10 Marvel Heroes Who Should Get Their Own Film

With the build up to Marvel Studio's 2012 premiere of Joss Whedon's the Avengers, What Culture looks at ten comic book heroes that should get their chance to be stars of the silver screen.

Comic book fans are enjoying a pop cultural revolution with the onslaught of mainstream comic book movies, in particular from that old house of ideas - Marvel. Across the past 5 years we have seen Spider-Man, the X-Men, Hulk, Punisher, Iron Man, the Fantastic Four, Thor and Captain America all make the leap from the printed page to the silver screen. Marvel's slate of movies comes to its first filmic climax when a host of the Hollywood-ised Heroes band together for Joss Whedon's the Avengers in May this year. Hot on its heels are already announced sequels to Iron Man, Thor, Spider-Man, Captain America, Wolverine again, rumours of another Fantastic Four... hang on. We've already seen this bunch before. In some cases too much (anyone remember X-Men 3?). I don't know about you, but I want to see something new. Something different. Marvel has literally hundreds of franchise-able characters jumping around and waving their hands for the chance to step into the movie world. So to help my personal crusade along I have knocked up a list of 10 Marvel Heroes that are ready to get a film all of their own:

10. Ka-Zar

Now this is likely not a surprise to many of you as there has been talk floating around the web for a couple of years now about a Savage Land movie in the works. There are numerous 'sources' that say that Marvel has been casting for it already and that we could be expecting its announcement post-Avengers. Irrelevant of the gossip, Ka-Zar and his entire cast including Shanna the She-Devil and their pet sabretooth Zabu would make for a perfect transition into moving images. Imagine a tech-savvy Tarzan kicking ass against mutate hordes. Ka-Zar instantly brings to mind tree-swinging, swash-buckling action in a prehistoric land. Don't forget about sex appeal for the hungry mainstream audience; nothing but a loin cloth for the six-packed hero and fur bikini for his consort. Hell, Zabu is completely naked! I don't know about you but I can already picture the trailer.

9. Hawkeye

Yet another character who has rumours of a solo movie spin-off already in the Marvel Studios pipeline, Hawkeye is not only one of the greatest Avengers' members but also one of Marvel's most entertaining characters. Whether or not a Hawkeye film does get the greenlight depends entirely upon the opening weekend reception and box-office gross when the Avengers hits in May and the reaction to Jeremy Renner's performance and character with the fanboys. So here is one extra enthusiastic Avengers Geek giving the studio-execs-that-be a big 'thumbs up' to this idea. I will be first in line and wearing the biggest smile. There are a number of possible story-arcs though, all serious contenders. The most obvious would be an origin style film that recounts Hawkeye's accidentally villainous beginnings as the Black Widow's love-struck sidekick going toe-to-toe with Iron Man. Having two characters already built into the existing Avengers movie franchise makes this option a strong contender. Alternatively they could take a leaf out of Solo Avengers and team Hawkeye up with a new Avenger as they track down someone like Crossfire. Two dead-shots trying to tag each other first. Heading down this path leads one to think about bringing in Mockingbird and playing with their fiery romance and battle for relationship control, as brought to life in the short-lived Hawkeye & Mockingbird series.

8. The Sentry

Okay. I will admit that this is a dangerous call considering the horrible attempts we have seen in recent times of making a Superman movie, but what gives the Sentry the edge is the fact that he is kind of bonkers. Why hasn't Superman really worked since Christopher Reeves' first outing in red spandex? Because Superman is boring. He is all powerful, except for the kryponite, and is just too damn nice. He would never rip Ares the god of war in bloody halves. That's why the Sentry would make for a great film. He is unhinged and haunted by his ultimate nemesis the Void. Which is just another part of himself. He is his own worst enemy and even believes that he murdered his wife. Talk about nut job; would you really want this guy wandering around with enough mojo to destroy anyone and anything? There is only one storyline that could be used. The wonderful discovery of a hero that the world has been magicked into forgetting and his journey to find out who he is and why the darkness plagues him.

7. Gambit

Now I am not a huge fan of the X-Men but I do enjoy the cajun stylings of that devil-may-car ladies' man known as Gambit. We all know that Logan is getting a second shot at a solo movie, in spite of the car-wreck that was Wolverine: Origins. Maybe Gambit should be allowed a chance to redeem himself after his equally abysmal portrayal in said film. Thief. Hero. Torn between his commitment to his father and the Guild of Thieves, and the love of an unattainable woman that inspires him to more noble endeavours. It would be great to be able to tear Anna Paquin away from her current role as a Southern belle to reprise her first - Rogue. Gambit is a wonderful vehicle to reinvigorate the modern X-Men franchise (Matthew Vaughn already did a brilliant job of breathing new life into their history) and would allow for a step away from the purely violence minded storylines that we have seen since the fantastic first film, and focus on a simple story of impossible love. With mutants. New Orleans. Assassins. And a woman who can suck your body dry. Kinky.

6. Nick Fury & Shield

Let's pretend that the David Hasselhoff version from 1998 never happened. Fast forward 14 years and there is now room for a movie revisit to the Bond-style awesomeness that was the 60's comic book Nick Fury: Agent of Shield. We finally have the budgets and the technology to be able to do justice to the amazing and stylised spy world that Jack Kirby created, as only he could. Ridiculous gadgets, futuristic settings and a devil-may-care ambiance. There is so much room for a fun but action-filled adventure that walks a line between Casino Royale (not the original) and Iron Man. What makes this idea an actual possibility is the fact that Samuel L. Jackson, who has been reprising the Ultimate Comics version of Nick Fury (the character of which was based on him to start with) in all of the Marvel movies in the past few years, signed a nine picture contract. And so far he has appeared in only five films. I must admit to having a real soft spot for the spy genre and its campy, romantic and lounge-room violence stories.

5. Thunderbolts

When the Avengers sweeps the worldwide box office in May there is hope that it will erase the belief that an ensemble hero film is a big risk to take. It worked with Bryan Singer's first X-Men movie, and Watchmen was a creative success even if the cinema receipts didn't back it up. And so, on the back of these titans of comic-cinema, I offer you the next great team movie - The Thunderbolts! A team of super villains posing as heroes in an effort to pull off the greatest villainous plot ever. And yet each becomes plagued by the glory and love that comes with being a hero, forcing them to reconsider their end plan. There are three possible stories that could be told (or perhaps a trilogy). The origin story that follows the villains as they play the hero role, find their desires change, and then have to choose which side they want to be on. After that we could follow the Thunderbolts on-the-run once the world has discovered that they are actually villains and are being hunted; in the comics Hawkeye offers to lead them and help them earn their redemption (great tie-in to the Avengers franchise!). And finally there is serious potential in the latest rendition of the Thunderbolts that revolves around a team of super villain prisoners who are forced to act as heroes as a form of community service. So much pain, so much anger. This could be a very dark film.

4. Luke Cage & Iron Fist: Heroes For Hire

I really don't need to say a lot about this possible project as the internet is overflowing with rumours and gossip. There is talk of a Luke Cage solo movie. Or an Iron Fist movie. For my money I would rather see the pair teamed up in their original ghetto-stomping pairing as Heroes For Hire. And perhaps there is a good chance of it actually coming to fruition with the likes of Idris Elba, Isaiah Mustafa (the guy from the famous Old Spice commercial) and Tyrese Gibson all clamouring to be cast as Cage. If you haven't seen the self-funded trailer created by Isaiah Mustafa in his bid to woo the execs at Marvel Studios then you have missed out on a pretty funny/ slick clip. And if you have seen it before, it i well worth watching again: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NQd2dWui2vw

3. Kang The Conqueror

Okay, so this listing isn't for a hero. Instead I am suggesting that there is a great movie idea lead by one of the Avengers' ultimate nemeses from across the decades. Since his first appearance in Avengers Vol. 1 #8, Kang has stirred up trouble time and time again. Which is quite apt for someone who is the time traveling fascist dictator from the future. Kang is powerful enough to face down all of the Avengers by himself, and he is constantly thwarted due only to his arrogance or by betrayed by others. He is a truly human character full of flaws and deluded good intentions; somewhat reminiscent of the Gods of the Greek Pantheon. So what if they made a follow up to the Avengers but told from the viewpoint of their arch rival? One man struggling to save his people from the revolutionist attacks by a band of super-terrorists? A futuristic tale of empire building and warring galaxies where a single figure attempts to stave off the extinction of mankind by use of force and tyrannical domination.

2. X-Factor

Let's be clear up front. I am not talking about the bad spin-off from the X-Men that saw the Xavier's original students pretend to be mutant-hunters whilst attempting to save mutantkind. Nor do I mean the horrific second version led by Havok in the 90's that is so dated now I struggle to get through one page of heavy-handed, pop-culture-drowned dialogue. Nope, what I am talking about is the smart and darkly comical 3rd volume of X-Factor from 2006 that revolves around Jamie Madrox (Multiple Man) and his mutant investigation agency. If you haven't been lucky enough to have discovered this series, then think X-files meets The Maltese Falcon. Madrox takes on the role of a private detective and finds himself walking a line between human/ mutant relations. Outside of the typical mutant or super-powered stories, Madrox is dealing with a serious personal issue. He thinks he has a form of split personality syndrome; the big twist being that his separate personalities are able to become physical copies of himself. From witty banter to heartfelt confessions, X-Factor could be a Film Noir for the superhero era.

1. Moon Knight

This is a very personal choice, as Moon Knight is my favourite Marvel superhero. And being a Moon Knight fan is a very difficult pastime due to the constant short-lived series and drastic changes in character approach that have occurred across the years. Yet I know I am not alone as there was serious web gossip in the late 2000s of a possible live-action TV show. Alas that never came to fruition. So what better to create instead than a movie? With the success of Christopher Nolan's darker version of Batman, the world is ready to be faced with Marvel's own vigilante detective. But Marc Spector is darker and more dangerous. He is mentally unstable, slipping between his various personalities, and talking to the Egyptian god Khonshu, whom only he can see. He has learned that violence is beaten with violence and constantly questions the 'hero' line between right, wrong and vengeance. He is constantly forced to ask the important question that all other heroes sweep under the rug and try to ignore; "what do you really have to do to stop a villain?". Well, there's my list of 10 Marvel heroes I want to see on the big screen. Do you agree? Who did I miss? Who shouldn't get their own film?
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A director & cinematographer by trade, but a Geek by choice. David grew up on the beaches of Sydney, Australia where he spent most sunny days indoors organsing his ever-expanding comic collection. Snubbed by the world at large, he wrapped himself in the sweet, sweet tales of the Marvel Universe and only resurfaces for Cheezels.