In the 1990s, Marvel was making significant in-roads on television thanks to a number of animated successes, including X-Men, Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, and Iron Man, but what could have been the crowning achievement of the era — a project that would have teamed all of the company’s biggest names in one special story for the holidays — never made it to the screen… in part because of the genuinely ridiculous high concept.
Coming from no less a mind than Stan Lee’s, an early-90s pitch had characters like Spider-Man, Captain America, the Hulk, the X-Men, Fantastic Four, and the Silver Surfer team up for one seasonal mission: to save Santa Claus from the clutches of Doctor Doom.
Yes, you read that right.
Although the project didn’t get any further than the pitch stage for reasons both obvious — saving Santa is perhaps a little too outside the quasi-realism that marked the Mighty Marvel approach to storytelling of the era — and less so (the broadcast rights to the various characters were held by different companies, making it a potential nightmare to coordinate), we can at least enjoy the marvelous (pun intended) concept art for the pitch, from artist Will Meugniot, as a beautiful “What If…?” for something that still doesn’t quite seem real.
The original painted artwork is, according to Heritage Auctions, potentially available for sale, and at “$2,400 or more,” feels like quite a bargain. You know, in case anyone is wondering what kind of holiday gift to get me in the next few weeks…
Need more shopping ideas for the holidays? Check out our Marvel gift guide, Star Wars gift guide, One Piece gift guide, Naruto gift guide, Totoro gift guide, and our DC Comics gift guide for ideas for the most unique holiday gifts.