Expect Netflix’s wait time on films like Dead Again and Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein to go from ‘it’s already at your house, but we’re not sure why you want it‘ to ‘very long‘ thanks to the decision-making prowess of Marvel Studios prez Kevin Feige. Variety reports that the director (and star) of both those pics, Kenneth Branagh, is in negotiations to direct Thor, set for release (according to Marvel’s farsighted slate) in summer 2010.

This is not exactly the obvious choice, though it makes a certain sort of sense. If Marvel really plans to make a movie that is as Asgard-heavy as we believe, then someone like Branagh (i.e. a director with experience making movies featuring people that talk funny) isn’t the weirdest idea. Certainly suggests that Marvel means to take Thor seriously, if nothing else. But Branagh’s track record with non-Shakespeare material isn’t the hottest in the book. I recall Dead Again as pure hokum and the less said about Frankenstein, the better. (I’ll admit that it’s been a decade since I saw it, and I’m certainly going to be in the Netflix queue with many others to revisit the film.) Branagh can do phenomenal work with character pieces, but go outside those parameters and he’s not the wunderkind promised by Henry V.

What this should really do for Marvel is blow the doors open for casting. You send out a script about a doctor who is also a brooding, mullet and hammer-wielding son of Odin and people will delete your email in the most polite way possible. Mention that Branagh is directing and people start seeing Thor as the Henry V of superhero movies. And if that’s what he actually delivers? By the barren eye socket of Odin!

(I can’t see Marvel allowing Branagh to play the lead role, as is often his wont, though wouldn’t that be insane? I love the idea of getting giant drink cups adorned with his face at Burger King.)

Marvel is self-financing Thor, and will announce a distributor shortly.

[Thanks to Cody for making me pay attention to this announcement.]