With the schedule and primary casting hammered in for Marvel’s current slate of tentpole films in Iron Man, Thor and Captain America, and them coming together for The Avengers, we all wonder what Marvel will bring out next.

There’s been loads of talk regarding developing some of the other popular characters in Marvel’s vast roster, including Dr. Strange, Black Panther, Iron Fist and Luke Cage, but now we know the next project in their sights is a team-up film based on Runaways.

Just over a year ago, Brian K. Vaughan left his position writing for the hit series Lost so he could focus on his other work, continuing to write comics and penning some screenplays for feature films. One of those feature films was an adaptation of Marvel Comics’ Runaways, the series he helped create.

Continuing the comic book connections, while Joss Whedon is reportedly a top contender to direct The Avengers for Marvel Studios, his name is also being tossed around to direct the live action adaptation of Runaways (according to Access Hollywood). Runaways is based on the comic book series of the same name that Whedon wrote a few issues for, after taking over for Vaughan and after his extended run on Astonishing X-Men.

If I had to pick one or the other for Whedon to direct, I’d easily and quickly hand him Runaways as it’ll be a smaller project that he’s more comfortable with and something very familiar for him. He’s got a solid understanding of the characters and as I mentioned before, that’s his specialty.

According to a Deadline exclusive however, it doesn’t seem too likely that Whedon is getting the Runaways gig as they’re reporting Marvel is in negotiations with Peter Sollett (Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist) to help Runaways, obviously targeting the film for a younger demographic.

Marvel Studios wants at least two feature films out each year, starting next summer with The First Avenger: Captain America and Thor. The year after that we have The Avengers and at the moment it’s all by itself. There’s been talk that Robert Downey Jr. and Jon Favreau could be shooting Iron Man 3 late this year or early next year which could take the second summer slot for Marvel in 2012 or they can introduce another one of their many in-development properties, like Runaways which they’re very interesting in getting out soon.

Another look at the Runaways cast. Art by David LaFuente & Christina Strain

While the award-winning comic series is currently on hiatus, Runaways previously ran strong since 2003. The story follows a group of six teenagers who learn that their parents are all super-villains. They gather weapons and run away together to learn more about themselves and the powers they have, using them for good.

I’m happy that Marvel is not just sticking to the big guns and there’s definitely franchise potential with Runaways if they cast and market it correctly.

Are you interested in seeing a movie based on Marvel’s younger and lesser-known characters? When’s Ant-Man coming? Is Sollett the right man for the job?

Follow me on Twitter @rob_keyes.

Iron Man 2 opens May 7, 2010, Thor opens May 5, 2011, The First Avenger: Captain America hits July 22, 2011 and The Avengers is scheduled to debut May 4, 2012.

Sources: Deadline, Access Hollywood

Header art edited from cover by Joe Chen