Marvel Comics has done a bang-up job expanding their brand over the course of the last decade. After many stalled attempts to break into the realm of television, with bland animated show (Spider-Man), after bland animated show (Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk), all throughout the 90’s, Marvel decided to leave the cartoon stuff to rival DC and start the Millennium off right by conquering the multiplex.

Thanks to that bold endeavor, we fanboys now live in an age where our beloved icons serve as tent-poles for the summer blockbuster season, and our years of ardent hero-worship has made us sages in the geek-chic world order.

But now, with Marvel having dominated the comic book industry and striking major blows in the battle for the box office, what’s left? Well, as an answer, Marvel has turned its focus East… FAR East… hoping to break into the last undiscovered country for comic book heroes: the world of anime.

According to MTV News, Marvel is joining forces with acclaimed Japanimation studio Madhouse, in an effort to re-imagine some of their headlining characters (Spider-Man, Hulk, Iron-Man) for a series of four anime feature films, to be released in 2010. Said Marvel International President, Simon Phillips:

“It will create an entire parallel universe for Marvel.”

These new anime films will essentially re-vamp the characters we know and love, giving their traditional costumes some anime influence, while re-tooling the characters and their origins to reflect Japenese culture. Those who have picked up any one of the Marvel Manga comic books should already have an idea of how this works (or doesn’t).

Anime version of Marvel Comics characters

While there’s been no official word on which heroes will get “anime-ted” first, word is that Madhouse President Jungo Maruta has been seen toting some manga-style sketches of Iron Man around the office. (Wouldn’t surprise me if ol’ Shellhead got the first flick, given his current popularity and the Japanese obsession with technology. I’ve always been surprised that Iron Man isn’t to Japan what Superman is to America.)

Finally, there is some light rumoring that the Marvel/Anime initiative will try to push the industry further into the realm of mobile-media, offering cellphone downloads, clips, and other mobile fare to help you bring the Marvel Mangaverse with you wherever you go.

We’ll keep an eye on this as 2010 an approaches. In the meantime, do you think Marvel should be going anime? Or did Batman: Gotham Knight make you want to keep your favorite comic book characters 100% made in the U.S.A.?

Source: MTV News