Superhero movies are being pumped out by Hollywood at a faster rate than ever. While that may have both its advantages and disadvantages, it means that more heroes than ever have a chance for mainstream success and widespread recognition. The wildest dreams of longtime comic book fans are finally coming true with the likes of Captain America: Civil War and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice coming to the big screen soon.
But it’s not just heroes with instant name recognition that deserve a shot at movies any more. While there are countless heroes that are adored by the comic book community, many long-loved heroes are virtually unknown in the mainstream world. Remember, even a hero like Iron Man who is known around the planet today was incredibly obscure outside of comic books when he was first brought to life by Robert Downey, Jr. With Ant-Man about to hit screens, it’s time to take a look at other lesser known superheroes that not only deserve a chance at stardom, but have what it takes to succeed.
The following 10 heroes or hero groups may have a long history in comics, but they are not nearly as well known outside of their current comic-reading fans. As a rule, the following characters have neither been featured in a movie or TV show and do not have one currently in development. So characters like Captain Marvel and Sandman are not featured, although they would most certainly have made the list if these projects were not in development. Thankfully, they are.
Who Is She? Kamala Khan is a teenage Muslim girl growing up in New Jersey and idolizing Carol Danvers, aka Captain Marvel. But when she is exposed to the Inhumans’ Terrigen Mist Bomb bomb, she is granted morphogenetic powers. Now, she’s Ms. Marvel – protector of New Jersey!
What Makes Her Special? Kamala is the newest character on the list by many years, but her quickly rising star proves there is a depth and quality to her character already in place. Not only does her Muslim heritage represent a vastly untapped group of fans, but her relatability and believability make her the Peter Parker of the modern generation. Plus, the Inhumans and Captain Marvel are already on their way, meaning that the setup for Ms. Marvel is perfectly in place! Kamala Khan will explode in the mainstream whenever she is announced. It’s just a matter of time.
Who Is He? Marc Spector was a mercenary for hire with little conscience. But when he was gunned down by fellow mercs when he protected civilians in Egypt, he was brought back by the God of Vengeance – Khonshu. He now brutalizes criminals as Moon Knight while also coping with dissociative identity disorder, with his personalities taking the form of different crime fighting aspects.
What Makes Him Special? Moon Knight has everything that Batman fans connect with but with enough twists and unique perspective to make him his own brilliant character. His insanity and mystical connections can make audiences constantly guess what is true and what is delusion. Mixed with hardcore action, he can connect with countless fans with an itch to scratch in the form of a brutal and vibrant vigilante. With Marvel’s street level heroes taking off on Netflix, Moon Knight is the perfect addition.
Who Is She? Renee Montoya was a Gotham City Police Department detective, but when she was contacted by the dying Vic Sage, aka The Question, Renee became the newest version of the crime fighter. While she has no superpowers, the faceless visage of The Question (it’s a mask) seeks justice and solves the most difficult of mysteries.
What Makes Her Special? The Question is a classic character with deep roots in noir. Renee’s incarnation gives the faceless detective a dark modern update. Just as important, Renee is a lesbian, providing needed representation for great female and homosexual heroes in the mainstream. Great character plus fantastic setting plus thrilling mysteries equals a story that can connect with a huge would-be fan base. In addition, Renee started off in Gotham and the world of Batman. Having her onscreen means that there can be new and exciting views into The Dark Knight’s world that are fresh and previously unseen. Maybe even a Gotham Central style series?
Who Is He? Another legacy character, either the modern Jaime Rodriguez or the long-loved Ted Kord can be the big screen incarnation of Blue Beetle. Best of all, each offers something unique and special. Kord is a light-hearted and old school adventurer who uses his wits and technology to fight crime. Rodriguez is a teenager bonded with sentient alien technology who embarks on both Earthbound and intergalactic adventures with the heroes he idolizes.
What Makes Him Special? If you’re looking for a relatable character for teen fans, you’ve got Jaime. If you want to pay homage to classic heroes, you’ve got Kord. You can even have them both in your film for a multi-generational saga that balances comedy and action. Plus, with Blue Beetle comes best friend Booster Gold for time travelling buddy hero shenanigans. There are so many ways that Blue Beetle that can be brought to life that it’s criminal he hasn’t had anything more in live action other than a poor representation in a single Smallville episode.
Who Is She? Jennifer Walters is the lawyer cousin of Bruce Banner, aka The Hulk. When she’s critically injured, a blood transfusion from Banner not only saves her life, it gives her the powers of The Hulk. But rather than turning into a rage-filled monster, she becomes She-Hulk – an intelligent, capable, and incredibly powerful hero who tries to balance her superhero life with her career as a lawyer.
What Makes Her Special? People say that writing a Hulk story is incredibly difficult. That’s not the case with She-Hulk. Jennifer is one of comics’ greatest female superheroes and can do wonders in everything from courtroom cases to globe-trotting adventures. She’s smart, strong, and incredibly funny. She-Hulk is an independent working woman making waves in both the legal world and the world of superheroes. Eat your heart out Bruce Banner, this is the Hulk that deserves the big screen spotlight!
Who Is He? Exposure to alien powers allows Buddy Baker to temporarily borrow the abilities of animals. As Animal Man, possesses a deep spiritual connection to nature and fights for animal rights, protecting endangered species around the globe. Through his connection to animal life, he’s also drawn into an ancient war between the forces of life and death while dealing with his often overwhelming connection to the very life force of us all.
What Makes Him Special? While it may seem that a character like Animal Man may be boxed in by very specific powers, a vast history has shown that Buddy Baker is incredibly versatile. This is a character that has fought supernatural horrors, protected the environment, become a family man, and even deconstructed the reality of comic books. Animal Man can go anywhere and do anything in the hands of the right creator.
Who Are They? A group of paranormal investigators described as “Archaeologists of the Impossible,” Planetary is focused on discovering the world’s secret history. Rather than being a simple superhero adventure, the Planetarycomic is an exploration and deconstruction of the superhero concept while still being a thrilling story. With tons to unpacked and plenty of enthralling characters, there is plenty to love about Planetary.
What Makes Them Special? You’ve never seen anything like Planetary on the big screen. This is amazingly heady stuff that can still connect with a mass audience. But rather than present another superhero team adventure, audiences are taken on an unpredictable and mind-blowing journey through parallel universes, conspiracies, and mysteries. Plus, Elijah Snow.
Who Is He? Combing his electromagnetic powers with his scientific expertise, teenage Virgil Hawkins fights crime as Static, as well as supercriminals gifted with powers in the same accident that affected him. The African American Static is combines many different elements to not be a simple “from the streets” hero while also not being a boring analog of Peter Parker. He’s someone unique and far different from many of DC Comics’ mainstream heroes.
What Makes Him Special? Static hasn’t been given a fair shot at success in years, but his early 2000s cartoon proves that there are plenty of fans of the character. Not only does he present fantastic powers that would create exciting action scenes, but Virgil is unique and relevant to both African American fans and anyone looking for a someone whose more relatable than a billionaire or monster. With DC’s movie schedule only focused on massive heroes with a huge scale, a grounded hero like Static will only become more and more needed in the years to come.
Miles Morales – Spider-Man
Who Is He? When Peter Parker, Spider-Man, died in the alternate reality known as The Ultimate Universe, young Miles Morales stepped up to take his place, as he too had gained the abilities of the hero. While he may be young, this half African American half Latino Spider-Man takes on massive challenges while striving to live up to the mantle and frequent tragedies that come with being Spider-Man.
What Makes Him Special? Miles presents a brand new take on the idea of Spider-Man. Not only does he provide a fresh take on the hero, he can co-exist with Peter Parker so that fans can enjoy both incarnations and be presented with new types of stories. Many have called for a new take on the hero with a minority actor in the role, whether it is Miles or not. No need for a complicated alternate universe story, Miles can be integrated into the world in an organic way that can make fans of the character happy from the start.
Who Are They? When six kids discover that their parents are secretly supervillains composing a criminal organization known as “The Pride,” they go on the run while also gaining their own powers and weapons. Known as The Runaways, these teenagers are forced to confront their parents both metaphorically and literally, giving many layers to the battle between these generations.
What Makes Them Special? Not a traditional superhero team. Not characters that are slaves to continuity or a bigger Marvel Universe. But still, these are characters that are worth investment and can instantly create a major emotional journey for audiences. This is an unconventional but thrilling story that would do wonders on the big or small screen. Should they take off in popularity, The Runaways can be the heroes of the next generation that come to the forefront of the MCU after people have grown tired of The Avengers.
Have your own favorite heroes you want to see on the big screen? Let me know in the comments below!