MJ Hibbett has long been a champion of geek culture, from celebrating retro gaming in viral hit ‘Hey Hey 16k’ to creating a full length rock opera about dinosaurs from space – he’s even studying for PhD in Comics Studies and has put that work to good use to record a lovingly constructed eight track EP of vintage Marvel theme tunes with Frankie Machine of The Validators.
Given all of this we thought he’d be the perfect person to handpick ten characters yet to appear in the ever-expanding Marvel Universe who deserve their own movie.
The Next Ten Marvel Movie Stars by MJ Hibbett
This week I’m released an EP of sixties superhero theme tunes alongside my Validators colleague Frankie Machine, called The Swingin’ Sounds Of Sixties Marvel. Back then it was a rare treat to see a Marvel character on the telly, let alone the cinema screen, but nowadays you can’t change channels without tripping over an obscure superhero on a million dollar show. However, there are still hundreds of characters who have not yet entered the Marvel Cinematic Universe, so here are my top ten picks for the ones who should be on screen next.
1. DOCTOR DOOM
Doctor Doom is the best of all the Marvel characters and anybody who disagrees is a DOLT. Born into an oppressed minority in Eastern Europe, he was orphaned at an early age when both of his parents were murdered by the state, leading Doom to become a cross between Robin Hood and Che Guevara. The US government offered him a place at university, but when his experiments (to save his mother from hell) went wrong, disfiguring his face, they cast him out, forcing him to trek across the Himalayas where he met some monks, put on a suit of armour, and swore vengeance on the world. That’s just his origin story, and doesn’t even cover his dictatorship of his homeland, his scientific genius, or his propensity to sit alone playing the organ before yelling at anybody who disagrees that he is the BEST before stealing cosmic powers and becoming a god. He’s been in all the (rubbish) Fantastic Four movies, pretty much every Marvel cartoon series, and was briefly going to have his own film written by Fargo‘s Noah Berlasky. He is the original Baddie With A Point and he is SURELY heading our way soon!
2. SQUIRREL GIRL
People who don’t read comics often think that they are comical, because of the name and possibly because of vague memories of The Beano, but they very rarely are. Ryan North’s “Squirrel Girl” series was a bloody wonderful exception, featuring ACTUAL JOKES, proper characters you cared about, and moments of sheet outright joy unlike anything seen before in superhero comics. Squirrel Girl is a young woman who is also a massive computer geek and prefers to solve problems rather than just thumping people… although there’s also quite a lot of that too. It’s the Parks & Recreation of superhero comics, and it needs to be either a film or seven series of sitcom IMMEDIATELY.
MODOK is a gigantic evil head with tiny little dangly arms and legs who floats around being angry and trying to take over the world. His name stands for Mental Organism Designed Only For Killing and, to be frank, if that doesn’t make you want to see him in a film then I don’t know what will.
4. DEVIL DINOSAUR
Most of the Marvel characters we know and love were created in a few years during the early sixties by Stan Lee, Steve Ditko and, especially, the cigar-chomping D-Day Veteran and psychedelic genius Jack Kirby. He left Marvel at the end of the decade and returned in the mid-70s to create a bunch of series that comics fans of the time pretty much hated. One of these was “The Eternals”, which is out as a movie this year (we live in a universe where they’ve made a movie of “The Eternals”!) and the other was “Devil Dinosaur”, the story of a bright red Tyrannosaurus Rex rampaging around a prehistoric world with a proto-human called Moon Boy on his back. Comics are great aren’t they? The series was revived a few years ago with Devil Dinosaur arriving in the modern day and becoming best friends with a grumpy 9 year-old super genius called Moon Girl and that was even better.
5. THE SQUADRON SUPREME
The Squadron Supreme were introduced as enemies for The Avengers. They were led by a super-powerful all-American who could fly and shoot lasers out of his eyes, a warrior princess from a mystic land, and a brooding caped detective who… yes all right, they were basically a mickey-take of The Justice League, with a distinctly Marvel twist which led them at one point to take over the world for its own good and become super fascists. Since then they’ve variously been tools of the government, evil invaders from another universe, and a replacement for The Avengers, but I’d mainly like to see them in a film because surely somebody has to make a Justice League film that isn’t unremittingly bum-achingly dour.
Every few years Marvel has a go at creating a “new Spider-man” i.e. a gawky teenager who gets amazing powers and struggles with juggling both their responsibilities to the world and their everyday problems. One of the most recent examples was Ms Marvel, who would be top of this list if she didn’t already have a TV show on the way, but Nova was one of the earliest. He wears the uniform of a dead Space Policeman which allows him to zoom around at high speed and also not get off with girls. The Nova Corp (i.e. the Space Police) have already been in Guardians Of The Galaxy, so surely this can’t be far off?
He is a gigantic force of SPACE NATURE dressed all in purple with a pointy hat who zooms around the Universe being very noble and also EATING ENTIRE PLANETS WITH ALL THE PEOPLE STILL ON THEM. Why is this not already on Netflix?
8. NAMOR THE SUB-MARINER
There have been loads of underwater superheroes over the years who can all do similar things to Namor e.g. talk to fish, breath underwater, be quite strong. None of them, however, have Namor’s main feature: he is a complete and utter dick. Whatever situation he is in, Namor will be the one being an absolutely tool, telling everyone how great he is because he is King Of Atlantis. What he doesn’t mention so much is that Atlantis got bombed to bits while he was away on a massive drinking binge, and if it comes up in conversation he will call forth the mighty leviathans of the deep to lay waste New York City. Also, his costume consists of a pair of bright green swimming trunks, some little wings on his ankles, and that’s it.
She’s a disco dancing mutant who turns sound into light and is, to be honest, not really very exciting. However, a Dazzler film is a sure-fire way to get Marvel to make an ACTUAL MUSICAL! Just as long as they resist the urge to get U2 to write it again, this cannot fail.
10. DAMAGE CONTROL
Finally, with all these superheroes around, somebody has to clean up the mess. Within the Marvel Universe this job falls to Damage Control, a team of contractors generally called in by SHIELD after an alien invasion, or when somebody’s said “but where IS Atlantis?” to Namor. There was a TV pilot ages ago which didn’t go anywhere, but they recently popped up in the background of Spider-man: Homecoming so they’re available. I am picturing it as Auf Wiedersehn Pet with superheroes, and if that isn’t something worth filming I don’t know what is.
And that’s my list – there are plenty more that I didn’t have space for, like “ROM: Spaceknight” (an exiled superhero trapped inside a robot body forever!), “NEXTWave” (a team of often drunk superheroes who hate each other and fight broccoli) or “Doop” (floating green blob who can do pretty much anything except speak English) but I’m saving those for when the consultancy job comes along. Disney! Call me!
“The Swingin’ Sounds Of Sixties Marvel” by MJ Hibbett & Frankie Machine is available from Friday 2 April 2021 via Bandcamp