KJHKJHKHAs we reported a couple of weeks back, Iron Man has returned home to Marvel Studios. But now what? The movie languished in development for years at New Line and seemed close to getting made a couple of times, but it all came to nothing.

Marvel has two options now – they could make the movie themselves, which would require them to raise additional funds beyond the cash they got from Merrill Lynch to become a studio. That money was for a slate of ten films, and Iron Man wasn’t on that list. The funny thing is that Merrill Lynch would probably be happier with Marvel making an Iron Man movie rather than an Ant Man movie.  The other option is to lease the character out again. Avi Arad isn’t writing either one off.

"Right now we’re concentrating on finding the right creative talent," explained Marvel Studios presidente Arad. "It’s not a part of our slate deal, but we can raise the money to do it if we choose to. We would also have no difficulty licensing it to another studio.”

What Marvel is going to do is begin development on the project themselves, hiring a writer to take a fresh crack at the film, and possibly finding a director. At that point they can decide whether to use that talent to raise the money or to act as a sales pitch to a studio.

I have gone back and forth on this, but in the end I hope Marvel keeps the movie rights. I don’t want them to mount an Avengers film – I think it would be unwieldy. But it would be interesting for Marvel to hint at a shared universe in their films, possibly even going beyond the small mentions Warner Bros has allowed in the Batman movies. I wouldn’t want to see a full-fledged Marvel Team-Up happen in the fourth Spider-Man movie, but wouldn’t it be neat if Marvel lent Sony Iron Man to use in a scene, even if it’s just a TV newscast? I guess I woke up on the fanboy side of the bed this morning, but since Marvel was the first company to do serious inter-comic continuity (yes, I know Batman and Superman and the rest of them had crossed over in DC, even having their own team-up books, but those titles didn’t even have continuity from issue to issue, let alone across the whole line), it might be fun for Marvel to do the same with their movies.