As the first Marvel property to win a feature film Oscar, “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” defied all skeptics by revolutionizing the superhero genre playing field. DC has been in the animated film business for the long time, but their DC Animated Movie Universe is relegated to niche markets, released straight to on-demand or home video. There’s no global celebration of a popular comic series from alternate universes or timelines getting the cinematic treatment. If anything, the films are akin to the geek-obsessive being thrown a bone so as to avoid rumblings of single source monopolization.
However, Sony took a risk with Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsay, and Rodney Rothman’s daring reveal that a hero previously tied to one canon and character is in fact as elastic and free-flowing in nature as the web he swings from. Now that Disney has acquired 20th Century Fox and all the supplemental superhero properties that come along with it, it is in the prime position to emulate their rival studio’s success by launching animated entries of their own, untethered to the MCU and free to traverse the vast array of source material for new inspiration. Below is a collection of heroes, villains, and vigilantes whose marginalization could be reversed in liberating animated form.
The Heroes and Villains of Asgard
After three movies, audiences might think they’ve had their fill of Thor and Loki’s sibling rivalry. However, the kingdom of Asgard is steeped in far too much mythology for a fairy tale-craving studio like Disney to abandon. Watching teenage versions of Loki, Valkyrie, Hela, and Thor reveling in youthful camaraderie before veering off on their separate agendas would provide insight into the inevitable schism that fractures the Norse worlds. Akira Yoshida’s “Thor: Son of Asgard” comic series would be vital source material, but the writers should remember to focus on rounding out the players instead of hammering down on their title hero. What makes “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” so compelling is the way it branches off into character backstory revelation. Pivotal adversarial encounters are always more interesting when personal motivation is provided, especially when foe used to be ally.
How many different transformations do we need to see of Jean Gray becoming Dark Phoenix before it becomes a stale retelling? Why not harness a creative retrospective around Storm, the one member of X-Men who always feels like a fringe player, even when her powers punctuate every skirmish. Having one of the most fascinating origin stories on file, there’s no better way to pay tribute to Storm than by giving her an animated movie to solely command. There’s a zero percent chance that casual moviegoers know Storm’s real name: Ororo Monroe. Finally, now that Disney has both X-Men and Black Panther under its umbrella, there’s no excuse not to merge worlds by showcasing a marriage few know about. T’Challa and Storm may not have been a “forever” union, but their marriage is a sacred piece of fandom worthy of zeitgeist shipping.
With the breaking news that Shuri didn’t survive Thanos’ snap, the Marvel-verse’s brainiest heroine should get her own alternate universe spin-off as way to honor Shuri’s memory better than her scene-stealing tech support ever could. Who wouldn’t leap at the chance to watch the young heiress hold down the throne whenever her brother goes off on team affiliate missions? Fantastic Four’s Doctor Doom is a chronic thorn in Shuri’s side in comic lore, in one instance influencing her to turn against her people as an instrument of evil. Hopefully if Disney were ever go the route of giving Shuri her own movie vehicle, they will explore another dimension to the intellectually incomparable Wakanda warrior princess.
Hawkeye has become a perennial constant of the Marvel universe, available whenever fighting commences but with a personality and background that’s agonizingly elusive. I’m sure his mysteriousness makes him the fan favorite that he is, but in a progressive 2019 it’s better for audiences to embrace a transparent hero than an enigmatic one. Staying in the shadows is coward’s play at this stage of the game. It’s time for Hawkeye to finally unveil himself beneath his human mask. If his allegiance lies with himself more than others, then at least his inclinations are honest.
What major life events did Hawkeye endure to make him reluctant to plant both feet in a team dynamic? What is the true story behind his relationship with Black Widow? I think pulling back the curtain of mystery would only enhance the respect Hawkeye has built among fans with very few personal details. Bringing in nemesis Bullseye would be a great way to differentiate his mercenary selfishness from the career aims of a sociopath killer for hire.
Gamora and Nebula
The redeeming trait of the underwhelming “Guardians of the Galaxy 2” is the repaired bond of sisterhood between Gamora and Nebula. Adoptive children of galactic oppressor Thanos, these girls eventually grew apart but always shared a hatred for the “father” who robbed their lives. In their unity against Thanos’ tyranny, Gamora and Nebula were able to restore their familial love, this time unbreakable even in death. However, their connection is still a footnote in the larger conflict, therefore entitled to a feature-length examination of their upbringing, their fallout, and their eventual reunion. There has never been a superhero movie with a narrative pertaining to two sisters, marking this offshoot as territory to not just break new ground, but forge a new foundation of female duo solidarity.