5 Superhero Stories That Should've Gotten A Movie By Now
Considering how many superhero movies Hollywood has cranked out since 2000 (it's gotta be around 2000 too), you probably assume that every single comic book worth a damn has been ransacked by screenwriters by now. All the cool scenes have been used up, right? Not even close. For some reason, the studios keep ignoring some top notch source material in favor of storylines that have already been adapted multiple times, and/or weren't that good to begin with. Below, some egregious examples of that:
The X-Statix Are The X-Men 2020 Deserves
The X-Men's Dark Phoenix Saga has inspired two movies (plus phoenixteasing in two others), multiple episodes of three different cartoon series, and 40 years of rehashes in the comics. Guys, it's time to let this story do the opposite of a phoenix and stay dead. In fact, maybe Marvel Studios should let the tired old X-Men themselves rest for a while and try out a more updated take on the "genetic freaks form a super team" concept. Good thing they already own the rights to a comic like that, and it's called X-Statix.
X-Statix shows us what would actually happen if a bunch of fit people with awesome powers saved the world every other week: they'd be filthy rich and famous. The X-Statix are a brand-aware superhero team who present new members in press conferences like they're NBA players, make money from shameless corporate tie-ins, and bicker with each other like decadent reality TV stars. They also screw like Olympic medalists, while the regular X-Men have only recently been introduced to the concept of guilt-free sex.
The cynicism of this premise is perfectly balanced out by artist Mike Allred's groovy pop art-inspired style. These may not be the most heroic mutants ever, but their fight scenes are legit superhero action straight out of a '60s Marvel comic. A TV or movie adaptation could recreate that tone by going with a retro-inspired aesthetic to contrast with the flawed or straight-up shitty protagonists. Not that modern audiences aren't ready for straight-up shitty superheroes, considering how well Amazon's The Boys is doing.
Another thing that makes X-Statix refreshing is that it touches on the subject of race in a more honest and interesting way than the standard "Mutants are discriminated, just like [insert real-life minority here]!" argument 99% of X-Men writers stick to.
X-Statix began in 2001 but reads like it was made today, so it isn't surprising that Marvel is currently reviving it (most of the characters were dead, but that's never been a problem for the X-Men). After all, we live in a world in which a bunch of A-list actors decided to cheer us up by recording a singalong version of "Imagine" from their spacious mansions -- it sure seems like the time is right for a satire about super-celebrities who claim they want to save the world but are lost up their own asses.
Flash: Terminal Velocity Is A Much Better Time Travel Drama Than Flashpoint
It's been confirmed that the upcoming movie about DC Comics' Flash will be called Flashpoint, after a storyline in which Flash travels back in time to save his mom but steps on the wrong butterfly (or something) and royally screws up the timeline. Because of him, the DC Universe turns into a darker and more violent place in which all of your favorite childhood superheroes are dour assholes and fascists. We're not sure how anyone will tell the difference when this happens in DC's movie universe, though.
The movie (if Hollywood producers and Mother Nature allow it to happen) would be the third adaptation of the Flashpoint comic, after an animated film in 2013 and a season of the Flash TV show in 2016. Somehow, this became the definitive Flash story ... when it isn't even that good as a Flash story. Flashpoint is a neat plot device for showing alternate versions of classic characters, but Flash's role in most of it is basically 1) running around going "oh shit oh shit what did I do," and 2) letting Batman fix his mess.
If the studio wants a Flash story that truly demonstrates the dramatic potential of a guy who can run really fast, they could go with what those in the know (read: nerds) consider the highest point in the character's history: the issues written by Mark Waid in the mid-'90s. And if they still want a time travel story, there's always Waid's Terminal Velocity, which has inspired specific moments in the Flash TV show but has never been adapted (no, it has nothing to do with that movie about Charlie Sheen as a terrible skydiver).
Terminal Velocity is like a backwards murder mystery starring people who shoot lightning bolts from every part of their body. It starts when Flash catches a glimpse of the future and sees something that freaks him the hell out. We're led to believe that he witnessed his own death at the hands of a supervillain, but later on we find out that (spoilers, duh) he saw his girlfriend die -- he's been preparing for a dirt nap because dying is the only way to save her. Meanwhile, he starts looking for someone to take over as Flash once he's gone, which is a great excuse to show off the various other super-fast characters DC owns.
In his desperation, Flash tries to manipulate his friends for the greater good, but he redeems himself in one of the most dramatic and spine-tingling endings in any comic book. So it's a story about people running fast and traveling in time, but it's also about human relationships. As a plus, it expands Flash's world and introduces new heroes who could be spun-off into their own franchises ... but we guess seeing "Batman but he's even more of a jerk!" and "Superman but he sucks!" for the tenth time sounds interesting, too.
1974's Secret Empire Is Basically Captain America Vs. Fake News (And A Corrupt Prez)
In 2014, Marvel Studios announced the names of their Phase 3 films, like Avengers: Infinity War, Thor: Ragnarok, and, of course, Captain America: Serpent Society. You know, the one based on an '80s storyline in which the Captain (he'd recently been forced to give up the "America" part) fights a coalition of reptile-themed supervillains who turn President Reagan into a snake monster?
OK, so that turned out to be a joke to hide the fact that the next Cap movie was actually Civil War. But, oddly enough, there's another storyline about Cap fighting a U.S. president and renouncing his superhero identity out there, and it would have served as a much better follow-up to Captain America: Winter Soldier. See, Winter Solider was a solid thriller that happened to have superhero action scenes in it, while Civil War was one big superhero action scene with a few thriller-esque moments in the middle. And a lot of people liked that ... but, if Marvel wanted to continue the (much more interesting) tone of the previous movie, the Secret Empire storyline from the '70s is where it's at.
In Secret Empire, Cap becomes the target of a propaganda campaign designed to convince people that he's not fit to be the captain of America, and then gets framed for murder. How prescient would Marvel look now if they'd made a movie where the main villain is the concept of Fake News in 2016?
In trying to find out who's hating on him, Cap and the Falcon begin to unravel a sinister conspiracy that goes more "all the way to the top" than any other conspiracy has ever gone all the way to the top. After dismantling the Secret Empire's plan to take over America via nuclear weapons powered by kidnapped members of the X-Men (the movie could have substituted them for Ant-Man or something), Cap follows the group's leader into the White House and finds out that he's a "high ranking government official." Cornered, the traitor grabs a gun and ... blows his brains out in front of Cap.
Who could that "government official" be? Oh, did we mention that this story came out right in the middle of Watergate? Whoever that cheating jerk (or "tricky dick," if you will) was, his betrayal shocked Cap so much that he decided to give up his shield and striped duds. We've made fun of his "Captain Nothing" period in the past, but the embodiment of positive American values becoming disillusioned with his country due to brazen corruption at the highest spheres suddenly feels like a way more relevant idea.
Or they could have gone with the lizard people. Honestly, that sounded cooler than Civil War too.
JLA: Rock Of Ages Would Have Made Endgame Look Derivative ... Because It Is
It's insane that DC released Justice League in 2017, a year before Marvel introduced people who don't stick around after the credits to Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War. Why? Because Thanos is an admitted ripoff of the DC villain who very clearly should have been Justice League's bad guy, Darkseid (they went with one of his minions instead). This means that whenever DC does get around to showing us Darkseid, everyone will assume the shameless copycat is the real deal, kinda like with Oreos and Hydrox.
Now, there are lots of Darkseid stories that could be adapted, but there's one that already looks like a blockbuster movie: Rock of Ages, the most epic part of writer Grant Morrison and artist Howard Porter's already epic JLA series. In it, members of the League are sent ping-ponning around time and space to look for the Philosopher's Stone, which is "an exact replica of the universe, across all time, in miniature." This diorama of all creation can alter reality -- it's like the Infinity Stones, except even more powerful because it also contains every piece of Sonic fan fiction ever written within it.
Anyway, the League's space-time expedition takes them to a future in which Darkseid has gotten rid of the concept of free will and rules the Earth, and it ain't pretty.
The story advances at a rate of one mind-blowing plot twist every two pages, with character moments and humor peppered throughout. Also, the JLA series in general has a cinematic storytelling style that became hugely influential: it inspired The Authority, which inspired Marvel's The Ultimates, which served as the basis for the MCU's Avengers movies. If DC had used Rock of Ages as the basis for the Justice League movie, they could have ended up with Endgame before Endgame -- not from aping Marvel, but because the main ingredients in Endgame belonged to DC in the first place.
Instead, we got this:
Marvel Zombies Could Be The New (And More Fun) Walking Dead
The Walking Dead turned into misery porn so gradually that we didn't even notice when the intro music was replaced by the sound of 200 orphans wailing. The show's rotting carcass still clogs the airwaves and is a chore to watch. They've tried to switch up the formula a little bit to make it interesting again, but really, there's only one thing that could save the zombie TV show genre: add superheroes.
The producers wouldn't even have to look very far to find source material for something like that, since Walking Dead co-creator Robert Kirkman also wrote this comic:
Marvel Zombies is about Marvel characters being zombies. One thing that separates this comic from other zombie stories, other than the obvious "zombies with superpowers" part, is that this particular strand of the undead virus lets the walking corpses retain their personalities and talk -- they're basically still Spider-Man, Iron Man, Howard the Duck, etc., except hungrier and more into cannibalism. This was probably done so the comic's dialogue was more than just growls, but it has the side effect of making it much funnier than the average zombie tale.
And "funnier" is probably the only way this genre can survive. A depressing world ravaged by a virus in which everyone is awful and everything sucks is no longer such an entertaining idea, for some reason. There's still a lot of gore and such in Marvel Zombies, but the comic never took itself that seriously and had a bunch of wacky stuff to balance out the darkness. Oh, and it involves cosmic moments and traveling to other dimensions, which we don't see The Walking Dead doing until at least season 25.
And if Marvel isn't into the idea, Kirkman could always do this with original characters with names like Steel Man, Eagleeye, or Luke Prison. Marble Corpses, here we go!
Top Image: DC Comics