The movies we hope Marvel and DC aren’t developing
From Squirrel Girl to Doorman, we look at Marvel and DC's more unusual comic properties...
Recently on this site, we scoped out the 13 hottest DC properties vying for Warner Brothers’ nine movie slots announced this April. What we didn’t discuss though, was the hordes of ruddy awful comic book properties lurking in the DC and Marvel vaults. In these deepest, darkest corners are characters we’ve tried to forget, and stories we pray never make it to the big screen.
Sadly, however many lengthy features you write, and whatever logic you apply, you can never accurately second guess what studios will do next. For example, who would’ve thought a few years ago that we’d have a recognisable, popular, live-action Green Arrow on TV before The Flash or Wonder Woman had made it to the screen?
So, to prepare ourselves for the worst, we delved into the wacky world of forgotten superheroes (and a few villains) waiting in the wings for the cinematic treatment. These are the stories that we will never endure a dark, gritty, origin-retooling feature length version of. Hopefully. Here’s what we found.
Who? Kicking us off is a DC property that combines dodgy powers with an even dodgier name - Matter-Eater Lad. First appearing in December 1963, Matter-Eat Lad heralds from the planet Bismoll and became a member of the Legion of Super-Heroes - a futuristic equivalent of the Justice League.
What does he do? Exactly what his name suggests. Matter-Eater lad boasts the power to ‘bite through and consume all forms of matter.’ Disposing of ray-guns, tunnelling out of captivity and swallowing deadly death rays are just some examples of this hugely useful power in affect. That he was regularly written out of adventures is a mystery, really.
If he had to be in a movie… He might be able to supply some kid-friendly comic relief, because everyone loved Jar Jar, right?
Who? The superheroine known as Dazzler is a part-time X-man and full-time 1980s cliché machine. When a character is also said to pursuing a singing career, you know they’re bound to be a fan favourite.
What does she do? Apparently based on Bo Derek, this hero boasts the one-in-a-million power to convert noise into a light show, making her the disco-comics crossover presumably no one was waiting for. Shockingly, Dazzler is one of the most successful characters on this list, having had her own solo run for a whopping 42 issues. All rollerblading, all disco, all rubbish, Dazzler was invented as a 1980s demographic-targeting singing superhero that nearly had real-world tie-in CDs released through Casablanca Records before talks broke down. She later went on to explore other genres. DC’s Skateman can stay away from cinemas for similar reasons.
If she had to be in a movie… She could finally make rollerblading cool again and provide the musical superhero movie we’ve all been waiting for. Or is that just me?
Who? A member of the (generally awful) Great Lakes Avengers, Doorman is about as bad as they come, with his Spidey rip-off costume being the least of his worries. He’s technically a mutant and dates back to 1989. Doorman has a dry wit which makes him slightly cooler. Slightly.
What does he do? Although later given a power linking him to the afterlife, Doorman will always be remembered for his original abilities. Not a super-efficiency for guarding night club entrances as you might expect, Doorman’s power is to teleport… through doors. Got a locked door or impenetrable structure to infiltrate? He’s your man. Literally any other teleporting needs? Better call Nightcrawler.
If he had to be in a movie… As a mutant he would have to join Fox’s X-Men movie universe. Wolverine could point out his naffness for our entertainment.
Who? Comic book moguls are no strangers to shameless advertising, but this is one of the worst examples. Back in 1991, a whole 12 issue run, complete with Spider-Man and Captain America cameos, was pushed out by Marvel in aid of advertising American Football. Phillip Grayfield, the eponymous SuperPro, was the central hero.
What does he do? Phillip’s burgeoning footballing career was cut tragically short when he got himself a knee injury whilst saving a child. This pushed him into the terrifying realm of… sports journalism, which allowed him to meet a superfan/scientist who developed a five million dollar football kit which was basically indestructible. When thieves steal the fan’s memorabilia (leaving the suit behind, obviously), Phil dons the iconic costume, brings justice and becomes… SuperPro.
If he had to be in a movie… Said film would need a Wayne’s World product placement-style tongue-in-cheek tone to be anything but terrible.
Who? This one has come dangerously close, having appeared in some Cartoon Network shorts. Vibe is a great example of comic books desperately attempting to ‘stay cool’ when a fad emerges in the real world.
What does he do? Break dancing! Tapping into social consciousness with typical subtlety, Vibe was the hero the 1980s deserved, but not the one anyone needed. Or wanted. As well as employing his mad dance moves in fight scenarios, Vibe could emit shockwaves to take out enemies. Even Batman couldn’t make him cool when he took him under his wing.
If it had to be a movie… Vibe’s existence could be a comic aside if the Justice League ever need to time travel to the 1980s for some reason.
Who? A member of the oft-laughed-at Great Lakes Avengers, Doreen Green made her first appearance as Squirrel Girl back in 1992 and has reappeared semi-regularly since.
What does she do? Shockingly, Squirrel Girl is one of the most genuinely useful heroes on this list, despite sounding like one of the worst. Tony Stark didn’t immediately jump at the idea of a squirrel-themed 14-year-old superhero, but was soon impressed. With the help of her pet squirrel Monkey Joe and shedloads of other squirrels, helped stop Doctor Doom on her first outing. She later takes down MODOK and Thanos, genuinely. It seems we all hugely underestimate the heroic potential of communicating with squirrels.
If she had to be in a movie… It would probably work best out of everyone on this list, but may well disappoint a lot of MCU fans. Can you imagine a squirrel-based battle being the end to phase after phase of Thanos build-up?
Who? Floyld Belkin, also known as Arm-Fall-Off-Boy, is so bad even the Legion of Super-Heroes, who accepted Matter-Eater Lad, wouldn’t have him. This is another example of the classic stupid-name-meets-stupid-power DC character creation method. Thankfully, he never got fully explored. He came back to try out again a few years later as Splitter, and literally fell apart under the pressure.
What does he do? Again, his name is very on the nose. This aspiring crusader against crime has the enviable ability to remove his own arms and use them as blunt weapons. Because removing one arm and waving it around using your other arm is obviously much more effective than just hitting someone, using your arms. Jeez, 1980s DC was full of great ideas.
If he had to be in a movie… To be fair, it might be hilarious to see this superhero trial gone wrong on the big screen. Henry Cavill’s straight-laced Supes could be the judge.
Who? The first supervillain on our list, this 1970s Marvel creation is actually kind of likeable. He’s reappeared repeatedly over the years, including a hilarious prison-breaking team-up with Deadpool which saw Spider-Man accidentally beat up prison security to free this funky villain.
What does he do? Through a guitar, headphones and his Hypno-Boots, this maniac musician uses (you guessed it!) hypnosis to get what he wants. Always easily defeated, this baddie first showed up stealing money from a gig organiser and tricking audience members into giving up their valuables. He later tries to do some kidnapping for Doc Ock, and fails.
If he had to be in a movie… He could call Spidey out on any future Spider-Man 3-style dance segments.
Who? No, not the loveable spaceship-flying N64 character, this Starfox is a Marvel property. One who uses his powers so unethically that even Kevin Feige’s risk-taking MCU wouldn’t touch him with a bargepole.
What does he do? Ever wanted to see a superhero face sexual assault charges? Of course you haven’t. Well, that’s the main thing Starfox gets remembered for. Despite boasting other powers like flight, a healing factor and superhuman strength, Starfox opted away from superheroics and instead used his physic capabilities to bed women against their will, and later fled charges.
If he had to be in a movie… Nope, not for this guy. No chance.
Who? Razorback is the crime-fighting alias of Buford Hollis, a trucker who donned a costume and took up a vigilante’s quest after his younger sister joined a cult.
What does he do? Dresses up as a pig and fights crime. Spiders, bats, owls, these are cool animals to dress up as. For some reason pigs just don’t deliver. Need to know more? Well, boasting the mutant ability to drive any vehicle (however new or weird it is!), Razorback also had a series of ‘cool’ rides nicknamed the ‘Big Pigs’. He goes on to fight the human torch, steal a spaceship and even get replaced by a Skree clone of himself.
If he had to be in a move… We could debate in the comments over which is better: Razorback, Homer Simpson’s Spider-Pig, Peter Porker (The Amazing Spider-Ham) or Babe (Pig In The City).
Who? Hospital intern Whitman Knapp was completely unaware of his powers, and spent time working with Lionel Jeffries (a mutant healer who would later go mad and cause trouble) before going on to find his destiny as Manikin.
What does he do? This is the good bit. Who wouldn’t want the ability to ‘summon three genetic relatives from various points of human evolution’? That’s right, when the going gets tough, Manikin (the name being a play on ‘man’ and ‘kin’, geddit?) could rope in the help of a ‘semi-sentient glob of primeval goo’, an ancient caveman type and a funky futuristic descendant of himself (who could teleport). When Jeffries went bad, Manikin stepped in and helped stop him. One fight with Jackal later, Manakin’s powers were changed and he wasn’t really heard of again. Tragic.
If it had to be a movie… It would be the only safe comic book property to let Brett Ratner loose on.
The Red Bee
Who? The Red Bee is a Golden Era terrible superhero, making his debut for Hit Comics back in 1940, proof enough that as long as there’s been Superman, there’s been Naffmen hoping to cash in too. Despite never getting that popular, DC felt the need to buy out the property in 1956. A teched-up female version followed years later.
What do they do? The original Red Bee used trained bees and a ‘stinger gun’ to take down Nazis and mobsters alike. Michael was his first choice bee, who lived inside his belt buckle and was whipped out when danger struck. Seriously. When DC bought the rights they moved The Red Bee to a parallel universe where the Nazis won World War II. When his grandniece took up the mantle of this epic hero, she employed mechanical bees and a battle suit, as well as getting mutated by aliens.
If they had to have a movie… It might look like a DC rip-off of Ant-Man, although The Red Bee actually came first.
Who? You may have heard of the original Stilt-Man, who used powerful robotic legs and a near-indestructible suit to terrorise Daredevil repeatedly, but did you know about the bumbling female version who appeared in 1999?
What does she do? Undoubtedly more deliberately naff than most of these characters, this female not-so-super villain was defeated by… a manhole cover. Spidey describes this clumsy version as ‘trying too hard’ and she is rarely heard from again after. If we ever see this tragic tale on the big screen, we know this whole superhero movie thing has gone way too far.
If she had to be in a movie… Backtracking slightly, this could work as a Rhino-style comic opening. We’d rather see the original Stilt-Man as a recurring baddie in the Daredevil Netflix show, though.
Who? When Mr Immortal was attempting to assemble the Great Lakes Avengers together through a newspaper ad, Leather Boy heeded the call. He was soon thrown out.
What does he do? This guy misreads ads requesting costumed heroes and turns up to superhero get-togethers in S&M wear. Nuff said.
If it had to be a movie… We would probably beg Hollywood to reboot Spider-Man again instead.
So, the next time we feel the need to complain about the latest disappointing sequel, or the long wait for a new Hulk adventure, let’s just be glad we haven’t seen any of these properties on the big screen yet. If rollerblades, hypnotic guitarists or belt buckle bees ever reach cinemas, that’s when we really need to start worrying.
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