Marvel's Next Avengers Film #1: Ms. Marvel

With a sequel to this summer's monster hit now confirmed, we turn out attentions to who might join the team. Who should be the next Avenger? Our search begins with Ms. Carol Danvers...

With "The Avengers" sequel now officially confirmed by Marvel/Disney, comic book fans the world over will be contemplating which of the publisher's other heroes could be added to the line-up, potentially getting their own solo movie as soon as 2014. Of course, we have to bear in mind the fact that Marvel Studios do not own the film rights to characters as key to the comic book universe as Daredevil, Spider-Man, Wolverine or the Fantastic Four - all of whom have allied with or become members of the Avengers at one time or another. In fact in owning the IP for the X-Men, Fox actually own the rights to any character considered a "mutant", which rules out a huge portion of Marvel superheros from the off. But with that consideration in place, here is the first in a series of suggestions for Marvel's Next Avengers:

Ms. Marvel (Carol Danvers)

Why?: Currently the publisher's premiere female superhero, thanks to a decade of writer Brian Michael Bendis sticking her in every Avengers title he's been associated with, Carol Danvers is the most obvious candidate should Marvel seek to add another female to their bro-packed roster in 2014. Think about it: outside of the X-Men*, the Marvel Universe is not very well stocked in terms of iconic feminine heroes. For instance, Jessica Drew (the most popular incarnation of Spider-Woman and also an Avengers mainstay in recent years) would seem like a strange knock-off version of the better-known, Sony-owned web-slinger to those not versed in comic book history. Marvel and Fox apparently share the movie rights to Magneto's troubled, reality-altering daughter the Scarlet Witch (along with brother Quicksilver), so she might be an option. Yet Marvel would be forbidden from mentioning her father's name, making any origin story problematic or at least terribly vague. There are no such difficulties with Ms. Marvel - with few people having heard of her male counterpart Captain Mar-vell anyway (the famous Golden Age Captain Marvel is a DC comics mainstay), whilst the character's pre-super powers origin as a member of the US Air Force could easily be adapted to see her starting the film as an Agent of S.H.E.I.L.D. flying quinjets off the helicarrier and giving sass to Maria Hill. Danvers is just a fantastic character, being depicted as a natural leader and extremely brave soldier as well as being one of the most powerful active Marvel heroes. She can fly, is super strong and can absorb energy - which is one of those great powers a writer can adapt to do whatever they say it does in any given situation. *Fun fact: two of Marvel's strongest and best-known female characters, X-Men Mystique and Rogue, made their debuts as antagonists of Ms. Marvel in her original Chris Claremont written solo series. In fact Rogue can fly and is super strong as a result of having permanently absorbed Ms. Marvel's powers during a fight. Story?: Danvers' on/off relationship with on/off Avenger/wannabe movie star Simon Williams could provide an interesting plot for several reasons. The first is that it neatly introduces another Avenger to the world in the form of the uber-strong Wonder Man (The Rock anyone?). The second is that Wonder Man's penchant for going nuts and becoming a supervillain neatly provides a sympathetic antagonist with a strong connection to the hero. The fact that Wonder Man and Ms. Marvel have similar powers (flight, super strength, speed, agility) also makes them a good match in a fight. Williams' Hollywood career could also see the film move away from the East Coast and hit LA, which would be a refreshing change of pace for superhero movies in general. Using artistic license here, but maybe both heroes could gain their powers in the same accident - preventing the need for two convoluted origin stories in the one movie. But if taking a strong female character and structuring her story around a boyfriend isn't exactly your idea or girl power (in all honesty I only thought that scenario up to wedge in another Avenger) then perhaps the story could center on a feud with aliens the Kree - from whom she historical derives her abilities. But wouldn't another alien invasion story this close to The Avengers seem a little tired? Likelihood?: Two words make a Ms. Marvel solo movie extremely unlikely: Elektra and Catwoman. Although the failure of both can be put down to the fact they were horrible films, it is difficult to imagine a studio exec sticking his neck out on another female comic book character solo project. If you consider Warner haven't even been able to get a Wonder Woman movie (or TV series) off the ground, despite repeated attempts, you'll see just how hard it is going to be to give Ms. Danvers the shot she deserves. Yet there is some small hope in the fact that Marvel has deliberately positioned Ms. Marvel as their top female hero in recent years, with the character having lots of fans in high places within the company. Perhaps, with a guest appearance from Iron Man or a girly team-up with an already established Black Widow, the studio will take a gamble on making Carol their newest Avenger? Casting?: Amy Adams should play the part, but only because I think Amy Adams should be cast in everything. Charlize Theron has the blonde hair and strong features to make her a decent candidate, but the dismal box office of her flagship action effort Aeon Flux renders her casting unlikely. You could always go with an unknown, but 1) Carol Danvers is a woman and not a teenage girl and 2) Marvel have not gone down that road so far, even if they haven't been approaching conventional A-list stars. That second point probably rules out Kate Winslet who would be an absolutely awesome choice (anyone else seeing that?). Director?: My Ms. Marvel fights Wonder Man in Hollywood plot, which could lightly satirise the movie biz with the struggling actor's bruised ego perhaps a catalyst for his turn to supervillainy, needs a director famous for sardonic depictions of California. Danny DeVito would fit the bill there, not only with his black comedy sensibility but because several of the Marvel Studios appointed directors so far have come out of left-field. Kenneth Branagh doing Thor? It makes perfect sense now, but at the time it seemed like a very strange choice. See also Curtis Hanson. Or Doug Liman. Or maybe they should get in Kathryn Bigelow and make Ms. Marvel a self-destructive adrenaline junkie, perhaps falling out with her boyfriend after she take exception to his reckless behaviour? Could this be where the Iron Man cameo comes in, as Tony Stark flies out west to try to quell their increasingly irresponsible use of super powers? Or does that not sound like the perfect job for Captain America - whose own sequel comes out that summer (synergy is the word)? Ideally Joss Whedon, with his track record for strong female characters, would make this movie. But we all know he's taking much bigger meetings from here on in. So... Drew Goddard with a Whedon screenplay? Yes please. Let us know your thoughts about a Ms. Marvel movie - or who you would like to see join the Avengers movie franchise - in the comments below and check back soon as we reveal more candidates for Marvel's Next Avengers!

A regular film and video games contributor for What Culture, Robert also writes reviews and features for The Daily Telegraph, and The Big Picture Magazine as well as his own Beames on Film blog. He also has essays and reviews in a number of upcoming books by Intellect.