Monday, September 9, 2013

25 Marvel Properties Fox Could Bring to Film

A few months ago comic scribe Mark Millar, who is working at Fox on their Marvel properties said that there are "five to ten potentially golden franchises," available.  That could mean many different things and it is doubtful that there are that many different series in development, more than anything this was a way to appeal to stockholders and advertise then upcoming movie The Wolverine.  Fox already has a new X-Men feature being released next year (Days of the Future Past) which could spin-off into various movies.  There is also Josh Trank's Fantastic Four and allegedly an X-Force movie in development.  Here are 20 Marvel properties that Fox possibly has the rights to which could make for an interesting slate of films, as unlikely and hopeful as many of these suggestions may be.

25. Wolverine and the X-Men
Jason Aaron's series was a reminder that superhero comics do not need limits and the X-Men can actually be fun.  His anything goes style of dark comedy fantasy storytelling would not fit the direction of the X-Men movies that have been in place since before anyone knew how to properly make a superhero movie.  However there is something extremely cinematic in these stories and interaction between adult and child mutants in a really weird school that also includes aliens and alternate reality monsters would be so much fun to watch.

24. Kitty Pryde's Fairy Tale
One of the best loved single X-Men issues of all time was this offbeat tale from Chris Claremont and Dave Cockrum.  Kitty Pryde tells a bedtime story to Colossus' sister that places the X-Men in a classic fairy tale setting.  Storm is a witch, Nightcrawler is a small impish creature called a Bamf, Xavier is a wizard and best of all Wolverine is Mean the Fiend with No Name who swallows cases of beer whole. This story introduced the dragon Lockheed who later became a popular figure in X-Men stories.  The comics reads like an adaptation of a classic Disney animated movie (ala Alice in Wonderland or Fantasia).  Would be a lot of fun to watch.

23. X-Statix
One of Marvel's most offbeat and irreverent series is also one of their most critically acclaimed.  When X-Force was waning in popularity Peter Milligan and Mike Allred revamped the series as a bunch of publicity seeking mutants who star on a reality show.  The series is a straight up satire of superheroics and could make a great dark comedy given the right filmmaker.

22. Alpha Flight
The gimmick of Alpha Flight is that they are superheroes from Canada.  Not a great premise to build a film around and definitely not a lot of international appeal in that concept.  However fans and writers keep returning to this franchise because the characters are pretty interesting and well designed by Canuck John Byrne.  Visually you have a great movie with these characters.  A traditional superhero in Guardian, a monster in Sasquatch, a hero that openly deals with his homosexuality in Northstar and the dwarf Puck.  Get the right hook and this could be really fun and stand out amidst the many similar superhero films.

21. X-Babies
Possibly the most gimmicky X-Men concept of all time (which is certainly saying something).  It is the merry band of mutants but with less angst and more cuteness.  With Scottie Young's designs on the concept the idea has experienced somewhat of a resurgence in the comics.  Not an easy feature length blockbuster to make, but why does it have to be?  With so many comic book properties being developed studios need to expand from just basic superheroes in PG-13 blockbusters and create more diverse concepts.  I can see this working great as a traditionally animated anthology features that would play well to children but still be fun for adults.

20. Human Torch
Marvel's second hero was the Golden Age version of The Human Torch, an android created by Bill Everett.  The character was recreated as a member of The Fantastic Four in the Marvel Age and was popular enough to receive his own ongoing series.  With Oscar contender Michael B. Jordan rumored for the role of Johnny Storm it is possible that he could carry his own movie.  Human Torch is just a visually striking character that could translate strikingly on film.  Could be a fun young adult story dealing with hubris and humility.

19. The Thing
Much like how Torch could carry his own feature so could The Thing.  It would be interesting if Fox took an opposite direction from The Avengers and spun off a couple of characters from the FF reboot (similar to what George Miller's Justice League movie was going to be).  Dan Slott's too short lived series would be the perfect template for a Thing feature film.  Ben Grimm makes a great lead because amidst the tragedy of the character there is a kind, honest, fun-loving hero who is always entertaining.  Even if the movie was just one big poker game, there has never been a superhero poker game movie before and I think that it is high time that we changed that.  The Unlimited Class Wrestling Federation or The Yancy Street Gang would be fun concepts that a team Fantastic Four movie could not do that a solo Thing series could take advantage of.

18. Future Foundation
One f the best things to happen to the Fantastic Four in recent years, besides Jonathan Hickman in general was Hickman's concept of The Future Foundation.  Reed Richards, fed up with the limits of adults creates an organization of child geniuses who come up with unique solutions to the world's problems.  The class is a wonderful ragtag group of kids with an intelligent Dragon Man, young adult Alex Power, Reed Richard's two kids, a child clone of the villainous Wizard, three orphans from Atlantis and two adorably ugly mutants.  This is an extremely cinematic concept that could play well with all audiences.

With the likelihood that Trank's FF reboot will be an origin story this should be its own thing.  Doesn't a story where Human Torch takes his nephew and two mutants to a toy store where they end up fighting Arcade and The Impossible Man sound way more fun than another movie about people learning how to use their powers?

17. Generation X or New Mutants
There are a lot of stories of X-kids.  The New X-Men for example feature several memorable characters such as Rockslide, Surge, Hellion, Dust and Elixir.  But one of the best loved groups of X-Kids was this nineties group featuring Jubilee, the tragic Skin, extremely tragic Chamber, self-centered M, superhero wannabe Husk and the traditional superhero Synch.  A lot of great group dynamics among these six.  Also nineties nostalgia is coming back and this is one of Marvel's most nineties properties.

But the eighties concept has been much more durable.  The junior team of CannonballMoonstar, Wolfsbane, Sunspot, Karma, Magma, Magik, Cypher and Warlock have always stood apart from the X-Men.  Namely because their stories had such a different feel, most notably when the art was done by Bill Sienkiewicz.  The X-Men movies don't focus much on the students and this is a solid group that could handle an ensemble feature.  Especially since they deal with magic and space instead of just mutant issues.

16. Cable
Many are assuming that he will be in X-Force but I think that the character would work better in a movie on his own.  A character who knows the future can be an interested lead.  It is a good gimmick for a feature for a sick warrior from the future to get stuck in the past.  I would cast Stallone in the role.  The side of his face with paralysis could be the part with the technovirus.  Also not sure if Fox actually has the rights to Cable, because he was one of the minor characters Marvel Studios said they were working on finding a hook for.

15. Doctor Doom
If any supervillain is going to work in a solo film it is Victor von Doom.  The Julian McMahon portrayal of the character in the Tim Story FF movies was one of the most insulting interpretation of a comic book character that I have ever seen.  Doom is up there with Magneto, Lex Luthor and The Joker but has largely been untapped in popular culture (a short but effective appearance on Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes was the only film or TV version to get him right).  I think he could handle a feature film to himself.  The character deals with science, magic, revenge, politics, loss.  There are really no limits to how he can be used.  I would love to see a pitch for a movie focusing on him because it would be one of the most unique superhero projects ever attempted.

14. Bishop
Omar Sy of The Intouchables has been cast as the time-traveling mutant in next year's X-Men: Days of the Future Past.  This is a character that has worked as a solo hero, despite being a nineties gimmick.  I would love to see a movie focusing on him battling a post-apocalyptic anti-mutant future.  There is of course stories to tell with him time-traveling or being a cop in District X.  If Bryan Singer finds a take that works on this fan favorite character they should look into his leading potential.

13. Secret Invasion
I have read (but never seen it confirmed) that Marvel wanted to use The Skrulls for The Avengers but couldn't because the rights were tied up with the Fantastic Four franchise.  The shapeshifting aliens without a homeworld would make great adversaries in an FF film, but their crossover Secret Invasion could be a movie all on its own without needing to feature any superheroes.  The story is that the Skrulls have infiltrated Earth and are posing as humans and have a plan to take over our planet.  This is a great sci-fi movie premise and one that could easily be done on a budget.  The theme "Who Do You Trust?" is a great one to build a feature around.  There also has not been a good alien invasion movie in a while.

12. Longshot
Not sure how the rights would work out for this one.  He is best known as part of the X-Men universe but is not a mutant and started out in an unrelated mini-series.  But however it works the general concept of Longshot could make a great movie.  Longshot is a genetically engineered slave created to be a star on a multi-dimensional TV show (think I explained that right).  With the popularity of The Hunger Games this would be a good franchise to look into.  The characters of Mojo and Spiral would also look great on film.

11. Fantomex
This is a character designed for a spy movie or a heist movie with out there sci-fi elements.  The character's costume would translate seamlessly to live-action and the abilities offer a wide range of opportunities for amazing action scenes.  This is a very fun character, he is intelligent and suave but very much an enigma.  Not a superhero movie but a straight up action movie.  Would not be surprised to see him in the X-Force movie.

10. Deadpool
Fox had very much openly wanted to make this film.  And after Green Lantern, The Change-Up, Turbo and R.I.P.D. I am sure that Ryan Reynolds is begging to return in this role in any capacity (my money is in X-Force if they adapt the amazing Rick Remender run).  Reynolds was one of the things people liked about the horrifying X-Men Origins: Wolverine but to be honest while I like the actor I don't think that he is the only one who can play this part.  Just thinking off the top of my head I think someone like Bill Hader might do more with the part.  Making a Deadpool solo movie should work well but it can't hold any punches.  The supporting role in Hulk Vs. is a great example of how to make the merc with the mouth work on film.  The advantage Wade Wilson has to other potential solo heroes is that he has a messed supporting cast with Blind Al, Weasel and Bob Agent of HYDRA (Fox could not use that name).

9. Dazzler
Never a character who has interested me much.  But she does definitely come to mind when you look as Marvel properties that could work on film since she was designed to be a movie back in the seventies.  The problem with the character is that music changes, she started out doing disco and has been part of every fad since.  But I do think that this would work better as a movie than a comic since a superhero who sings is not exciting to read but would play perfectly with a Disney Channel tween demographic.  A successful Dazzler movie would not only sell tickets but comics, CDs and merchandise as well.  It is a multi-media wet dream.  And given the right star and music it could be a very fun movie.

Also, like Cable, not sure if Fox actually has the rights to Dazzler, because she was one of the minor characters Marvel Studios said they were working on finding a hook for.

8. X-23
I am not entirely sure that Wolverine works as a solo character.  The newest movie got closer to the right direction but still missed the mark.  However Wolverine's teenage clone actually has a character arc and a hook for a solo story.  She is a clone of a dangerous mutant and was raised to kill.  A great nature vs. nurture story as she struggles to learn humanity.  Joe Wright's Hanna is a good template for how good of a movie this could be.  Also can't use Hugh Jackman forever, this would be a perfect way to pass the torch.

7. Sentinel
Sean McKeever's series was about a kid who repairs a junkyard robot and it helps him with his teenage struggles.  I have not read the series yet (although the art from UDON looks great), but I imagine that the hook of the story is that the boy discovers that his new friend was designed as an instrument of hate.    This provides an opportunity to deal with social issues that X-Men usually gets too convoluted to fully address.  It is similar to Iron Giant but different enough to stand on its own from that masterpiece.

6. Starjammers
If Fox is looking at this property it is probably as their solution to Guardians of the Galaxy but I would try to keep the two separate since the concepts are pretty different.  Starjammers should be more of an adventure movie that just happens to take place in outer space.  They are space pirates who are just traveling throughout space looking for trouble.  Great designs on the characters and a huge untapped opportunity.

5. Gambit
Ignoring the forced, pointless role in X-Men Origins: Wolverine Gambit is made for a solo film.  This could be done several ways.  It even could be done low budget without any superpowers.  But the visual of the exploding cards is too awesome to pass up.  There is a great background with The Thieve's Guild and opportunity for heist and adventure movie elements.  Get the right charming, athletic actor and this movie could be really great.

4. X-Factor
Peter David's two runs on X-Factor are some of my favorite comics of all time.  His nineties run had them as a government organization and the long-run he is just wrapping up features them as private detectives.  Both of these premises could work great on film but both deal with interaction between mutants and humans something X-Men movies have not fully explored.  There is so much great characterization among the expansive cast and Val Cooper, Polaris, Strong Guy, Wolfsbane, M, Rictor, Longshot, Layla Miller and Shatterstar have not yet been used in the movies and Multiple Man's appearance in X-Men: The Last Stand is easily ignored.  This would be the mutant ensemble movie focused on team dynamics rather than a big budget.  In some ways it could be Fox's answer to The Avengers.

I would love this oddball group of low level heroes in any movie but I hope it takes a nod from the legendary issue X-Aminations where the team is analyzed by a psychiatrist.

3. Silver Surfer
A lot of the big idea characters associated with the Fantastic Four are not with Fox (Inhumans, Black Panther, Namor, etc.).  But Silver Surfer and Galactus still are.  Rather than having him going to Earth like in the unfortunate Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer keep it simple and vast.  It is a story of a little alien in a large empty space who is conflicted about serving his master.  So many big ideas that play beautifully.  The character still has a lot of untapped potential but this is one of Marvel's most fantastic characters and a good filmmaker could do a lot with him.

2. Excalibur
This would be different from any other superhero movie out there.  Just a pure, imaginative fantasy featuring elements of mutants, aliens, multiple dimensions and Arthurian Legend.  The main characters of Excalibur are Captain Britain, Nightcrawler, Meggan and Shadowcat (not sure if Ellen Page would fit the best in this but Alan Cumming would be beyond perfect).  Marvel Girl, Pete Wisdom, Lockheed, Alistaire Stuart and the robot Widget are other notable members and allies.  This was the X-Franchise just cutting loose and having fun back in the eighties.  Would make for a really great alternate reality feature.  A big colorful fantasy.

1. Franklin Richards, Son of a Genius
This is the property that I think they should definitely use.  Not necessarily a feature film, but they should adapt the comic strip stories into short films and release them ala Scrat cartoons.  However this has a much more versatile gimmick than a squirrel who can't get a nut.  Franklin is a boy whose genius dad leaves around his inventions so he naturally plays with them and naturally gets in trouble, much to the enjoyment of the audience.

This series made the embarrassing character of H.E.R.B.I.E. work as Franklin's serious robot babysitter.  The comics were clearly drawn in the style of Bill Watterson and the humor was in a similar vein.  With Calvin and Hobbes not being able to be adapted into any form of media this could be the closest we get.  And it really would work.  Check out the series if you have never read it, a lot of fun.

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