As Hollywood continues to dust off vintage comic book properties with untapped franchise potential, Warner Bros. has honed in on a brand-new Stan Lee concept that could shape up to be the next big teen thing.
WB has signed on to distribute a film based on the Spider-Man creator’s latest property, Guardians-Book One: The Unbound. Co-written by Larry Schultz and Dave Smeds, the teen novel centers around an 18-year-old orphan who joins a secret agency of teens with supernatural powers and discovers he holds the psychic key to destroying the forces of evil. Lee and Schultz have agreed to produce a special effects-laden live-action feature under their Lee/Schultz Entertainment label. Schultz says the film could be released in summer 2002.
The book, which is currently making the rounds with potential publishers, is the first in a planned three-title series that tells the complete story of a CIA-like teen organization called the Guardians, which was assembled by the venerable Winston Churchill and FDR after World War II to combat Hitler’s SS Occult Bureau. It turns out that the Nazi group was just one of many organizations being manipulated by an evil underground empire called the Dominion, which has been detrimentally influencing human politics for centuries. According to Schultz, the second title is already in the works.
Schultz wanted to create a book that would get his 14-year-old son excited about reading, so the series is designed to appeal to the younger end of the teen spectrum. However, the property combines action, mysticism and history in a sophisticated way that will likely hook a much larger audience as well. ‘It’ll appeal to everyone who likes a great adventure story with a lot of philosophy,’ says Lee. ‘It’s a thinking man’s adventure story.’
The series features the same set of core characters-both male and female-all the way through the story line, an aspect of the property that Schultz believes will be attractive to licensees. He and Lee envision the concept spinning out into a bona-fide franchise, complete with video games and comic books, as well as toys and a cartoon for younger fans. Schultz says Warner Bros. will likely handle the property’s merchandising and licensing rights.