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Back on July 4, I submitted a list of what I believed to be the top ten Marvel properties that Marvel Studios could turn into successful franchises. Since that was my most successful article, I decided to make a sequel to it. Now, like most sequels, this article was not asked for, nor was it necessarily wanted, and it probably won’t be as good as the original article, but I’m making it anyway. This time, I’ve included some characters associated with the Fantastic Four and X-Men, but like last time, I didn’t add them specifically to the list, given the inevitability that we’ll see them enter the MCU as new franchises. And with that, I present you with number 10:
10. The Midnight Sons
The Midnight Sons protect Earth from some of the most dangerous mystic and arcane enemies out there. Comprised of Marvel’s heaviest hitters from their mystic titles, like Doctor Strange, Bade, and Ghost Rider (with a dash of some non-magical characters, such as Moon Knight and the Scarlet Spider), these dark defenders have been around since 1992 and have quite the cult following amongst comic book readers. While the Midnight Sons are a rather obscure team, there is an interesting phenomenon going on in pop culture that could turn a movie about these misfits into the next big thing. The phenomenon in question is the current popularity of horror movies amongst mainstream audiences. Films like Get Out, A Quiet Place, and IT have proved to be critical darlings and box office powerhouses, and given the subject matter of the Midnight Sons (constantly fighting demons, vampires, dark sorcerers, etc.), they could fit quite nicely into the horror genre. Which leads us to my next pick…
9. The Howling Commandos
Named after the team of soldiers from WW2, The Howling Commandos are a team of monsters and cryptids used by S.H.I.E.L.D. to combat mystic threats that threaten the people of the Earth. While they’re much like the Midnight Sons in that regard, they don’t share the superhero status that their friends do. They’re feared and hated by the public they protect, and with members like Werewolf by Night, N’Kantu The Living Mummy, Frankenstein’s Monster, and Man-Thing, you can’t blame anyone for being scared. Not only could The Howling Commandos fit into that aforementioned horror genre that the Midnight Sons could fill, but they could show Universal how to make a good monster movie, given their Dark Universe of monster movies fell through.
8. Ms. Marvel
I mentioned Ms. Marvel, a.k.a Kamala Khan, on my last list of properties with great franchise potential in the entry about the Champions, but I believe she could carry a franchise all on her own. Inspired by Captain Marvel (The original Ms. Marvel), Kamala Khan found she carried the Inhuman gene when Black Bolt detonated the Terrigen Bomb. She gained the ability to stretch her body to incredible lengths, and decided to fight crime as Ms. Marvel! Now, when she was originally announced, I thought of Ms. Marvel as nothing more than a way for Marvel to pander to the masses that demand more diversity in comic books (given she’s a Muslim character), but since then, I’ve changed my opinion. Ms. Marvel is a great character who’s optimistic, idealistic, and, unlike most popular heroes, she always wanted to be a superhero. She’s every bright-eyed, bushy-tailed kid who wants to be Iron Man or Gamora when they grow up. She would be an amazing addition to Marvel Cinematic Universe.
7. Captain Britain
The protector of The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, member of superteams MI-13, The Secret Avengers, and Excalibur, Brian Braddock operates as the superhero Captain Britain. Born with the X-Gene, Brain is a Mutant with the powers of flight, super strength, energy blasts, and force field projection. He usually acts as England’s answer to Captain America, but he is more closely associated with the X-Men and has saved the world alongside them multiple times. Adding him the MCU could be a great way to diversify their cast of characters, as well as provide interesting stories about other countries introducing new heroes to the world as a way to fill the hole left by the original Avengers when they inevitably exit the MCU in next year’s sequel to Avengers: Infinity War.
Used as a pawn to defeat Thor, Hercules eventually decided to follow his more competent friend’s footsteps to become one of the mightiest heroes the world had ever seen! Hercules gets a bit of a bad rep, in the Marvel Universe and outside of it. He’s not a real hit with fans, and that may be because he’s almost a splitting image of Marvel’s more popular god, Thor. He’s brash, arrogant, alcoholic, and has below average intelligence, but I believe Herc could prove to be a great addition to the MCU. His most recent comic series, Still Going Strong, showed us a sober Hercules that has embraced the modern world, mixing technology with his magical weaponry in an effort to better protect the world from danger. A story about an ancient god that protects the world that left him behind could be an excellent story if told right, and it wouldn’t be hard to differentiate Herc from Thor, if you keep his story grounded and less fantastical or cosmic. Plus, a complex story about a superhero dealing with alcoholism could be the Demon in a Bottle story that we never got in Iron Man 3.
Think Asgardian Black Widow kicking butt in space. The secret firstborn daughter of Odin and Frigga, stolen by the Angels of Heven (the forgotten Tenth Realm of Yggdrasil), and raised as an assassin, Angela Odinsdottir actually isn’t an original creation of Marvel. She was created by Neil Gaiman when Todd MacFarlane asked him to guest write an issue of Spawn for Image Comics. In the following years, MacFarlane and Gaiman went to court to determine who was truly Angela’s creator. The court eventually decided that Angela was Gaiman’s creation, and he was given the right of ownership over Angela, which he immediately sold to Marvel Comics, who introduced her in the final issue of the Age of Ultron event. Since then, she’s appeared as a member of the Guardians of the Galaxy, a supporting character in Jason Aaron’s Thor comic, she overthrew Hela as Queen of Hel, and will soon co-lead the upcoming Asgardians of the Galaxy title this September. She’s versatile in that she can do cosmic sci-fi stories, fantasy stories, horror stories, or your average cookie cutter superhero action stories. Plus, she looks really cool, and that’s always a plus.
4. Namor, The Sub-Mariner
One of Marvel’s first heroes (back before there even was a Marvel Comics), King Namor, the Sub-Mariner is so complex that he deserves a movie all his own. Born to a human father and an Atlantean mother (remind you of any other aquatic superheroes?), Namor McKenzie would be raised to rule Atlantis as its king, but that didn’t stop him from interfering in World War II. Fighting side-by-side with Captain America, Namor fought the Nazis until he was injured and left with amnesia in Manhattan. After regaining his memory, Namor went on to fight both with and against the many heroes of Earth in an effort to protect Atlantis, by any means necessary. A morally complex hero like Namor could make for a great movie franchise. The could make a movie focused on the exiled king with amnesia who must fight to regain both his memories and his kingdom, or a movie that highlights how ruthless and impulsive Namor can be. Plus, he’s already been hinted at in Iron Man 2, so he's out there in the greater MCU, waiting to be introduced.
3. The Young Avengers
In my first article, I included the Champions, a team of young heroes, as a potential franchise that Marvel could have a future with. The Young Avengers, while not too far off from the Champions, is different in the story of how and why they were created. While the Champions were formed out of a feeling that the Avengers have failed to inspire the world, The Young Avengers were formed because there was no team of Avengers. The team was brought together by Iron Lad, the teenage version of the evil Kang the Conqueror, to defeat his older self. They eventually went on to operate outside of legal jurisdiction and had participated in every major storyline from 2005 to 2014. In the wake of Avengers 4, these young heroes could take it upon themselves to fill the void left by the Avengers when they leave these movies.
2. Shang Chi, Master of Kung Fu
I have yet to see Iron Fist, though the number one thing I’ve heard it criticized for was its fight scenes. If that’s true, which it might be, then Marvel can prove they know how to pull off martial arts fights with Shang-Chi, Master of Kung Fu! Born to Zheng Zu (a crime boss regretfully named Fu Manchu), Shang-Chi would grow up to resent his father and honed his Kung Fu skills to fight Zu’s criminal empire. Shang has fought alongside heroes such as Spider-Man, The Thing, Nick Fury, ROM Spaceknight, and Iron Fist (funny, huh?), was a member of the Heroes for Hire, The Defenders, and The Avengers, and yet he has never appeared on anything more than the pages of a comic book. Shang-Chi deserves to join the MCU, be it in a movie or a Netflix series, and I believe he’ll prove to be immensely popular on either format.
1. Howard the Duck
Marvel’s first foray into theatrical films, 1986’s Howard the Duck was a disaster. It was hated by critics and audiences alike, and for good reason. The plot was nonsensical, the writing was abysmal, and the CGI was awful, even for the time. Not to mention that hard-to-get-through scene where Howard, a talking duck, propositioned Beverly Switzler, a teenage human, for sex (I’m not kidding). You’d think Marvel wouldn’t want to touch this character with a 39-and-a-half-foot pole. However, Howard has grown in popularity recently. His cameo experiences in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 1 and Vol 2 (as played by Seth Green) have been very well received, so much so that it inspired Marvel Comics to launch a Howard the Duck comic series written by Chip Zdarsky, which was very well regarded, despite its eventual cancellation. On top of all of this, Lea Thompson (who played Beverly Switzler in the original movie) has recently revealed that she’s pitched a Howard the Duck reboot to Marvel Studios. When asked the reason why, she said:
“When we made Howard the Duck there wasn’t the CGI, there wasn’t the script, there wasn’t the Marvel machine behind it. And I think they have a slight appetite for it, since they’re drawing him for Guardians of the Galaxy.”
Now, if Marvel Studios has shown us anything, it’s that they know how to take characters with very little potential and turn them into bankable household names, like the Guardians and Ant-Man and the Wasp films. It’s because of the success of those films, I have the utmost confidence that they can, and will, bring Howard back to the silver screen and I can’t wait. Plus, I’d honestly love to see Doctor Bong make his MCU debut.