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Who Are The Remaining Unused Marvel Characters And Could They Make A Viable Movie?

by Gabe Toro
June 25, 2014 3:32 PM
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Last week, DC made waves with a rumor suggesting that Warner Brothers was possibly committing to seven superhero films in their near future, bringing the total of upcoming movies in the genre to 23. But what people forget is that while WB flexes its muscle, Marvel, in addition to its crammed slate for the next few years, still has a ridiculously long list of untapped characters, both over at Disney as well as other studios like Fox, Universal and Sony

For the time being, Sony’s got four more films in the “Spider-Man” universe planned based on studio announcements. Fox has release dates for the next “Fantastic Four”, “X-Men” and “Wolverine” movies. And Marvel has expanded their “Avengers” world to allow for multiple heroes to thrive in their own movies, and thereby rack up huge box office numbers. Does the marketplace suggest we want to see these films? A superhero film rarely loses money in this filmmaking economy, so clearly people are fans.

But the current well has to dry up soon. Marvel's day players that include Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans are only signed up until "Avengers 3. Similarly, Fox has banked on Hugh Jackman's Wolverine for seven films so far, with reportedly two more on deck, stretching him thin. Sony's already experiencing the growing pains of swapping out Tobey Maguire for Andrew Garfield, as Garfield's films aren't nearly as popular, plus there's a limit to how many existing big-name characters can be rebooted in the same way as Spider-Man: if there's no connective tissue between the films, re-casting is a cinch, but because the expanded universe approach is so popular, it becomes a bigger deal when you have new actors play familiar faces.

Which is why, in addition to finding a smooth way to phase out the more familiar actors in these movies, the studios need to develop new brand names. What lies beyond Professor X and his X-Men? Who will assemble when the Avengers retire? Fortunately, we're dealing with Marvel, that not only still owns a massive library of characters (of some diversity and depth), but has doled out a fair number of properties to the aforementioned Fox, Sony and Universal. The possibilities are endless, depressingly so for anyone who feels like we've already reached critical mass as regards comic book films. With pivotal movies like “The Sinister Six” and “Doctor Strange” on the horizon, what’s left for Marvel? We decided to take a peek and see just who owns the last remaining Marvel properties, and just how viable they might be.

Black Cat
If the rumors are true, Sony could end up giving “Spider-Man” a brief rest, sidelining the universe established in “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” that set the stage for the upcoming “Sinister Six” movie. But while postponing “The Amazing Spider-Man 3” means letting certain loose threads dangle, it doesn’t have to mean that the entire mythology is given a break. Of the many franchise hints in “The Amazing Spider-Man 2”, the one people seem to gloss over is the introduction of rising star Felicity Jones as Felicia Hardy. Fans know this to be the alter ego of criminal Black Cat, who has alternated between hero and villain during her 35-year-old history. Black Cat has had a full comic book career as a cat burglar and occasional superhero, and it would be yet another stab at DC if Marvel was able to grant this character her own adventure film while DC continued to ignore the commercial viability of a well-made “Catwoman” movie.

In the tricky game of rights roulette, Sony actually owns the film rights to all Marvel characters with the prefix “Spider-”. That includes this frequent Avengers member, who rarely, if ever, interacted with Spider-Man in the comics. Bearing little resemblance to her male counterpart, Jessica Drew (the most prominent of several characters bearing the Spider-Woman moniker at Marvel) was in fact a spy who had just uncovered the fact that she had been brainwashed, her past missing, a kind of female arachnid Jason Bourne, then, though the earlier comics featuring her character focussed on supernatural enemies, leaning towards horror and suspense. In recent years she’s represented more of a common costumed crimefighter, potentially enough to convince Sony that this is a character worth using, and not just a dumb brand extension.

Ultimate Spider-Man
In the comics’ “Ultimate” storylines, Marvel made the bold choice of definitively killing Peter Parker. But his actions during his brief career as Spider-Man inspired a young black Hispanic teenager to become the new Spidey, equipped with Parker’s powers due to a because-of-comic-books coincidence. As Morales is basically a child, his character’s adventures have been filled with a joy and enthusiasm the “regular” “Spider-Man” comics have not matched. With the two Andrew Garfield “Spider-Man” offerings suggesting the public may be growing tired of Parker, why not make the bold decision of introducing fan-favorite Morales into the cinematic universe?

In addition to the considerable rogues in the “Spider-Man” gallery, there’s a subset of occult characters like Man-Wolf and Morbius that could conceivably carry their own films, though Morbius might also be a part of the "Blade" package. The rights issues to these characters gets fairly confusing.

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  • Ashrod | July 12, 2014 7:03 PMReply

    It is definitely worth noting Marvel HAVE got Alpha Flight (there was even a rather explicit reference to Department H in Agents of SHIELD), and as Marvel do not have the television rights to the X-Men, we can guarantee they aren't a part of it. Of course they do however have the Spider-Man television rights, and are using some of the characters from the outer reaches of it, so if there are problems with Spider-Woman get her in Agents of SHIELD (provided she isn't already of course...). As for Morbius he is with Spider-Man and only Spider-Man (the Blade producers wanted him but couldn't get at him).

    Needless to say though, with 8000 characters all in all, Marvel, Sony and Fox won't run out of ideas any time soon.

  • Brett | July 6, 2014 4:35 PMReply

    West Coast Avengers - Hawkeye, Rhodes Iron Man, Tigra, Mockingbird, Wonder Man, and maybe Pym. That way they can use an established character in Hawkeye and to a lesser extent Iron Man while transitioning away from RDJ Iron Man.

  • Jeremy | July 6, 2014 2:51 PMReply

    ROM: Spaceknight

  • Ed | July 4, 2014 1:51 AMReply

    Luke Cage

  • Dusk | July 3, 2014 4:36 AMReply

    Morbius movie With Werewolf by night please! Best odd couple dynamic ever!

  • PFC 'HIGHSPEED' Lindsey | July 2, 2014 12:15 PMReply

    Facts are, Stan Lee did great by initiating comic books based around warriors. Bruce Banner with the atomic bomb gammas. Captain America's patriotic heroism. facts are, comics evolved but they never stopped giving us what we wanted most. Even heroes want heroes. The movies won't die, they get stronger, for with the world being as chaotic as it is, we still want someone to bring order to it.

  • Josh | July 2, 2014 11:06 AMReply

    Black Panther will be part of phase 3. I would love to see Punisher show up in a Captain America movie so you can contrast their different world views. Peter Parker will always be Spiderman to me, just do a black Peter Parker. How about a non racist caricature Arabian Knight?

  • Shannon | June 30, 2014 7:58 PMReply

    I think that Young Avengers has potential post Avengers 3 either as a movie or series, especially if the characters can be integrated into the MCU beforehand with the already released titles.

  • Sanker from India | June 30, 2014 7:14 AMReply

    Screw all dis crap! Somebody gotta make an HBO animated miniseries about legendary graphic novel masterpiece "Maus"!

  • Sanker from India | June 30, 2014 1:44 AMReply

    I hope not to sound like a hypocrite who is actually unspeakably crude and bawdy, but all the contours of the female superheroes are so damn freaking sexualised that it makes me think of Dennis Reynolds drawings in "it's always sunny in Philadelphia"

    Full disclosure: I'm a 21 year old straight guy

  • todd | June 27, 2014 11:24 AMReply

    I'd love to see X-Factor.

  • Thylanne | June 26, 2014 5:39 PMReply

    X-23 <3 !!

  • Sara | June 26, 2014 12:39 PMReply

    katheryn winnick could be Captain Marvel

  • j | June 26, 2014 8:55 AMReply

    These are all silly.

  • Emperor Zerg Rush | June 26, 2014 3:30 AMReply

    Stop kidding yourselves, Dazzler's appeal pales in comparison to Ant-Man (Pym AND Lang), and her appeal only works on the comic book page. And it took decades for that to even happen. Unless Disney funds it and it airs solely on the Disney channel as a made for TV deal, it just isn't going to fly.

    Blade would need to be rebooted, chopping out the character of Whistler (which was Goyer's creation to begin with) and as evidenced by how badly the last Blade film sucked, the character doesn't do well when he's pushed into the background by the "young" ensemble so keeping him out of a Marvel's version of Justice League: Dark is a must.

    Deadpool has a high chance of never happening - I mean, just look at how many friggin' times someone has written about it getting almost started or shaping up to be "so crazy it'll have to be R-rated when it actually gets started", etc. Reynolds has great comedic delivery, but he should stick to crap that isn't superhero based at this point (R.I.P.D. was plain terrible - whoever thought it was okay to let Bridges essentially play comic book movie Rooster Cogburn sans the eyepatch in that should be beaten to death with the film's screenplay).

  • Jay Gajjar | July 15, 2014 12:06 PM

    Whistler is not a Goyer creation - I don't remember him in the Midnight Sons books, but he was definitely in the Spidey toon a few years before Blade came out

  • incrediboy | June 26, 2014 1:10 AMReply

    since they're introducing the Kree in GOTG, Mar Vell should appear and does Carol Danvers. Start the franchise with Ms. Marvel then in an Avengers movie, then have her become Cptn Marvel

  • Ryus | June 26, 2014 12:38 AMReply

    How about we could get Jessica Drew as Shield Agent Arachne since that's her shield code name in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. You know similar to how the MCU is about to get away with Wanda and Petro Maximoff just because they aren'tgoing to call them mutants or mention their father. I haven't liked a Sony Spider-man movie since 2 way back in 2004, and that was only OK. I would hate for any Marvel characters who don'thave to be trapped there just because the word 'spider'. She's been an Avenger about as long as those Spiderman films have been out. Further she's getting more and more appearances of late and good friends with Ms/Captain Marvel.

  • DG | June 25, 2014 11:34 PMReply

    Hopefully none of these get made. It's not that there's too many comic book movies it's that the volume and speed they're getting churned out at is stretching the ideas thin. Theres no way to keep the genre fresh or exciting whe you're producing these things assembly line style

  • Jay Gajjar | July 15, 2014 11:44 AM

    have you not noticed that "comic book" is not a film genre?
    Winter Soldier is espionage-thriller, Days of Future Past is time-travel sci-fi, Blade is gothic action, Guardians is intergalactic adventure, and so on ....
    a very diverse group of films here - looking forward to Ant-Man, Doctor Strange, Black Panther, and hopefully (finally) Namor, Deadpool, Runaways, Power Pack, and all the others

  • sam | June 25, 2014 7:55 PMReply

    weren't you guys tired of superhero movies?

  • Alonso Duralde | June 25, 2014 7:46 PMReply

    Damage Control could be a great 30-minute workplace-sitcom counterpart to the hour-long Agents of SHIELD drama-adventure.

  • bapi | June 25, 2014 4:34 PMReply

    The Punisher and Blade seem perfect for TV.

  • Bobbie | July 18, 2014 12:27 AM

    Blade had a tv series. And it was Spike's highest rated tv series ever at the time. It was cancelled partly because of budget and the network was so young. Ratings had nothing to do with the cancellation if anyone wants to actual check the facts.

  • Emperor Zerg Rush | June 26, 2014 3:32 AM

    Blade had his time on television. No one watched and he sunk his fangs into the neck of cancellation.

  • Jeremy | June 25, 2014 4:06 PMReply

    Marvel owns the rights to Namor, according to Borys Kit of THR.

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