There’s a lot resting on summer’s The X-Men movie. Adapted from Marvel Comics’ biggest-selling range of titles, if it proves successful the cape-waving heroes could pave the way for countless other funny book-to-big screen adaptations. The last comic book movie to hit cinemas was Men In Black – based upon a little known independent title – the success of which undoubtedly led to Mystery Men, based very loosely upon Bob Burden’s hilarious, but obscure, Flaming Carrot Comics.

Already The X-Men is generating controversy. Though the dream casting of Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian McKellen, as the telepathic Professor X and evil Magneto respectively, was warmly embraced by sweating, overweight fanboys around the globe, recently leaked pictures of the characters’ costumes were less well received. Dropping the bright colours of the comics, the movie-makers – lead by The Usual Suspects’ director Brian Singer – claim that superhero costumes (providing you forget about Superman and Batman) don’t translate well to the big screen. Hence a look inspired somewhat cynically by The Matrix. However, fans can take comfort in the fact that in most respects The X-Men appears to be a faithful adaptation, and remains a story about mutants with special powers battling to save a world which despises them. Or something.

So, let’s say The X-Men is a hit. What future super-hero epics can we expect to pour forth from Hollywood’s scabrous lips? Bubblegun investigates the major contenders.

After a decade strapped to a chair with legal red-tape and left to starve in a basement, the Spider-Man movie looks like it will finally happen. Long time Spider-fan Sam Raimi is aboard as director, and following Darkman this’ll be his second stab at the super-hero genre. David “The Lost World” Koepp is currently working on a script based upon the infamous ten year-old “scriptment” by James Cameron, which apparently features the webslinger combating arch-villains Electro and Sandman.

However, if Koepp is to be believed, the project is moving forward but slowly. He recently revealed: “You get thirty-five years worth of comic books and ten-years worth of animated TV, so there’s an abundance of material. Then you try to figure it out, and you go down different directions. You try this villain, you try that villain, you try this storyline and that one, and you see what works. It’s an on-going process, and it takes a long time. There are a million ways to do it."

Also, there’s some confusion over Raimi’s schedule. Before he can begin filming on Spider-Man he’s contracted to shoot The Gift. However, Sony studio executives are said to be working hard to ensure Spider-Man goes into production before the summer, for a release in mid-2001.

Chance of getting made in the next five years: 70% and rising.

Dream casting: Lukas Haas as Peter Parker, a blonde Christina Ricci as Gwen Stacy.

There a new Batman movie in the can and ready for release this year, but you’d be forgotten for not noticing. Batman Beyond: Return Of The Joker is a spin-off from the short-lived Batman Beyond animated series, created by the Bruce Timm/Paul Dini team responsible for the excellent original Batman animated show. However, once that’s been and gone, with no new Batman on screens – animated or otherwise – execs at Warner Brothers are looking for new ways to capitalise on one of their most lucrative property. All parties at the studio seem in agreement about one thing, though: Joel Schumacher is never to be allowed within fifty feet of the Batman franchise again.

Currently, there is a pair of ideas on the drawing board. One is based loosely upon the classic Frank Miller graphic novel, Batman: Year One, and would feature a sort of Batman origin story (Darren Aronofsy, director of artsy religious conspiracy flick Pi is the current hot tip to direct). The other idea is potentially the more interesting, and inevitably the more risky. It’s a Bruce Wayne mini-series dealing with the years of training before the messed-up teenage orphan donned the leather cape and mask. We’ll get to witness his youthful experiments with S&M perhaps…

Whatever, it’s unlikely that Warner is going to let the character lay dormant for too long. Even though Joel Schumacher hit him over the head with a mallet, crapped in his mouth, and buried him in a shallow grave.

Chance of getting made in the next five years: Batman Year One 50%, or Bruce Wayne 60%

Dream casting: Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne/Batman, Steve Buscemi as The Joker.

Now officially dead after Warners got cold feet about Tim Burton’s – admittedly wrong-headed – plans, Superman Lives is unlikely ever to resurface. That’s not to say that a new Superman movie isn’t going to happen, only that all involved seem to agree that starting a new Superman franchise by ditching the costume, the powers and much of the iconography is a bad idea.

Nicholas Cage is apparently still keen on the role, and though he’s a great actor, he’s probably one of the worst choices imaginable (others on the list include, let’s say, John Goodman and Jim Carrey). Clerks director/writer Kevin Smith’s original draft of the movie was a fanboy’s wet dream, but featuring, as it did, cameos from more or less every DC Comics character, it would’ve been prohibitively expensive to produce. Now it seems that Warners are happy to let the franchise lay dormant while it focuses once again on Batman.

Chance of getting made in the next five years: 30%

Dream casting: Brendan Frasier as Clark Kent/Superman, Minnie Driver as Lois Lane, a bald Robert de Niro as Lex Luthor.

Todd McFarlane is apparently keen to get another movie based on his awful Spawn character made as soon as possible. However, the trillionaire independent comic creator is planning to follow the tone of the Spawn animated series, and make Spawn 2 a film for grown-up super-hero fans. McFarlane has confirmed that the sequel will lack any super-villains, deal with grisly real-life crime, and feature the title character as the sole fantastical element.

Honks McFarlane: “"The only thing the next movie will have in common with the first one is the logo. If you put the two films next to each other, they're not going to be the same. One is a special-effects PG-13 movie and the next one will be a staight R-Rated suspense drama.”

New Line Cinema’s head cheese Mike DeLuca confirms: “Todd McFarlane just turned in a Spawn 2 treatment that was definitely more like Seven than the Spawn movie. We loved it and gave him the go ahead to proceed with the first draft, which we should get in six weeks." Straight to video here we come!

Chance of getting made in the next five years: 80%

Dream casting: There is no dream casting for a Spawn movie. Todd McFarlane can take his Spawn and stick it up his fuzz-funnel.


Long-rumoured CGI Hulk tests said to have rendered the allegedly Johnny Depp-starring movie too costly to proceed.

Based upon the long-running Mad Magazine characters. Was at script stage a year ago, but has gone eerily quiet ever since.

Eraser and The Mask director Will Helmer is tipped to “helm” the big screen version of Marvel’s “Master Of The Mystic Arts”. Appeal likely to be selective.

Based upon the best comic on the market, the Preacher movie is being written by the series’ co-creator Garth Ennis. Kevin Smith exec-produces, though the appointment of Tank Girl’s Rachel Talalay saps some of the excitement away from this potential classic. Currently languishing in Development Hell.

Sandra Bullock and Catherine Zeta Jones have both been shoe-ins for the role of Wonder Woman at one time or another. The fact that Sandra Bullock is a bit too girl-next-door to be an Amazonian princess, and that Zeta-Jones is now pregnant with the horrible Michael Douglas’s lovechild, is neither here nor there. No great rush for this one.

Chris Columbus was producing Marvel’s Fantastic Four for 20th Century Fox, but the project now appears dead from cosmic ray poisoning.

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