It’s easy forget that before Thor joined the MCU, the Marvel reworking of the Norse god would’ve been fairly unfamiliar to the average filmgoer. So when the late Stan Lee teamed up with future Spider-Man helmsman Sam Raimi in the early ’90s to pitch a God of Thunder movie, perhaps it was to be expected that the project never made it out of the starting gate.
In the wake of Lee’s recent passing, Raimi shared some memories with THR of his time knowing the legendary comic book creator, and after the filmmaker found success with his own original superhero property, it seems that Lee thought he was ready for Thor.
“After I did Darkman, Stan Lee called me and was like, ‘Hey, kid, I liked your movie.’ He took me out to lunch and said we should work together. I said I’d like to make a movie about Thor. We worked together writing treatments and took it to Fox and pitched it. And they said, ‘Absolutely no. Comic books don’t make good movies.’ This was in 1991.”
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Oh, how times have changed. Though superhero franchises are practically inescapable these days, the year 1991 was a real dead spot for the genre, with the only two major releases in this category being the critically panned Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze, and the commercially disappointing The Rocketeer. And while DC had found success a couple of years back with Tim Burton’s Batman, Marvel’s last movie was the 1990 Captain America, a film which still draws ridicule to this day.
Of course, with hindsight we can see that Lee and Raimi were just ahead of the game, with the latter eventually finding great success with 2002’s Spider-Man and its sequels. Incidentally, the director was arguably behind the curve himself when he objected to Lee getting a cameo in the web-slinger’s first movie, though based on his recent THR piece, Raimi has since come around to the idea.
In any case, with last year’s Thor: Ragnarok widely embraced by audiences and critics, it’s pretty clear that the God of Thunder is no longer the Hollywood outsider he once was.