Over the last several years, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has flourished on both the big and small screens. Not to mention the X-Men movie universe at Fox, and the Spider-Man universe at Sony. From all indications, almost no Marvel hero is too small or obscure for the live-action treatment. Everyone’s getting their 15 minutes of fame it seems.
In the next few years alone, Marvel Comics fans will see live-action versions of quite a few new heroes. We’ll see Ironheart, Moon Knight, She-Hulk, Ms. Marvel to name but a few. But Marvel still has a handful of important Marvel Comics characters long overdue for the live-action treatment. So without further ado, here are our picks for the top 10 Marvel superheroes that still need to make it to the live-action film and television.
The Demi-god 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 usually stepped in as a member when the team’s other most famous mythological deity, the Odinson, was unavailable.
When Thor is around, though, there doesn’t really seem to be a need for Hercules. That’s 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 could be the perfect buff, battle-loving God to replace him. Plus, Greek mythology stuff is cool. Eternals seemed like the natural place to introduce Herc, but somehow, he didn’t make the cut. Still, they could use the Eternals mythos to introduce him down the line should they want to.
Greer Nelson, originally known as “The Cat,” was one of the first female heroes to receive her own Marvel comic. A runway model, Greer fought crime with cat-themed gadgets and a skin-tight cat costume. The Claws of the Cat only lasted four issues, and truthfully, seemed like a knockoff of DC Comics’ Catwoman—only with a neon yellow costume instead. Years later, the heroine Hellcat would use that costume with far more success.
But Marvel tried again with Greer a couple of years later. They gave her the powers of a magical lost race of Cat People, and suddenly Greer was a ferocious cat/human hybrid named Tigra. This version was far more popular, and served with the Avengers for years. A cat-person in a bikini might be hard to pull off in live-action, but we trust Marvel Studios to make the right changes. Rumor has it she will appear in the upcoming She-Hulk series. We hope to see her, tail and all, in the MCU.
8. Ka-Zar of the Savage Land
On the surface, Ka-Zar just seems like a Tarzan rip-off. He’s the son of a British Lord who finds himself stranded in an exotic jungle location as a child. After his father dies, locals take him ins. He no longer goes by the name Lord Kevin Plunder, but becomes Ka-Zar. Sound familiar? So how is this more than a dime-store Tarzan? Well, instead of a real-world location like Africa, Ka-Zar lives in the Savage Land, a secret primordial world in the Antarctic.
The Savage Land is filled with dinosaurs, humanoid mutates, and Ka-Zar’s trusty sabretooth tiger Zabu. In the comics, it became the prime location for many Uncanny X-Men stories. It even became the home base of Magneto for a time. Anyone who grew up with X-Men: The Animated Series will remember several episodes set in this location. To be fair, the location of the Savage Land world is much cooler than Ka-Zar himself, but he could be used to anchor a very cool Savage Land series or movie.
7. Captain Britain
Captain Britain has been a part of the Marvel Universe since the mid-’70s. But he first appeared only in Marvel UK comics. Captain Britain Weekly #1 featured his canonical first appearance. In the comics, Brian Braddock was the nerdy heir of an old aristocratic British family. He received a bad injury in a lab accident and nearly died. Soon after, the wizard Merlyn appeared to him, and offered Brian the chance to become the United Kingdom’s mystical champion. Thus, Captain Britain is born.
In the UK, Captain Britain had his own comic for years, and teamed up with Spidey and Captain America in North American Comics. He eventually led the British X-Men spinoff team, Excalibur. His sister is Betsy Braddock, who fans know best as the X-Man Psylocke. All of these aspects of his character could prove interesting story material, as Marvel Studios seeds mutants into the MCU. Fans have been clamoring for Superman Henry Cavill to play Captain Britain, and recently he has shown interest. We can’t say we don’t approve of that choice.
Darkhawk is one of the lesser-known Marvel heroes on this list, but in the ’90s, he was fairly popular. He even carried his own series for 50 issues. Christopher Powell was a teenager from Queens, New York, just like Peter Parker. He came upon an amulet that allowed him to switch places with a powerful alien android body possessing huge metal wings, one that his mind could control. (And he had a Wolverine-like claw. Like we said, popular in the ’90s).
Darkhawk joined the New Warriors, and briefly, the Avengers. Recently, Marvel Comics launched a new Darkhawk series, with a new teenage hero at its center. Connor Young was a star athlete, recently diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. As he struggles with his new medical reality, he also has to become a superhero when he discovers the amulet. The original comic series wasn’t all that memorable, but the ingredients for this new Darkhawk — the origin, the costume, the powers — are perfect for a live-action adaptation.
Moondragon is one of those oddball Marvel heroes. But this martial artist with psychic powers has ties to several prominent MCU characters. Namely, Drax the Destroyer and Thanos. In the comics, young Heather Douglas was driving through the desert with her family when they caught Thanos landing on Earth, totally by chance. The Mad Titan promptly killed her entire family, but Heather escaped.
Her father’s soul bonded to Drax, essentially making Drax her dad. And Mentor, Thanos’ own father, instructed her in the use of her powers. She joined the Avengers, and later, teams like the Defenders and the Guardians of the Galaxy. For the MCU, Moondragon’s origins could be simplified. She could be the literal daughter of Drax now. Perhaps the daughter he thought he lost to Thanos. And if Thanos’ father trained her, that would create a lot of conflict for this family. She’s also a bisexual character, and we know the MCU could use some more canonically LGBTQ heroes.
4. Wonder Man
Another mainstay of the Avengers for years, it was rumored that Wonder Man (Simon Williams) was to be played by Nathan Fillion in a small part in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Sadly, 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 had “ionic” powers. These included strength, flight, and energy blasts, giving him a career as a superhero and as a Hollywood actor and stuntman.
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, a full-of-himself, ego-driven superhero. So if they ever do get around to introducing Wonder Man, hopefully Marvel will still consider Fillion. Many fans believed Wonder Man was going to show up in WandaVision, but unfortunately, he didn’t make it. It’s high time this long-standing Avenger assembles with the rest of them. Hopefully, he brings his groovy red jacket with him too.
Although the Nova Corps, Marvel’s interstellar police force (and answer 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. He had his own series in the late ‘70’s, The Man Called Nova, and then regularly appeared as a cast member of New Warriors. Rider was a working class teenager in the Peter Parker mold; he inherited the title and cosmic powers from a dying member of the Nova Corps. (We told you he was Marvel’s answer to Green Lantern).
The character has had a comeback in the last few years. Mainly because of 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. And perhaps trying his origin to the offscreen destruction of the Nova homeworld of Xandar (referenced in Avengers: Infinity War) might be a good way to make this tie into the MCU.
2. Spider-Woman (Jessica Drew)
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’s parents were scientists who accidentally gave her arachnid-based powers as a child. The powers were a side effect of them trying to cure a lethal childhood disease. They have tweaked her origin story 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. 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. Sony announced a Spider-Woman movie recently, with Olivia Wilde at the helm. It’s unclear which Spider-Woman will star at the present moment. We hope that Sony and Marvel Studios can find a way to work together and bring Jessica into the MCU where she belongs.
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 MCU probably has more to do with his rights being tied up with other studios than with anything else. No one really knows what the truth is. Obviously, something has held up Namor making it to the big screen.
But with DC hero Aquaman now a blockbuster franchise, maybe there’s no point in making a Namor movie since the two characters are so 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 soon. 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. There, we’d see him fighting alongside Captain America in a ’40s period film. Rumors are running rampant that Namor will appear in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Regardless of his status in that film, Namor is simply too important to the overall Marvel mythos to leave out of the MCU forever.
Originally published on April 23, 2017.