As recent reports have indicated, the next installment of the X-Men film franchise seems set to bring the “Dark Phoenix Saga” back to the big screen. While 2006’s “X-Men: The Last Stand” loosely adapted parts of that famous story, there are dozens of other classic Marvel tales that haven’t been represented at all in film yet.
Now, CBR is taking a look at some classic Marvel stories that could be adapted into epic feature films. For this list, we’ll be looking at major stories that could work inside of Marvel’s existing major studio franchises or establish new cinematic worlds. While this list is hardly comprehensive, all of these stories could give audiences a chance to see some fan-favorite characters and moments on screen for the first time.
Even though it was only published in 2014, “Spider-Verse” has already been adapted on television and in a few video games. Although Spider-Man is usually a solitary character, creators like Dan Slott, Olivier Coipel and Giuseppe Camuncoli found a way to incorporate nearly every version of Spider-Man and Spider-Woman in a multiverse-spanning adventure. While the plot of the series involved fighting the spider-predator Morlun, the crossover’s main selling point was its prominent mix of old and new characters like Miles Morales, Spider-Gwen and Spider-Ham.
Over 15 years, the Spider-Man film franchise has spanned three separate continuities. While Tom Holland’s Spider-Man is set to make his solo debut this summer in “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield’s turns as Peter Parker still loom large in the wider pop cultural atmosphere. With the new, young Spider-Man at its center, a “Spider-Verse” movie could help set Holland’s Spider-Man apart from his predecessors and give Maguire and Garfield’s wall-crawlers the curtain call they deserve. A “Spider-Verse” film could also be the ideal venue for Emma Stone to reprise her role as Gwen Stacy, this time as the web-slinging Spider-Gwen, and introduce Miles Morales into a live-action universe.
14. AVENGERS: UNDER SIEGE
While the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been lauded for many things, many of its non-Loki villains haven’t exactly left lasting impressions. Although “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” and the Marvel Netflix shows have greatly expanded that world’s villain roster, the MCU’s villains still pale in comparison to their more colorful comic counterparts. Despite this, Marvel could give the cinematic Avengers their biggest challenge yet with an adaption of Roger Stern, John Buscema and Tom Palmer’s classic Avengers epic “Under Siege.”
In the 1986 storyline, Baron Zemo forms a new Masters of Evil and overwhelms the Avengers with a force of over a dozen villains. While that might seem like a fairly simple plot, the villains brutal execution of their plan pushes the Avengers past their breaking point in one of their most famous defeats. With Daniel Brühl’s Baron Zemo and a slew of villains from its TV shows, the MCU has more than enough villains to form a compelling cinematic Masters of Evil. As the MCU puts more of a focus on cosmic threats, an “Under Siege” movie could reinvigorate many of its earthbound antagonists.
13. BROOD SAGA
While some of the X-Men’s finest moments have come during their intergalactic adventures, their films haven’t reached higher than Earth’s atmosphere. Even if Fox’s next X-Men film takes on the “Dark Phoenix Saga,” there are still several other space stories ripe for adaption. One of those stories is 1982’s “Brood Saga,” by Chris Claremont, Dave Cockrum and Bob Wiacek.
The Brood are some of the X-Men’s most fearsome extraterrestrial foes, and their introductory tale essentially plays out like a Marvel Universe take on “Alien,” another Fox film franchise. In that story, the X-Men are abducted by the Brood and are implanted with Brood eggs that will eventually take over their bodies. A Brood film would essentially recast the X-Men in a survival horror movie. Even with some darker, more monstrous characters, superhero films haven’t really embraced many horror troupes yet. Since the X-films tend to have so many characters, a Brood movie could inject a palpable sense of danger into the X-Men franchise, especially if a few characters died along the way.
12. KANG DYNASTY
As Kurt Busiek’s critically-acclaimed tenure as an “Avengers” writer came to a close in 2001, he and an all-star team of artists including Alan Davis, Kieron Dwyer and Ivan Reis put a spotlight on Kang the Conqueror. In the 16-part story, “Kang Dynasty,” the time-traveling tyrant from the 30th century becomes one of the few supervillains to successfully take over the world. While he was eventually defeated, Kang managed to destroy the United Nations building and annihilate Washington, D.C during his conquest.
Even though Kang is one of the Avengers’ most prominent villains, the rights to him are currently held by Fox since a younger version of the villain originally debuted in the pages of “Fantastic Four.” Despite that, Kang has still popped up in a few fairly recent Avengers cartoons and video games. If the character’s rights status could be sorted out, a Kang Dynasty movie would give the Avengers the chance to battle one of their most cunning foes on screen while introducing an instantly memorable villain.
11. SPIDER-MAN VS THE SINISTER SIX
A few years ago, a Sony film based around the Sinister Six seemed pretty likely. With teases from filmmakers like Drew Goddard and in 2014’s “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” a Sinister Six film seemed like the first cinematic expansion of the Spider-Man franchise. Although that particular film hasn’t come to pass yet, the Sinister Six could still make compelling antagonists who might give Peter Parker his biggest live-action challenge yet.
The Sinister Six made their first appearance in 1964’s “Amazing Spider-Man Annual” #1, by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. In that initial tale, Doctor Octopus, Kraven the Hunter, Sandman, Vulture, Electro and Mysterio team-up to try to overwhelm the young Peter Parker in a series of encounters dynamically rendered by Ditko. Although the group’s roster and schemes have varied in their subsequent appearances, their combined skills and shared contempt for Spider-Man have made them dependably formidable foes. With a series of action-packed brawls starring colorful villains, an adaption of that initial story could re-establish Spider-Man as an action superstar and serve as a merchandising extravaganza.
10. DAYS OF FUTURE PRESENT
Fox currently holds the rights to make films with the X-Men and the Fantastic Four. While both of those franchises have been around for over 50 years, they haven’t had too many shared adventures without the rest of the Marvel Universe. One crossover between the FF and the X-Men came with the 1991 saga “Days of Future Present,” by an A-list team of creators including Louise Simonson, Walt Simonson, Chris Claremont and Art Adams.
The crossover centers around time-traveling alternate-reality versions of Franklin Richards, the son of Mr. Fantastic and Invisible Woman, and Rachel Summers, the daughter of Cyclops and Jean Grey. 2014’s “X-Men: Days of Future Past” already introduced the idea of time travel to the Fox cinematic universe, and that could be the best way to unite these two franchises. A “Days of Future Present” movie could essentially play out like “The Terminator,” with those two couples in place of Sarah Connor and the mutant hunter Ahab in place of the T-800. While the continuity of the story would likely be simplified, it could still be a thrilling tale about destiny and free will.
9. THOR: GOD BUTCHER
When Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic launched “Thor: God of Thunder,” they introduced the frightening new villain Gorr the God Butcher in an arc aptly titled “God Butcher.” In that 2013 tale, Gorr tries to avenge the tragedies of his life by killing members of various alien pantheons with the powerful All-Black the Necrosword. In a truly epic fashion, the Thors of the past, present and future are forced to work together to stop Gorr from committing his ultimate deicide.
While characters from several pantheons are present in Marvel’s comics, the MCU has remained focused on Asgardians. If that doesn’t change too much late this year in “Thor: Ragnarok,” a God Butcher movie could be an ideal place to introduce other familiar deities like Hercules into the cinematic universe. Beyond the grand scope and brutal action inherent to a Gorr feature, this could also bring in the idea of Jane Foster as Thor, a big part of Aaron’s ongoing “The Mighty Thor” run.
8. THE COMING OF GALACTUS
Galactus is one of the defining foes of the Marvel Universe. The planet-devourer represents the sense of wonder and sci-fi spectacle that’s been largely absent from Fox’s Fantastic Four’s films. Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created Galactus and his herald, the Silver Surfer, in 1967’s classic “The Galactus Trilogy.” In what is arguably the high point of Lee and Kirby’s iconic run, the Silver Surfer leads Galactus to Earth before rebelling and helping the Fantastic Four turn his former master away.
Although 2007s’ “Fantastic Four: The Rise of The Silver Surfer” loosely adapted aspects of that tale, that Galactus was a giant cloud modeled more after his Ultimate Universe counterpart. Beyond reintroducing the Silver Surfer, a more classic adaptation of “The Galactus Trilogy” could give the Four’s films a sense of the fantastic for the first time. It could open up Fox’s portion of the cosmic Marvel Universe, and could provide a threat that could be the impetus for a team-up between the FF and the X-Men.
7. DOCTOR STRANGE: THE OATH
While Doctor Strange successfully made the jump to the big screen with his self-titled 2016 film, he hasn’t had too many starring roles in comics over the past few years. Before his currently ongoing series by Jason Aaron and Chris Bachalo, Strange’s most noteworthy recent appearance came in the 2006 miniseries “Doctor Strange: The Oath.” Brian K. Vaughan, Marcos Martin and Alvaro Lopez’s story revolves around Strange’s roles as both the Master of the Mystic Arts and a practicing medical doctor. When his partner Wong falls ill, Strange races to protect a magical healing elixir before another magician can destroy it.
In “Doctor Strange’s” post-credits sequence, Chiwetel Ejiofor’s Baron Mordo sets out to rid the world of those he deems unworthy to use the mystic arts. Since Mordo already attacked Benjamin Bratt’s Jonathan Pangborn for using magic to heal himself, he could easily slip into the antagonist role in an adaption of “The Oath.” Given the cinematic emphasis on Strange’s medical abilities, “The Oath” could pick up and expand on several of the first film’s themes.
6. SECRET EMPIRE
While Nick Spencer, Steve McNiven, Leinil Yu, Andrea Sorrentino and Daniel Acuna are set to rock the Marvel Universe with the “Secret Empire” crossover this summer, it’s not the first major story to have used that title. In the pages of “Captain America,” Steve Englehart, Mike Friedrich and Sal Buscema responded to the Watergate scandal with “Secret Empire.” In that 1974 story, the Secret Empire launches a propaganda campaign to turn public opinion against Captain America and stage a coup in the United States. After a high-ranking government official reveals himself to be the organization’s leader, Number One, Steve Rogers briefly abandons his Captain America identity and becomes the hero Nomad, “the man without a country.”
Thanks to “Agent Carter’s” Council of Nine, the Secret Empire already has a precedent in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. An adaption of the first Secret Empire storyline could follow up on the themes of government distrust that 2014’s “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” dealt with. A Secret Empire movie could also serve as a non-fatal way for Chris Evans’ Rogers to pass down the Captain America mantle to Sebastian Stan’s Bucky or Anthony Mackie’s Falcon.
5. ENEMY OF THE STATE
Between “Captain America: Civil War” and “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” superheroes spent most of 2016 fighting each other on screen. While this troupe is already on the edge of being played out, it could still produce some interesting results in Fox’s X-Men franchise. In 2004’s “Enemy of the State,” by Mark Millar, John Romita Jr. and Klaus Janson, Wolverine is captured and brainwashed by Hydra, the Hand and Dawn of the White Light, a mutant death cult.
While Wolverine eventually broke free of his brainwashing, he carved a path of destruction through the Marvel Universe and fought the X-Men. For two decades, Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine has been the center of the X-Men’s cinematic world while most of the other X-Men have lingered in the background. An “Enemy of the State” adaption could invert this formula by forcing the other X-Men to take the lead in defeating an antagonistic Wolverine. Although the roles of Hydra and the Hand would have to be excised due to rights issues, the Dawn of the White Light could also give audiences a chance to see Wolverine cut loose in the wake of next month’s “Logan.”
4. SECRET WARS
Although a truly faithful adaption of “Secret Wars” could only happen after several unlikely legal arrangements, a version of it could still work in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While a few stories have used the same title, the original “Secret Wars” centered around a 12-issue maxi-series by Jim Shooter, Mike Zeck and Bob Layton in 1984. The story follows two groups of heroes and villains who are summoned to fight on the alien Battleworld by a powerful cosmic being called the Beyonder.
In the wake of 2018’s “Avengers: Infinity War,” a “Secret Wars” movie could bring together characters from the various corners of the MCU, possibly even the Netflix shows. It could be a fairly quick way to establish a new core group of Avengers or work in characters with reacquired rights. Given the cooperation between Marvel Studios and Sony with the Spider-Man franchise, a “Secret Wars” movie could introduce Spider-Man’s alien symbiote costume that would later become Venom.
3. MIRACLEMAN: A DREAM OF FLYING
After decades of legal wrangling, Marvel ended up with the rights to the seminal superhero series “Miracleman.” Created by Alan Moore and a range of artists including Gary Leach, Alan Davis and John Totleben, the comic drastically re-envisioned the obscure British hero Marvelman. In 1984’s “A Dream of Flying,” “Miracleman’s” first arc, freelance journalist Mike Moran is plagued by headaches and memories of flying. When he’s caught in a terrorist attack, he remembers the magic word “Kimota,” which transforms him into the super-powered demigod Miracleman.
To put it mildly, Alan Moore’s works haven’t always had the best luck being adapted into other forms of media. Although Marvel is a somewhat unlikely home for the character, a Miracleman movie could show a different side to Marvel’s films. Since so many superhero troupes are now well-established in film, a Miracleman movie could deconstruct the genre and offer a more mature, considered take on superheroes.
2. KRAVEN’S LAST HUNT
Even though Spider-Man has one of the biggest and best rogues galleries in comics, most of his major villains have been represented on film in one shape or another. With Michael Keaton’s Vulture set to debut in “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” the biggest Spider-Man villain without a feature film appearance is Kraven the Hunter. Created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko in 1964, Kraven is a big-game hunter obsessed with killing the ultimate prey, Spider-Man. In 1987’s “Kraven’s Last Hunt,” by J.M. DeMatteis and Mike Zeck, Kraven seemingly kills Spider-Man and takes his place before a shocking finale.
While Spider-Man’s cinematic offerings have been relatively breezy, an adaption of “Kraven’s Last Hunt” could be Sony’s equivalent to “The Dark Knight.” The story delves fairly deeply into Kraven’s psychology and elevated the character from one of Spidey’s many villains into a truly disturbing threat. For Tom Holland’s teenage Peter Parker, a dark Kraven movie could be a coming of age tale with a healthy dose of horror.
After years as an afterthought, the cosmic side of the Marvel Universe was dramatically reinvigorated with the 2008 crossover “Annihilation.” Over several miniseries and one-shots, a host of creators including Keith Giffen, Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning laid the path for the revival of the Guardians of the Galaxy. In this epic tale, Annihilus leads an invasion from the Negative Zone to extinguish all life in the universe. After the Nova Corps is wiped out, Richard Rider, the last Nova, assembles a United Front of cosmic heroes together to fight the Annihilation Wave as galactic empires fall.
The thematic core of the “Guardians of the Galaxy” franchise is hope. In an “Annihilation” movie, the Guardians could face their exact opposite in the existential destruction that the Annihilation Wave represents. While Annihilus is likely tied up with Fox’s Fantastic Four rights, an “Annihilation” movie could be a place to introduce Earth’s Nova, Richard Rider, and some other cosmic heroes. By taking part in a brutal galactic war to defend all life, the Guardians could even supplant the Avengers as the center of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
For all the latest on Marvel’s upcoming movies like “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” and “Logan,” stay tuned to CBR. And let us know what character you want to see on screen in the comments below!
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