Now that Marvel's next phases are taking shape, we examined the comic book plotlines adaptations that we'd love to see.
Since The Marvel Cinematic Universe began in earnest with Iron Man, the studio has been producing compelling narratives at an expeditious rate. Often derived from the works Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko left behind, their beloved tales have since been brought to life for a generation of cinemagoers. Cited as the biggest cultural and economic force in film today, the MCU has proven equally adept at crafting standalone films as they are at building an all-encompassing threat that forces our heroes to unite against a common enemy.
With a bustling rogue’s gallery boasting a wide range of fantastical abilities, to say that Marvel have a wealth of material at their disposal would be a gross understatement. Still, the question remains - which villains and storylines are we set to be treated to in the coming years? Now that the MCU has reobtained every property they’d so frivolously sold the rights to during less rosy times, the back-catalog they can pull from is more tantalizing than ever. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a shortlist of riveting Marvel tales that seem all but predestined for a big-screen adaptation.
Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images - The Eternals Cast
Thor - The Eternals Saga
Set to be integrated into Phase 4, The Eternals will be brought to life courtesy of a stacked cast. Amid rumors that everyone from Keanu Reeves to Millie Bobby Brown will be joining the ranks of Kevin Feige’s cinematic playground, we've already received confirmation that Angelina Jolie, Richard Madden, Selma Hayek and Atlanta’s Bryan Tyree Henry will be present. Over the past few MCU installments, it’s become increasingly clear that the stories will be more fixated on the outer recesses of space. There’s no viable reason why Marvel can’t utilize a battle with one of their more cherished characters as a way to embed The Eternals into fans’ minds.
Created by Jack Kirby in 1976, The Eternals was a drastic tonal shift from many of their properties at the time, only running for 19 issues before it was canceled. However, the series was revived when Asgard’s mightiest hero entered into “The Eternals Saga” during Thor #283-#290. Although it would need some streamlining, the story of an isolated Thor facing off against The Eternals, The Celestials and other miscreants—including Loki—in a storyline that delved into “the legends of Asgard across the millennia” would be an interesting direction for the MCU to take.
Hawkeye - My Life as a Weapon
Perched somewhere between redemption and condemnation, the conflicted Hawkeye of Endgame made a largely middling character into an Avengers-alumni with gravitas. Primed to be one of the marquee properties of Disney Plus, the best way to flesh out a Clint Barton TV series is to borrow liberally from the structure and content of My Life As A Weapon. Released in 2013 and penned by Matt Fraction, the tale is the antithesis to the high-stakes war he was embroiled in during his last screen outing.
Instead, it takes a wizened Barton and engulfs him into the world of downtown New York. Where he’d previously do battle with megalithic threats, My Life As A Weapon amps up Clint’s relatability by making him into a vigilante tasked with a seemingly endless cadre of crooks and schemers that threaten Brooklyn and the surrounding neighborhoods, not unlike the Defenders of Marvel's short-lived Netflix universe.
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Blade - The Midnight Sons
New Line’s Wesley Snipes-starring Blade trilogy grossed over $400 million in the US alone and made the effortlessly cool vampire slayer into a household name the world over. With the black leather and shades passing to Academy Award winner Mahershala Ali, they may opt for an origin story that completely dispenses with the property’s past. But there is another road they could take which would not only present Blade in a fresh and compelling light, but would introduce a whole host of valuable tertiary entities to the movie universe.
Comprised of characters such as Morbius The Living Vampire, Moon Knight—whom Keanu Reeves has also been linked to-- Vengeance and Ghost Rider, Blade teamed up with the Midnight Sons in order to avert the impending rise of two dastardly beings: the “Mother Of Demons” Lilith and the soul-acquiring Zarathos. Although this arc does feature Blade’s brief transition into his murderous and possessed Switchblade persona, the fact that Marvel’s Netflix division had considered a Midnight Sons series prior to its closure proves that it’s at least taking up space in their collective brain.
Thor - Godbutcher
It has been widely speculated that Gorr The Godbutcher may serve as the primary villain of Thor: Love And Thunder. First sighted back in 2012, the extra-terrestrial being is intent on massacring as many gods as he can, racking up quite the impressive resume in the process. Buoyed by a desire to avenge the loss of his wife and child, his belief that no deity intervened to prevent the suffering of his loved ones makes him a villain of substance - and one with a chequered history with The God Of Thunder.
As a young Asgardian, Thor was once held captive by Gorr, believing to have slain him once and for all back in the Middle Ages. Therefore, when the malevolent killer returns, Thor opts to team up with younger and older versions of himself in order to vanquish him. Not to mention that Jane Foster—a character set to be reprised by Natalie Portman in the upcoming film—has a significant role to play in the conclusion of this 11-issue tale.
Fantastic Four - Unthinkable
After decades worth of missteps and straight-up disasters, Marvel finally has the opportunity to rid our minds of any negative perception associated with the Fantastic Four. Never ones to cower from a clean slate, Feige and co have a golden opportunity to bring the first family of Marvel back into our good graces, and there’s one key component to doing so: Doom. Although there are innumerable storyline options, giving the audience the benefit of the doubt and evading any longwinded origins stories would ensure that fans could invest in some of the most affecting stories ever inked and colored.
Succinctly dubbed as “Unthinkable,” this overarching plotline sees Viktor Von Doom change tact and try to hit Reed and Sue Richards where it hurts. Following the birth of their daughter Valeria, it soon transpires that Doom has cast a spell on their infant child - one he uses to unleash a trio of demons and whisk their elder son Franklin directly to the depths of hell. From there, Mr. Fantastic, Invisible Woman, The Human Torch and The Thing are thrown headlong into a fight for the future of their family in Doom’s home nation of Latveria; the eventual conclusion is nothing short of scintillating.
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X-Men - God Loves, Man Kills
After years of Fox-induced estrangement, Charles Xavier and the pupils of his School for the Gifted have officially gained entry to the Marvel cinematic fold. Yet the time for celebration has been tapered down as if feels as though Kevin Feige and co may have an uphill battle ahead of them. Fresh off another misguided attempt at adapting the Dark Phoenix saga, the return of the X-Men must evade any bum notes and give fans an opening gambit they can sink their teeth into. Although the X-Men comics are littered with seminal arcs, one that would give them their own unique—and somewhat subversive—identity in the MCU would be God Loves, Man Kills.
In one of the comic book medium’s most successfully allegorical tales, the puritanical Reverend William Stryker looks to rid the world of mutants, even killing his own wife and son after his offspring was born with "abominable qualities." Stryker’s quest eventually results in him kidnapping Professor X to use his powers and slay the world’s mutant population via cerebral hemorrhage. A tale that’s still sociologically relevant today, producing a film based on this plot would afford Marvel the chance to broach endemic issues that plague our world, while offering a darker take on their signature brand of entertainment.
The House Of M
On the subject of the X-Men, the eclectic troupe of persecuted mutants also play a pivotal role in the “The House Of M.” When asked about the possibility of incorporating this beloved angle into the film universe, Marvel writer Stephen McFeely seemed eager and cautious all at once, stating "I think House of M would be awesome. But you've got to earn it.” No matter how long it may take, the pay off to this deeply stirring tale hitting the big screen would be worth it. Centered around the internal strife of Scarlet Witch after she sustains a mental breakdown, The X-Men and a slew of Avengers express concerns over the emergence of the reality-warping abilities that Wanda has begun exhibiting.
Faced with the choice between trying to contain these unfathomable powers or removing the threat completely, Wanda learns of their plans and takes drastic, paradigm-shifting measures in order to throw them off the scent. Inevitably, her efforts result in a massive battle that pulls heroes from across the Marvel universe into the proceedings. Like Infinity War before it, House Of M could be a perfect storyline to piece together over months and years of future MCU installments.
The Coming Of Galactus
If you’re acquainted with Marvel mythology, you’re likely familiar with The Watcher; the great overseer burdened with the ability to witness the events of the universe play out, but powerless to intervene. At least, until the time comes to save the earth from the looming threat of Galactus.
An eater of worlds whose destructive ambitions dwarf even that of Thanos, The Coming Of Galactus sees The Watcher forewarn of the impending arrival of this all-powerful being and his enslaved herald, The Sliver Surfer. Offset by Galactus’ henchman slowly learning about the sanctity of life, this iconic story forces The Fantastic Four to use all of their cunning to divert an imminent catastrophe that threatens to destroy the planet as they know it.
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Spider-Man - Kraven’s Last Hunt
(SPOILERS for Spider-Man: Far From Home)
Just as Peter Parker’s life seemed to be heading down a harmonious track, his whole world was thrown into disarray by Mysterio’s last will and testament. Reimagined as an Alex Jones pastiche, JK Simmons’ retooled J Jonah Jameson took great pleasure in announcing Spider-Man’s real identity to the public. Now that the intrusive eyes of the world are on his every move, there’s likely going to be a bounty placed on the webslinger’s head. The perfect conduit for the introduction of Kraven The Hunter.
A skulking and imposing presence that would go on to become a founding member of The Sinister Six, Sergei Kravinoff was introduced as a Soviet Immigrant fixated on "big game" conquests. Throughout the many iterations of the character, Kraven has always been preoccupied with capturing the elusive Spiderman, and doing so without using guns as that’s the “honorable way." Embellished with one of the most eye-catching looks in comic book lore, there’s no shortage of high-profile actors that would leap at the chance to step into his boots.
A fiendish plot devised by mysterious figure The Beyonder, the Secret Wars is the sort of cataclysmic event tailor-made to birth an Endgame-style cinematic landmark. Hinged on the interplay between alternate universes that they’ve recently introduced to the MCU canon, the multiverse comes into glaring clarity after The Beyonder throws a cavalcade of superheroes and villains onto the habitat known as Battleworld.
The cause of everything from a giant Groot and the death of Cyclops to the arrival of The Children Of Tomorrow and a fateful battle between two different incarnations of The Punishers, the upside potential of this one is near endless - it would only make sense to bring such an epic tale to as wide an audience as possible. Fun fact, "Secret Wars" was adapted in the brilliant mid-90s Spider-Man animated series, featuring appearances from Iron Man, the Fantastic Four, Storm, and more.