At a time when Guardians of the Galaxy is already in production and fans are expecting to hear an announcement about Doctor Strange at San Diego Comic-Con International, it almost seems inconceivable that less than a decade ago comic book movies were no sure thing--especially expensive ones based on characters less familiar to the general public than Iron Man.
But it's true that about four years ago, a Sub-Mariner movie almost happened at Universal, directed by Surrogates and Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines director Jonathan Mostow.
The movie stalled, possibly due to concerns that making an expensive, undersea science fiction film from a director whose last big franchise lost about $50 million at the domestic box office could prove disastrous to the studio who had just taken a beating on a Hulk movie.
Or maybe it was delayed for totally legitimate production-related reasons but simply didn't come together in time for Universal to keep a hold on the rights, a la Fox and Daredevil last year.
The Sub-Mariner rights have reportedly reverted to Marvel at this point, leaving the project dead in the water (no pun intended), but Man of Steel concept artist Peter Rubin recently spoke with ComicBook.com about his experiences working on the film--and says he'd love to take on the character again if Marvel ever decided to go forward with the property.
ComicBook.com: You worked on Sub-Mariner years ago at Universal. If that were something that came around again now that the rights have apparently reverted to Marvel Studios, would that be something you'd be interested in or do you think you've been there and done that?
Rubin: Oh, no, I'd love to be involved if that were to come back.
ComicBook.com: From a design poitn of view I feel like Namor would be wonderful since undersea provides you with rich textures and unusual things that you don't get to do on land. Was that one of those films where you just go, “Man—there were a bunch of really cool ideas that I'm going to use somewhere, someday!”?
Rubin: Exactly. Yeah, no question about that. I have stuff on my hard drive from that film that I would love to be able to show on my website, I would love to be able to use in a movie—really, really interesting possibilities with that. Really for me and I think for Jonathan Mostow who was scheduled to direct it if it had happened, the fun of it was taking the story of Namor which is—in the comics, it's a little bit medieval, it's a little bit of a fairy tale kind of a setting both in the social structure and also in the way everything is designed. To take that and to find a cool, science fictional grounding for it and our intention was to do something very similar for world-building as was done for Man of Steel, which was to just come up with a really great sci-fi story that would explain and put a foundation under the things that existed in the comic book that were invented in perhaps a more naïve time. Does that make sense?