Death is not the end; and not just because right now Elon Musk is working on android bodies so that Robo-Musk can forever hook up with Cyber-Grimes while we mere mortals toil away in the Morlock caves. No, death is not the end because no matter if one man dies, a country collapses or even half the universe turns to dust in the wind, there are still more stories to be told.
When it comes to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, audiences seem eager for more, and right now the folks with the right credentials and qualifications are coordinating characters and story arcs to create the hotly anticipated Phase 4 of the MCU. Of course, unlike when the grand deluge of details on Phase 3 took the wind out of Ant-Man’s sails, Kevin Feige has played it coy about what’s to come in the next stage of the MCU. Sure, some stray films have been confirmed since then, like Spider-Man 2 and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, and others seem inevitable, as the unprecedented success of Black Panther nearly demands a sequel. But as for the rest, all we can do is speculate. So, that’s what we intend to do; give you guys a healthy mix of reasonable expectations and those moonshot ideas too wild for them to ever give us.
25 (NEVER GET) SPIDER-MAN 2099
With Spider-Man proper in the MCU, an animated Miles Morales on the way, and Sony threatening to wring every ounce of goodwill it had built up by teaming with Marvel through things like Venom and the announced Black & Silver, some might suggest it doesn’t seem too unlikely that Spider-Man 2099 could get his shot at the spotlight. And while it’s certainly possible that Miguel O’Hara could appear in the aforementioned Into the Spider-Verse animated feature, here's our hot take:
A live action Spider-Man 2099 is too bonkers, even for a studio rooted in Thunder Gods and talking raccoons.
For starters, while Sony may be spinning off more alternate universes than you could shake a web-shooter at, Marvel Studios proper has yet to dive into the idea of alternate realities. Even if they do begin toying with the idea that its long-established cinematic universe might not be the only one, one would imagine a dystopian cyberpunk future might cut a bit too close to the aesthetic of competitor-turned-acquisition Fox’s X-Men: Days of Future Past. Add in the fact that recent “darkest timeline” future films like Blade Runner 2049 and Ready Player One failed to make a remarkable box-office splash, and we can safely say our dreams of a neon-lit web-slinger from an alternate timeline may remain bound to the comic book page.
24 (COULD GET) BLADE
Demands for Blade have been strong ever since Marvel made its first hints at a larger cinematic universe. Hell, while most people credit X-Men for the modern comic book movie craze, it was actually a 1998 adaptation of Blade that not only saved the comic book genre from Batman & Robin-level camp, and the vampire genre from Vampire In Brooklyn style spoofs, but even helped move the sci-fi/action genre from Face/Off absurdity to The Matrix stone cold cool. But observant viewers may have seen the MCU subtly set the stage for Blade in the unlikeliest of places: Thor: Ragnarok.
Though a vibrant space romp may not seem like the project to drop hints at the grimy, grim and grounded world of Blade, it makes sense when one remembers director Taika Waititi’s previous project, the vampire domestic-comedy What We Do In The Shadows. Indeed, it was this film Taika likely had in mind when he had Korg make an off-handed joke about how the wooden-spiked trident would only be helpful against “three vampires huddled together”. Yet, just like that, in a throwaway line, vampires are established as real in the MCU. Now all Kevin Feige need do is find a new Blade and bring the 1998 new-metal swagger of the 2/3 beloved trilogy into the modern era. Come on, Kevin, you know John Boyega could rock that leather duster. Maybe get Atlanta breakout Keith Stanfield to bulk up and start stabbing some bloodsuckers. We don’t care who fills Wesley Snipes shoes so long as we get Blade. You can even keep Snipes, have you seen Chi-Raq?
23 (NEVER GET) HAWKEYE
Now, to be fair, if we used the Time Stone to look at the over 14 million possible outcomes for Phase 4, there’s maybe one where Hawkeye actually gets a solo film. Yet, even in that far-flung reality, there’s no chance we’d get the Hawkeye we all really want. Though attempts had been made to get Hawkeye out of the background and into a solo comic book title before, none had hit until Sex Criminals author, and hipster Harry Potter lookalike Matt Fraction took over and infused a self-effacing, slice of life sensibility to the archer’s off-hours.
While the book won both Eisner and Harvey awards, and had a devoted following akin to cult TV shows like Community, the powers that be never seemed to “get” it, and the book was unceremoniously cancelled after 22 issues. Though the run is now considered the definitive Hawkeye by many, held up for him in the same fashion many point to Walt Simonson’s work on Thor or Brubaker’s take on Captain America, it’s unlikely the books will be handled with the same fawning reverence those other runs received from their respective franchise’s screenwriters. Leaked set photos suggest Hawkeye taking on a darker role as Ronin in Avengers 4, rather than the casual crimefighter of Fraction’s run, and though we did wind up with an adaptation of an iconic comic arc in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, it’s hard to imagine Hawkeye: Lucky The Pizza Dog filling those same marquees.
22 (COULD GET) BLACK WIDOW
When she first appeared as second-fiddle in Iron Man 2 and was then unceremoniously buttshot-ed on the Avengers poster, many began clamoring for Black Widow to get a solo endeavor, and couldn’t quite understand why trilogies were slated for the rest of the team while she was the spy left out in the cold. One side screamed “sexism”. The other side said “It’s not sexism!”. Ike Perlmutter, Marvel’s Chairman, said girl superheroes shouldn’t get movies because nobody will go see them. Then both sides said “Yeesh!” And since then, Wonder Woman has broken box-office records, Captain Marvel has become the most intriguing prospect in the MCU’s slate, the fervent hunger for the further adventures of the redhead with red in her ledger is stronger than ever.
Reports suggest Marvel has been taking meetings with a wide-array of directors, from Belle’s Amma Asante to the director of the Oscar nominated Mustang, Deniz Gamze Erguven.
Additionally, it’s been suggested that the Black Widow film could be a prequel, set after the Cold War, and tie-in Sebastian Stan’s Winter Soldier. Now, underwhelming recent releases like the would-be LeCarre whiff Atomic Blonde and the sluggish Red Sparrow might suggest that America’s taste for sexy Soviet espionage might be waning, but with the backing of Marvel Studios and the fan-favorite character at the forefront, we think Black Widow could be absolutely killer.
21 (NEVER GET) GHOST RACERS
Sure, there’s a possibility that the MCU could incorporate a Ghost Rider into their big screen offerings. Robbie Reyes has already been incorporated into Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, but if the movie side of the MCU continues to ignore the TV side, Johnny Blaze only briefly appeared in the series and could easily be given a new, Nicholas Cage-less big screen treatment. There are so many incarnations of the Spirit of Vengeance to choose from, but we’d like to counter: Why choose?
We should thank our lucky stars we got a movie as bonkers as Thor: Ragnarok, but adapting the Ghost Racers miniseries from the Secret Wars event would make Ragnarok look like Before Sunrise. For those unfamiliar, the most recent Secret Wars event combined every alternate universe in Marvel Comics onto one planet dubbed “Battleworld”, each occupying its own nation. Located within Doomstadt, the capital of Battleworld, is the Killiseum, wherein the Spirits of Ignition race for the entertainment of the crowd and the villainous Arcade. The expected cast of characters, like Johnny Blaze and Danny Ketch are joined by Robbie “The Hellcharger” Reyes in his Battle-Charger, Alejandra “Nicaraguan Hellfire” Jones astride her Hell Cycle, and the most gloriously absurd, Carter Slade, a ghost centaur cowboy. Take those words in: Ghost centaur cowboy. What more could you ask? A Ghost Racers movie could be like Mad Max: Fury Road but with somehow more fire! A dazzling, adrenaline fueled spectacle of sheer audacity.
20 (COULD GET) FANTASTIC FOUR
Let’s not even say “could” because at this point, factoring in Disney’s inevitable acquisition of 20th Century Fox, it’s more a matter of when. The First Family of Marvel has had absolutely no luck when it comes to big screen adaptations (except…you know… the 2005 one ain’t that bad… don’t @ us), and with how well Kevin Feige and the MCU have handled far less conventional characters like Rocket Raccoon or Dormammu, they’d definitely be in the right hands this time around.
So how will it happen? Will Avengers 4 give us a post-credits peek into Latveria? How will Chris Evans feel coming face to face with a new Human Torch? And who could they cast? The internet seems to demand real-life couple Jon Krasinski and Emily Blunt, but would they even want to? Considering the tumultuous aspects of the Reed and Sue relationship, particularly as explored in the Jonathon Hickman run, would having to act out those scenes with your real-world spouse be akin to the toll Eyes Wide Shut took on the marriage of Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise? And are we as a viewing public willing to let a loving marriage be destroyed just to get Doctor Doom onscreen? The answer, obviously, is yes. Bring it on.
19 (NEVER GET) ALPHA FLIGHT
Considering this Fox merger will give the Almighty Mouse access to the Fantastic Four, the X-Men and the Silver Surfer, it’s hard to believe Alpha Flight will get a shot at the spotlight until they’re truly scraping the bottom of the barrel. The tragedy is that in the right hands an Alpha Flight movie could be absolute gold; the travesty is that those right hands will probably never get to work with Disney again after getting fired from one of their biggest tentpole franchises, Solo: A Star Wars Story.
That’s right, we’re talking about a Lord & Miller Alpha Flight. Just imagine it.
Sure, the duo are irreverent writer/directors who can always play into the absurdity of a scenario, but they never do it with any sense of detachment, or being above the source material. Anyone else tasked with adapting Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs, 21 Jump Street or story-less plastic building blocks would have been horribly sarcastic, winking to the audience with every scene and consistently commenting on how “dumb” every conceit of the story was, but Lord & Miller brought heart with their snark. Were they the right call to helm Disney’s blockbuster about the most beloved character in an otherwise wholly sincere franchise? Evidently not. But give them carte blanche over over a bunch of delightful and diverse misfit mutants (including Northstar, Marvel’s first queer character), and you could end up with a truly memorable little movie.
18 (COULD GET) ETERNALS
Now, in truth, we probably would have chalked this up as too “out there” for the MCU had talks of an Eternals movie not been making the rounds at the rumor mill the last few months. Maybe it was seeing, through Thor: Ragnarok and Guardians of the Galaxy, how far audiences are willing to go in terms of the cosmic side of the Marvel universe. Perhaps after DC desperately green-lit an Ava DuVernay New Gods movie in response to the the visually ambitious (and wildly underrated) A Wrinkle in Time, Disney wanted to compete in the Jack Kirby mythology game.
Either way, Eternals seems more and more likely to hit the big screen, and that should be celebrated. After the Inhumans got the short end of the stick by being pushed to TV and into the hands of the show runner who managed to tank Iron Fist (because, in the words of Kevin Smith, in Hollywood you fail upwards), fans of Marvel’s more Homeric works have been craving the crazy scope and scale of the Celestials in cinematic form. Of course, they could adapt the most well-known and accessible third volume of Eternals, penned by Neil Gaiman; but we’re hoping Marvel swings for the fences this time, and does a deep dive into the original Kirby works.
17 (NEVER GET) ADAM WARLOCK
“But wait!” you might be thinking “We’re definitely getting Adam Warlock in the MCU! He was teased in Guardians Vol. 2.” And you would be right. However, we’re never going to get the pure Adam Warlock as he was originally envisioned. The Adam Warlock who pops up in Marvel comics now and again is little more than a super-tan Superman who tussles with Thanos. The original Adam Warlock was born of a mix of psychedelic drugs, the Jesus Christ Superstar soundtrack and the same two issue Fantastic Four story that inspired the Rocky Horror Picture Show.
This Adam Warlock movie would have to be grand in scale, rich with vibrant colors. It would have to span galaxies and dimensions, and wrestle with issues of identity, not knowing who you truly are (a la Warlock’s battle with his future self, the evil Magus), the heavy burdened laid upon a messianic figure (as Warlock is also ultimately killed for the sins of a planet) and the transmutability of the soul (considering Warlock once wielded the Soul Stone). When you take all of those into consideration, it seems the character was tailor-made for one particular set of ambitious and somewhat infamous auteurs: If anybody could get Adam Warlock right, it’s the Wachowski siblings. Only they could combine the color palette of a Speed Racer, the philosophical ambition of Cloud Atlas and the weighted heart of the holy hero in The Matrix to accurately reflect the complex comics crafted by Jim Starlin that made Warlock such an enduring icon.
16 (COULD GET) MOON KNIGHT
Ever since Jasper Sitwell mentioned a character in Cairo as a target of Project Insight in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, fans have been hoping that was a hint towards Marc Spector. Spector, one of the few Egyptian-linked heroes in Marvel comics, as a mercenary who received powers from the moon god Khonshu and became the dark vigilante Moon Knight. Moon Knight has always been a fan favorite due to his memorable design, his shattered psyche, and his multiple identities; existing simultaneously as mercenary Marc Spector, millionaire Steve Grant and lowly cab driver Jake Lockley.
Any take on the Moon Knight character would have to play with the very medium of cinema.
Of course, as Noah Hawley has demonstrated with the brilliant FX series Legion, the best and most engrossing way to portray a character’s loose grasp on reality is to keep the audience themselves guessing about what’s real. To do Moon Knight right, he couldn’t be a scattered mind in an otherwise grounded reality. Any take on the character would have to play with the very medium of cinema, to experiment with the viewer, keep them disoriented in the haze of mise-en-scene and clever editing. A proper Moon Knight film would less resemble a traditional superhero movie and be more in line with Paul Thomas Anderson’s often inaccessible Inherent Vice. In fact… Joaquin Phoenix was in talks to play Doctor Strange, and Josh Brolin is already in the MCU. Perhaps we can coax PTA to follow up Phantom Thread’s Oscar nominations with a turn at Fist of Khonshu. If that doesn’t legitimize comic book movies in the eyes of the Academy, nothing will.
15 (NEVER GET) MOON GIRL & DEVIL DINOSAUR
Created only two years ago by Amy Reeder, Brandon Montclare and Natacha Bustos, Moon Girl has already caught on with a number of Marvel fans. The “smartest person in the whole world” has inspired a legion of cosplayers, survived the often brutal culling of “out there” titles that happen every year, and is even in the process of getting an animated series based on her adventures with Devil Dinosaur, produced by the legendary Laurence Fishburne. Unfortunately, one can’t help but feel a little hopeless that this exciting and important character might not see the big screen any time soon, particularly because of a seemingly unrelated Disney release.
Given that Storm Reid was the spitting image of Moon Girl in this year’s A Wrinkle In Time, it’s hard not to imagine some executives using the film’s potential success as a measure for a potential Moon Girl movie, considering how Hollywood only feels a need to push for diversity when the box office receipts support it. However, the film was considered a financial failure, and critics were seemingly unable to rally behind something so unrepentantly empowering, picking apart every little “unbelievable” element or “plot hole” they’d let slide in, say, Super 8 or Stranger Things (golly, what could the difference be?). The tepid reception to a similarly styled “brainy girl” movie, and the comic book movie genre’s general reticence to stray too far from that Joseph Campbell’s “hero’s journey” mold suggests we may have to settle for just our cartoon Moon Girl for a long time to come.
14 (COULD GET) MS. MARVEL
Let’s not be too glum about the state of diversity in comic book media. Sure, any time a character changes even slightly from how they were in the lily-white Reagan years, a portion of the internet explodes in the kind of rage that can only come from rarely being told “No.” But in spite of such paranoid pearl-clutching, somehow the single most popular new Marvel character of the new millennium is a little Muslim girl from New Jersey known as Kamala Khan, aka Ms. Marvel.
Kamala is beloved not just for her role representing an underserved aspect of American culture, nor just due to G. Willow Wilson’s spot-on writing, but because Khan functions as a fantastic audience surrogate, calling to mind what Peter Parker once was to an earlier generation: a fresh set of eyes, full of hope and wonder, relishing in the world of heroes around them. It’s that kind of spirited energy and optimistic outlook that could translate exceptionally well to the silver screen, helping a younger audience connect even more deeply to an MCU too full of middle-aged men. Sure, it would be weird to see Kamala Khan and Peter Parker as contemporaries in the MCU rather than their considerable age gap in the comics, but you can bet if it happened, Tumblr would be shipping that “bridge and tunnel” romance before the credits even rolled.
13 (NEVER GET) MILLIE THE MODEL
No, seriously, you guys. You may not believe it, it may feel like it’s right around the corner, but trust us: there will probably never be a Millie The Model movie. The fun, freewheelin’ gal who dates back to Marvel’s early days as Timely comics was actually poised to get the film treatment back in 2003, according to then Marvel president Bill Jemas (yes, there was a time where Marvel heads didn’t send out emails full of box office reports to say girls can’t lead movies), but it never came to pass. Now, even though Marvel is pulling from deep in its archives, it seems the only time Millie the Model might appear on camera is played by Jazy Berlin in that Iron Man film made by the “other” film industry.
The shame of it is, on a really small budget, Millie the Model could honestly make for a great film. No, seriously.
Sure, Marvel is busy corralling all their characters for a colossal blockbuster to close out Phase 3, but Phase 4 brings the opportunity to get really out there, and try some new things. Why not take a few $100,000, pocket change for Feige and co., and let indie auteur Anna Biller take a crack at Millie? Biller is best known for works like The Love Witch and Viva, films that replicate the visual style of ‘60s exploitation flicks through a feminist lens. Like Love Witch was in 2016, a Millie the Model that both dissected and paid homage to the early romance comics could prove a surprise hit in the indie circuit and garner Marvel even more critical credibility, with little financial risk.
12 (COULD GET) SHE-HULK
Let’s face it, on paper, She-Hulk sounds… silly. Bruce Banner has a cousin, but she’s also a Hulk because she gets some of his blood. However, because it was only a little bit, she’s a smarter, calmer, leaner Hulk, and she chooses to go by “She-Hulk.” Yet, in spite of that, the character has endeared herself to readers because, regardless of how “comic book-y” her origins may seem, the character of Jessica Walters is so well-conceived, and her personality so compelling that any naysaying simply falls away. Her incredible tenacity and sharp legal mind have made her a fan favorite, and it seems only a matter of time before she’s brought to the big screen.
Of course, we’ll never get a solo She-Hulk movie, as the distribution rights for Jessica are alongside those of Banner and any other Hulk affiliated characters at Universal, and as Mark Ruffalo has stated numerous times, Disney and Universal don’t know how to play nice because “Universal doesn’t like making money.” However, just as that hasn’t stopped Bruce Banner or Thunderbolt Ross from popping up in other MCU movies, it wouldn’t be an issue for Disney to introduce Bruce’s cousin in a similar fashion, popping up in an Avengers film or even making an appearance in Jessica Jones or some more street-level franchise.
11 (NEVER GET) ANGELA, QUEEN OF HELL
Plenty of characters in the MCU, from Tony Stark to Nebula and Gamora, have what can lightly be described as “difficult” parents, so far be it from us to say that it would be a bridge too far that a tumultuous origin would prevent you from joining the MCU. But in the case of Angela, it’s not a matter of her fictional parentage, but rather a grand scale battle between her real world creators. In fact, Marvel’s current custody of Angela is merely a giant middle finger from one titan of modern comics to another, her continued existence inseparable from the act of spite that brought her to her current home.
To summarize the long saga, Todd McFarlane, along with a slew of other frustrated creators, left Marvel comics to form Image, a publisher whose proudest stance was creator-owned characters, the most prominent of which was McFarlane’s own Spawn. Early in his run, he brought in acclaimed writers like Alan Moore, Dave Sim and Gaiman to write a single issue. In his issue, Gaiman wrote Angela as a Spawn hunter, but became dissatisfied when McFarlane claimed sole ownership of the character. After a long legal battle, Gaiman regained the rights to Angela, promptly selling them to Marvel, giving one last McFarlane design over to the company he had left behind.
10 (COULD GET) A-FORCE
Jonathon Hickman’s Secret Wars, though hampered with delays towards the end, might be the last well-received, non-controversial event Marvel Comics has put out. One of the stand-out series from the expansive event was A-Force, an all female superhero book co-written by Ms. Marvel’s G. Willow Wilson and Bombshells’ Marguerite Bennett. While the A-Force book as it was written included characters we may never get in the MCU, like Mariko Yashida or Elektra, one thing gives us hope...
It’s not out of the realm of possibility that an all-female team-up movie could appear in the MCU.
Indeed, it’s been the question on plenty of reporters’ lips in various press junkets, given how many strong female characters have appeared throughout the many films, ranging from Scarlet Johansson’s Black Widow and Elizabeth Olsen’s Scarlet Witch to new editions like Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie or Evangeline Lily’s Wasp. Every Marvel star, when asked about the possibilities, lights up at the idea, with some, like Thompson, even conceding that conversations are being had. Indeed, once the terror of Thanos has been defeated, who doesn’t want to see Nebula, Valkyrie and Mantis get hold of a ship and scour the galaxy for adventure, excitement and, in Valkyrie’s case, strong hooch?
9 (NEVER GET) TROUBLE
Our younger readers might not remember, but Marvel made some absolutely horrendous decisions back in the late ‘90s/early 2000s in a desperate grasp for relevance. After a painfully meta-textual “satire” of the comics industry entitled Marville (get it? like Smallville...) relaunched Epic Comics, Marvel decided to kick off its new imprint with a Mark Millar penned attempt at reviving the romance comic called Trouble. You might remember Trouble for its uncomfortable, Lolita-esque covers, its risqué story about teen pregnancy, or the fact that said teen that got pregnant was implied to be Aunt May, as in Peter Parker’s Aunt May, who’s actually his mom because why not?
We won’t beat around the bush: Trouble is trash. But some of us kinda love trash. Those of us who can indulge in both battles amongst the stars and battles between Real Housewives, those of us who celebrate camp alongside the more mainstream hits, we… kinda like Trouble. And we’d kinda love to see Marvel get real weird with it, and get somebody who can do trashy right. Why not float some money Ryan Murphy’s way and see what kind of Gossip Girl/Marvel hybrid he can cook up with the salacious stories of salacious scandal? Before you naysayers write the idea off completely, remember that “trash” works because, as John Waters would note, bad is better than boring. And after Iron Fist and Inhumans, Marvel has a real issue with boring.
8 (COULD GET) YOUNG AVENGERS
While the Young Avengers may not be on the top of anybody’s “must have” list, they’re probably the most logical choice for Phase 4. The contracts of all the original cast are up after Avengers 4, and a lot of them have other interests. Chris Evans is currently stretching his stage legs in a play by Oscar winner and somehow The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle screenwriter Kenneth Lonergan. Mark Ruffalo is heavily active in various environmental causes. Robert Downey Jr. is probably looking to spread his wings with, who knows, The Judge 2: Judge Harder?
The point is, Marvel is gonna need a new crew to take the place of the original lineup, and what better to replace the old Avengers than the Young Avengers? Cassie Lang is already in the MCU, a rebooted Vision isn’t out of the realm of possibility, and introducing the Skrull in Captain Marvel opens the door for Hulkling. Some might wonder whether audiences would be receptive to lesser known characters like Miss America or Patriot, but let's not be too quick to dismiss them. Not too long ago, Iron Man was a virtually unknown entity, and people expected Guardians of the Galaxy to be a box office nightmare. Maybe there's room in people's hearts for Wiccan after all.
7 (NEVER GET) KA-ZAR
Marvel hasn’t shied away from acknowledging its earliest characters when it can. Obviously Captain America has made his MCU debut, but they even snuck in a reference to the original Human Torch by way of a costume hidden in Howard Stark’s grand expo in First Avenger. While Sub Mariner would surely make an appearance if his rights weren’t tangled up in a thousand different directions, there’s another character who harkens back to Marvel’s “Timely” days that will likely never see the light of day: Ka-Zar!
The real shame is there are some pretty wild stories to tell with Ka-Zar, a character who writers are still finding ways to re-invent.
Ka-Zar, in his original incarnation, was little more than a Tarzan rip-off, a “white man raised in a savage land” named David Rand (no relation to the other notable “white man in a foreign land” trope Danny Rand). From that, you can probably take a guess at why Ka-Zar would be tricky to adapt, but just read any character bio, which will surely include lines like “...his father was killed by the barbaric Man-Ape natives of the Savage Land," and it's pretty clear. The real shame is there are some pretty wild stories to tell with Ka-Zar, a character who writers are still finding ways to re-invent. However, while Ryan Coogler and co. were able to work around the problematic nature of M’Baku the “Man Ape”, the roots of Ka-Zar might be too hard to rewrite.
6 (COULD GET) THE SENTRY
The Sentry, conceived by Paul Jenkins and Rick Veitch and debuting in 2000, is one of the most fascinating comic book conceits in recent memory (so fascinating they pretty much repeated it recently with Voyager, but hey, we’re not judging). The idea that a character had existed throughout the entire history of the Marvel universe, only to be forgotten, would have been enough to intrigue most Marvel fans. The extra mile the team went to not only create an in-universe fictional history but a fictionalized publication history made the “addition” of Sentry so much more fun for fans following along.
The MCU could have a lot of fun introducing a character like Sentry into Phase 4. The studio has already toyed with viral marketing in the past, having Darren Cross interview by Wired to plug Ant-Man or crafting a full serialized collection of news stories from the fictional WHIH Newsfront to bring viewers into the world of Captain America: Civil War. It would be amazing to watch a months long marketing campaign that Forrest Gump-style adds The Sentry into clips from The Avengers, to see doctored Kimmel appearances of, say, Vince Vaughn talking about his 10 years of playing Robert Reynolds, or “behind the scenes” footage of various MCU actors heaping praise on a costar we know we’d never seen before.
5 (NEVER GET) SLAPSTICK
We’ll get a Black Widow or Ms. Marvel movie because their fans are vocal and plentiful, and Marvel hears them loud and clear; which is why we’ll also never get a Slapstick movie. Now, if you’re saying “Hey, wait a minute, I love Slapstick. I bought all six issues of the 2016 book”, well cool, we just found the one other person who did. Despite being a wild, inventive and compelling character, Slapstick has had two chances to catch on with Marvel readers and both failed to grab more than a handful of eager eyes.
Of course, there’s also the issue of his similarity to another cartoonish comic book hero. Slapstick, who debuted in November of 1992, employs Looney Tunes-esque gags and bends his reality to cartoonish degrees in order to defeat his foes, exhibiting a manic and frenetic persona all the while. Now, we don’t blame you if reading that calls to mind a certain ‘90s comic book movie with an equally cartoonish protagonist, 1994’s The Mask. In fact, the original Mask comic was published only a year prior to Slapstick’s debut. However, with the iconic Jim Carrey film still keeping its character in some semblance of relevance, it’s hard to imagine Marvel would want to risk a tentpole film on a character that could be derided as a ripoff.
4 (COULD GET) NOVA
In terms of the cosmic side of Phase 4, Nova seems like a no-brainer. Not only have fans been clamoring for the character since Guardians of the Galaxy first hit screens, and journalists have been hounding Kevin Feige and James Gunn at every turn, but Marvel has now set itself up perfectly to bring Nova into the MCU, and it has done it right under our noses in a little film called Avengers: Infinity War.
In a tossed off line, Thanos explains that he destroyed Xandar in order to get the Power Stone. That means a lot in terms of us finally getting Nova!
You’ll remember that Rhomann Dey resided on Xandar last we saw him, and while film-only fans may only know him as “Steve Brule in a spacesuit”, True Believers will recall Rhomann’s greatest role in the Marvel universe. As the last survivor of Xandar, Rhomann imparts onto Richard Rider the power of the Nova Corp, making him the first Nova. Of course, while there have been several “fan-castings” for Richard Rider, including a strong push behind Firefly’s Nathan Fillion, there’s always a chance Marvel may want to skew younger and skip over Rider entirely. Indeed, it would be fun in Phase 4 to watch Peter Parker have to take on the role of elder statesman to help Sam Alexander get adjusted to the hero life.
3 (NEVER GET) RAWHIDE KID
Lost silent film historians (and we’re sure that’s a huge portion of our readership) might recall that there was in fact a film called The Rawhide Kid back in 1927. Unrelated to the later Marvel character, The Rawhide Kid was described as an “ethnic” film that proudly claimed to depict both “a Jew” and “an Irish”. And as bad as that sounds, we’re gonna go out on a limb and say whatever it was, it was probably less offensive or stereotypical than whatever a Rawhide Kid movie would look like.
You see, while in today’s still-not-perfect media landscape, gay characters are allowed to have, say, three dimensional personalities, and defining traits beyond their sexuality, that wasn’t always the case. After centuries of simply pretending gays didn’t exist, pop culture finally came around to the realization that inclusion was important, so long as that inclusion limited gays exclusively to the role of “libido-fueled quip machines.” Thus we wound up with a “revamped” Rawhide Kid for the adult oriented MAX line where the Kid spoke in so-called "limp-wristed Toodles,” critiqued people’s fashion and made every possible allusion to the fact that he enjoyed sleeping with other men. Like looking back on the blaxploitation of the ‘70s, the Rawhide Kid books of the early 2000s haven’t aged well, and it’s hard to imagine Marvel would waste screen time on a character that’s less Love, Simon and more I Now Pronounce You Chuck And Larry.
2 (COULD GET) SECRET INVASION
How could the MCU possibly go bigger than Infinity War? What could pose a bigger threat than Thanos, a character who has been looming over the Marvel Cinematic Universe for almost a decade now? Well, what if the real threat was slowly building right before our eyes, and no one even knew? What if the real enemy was hiding in their ranks, waiting to strike? If Phase 4 needs an “event” film to rival Civil War, there’s no better choice than Secret Invasion.
Released in 2008, Secret Invasion built up anticipation with viral marketing, including a now seemingly lost Myspace video series, hinting at the idea that no one could be trusted. Sure enough, it turned out that the Skrull had been slowly replacing the population of Earth Invasion of the Body Snatchers style. This kind of paranoia-thriller has always played well in sci-fi cinema, from classic films like John Carpenter’s The Thing or They Live to serialized stories like the revived Battlestar Galactica. Fans who’ve dug through every frame of Guardians of the Galaxy to find an oft-teased Easter Egg would relish in the chance to pour through the full MCU to find the exact moment each character was replaced. Add in Captain Marvel introducing the Skrull to the MCU and the presumed revival of several “dead” characters in Avengers 4 as the perfect cover for the Skrull to take someone’s place, and Secret Invasion seems an obvious Phase 4 choice.
1 (NEVER GET) SQUADRON SUPREME
It’s unlikely Marvel is going to dip into the idea of alternate universes anytime soon, considering how much effort producers have put into establishing the one they already have. And considering their fairly cordial relationship with rival/desperate imitator the DCEU, they wouldn’t want to dunk on them by doing a movie that’s simultaneously a better Justice League than Justice League and a deconstruction of the very concept of a "Justice League."
But just because Marvel is too polite to do it doesn’t mean we don’t desperately want a Squadron Supreme movie!
Though the Squadron Supreme had been around since 1971, it wasn’t until Marc Gruenwald took on his 12-issue miniseries in 1985 that the Squadron Supreme became a must-read team. A year before Watchmen changed comics forever, Gruenwald was already using a slew of thinly-veiled superheroes like Hyperion and Nighthawk to explore the ultimately totalitarian nature of the superhero, humanity’s innate attraction to and corruption by power, and whether ultimately all power structures subsist on the idea the “might means right.” Zack Snyder’s adaptation of Watchmen came too early to function as an examination of a superhero cinema boom that hadn’t yet happened, and Captain America: Civil War became too bogged down in Bucky to get too into the ideas of tyranny and government overreach. Squadron Supreme would be the perfect opportunity to explore those ideas, especially at a time when Hollywood escapism is giving way to self-examination once more.