With gigantic hits like The Avengers, The Amazing Spider-Man and The Dark Knight Rises, the summer of 2012 is likely to go down in cinematic history as the greatest year of superhero movies ever. And with movies like Iron Man 3, Thor 2, Captain America 2: Winter Soldier and Man of Steel already planned and in various stages of production, it looks like Hollywood’s love affair with comics is far from turning cold.
There are even plans for some lesser known characters to get their own film treatment. Heroes like Ant-Man, Guardians of the Galaxy, Lobo and Shazam are all in various stages of development. These planned films are great news for comic-book and genre movie fans and let’s hope that tinsel town continues to take the comic film seriously by producing Grade-A movies like this summer’s batch of blockbusters.
With Marvel’s announcement of the Guardians of the Galaxy movie at the 2012 San Diego Comic-Con (Really… GOTG?), I now have my hopes set high for silver-screen versions of some other “more minor” character favorites from the Marvel & DC universes. These heroes may not be as well-known as Batman, but I still think they could offer big-screen adventure as cool as, or even cooler than, their better-known counterparts.
Some of these titles have been in film development hell for years, while others have never been touched by a movie mogul, but here’s my top-ten list of heroes that are overdue for their film debuts; and let us know who you’d like to see on the super big-screen.
#10) Man-Wolf – Sure, he’s basically just a werewolf – but with such an interesting story. Astronaut John Jameson (yes, J. Jonah Jameson’s son) goes to the moon and keeps a mystical ruby stone he finds there as a souvenir. He fashions the stone into a necklace and everything is good until the moonstone grafts itself to his throat and starts turning him into a white-haired werewolf, when it is activated by moonlight. Man-Wolf would be great as a Spider-Man villain, or in a movie on his own with an interesting twist on the usual lycanthropic legend.
#9) Man-Thing – Yes I know that there was a Sci Fi Channel straight-to-video bastardization of the Man-Thing saga in 2005; and if you are a Man-Thing fan and saw even part of this horrendous attempt at a live-action version of this character, then your hopes of a serious take on the Ted Sallis creature went up in smoke faster than fearful man burning at the Man-Thing’s touch. Forget the earlier attempt even exists and come on Hollywood, the Man-Thing’s story is too swamptacular to screw-up! Let’s do it again and get it right this time.
#8) Morbius, the Living Vampire –Spider-Man has always had some of the greatest and most well-developed villains in all of comicdom and Dr. Michael Morbius is one of the best. He a different kind of vampire in that he was created by science instead of being a supernatural entity. While researching a treatment for his own rare blood disease, biochemist Morbius inadvertently gives himself the powers and blood thirst of a vampire. While continuing to find a cure, he can only stay alive by drinking the blood of the living. He is one of Marvel’s most sympathetic protagonists and his story would make a great movie.
#7) Captain Marvel –There have been several versions of Captain Marvel throughout the history of comics, but the character I would like to see on the big screen is Captain Mar-Vell, the alien Kree warrior who becomes the protector of the Earth, but who is locked in the Negative Zone and only able to appear when Rick Jones slaps his wrist Nega-Bands together – instantly swapping places with the superhero. Mar-Vell is a well-known enemy of Thanos and he’d make a great addition to Marvel’s next Avengers movie – especially if they touch on the Kree-Skrull war in any way. The Kree Captain would also make a fantastic stand-alone film.
#6) Luke Cage, Hero for Hire –Carl Lucas was sent to jail for a crime he didn’t commit and in order to be awarded early parole he volunteers for an experimental treatment that ends up giving him super strength and steel hard skin. He takes on the guise of Luke Cage (also known as Power Man) and hires himself out as a private detective. Cage was one of the first black super-heroes and incidentally is the character that comic fan Nicolas Cage (AKA Nicolas Coppola) got his screen name from. Wouldn’t it be a trip to see Nicolas Cage as a scientist experimenting on the Luke Cage character in a movie?
#5) Deathlok –It’s hard to believe that Deathlok the Demolisher has been around for almost 40 years. He’s a sci-fi character created in 1974, whose narrative was originally set in 1990 – proving once again that “the future ain’t what it used to be.” The cyborg soldier has gone through more than a couple of iterations, but my favorite will always be the original Luther Manning version, who could be described as a cool-ass cross between Nick Fury and Robocop. Deathlok is a great science-fiction story that’s been waiting a long time to be told on the silver-screen.
#4) Namor, the Sub-Mariner – Okay, who wouldn’t want to see Namor, the Prince of Atlantis, throwing down on New York City with swarm of Jack Kirby inspired sea-monsters? This would make a great Fantastic Four movie – or the Sub-Mariner could easily stand as its own film. I’m probably one of the few fans who loved Waterworld, and the seventies TV show Man from Atlantis teased the potential of a Sub-Mariner movie over 35 years ago. The technology is at hand and we’re due a great undersea adventure movie.
#3) Ka-Zar – I’m a huge Tarzan fan and there is not much improving that can be done on the classic tale of the amazing ape-man; but a Tarzan type character in a land of dinosaurs, with a sabretooth-tiger as a sidekick instead of a chimp is about as awesome as you can get. The original Ka-Zar has been around since the 1930s and was a direct rip-off of Tarzan, but in 1965, Stan Lee & Jack Kirby reworked the character as Kevin Plunder, Lord of the Savage Land, in the pages of X-Men #10. With his faithful companion, the sabertooth Zabu, Ka-Zar defends the Savage Land (hidden beneath Antarctica) from all sorts of villainous invaders. This film would combine elements of Jurassic Park and Tarzan, but with Marvel super-heroics – it couldn’t miss if done right.
#2) Kamandi: The Last Boy on Earth –Kamandi was basically Jack Kirby’s version of Planet of the Apes, but Kirby’s twist was that many other animals (including apes) evolved into humanoid beings after an apocalyptic event decimates mankind. Men are now savages and man-like tigers, lions, dogs and wolves now rule the Earth. Kamandi has survived in an underground bunker called “Command D” and he teams up with man-animal human sympathizers and other human survivors to try make their way in a world gone mad. Modern CGI technology could bring this rich Kirby Classic to life in a wonderful epic film that I would love to see.
#1) Y: The Last Man –Y: The Last Man, the adventures of Yorick Brown and his Capuchin monkey, Ampersand, the last male beings on Earth, is my all-time favorite comic-book series. The story follows the unlikely pair through a world populated only by women and in a realistic way captures the politics, science and peril that you might expect in a world without men. The 60 issue run of Y, by author Brian K. Vaughan, is witty, intelligent and one of the best and most satisfying Sci-Fi stories ever. If the right filmmaker can capture the same magic as this incredible comic series, the result could be one of the best film franchises ever. Fingers-crossed!
So there’s my top-ten wish list of secondary or lesser known comic heroes I’d like to see on film. Send us your comments and let us know who you think is missing-in-action from the silver screen and what superhero films you’d like to see; or let me know why my choices are lame – I can take it!