Way back in 2008, before even the release of the first Iron Man, Marvel began talking about a film based on its "superhero Breakfast Club" the Runaways. In 2010 Peter Sollett (Nick & Nora's Infinite Playlist) was tapped as a possible director, but the rest, it seems, is silence. So what happened? According to Drew Pearce, co-writer of Iron Man 3 and author of a Runaways draft, the answer is the small matter of Avengers Assemble.
"We were really close to being made, and then this movie started to happen called The Avengers," Pearce explained to Jeff Goldsmith at a recent Iron Man 3 screening. "It pulled focus from the unheard-of brand Runaways, and it really did kind of consume the Marvel Cinematic Universe."
Not to be confused with Joan Jett's band and their recent biopic, Marvel's Runaways was created by Brian K. Vaughn, the genius behind Y: The Last Man (Joss Whedon also wrote a couple of story arcs). It's about a group of teenagers shocked to discover that their parents are all criminals and supervillains who hold a big meeting every year under the guise of a charity event. Stealing weapons, the group of six – who all have abilities inherited from their evil elders – strike out to battle their parents' misdemeanors and any other trouble that crops up. Oh, and they have a dinosaur.
As a film, Runaways was also beaten to the secret-supervillain-parents punch by Wanted, of course. Neverthless, Pearce still thinks it's a possibility for adaptation somewhere down the Marvel assembly line.
"It's [still] there," he says. "Maybe it'll be a Phase Three movie. I really hope so. I'm really proud of it and I think it'll be a brilliant film, but I think it all depends what [Marvel president] Kevin Feige's master plan is."
Iron Man 3's director Shane Black says Pearce's Runaways is "one of the better screenplays that's sitting on a shelf somewhere". High praise indeed, so fingers crossed it does get taken down and dusted off at some point.
In the meantime, our next appointment with Marvel in cinemas is the release of Thor: The Dark World on October 30 - or you can watch Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. now in the US or on Friday here in the UK. For the more distant Marvel future, check out Empire's indispensible infographic.