Fans can’t help but dream of the potential animated feature films that might emerge as a result of Disney purchasing “Big Hero 6” as its debut adaptation. But when the studio recently revealed the movie’s voice cast — which includes Maya Rudolph, Damon Wayans Jr., Scott Adsit, and Alan Tudyk — and released character designs and TV spots as it flies towards its November 7 release date, it all began to make sense.
If characters like Baymax, GoGo Tomago, and Honey Lemon don’t ring any bells, it’s for a very simple reason: The characters have barely appeared outside of a handful of comic books since their debut in 1998’s “Sunfire and Big Hero 6” limited series. Originally created by Man of Action’s Steven T. Seagle and Duncan Rouleau in their late ’90s “Alpha Flight” run, the team actually ended up debuting in the aforementioned limited series by Scott Lobdell and Gus Vazquez, returning in another limited series a decade later with Chris Claremont and David Nakayama as the creative team. And when you consider how unknown the property was before getting greenlit, you realize that any number of obscure Marvel properties could get a Disney makeover. Here are just a few we’d love to see.
This late ’90s, gone-too-soon series by Joe Harris and ChrisCross focused on a quartet of unlikely heroes — and even unlikelier allies — as they juggled fighting street-level super crime with making it to their college courses on time. The comic itself was quite dark, despite ChrisCross’ expressive and animated artistic style; Dusk, possibly Marvel’s first ever goth super hero, seemingly met her end in the opening story arc only to be revived as a powerful spirit, and the overly macho Prodigy worked so hard to maintain his alpha male status that he ended up endangering the lives of his teammates. With a light-hearted revamp, though, this series of young adult struggles and super heroics could really work as an animated feature, where characters like the bounding Ricochet and the colorful Hornet would feel right at home.
Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane
While Sony still has a hold on Spider-Man’s live action film rights, the animated world of the wall-crawler is firmly in Marvel’s control — on television, at least. If that control happens to include animated feature films, then we want to see Disney take a crack at Sean McKeever and Takeshi Miyazawa’s delightful and short-lived interpretation of Spider-Man’s high school days as told from Mary Jane Watson’s point of view. For a non-super-powered character, MJ has a lot of name recognition. There’s an audience out there for teen-centric adventures with equal parts romance and drama, and that audience tends to flock to Disney properties. The bottom line is, Disney should love Mary Jane just as much as Spider-Man does.
Judging by Hiro’s relationship with Baymax in “Big Hero 6,” Disney appears to be on board with stories about teenagers and their robot buddies. If they want to make a feature film solely about that relationship, they need not look any further than Marvel’s own “Sentinel.” Sort of a modern day “Gigantor,” the comic tells the story of a kid named Juston Seyfert that builds and befriends a decommissioned Sentinel robot that he stumbles upon in his dad’s junkyard. Juston’s family life and his high school troubles received just as much attention as his adventures with his Sentinel, giving the series a Disney-ready mix of humor, heart and action.
Araña: The Heart of the Spider
“Frozen” proved that there’s a market for animated adventure stories with three-dimensional female leads, and Disney could repeat that success by giving Anya Corazon an feature film. As the super hero codenamed Araña, the Latina teenager from Brooklyn possessed a variety of spider-esque powers, including super strength, agility, wall crawling and a protective exoskeleton. Anya’s struggled to find wider exposure since the end of her initial ongoing series back in 2006; she became a temporary supporting character in “Ms. Marvel” and had a short solo stint as Spider-Girl. Though relegated tot h outskirts of the comics’ Marvel U, the character could really find a home on the big screen where animation could do her powers and personality justice.
While the Runaways may be a fan favorite group of characters and have proven to be an effective a gateway into the Marvel Universe for a number of the Tumblr crowd, they’re still unknowns to the public at large. Their live-action feature film has been languishing in limbo for years, and they haven’t had an ongoing series of their own in nearly half a decade. The premise is incredibly simple: Teenagers find out their parents are actually super villains and, well, run away. Disney could take that and run with it, turning their brilliant animators loose on concepts and characters like the Leapfrog, the Fistigons, and a Velociraptor named Old Lace. “Runaways” features a number of fantastic female characters, all of which have nuanced, positive, and supportive relationships with each other. When you think about creators like “Frozen’s” Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck getting hold of these characters, you might not mind it if the live action film never gets off the starting blocks.