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Sunday, June 27, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.

Marvel Studios CEO on "Spider-Man 2," other films

By Mark Rahner
Seattle Times staff reporter

Marvel Studios Chairman and CEO Avi Arad talks about movies coming down the pike based on Marvel's most revered characters.
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If the '60s were the "Marvel Age" of comics, this is the Marvel Age of movies. We exchanged some word balloons with the man behind it all about "Spider-Man 2" and the spate of coming films based on some of Marvel's most revered characters, Marvel Studios Chairman and CEO Avi Arad.

Q: What's the coolest thing about "Spider-Man 2"?

A: He's holding up this incredible wall at the pier, looking at the girl he loves and saying, "This is heavy." It's a pretty big wall. It's like 20 times the size of Spidey, and it's about to kill him and Mary Jane.

Q: How was Dr. Octopus picked as the new villain?

A: I think we needed the first "Spider-Man" and all its success to move on to Doc Ock. The other thing was that our rule with Spidey is that the villains are attached to Peter Parker in one way or another, like in the books.

Q: Doesn't Doc Ock also marry Peter Parker's Aunt May in the comics?

A: Oh, absolutely. We stayed away from this silly thing. Call it the roommate. But there is a scene when he goes to science camp, the kids pick on him, and Doc Ock says to him, 'Don't let anybody pick on you. You do what you believe.' So he was always a character that Peter revered, and that was a very good connection.

Q: Let's talk about coming Marvel movies. In the "Hulk" sequel, will the green guy at least say "Hulk smash!" this time?

A: Of course. I think at the end of the first movie you see this commitment: "You wouldn't like me when I'm angry."

And he's coming to terms with who he is. "I've got this curse and I'm going to use it when I need to protect innocent people." And I think in [the sequel] you'll see a man who understands his problem, is trying to solve it, coming to terms with the Bruce side of it, still trying to reject the Hulk, finding a way to reject it, and there are consequences to that, of course. And who knows? Green turns to gray and all hell breaks out.
 
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Q: "The Fantastic Four." You saw the infamous, unreleased 1994 version, right?

A: We bought it to burn it. Some (bootlegs) appeared at comic book conventions just to drive us nuts. The deal was we buy it, we burn the master so we can do it right. It's going into production in August. Tim Story ("Barbershop") is directing. I can't tell you the cast yet. It's any day now.

Q: What about "Doctor Strange" — which should premiere in a state where medical marijuana is legal, because it was such a '60s head comic?

A: I know, isn't it? We are nowhere with that. That's a tough one to write, but we are working on it. We are trying to find the real Jerry Garcia of the writing community.

Q: "The Black Panther." Pretty gutsy of Stan Lee to introduce him in the era of the real Black Panthers.

A: If you know Stan, he's just Mr. Good. And he was naive, he didn't connect this. It wasn't about the social statement.

Q: I never saw him give the black power sign.

A: It's hard to do it with a paw. That's going to be a great movie. We have a great take on it. It's like black Indiana Jones. It can be very interesting.

Q: "Thor"?

A: We've literally just started these discussions. If you're a "Thor" follower you'll really love the movie, because we've found a really fine balance between Earth and Asgard. It's so big you have to look at it as a "Lord of the Rings" kind of thing."

Mark Rahner: 206-464-8259 or mrahner@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company

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