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The boys at CHUD has an article about how Marvel Studios is currently meeting with writers and filmmakers about coming up with movie ideas for some of their third-tier characters, like Ka-zar or Doctor Strange. Meanwhile, I think Marvel could dig even deeper into their catalog for even more unknown names. I’m not talking about Spider-Man or Punisher-level characters here, more like Spider-Man’s sometimes-partner-in-crime Speedball or the Punisher’s weaponsmith Micro, for instance. Well they’re Marvel U. characters alright, and are ripe for Marvel movies of their own.
So, with that in mind, here are the five characters I’d love to see Marvel hand over, along with a $20-$25 million dollar budget (or thereabouts) to an ambitious filmmaker with the order to, “Go have at it.” Of course, since we’re talking about a relatively small budget (by Hollywood standards), characters like Nova and other space-hopping superheroes are out of the question. As such, we’re left with the more grounded superheroes, the ones that can provide the grit and cool at the right price.
The lack of budget for extensive CGI also removes a lot of the mutant characters from our list. Guys who can turn people into ice or fly cost money, after all. But they’re not the be-all and end-all of superheroes. Here are the five that could front their own movies if given teh chance, and be successful at it. They are, in no particular order…
I mentioned Night Thrasher before in a previous article about comic book characters that need their own movie, and I’ll reiterate my points here: Night Thrasher is essentially the African-American version of The Punisher, Batman, and Iron Man rolled into one. He’s a smart, tech-savvy vigilante with a tragic past who relies on tech almost as much as his martial arts skills. Plus, when he needs it, he’s got a gun or two hidden up his sleeves. (Hey, you gotta keep it real, know what I mean?) Hire a young African-American actor with muscles (he has to be in his ’20s), and get someone like John Singleton to direct, and sell it as a gritty, urban version of “Batman”. Marketing this thing to the teen masses would be so easy, it’s almost criminal. Of course, Night Thrasher’s “skateboard-ish” rad looks will have to be changed slightly for the movie. And since Night Thrasher’s tech isn’t on the level of “Iron Man”, you wouldn’t necessarily need a whopper of a CGI budget to shoot it. (Read the character’s full bio over at Marvel.)
She’s sometimes good, sometimes bad, but always sizzling. Imagine Angelina Jolie’s “Tomb Raider” if Lara Croft didn’t spend all her time raiding dead people’s final resting places, but instead spent her time hiring her services out to the highest bidder. Action movies with strong, ass-kicking female heroines are hit and miss at the theaters, but since we’re not working with a mega budget here, the risk is worth it. A badass action movie with a badass anti-hero like Silver Sable has the potential of launching a franchise ala “Tomb Raider” or “Resident Evil”. And since we’re working in the $20-$25 million budget range, of course Jolie and Jovovich are out of the question as their paycheck alone might break the movie’s budget, so how about someone who is equally proficient in the action world, but would cost less? Someone like Maggie Q. or Kelly Hu would easily fit the bill. And Marvel? If the Black Widow becomes a hit with “Iron Man 2″, but you don’t want to shell out the cash to bring back ScarJo for her own big-budget Black Widow movie, Silver Sable will more than make for an effective replacement. (Read the character’s full bio over at Marvel.)
The aforementioned Microchip, aka Linus Lieberman. The name might not ring any bells, but how about The Punisher? Well, in the comics Microchip is the Punisher’s longtime weaponsmith, the man who made all of his groovy killing devices. Like the Punisher, Microchip’s comic book history is filled with tragedy and triumph, things that would translate well into a movie. Older movie tough guys are not unheard of, plus Microchip’s got a gimmick: he can make weapons and tech to serve him in his fight against crime. You can link him to the Punisher or you can ignore the Punisher completely; either way, Microchip could carry a revenge movie all by his little lonesome. Who wouldn’t want to see a slightly overweight, bespectacled nerd taking down scumbags with a combination of firepower and brains instead of just pure brawn? And let’s face it, comic book fans: most of us could never be The Punisher, but Microchip? Yeah, maybe. In any case, the Punisher’s already had three movies and they didn’t go so well. Microchip couldn’t possibly do any worst. (Alas, Marvel thinks so little of our potential avenging middle age hero that they don’t even have a profile for him on their site.)
Whether it’s the old school Moon Knight or the new, homeless-looking new one that’s currently running around, there’s no denying that a Moon Knight movie would rock. Essentially another Batman clone, but with a supernatural angle and brighter color schemes, this is easily Marvel’s best answer to Christopher Nolan’s “Batman Begins”. Turning a guy in a white costume and black hood into a gritty cinematic superhero would be a cinch, and all you’d need to do is built a slightly less supernatural origin for him. I know, I know, it’s practically sacrilegious to completely change a comic book character’s origin for the movie version, but let’s face it, people are going to hear “Khonshu” and roll their eyes. You don’t want that when you’re trying to sell a “grounded” superhero that strikes from the darkness and leaves bad guys writhing in fear, not laughter. Keeping Frenchie might be a stretch, but hey, even Batman has Alfred, right? You’d also have to forgo a lot of the character’s comic book toys, like flying glider, etc to keep under budget, but hey, that only makes him more gritty and “real”. (Read the character’s full bio over at Marvel.)
Okay, so the purple tights would probably have to go, but you could leave pretty much everything else. Okay, so the laser gun would also have to go, but you’re still left with a very cool mercenary character who hasn’t exactly shown a whole lot of “heart of gold”, but that isn’t to say the movie version couldn’t write the character as more complex than “I want money, hire me”. He’s an open book — you could add or delete anything about Paladin and still come up roses. And since the character is so little known and so poorly regarded by comicdom in general, even the most loyal fanboys wouldn’t really care what you did with him. In that respect, Paladin is the perfect canvas from which to paint a thrilling action movie with comic book sensibilities. Hey, if Deadpool can get his own movie, why can’t Paladin? Just give him a writer who can do snappy patter, and you’re gold, baby. (Read the character’s full bio over at Marvel.)