Superhero movies are dominating the Summer Blockbuster scene at the moment. After turning some of their lesser-known comic superheroes into household names the question for Marvel Studios is “who’s next?” Since they don’t have the film rights to all of their characters and the studios who have them, like 20th Century Fox (X-Men, The Fantastic Four) and Sony (Spider-Man), aren’t likely to give them up, Ed Boff picks Five Marvel Superheroes whose time for big screen glory may be just around the corner…
UPDATE: With the release of Captain America: The Winter Soldier this week, the odds for one of these five just got a lot better. Which one? See it and find out!
Namor, The Sub-Mariner
Namor debuted way back in 1939 in Marvel Comics #1. The son of an Atlantian princess and a human sailor, he was originally an antihero, mistrusting the surface world. But with World War II, he teamed up with the original Human Torch, Captain America and others to take the fight to the Axis. His popularity later faded, but in the sixites he was successfully re-introduced in the pages of the Fantastic Four. Namor has super-human strength, aquatic abilities, and was able fly before Superman could. He’s most often portrayed as an outsider, even when working with a team, which means that he would make for an interesting dynamic alongside the Avengers. Another good reason to bring him to the bign screen is to do with hints the films are dropping about Avengers 3. It’s apparently going involve the reality shaping super-weapon The Infinity Gauntlet, and for a while, Namor possessed a component of it, the Time Gem.
Likelihood? This one’s complicated. There was a Namor film announced in 2006 by Universal, but nothing seems to have come of it. It was thought for a while that the rights had reverted back to Marvel, but at last check, Universal still has them. Unless Universal sell the rights back to Marvel (as they did with the Hulk), or the rights revert, it’s unlikely we’ll see him anytime soon. However, an extra complication is that for a while he was a supporting character on the Fantastic Four, thus there might be an issue if Fox wants to use him for their movies. So, he seems he’s trapped in limbo for the moment.
Stephen Strange made his debut in 1963, establishing himself as Earth’s main defender against otherworldly forces. A former neurosurgeon, and a bit of an egotist about it until losing the use of his hands in an accident, Strange searched the world for a cure. He found one by becoming the apprentice of the Ancient One, who later helped him realise his true nature, and take on the mantle of The Sorcerer Supreme. He has faced down many supernatural foes over the years, with his most recurring enemies being Baron Mordo, and the other dimensionally monstrosity the Dread Dormammu. His main power is his use of magic, drawn from a variety of sources, including spiritual entities and several mystical artefacts. If there was a film about him, he would take the Marvel Universe into realms it has only hinted at before, and his use of artefacts fits in well with the “McGuffin” style storylines the current films have.
Likelihood? There have been attempts to bring him to screen before, including a 1970s TV pilot, and a 1992 Full Moon Features film which, due to the rights being lost, ended up as Doctor Mordid. However, it seems certain that a film will be in Marvel’s Phase Three – the next wave of films that will follow Avengers: Age of Ultron. There have already been signs of him in the series, as in Thor, Odin’s vault contained one of Strange’s most recognisable artefacts, the Eye of Agamotto.
Black Panther (T’Challa)
Notable for being the first black superhero in mainstream comics, The Black Panther debuted in 1966 in the pages of Fantastic Four. T’Challa is the prince to the land of Wakanda, a highly advanced, but secretive African nation with a monopoly of Vibranium, the metal Captain America’s shield is made from. The Black Panther is a title held by the protector of Wakanda, so a few other characters have held the mantle over the years, including his sister Shuri. T’Challa fights evil as an envoy of Wakanda with a mix of the mystical and scientific, using highly toned skills and a genius level intellect (he studied at Oxford). He’s a character that has inspired many over the years, with a rich back story and lore to draw from, and has played an important role in the issue of diversity in comics.
Likelihood? For years Wesley Snipes tried to get a version starring himself made, which is one of the reasons he took the role of Blade, but that didn’t come to anything. More than a few actors/writers have come forward saying they’d be interested, including Noel Clarke. There do seem to be solid plans at Marvel Studios for him though, as there was a direct background reference to him in Iron Man 2, and several writers have come on board to develop ideas.
She-Hulk (Jennifer Walters)
First appearing in 1980, Jennifer Walters is the cousin of Bruce Banner, the Incredible Hulk. An accident means that she got a transfusion of Bruce’s gamma radiation infused blood, giving her a milder case of his condition. She still turns into a green, super-strong form, but she keeps her own personality and she can change back and forth at will. She has had a long career as superhero, made more interesting by the fact she’s kept her day job as an attorney, many times having to give legal aid to other heroes. In fact, one of her most popular series was of her working at a law firm, handling cases like Spider-Man suing the Daily Bugle for libel. Jennifer’s served on many superhero teams, including regularly being a substitute member of the Fantastic Four (funny how they keep turning up). She’s still fairly popular, often because she’s a fairly upbeat character, and by having a good mix of brain and brawn.
Likelihood? Quite good actually. The films have already laid a lot of the groundwork for her turning up, like the properties of the Hulk’s blood being established in The Incredible Hulk. Also, given Joss Whedon’s history of well-written female characters, there’s a good potential there, and her being a superpowered lawyer would fit in well with the franchise’s sense of humour.
Captain Marvel (Carol Danvers)
Captain Marvel is an example of a legacy hero, where the name doesn’t ‘belong’ to any one person, but it’s a title that have been held by many. The original Captain Marvel was an alien, a Kree military officer called Mar-Vell, but the current one is air force Captain Carol Danvers. For many years she was the hero Ms. Marvel, after getting a version of Mar-Vell’s powers in an accident. Several years after Mar-Vell’s death, she has now taken up the mantle, with a very cool costume to go with it. She’s had a long, complicated history, but she’s now established as one of Marvel’s best female characters, and one loved by the fans and writers. With a combination of strength, flight, energy abilities and a ‘Seventh Sense’, she’s a force to be reckoned with, and currently a key member of the comic version of the Avengers.
Likelihood? Very high. Again, Joss Whedon is very vocal and active when it comes to good female characters, and Danvers is one of Marvel’s top tier. There are already a lot of rumours of the character being introduced soon, possibly as a support in Avengers: Age of Ultron. What’s more, Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. has already made mention of the Kree, and it’s hinted they will be seen in Guardians Of The Galaxy. We can only wait and see, but of all the characters on this list, Carol’s one of the most likely, and one that will make a lot of comic and film fans very happy.