20 Marvel Heroes We Still Need to See on the Big and Small Screens
Even with over 60 live action films and TV series based on Marvel characters available for public consumption it’s hard to believe how many heroes still haven’t gotten their chance in the spotlight. Some of the most popular Marvel heroes still haven’t appeared on the big or small screen outside of animated form. The reasons for this are wide and varied.
The still tangled web of different property rights is a major reason. Many of your favorite mutants are controlled by 20th Century Fox who is finally just beginning to explore the X-Men universe. Other characters are caught in a weird limbo of rights between Sony Pictures, who still controls the Spider-Man franchise, Fox and Marvel Studios. For instance, both Fox and Marvel had the right to use Quicksilver who turned up in two different movie incarnations within weeks of each other. It sort of worked and it sort of didn’t.
Also, unlike DC that is more than OK with duplicating characters on the big and small screen, Marvel is creating one gigantic interconnecting universe. That means shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Daredevil can’t create their own versions of known Avengers characters without fans assuming that’s the definitive Black Knight or Moon Knight (more on them later) for all of Marvel. And, frankly, there may just be too many popular Avengers members and international heroes for Marvel to deal with when you have that particular strategy.
Keeping that in mind, here are 20 Marvel heroes most fans are still hoping to eventually see kicking ass in some form or another (assuming the powers at be can find the time to give them a home).
First appearance: Nova #1, Sept. 1976
Real identity: Richard Ryder
Lowdown: Sure, the Nova Corps are alive and well in the Guardians of the Galaxy movie franchise, but the greatest Nova of them all, Richard Ryder, hasn’t stepped hd his moment yet (at least not that we know of). Ryder has an Avenger connection as a one-time member and has saved the Marvel comic book universe on his own more than once. Every kid wanted his super powers growing up (Flying through space! a constant force field! Energy blasters!) and he’s also that Marvel relatable twentysomething that’s now missing from the big screen back to being a Spider-Man a goofy teenager again.
Best Chance: Baring a surprise cameo in Guardians vol. 2, the best hope for Ryder is to debut in a space-themed future Marvel Studios endeavor such as Avengers: Infinity War, a fourth Thor film or – and this seems the most likely – Captain Marvel.
Note: Another hero took the mantle of Nova over the past decade, the undeniably adorable Sam Alexander. It would be great for Marvel to bring a hero with real Hispanic heritage such as Sam into the mix, but he may just be too similar in personality to the new Spidey to work at this time.
First appearance: Savage She-Hulk #1
Real identity: Jennifer Walters
Lowdown: One of Marvel’s most powerful heroes, Bruce Banner’s cousin is a Hulk in control of her own body (there’s no Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde issue here) with a keen intelligence and sharp wit. Marvel figured out the best way to exploit the character by focusing on Walters background as a defense lawyer, but since her debut three decades ago She-Hulk has been a key member of the Avengers, the Fantastic Four and The Defenders. The fact Marvel Studios hasn’t found a way to introduce a hero so interconnected in its comic book universe is sort of head scratching.
Best Chance: Future Avengers film or Captain Marvel although we’re betting on the later. Walters’ friendship with Carol Danvers is the perfect opportunity to also bring in some of Marvel’s other powerful ladies including a number of other heroines on this list. A Defenders appearance isn’t out of the question, we’re just not sure even Netflix has the budget to pull a CG motion capture She-Hulk off for more than a scene or two.
First appearance: New Mutants #87 (as Cable), 1990
Real identity: Nathan Summers
Lowdown: The long grown son of Scott Summers and Madelyne Pryor – wait for it – a clone of Jean Grey, Cable was raised in the far future for his own protection only to return to the present a man seemingly older than his father and with combat abilities no one could have fathomed. He also was visibly battle scared with a robotic right arm. He’s a character with the sort of convoluted history that gives screenwriters headaches, but that tragic background has helped turn him into a fan favorite with more solo titles than his pop Cyclops has ever had. The question is how do you introduce him into an established movie universe without a 10-minute long exposition explaining who he actually is and how he got to be that way?
Best Chance: Cable is set to appear in 20th Century Fox’s X-Force that has been in active development since 2013, but still doesn’t have a director or release date. However, a post-credits scene for Deadpool says the character will appear in Deadpool 2.
First appearance: Journey Into Mystery, Annual #1, 1965
Real identity: Hercules (he’s actually the Greek Heracles, but Marvel uses the more familiar Roman God name)
Lowdown: Since Thor first debuted in 1962, Stan Lee made the Norse and Greek gods cornerstones of his Marvel comic book universe. The immortal son of Zeus and a mortal woman, Hercules has been a constant for Marvel in his own title and as a longstanding member of The Avengers. In fact, for a good chunk of the 80’s and 90’s it would be easier to find Hercules hanging out in Avengers Mansion than the God of Thunder. Why he hasn’t made it to the MCU yet is complicated, but the biggest reason is likely that the ale drinking, gregarious and sometimes naive Chris Hemsworth Thor you’ve seen on the big screen is much closer to the characterization of the comic book Hercules than the comic book Thor. Until Thor leaves the big screen Avengers does the MCU need him?
Best Chance: A future Avengers or Thor feature film.
First appearance: The Avengers #9, Oct. 1964
Real identity: Simon Williams
Lowdown: A member of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes for almost 40 years, Wonder Man has always been one of those Marvel characters that rarely get the respect he deserves. Granted, his side-career as a Hollywood movie star (think Tom Cruise with less talent), the fact he shares a “wonder” with a more well known DC hero hasn’t helped. And yet, as a man transformed into a being of complete iconic energy (whatever that means) he’s arguably one of the most powerful heroes in the Marvel stable. He’s also had a history of mental instability that screams good dramatic conflict in a team setting, but with DC’s Wonder Woman already one of 2017’s most anticipated films would Marvel simply look bad for trying to incorporate their own Wonder into the MCU anytime soon?
Best Chance: You’d have to guess an eventual Avengers or even Iron Man movie, but don’t be surprised if Wonder Woman’s existence pushes Simon to an arc on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
First appearance: Giant-Size Creatures #1, July 1974 (as Tigra)
Real identity: Greer Grant Nelson
Lowdown: Talk about a character with a crazy past. A one-time human heroine known as The Cat, Nelson agreed to be transformed into a half-human, half feline hybrid to save her life and be the champion of the Cat People, an ancient and secretive sect that for some reason lived in…Baja, California (hey, it was the early ‘70s people, that was exotic back then). An off and on again member of the Avengers, Tigra has gone through many ups and downs dealing with the “cat” side of her new form. It’s worth noting, however, that she counts She-Hulk and Carol Danvers as good friends in the Marvel comic book universe.
Best Chance: A future Avengers or Captain Marvel film, if that.
Spectrum (one time known as Captain Marvel)
First appearance: The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #16, 1982
Real identity: Monica Rambeau
Lowdown: If any character needs to be introduced to the MCU sooner rather than later its Rambeau. A former New Orleans Harbor Patrol Lieutenant, freak exposure to extra-dimensional energy gave her the power to turn into any form of energy along the electromagnetic spectrum. That means she can do everything from turn into a living laser beam or fly at the speed of light. She has top tier super powers, abilities that would be a CG artist’s dream. Oh, and as one of the most powerful African-American heroes in the Marvel comic book universe it goes without saying this Avenger needs to get on the big screen ASAP.
Best Chance: A future Avengers, Captain Marvel or perhaps even Black Panther film. The best choice though may be the rumored Iron Man 4.
First appearance: Uncanny X-Men #130, February 1980
Real identity: Alison Blaire
Lowdown: A mutant with the ability to turn sound (often music) into light and energy blasts, Dazzler started off as a record company tie-in for Marvel at the end of the disco era. Her solo title lasted over three years though and being a sometime member of the X-Men for three decades has provided her with a significant cult following (not to mention gay one). If any Marvel character should be the subject of a movie musical it’s Dazzler and that’s a problem because studios are barely making live action musicals as it is.
Best Chance: If Dazzler’s rights were controlled by Marvel you could imagine a one-shot Netflix musical movie. Or even a solo flick with the right creative team. Does anyone trust 20th Century Fox – who has taken years to get Hugh Jackman’s original musical The Greatest Showman on Earth greenlit – with a Dazzler musical? The next X-Men movie should take place in the ‘90s. Perhaps that’s when Ms. Blaire will finally get her moment on the dance floor?
First appearance: Werewolf by Night #32, August 1975
Real identity: Marc Spector
Lowdown: An American who became the living avatar for the Egyptian Moon god Khonshu (Holy major cultural appropriation!), Moon Knight has often been put in the hands of some of the most creative writers and artists working at Marvel. It’s partially because of the hero’s iconic costume and the fact Spector has suffered psychological issues and, at one time, a multiple personality disorder. Never heard of him? Imagine Daredevil with his eyesight and superhuman abilities depending on the phases of the moon. This is a character that’s been an Avenger, a street fighter, battled Doctor Doom, produced a fictional TV series about himself and ventured into the supernatural. There is a ton to explore here.
Best Chance: Can we say Netflix’s Defenders or a solo Netflix series? It just makes too much sense. Or would Spector fit into a Doctor Strange sequel?
First appearance: Marvel Spotlight #32, February 1977
Real identity: Jessica Drew
Lowdown: The star of a legendary ‘70s animated Saturday morning TV show, Spider-Woman has a convoluted comic book origin that has undergone drastic changes over the years. The most important aspect of it though has been the fact that the notorious HYDRA organization has been a thorn in her side for most of her life. Drew has been an Avenger and an Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. She’ s been a super spy, a super hero and, most recently, a private investigator. She has powers similar to Spider-Man (Peter Parker) except she has the added bonus of venom blasts that directs painful bio-energy at an adversary. Over the years she’s become especially good friends with fellow Avenger Captain Marvel (Carol Danvers).
Best Chance: Because of the “spider” name its been long assumed Sony Pictures has the rights to the character, but the deal for Marvel Studios to produce the next wave of Spider-Man films may have changed ht. Can Jessica Drew find a way to join Earth’s Mightiest Heroes in the MCU? Is a Captain America or Captain Marvel debut in her future? You know Marvel wants to, but the more important question is, can they?
First appearance: Captain Britain #1, Oct. 1976
Real identity: Brian Braddock
Lowdown: Bestowed with super powers to protect the United Kingdom by none other than Merlyn himself, Captain Britain is one of the more powerful heroes in the Marvel comic book universe and, in theory, would be the best choice to introduce an international hero into the big screen MCU (obviously, the Black Panther of the fictional nation of Wakanda beat him to it, but we’re talking real world nations here). Captain Britain could arguably take down Captain America. He’s got super strength, invulnerability and can fly. He’s been part of the clandestine Avengers group known as the Secret Avengers, but has spent most of his time working for the British intelligence agency MI-13 and as leader of the superhero group Excalibur.
Best Chance: Braddock’s sister Betsy is a mutant whose rights 20th Century Fox exploited in “X-Men: Apocalypse” this past summer. Fox does not control Captain Britain and it would not be surprising to see him at least cameo in a future Captain America or Avengers flick.
First appearance: Marvel Graphic Novel #1 (Dec. 1982)
Roster: Wolfsbane, Magik, Cannonball, Mirage, Sunspot, Warlock
Lowdown: The New Mutants were a group of young new recruits chosen by Professor Xavier after his X-Men had grown into adults and no longer needed his direct guidance. Historically, this new team was one of the most ethnically and globally diverse groups at the time of their debut. Rahne Sinclair is Wolfsbane, a Scottish lass who has the ability transform into a wolf (or partially into one at her choosing). Magik is Illyana Rasputin, the Russian born sister of Colossus who despite the ability to teleport spent most of her adolescent life stuck in the time bending dimension of Limbo learning the dark arts. Kentucky native Sam Guthrie goes by Cannonball, and his name pretty much describes his power. Brazilian rich kid Roberto da Costa transforms the energy of the sun into super strength as Sunspot. Mirage is Danielle Moonstar, a Native American with the ability to create powerful three-dimensional illusions. Warlock is an alien who befriends the team after attempting to hide from a father who wants to destroy him simply doesn’t understand why he’s “different” (insert analogy here). Each character has a long individual history in the comics, but as a team they have been fan favorites for three generations of readers.
Best Chance: It appears a movie is actually happening. Josh Boone (Fault in our Stars) is writing and directing the X-Men movie franchise spin-off that is reported to begin shooting in 2017.
First appearance: Uncanny X-Men #109 (as Weapon Alpha)
Real identity: James Hudson
Lowdown: A scientist who developed his own version of an Iron Man-type suit, Hudson became Canada’s premier superhero and with the help of his nation’s government formed the superhero group Alpha Flight. Like many Marvel heroes, however, he’s died and been resurrected. During his death his wife, Heather Hudson, wore a similar power suit and lead the team as Vindicator, a name he also briefly used.
Best Chance: In theory, Guardian should appear in a Captain America, Iron Man or Avengers film, but the fact he first debuted in an X-Men comic book title means 20th Century Fox controls his big screen rights along with those of Alpha Flight. Considering how much difficulty Fox is having getting direct X-Men spin offs up and running its hard to imagine Guardian or Alpha Flight getting any love anytime soon.
First appearance: NYX #3, February 2004
Real identity: Laura Kinney
Lowdown: X-23 was created by a top secret government program attempting to clone Wolverine. Trained as a bloodthirsty assassin, X-23 eventually became a student at Xavier’s Institute and a member of X-Force. The character has become so popular that she recently took over the mantle of Wolverine in an All New Wolverine title.
Best Chance: Puzzling. In theory, X-23’s big screen and television rights are controlled by 20th Century Fox but she didn’t actually debut in an X-Men title. Could Marvel Studios find a way to bring her into the MCU without referring to her as a mutant?
First appearance: Strange Tales #169, Sept. 1973
Real identity: Jericho Drumm
Lowdown: A Haitian Houngan with a mastery of voodoo, Drumm’s spirit was magically bonded with that of his dead brother Daniel and together they have battled numerous supernatural forces. Most notably, a few years ago Brother Voodoo took the title of Earth’s Sorcerer Supreme for a short time when Doctor Strange felt he was no longer worthy of the mantle.
Best Chance: A future Doctor Strange or Black Panther film, but an appearance in Netflix’s Defenders universe isn’t out of the question.
First appearance: Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, Sept. 1981 (TV series)
Real identity: Angelica Jones
Lowdown: Originally created for the memorable NBC animated series, Firestar eventually made her way into Marvel’s comic book universe where it was revealed her fire-based powers were mutant in origin. Over the years she has been a member of the X-Men, the Avengers and the New Warriors.
Best Chance: While the origin of her abilities would need to be changed it isn’t difficult to see Firestar as a grounded member of Netflix’s Defenders landscape. Appearing in the M.C.U. isn’t out of the question either. An eventual Spider-Man movie cameo for nostalgia’s sake, perhaps?
First appearance: Uncanny X-Men #120, April 1979
Real identity: Jean-Paul Beaubier
Lowdown: Along with his twin sister Jeanne-Marie (aka Aurora), Beaubier was a founding member of Guardian’s Alpha Flight. During his time on the Canadian superhero team Northstar became one of the first superheroes to come out as a gay man. This led him, as a mutant, to eventually become a longstanding member of the X-Men. Like his sister, Beaubier can fly, move at superspeed and has the limited invulnerability and superhuman leg strength that comes with those powers.
Best Chance: Assuming Quicksilver continues to age in the X-Men movie franchise, it goes without saying that having a younger speedster join the team in the next ‘90s incarnation wouldn’t be a terrible idea. That era would also have special significance as Northstar came out in 1992.
First appearance: Captain America #217, January 1978
Real identity: Wendell Vaughn
Lowdown: There have been a number of heroes that have worn the powerful quantum bands and taken the code name of Quasar, but Vaughn is the first that comes to mind for many Marvel fans. As a “cosmic” superhero and member of The Avengers he serves as a bridge to spacefaring heroes such as the Guardians of the Galaxy. A former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, Vaughn’s quantum bands give him the ability to tap into a source of quantum energy that he can fashion as energy blasts, force fiends and other three-dimensional constructs. He’s not similar to DC’s Green Lantern, but he’s not not similar to Green Lantern (if you get the drift).
Best Chance: It doesn’t appear Quasar will appear in Guardians of the Galaxy, vol. 2, but no one should rule out a flyby in vol. 3.
First appearance: Uncanny X-Men #10, March 1965
Real identity: Kevin Plunder
Lowdown: With a very obvious wink to Tarzan, Ka-zar is the son of an English nobleman who was raised by a talking (yes, talking) saber tooth tiger in the Savage Land, a hidden valley of Antarctica that is the home to many mutated creatures and tribes. There are dinosaurs, Ape-Men and are even Cat-People (boy, they get around don’t they?). Ka-Zar has no super powers of his own and he protects this land using the skills he’s learned while growing up in this strange corner of the planet. An ally of the X-Men, Ka-Zar has also fought alongside The Avengers and Spider-Man.
Best Chance: In theory, 20th Century Fox has the rights to Ka-Zar. He’s not a mutant, but a trip to the Savage Land would be quite a field trip for a future X-Men or New Mutants movie..
First appearance: The Avengers #47, Dec. 1967
Real identity: Dane Whitman
Lowdown: Actually the third character to take the mantle of The Black Knight in Marvel history, Whitman became a long running member of the Avengers, The Defenders and Captain Britain’s Excalibur team. At one time he welded the powerful Ebony blade, a weapon that had the unfortunate effect of causing him to go insane at times. He’s a true Marvel legacy character that connects many different heroes together.
Best Chance: While he doesn’t necessarily have a strong history with the God of Thunder in the comics, something tells us Marvel Studios will consider the Black Knight for a Thor movie before anything else.