Over the last several years, as the Marvel Cinematic Universe has flourished on both big and small screens, not to mention the X-Men movie universe at Fox, it seems almost no Marvel hero is too small or obscure for the live-action treatment. Everyone's getting their 15 minutes of fame it seems.
Just in the next few years alone, Marvel Comics fans will be getting to see live-action versions of Cable, Domino, The New Mutants, The Inhumans, The New Warriors, Cloak and Dagger,and even Squirrel Girl. Recently, it was revealed that Adam Warlock was announced as being planned for a future film too. So who's left??
Quite a few actually. There are still a handful of important Marvel Comics characters that don't seem to be on anyone's radar when it comes to getting the live-action treatment. And these are some pretty important heroes in the pages of the comics we're talking about here. So without further ado, here are our pics for the top ten Marvel superheroes that still need to make it into the big time world of film and television.
The son of Zeus from Greek mythology, Hercules is a longtime mainstay of the Marvel Universe in the comics, first appearing in the pages of The Mighty Thor in the ‘60s before becoming a member of the Avengers. Herc’s position as an Avenger would come and go throughout the decades, and he was usually a member when the team’s other most famous mythological deity, Thor, was unavailable.
When Thor is around, though, there doesn’t really seem to be a need for Hercules, which is probably why he hasn’t appeared in the MCU yet. But one of these days Chris Hemsworth is going to bow out from these films, and good old Herc would be the perfect buff, battle-loving God to replace him. Plus, Greek mythology stuff is cool. Who doesn't want to see Herc if it means we also see Pegasuses and gorgons and stuff??
#9: Moon Knight
If there were ever a Marvel hero who was seemingly made for headlining his own gritty, adult oriented Netflix series, it would have to be Marc Spector, the Moon Knight. A former soldier of fortune who died and was brought back to life by Khonshu, the Egyptian Lunar-God of Vengeance, Marc Spector is maybe the most popular superhero with multiple personality disorder.
The character, whose enhanced strength hits its pinnacle during a full moon, has headlined several series over the past 35 years, with different writers giving very different interpretations of whether Moon Knight has mental issues or not. But somewhere in there, a really decent premise for a harder edged Moon Knight TV series is just waiting to be found. If this were the next Netflix Marvel series to be greenlit after The Punisher, I wouldn't be at all shocked.
Some of you reading this might be saying “who the heck is Spectrum?” Although the character of Monica Rambeau currently uses that name, she was the first hero to take the name Captain Marvel after the death of Mar-Vell, the original Captain, long before Carol Danvers took on the mantle. In the ‘80s, the cosmically powered hero was a hugely important character in the Marvel Universe, even leading the Avengers. Aside from Storm, she was easily Marvel’s most prominent African-American female hero for a period of time.
For unknown reasons, she was then totally sidelined by Marvel editorial for decades. She lost her powers, and when she got them back she was relegated to B-list teams. She changed her name from Captain Marvel to Pulsar, Photon, and finally, to Spectrum. She’s a big character in the Avengers' history, regardless of how terribly she’s been treated in recent years. She definitely deserves the chance to shine as a live-action Avenger one day.
Although the Nova Corps, Marvel’s interstellar police force (and answers to DC’s Green Lantern Corps) has already been introduced in the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie, the Nova I’m talking about is Richard Rider, who had his own series in the late ‘70’s, The Man Called Nova, and then regularly appeared as a cast member of the cast of New Warriors. Rider was a working class teenager, in the Peter Parker mold, who inherited the title and cosmic powers from a dying member of the Nova Corps (told you he was Marvel’s answer to Green Lantern).
The character has had a comeback in the last few years, mostly due to Marvel Comics doubling down on their cosmic heroes with events like Annihilation. A new teenager named Sam Alexander recently took on the mantle of Nova, but either he or Richard Rider would make for ideal candidates for a TV series or a movie. The fact that Nova isn't being included in the forthcoming New Warriors TV series suggests Marvel Studios has some kind of solo plan for the character.
Despite what her name might suggest, Jessica Drew is anything but a female carbon copy of Spider-Man. Created in the ‘70s, Spider-Woman headlined her own ongoing series for over 50 issues, and even had a short lived cartoon series on Saturday morning TV. In the comics, Jessica Drew had parents who were scientists, who gave her powers as a child based on arachnids, as a side effect of trying to cure an early childhood disease that was lethal. Her origin story has been tweaked over a few times, but the character always has ties to both SHIELD and HYDRA in any version.
Marvel put her on the shelf for nearly two decades years for inexplicable reasons. It was Brian Michael Bendis who brought Jessica as Spider-Woman, back in 2004 in the pages of New Avengers, and she’s remained a Marvel mainstay ever since. With her ties to both SHIELD and the Avengers, she’s an obvious choice for the MCU either on film or TV, and she was even recently given a more live-action friendly costume. Coincidence? It may be time for your close up, Ms. Drew.
#5: Wonder Man
Another mainstay of the Avengers for years, Simon Williams was rumored to be played by Nathan Fillion in a small part Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. but apparently all references to Wonder Man got cut. (although we still heartily endorse Fillion for the role should it come up again). In the comics, Wonder Man was given “ionic” powers which included strength, flight, and energy blasts, giving him a career as a superhero and as a Hollywood actor and stunt man.
Wonder Man has a tendency to die and come back over and over in the comics, which could be a funny ongoing gag in a live-action incarnation. As Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog proved, Nathan Fillion was perfect as Captain Hammer, the full-of-himself, ego driven superhero, so if they ever do get around to introducing Wonder Man, hopefully Fillion will still be considered.
#4: Shang-Chi, the Master of Kung Fu
The general consensus is that Marvel’s recent Iron Fist series on Netflix pretty much dropped the ball for several reasons, among them the fact was that there weren’t nearly enough actual martial arts in a show about a martial-arts character. Marvel can help make up for this (and for their lack of Asian leading characters) with a show about their longest running martial-arts hero, Shang-Chi, the Master of Kung Fu.
First appearing at the height of the Kung-Fu movie trend of the early ‘70s, the character far outlived that particular fad and held his own series that lasted over 100 issues. He recently became a member of the Avengers as well in the more recent Marvel comics. A Master of Kung Fu series, hopefully made by Asian-Americans and featuring an Asian lead, could start Marvel’s amends for some of the insensitivity of the Iron Fist series.
Although she began her existence as nothing more than a female version of the Hulk as her name suggests, Bruce Banner's cousin Jennifer Walters, a.k.a. the Sensational She-Hulk, quickly evolved beyond that, and became one of Marvel’s most important players and most high profile female heroes. A member of the Avengers, the Fantastic Four, the Defenders and more, she’s become one of the Marvel Universe’s primary characters over these past several decades.
Since She-Hulk is a practicing lawyer as well as an adventurer, that aspect of her character could make for a pretty funny superhero themed dramedy style TV series. Or, if you just need her as a the Avengers' big bruiser, she fits into that mold too. Few heroes in Marvel are as versatile as She-Hulk in terms of the kinds of stories you can tell with them, and it is high time she made her live-action debut in the MCU, either on the big or small screens. It's time the non comics-reading world discovered how kick-ass She-Hulk is.
#2: Ms. Marvel
The most recently created hero on this here list, Kamala Khan is a young Pakistani American from Jersey City, New Jersey with shapeshifting abilities, who discovers that she has Inhuman genes. Seeing as how Kamala is a huge superhero fangirl, once her Inhuman powers kick in, she takes on the name of of Ms. Marvel from her idol Carol Danvers, not long after Danvers becomes the new Captain Marvel.
Kamala was the first ever Muslim-American character to get her own ongoing comic book series from Marvel, and the book is consistently fun and endearing. Based very much on Kamala's journey trying to navigate adolescence while saving the world, a Ms. Marvel show would make a wonderful Buffy the Vampire Slayer-style television series, and would probably be even better than getting a movie. She might not have been around for decades like most on this list, but Ms. Marvel has proven herself a Marvel icon in a very short time, and its time for her to be brought to life.
#1: Namor, the Sub-Mariner
Atlantean ruler Namor the Sub-Mariner is probably the biggest Marvel hero on this list yet to appear in live-action, and his non-appearance so far in the Marvel Cinematic Universe probably has more to do with his rights being tied up by previous deals that Marvel made with other studios than with anything else. It's possible that Namor's live-action film rights are tied up with Universal Studios at the moment, although I've read that Marvel had the rights back, so who knows what the truth is. Obviously, something has held up Namor making it to the big screen thus far.
But with DC hero Aquaman making it to theaters in 2018, it could be that there's no point in making a Namor movie since the two characters are so very, very similar. Both are the half breed rulers of the undersea kingdom of Atlantis, and both are often portrayed as surly bad-asses who don't play well with others. It used to be that the only big difference between Aquaman and Namor was that one was a blonde and the other a brunette, but with Jason Momoa playing Aquaman, even that's not different anymore.
Still, even if he doesn't get his own film, Marvel Studios should bring Namor to life in live-action at some point. He could be a member of the Avengers in Phase IV, or maybe they could include him as a member of the WWII era super team the Invaders, fighting alongside Captain America in a '40s period set film. Namor is simply too important to the overall Marvel mythos to leave out of the MCU forever.
Which Marvel heroes do you think deserve the live-action treatment? Do I hear any love for Morbius, the Living Vampire, or the Black Knight? Let us know who you would want to see down below in the comments.
Images: Marvel Comics