Don’t expect Marvel to make Howard the Duck 2 anytime soon. (Phew.) But the irascible fowl is about the company’s only character without a new movie deal. Here’s a rundown of the comic films in development, from fan faves to virtual unknowns. — Brian Hiatt


FANTASTIC FOUR Flame on! Director Peyton Reed (Bring It On) is set to film this dysfunctional superhero clan, which includes the Human Torch and the Thing. (Fox)

IRON MAN The tale of metal-clad, mustachioed alcoholic billionaire Tony Stark has a projected 2004 release. Don Murphy (From Hell) is producing. (New Line)

NAMOR Producer Kevin Misher (The Scorpion King) and scribe David Self (Road to Perdition) hope to bring the pointy-eared undersea adventurer to theaters in 2004. (Universal)

THE PUNISHER Despite 1989’s Dolph Lundgren flop, the homicidal vigilante is getting another shot, with scribe Jonathan Hensleigh (Die Hard: With a Vengeance) set to write and direct. (Artisan)


BLACK WIDOW A once-marginal Russian femme fatale. (Artisan)

DR. STRANGE A sorcerer exploring psychedelic alternate dimensions. (Dimension)

GHOST RIDER Nicolas Cage is in talks to play the flaming-skulled motorcyclist. (Columbia)

IRON FIST Ray Park (a.k.a. Darth Maul) will star as the martial arts expert. (Artisan)

THE SILVER SURFER The philosophical spaceman has a cult following. (Fox)


DEATHLOK Steven Paul (Baby Geniuses) is producing this obscurity, a cross between RoboCop and the Terminator. (Paramount)

MAN-THING Hans Rodionoff (The Skulls 2) is scripting the tale of the green, swamp-dwelling antihero — not to be confused with DC Comics’ Swamp Thing. (Artisan)

PRIME A nerdy teen morphs into a superhero, thanks to producer Charles Gordon (The Rocketeer). (Universal)

WEREWOLF BY NIGHT Rodionoff and John Fasano (Universal Soldier: The Return) will write the lycanthrope’s tale. (Dimension)