Strange Days for Marvel

Marvel Entertainment (NYSE: MVL  ) may not be the best company I've ever seen but I like its chances to become the next Disney (NYSE: DIS  ) .

Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige convinces me. Consider this excerpt from an interview he gave to film blogger UGO last week. Feige is referring to characters not yet in development but who could be made for the silver screen:

There are lots of them. Lots and lots and lots ... One that I'm excited about somewhere down the line, certainly because it's unlike anything we've ever done before and I think it could be an exciting challenge, would be, of course, Dr. Strange. [Emphasis added.]

Raise your hand if you know who Dr. Strange is ... OK, not bad. But, as expected, more of you know Spidey and The Fantastic Four.

Strange days in Comicbookland
In the Marvel Universe, Doctor Stephen Strange is Sorcerer Supreme, a title conferred upon the wizard charged with defending the Earth realm in Marvel's multi-dimensional creation.

Strange's comic book adversaries are too numerous to name. Not that I could if I tried; I never collected Dr. Strange comics as a kid. I only know of him because one of my best friends did. We've often talked of how cool a Dr. Strange movie could be.

And that really is my point, and Feige's. Just as Iron Man updated the comic book mythos for an audience all-too-familiar with human frailty, technological prowess, and Middle Eastern conflicts, a Dr. Strange movie could tap into our collective fascination with inner and outer demons. And Harry Potter, of course.

Think of the special effects. Mystical films beg for them and General Electric's (NYSE: GE  ) Universal Studios obliged with this summer's sequel to Hellboy. Mike Mignola's supernatural government agent, originally brought to life in Dark Horse Comics, starred in Hellboy II: The Golden Army and earned $144.7 million at the global box office.

But movies, like novels, are only as good as the characters they depict. Strange is like Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark in that he's blessed with gifts, power, and arrogance till circumstances change his life and force him to seek redemption. He is, in other words, a character around which a new Marvel franchise could be built. It's a strategy that Disney has perfected and which, today, provides the foundation of a $42 billion media empire.

The sunny side of The Dark Knight
Most of us have suffered a rotten year thus far. Between a looming recession and a vicious bear market, there hasn't been much to cheer. Notable exceptions include an excellent line-up of action films, including Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, and Time Warner's (NYSE: TWX  ) The Dark Knight, which, to me, boasts one of the best scripts ever brought to life on the big screen. Certainly it's the best comic book adaptation I've ever seen. Audiences agree; The Dark Knight has earned $991 million at box offices worldwide, according to film tracker Box Office Mojo.

And like Spider-Man before it, The Dark Knight is feeding an appetite among studio executives for comic book adaptations. Viacom's (NYSE: VIA  ) Paramount Studios, notably, though Sony's NYSE: SNE) Columbia Pictures and News Corp.'s (NYSE: NWS  ) 20th Century Fox are both in line to do further business with Marvel.

It's the new normal for Hollywood. And that couldn't be better news for Dr. Strange.

Face front, True Believer! Related Foolishness awaits:

Fool contributor Tim Beyers had positions in Marvel shares and LEAP options at the time of publication. He also hunts for the best of tech as a member of the Motley Fool Rule Breakers team. Here's how to try this market-beating service free for 30 days. Get access to all of Tim's Foolish writings here.

Disney and Marvel are Stock Advisor selections. The Motley Fool's disclosure policy wonders who this Jack Handey guy is, and why does he have so many deep thoughts?

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Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On October 28, 2008, at 6:48 AM, Awebb30 wrote:

    Apparently Cramer advised people to dump shares of Marvel because it's one of the few stocks that is still up. This sounds like tail-between-your-legs fear rather than sound reasoning. Hmmm, dump shares holding up well in historical volatility before releasing earnings that include windfall profits from Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk? No thanks.

  • Report this Comment On November 17, 2008, at 12:52 PM, daimonworks wrote:

    Johnny Depp as Doctor Strange!!!

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