With Captain America smearing his stars n’ stripes all over screens this weekend in one of the best Marvel movies to date, it’s a damn good time to be a superhero movie fan. Not only has the Marvel movie factory proved to be a massive financial success, but they’re also arguably the most consistently creatively successful production company in La-La-land (well, aside from Agents Of SHIELD, but let’s ignore that for now).
The most amazing thing about Marvel’s continued success is that they’ve essentially achieved it with their B-listers. The Marvel superstars like Spider-Man, The X-Men, and even The Fantastic Four are all in the hands of other studios with varying degrees of success. For the Marvel movie universe to take the next step, they’d need to grab a hold of their A-team and pull together the entire Marvel Universe for a proper big screen adventure. Sadly, that ain’t going to happen given that Sony won’t be giving up their Spider-Man money pit anytime soon, nor does Fox have any desire to let go of their X-Men or Fantastic Four franchises (and with Mark Millar now in charge of Fox’s Marvel division, things are about to get interesting). However, in the interest of comic book nerd fantasy, we’d like to present a list of five Marvel characters that desperately deserve a reboot in the golden age of comic book movies. Some Marvel Studios might treat right down the line others are mere fantasy, but all five deserve better treatment than what they’ve gotten in the past.
This planet-munching supervillain is easily the biggest and baddest villain of the entire Marvel Universe. He is a monstrous threat who requires a grander team up than The Avengers to bring down. Galactus would be the perfect bad guy for the ultimate Marvel crossover movie if Fox, Sony, and Disney were ever able to work out the red tape (perhaps in some sort of Secret Wars-esque sci-fi spin-off?). However, most casual superhero moviegoers wouldn’t know that. Thus far, Galactus’ only appearance on screen was in the horrendous Fantastic Four: Rise Of The Silver Surfer and even then, he appeared only as a cloud (God damn, that movie was bad). Galactus deserves far better. Moviegoers deserve much better. At one point, Marvel even tried to trade characters to Fox for Galactus just to right the wrong. It didn’t happen. Tears were shed. Hopefully Mark Millar and the Fox Marvel team have big plans for this big guy because he’s a cinematic icon just waiting to be unleashed.
Ask any Spider-Man fan from the 90s who their favorite villain is and chances are they’ll say Venom (or at least they should if they know what’s good for them). Possibly Todd MacFarlane’s most enduring addition to the Spider-Man mythos during his iconic run as Spidey’s lead artist, the alien symbiote and perverse double of webhead is one of the most beloved villains of any comic book series. In the movies, he appeared once in Spider-Man 3 as an afterthought and in the ultimate kick to the fanboy community’s nuts, he was played by Topher Grace (seriously, what were they thinking?!). Even though Sam Evil Dead Raimi seemed like an ideal choice to bring the character life given his horror movie background, Raimi’s vision for Spider-Man was limited to the Stan Lee/Steve Ditko era. Raimi recreated that era perfectly and played an instrumental role in bringing the Marvel tone and visual style to Hollywood blockbusters in a way that still resonates today. However, he just didn’t understand Venom, and as a result, moviegoers were deprived of one of the greatest comic book villains ever conceived. Venom deserves a shot at movie stardom. Hopefully once Marc Webb ends his reign of mediocrity as captain of the Spider-Man ship, someone who understands Venom will get a chance to blow audiences’ minds. Eddie Brock’s time has come.
3) The Hulk:
This one is a little tricky. I’ve personally got a soft spot for Ang Lee’s bizarre art film take on Hulk and enjoy watching Toronto get ripped a new one in The Incredible Hulk. However, there’s no denying that despite the existence of two Hulk movies, the big green guy has yet to get a solo big screen outing worthy of his iconic stature. Now, The Avengers finally gave audiences the Hulk they deserve, but that was an ensemble piece in which the big guy was just one cog in the machine. With Mark Ruffalo inked to a long-term Marvel contract, it’s bizarre that Kevin Feige and co. didn’t write some wrongs by delivering a solo Hulk outing for Marvel’s Phase 2. Granted, there aren’t that many excellent standalone Hulk stories in the comics, but Planet Hulk and World War Hulk certainly exist and feel like they were written specifically for blockbuster adaptation. Hopefully someone at Marvel Studios noticed. Hell, even a She-Hulk movie feels overdue at this point.
2) The Punisher:
So far there have been three Punisher movies and all of them sucked (one with Dolph Lundgren from the 80s, one with Thomas Jane and—shudder—John Travolta from 2004, and one with Ray Stevenson from 2008 that failed to launch Marvel’s planned R-rated movie division Marvel Knights and killed the mini-studio before it started). In each case, the filmmakers found a good lead actor but screwed up the project in pretty much every other way. Given that The Punisher was once one of the most beloved characters in the entire Marvel Universe, the way he’s been mishandled on the big screen has been a big slap in the face to fans. This guy needs and deserves a movie worthy of his iconic skull. The trouble is that the vicious killing machine without a single superpower doesn’t really fit into the Disney corporation’s Marvel plans. For a Punisher movie to work it needs to be R-rated and good luck talking Disney into adding an R-rated entry to their cash cow. Ideally, The Punisher could slide into the Marvel universe as a supporting player (he was originally a Spider-Man villain after all), or if the Studio’s collaboration with Netflix works out, he’d fit into that ratings-free medium well. Regardless, Frank Castle deserves another shot (or a few hundred shots, depending on the amount of ammo he has on hand).
Finally, this top choice is a bit of a personal one. Full disclosure: Daredevil is my favorite Marvel character. Granted, he’s always been more of a cult favorite than a marquee Marvel hero, but some of the Daredevil stories written by the likes of Frank Miller, Ed Brubaker, Brian Michael Bendis, Jeph Loeb, and even Kevin Smith rank amongst the greatest Marvel tales ever conceived. In the movie world, Daredevil only has a horrible Ben Affleck movie to his name (it’s a particularly frustrating movie given that all of the key Daredevil players were included, and it featured a perfectly cast Michael Clarke Duncan as Kingpin, yet still somehow sucked). That’s a real shame, but there is a silver lining. Marvel owns the rights to Daredevil again, and they have plans. Daredevil will launch Marvel’s upcoming Netflix offshoot and the series will be shot on location in the streets of New York. If the ratings-free zone of Netflix allows writer/director Drew Goddard (Cabin In The Woods) to create the grimy, gritty, and grounded Daredevil project that the fans deserve, it could be spectacular.
Daredevil is a secret weapon for Marvel Studios. He is the closest thing the company has to Batman and there are a long line of mature, psychologically complex, and brilliant Daredevil stories in their archives just begging for big screen adaptation. In particular, if Marvel is smart they’ll introduce the character/tone through Netflix and then bring him to the big screen in an adaptation of Frank Miller’s Born Again. Miller wrote that story while he was writing The Dark Knight Returns and even though Born Again doesn’t have a fraction of the fans of Miller’s bat-epic, it’s just as dark, rich, political, thrilling, smart, violent, and deconstructive of a superhero story. Adapt Born Again right and Marvel could have a Chris Nolan/Dark Knight style critical crossover hit on their hands. It’s a superhero movie masterpiece begging to be made. Everything is there on Miller’s pages, and it’s already written/drawn in a cinematic style. Hopefully Marvel knows what they have in Daredevil because general audiences don’t and they will be gobsmacked.