During almost every year of the last decade there was at least one, and often three, movies based on Marvel Comics characters. As I’ve detailed here, this was because Marvel licensed out their characters to multiple studios, hence multiple projects were developed at once. Then of course Marvel started making their own movies, starting with Iron Man in 2008, but this time it was different, as their other movies like Hulk, Thor, and Captain America were all set in the same world and led up to Avengers. What if, before 2000, other studios had the same idea with Marvel characters? What could they have done? Here are three possibilities, plus one that’s kind of already happening.
- The Marvel Horror Movie-verse.
Blade, Ghost Rider, Werewolf by Night, Dr. Strange, Hellstorm, Man-Thing, Moon Knight.
While most point to 2000’s X-men as the beginning of the Marvel Age of movies, Blade came out in 1998, and was actually the first Marvel character to have a successful film. If a studio could have had the rights to Blade, along with other horror based characters like Ghost Rider, Dr. Strange etc., the characters could have teamed up for a Midnight Sons movie ala Avengers. It would have been interesting to see a Marvel film-verse with hard R rated characters. If they went that route, imagine if the same studio also had the rights to other horror characters and threw them in the mix, such as Hellraiser, and slasher films like Friday the 13th, Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street, and Texas Chainsaw Massacre. A truly horrifying universe.
- Fantastic Four plus cosmic/space based characters.
Fantastic Four, Namor, Black Panther, Captain Marvel, Inhumans, Guardians of the Galaxy, Adam Warlock, Nova, Silver Surfer.
Imagine an epic Fantastic Four movie with Dr. Doom as the big bad, whose plan involves an artifact from Atlantis and Vibranium from Wakanda. This introduces Namor and the Black Panther, who could spin off into their own movies. This would be the reverse method of Avengers, with the big movie first then spin-offs later. They could team up again for an Atlantis Attacks movie. Namor and Black Panther movies could explore Earth while the Fantastic Four could go off into space to meet the Inhumans, Captain Marvel, maybe even Guardians of the Galaxy. Eventually bring big g Galactus in, and we can finally get a Silver Surfer movie. Even crazier would be if Paramount Pictures was at the helm of this Marvel Cosmic movie-verse, and decided to cross Fantastic Four with Star Trek.
- Spiderman and street level/New York based heroes.
Spiderman, Daredevil, Luke Cage, Punisher, Master of Kung Fu, Silver Sable, Venom, Black Cat.
It would be fun to see Spiderman team with some NY heroes to fight the Kingpin and the Sinister Six. Throw in Silver Sable for some international adventures and you’ve got some fun stuff here.
I mention this one last because it’s sort of happening already and that’s X-men. At the time of this writing, a Wolverine sequel as well as a First Class sequel is coming soon. Who knows what future installments will bring, but I’d often thought what if they planned to branch out from the beginning. The first trilogy could have set up Days of Future Past; the dark alternate future where sentinels rule the earth (Like Terminator, but this was first. Crossover anyone?). Whole films could have spun out of that starring Bishop, etc., while simultaneously starting the First Class prequels, the Wolverine series, etc.
Consequently I always thought setting the X-men films in the near future was a big mistake. It wasn’t necessary, and given that Magneto’s WWII ties were kept intact, that would mean that, depending on how far ahead you mean by the near future, Magneto could be 100 years old in those movies. Anyway, the First Class spinoff was great, and I hope it’s sequel as well as the new Wolverine is too. If this series wanted to it could even go into space with a Starjammers picture.
Interestingly enough, while Fox continues this franchise, it is also rebooting their Fantastic Four series so they don’t lose the rights to Marvel. At the time of this writing I have no idea if this is a standalone film, or if it will indeed be part of the X-men’s film world. I assume it will be its own thing, but the possibility is there. If Fox Studios would combine the two franchises (and they both have outer-space characters), they could indeed have their own Marvel Cinematic Universe to rival the one Marvel is making in house.
It’s also interesting to consider the possibilities for tie in products; in continuity comics, video games (The Captain America video game is in canon with the MCU), TV shows, etc. Would it have been confusing for fans? I don’t know if it would have, there were several separate movie worlds as it was, most of them just had one or a small set of heroes. What would have made it work is what makes it work now; they’re similar but not exactly the same. One set could have been straight horror, the other hard science fiction, another more street level stories, and the last a mix of several things.
It would have been fun, but oh well. What do you think?