Whatever Happened to 'Man-Thing'?
It's the Marvel movie that only made it as far as cable TV -- and those responsible for "Man-Thing" had a sinking feeling about the project even as it was happening.
Man-Thing is the Marvel movie that couldn't, if you can imagine such a thing.
Co-produced by Marvel and Lionsgate subsidiary Artisan Entertainment in the mid-2000s as part of a package that also included Thomas Jane's The Punisher, it never quite made it to theaters in the U.S. -- in fact, it was only released theatrically in Russia, Singapore, Spain, Belgium and the United Arab Emirates -- but debuted (of course) on the Syfy channel back in 2005.
Did those involved know that they were making a latent Sharknado? According to Nick Nicolaou, co-founder of the Make-Up Effects Group of Australia -- the company that handled the creation of the Man-Thing itself for the movie -- there might have been some inklings midway through the process.
"The production never had enough time to shoot the creature properly," Nicolaou said in an interview about the rarely-seen movie to the Monster Legacy blog. "It was nearly always brought in at the end of each of the filming days and rushed through the shoot. They were running out of time, and it was logistically difficult to get the Man-Thing onset, into the man-made swamp built on the stage, up on the platform risers running just under the water-line and then block in all the action."
To make matters stranger, the Man-Thing created by Nicolaou's team -- which looks pretty impressive in still photos -- wasn't even originally meant to appear onscreen at all. "They were going to use our suit as just a stand-in for a CGI creature," he said. "Every meeting we went in to they said, 'we just need the shape and size, as the suit will be replaced.' We had a bad feeling about this, as they were cutting the budget left, right and center. In the end, no 3D creature was made due to the diminishing budget. Our physical creature suit is in every shot."
While the end result of the movie leaves something -- OK, a lot -- to be desired, Nicolaou admits to being proud of his team's work and the idea behind the movie. "I love the character and the comic," he said, adding that "the suit was pretty impressive in the end [and] could have been developed a lot further if the production had focused its resources and thinking." Given the recent changes in the Man-Thing character in Marvel's comics, perhaps it's time to start pushing for a new movie starring the character using the work of Nicolaou's team -- but only as long as he talks jive.