'Iron Man' an original for Scripter

Film's writers among finalists for USC award

The screenwriters of "Iron Man" and the scribes behind more literary fare "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," "The Reader" and "Revolutionary Road" join the "Slumdog Millionaire" team as finalists for the 21st annual USC Libraries Scripter Award.

The screenwriting teams Mark Fergus & Hawk Ostby and Art Marcum & Matt Holloway penned Marvel Studios's "Iron Man," which is based on the comic book series authored by Stan Lee and Don Heck, among others. It's the first time a superhero movie and its writers have made the Scripter finals and only the second time a movie based on a comic book or graphic novel has been a finalist, following 2005's "A History of Violence" by Josh Olson.

The finalists are Eric Roth, who shares story credit with Robin Swicord, for "Button," based on the short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald; David Hare and author Bernhard Schlink for "Reader"; Justin Haythe for "Road," based on the novel by Richard Yates; and Simon Beaufoy, who adapted Vikas Swarup's then-unpublished novel "Q&A" for the screen as "Slumdog."

The omission of "The Dark Knight" already has drawn some murmurs, but Scripters officials say they based their criteria on guidelines from the WGA and Warner Bros.' own awards office, which say that "Knight" is an original work, based on already created characters but not on previous story elements. "Iron Man" used several aspects from the comics' stories.

Three of the 2009 finalists are Scripter veterans. Fergus and Ostby were part of the writing team that won in 2007 for their work on the adaptation of P.D. James' "The Children of Men." Hare won in 2003 for his translation of Michael Cunningham's "The Hours."

The winners will be announced Jan. 30 at the Scripters' black-tie gala, a first in the award's history.