Marvel aiming for pre-strike start in winter

Marvel Studios is setting Matthew Vaughn to direct “Thor,” based on the Marvel Comics character. Marvel is aiming for a pre-strike production start this winter.

Mark Protosevich (“I Am Legend”) did the adaptation of the comicbook franchise that launched in 1962. Thor is a blonde-tressed, hammer-wielding hero who’s sent to Earth to protect mankind.

Vaughn’s deal is closing just as Paramount releases the Vaughn-directed “Stardust” today. The Neil Gaiman novel adaptation stars Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer.

“Thor” marks Vaughn’s second effort at a superhero pic. He was attached to direct “X-Men 3″ before bowing out for personal reasons. Vaughn, who produced the Guy Ritchie-directed films “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” and “Snatch,” made his directing debut with the Daniel Craig starrer “Layer Cake.”

Marvel Studios will likely finance “Thor” using its $500 million credit facility through Merrill Lynch. Marvel has used that fund to finance both Edward Norton starrer “The Incredible Hulk,” which Universal releases June 13, and “Iron Man,” the Robert Downey Jr. starrer that Paramount will open on May 2.

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