With The Avengers catapulting Marvel’s heroes to incredible new heights, we’ve identified ten other Marvel teams that should star in their own movies.
Agents of Atlas
A long time ago, the team now known as the Agents of Atlas were a bunch of heroes that starred in various titles from Atlas Comics, the 1950s publishing house that later became Marvel Comics. The heroes of Atlas were retired many moons ago, but when Marvel decided to bring them back (after a handful of scant cameos over the years), writer Jeff Parker found a clever way to import them into current Marvel continuity. Now they’re a functioning team, led by former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Jimmy Woo, with some fascinating members like the immortal commando-turned-ape Gorilla-Man, Greek mythological siren Venus, Namor’s cousin Namora, and more.
Along with its appropriately diverse cast of characters and abilities, the hook of an Agents of Atlas movie would come from their nature as superheroes-out-of-time. Imagine the idealistic optimism of the 50s transplanted to the cynical self-centeredness of today’s society. Plus, in the 50s, these characters would remember the realities of WWII all too well; imagine soldiers from that era confronted with the horrors of today’s War on Terror. Tons of drama to be mined from this Marvel team.
Cloak & Dagger
If two musicians can be a band, then two superheroes can be a team. These two got their start as supporting characters in Spider-Man comic books, but they’ve popped up all over the Marvel U since they were created in 1982. Tyrone Johnson and Tandy Bowen, a romantic couple linked by a shared history as teenage runaways (long before Runaways were cool) who were kidnapped and injected with a dangerous new street drug. The two were unknowingly latent mutants at the time, and their powers were activated by the drug. Tyrone gained the ability to absorb people into his dark matter-ish cloak, allowing him to teleport them (among other things), while Tandy was suddenly able to manifest and shoot daggers made of light. They had an interesting symbiotic thing going on, too.
Their superhero careers (they’re among the few teen superheroes allowed to grow to adulthood) have focused largely on fighting ordinary street thugs, with a special interest in drug dealers. Marvel head honcho Kevin Feige has made a lot of noise about each of their superhero films touching on a different genre. (Captain America was a WWII war movie, for example, while Thor was about mythology, and Iron Man had political thriller overtones dabbling in science fiction.) Superheroes that fight illegal drugs? Sounds like a buddy cop movie from the 80s, and definitely a new and different genre for Marvel.
Incidentally, rumors began to spread about a Cloak & Dagger movie back in 2007 (alongside lots of other Marvel hero movies that never happened), but it’s been six years now and nothing. Marvel later announced plans for a live-action Cloak & Dagger TV show back in 2011, intended to air on ABC Family, but two years later, there’s been nothing further reported.
One of Jack Kirby’s many contributions to the Marvel Universe, the Eternals are explained as an immortal offshoot of the human race who possess incredible power and exist to defend the planet from its greatest foes. The Eternals were created as Marvel’s answer to Kirby’s own New Gods over at DC, which were cancelled. Perhaps he was lacking closure, but Kirby created the Eternals to touch on a lot of the same themes as the New Gods. Originally, they were intended to exist in a universe apart from the Marvel U, but writers that followed Kirby imported them into Marvel continuity.
Anyway, the Eternals were given their abilities and unique genetics by this race of crazy powerful beings called the Celestials. These aloof, god-like creatures resemble 20-story-high robots, and they’re interested in monitoring life on Earth and passing judgment on mankind’s worthiness to exist. I’m particularly fond of Neil Gaiman’s recent take on the subject from his comics miniseries where he brought the Eternals up to date and into current Marvel continuity. It involved all of the Eternals living out their lives as humans, their memories of their true identities having been erased. The story involved the Eternals slowly remembering who they really are and discovering who did this to them.
Heroes for Hire
Heroes for Hire is a super-team that functions as a pseudo-detective agency, allowing themselves to be hired out to solve crimes or protect the innocent — for pay. That’s right, these heroes don’t work for free. Talk about a new spin on the superhero genre!
Rotating rosters are a Marvel team tradition, but few teams have gone through as many radical changes in lineup as Heroes for Hire. Originally formed as an outlet for Luke Cage and Iron Fist, recent years have seen the HFH moniker assigned to an all-girl detective agency, it’s been home to a much darker, more dangerous crew of reformed baddies like Elektra and Black Cat, and plenty more. (Even Punisher was on their team at one time.) So there are plenty of characters to choose from — very few of whom have appeared on-screen yet. Cage in particular is a big fan-favorite character, so HFH could serve as his debut, a springboard from which he could then branch out and take part in other movies.
Don’t confuse this group with the wartime strike force commanded by Captain America in his first solo movie. This team consisted of supernatural monsters forced into black ops for S.H.I.E.L.D., or else. Their group includes the Living Mummy, Vampire By Night, Warwolf, Zombie, and more. Their first (and only) story arc found them hunting down a magician claiming to be the real Merlin, who’s gone on a rampage in England, transforming it into a fantasy world.
Nothing in the Marvel movies has yet touched on the supernatural corner of the Marvel Universe. Doctor Strange is expected to be the first foray into that world, but Howling Commandos would make for a fun team-up that branches out and shows us even more of that world with a completely different dynamic.
Like the Eternals, the Inhumans are an offshoot of homo sapiens, but closer genetically to mutants. The Inhumans have their own society — a culture kept completely secret from the rest of Earth — with a rigid caste system and a supreme ruler. This king, named Black Bolt, is quite possibly the most powerful being in the entire Marvel universe, able to cause incredible amounts of destruction through nothing but the use of his voice. It’s so powerful, in fact, that if he utters barely a whisper, he’s been known to raze entire cities. But Black Bolt is not the only interesting character they can boast; each member of their society has different powers.
Marvel recently released an animated movie starring the Inhumans, which could be the best venue for this set of characters. They’re a tough nut to crack, dramatically. But done right, they could make for a fascinating movie, especially if they play up the “hidden society” angle.
The great Warren Ellis created this team, drawing from obscure characters from across the Marvel Universe, including former (but little-known) Avengers, X-Men, and more. But this was no ordinary team book. Their team motto was “healing America by beating people up.” Its team had attitude, a twisted sense of humor, and really enjoyed punching things and blowing stuff up. Each character was fully defined from the very first issue, and they were all a little nuts in their own way. They were drawn together by a terrorist-fighting organization called “H.A.T.E.,” who just happened to be financed by the very criminals they were fighting.
Nextwave was a completely gonzo, over-the-top slice of action and laugh-out-loud quips, and remarkably, it was all character-based. It’s also a biting satire of superhero comic books. My personal favorite character: Elsa Bloodstone, the British huntress who lives to kick butt and is really good at it.
I’d like to nominate Nextwave as Disney’s next animated Marvel team movie after Big Hero 6. It would be perfect!
With the Marvel Cinematic Universe expanding outward to the stars in next year’s Guardians of the Galaxy, there’s another cosmic team that’s begging for big-screen stardom: the Starjammers. They’re space pirates. Pirates! From space! The mind boggles at the possibilities that opens up, cinematically.
A team of superheroes made up of former villains. What’s not to love? Their current roster (seen above) includes Red Hulk, Elektra, the Punisher, and Deadpool — all of whom are completely psychotic in their own way. Come on, this just screams to be a movie.
Like its grownup big brother, the Young Avengers team has gone through several roster changes, but the original core team is still the best. They started out as Avengers fanboys (and girls) but quickly proved that they’ve got the chops to take down bad guys without help from the grownups. I know the perfect guy to write the screenplay for this one: my friend Allan Heinberg. He created the Young Avengers to begin with, and he’s got loads of screen cred. He’s a Hollywood go-to screenwriter who’s worked on some very big-name television shows.
The Young Avengers are arguably the most popular team on this list, and with its direct connection to the Avengers, it’s probably the biggest no-brainer team movie on Marvel’s list of possibilities right now. Come on, House of Ideas: make this happen, stat!