Both Disney/Marvel and Warner Bros./DC have mined their respective rosters to line-up an impressive array of movie adaptations, with films slotted into release dates right up until 2020 and beyond. But with many of the frontline heroes now spoken for and lower tier characters starting to emerge, who of each universe's heavy-hitters are left? And who will the comic factories turn to next?
AKA: Jennifer Walters
Bio: Bruce Banner’s cousin, she was initially the shy daughter of a Los Angeles sheriff, seriously wounded by a crime boss’s bullets. After a blood transfusion from Bruce, criminal goons attempted to finish the job as she recovered in hospital, and her anger transformed her – thanks to the Gamma infusion she accidentally received from her cousin – into an Amazonian version of the Hulk, with less strength but more control of her personality.
Why her? Mark Ruffalo has brought such nuance to the role of Bruce in the Avengers films that surely a version of She-Hulk would be a great challenge not just for an actress, but for the VFX team’s ability to show character while she’s in Hulk mode.
Dream casting: UFC stalwart Ronda Rousey is slowly making a name for herself, appearing in Fast & Furious 7 and Entourage this year. She also wouldn’t need much in the way of VFX to play the character in full rage mode, either.
AKA: Laura Kinney
Bio: Cloned from genetic material, she was part of the Weapon X programme that gave Wolverine his adamantium skeleton and those handy claws. Trained from a young age as an assassin, she eventually rejects her deadlier side and becomes something of a hero.
Why her? We’ve already said we want to see her as a Marvel TV series, but with Hugh Jackman constantly saying he wants to hang up the claws, why not introduce her in an X-Men film and see if she hits?
Dream casting: Kaya Scodelario’s not a bad call.
AKA: Namor McKenzie
Bio: Namor was born in Atlantis, the son of a human sea captain and Fen, daughter of Atlantean emperor Thakorr. A prince of Atlantis, he’s initially and enemy of mankind, taking out buildings and ships with his mastery over the sea’s inhabitants. He’s also incredibly strong and fast, and in at least one incarnation, can fly thanks to tiny wings on his ankles. STOP GIGGLING.
Why him? DC is bringing Aquaman to big screens, so Marvel could use someone who has some underwater flare, plus tiny wings on his ank… Look, we told you to stop giggling. He’s got a fantastically complicated background and a narrative that could see him introduced as a villain before joining the forces of good. Just nobody tell him about the whole sushi thing.
Dream casting: Sasha Roiz, formerly of Battlestar Galactica spin-off Caprica, and currently found on US fantasy series Grimm, could do it justice.
AKA: Wendell Elvis Vaughn
Bio: A lowly S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, Vaughn became so much more when he donned a pair of "Quantum Bands" to avoid them falling into the hands (or onto the wrists) of the enemy. Discovering he’s a whizz at controlling the incredible energy they possess, Nick Fury appoints him to a Super-Agent program. He’s also fought alongside the Avengers, while making regular trips into space to explore the origins and powers of the bands.
Why him? He’s an interesting guy – an everyman gifted with incredible powers, but not through experimentation or radiation. He’s also the sort of character that could show up as part of the Avengers team or visit with the Guardians Of The Galaxy, so he’s even more useful.
Dream casting: As part of the Marvel/DC exchange program, and given his Sting-like looks, why not Constantine’s Matt Ryan? Since that the show got the old heave-ho after one short season, he’s available…
AKA: Brian Braddock
Bio: Science? Schmience! Brian is not only the child of a man sent to the main Marvel universe by "Merlyn" (who claims to be the wizard from the King Arthur stories), but was given his powers after an accident by the magical man and his daughter, Roma. Given the choice of the Sword Of Might or Amulet Of Right, he chose the latter and began defending Britain and the multiverse from threats.
Why him? Because despite the presence of the excellent Peggy Carter, there are too few British characters showing up in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and it’s time to redress the balance. Plus, given his mystical background, we can imagine he’d have a lot in common with Doctor Strange, even if that character likely means Benedict Cumberbatch putting on a Noo Yoik accent. Our only concern? He’s been written in the past by Alan Moore, who tends to put bad luck hexes on films using his characters.
Dream casting: We’d cast Empire Spirit Animal Dan Stevens. He can do bookish, he can do badass, he can do it all.
AKA: Marc Spector
Bio: Comic heroes do so love their dark, complicated back-stories. For Spector, the son of a Rabbi whose family fled Europe in the 1930s to escape the Holocaust, he blends elements from Iron Man – (materialistic/military type sees the error of his ways) and mysticism (he’s given his powers effectively by a moon god called Khonshu, which sounds like someone sneezing to us) and, to cap it all, has a twisted, psychopathic brother who pops up as a villain from time to time.
Why him? Why not? He’s relatively well-known, has a compelling story that would make for a great origin film and feels like someone you could lead down darker paths than even Tony Stark or Stephen Strange. Even if the MCU hasn’t necessarily gone down that route much, it’s a fascinating angle to take.
Dream casting: Joel Edgerton. He’s got the… wait for it… edge. Sorry.
AKA: Barbara Gordon
Bio: The daughter of Gotham City police commissioner Jim Gordon, Barbara has long since been a fan favourite among DC Comics heroines. By day she’s the head of the Gotham City Library (and eventually ends up elected to the US Congress), and she fights crime at night, often alongside Batman. She uses her martial arts skills and her genius mind to battle villains despite not having the same resources as the billionaire Bruce Wayne.
Why her? She’s a fantastically complex character who has had a run of storylines that would seem well suited to the darker nature of the current DC Comics movies as overseen by Zack Snyder. Would they go so far as to have her crippled by The Joker, and becoming her second incarnation as hacker and info supplier Oracle? It could work, at least down the line. Bonus: reclaiming the character from Batman & Robin.
Dream casting: Alicia Silver… Just kidding. Mary Elizabeth Winstead could bring a certain something to the role.
AKA: Jaime Reyes
Bio: There have been three main incarnations of the character through its history, which actually pre-dates DC Comics. The original, Dan Garret, was the son of a police officer killed in the line of duty who swears to avenge his father. Wearing a bulletproof outfit and using something called Vitamin X2 to enhance his abilities, he fought corruption and crime. Ted Kord was drafted in to replace him when Garret – who had been his mentor – died. An inventor, Kord went the Batman route, using gadgets to fight evil. Finally, there is Jamie Reyes, introduced in 2006, a teenager who receives his powers from an alien doohickey known as the Scarab.
Why him? We’ve gone for Reyes, since he’s the one we figure the studios would want to adapt given his much wider exposure (he’s been in animated series and popped up on Smallville) and the chance to depict a different type of hero in the DC movies. Plus, he could help set up a Young Justice movie, featuring the likes of Nightwing (see below), Wondergirl and more.
Dream casting: We’re going for a relative unknown, at least outside of TV: Disney Channel regular Adam Irigoyen, because he’s in the right age range (18) and could be an interesting discovery.
AKA: John Jones/J'onn J'onzz
Bio: A Martian (the clue really is in the name) drawn to Earth by accident as part of an experiment, the Manhunter is stranded on our planet. Instead of plotting humanity’s downfall (he’d better watch he doesn’t catch a cold if he does try to destroy us), he decides to make himself useful by becoming a detective. Eventually, his true nature is revealed and he’s invited to join the Justice League.
Why him? He’s likely to turn up in the Justice League films at some point any way. And if he was good enough for George Miller to include in his take on the characters, he’s good enough for us.
Dream casting: Wire veteran (and genre stalwart) Lance Reddick feels like the right choice.
AKA: Lobo needs no alter ego. Lobo is Lobo.
Bio: Though he’s had more than one origin story in his time, but the most popular is that he’s the last surviving member of the Czarnian race, mostly because he killed all of the others on a lark. A muscular, mulleted, often drunken and violent loon, he’s much more antihero than straight superhero.
Why him? Because people have tried and failed to put the character on screens before, so there’s a challenge there. And how much fun would it be to put this lunatic up against the more dour denizens of the current DC movie universe? A whole stinkin’ lot, that’s how much.
Dream casting: Kevin Durand, so far only seen in comic book movies buried under latex for X-Men Origins: Wolverine, could be great.
AKA: Red Robin, Kid Flash, Wonder Girl, Raven, Beast Boy, Cyborg, Bunker and more.
Bio: Though the line-up has shifted over the years since the team first appeared in 1964, the basic idea has remained the same – a grouping of sidekicks and other characters who join together to fight villains, squabble with each other and work on their issues. They were originally created to appeal to younger readers, and have since been re-booted time and time again, as comic book publishers are so wont to do.
Why them? Because it’s an interesting concept: what happens when you have a younger team of heroes deciding to strike out on their own, and do their personalities match up? It would be a challenge to set them up, but as DC and Warner Bros. are willing to take the “throw everyone together as soon as possible” route with their heroes, so they could always just kick things off with a Teen Titans movie, even if they have to resort to the Hollywood standard and cast twentysomethings as teenagers, just as we have…
Dream cast: Logan Lerman (Robin), Dave Franco (Kid Flash), Ashley Greene (Wonder Girl) Alexandra Daddario (Raven), Ray Fisher (Cyborg, since he’s already been cast in the role for Batman V. Superman)
AKA: Dick Grayson
Bio: You probably know this one. A member of an acrobatic, circus performer family, Richard John “Dick” Grayson’s parents are killed and he becomes Bruce Wayne’s ward. Eventually persuading Wayne to let him help in the Caped Crusader’s fight against crime, he suits up as Batman’s much-maligned sidekick, Robin. But at some point in his continuity, he decides to create his own superhero persona, Nightwing, and ends up leading the Teen Titans.
Why him? Because it’s long past time to reclaim Robin on the screen. While Christopher Nolan had (spoiler alert) Joseph Gordon-Levitt playing a character we learn at the end is named Robin in The Dark Knight Rises, he never gets to become a superhero, even as he helps Batman fight crime in his own way. The though the 1960s version was fun, he’s also extremely goofy. So let’s have a more grown-up take on Nightwing stalking cinemas, with the chance to build up to Teen Titans if the studios don't want to launch that concept all at once.
Dream casting: Logan Lerman