Today, a Marvel movie is a guaranteed hit -- but over the years Marvel has had its share of near-misses.
The delightful "Marvel Comics: The Untold Story" by Sean Howe reveals how the 1970s, '80s and '90s saw a galaxy of stars consider donning the capes and tights of various Marvel heroes. Click through our gallery to see what those movies could have looked like.
Back in 1975 Angie Bowie, then married to David Bowie, bought the rights to both Daredevil and Black Widow. Sadly the project got no further than a photo shoot in which Bowie and actor Ben Carruthers dressed as the characters for photographer Terry O'Neill. Admit it: This would have been glorious.
This summer, Benedict Cumberbatch will appear as Doctor Strange in the character's big-screen debut. But there have been several previous attempts to bring sorcerer supreme Stephen Strange to theatres: A script was written by "Back to the Future" writer Bob Gale, and later Wes Craven was set to direct. Meanwhile, one film company lost the rights to the character while developing their version of the film, so it just changed the name to "Doctor Mordred" and made it anyway.
Best of all, at one point in the early 1980s there was talk of the sorcerer supreme being played by none other than Tom Selleck. His mustache is certainly magical.
At one point in the 1980s Carl Weathers was set to step from the ring of "Rocky III" to the streets to play Luke Cage, also known as Power Man. Cage finally gets his own series on Netflix this year, played by Mike Colter.
In 1986 film company New World bought Marvel. The relationship got off to an inauspicious start -- one exec thought they'd bought Superman -- but it did yield a movie starring Dolph Lundgren as the Punisher.
The plan was to film other lesser-known Marvel heroes, and so Richard Roundtree, star of "Shaft", was in talks to play badass vampire hunter Blade in a western set in Mexico.
Director Michael Winner could have recruited his "Death Wish" star Charles Bronson for a proposed Cap film written in Britain by Winner, TV writer Stan Hey and a chap Hey later described as "some quaking, black-tee-shirted geek from [comic shop] Forbidden Planet."
The trio spent just six weeks knocking out a script in which the Statue of Liberty was kidnapped. Marvel's boss said it was "bloody awful."
She-Hulk was hastily created in the pages of Marvel comics to stop the makers of the 1970s "Incredible Hulk" TV show from calling dibs on a female version of the angry green giant. In a prospective live-action version, statuesque star Brigitte Nielsen was rumoured to be going green for the role.
Nicolas Cage is a huge comic fan -- his copy of the prized Action Comics #1 was infamously stolen from his home -- and in the 1990s his name was linked to an Iron Man film.
As Robert Downey Jr. can attest, Cage never donned the armour. And Cage's bad luck continued when his starring role in the notoriously troubled Tim Burton Superman film also fell through in the late 1990s.
Happily for Cage -- if not for audiences -- he finally got to be a Marvel hero in two "Ghost Rider" movies.
Caption byRichard Trenholm
/ Photo by Ron Galella/Getty Images/Rasslin' Rich Trenholm
Before he appeared as relatively little-known Marvel hero Blade in a surprise hit movie series, Wesley Snipes was connected to a possible Black Panther movie in the early 1990s.
The character finally made his big-screen debut in "Captain America: Civil War" in 2016, played by Chadwick Boseman.
"Ant-Man" made it to movie theatres in 2015. Years earlier, Marvel had rushed a different version of the bite-size hero into production to compete with "Teenie-Weenies", a similar movie about shrinking people being developed by a rival studio.
The Ant-Man movie ended up shrinking from sight, but the rival film, starring Rick Moranis, was a smash -- retitled "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids", of course.
Shortly after the huge success of "Terminator 2: Judgement Day", James Cameron began discussing his plans for a Spider-Man movie. He was reportedly paid $3 million for a 47-page treatment that never reached the screen, partly because the project was mired in legal disputes over rights to the film.
"Terminator" star Arnold Schwarzenegger was linked to the role of bad guy Doctor Octopus, who attempted to get his tentacles around Leonardo DiCaprio as Spider-Man.