The consistent critical and commercial successes of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has turned the studio into a star-making machine — making stars not only of unknown actors but of B-level comic characters as well. Even just a decade ago, who could have imagined big-budget franchise entries centered around inconsequential comic characters like Thor or the Guardians of the Galaxy?
By treating every hero with the same humanizing yet humorous touch, Marvel has managed to spin cinematic gold from third-tier source material time and time again, but they’ve far from exhausted their back-catalog of comic characters just yet. Let’s review which Marvel superheroes have yet to join the MCU, but deserve to.
1. The Silver Surfer
The Silver Surfer got the cinematic treatment in 20th Century Fox’s Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, but that lackluster film managed to squander the character’s extremely compelling redemption arc. To save his people, Norrin Radd became a servant to Galactus, drifting through the universe in search of new planets for his master to ingest until his search led him to a confrontation on Earth with the Fantastic Four. Empathizing with their efforts to save their home planet, the Silver Surfer turns against his captor and subsequently uses his powers to fight intergalactic injustice.
While the Fantastic Four seems to be dead as a cinematic franchise, there’s no reason the Silver Surfer couldn’t join the MCU. This could come in the form of his own standalone movie — which would let Marvel tackle a new sort of character arc while maybe, for once, creating a memorable villain out of Galactus — or in an Avengers film.
2. The Black Knight
Dane Whitman, aka Marvel’s third incarnation of the Black Knight, is little more than a skilled swordsman and former scientist with mystical powers to “look past the mundane.” He occasionally rides a genetically-engineered horse and uses magical swords. His background in magic and science makes him an easy bridge between the rational heroism of Iron Man and the world-bending fantasy of Doctor Strange.
Perhaps the most compelling part of his backstory is that his alias as the Black Knight was previously used by his heroic ancestors in the dark ages, as well as by his uncle Nathan Garrett, who used it for villainy. There’s a lot to work with there, as Dane Whitman could wrestle with the complications of his chosen alias as he tries to reclaim it for good after his uncle tainted the family legacy. The character didn’t often have his own comic series, but he was a regular member of the Avengers, meaning he should fit in nicely to the cinematic universe.
3. Moon Knight
Marvel hero and frequent Avenger, Moon Knight hasn’t gotten much attention in the modern age, perhaps because the wealthy, non-super powered hero is so often accused of being a watered-down Batman ripoff. The author of Moon Knight’s 2006 relaunch, Charlie Huston, summed up the most interesting and unusual aspects of the character, saying:
Bruce Wayne fights crime to avenge the murders of his parents. [He] beats up whoever has it coming because he believes he is the avatar of the Egyptian god of vengeance and it helps him to feel better about all the people he killed when he was a mercenary.
If that doesn’t make it clear enough, Moon Knight is something of a wacko, operating with three alter egos that are as much about his own fractured psychology as they are about vigilantism. There’s an ambiguity to such a crimefighter that would complicate and darken the MCU a bit, but I could see them pulling off a darkly comedic anti-hero with some serious issues hilariously, particularly as part of a larger ensemble (think Rocky Raccoon, apparently a comic relief character with a tragic, lonely core).
Spider-Woman (the original one at least) is much cooler than her generic sidekick name suggests. Jessica Drew acquired her powers as a child, after being injected with an experimental spider serum and placed in a stasis that slowed her aging process, she then fell into the hands of Hydra. She fought Nick Fury during her time as the assassin Arachne before undoing her brainwashing with the help of a few time-spanning sorcerers. She’s since worked as a PI in LA and as a double agent, infiltrating Hydra for Nick Fury.
In short, there’s a meaty character history here that’s ripe with connections to the current MCU. Plus, instead of web-slinging, she has bio-energy blasts she releases through her hands to render enemies unconscious. What more do you need, Marvel?!
5. Namor the Sub-Mariner
One of Marvel’s very first characters and the first antihero protagonist in comic history, Namor, is a super-powered hybrid of human and undersea Atlantean physiology. He has a long history as an Avenger, but since he also happens to be Marvel’s very first mutant, the rights might be tricky given Fox’s possessive nature about X-Men characters.
Namor’s able to hold his own in a fight on land and in sea, but his short fuse and devotion to his undersea kingdom often puts him at odds with his usual allies in the Avengers, mostly for the careless actions of other land-dwellers. Namor could easily have his own stand-alone film where his contempt of dry land pits him against an Avenger or two, a confrontation that ultimately leads to an uneasy partnership from separate worlds — think Thor, but with more tension and butting heads.
Follow Jeff Rindskopf on Twitter @jrindskopf
Check out Entertainment Cheat Sheet on Facebook!