Exclusive: Earlier today we got a chance to chat with Drew Pearce, the British screenwriter who co-scripted last summer's "Iron Man 3," and who has written and directed a short follow-up of sorts, a Marvel One-Shot entitled "All Hail the King." We'll have more from that interview in anticipation of the short film's debut on the "Thor: The Dark World" Blu-ray at the end of the month, but while we were talking to Pearce, we had to ask him about the status of the project that brought him into the Marvel fold—an adaptation of Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona's "Runaways." Surprisingly, it might not be as dead as we'd imagined.
"Runaways" is a comic about a group of teens who discover that their parents are super-villains. Instead of keeping their mouths shut, they go on the run, discovering their own unique abilities while erring (for the most part) on the side of good. Vaughan and Alphona's original run was virtually peerless, an emotionally rich, visually expansive story of what it takes to be your own person—with or without superpowers. (When Joss Whedon, of all people, took over scripting duties, insisting on a lame time travel plot, things went decidedly downhill and the book never fully recovered.)
A few years ago, the comic was headed to the big screen with Peter Sollett ("Raising Victor Vargas," "Nick And Norah's Infinite Playlist") slated to direct, with a production start of March 2011 in the cards. But as the road to "The Avengers" started taking shape, Marvel felt it was one team-up movie too many, "Runaways" was kiboshed and not much had been heard about reviving the project since. Regardless, Pearce has fond memories of putting it all together on the page.
"It was a fantastic, challenging, but really satisfying experience," Peace said. "I think we ended up with a script that was really exciting for the Marvel Universe. It's something I know is still something that Kevin [Feige] is still very fond of and think could be a great movie." Pearce fully admits, however, that it's more of a challenge to introduce a whole bunch of new, younger characters (and their parents) into such an established continuity. "Whether it shows up in the Marvel Universe is a different question because I feel like 'Runaways' is somewhat more of a marketing challenge, as opposed to here is one guy who the movie is named after. It's a lot easier to market 'Dr. Strange' than to market 'Runaways.'"
One potential ray of light comes in the form of this summer's "Guardians of the Galaxy," which will take audiences to a completely new comic world. Pearce is somewhat confident that "Runaways" could exist in a post-'Guardians' Marvel Universe. "Hopefully 'Guardians of the Galaxy' will be a gigantic hit and that will open up the Marvel Universe to more team-based projects and I hope that 'Runaways' might then be afforded more of a chance."
In particular, Pearce thinks that the screenplay could be a draw for older actors as well as the group of teens that make up the titular group. "Certainly the script plays as adult as any of the other movies thus far, and gives a lot of screen time to the parents of the runaways in question," Pearce told us. "So I feel like it could be an exciting casting proposition in terms of grown-ups and the teens involved. I just hope, someday, we get a chance to make it."
We'll have more from our interview with Pearce towards the release of the "Thor: The Dark World" Blu-ray, but for now we can say that "All Hail the King" might be my favorite Marvel movie yet, even if it is 14 minutes long.