Top 10 comic book characters that should make their screen debuts soon

Top 10 16 Jun 2011 - 13:20

Superheroes are packing audiences into cinemas this summer. Rob looks at ten other comic book characters that deserve a break on the big screen…

With X-Men: First Class gaining fantastic reviews, Thor surprisingly well received, Green Lantern arriving today, Captain America ready and waiting just around the corner, and Spider-Man, The Avengers, Superman and the final Nolan-influenced Batman tempting us next year, the big names of the comics scene are once again packing audiences into the cinemas.

As such, the archives are being raided for other property’s characters and ideas to translate to film. But is this the best way of getting fan favourite characters onto cinema screens? The masses aren’t going to be queuing around the block to see ‘Aquaman the movie’, meaning that second string or lower tier characters, no matter how visually fantastic or exciting (actually, Aquaman is neither of these things) will see the light of cinema interiors, due to the fact nobody has heard of the them.

So, then, how do you get your favourite character on screen? Well, Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn got second string favourites, Sebastian Shaw, Riptide and Darwin all on screen via the 'back door’, by putting them into an ensemble cast of other more well known mutants in First Class, and it seems that even the most obscure mutant has its fans.

With that in mind, how would you get your favourite character on screen, realistically? Fear not. Here are my top ten suggestions of characters who should make their silver screen debut, and of course, how to get them there in the first place.

Who: Dazzler
Where: X-Men Second Class

How would it be done?

Alison Blaire is a mutant with the power to translate sound into light. She’s able to use strobes, lasers and other light-based powers to assist the X-Men against such bad guys as the Hellfire Club and sound-based Klaw (whom she absorbed completely and used against Galactus).

Known as a fan favourite, due to her disco-influenced power, Farrah Fawcett hairstyle and glitter based make-up, her appearance would be perfect if the team behind First Class moved forward story-wise from the 60s to the 70s and broke open the wardrobe of flares, roller skates and, of course, Disco Stu’s outfits.


Who: Dr Strange
Where: Spider-Man 2

How would it be done?

Spider-Man has always been a science nerd. His powers and web-shooters come from a pseudo-science background of a radioactive spider bite. However, a few years ago, writer J Michael Straczynski introduced a supernatural element to Spider-Man’s mythology, adding in that Peter Parker was not the first to receive Spider-powers, but rather he was a totem for the Spider, a modern-day avatar for this creature, and that the former Ezekiel was a sort of mentor/foil for Parker.

While not fantastically received as a story, there are some elements that worked, especially the involvement of Dr Strange in the narrative. While it might well be a mistake to go page for page of this story in a new film (and it would alienate a lot of viewers), having him unknowingly swing past Strange’s Sanctum with its unique look, as a little nod to keen-eyed viewers could be a good idea.

Even having the ‘master of the mystic arts’ as a teacher at Peter’s school, or maybe mentioning elements of Thor or superheroes in lectures would be a nice touch and would tie in nicely into the supposed shared universe that the Marvel characters inhabit.

Who: A CGI Thing
Where: Fantastic 4 reboot

How would it be done?

Again playing on the success of the retro style of First Class, it would be wise for Marvel to look at one of its most lacklustre franchises and give it a Mad Men style make-over and have the Fantastic 4 set in 1960s era, full of Pogo Planes, pipe-smoking Mr Fantastics and the oh so tempting idea of Christina Hendricks in Sue Storm’s skin-tight FF costume.

However, the biggest element that a film likes this would need is a more convincing Thing, as, quite frankly, the last two films' attempts to bring Benjamin J Grimm to life have failed miserably.

I’m a huge fan of prosthetics and on-set special effects, but attempts to provide us with convincing Thing, in the form of a latex-covered Michael Chiklis, just proved to be horribly wrong, and so unconvincing that the Roger Corman no-budget version in the 1990s actually looked more credible.

Not only did the Thing seem small, he lacked personality. Now imagine a motion-captured, highly rendered version of this classic Marvel character, delivered in all his gritty glory, a direct take from a John Byrne comic book, with a proper heavy set brow and a twinkle in those old blue eyes trapped behind a tonne of orange rock.

While we are at it, a ‘proper’ version of Galactus, giant purple helmet and all, and an actually evil Dr Doom would also go down very well.

Who: Darkseid
Where: Superman 2

How would it be done?

The first elements of Zack Snyder’s Supeman reboot are slowly coming together. We know that the main bad guy in the film will be Zod and that with some accomplices will escape the Phantom Zone and try to make Earth New Krypton, while a new ‘Man of Steel’ in the form of Henry Cavill, who will, I guess, be sporting a new Jim Lee-inspired high-collared ‘pant on the outside-less’ costume), tries to stop them.

But would Zod be the only one interested in using Earth as a resource? Maybe not, as secondary films could easily focus on another Superman villain in Brainiac, or more interestingly could go in the direction of introducing us to the New Gods, Apocalypse, and, of course, Darkseid.

While we‘ve already seen Darkseid in the finale of Smallville, who wouldn’t want to see the lord of Apocalypse ripping open the dimensional barriers with a boom tube and watch thousands of Parademons pouring out, for one lone hero to face the hordes of the master of the Omega beam alone, the only bastion of defence against this unstoppable enemy?

Who: Surtur
Where: Thor 2

How would it be done?

Talking of seeing large armies of monsters led by a near-god-like creature, how about the giant fire demon, Surtur, as the main protagonist for the next Thor film?

Kenneth Branagh’s take on the Norse god was a huge success, and did comic book fans proud, with the right mix of mythology, science and Jack Kirby-styled future-retro appeal. But it missed out on some elements, such as the lack of Baldur the Brave and the surrounding worlds of Asgard.

Now that the Rainbow bridge is shattered, it looks like Thor is stuck, for the time being, at least (well, until The Avengers) in the golden realm. Exploring the myths and legends of Norse mythology there, Thor could battle the monstrous inferno of Surtur, his immense twilight sword and his hordes of fire demons.

According to myth, Surtur is Odin’s arch nemesis. So, seeing the-one eyed leader of Asgard polishing up his armour again to fight side by side with his son would add an epic sense to this sequel, already in the works.

Who: Deathstoke the Terminator
Where: Batman (reboot)

How would it be done?

Christopher Nolan’s ‘realistic’ Batman is supposedly coming to a finale, with a third and final chapter. And while much can be said for the films, they’re not really Batman films in the comic sense. What I mean by that is that there’s no way that Christian Bale’s Dark Knight could stand shoulder to shoulder with Superman and the rest of the iconic heroes of the DC Universe.

There have been rumours that once the trilogy’s done, there might well be a ‘reboot’ of sorts, bringing the caped crusader back to a more Tim Burton comic book approach (probably with an eye on a Justice League film somewhere down the line). Of course, people would expect the Joker to be front and centre as the main protagonist for this type of film. However, we’ve already seen two different, but equally fun takes on the character.

Dig a little deeper, though, and there are a whole range of adversaries for Batman to tackle, with one of these being Batman/Teen Titans antagonist Deathstroke, an assassin who uses a larger percentage of his brain to track down and kill his victims. Get Stephen Lang with an eye patch and goatee, ditch the vivid orange element of the costume, and you have the perfect foil and ‘anti-Batman’ for the next movie.

Throw in a cameo by a vigilante Robin/Nightwing or Oracle, too, and the film has the perfect potential for numerous superhero spin-offs. Just as long as it doesn't make the Batman & Robin mistakes...

Who: Arnim Zola and MODOK
Where: Captain America 2

How would it be done?

It seems there are plans for Cap post-Avengers, and to have the adventures of Marvel’s flag-draped poster boy continuing his heroics in the modern age. This, of course, requires somebody for him to fight against and if the Red Skull doesn’t shuffle off his mortal coil by the end of the first film, it’s a guarantee that big red will be the main protagonist for the next film, too.

However, you can’t just have Cap fighting Nazis/Hydra goons all the time, so why not add in some of Jack Kirby’s more weird and wonderful creations in the shape of Arnim Zola the mad ‘Bio-Mechanic’, who’s, essentially, a cyborg with no head and an immense face in the middle of his chest.

To go with this bizarre looking villain, why not add in another monstrous creation, MODOK (Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing), a giant floating head that looks like a cross between Davros and a colossal, evil, robotic potato. That would give Cap a ‘You have got to be kidding me’ moment, when he sees who of Hydra’s main bad guys are hugely deformed, genetically tinkered with monsters.

Bring back Bucky, too, as 'The Winter Solider', an unwitting pawn and foil for Cap, and as part of plan for world domination, and you have the basis of perfect second film.

Who: X-Force
Where: X-Men : Third Class

How would it be done?

If the first film is set in the 60s, the second in the 70s, it would make perfect sense to set the third potential film in the 1980s, and use a potential 'black-ops' unit of 'Xavier's children' to assist in breaking down the Iron Curtain or to take part in special missions.

In current marvel continuity, X-Force is an elite unit of hitmen, led by Wolverine, who are commissioned to do all the ‘dirty jobs’ that are required, in the continued attempt for coexistence between humans and mutants. With a little tweaking, these ambiguous ‘grey’ characters could play on either the side of the angels or devils for the third chapter of the ‘retro’ feel to the X-Men.

While it might well be that Wolverine and Deadpool have to bow out, due to copyright issues, there’s no reason why current members, Fantomex, Psylocke, and Archangel couldn’t be joined by some other more obscure mutants, such as former members, Domino and Warpath, or joined by other mutants, such as Chamber or Skin.

Led by another mutant, such as maybe Pete Wisdom or Cable, this team could be the third way, as it were, in the continued war of opinion between Xavier and Magneto.

Who: Black Panther
Where: Avengers 2

How would it be done?

The new Avengers film looks to be pretty crammed with cameos, nods to the comics and fan ‘wants’, and while it’s not been confirmed, if the villains will be Loki, Skrulls, or even Thanos and the Infinity Gauntlet, the film will be jam packed as it is. Inevitably, it will leave a lot of people disappointed that their favourite Avenger didn’t get a look in. Be it Ant-Man, Vision, Swordsman, or whoever, there isn’t room for them all.

However, if (and, I guess, when) the second film rolls around and the likes of Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr are looking at the film contracts, commitments and money, it might be a good idea to add in some characters who can keep the financial wheels on Marvel’s movie franchise, in case another Iron Man, Captain America or Thor film is never made.

A good incentive for Avengers 2 would be to add characters who are strong and cool enough to carry their own film, and as such, Black Panther is a perfect candidate. An African prince from the technologically-enhanced country of Wakanda, Black Panther is a great combination of African myths and hi-tech adventure, with the Panther being one of the eight smartest men on the planet.

It could be a mix of political intrigues, James Bond-style escapades and globe-trotting adventure all wrapped up in a fantastic visually appealing character.

Who: Morbius, the Living Vampire
Where: Ghost Rider 2

How would it be done?

An intriguing character to appeal to the current market for all things blood sucking-related, Dr Michael Morbius is a doctor who’s transformed into a vampire-like creature and has, over the years, clashed with the likes of Daredevil and Spider-Man. While not an outright villain, or even an outright hero, this ambiguous supernatural character would make for a perfect teen horror franchise.

To get this right, you would need to introduce him into another film, piggybacking on somebody else’s screen time, and a perfect way to do that would be to introduce him in the up and coming Ghost Rider 2. Expanding into Marvel's supernatural world via this film would be a good idea, as the introduction of characters such Dan Ketch, Blackout, Lilith, the Darkhold and Morbius could led to numerous spin-off potentials in both film and television.

Have Morbius prowling the streets of Prague (where the new Ghost Rider is supposedly set) and the introduction of The Midnight Sons, who’ve already had a cinematic (if disappointing) outing in Blade 3, would be a great way to introduce Marvel’s supernatural characters and allow Marvel to tempt the 'mature' television audience already hooked on things like True Blood.

Leave your suggestions in the comments...!

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