When “Avengers: Infinity War” directors Joe and Anthony Russo offhandedly mentioned that they have “67 characters” to deal with in the massive two-part Marvel movie, a lot of heads turned. Of course they were speaking figuratively, as they later clarified. But with a universe as massive as the Marvel Cinematic one, which encompasses 12 feature films and four live-action television series (and counting), the number “67” does seem plausible.
The hypothetical number actually seems conservative when you take into account all of the high profile and/or long-running Marvel characters that still haven’t made their MCU debut. Between hot new characters, perennial fan favorites and legit A-listers, Marvel Studios still has an incredibly long list of characters to pull from. We’ve highlighted some of the most notable characters still waiting in the wings and theorized where they could show up.
She’s young, she’s fun and she’s totally unbeatable — she’s Squirrel Girl! And she’s emerged from decades of relative obscurity to become one of Marvel’s most prominent leads thanks to the work of creators Ryan North and Erica Henderson. If you’ve been to a comic convention over the past year, odds are you’ve seen fans from ages 4 to 40 dressed as the squirrel-powered Doreen Green. With Marvel reportedly getting into the sitcom game, a half-hour comedy set in college starring Squirrel girl and her four-legged sidekick Tippy-Toe would actually make a lot of sense.
Sure we saw plenty of Nova Corpsmen in “Guardians of the Galaxy,” but none of them were the Nova. Okay, there have been two primary Novas of Earth in the comics (Richard Rider and Sam Alexander) and either one would be a welcome addition to the MCU. And these guys aren’t merely soldiers in awesome spaceships like in “GOTG”; this Nova is imbued with powers that give him super strength, flight and impressive energy blasts that set him apart from what we’ve seen from the MCU’s Novas. Director James Gunn has said that Star-Lord will be the only Earthling in “Guardians 2,” so we won’t see Rider or Alexander there. The character could pop up in the cosmically-inclined “Avengers: Infinity War,” though, providing a last minute save.
Like Daredevil and Punisher before him, Ghost Rider’s rights reverted back to Marvel following a period of inactivity and the less than stellar performance of his last feature film. The flaming, motorcycle-riding Spirit of Vengeance has been a mainstay in the comics for over forty years, and his iconic appearance makes for an eye-catching live-action antihero. Ghost Rider hasn’t had much luck in film, but Marvel’s figured out a way to rehabilitate characters whose feature films flopped: give ’em a Netflix series. Like Daredevil, Ghost Rider could ride again in a hard-edged, PG-15 Netflix series.
A number of British operatives have donned the Union Jack suit over the course of four decades, but Brian Falsworth could be a truly groundbreaking hero for the MCU. In addition to being Union Jack and possessing all the peak human abilities that come along with the mantle, Falsworth is one of the earliest examples of a gay male hero in the Marvel Universe. He was also active during World War II, which means he would be a fantastic character to introduce in a future season of “Agent Carter.” The MCU is in desperate need of queer heroes, and giving Union Jack a major role alongside fan-favorite Peggy Carter would be a great step for diversity.
Similar to Ghost Rider, Blade’s rights have reverted back to Marvel — and he hasn’t been seen since. Born in London to a vampire mother, Blade possesses all of a vamp’s pros and none of their cons. Blade’s quest to rid the world of vampires has kept him busy over the decades, as he’s jumped from ongoing series to team book and maintained a steady presence in the comics. He’s also starred in trilogy of successful films from New Line Cinemas, meaning that the character has more than enough name recognition to draw viewers to a Marvel Netflix series. If Marvel ever wants to explore the occult corner of their universe, Blade’s the guy to do it.
One of the most important and beloved new additions to the Marvel Universe over the past few years is Kamala Khan, a Pakistani American teenager who lives in Jersey City and loves superheroes. “Ms. Marvel” has been a runaway success for Marvel Comics, garnering national attention and universal praise for its thoroughly modern, imaginative and fun portrayal of the life of a teenage superhero. As the most prominent Muslim superhero, Kamala Khan is a big deal character and deserves more than a guest spot in a Marvel movie or TV show. “Ms. Marvel” needs her own TV series, possibly on Freeform (the network formerly known as ABC Family).
(Hawkeye, Ms. America, Wiccan, Hulkling, Marvel Boy)
Like “Ms. Marvel,” “Young Avengers” captured the attention of a whole new audience with its incredibly progressive storytelling style and incredibly diverse cast. With snarky archer Kate Bishop (Hawkeye), powerhouse dimension-hopper Ms. America, the Kree-born super-soldier Marvel Boy and the power couple of Wiccan and Hulkling, the Young Avengers set-up is filled with enough potential for a feature film of their own. With Spider-Man opening the door for teen heroes in the MCU in “Captain America: Civil War,” “Young Avengers” needs to get a big push in the next phase of films.
If “Guardians of the Galaxy” hadn’t been such a huge success, then Adam Warlock would seem like a far-fetched character request. But even though he’s an enhanced, durable, orange-skinned messiah figure with a maniacally evil alter ego that wields cosmic energy and heals himself in a giant cocoon. It might seem kooky, but the Marvel movies have been using Infinity Stones and teasing the finalization of the Infinity Gauntlet for years now; in addition to fighting Thanos on the reg, Adam Warlock possessed the Soul Stone for an incredibly long time. With Marvel diving so deep into their cosmic continuity, excluding Adam Warlock from “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” or “Infinity War” would seem like a waste.
Yep, Hercules Hercules — demigod from Greek mythology Hercules. Marvel adapted both Norse and Greek myths over the years, and the super strong and super hearty Hercules has actually become a fixture of the Marvel U. He’s also one of the longest-serving Avengers that has yet to appear in the MCU, meaning he’s kinda overdue for a live-action introduction. Marvel’s Greek pantheon isn’t as mighty as their Norse one, which is packed with numerous supporting characters, so a series of Hercules films might be far-fetched. But Hercules could easily pop up in “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” where his irreverent sense of humor would fit right in with the deadpan Agent Coulson and his crew.
Of all of Marvel’s street-level vigilantes, Moon Knight has undergone the most transformations. As a character with multiple personalities, that kinda makes sense; he’s been a mercenary and believed himself to be powered by the Egyptian god Khonshu, and for a while he was a TV producer that talked to imaginary Avengers. Most recently he starred in a no-frills action series that treated Marc Spector like three different characters: one a gadget-wielding superhero, the other a James Bond-esque vigilante in a white suit, and the last a bone wearing mystically armored warrior. As a street level character, Moon Knight would fit right in alongside the Netflix heroes.
This Asgardian villain caused a lot of trouble for Thor and the Avengers back in their early days, and has since used her master manipulation abilities to mess with the God of Thunder on a regular basis. Enchantress’ sister Lorelei was actually already introduced into the MCU via “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D,” leading us to believe Marvel was most likely saving Enchantress for the big screen. It’s possible Cate Blanchett is in talks to play her in “Thor: Ragnarok,” but nothing’s been confirmed yet. With the “Thor” trilogy wrapping up, Enchantress might only have one more shot to make it on the big screen; if it doesn’t happen there, maybe we’ll see her join her sister on a future episode of “S.H.I.E.L.D.”
It looks like Daredevil will have his hands full with Punisher in season two of his Netflix series, but odds are his altercations with Frank Castle will just be the appetizer for an even more intense showdown with Bullseye. Colin Farrell played the maniacal master marksman in the 2003 “Daredevil” film, but Bullseye’s been missing since Marvel got the rights back to the DD characters. This is a wise choice, as Bullseye is arguably Matt Murdock’s number one villain. Holding off on him for as long as possible means the Netflix show still has an razor-sharp ace up their sleeve for Season Three.
Once the Avengers (and possibly Guardians and Defenders as well) finish fighting Thanos in “Avengers: Infinity War — Part 2,” what are the odds the spotlight will shift from cosmic threats to temporal ones? The time-traveling conqueror known as Kang has one of the most complex backstories in all of comics; basically, he’s so evil that he’s actually three different villains (Kang, Immortus, Rama-Tut) all in one. Heck, he’s also a superhero in his teenage years; he actually helped found the Young Avengers in his Iron Lad persona. Kang is another Thanos-level threat, one that’s big enough to span multiple phases. Marvel could introduce him in a “Young Avengers” film and have him be the main villain of the next few phases.
Namor’s film rights are a mess, as he’s the lone Marvel superhero owned by Universal. So, unless Marvel can come up with a deal similar to the one they have with Sony for Spider-Man, we might not see the king of Atlantis anytime soon. And that’s a shame, because while Namor’s not really a solo star, he’s undeniably one of the most prominent and important characters in the Marvel U. As a member of the Illuminati, Namor’s stood side by side with Marvel’s heaviest-hitters and more than held his own. This brash, arrogant, proud and powerful character deserves to storm into the MCU and teach every puny surface-dweller a lesson. If the rights ever get sorted out, there’s no reason left why he couldn’t hold down a solo film.
After spending the ’70s in the spotlight, Jessica Drew slinked back into the shadows, forgotten for much of the ’80s and ’90s. Brian Michael Bendis brought the vaguely spider-powered private eye back to the forefront in “New Avengers,” and her profile has only risen even more. Spider-Woman’s origin is itself a bit… confusing… as it involves Hydra, scientists, the High Evolutionary and a number of retcons, but Jessica Drew herself would work perfectly in live-action. Yes, she’s another dark-haired, sarcastic, private eye named Jessica, but Jessica Drew is somehow not as dark as Jessica Jones. She also embraces her powers and role as a superhero, two traits that immediately set her apart. Her best friend Captain Marvel’s getting a solo film, and the Carol/Jess friendship is one of the best in comics. Spider-Woman deserves solo attention, sure, but she’d make for a great friendly foil for the lead in “Captain Marvel.”
Spider-Man (Miles Morales)
Like Kamala Khan, Miles Morales is another new character that has quickly risen in prominence in the Marvel Universe, going from newbie to permanent fixture in a ridiculously fast manner. In fact, Miles has become so beloved that many fans wanted Marvel to just skip over Peter Parker and get right to Miles when Marvel acquired the rights for Spider-Man. That wasn’t the case, so Miles Morales has to wait a little while longer — but hopefully not too long. Miles’ early, definitive stories involved him grappling with the legacy of Spider-Man and what it means to be Spider-Man. Since the MCU Spider-Man is just getting started, a pre-spider-bite Miles might be a good character to include in the supporting cast of “Ms. Marvel,” so viewers can spend some time getting to know him while also allowing Tom Holland’s Spidey to get in some web-slinging time.
If the film rights for Hulk are tied up, then Marvel should instead focus on Jennifer Walters — Bruce Banner’s lawyer cousin that’s equally gamma-irradiated but way more fun. Shulkie’s changes aren’t triggered by anger; no, She-Hulk chooses when she hulks out. As a career-driven yet unapologetically feminine — and feminist — lead, She-Hulk is a bold character that would easily stand out and assert herself in the increasingly crowded MCU. As a lawyer by day, vigilante by night, partier by even later night, She-Hulk would make for a great Netflix series lead — although this one could lean more toward the “Orange is the New Black” comedy/drama hybrid that works well on the streaming service.
Simon Williams is another mainstay Avenger that somehow hasn’t made his way into the MCU yet. This ionic energy powered Avenger is super strong and also super handsome; if there’s a big shake-up post “Infinity War,” Marvel could use Wonder Man to fill the void left by any departing actors named Chris. Wonder Man also has a unique hook to him: he’s a Hollywood stuntman/actor. A “Wonder Man” primetime drama on ABC could really play up that angle and show us how the film industry works in the MCU. The show could even get delightfully meta, with Wonder Man starring in the MCU’s own “Avengers” films.