Marvelous Marvel Characters That Need More Screen Time

September 15, 2020
With Ms. Marvel making a surprise appearance in the new Marvel's Avengers video game, we pick some other under-utilised Marvel characters in need of more on-screen love.


Though his eventual appearance in The Marvel Cinematic Universe may very well have been hinted at in a brief dialogue exchange in Avengers: Endgame, the underwater superhero Prince Namor The Sub-Mariner – the mutant son of a human sea captain and a princess of the mythical undersea kingdom of Atlantis – has been swimming around the pages of Marvel Comics since the 1930s. Though nearly making it onto cinema screens in the late 1990’s courtesy of unlikely director Philip Kaufman, Namor has been hugely important on the page, but has never really been exploited properly on screen. Yes, DC beat Marvel to the underwater punch with Aquaman, but this fascinating and longstanding character deserves to be seen on the screen.


Initially created merely to serve as part of Marvel big gun Wolverine’s backstory, Alpha Flight went on to score their own comic series, and now rate as Marvel’s principal superhero group residing in Canada. The team has had a rotating roster, and boasts not only some cool characters (the Hulk-style Sasquatch, and the tough-talking Puck, a dwarf bouncer with incredible strength and agility), but also some very significant ones (Shaman is one of Marvel’s few Native-American characters, while Northstar is one of the first openly gay superheroes in American comic books), and could find a happy home in video games, TV (the team is now back in the hands of Marvel Studios, and would be a great fit for a Disney + series) or on the big screen.


Marvel’s take on the Tarzan-type man-of-the-wild archetype, Ka-Zar is one of the principal characters of the Jules Verne-inspired, dinosaur-populated Savage Land, an enormous jungle world – long story short – hidden beneath Antarctica by aliens. Ka-Zar was raised by the intelligent sabretooth tiger, Zabu, after the death of his parents at the hands (paws?) of The Man-Apes, The Savage Land’s most fearsome residents. Though gadding around The Savage Land like Tarzan (swinging on vines, diving off waterfalls etc), Ka-Zar has also mixed it up with many of Marvel’s heaviest hitters: he debuted in the pages of The X-Men in 1965, and has crossed paths with Spider-Man, Daredevil and The Hulk, amongst others. While appearing in a few animated series and a couple of video games, Ka-Zar (and The Savage Land itself) deserve better from Marvel.


A mutant associate of The X-Men, Dazzler nearly made it to the big screen in the 1980s (check out our story on that one here) before making a brief appearance in the very disappointing X-Men: Dark Phoenix. A rollerskating disco diva with the power to convert sound vibrations into light and energy beams, Dazzler’s status as a superhero pop star make her perfect for on-screen realisation, but the character has always received short-shrift. Though deemed decidedly cheesy by hardcore comic fans, Dazzler has a lot to offer, and could cross over seamlessly into pop music, film, TV (with Marvel Studios developing the likes of She-Hulk and Ms. Marvel for Disney + TV series, this could be a particularly good fit) and video games.


A mildly super-powered (slightly increased strength, speed, stamina, agility, ability to kick arse etc) villain and anti-hero, Paladin is kind of like The Punisher without the extreme psychosis and overt brutality. An enforcer with a battered code of honour, Paladin has worked as a mercenary, marksman, secret agent, bodyguard and detective, and has bumped up against Marvel faves like Spider-Man, Captain America, Ant-Man, Shang-Chi, Iron Fist and more. Though certainly not a high-profile personage in the Marvel rogue’s gallery, the under-used Paladin is an enjoyably hard-bitten figure, and would make for a great villain in a video game, or even in one of the more low-key, grounded Disney + shows. The Falcon And The Winter Soldier: Season 2, anyone?


A mid-level female Marvel character, Tigra (nee Greer Grant Nelson) is a mutated, super-powered cat-woman who has served in The Avengers, and fought alongside The X-Men, Spider-Man and others. Though typically sexualised in visual terms like most of Marvel’s female roster, Tigra has always been a fascinating character beyond the usual “wild woman” tropes, largely due to her oft-depicted self-doubts. Fallibility is always an interesting characteristic in any superhero, and Tigra (who has been bouncing around Marvel Comics in various forms since 1972) has it in spades. Her on-screen appearances have been limited to some video games and an Avengers animated series. Tigra nearly got her own animated team-up series with Dazzler in 2019, and could certainly do with a little more on-screen love.

Though they have been depicted in variously watered-down and partial forms in the films X-Men 3 and Logan, and on TV in The Gifted, and in a few video games, the dark and tragic tale of The Morlocks and their punky, eyepatch-wearing female leader, Callisto, has never been fully told on screen. A large community of outcast mutants (possessive of various low-level super powers) unable to disguise themselves and blend into mainstream society, The Morlocks (named after the group of futuristic subterraneans in The Time Machine by H.G. Wells) live in the sewer system and abandoned subway tunnels of New York City. The victims of several brutal attacks across the pages of The X-Men and other Marvel Comics titles, The Morlocks will hopefully, ahem, see the light of day in some shape or form now that Marvel Studios has the rights to the characters after Disney’s purchase of Fox.


Created by Marvel Comics expressly for the British comic book market, and later folded into the larger Marvel continuity, Captain Britain is one of only a small handful of English superheroes. Despite this singularity, his appearances in film, TV and video games have been decidedly limited, with the character only clocking credits in a few animated shows and LEGO games. Like all Marvel characters, Captain Britain has seen many, many wildly divergent iterations over the years, but he is essentially Brian Braddock, an aristocratic scientist from Essex gifted extraordinary super powers by Merlyn and his daughter Roma. If Marvel Studios wanted to play outside of its very American sandbox, Captain Britain would be one interesting way to make further inroads into the UK market.


With its recent push for racial and gender diversity with titles like Black Panther, Captain Marvel, Black Widow, TV’s She-Hulk and Ms. Marvel, and the upcoming Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings, Marvel Studios next needs to big up one of its Native American superheroes, and it needs to do it soon. The go-to character without question is Red Wolf, often billed as “Marvel’s first Native American superhero” and definitely the most rich-with-possibilities of its First Nations creations. Like The Phantom, the mantle of Red Wolf is passed down from generation to generation, and there have been three iterations of the character (with the aliases Johnny Wakely, Thomas Thunderhead and William Talltrees) dating back to the days of The Old West…boom, instant cinematic trilogy! Boasting mystic powers, super-strength, major arse-kicking abilities, and a cool AF wolf companion called Lobo, Red Wolf practically leaps off the page and onto the screen.


With Thor: Ragnarok shot here, Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings shooting now, and Thor: Love And Thunder set to kick off soon, Marvel Studios obviously has something of an affinity with the great land of Australia. The comic book giant has offered up a few Aussie characters over the years (Talisman, members of The Reavers), but the best actual Down Under superhero from Marvel Comics is unquestionably Manifold, alias Eden Fesi. Fesi is an Aboriginal Australian mutant with the ability to bend time and space, connecting one piece to another and allowing him to teleport. Mixing it up with many of Marvel’s major players after being recruited by Nick Fury into The Secret Warriors, Manifold is very much a low-wattage Marvel character, but if the company is going to continue to make its movies here in Australia, then they should at least give us an Australian superhero.

Marvel’s Avengers is available now. Click here for our in-depth run through.




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