Since 2008, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been filling up with all sorts of colorful characters taken straight out of classic comic book stories. There’s the Hulk, Thor, Scarlet Witch, Elektra, Ghost Rider and of course Iron Man, to name a few. We’ve been shown their backstories, watched them grow on their respective adventures but after so long, it’s all starting to feel a bit dull. The reason is that most of these origin stories are more or less formulaic. Start with a dash of special serums or magic, add a little tragedy and you have pretty much every superhero origin story in the MCU (or anywhere else for that matter). It’s time to take things up a notch. We have teams now and they work brilliantly! The Avengers films? Awesome. The upcoming Defenders series? Sure to be awesome.
We need more of that in the MCU to keep things feeling fresh, so we have 15 teams that can help it do just that. Some of these might require the introduction of new superheroes, but that does not mean we need a whole other film or series for their origin stories. We mean for these teams to generally show up as such and remain a team throughout a series or their inclusion somewhere in the franchise.
The Thunderbolts were formed by Helmut Zemo, who sought to create a team of supervillains powerful enough to defeat the Avengers. Over time their purpose has changed and now we’re left with supervillains that want to redeem themselves by doing some good. The latest incarnation of the Thunderbolts was led by none other than the Winter Soldier. He re-established the team in order to stop S.H.I.E.L.D from using pieces of the Cosmic Cube to reshape reality.
Both Helmut Zemo and the Winter Soldier have been established in the MCU and their respective paths would make writing them into a Thunderbolts story relatively easy. The most difficult part would be actually introducing the various reformed villains in such a way that we get more depth than we did from the characters in DC’s Suicide Squad (directed by David Ayer). In any case, Suicide Squad was going in the right direction by giving us a new kind of protagonist, one that could shake things up in the MCU.
14. HEROES FOR HIRE
As their name suggests, this particular team was created by Iron Fist and Jim Hammond when the Avengers and the Fantastic Four were seemingly killed during the “Onslaught” storyline. Their members have included Luke Cage, Black Knight, She-Hulk, Ant-Man, Black Widow and many more through several incarnations. Quite simply, they save the day for money, or for other benefits.
Superheroes fighting for the greater good is fine but superheroes offering their services for money would add something more. It wouldn’t necessarily be out of a selfish desire but superheroes, like everyone else (except for Tony Stark) need jobs to sustain themselves. The Netflix series like Daredevil and Jessica Jones have touched on that, but more focus should be placed on it to give the characters more depth. Introducing a team of Heroes for Hire into the MCU would be a better way to show that. The best part is you half the characters needed are already there!
13. HOWLING COMMANDOS
The Howling Commandos were led by Sgt. Nick Fury as part of a special unit in World War II. At least, they were in the series Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos (created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby). They actually appeared in the MCU under the command of Steve Rogers in Captain America: The First Avenger (directed by Joe Johnston), recognizable thanks to Dum Dum Dugan, Gabe Jones and Jacques Dernier among others. The only person they left out was Sgt. Nick Fury himself.
They’ve appeared in episodes of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D and Agent Carter but we’re interested in seeing them a lot more, especially with Nick Fury leading them; after all, we haven’t had much backstory when it comes to the MCU’s Nick Fury and placing with him the Howling Commandos would be the perfect way to fix that. Besides, it’d give the MCU more depth than just superpowered gods hitting each other. We need something we mere mortals can better relate to.
12. YOUNG AVENGERS
Vision created this team just in case the Avengers fell apart, as they did throughout the “Avengers Disassembled” storyline. Vision’s new team consisted of Iron Lad, Hulkling, Patriot and Wiccan, four relatively young superheroes from various corners of space and time. Hulkling, for example, is half Kree and half Skrull, gifted with incredible strength and shape-shifting abilities, allowing him to take on the appearance of a Hulk-like hero.
This is a team with the potential to offer audiences more insight into what it actually takes to be a superhero. The Young Avengers struggle with both their personal lives as well as their battles against alien and supernatural forces. We can see a more human side to these heroes without having to go through the gritty world of Netflix’s series and younger audiences might be able to better relate, which is great for the MCU as a whole.
11. SECRET AVENGERS
Captain America was appointed the USA’s top law enforcement agent, a position once held by Norman Osborn during the “Dark Reign” and “Seige” storylines. Instead of re-establishing S.H.I.E.L.D or taking over H.A.M.M.E.R., Cap established the Secret Avengers in order to covertly clean up the mess left behind by Osborn. He recruited heroes like Moon Knight, Black Widow and Agent 13.
After the events of Captain America: Civil War (directed by Joe and Anthony Russo), it’d be much easier to introduce a team like that into the MCU. Espionage wouldn’t be a new theme; in fact, Captain America: Winter Soldier (also directed by the Russos) focused quite heavily on spies and secrecy. That worked quite well, didn’t it? More of that could make the MCU a lot more dynamic, especially with that rift between Iron Man and Cap’s teams.
Fans have been waiting for the Inhumans to enter the MCU for a long time now and luckily for them, the Inhumans series will premiere in September this year. For those who aren’t familiar with them, the Inhumans are a race of superhumans created through Kree experimentation with early humans. Their society is ruled by a royal family led by the super-powerful Black Bolt.
There are a variety of reasons as to why this series is so exciting. The first of these is that none of these characters require the same old formulaic origin story we pointed out earlier, they’re a race of super humans trying to develop in peace, secluded from the rest of the world; of course, in this day and age that isn’t possible, so there’s going to be conflict. There’s potential here for stories about politics and war, romance and family drama; all themes that we haven’t really had a chance to explore anywhere else in the MCU.
9. ALPHA FLIGHT
Alpha Flight is a Canadian team of superheroes led by Guardian, Captain America’s superpowered Canadian counterpart. The team was put together by Department H, a branch of Canada’s Department of National Defence, in reaction to the rise of superhuman threats. In the comics, there are mutant members of Alpha Flight and while that might make things more difficult since the MCU can’t really have mutants, it certainly wouldn’t be impossible to include them. Just look at Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver.
Department H was already mentioned by Black Widow in Captain America: The Winter Soldier and in the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode End of the Beginning (directed by Bobby Roth), so it already kind of exists in the MCU. We just need to focus on them a bit more so the MCU can expand without having to go into space or other dimensions.
The Defenders were originally founded by Namor, Hulk and Doctor Strange. The current comic book roster, thanks to the upcoming Netflix series, consists of Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist. Together they protect the streets of New York while Hulk and Doctor Strange are off on their own epic-sized adventures and Namor is busy not existing in the MCU.
We don’t see much street-level action in the MCU outside of the Netflix shows, which is why The Defenders miniseries is so exciting. With its darker, more cynical themes, it’s a breath of fresh air. They’re not fighting aliens from another planet or deified beings from another dimension (yet, anyway), they’re doing what superheroes were made to do in the beginning: fighting crime… for the most part. We need to see that superheroes are actually making things better for the little guys and that’s exactly what the Netflix heroes are doing. More of this, please!
Most people will know the Starjammers from the X-Men comics and the X-Men don’t look like they’ll be entering the MCU any time soon. That doesn’t mean we can’t still have the Starjammers appear in a Captain Marvel or Guardians of the Galaxy film. They’re basically a group of rebellious space pirates fighting against the injustice of the Shi’ar Empire.
There are plenty of Starjammer storylines you could adapt to live-action, like “Kingbreaker” and “War of Kings.” They feature the X-Men in the comics but you can write them out easily and pull the Starjammers to the forefront of those stories. We need a group that can reshape the galactic societies we’ve been introduced to in Guardians of the Galaxy films (directed by James Gunn) and the Starjammers could be that group.
For years, brilliant heroes such as Tony Stark, Black Bolt, Professor Xavier, Namor, Doctor Strange and Reed Richards have secretly gathered together to discuss the future of society and how best to act. Their views differ on a lot of things so you can probably imagine how much internal conflict there is. When they do agree, epic things tend to happen, like in New Avengers: Illuminati (written by Brian Michael Bendis, art by Alex Maleev and Dave Stewart) when they decided to ship Hulk off to some other planet.
The MCU could benefit from a group like this. The internal conflict and drama, as well as the action-filled consequences of their decisions, make this group ripe for live-action adaptation. Half the group is there already, we just need Namor and substitute Xavier with Black Panther (since he was invited to join in the comics). It’d open the MCU up for deeper themes than the ones we’ve been shown; themes that explore the moral grey area of what it means to be a top-tier hero.
5. DARK AVENGERS
During the period of time in which the world thought Norman Osborn was a hero, he led the Dark Avengers, a group of supervillains masquerading as the classic Avengers roster. Daken took on the role of Wolverine, Mac Gargan became the team’s Spider-Man and Norman Osborn himself created a very Iron Man-esque suit of armor, calling himself Iron Patriot.
With the shape of the MCU right now, this would be the perfect time to introduce the Dark Avengers, villainous super-powered people who take up the vacated positions that Cap and his team left behind at the end of Captain America: Civil War; it would be an interesting way to further explore the issues discussed in that film and how government intervention and control isn’t always a good thing.
4. FORCE WORKS
Force Works was created by Iron Man because he wanted a team with a different attitude regarding the responsibility of a superhero. This team would prevent the terrible things from happening as opposed to just being there to save the day after the fact. The team originally consisted of Scarlet Witch, who generally led the team, Spider-Woman, U.S Agent and Wonder Man.
Introducing them into the MCU would be relatively easy now that the Avengers have split up. We’ve already seen how Tony Stark is aware of other superheroes around New York (and probably the rest of the world) as he recruited Spider-Man fairly quickly in Captain America: Civil War. It’d also be in keeping with his character since he’s obsessed now with preventing the disaster, as we saw in Avengers: Age of Ultron (directed by Joss Whedon). Adding them to the MCU would be an interesting way to show us his determination and explore whether or not preventative measures can actually be a good thing. A bit like the “Civil War II” comic book storyline.
3. FEARLESS DEFENDERS
The Fearless Defenders was an all-female team led by Misty Knight and Valkyrie. Members included Danielle Moonstar, Nova, Clea and Warrior Woman at different points. Together they fought enemies from all over the universe from the forces of Thanos to zombie vikings. They were an immensely enjoyable force to be reckoned with despite having quite a short-lived series.
Perhaps they would do better in the MCU. With Wonder Woman (directed by Patty Jenkins) having done wonders for superwomen, it’s time for Marvel to step up their game and show everyone that they’re also capable of having an incredibly well developed female character; or better yet, a whole team of them! It’s something all comic book based entertainment is lacking right now.
If Marvel is up to the challenge, why not go for a larger team of women like A-Force, which first appeared in A-Force #1 (written by Marguerite Bennett and G. Willow Wilson, illustrated by Jorge Molina and others). In their comic book series, Marvel’s mightiest female superheroes defend Arcadia, a utopian island, from threats from the rest of Battleworld. Obviously, that would be near-impossible to adapt to a live-action film, but having characters like She-Hulk, Medusa and Ms. Marvel forming a powerful team to fight the forces of evil? Not so much.
As we said before, the Marvel Cinematic Universe needs to start focusing on some of the great female characters it has and it also needs to start introducing some new ones. We’ve greatly enjoyed having Iron Man, Captain America and Thor at the center of attention but now there’s just a little too much testosterone. A team like A-Force would be just the right thing to balance it out.
1. FANTASTIC FOUR
We know, we know! But bare with us. The Fantastic Four have endured as a comic book superhero team since 1961. There’s a reason for that. They’re more than just a team, they’re family. They don’t just deal with evil like Doctor Doom, they also deal with family issues almost all of us can relate to. That reason alone would be enough to justify having them in the MCU. They’re a classic and their dynamic would be an fantastic addition to the franchise. Pun intended.
Marvel doesn’t currently own the film rights to the Fantastic Four but we can’t give up hope. The Fantastic Four would do wonders for the number of great storylines we could see adapted for the MCU, especially with the Inhumans having been introduced. All we need now is for some kind of deal to happen between Fox and Marvel. As Kevin Feige likes to say, never say never!
Which team would you like to see storm the MCU? Maybe the Squadron Supreme? Technet perhaps? Let us know in the comments!
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