By Doug Brunell | October 20, 2003

Those who know me know I’m a big fan of comic books. I even enjoy a few of the comic book movies like Ghost World, Hulk, Daredevil and “The Crow.” Marvel Comics, the company responsible for the characters of Wolverine, Spider-Man and the Hulk, has had more than its share of hits with movies based off its properties. What the public may not realize is that Marvel also produces some great comic books, including the incredibly entertaining X-Sta tix. This comic follows the adventures of a group of media savvy mutants who are basically pop stars. The book is edgy (for Marvel), and it is always unpredictable. That’s why I was thrilled to hear that X-Statix was going to resurrect Princess Diana for a future storyline.

England’s royal family was a little less thrilled. The book got the kind of buzz Hollywood can only dream about. I had friends and family calling me from all over the country telling me about what they had just heard on the news. A lot of them thought Marvel was being pretty tasteless. I, on the other hand, thought it was a wonderful idea. A princess brought back from the dead? That’s gold. Marvel was starting to see things differently, however.

The House of Ideas (as it used to be known) got cold feet and pulled the project, removing all mentions and images of Lady Di from the book. I’ve been bitter about Marvel’s business practices for years, but this was the final straw, especially when you think of the film potential of such a project.

The “X-Statix” movie with a Lady Di storyline could’ve been a great hit, especially with the controversy it would’ve stirred up with media pundits and royalty a*s-kissers everywhere. Plus, it could’ve starred Jodie Foster as Lady Di. Now that would be a movie you would just have to hate.

The comic book movies of Marvel’s characters have been hit or miss, and few break any new ground. When “Hulk” tried to do that very thing, it was panned by fanboys everywhere, and box office numbers plummeted after the first week. “X-Statix: The Movie” would’ve been quite a kick in the groin to audiences that think superhero movies are only about strange costumes and cool special effects, though. It would’ve been subversive and probably a bit disrespectful. Put David Fincher behind the camera, and it would’ve been spectacular.

Unfortunately, it will never be. What could’ve been the greatest superhero movie of all time will never appear larger than life on screens across America because Marvel got scared. Like a virgin on prom night, Marvel thought it would get screwed in the end and was terrified of the outcome.

Hollywood does its best to create minor, meaningless controversies. They are easy to deal with, and they manipulate all the right people in all the right directions. The “X-Statix” beast would’ve been a hard one to tame, though, and it would’ve made a mint its opening weekend.

An “X-Statix” movie may someday occur, but it probably won’t feature the People’s Princess. Her corpse is still smoldering in the damp ground of England, and there isn’t a comic book publisher or Hollywood studio brave enough to dig it up and dance in the scornful moonlight of public opinion, and that’s really not a surprise. When comic books and Hollywood start to merge as they have these past few years, the fact that one should act like the other just seems so damn natural. That said, the future looks bright for all you people who like your movies (and comic books) on the safe side. A “Spider-Man” sequel is on its way. Just don’t expect the villain to be Bob Hope.

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