If the stars align just right, two of comics' most legendary creators will receive their own biopic before long. Franklin Leonard's 2020 The Black List was unveiled Monday morning and on it was a script for Excelsior!, a script circulating Hollywood looking at the formation of Marvel Comics and its two primary architects — the late great duo of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. Written by screenwriter Alex Convery, the script is a look at "The true story of the meteoric rise (and subsequent fall) of Marvel Comics and the star-crossed creators behind the panel."
Leonard's Black List is an annual ranking of unproduced scripts floating around Tinsel Town as the screenwriters and their teams aim to pitch them to studios and financiers. Though Excelsior! has yet to land at a production house, several of this year's features have already found a home with producers, including Chris Pratt's The Black Belt, and Taraji P. Henson's Two-Faced.
Lee and Kirby ended up teaming up on several of Marvel's earliest comics, creating the majority of mainstream characters fans have come to know and love. Some of those creations include the original X-Men Team, the Fantastic Four, the Inhumans, Black Panther, Iron Man, Silver Surfer, and hundreds more.
Kirby passed away in 1994 while Lee died in 2018. Earlier this year, Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige attributed the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to the likes of Lee, Kirby, and Steve Ditko.
"I think the key to the success was Stan Lee and Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, and the dozens of writers and artists that created an amazing world over the course of forty plus years, fifty plus years," Feige said. "In the case of Joe Simon and Jack Kirby who did Captain America, eighty years in publishing. It's amazing, and I think one of the unfair things of the universe is that Jack Kirby died before he got to see any of this happen and I'm so happy that Stan Lee got to do 22 MCU cameos for us and was there every step of the way with us, which was amazing.
He added, "I do think (the MCU) is a testament to the work they did, and not just them by the way. The tradition that publishing had that we have in films of changing the storytellers, of the new artists and new storytellers putting their own imprints on the characters. That's how these characters can last for decades and decades in publishing, and I'm hoping can last decades and decades in the cinematic arts, because you continue to change. Look at Thor. Look where Thor started with Ken Branagh, look where Thor's going with Taika, and that's a testament to the way these characters can evolve, and in that case a testament to Chris Hemsworth and his acting abilities. So there's too many people that's responsible for it."
Cover photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images for Samsung and Suzy Skaar