We’re obsessed with superheroes. Whether you’re a comic book fan or not, chances are you’ve seen a superhero movie. The total worldwide box office revenue for Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) films is over $22 billion and it feels like Marvel Studios is constantly adding new characters to the universe. But this doesn’t mean that they’re running out of great material — comic book experts and enthusiasts know there are a whole host of exciting Marvel characters with lots of screen potential.
Below, we outline five underrated Marvel characters we feel haven’t been given a chance to shine — and why they deserve their own movie.
Spider-Woman made her first appearance in Marvel Spotlight #32 in 1977. Spider-Woman (otherwise known as Jessica Drew) has powers similar to Spider-Man’s, but she has the added power of being able to blast venom, inflicting painful bio-energy.
In one origin story, Jessica got her powers after her father (in an attempt to cure him of uranium radiation — it’s a long story) injects her with a serum made of the blood of several spiders. She was then put in stasis for decades, until she could be safely released. In another origin, Spider-Woman’s powers derive from her mother’s womb, after she was hit by a laser beam containing DNA strands from different species of spider. Whatever story MCU decides to run with, it’s guaranteed to keep audiences hooked.
The movie would have to be near-perfect — it’s likely people will have sky-high expectations, given that Spider-Man is one of the most influential comic characters in pop culture.
Wonder Man had his first appearance in The Avengers #9 in 1964, over 20 years after Wonder Woman’s debut. But aside from the name, Wonder Man doesn’t have anything in common with the DC Comics character. Despite this, Marvel creator Stan Lee discontinued the character after DC threatened to sue.
His true identity is Simon Williams, and as (arguably) one of the most powerful Marvel heroes, he has rarely received the attention he deserves. The character was initially intended to be a supervillain imbued with “ionic energy”. And although he was introduced as such, he was soon reborn as a superhero, ultimately joining the Avengers.
Williams has an interesting backstory that could make for a great movie. He was the son of a rich industrialist and inherited his father’s factory, shortly before losing everything to Stark Industries, the company’s biggest competitor. Williams spends a stint in prison due to embezzlement of company funds. He’s transformed into an ion-powered being with superhuman powers by Baron Heinrich Zemo, an evil enchantress. We think it’s only a matter of time before this film is made, but MCU will have to tread carefully — we wouldn’t want a repeat lawsuit.
This character is very much under appreciated and may not be on our radar, but this is a different flavour of superhero that might be perfect to spice up MCU. Ka-Zar (otherwise known as Kevin Plunder) was first introduced in 1965 in The X-Men #10. With a backstory similar to Tarzan’s, Kevin was actually found and raised by Zabu, a sabertooth tiger with (thanks to a mutation caused by radioactive mists) the power of near-human intelligence. In fact, “Ka-Zar”, in the story’s fiction, can be translated to mean “Son of the Tiger”.
Ka-Zar encounters a lot of Marvel characters in his time, from the X-Men to the Hulk and Spider-Man. His story might sound peculiar and far-fetched, but so is the idea of a superhero the size of an ant, and that doesn’t stop us loving Scott Lang.
Namor the Sub-Mariner, who first appeared in Marvel Comics #1 as far back as 1939, is the mutant son of a human sea captain. He is also the son of a princess — of Atlantis. His race is Homo mermanus and he has the ability of flight and other superhuman powers. Generally good-natured but short-fused, this character is known to be the first comic book antihero, which makes him a complicated and compelling character that audiences will love.
Captain first appeared in Captain Britain #1 in 1976. His true identity is Brian Braddock and he was bestowed with superhuman powers by Merlyn and his daughter Roma. In fact, Brian was given the choice, by Merlin and his daughter, to pick between the Amulet of Right or the Sword of Might. The shy and studious Brian knew he wasn’t a fighter, so he picked the Amulet.
The character was initially created exclusively for British audiences and the character aims to uphold British law. However, in one crossover, Brian helps to prevent a neo-Nazi takeover of the country with Captain American and Nick Fury. Later, he also rooms with Peter Parker (Spider-Man) at university, before being offered a job with the Avengers. There’s plenty to explore with this character and we think, done the right way, it could be a real hit with audiences around the world.
About the Author: Brent Moeshlin is a comic book guru and owner of Quality Comix, the number one buyer and seller of vintage comic books online.