Marvel scouts for Indian superheroes; eyes JV, acquisition

Mumbai: The Marvel Superhero Squad comprising the likes of Spider-Man, The Hulk, X-Men, Wolverine, Avengers and Iron Man etc., is now looking for an Indian superhero to join the gang!

Marvel Entertainment International president Simon J Philips is currently in India to talk with various film corporates and individuals to jointly develop an Indian superhero franchise.

The first original superhero franchise from India that comes to mind is Rakesh Roshan’s Krrish, which starred Hrithik Roshan. However, Philips told that nothing is ascertained as yet and that talk was being initiated with a handful of Indian players. He declined to name the companies.

When contacted Rakesh Roshan to ask whether he would be open to joining hands with Marvel to take the Krrish franchise global, he informed that he was in a music sitting and hence unable to respond.

Marvel will adopt an integrated approach for its India localisation plans. Philips said, "We will start with the publishing business and then expand to television series comprising 26 episodes of half hour duration, full length feature films along with licensing and merchandising."

Their aim is to generate awareness among Indian kids about the Marvel comic franchise with the publishing business for which Marvel has tied up with Spacetoon India. "We will be looking at adapting our existing comics by adding an India angle to them. The comics will be released in English and Hindi. We will start with Spider-Man, Avengers and Super Hero Squad comics in the Indian market," Philips informed.

On the movie localization front, Philips informed that the idea is to either enter into a co-production joint venture or an outright acquisition of an Indian superhero franchise. However, Philips was non-committal when queried as to whether they were eyeing Krrish purely because of the lack of options or would Marvel also look at mythological Indian super hero characters?

"We are keeping our options open. We want to partner or acquire an Indian superhero property and integrate it into the Marvel world. Our franchise Thor is a mythology-based super hero and hence it won’t be difficult to have an Indian mythological character too. But mainstream Bollywood is also on the agenda."

Marvel will also be developing an India focused website –, which will be in both Hindi and English languages. "The web is an important tool for us to boost our presence in every market," Philips said.

On the merchandising front, Marvel had inked a deal with Spacetoon Media in India last year to represent it on licensing, merchandising and publishing. Spacetoon Media CEO Rajiv Sangari said, "The products have been out in the market for the last three months and we have plans to roll out more in the coming few months."

In order to build Marvel’s characters among the kids in India, the company will be rolling out promotional initiatives in schools across the country, wherein Spider-Man will teach the kids about the powers that vest within us.

Apart from India, Marvel is also looking at China and Japan for localisation. As was reported by in August this year, Marvel had partnered with Japanese animation studio Madhouse to recreate characters inspired by the Marvel Universe for the Japanese market. One such franchise is Wolverine, which is being adapted for this market. (Read: Marvel partners Japanese animation studio Madhouse to recreate Super Heroes)

On the films’ front, Marvel has a stellar line-up of live-action and animation films till 2011. Coming up in May 2010 is Iron Man II, followed by Thor in July 2010, Captain America in May 2011 and The Avengers in 2011. That apart, animation films on these are also in the pipeline with Iron Man – Armoured Adventures slated to release before Iron Man II; Thor animation film to release in October 2010 and The Avengers animation film to release in October 2011.

"Our idea is to not just put out the live action movie but also the animation movie so that the recall value is high amongst the audience," added Philips.