I’m giving myself a Holiday present, and that present is a non-Engen characters related post. While there’s no specific rule against this (we’ve all seen Erin Vance’s terrific travel blog) I still tend to limit myself to posts revolving around the site, the novels, and the characters of Engen Books. But everyone deserves to indulge themselves this time of year a little, and this is my indulgence.
(Also it fits the theme of this blog: pondering the future of comic-book movies takes up far, far too much of my time and creative energy. Maybe writing this post can excise some of those thoughts and let me move on to more creative endeavors.)
So, these are my ideas for 5 major (or minor, in many cases) comic book movies, tv shows and original series that will – probably – never happen. But hey: you never know.
5. Iron Man: Demon in a Bottle
This one doesn’t take a whole lot of creative straining to see how it could be a huge, huge move for Marvel. Marvel has proven they can do big (Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, everything)… but can they do small? One of the things that made the casting of Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man so inspired was the fact that he – like Tony Stark – was a futurist with a crazy creative streak that had fallen victim to substance abuse: basically, RDJ was playing himself in a iron suit. One of my big personal pet peeves with Iron Man 2 was that they teased, then sidestepped, the alcohol issue by revealing that he had been drinking chlorophyll to stop the degeneration. In an effort to make Iron Man more kid-friendly, they stripped him of one of the most intriguing parts of his character.
Robert Downey doesn’t seem to be doing any more Iron Man films, sticking to appearances as the character in other Marvel films instead: but could he be swayed for a smaller film? Downey has a soft spot for smaller films, like the 2014 film The Judge, and other dramatic roles. What if the next film to star RDJ wasn’t called Iron Man 4… but just Demon in a Bottle?
Picture a small, inexpensive film whole main budget went towards the main actors, Robert Downey Jr and probably Gwyneth Paltow, as they deal with Tony’s alcoholism. No big explosions. No shots of the Iron Man armor at all, except maybe archival footage. No need for even the arc reactor special affect, post Iron Man 3. Just a small, indie-style movie of the kind RDJ loves that deals with Tony Starks alcoholism, its roots, and his overcoming it. You wouldn’t even need a lot of advertising, as the Marvel Movies tend to advertise themselves.
On the merit of seeing Robert Downey in his signature role alone, it would rake it millions at minimal cost.
4. Fantastic Four: Unstable Molecules
Speaking of small-scale: loathe as I am to provide 20th Century Fox with any advice that might lead to them retaining the Fantastic Four rights any longer, next time you plan a movie just to block the rights from receding to Marvel: think small.
Unstable Molecules is a graphic novel by James Sturm which tells the story of the ‘real life’ characters that inspired Stan Lee and Jack Kirby to create the Fantastic Four. It’s just a simple, dramatic story of four very different (and often volatile) personalities and their interactions. It’s great amazing storytelling, and the best Fantastic Four story I’ve read in years, and best of all: no super powers. No special affects. This one could be cranked out for the cost of the actors and 60’s-era sets alone.
I mean: the contract for the film rights for Fantastic Four didn’t specify that it had to be a Fantastic Four superhero movie, did it? Couldn’t it be an adaptation of any F4 story? 😉
3. Darkhold – Pages from the Book of Sins
Never has there been a series more suited for adaptation into the Netflix or television arm of the Marvel Cinematic Universe than Darkhold. The premise is simple: it’s Agents of SHIELD meets The X-Files / Supernatural (depending on your generation).
A very mature early 90s comic that ran only 16 issues, Darkhold told the story of 3 accidental paranormal experts (a CIA agent, a Professor of Occult Studies and Anthropology, and a woman who has visions) investigating the occult side of the Marvel Universe. Their primary antagonist is a dwarf (cough cough Peter Dinklage cough cough) who hands out black letters containing – what else – Pages from the Darkhold, which can be read by anyone despite being in Aramaic, and grant wishes in horrific, demonic ways.
Get one of the mainstays of the SHIELD series to transfer over as the CIA agent and just start exploring. You have the superhero side of Marvel, you have the street hero side, you have the cosmic side: it’s time to bring out the mystical side. And with Doctor Strange on the horizon, the time is now.
2. Blade: Retroactive Inclusion
Speaking of the expanding occult side of Marvel, there has been speculation for years regarding a new Marvel movie (or series) featuring Blade, who was the first bona-fide movie hit for Marvel, coming right before X-Men and Spider-Man… but here’s a crazy idea, is there any reason not to simply state, retroactively, that the Blade Trilogy is canon?
Blade eliminated vampires at the end of the third movie, following a plot involving the Montesi’s from the comics. he introduced genetically-altered vampires and a modernized Dracula. There haven’t been vampires seen yet in the Marvel Cinematic Universe: couldn’t we say that was because Blade eliminated them? Personally, I would love to see the first 3 Blade movies become known as “Marvel: Phase Zero” and for the new Marvel Occult stories to branch off from its lore. That vision-getting member of Darkhold I mentioned above? Her last name is Montesi, the daughter of the person who developed the spell who defeated the vampires. The continuity is already there waiting, and as Daredevil has proven, Marvel isn’t afraid to let darker elements into the MCU.
1. Spectacular Spider-Man: The Hunger
And I don’t mean to say that Marvel should actually adapt The Hunger: I mean, adapt literally anything that is not Spider-Man’s origin. Literally anything. Any story, not the origin. We’ve seen the origin in film twice now. It was already one of the most known origins in pop culture. You can leave it alone. Just start In Medias Res.
Spider-Man’s inclusion in Captain America: Civil War makes it seem like they’re going this route, as well as the hints dropped that the character already exists as of Ant Man. But I’m still worried.
Remember Spider-Man: The Animates Series? Never once addressed the origin directly, was never a problem. Think about it.
Well, that was fun. Maybe I’ll do this a little more often. For anyone new to the site, click around and you’ll find lots of books and eBooks. We operate in a shared original universe — much like the MCU, but of our own devising. Give us a try, especially our eBooks. You might find something you enjoy. 🙂