Find out why Man-Thing is back with Marvel Studios. Since last year, a question that keeps coming up is why does Lions Gate own Man-Thing? We finally updated our Marvel movie rights infographic and took the opportunity to put him in the right place.
First of all, Man-Thing is a creature made out of swamp muck that has no brain, is inhumanly strong, but is driven with the impulse to burn anyone with strong emotions. He was originally a scientist named Ted Sallis that was working on a "super soldier" serum similar to what created Captain America. He was ambushed by the scientific terrorist group Advanced Idea Mechanics (A.I.M.) and betrayed by his love Ellen Brandt. After escaping from A.I.M. he injects himself with the serum, turns into the creature known as Man-Thing and began patrolling the Florida swamp where he had his accident.
He was created by Stan Lee, Roy Thomas, Gerry Conway and Gray Morrow in 1971 and first appeared in Savage Tales #1. Thomas said, "Stan Lee called me in; it would've been late '70 or early '71. [...] He had a couple of sentences or so for the concept — I think it was mainly the notion of a guy working on some experimental drug or something for the government, his being accosted by spies, and getting fused with the swamp so that he becomes this creature. The creature itself sounds a lot like "the Heap", but neither of us mentioned that character at the time." While his origin sounds similar to Swamp Thing, it came out over a year before DC. "Gerry and I thought that, unconsciously, the origin in Swamp Thing #1 was a bit too similar to the origin of Man-Thing a year-and-a-half earlier." Thomas said, "There was vague talk at the time around Marvel of legal action, but it was never really pursued. I don't know if any letters even changed hands between Marvel and DC. [...] We weren't happy with the situation over the Swamp Thing #1 origin, but we figured it was an accident. Gerry was rooming with [Swamp Thing creator] Len [Wein] at the time and tried to talk him into changing the Swamp Thing's origin. Len didn't see the similarities, so he went ahead with what he was going to do. The two characters verged off after that origin, so it didn't make much difference, anyway."
In February 2004, the film production and distribution company Lions Gate Entertainment merged with Artisan Entertainment and aquired the movie rights to Iron Fist, Black Widow, Man-Thing and The Punisher. A Man-Thing movie was put into development as a planned Straight-to-DVD home video. Lions Gate would provide Marvel with licensing fees for character rights and fund all of the development, production, distribution and marketing for each title. Marvel would work on creative development and production. Both companies would share in the profits from the venture. The Man-Thing TV movie was directed by Brett Leonard and written by Hans Rodionoff starring Matthew Le Nevez and Rachael Taylor. The film was planned to be substatially different from the comics and is described this way,
"Kyle Williams saw his return as a sheriff to his hometown of Baywater as a career opportunity. What he couldn't have foreseen was the reawakening of an ancient power in the swampy river branch - a power as old and horrible as the swamp itself. A spirit called 'Mantokwe' by the natives - the Man-Thing. Frederick Schist, owner of a resident oil firm, has lied and betrayed the local natives - and is now exploiting their land. To cover up his machinations, he has killed two men and left their bodies to the swamp. Kyle must now choose between what is right and a career supported by Schit's great influence and power. He must find the power to face his past, the demonic Man-Thing and survive."
After the success of Bryan Singer's X-Men (2000), M. Night Shyamalan's Unbreakable (2000) and Sam Raimi's Spider-Man (2002) the film was moved to a theatrical release to captialize on the success of superheroes. Reportedly, the movie was so bad that the test audience walked out before it was finished. So, Marvel put it back on video in the U.S., but did release it internationally in places like Russia and the United Arab Emirates. It aired on the Sci-Fi Channel as a "Sci-Fi Original" movie in 2005. The film was a disaster.
Since then there were some developments that hinted that Marvel again acquired the rights to Man-Thing. First, in 2013, Iron Man Three cast Stephanie Szostak as a character known as Brandt. Many made the connection to Ellen Brandt and also pointed to the burn on her face as proof that she's the same character. Then, in 2014, the season one episode "Nothing Personal" of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D has Agent Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) asking "Who or what is a Man-Thing?" You can watch it below at the 0:28 mark.
While movie and TV rights are not the same, the fact that Maria Hill is a Marvel Cinematic Universe character and the show shares the same universe with the movies leads people to assume Man-Thing is back with Marvel. This hasn't been officially confirmed because
Welcome back Man-Thing! Can't wait for your big screen debut in 2045!
What do you think of Man-Thing? Do you think he'd make a good movie or should he just guest star?
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