Well, Marvel has a plan for that. Beyond 2012, Marvel wants to pull away from their prime superhero real estate and take on many of the third-tier superheroes that are so often overlooked. This would include properties like LUKE CAGE, DOCTOR STRANGE, KA-ZAR, DAZZLER, and even the POWER PACK.Funny thing is, I thought Marvel was already launching movies featuring lesser known heroes. Am I the only one who remembers Ghost Rider, Blade, Daredevil, Punisher, and Elektra? It definitely wouldn't surprise me if I was one of the only ones who remembers more distant productions of Man-Thing, Doctor Strange, Generation X, and Howard the Duck. (Let me just digress for a sec and add that I am probably one of the only people who actually enjoyed Howard the Duck. It had a Lea Thompson, alien invasions, and woman-on-duck love. You can't diss that. IMHO.)
The great thing about this transition is that many of these films can be produced within the $20 to $40 million budget range as opposed to the whopping $200 million required for a film like IRON MAN 2. It would also open the door for many up-and-coming directors to take a stab at the films and make a name for themselves in the industry.
In other words, we can safely assume that Marvel has every intent of exhausting their superhero list from A to Z, no matter how obscure the hero may be.
I actually like most of those shows (at least from the first batch of second tier heroes). The danger to thinking about one hero being less cool than another is that you instantly poison the product if you assume that Blade is going to suck because the character hasn't sold as many consecutive comic books as Spider-Man. Blade isn't Spider-Man, but he is Blade and we should promote that concept. Audiences love vampires and vampire hunters. At least, they were like gold back when that movie came out. Blade was a good movie with a powerful lead actor and cool special effects. That's what Marvel needs to focus on when it starts pitching its next "second tier" movies.
I've been thinking about which of its characters or groups Marvel could release as new films that might translate into really cool motion picture magnets. Here are a few of my ideas:
Spider-Woman: Jessica Drew boasts a superhero persona that draws a connection to the ever-popular Peter Parker, but she's definitely not a knock-off. She has a cool costume, cooler powers, and a complex history. She has connections to ancient sorcerers, modern-day spy agencies, and godlike megalomaniacs. Obviously, Marvel would need to narrow her down, but there's a lot to her to draw from.
On a related note, why not try Spider-Girl? Imagine if Peter Parker had a daughter and she was now in her teens. What would happen if she began developing her own set of spider-powers? May "Mayday" Parker is a really fun character and it could be a lot of fun to see her story unfold on the big-screen.
Invaders: Most people know that Captain America started out in World War II. But do you remember the Invaders? Cap led a small, but powerful team of super-patriots (Namor of Atlantis and the original Human Torch) against Hitler and his hordes and helped to save America from the evil Nazis. I haven't seen too many WWII-themed superhero movies. Maybe it's time.
Werewolf by Night: Those who know me know that I'm a sucker for werewolves. Not everything by Marvel has to be superheroic, no does it have to be PG-13. The story of Jack Russell could be played as a basic horror flick or maybe something more unique. Either way, it would be an easy character to flip out of the funny pages.