Posted in: Commentary

10 Superheroes Who Need Their Own Franchise

With the second assembling of the Avengers now in theaters, they’re banking on the same billion dollars plus the first film delivered some three years ago. Since then, the comic book genre has exploded, with films planned from both frontrunner Marvel and chief rival DC for the next eight years (or more). This summer we’ll get a visit from Ant-Man, while in 2016, Batman challenges Superman for the head seat of the Justice League table. We’re even getting titles for The Suicide Squad, and, maybe, The Sinister Six. So what about those equally notable superheroes left out of the matinee mix? Here are 10 icon who could use their own franchise, or at the very least, are remembered once contracts are up and studios are desperate to include a new name in their established series.

#10 – Deadmansuperheroes10

Before his “accident,” Deadman was a trapeze artist named Boston Brand. During a performance, he is gunned down by someone known as The Hook, and becomes a ghost. Given the power to possess by a Hindu goddess, he finds out that his assassin wanted to be part of a group known as The Scavengers. While the circus angle might seem silly to today’s jaded audiences, the whole supernatural aspect of Deadman’s persona could work — just as long as they avoid “Jonah Hexing” up the property.

#9 – Robinsuperheroes9

He’s probably the most mistreated of all sidekicks. During the ’60s, he was an alliterative punchline (“Holy hand grenades, Batman!”). By the ’90s, he shared armor nipples (and more bad dialogue) with his campy Caped Crusader. Even Christopher Nolan paid him little more than lax lip service during The Dark Knight Rises. With his numerous modified origin stories, background, and intriguing skill set, a series set from his perspective would be the kind of novel invention the entire comic book movie model needs.

#8 – The Thunderboltssuperheroes8

If and when Marvel feels the need to mothball its current collection of Avengers until the mandatory reboot time has passed, perhaps it could use this group of superheroes as a replacement. After all, they were introduced as such back in 1997. Okay, so they already have Guardians of the Galaxy chugging along, but the goodwill created by that Star Wars inspired space opera will only last so long. Besides, they carry a secret that could put them right up there with their “evil” competition.

#7 – Starmansuperheroes7

Perhaps the first “out” gay superhero ever (his partner and orientation was revealed back in the LBGT dark ages of ’90s), this alien invader turned savior offers some solid diversity to the bro-oriented tendencies of the genre. Back in the ’50s, he was just a pseudonym for a fringe member of the Justice League. In the ’40s, he was an astronomer/inventor turned vigilante. Indeed, Starman has had many personas. Today, he could be an attractive advocate for a studio looking to broaden the superhero movie’s appeal.

#6 – Miracle Mansuperheroes6

For some reason, the magician as member/antagonist for our favorite superheroes always seems like a lame cinematic idea. Even with upcoming efforts hoping to change that, a filmmaker is still stuck making the audience care for and cheer a typically wicked bad guy (or gal). In this case, the prestidigitation could be part of a package tying him into another of Marvel’s many properties. We recommend avoiding the original origin story and catching up with the character after he dies and is resurrected by the demon Dormammu.

#5 – The Creepersuperheroes5

Imagine The Joker as a shape-shifting ex-talk show host who can instantly heal wounds and revert back to “normal” within moments of metering out his unique brand of justice. That’s Jack Ryder, an ex-Gotham Rush Limbaugh who inadvertently becomes part of a strange scientific experiment. Again, the character’s beginnings have been bandied about for years, changed and re-imagined to fit the times. In this case, we’d like to see the Japanese Oni version from The New 52 (the character would then be the personification of evil).

#4 – Submarinersuperheroes4

We’ll take this version of the underwater hero over Aquaman any day. This mutant son of a sea captain and the Princess of Atlantis has numerous special powers, including flight and enhanced agility. He also has a short fuse, his anger almost always focused on those “of the land” who wrong the denizens of the deep. He’s been part of many Marvel titles (including The Avengers and The X-Men) so maybe we will see him turn up in one of the many upcoming “finales” for these franchises.

#3 – She-Hulksuperheroes3

Thanks to a medically necessary blood transfusion from her cousin, Bruce Banner, Jennifer Walters received a minor dose of her relative’s Hulk powers. This allows her to keep her wits about her (she becomes a lawyer for such outfits as The Avengers, S.H.I.E.L.D., and The Defenders) while kicking butt at the same time. She is such an intriguing character, and contains so much potential, that her current exclusion from Marvel’s “Universe” plan is unconscionable. May we suggest adapting World War Hulk or making her part of the upcoming Civil War?

#2 – Plastic Mansuperheroes2

For a while, it looked like the Wachowskis would use some of their pre-Matrix moxie to bring Patrick “Eel” O’Brian, his goofy sidekick Woozy Winks, and his collection of superhero abilities to the big screen. Today, they probably would have gotten the greenlight, though many in the fanbase are so protective of the character and his unique combination of superheroics and satire that it may be impossible to completely capture the menacing Mad Magazine parody tone of those early comics (later versions mainstreamed him too much).

#1 – Howard the Ducksuperheroes1

George Lucas can be forgiven for a lot of things, but not for ruining what was otherwise one of the greatest comic book characters of all time. On the page, Howard is an existential experiment in social commentary and jokeless comedy. On screen, he just sucks. James Gunn gave the intergalactic fowl his due as part of a post-Guardians credits stinger. Hopefully, the fan outcry will be so great that Disney does the right thing and forces Marvel to make a legitimate, proper, Howard the Duck film.

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