With all of Marvel’s attention centered in on the core roster of superheroes for The Avengers, fans of the books sit patiently awaiting the day they’ll start to see other heroes from the vast Marvel Comics library get some time to shine on the silver screen. From names like Dr. Strange and Black Panther to Luke Cage and Iron Fist, we keep hearing about them happening without actually seeing them happening.

That was about to change last year when director Peter Sollett (Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist) was preparing to begin filming on Runaways this past March, a movie based on Marvel’s award-winning comic series of the same name by Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona. The film was expected to release next year, sharing the summer with The Avengers and giving Marvel Studios the second part of their planned annual pair of theatrical releases – but instead, Marvel put Runaways on indefinite hold.

Drew Pearce (No Heroics) was the man behind the Runaways screenplay and he fortunately got another gig from Marvel Studios, helping pen the script for Iron Man 3 alongside Shane Black, but it seemed his work on Runaways may have been all for naught. After all, with The Avengers coming out all by itself in 2012, and 2013 booked for Iron Man 3, Thor 2 and potentially a fall release of Ant-Man, when would they have time for Runaways?

According to Pearce, who recently spoke about the the film’s delay at a screenwriting panel, he’s optimistic Runaways can still happen for Marvel.

“Basically, ‘The Avengers’ came along and everything else at Marvel got put on hold for a year. But the script is there, we’re good go. It’s kind of like [being] at the airport when you’re waiting for your slot to take off with Marvel, and we’re hoping we get a slot next year. Fingers crossed. They’re very happy with it, so hopefully it happens.”

Runaways is a lower budget flick that would theoretically make user of lesser-known, more affordable young actors, so its production and release date shouldn’t impact the studio and their bigger cinematic universe plans – it could be an entirely standalone project.

Disney is officially claiming a pair of theatrical release dates in 2014 (May 16th, 2014 and June 27th, 2014); that marks two dates for Marvel blockbusters, so it’s unlikely we’ll see Runaways in either of those key summer slots. It’s more likely those will be reserved for sequels to The Avengers and Captain America: The First Avenger, unless properties such as Guardians of the Galaxy or Dr. Strange hit tentpole status and finally get the greenlight.

Disney’s D23 event kicks off this weekend, and with the promised presence of The Avengers there is the possibility of more news being announced, but it’s more likely Marvel will stick to their branding efforts for The Avengers. As much as I’d like to see Runaways happen, telling a story about six teens on the run after learning their parents are super-villains is something I don’t think Marvel has the time for, given the way they’re doing things at the moment.

For now, we await The Avengers, opening in theaters on May 4, 2012.

Follow me on Twitter @rob_keyes.

Source: The Playlist