big spectacle event storytelling and more measured, longterm storytelling, so should there be adaptations that offer both options. Obviously, for the full benefit, the streams should – to almost quote Ghostbusters – occasionally cross, whether it’s a cameo from whatever character needs to hype their next summer blockbuster (Iron Man wouldn’t even need more than a voiceover from Downey; they can just CGI the dude in the armor) or TV characters making appearances in that year’s big screen blowout, just to remind viewers that everything is connected (and also to show off the breadth of the Marvel Media Universe). It strikes me as an idea with such obvious benefits – Everything acts as advertising for everything else! Everything can be springboard for spinning off new projects in each others’ medium! – that I can’t believe that it’s not already been at least considered, if not already put into some kind of production.

This year is, of course, way too early to expect anything, but all I’m really asking for is this: In September 2011, a new television show debuts on ABC that, by the time its’ first season finale airs in May 2012, will have been revealed to lead into Joss Whedon’s Avengers movie, released two months later in theaters. Is that really too much to ask?


  • Jon Gorga

    Brilliant! A worthy use of the new Marvel Television division and the Disney ownership.

    Marvel has already produced those Iron Man comics that take place in the film's universe. Why not comics, television, and film telling one big story?

  • Chad

    I keep thinking of the pro wrestling model, where a weekly show builds to a monthly pay-per-view. You could have subplots throughout a season or two of a weekly show that build into a movie every other year, but would people pay to see it? Wouldn't it devalue the movie returns? Would it alienate the tv fans. It's difficult as is to make a TV show or a movie, let alone to do it simultaneously.

  • Philip A Moore

    if it is done right peoplw will coem this isnt his dark miterials that one had potenshel to be a great movie except that the movie veird so far away from the orgenal scource material it felt more like a watching MGM Wizard Of Oz any time a character died in the book he didn't in the movie it was sacrin crap . at least most of steven kings book have treated with respect I have know doubt this will be the same I just hope it comes out in either the movie theator of of the sci-fi channel Stephen's tv series never seem to last more then a season and at least there it would get treated well

  • Matt

    Sorry mates, I'm afraid I'm with Alan Moore in his view that nearly all adaptations suck and tend to be a waste of time (save for the guys raking in the money). How about an editorial pleading with Stephen King to buy the rights back and forbid anyone to screw with his otherwise respectable property.

  • Jason

    In a way, this has already been done with some success. If you look at the Star Trek franchise, there were feature films running congruently with (sometimes multiple) television shows taking place in the same shared universe.

    The only thing they didn't do as well as they could have was the “in-advertizing” mentioned in this artcle. For instance, “Deep Space Nine” could have had a few more references to a pending Borg threat prior to the release of “First Contact”.

    Anyway, just an observation that this has been done, and can work well.

  • Greg Hyatt

    Regarding DS9 and First Contact: The producers of DS9 were actually upset with the way First Contact treated the Defiant (the original draft destroyed the ship) and, as such, didn't reference the events of the film, aside from a very brief mention of “the recent Borg attack.”

    Though, Deep Space Nine contains the first reference to the Enterprise-E.

    But, yes, I think the Star Trek model would be smart. In the same universe, no need to actively crossover, but you could have the street level stuff on TV and the events on the big screen.

  • Uncleg

    Is this review advocating Marvel assume production duties on the adaptation of Dark Tower as its titled? …. or is it a plea to make Marvel U Movie serialized TV productions? Either way there is 1 important point to debate:

    1.) Making a serialized MU tv show that takes place in the universe established by the movies would negatively impact the end goal. The end goal is to have these movies represent the Marvel Universe to the general public in an EPIC form. As soon as you dilute the Epic-ness by making it a weekly TV show that's beholden to the whims of a network (even as distributor / syndicator), you have robbed the movies of their impetus. They need to exist on their own, in order to exist. Nobody wants to cheapen the impact of a Robert Downey Jr. led Iron Man 3, or an Avengers Movie starring Chris' Evans & Hemsworth, & mr. Downey Jr. by having poorly voiced over imitations of these actors briefly appearing in a Thursday nite @ 10p NBC show. It just doesn't make sense.

    Agree? Disagree?

  • demoncat_4

    no doubt Marvel is watching and thinking of if Dark tower does pull off the thing of maybe like all the other studioes will no doubt due wind up jumping on board and coping the ida. if fact can see it work for things like x-men and all th eother marvel team s

  • redvector

    I think Marvel should wait and see how this Dark Tower thing works out before commiting to something like that.

  • Ed Figueroa

    “Is this review advocating Marvel assume production duties on the adaptation of Dark Tower as its titled? …. or is it a plea to make Marvel U Movie serialized TV productions?”

    Did you even read this editorial opinion? If you read the editorial you'd know what this “review” was “advocating”. It didnt suggest the the Marvel universe crammed into an hour long tv show. The opening sentence clearly states what this is about.

    Your description of a serialized Marvel universe tv show and use of poorly voiced imitations of course sounds like a bad idea. “Agree? Disagree?” Well, obviously no one wants to see it done badly. But READ the article your commenting on. It presented a structured and logical way of maybe integrating the Marvel universe with film and television.

    You mentioned the end goal is to have these movies represent the Marvel Universe to the general public in an EPIC form.” I'm all for that. But why assume that something “epic” cant be done or conveyed on television. I understand level of actors, budgets and time constraints are totally different worlds when comparing film and tv; but it'd be ridiculous to believe that there is no way a tv show could compliment a movie (or even vice versa). No one is suggesting an Iron Man or Thor tv show – those would never hold up to their movie counterparts – even if the film actors were involved (actually, Rob Downey jr can make anything awesome). But why couldn't an hour long drama involving one of Marvel's street characters work well on tv. Luke Cage would lend itself nicely to that. Imagine the grittiness of FX's Shield or NYPD Blue. If Star Trek/Babylon 5/Battlestar could find success and a strong following on TV, why couldnt Marvel bring their cosmic characters to the small screen. Maybe they can blow up to warrant a movie? I'm sure there are much better examples than mine, but these hypothetical tv shows (like the article mentioned) could allude to upcoming (or past) events in marvel's big feature films. Knowing that something is referenced once in a while could be enough for many people to go check out a movie or tune into a show.

    Lastly, I agree with the article, I dont believe a suggested cameo of Iron Man appearing in a tv shows season finale cheapens the films. If anything, I'd get me excited for more Iron Man and hopefully reinforce what an exciting tv show im watching. It's all about how these things are handled. And I believe they can be handled in a manner where it is a win-win for everyone.

  • Numbr24601

    I think this would work very well. The Avengers are a perfect example, the show could feature SHIELD's recruitment of some of the other members, giving the back story of Wasp and Hank Pym, or Hawkeye, leading into the movie. This would shorten the amount of the movie it has to dedicate to origins. It could also show other Marvel characters that Nick Fury passes on, but Marvel could test the waters for a possible future film, such as Luke Cage & Iron Fist.

  • maths

    Marvel still don't actually hold the rights to adapt a number of their properties, right? Sony's still got Spider-Man, and I'm pretty sure a couple of others too.

  • Toyminator

    I used to think (and to some degree, still do) back before the X-Men movies became complete trash that they should have introduced Havok as a minor character and then immediately have him as the lead in an X-Factor TV show. I think you could go either way with X-Factor, Peter David's initial group from the '90s or the current incarnation. But i thought for the sake of the newness of the concept and the streamlined focus of that team, the '90s X-Factor lineup could easily have been updated for a TV show. PAD's concepts and dialogues lent themselves to a TV show format, wherein you didn't need such broad action sequences and could rely on dialogue, characterization and focused quick action. Multiple Man, Havok, Polaris and Quicksilver all have powers not impossible to emulate with TV budgets. Wolfsbane's is certainly not as restrictive a power as it used to be. Strong Guy would have to be repositioned physically by someone who's just realistically massive, not disproportionately so.

    But that's indicative of countless other concepts similar to this. Both Marvel and DC have expanded their character universes massively (for better or for worse). I've similarly felt that a Nightwing television show would've worked amazingly if done similar to the first few years of his solo title.

  • Pipboy218

    As useful as Marvel might be for the making of a new project, a movie or show about The Dark Tower is an especially sensitive project that King himself isn't entirely on-board with. After botched superhero movies like Spider-Man 3, and the first Hulk movie – while it's easy to white-wash the past for these superheroes and get a new lead actor, and just start over again – a failed DT movie could end all potential for reopening the doors to this incredible series. Not to mention, a Dark Tower movie with DISNEY underlining the production just leaves a bad taste in my mouth. The message we get from the DT series couldn't be farther from that of anything Disney has ever put out.

  • Toyminator

    Disney isn't making the Dark Tower nor is the post suggesting they make it. It's suggesting Marvel do something similarly synergistic with their vast universe of interconnected characters.

    Also, Disney has put out a lot of edgy non-Disney things. Pulp Fiction, Clerks, anything from Dimension Films. Even after all the sensitivity that Disney would take the edge out of Marvel and yet Marvel has been putting out a mini-series called X-Force: Sex and Violence, not to mention Millar's Nemesis and Bendis' Scarlet titles that recently came out. I really can't believe people still think this is an issue.

  • Pipboy218

    But Disney and Marvel are merged. Not that that means anything in terms of production or direction, but their name will be in there somewhere. It looks like Ron Howard's got the go-ahead anyway. (Personally, Guillermo Del Toro is the only director I'd feel comfortable taking on something like this.)
    Yes, Marvel has experience with interconnected worlds on the page, but we don't have many movies with the current technology that involve group superheroes. We haven't even seen the Avengers yet. We have no way of knowing if it's going to be awesome or if it will be something like the first two Fantastic 4 movies, neither of which were very good.

    The graphic novels of the books are great in their own but, looking back at past mistakes, A Marvel, comic-book style Dark Tower movie/television show… *shakes head* I'll wait for it to come out on blu-ray, TYVM.

  • Hypestyle the Hype Man

    Marvel Films needs to move forward with live action TV projects for sure, even aside from the film projects.. the Punisher, Power Pack, Daredevil, and more..

  • Woodworking project plans

    I think Marvel should wait and see how this Dark Tower thing works out before commiting to something like that.

  • Jonathan Gorga

    I agree with Alan Moore in so far that no comic-to-film adaptation or adaptations will make people respect comics. They are different mediums and the latitude it gives people to think what they want (i.e. ‘Wow, Christopher Nolan was so brilliant to take those silly comic-book characters Batman and the Joker and TURN them into representations of order and chaos. I bet no comic writer in the entire 70 year history of Batman ever thought of that!’) will always win out. We need more comics ADVERTISEMENTS not more comics adaptations.

    But regardless, if the money is there the adaptations will get made. Why can’t they be good and interesting? I think a few Marvel TV shows vaguely connected to major Marvel films (like the “Star Trek” structure in the 90s as pointed out below by Jason) would be interesting.