It's hard to argue against Disney's (NYSE:DIS) tried and true formula for finding box office success of the comic book-inspired variety.
To be sure, thanks largely to its $4 billion acquisition of Marvel Entertainment in 2009, Disney so far in 2013 has already exceeded its previous annual box office record of $3.791 billion in gross worldwide ticket sales. That includes more than $1.2 billion from the May release of Iron Man 3, as well as more $360 million (so far) from the newly launched blockbuster, Thor: The Dark World.
What's more, Disney and Marvel are also planning Captain America: The Winter Soldier for release next April, followed by Guardians of the Galaxy in August. Then, for 2015, they've slated both Avengers: Age of Ultron and Ant-Man.
How about a change of pace?
While I understand that's a full plate for Disney and Marvel -- and keeping in mind I've immensely enjoyed everything they've done together to date -- I have a suggestion.
Why not give a few of Marvel's super-heroines their own feature films? After all, each of Disney's Marvel movies so far has featured predominantly male leads, and there's no shortage of strong female superheroes to choose from in Marvel's 9,000+ character library.
But that doesn't mean they need to start from scratch. In fact, I think Marvel would do just fine building on the existing rapport of these two mighty women:
1. Black Widow
Audiences got their first real glimpse of Scarlett Johansson in action as S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent and super-spy Natasha Romanoff (aka Black Widow) back in 2010, namely as she methodically dismantled a hallway full of bad guys in Iron Man 2.
That merited a significantly increased role for Scar-Jo's character in Marvel's The Avengers last year and, in addition to a crucial appearance in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Director Joss Whedon has promised even bigger things for Black Widow in Avengers: Age of Ultron.
But all the while, fans have been begging for a Black Widow feature film to no avail. Remember, more than two years ago Avengers producer Kevin Feige confirmed they had talked with Johansson about a spin-off, and stated a plot for a potential stand-alone Black Widow movie had been prepared. But since then, fans have been treated to more talk than anything.
Heck, even the legendary Stan Lee admitted the current male-centric model is working just fine for now, saying only a few months ago:
Well probably at one time...they'll make a movie of the Black Widow. The thing is the women like these movies as much as the guys, so we don't have to knock ourselves out to find a female...but we will.
What's more, while some worry Black Widow's seeming lack of actual super-powers would require a departure from Disney's typical hero pattern so far, it's worth noting a quick look at Marvel's character database shows that, not unlike Captain America, "government treatments have slowed her aging, augmented her immune system, and enhanced her physical durability."
That's why I think a Black Widow spin-off -- particularly an origin story done right -- would effectively serve as a great opportunity for Marvel to offer an incredible new take on the age-old spy thriller genre.
2. Lady Sif
Next, and more in line with current events, why not take a page out of the Thor playbook and give the awesome Lady Sif more solo time on the big screen? After all, in my own humble opinion, the Asgardian goddess of war stood out during her brief roles in both Thor films to date, lending credence to the reason her name leads the phrase, "Lady Sif and the Warriors Three."
In addition, actress Jaimie Alexander herself is a self-professed "comic book geek" -- something that resonates with diehard fans -- and stated only two weeks ago of her character, "I would love for there to be a spinoff film. I would absolutely say 'yes!' if the fans want it and there's a strong enough desire for it, it will happen."
Of course, that's unsurprising coming from the would-be star of said film, but therein lies the rub: The fans would need to call for it, and as of right now the momentum likely doesn't exist to make it happen.
However, there is plenty of background that could serve to build up interest in Sif's character going forward, including her upbringing with Thor and Loki, stories surrounding her brother Heimdall (the all-seeing sentinel of Asgard's rainbow bridge), and supplemental adventures with her fellow warriors.
Thankfully, considering it's looking increasingly likely Thor 3 will happen sooner rather than later, a stand-alone Lady Sif film could be yet another logical extension of Marvel's enormously profitable franchise.