An open letter to Marvel Films.
Hi, Marvel! How’s things? Bet you’re feeling pretty good about that whole CIVIL WAR thing, right? And you have DOCTOR STRANGE coming around the corner, too. It’s hard to believe that you’re already ramping up for Phase III. Now, I’m sure it’s already come up in conversations around The Bullpen, but you’re probably already thinking “Hmmmm, what are we going to do with Phase IV?”
In a word? Monsters.
Marvel Monsters. Okay… that’s two.
Seriously. You guys have a long list of horror and supernatural-based characters to draw from, many of whom started out in your more mainstream titles and have histories with your already established characters. With DOCTOR STRANGE coming out in November, you already have the occult sneaking into the framework.
So, using that as your springboard, here are some suggestions.
1. GHOST RIDER
Yes, the motorcycle-riding Spirit of Vengeance has already had two kicks at the can with Nicholas Cage, but if we’re talking about making him part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe proper, then a bit of spit-and-polish can’t hurt. A fresh start and a story more in sync with The MCU’s current status quo, and GR could easily take the lead as one of Phase IV’s heavy hitters.
Simple as it gets. Bring back Wesley Snipes, disregard everything associated with that third film and just drop Blade into the mix. No alterations or rebooting needed. Snipes still has the moves and the swagger to pull it off and (let’s be honest) fans probably won’t accept any substitutes. (Not to mention, the first two Blade films have aged incredibly well, so no need for another “origin story” redo.
3. SATANA/SON OF SATAN
The Hellstrom siblings, Satana and Daimon, born of a human woman and The Devil himself! Where Satana embraces her dark heritage more than willingly, Daimon fights his father’s influence on Earth and takes on all manner of occult menace both here and in Hell! You got family intrigue, political crossing and double-crossing in The Infernal Court and all manner of 70s Satanic Panic rolled into one package.
4. FIN FANG FOOM
Marvel’s early days were chock-a-block full of giant B-Movie style monsters wreaking havoc on mankind, and none was bigger, badder or more fashionably-attired than the purple-shorts clad titan, Fin Fang Foom. If the classic Marvel Monsters can be classified as “kaiju”, Triple F is their Godzilla. A big-budget monster mash
5. LILITH, DRACULA’S DAUGHTER
“Now, hold on”, you might be saying, “if you’re going to have a vampire in the Marvel Universe, it HAS to be Morbius! And yes, in a perfect world, The Living Vampire would be all over this Phase, save for one pesky factor: licensing rights. Michael Morbius is a nemesis of Spider-Man, who is still currently a Sony property, which means a whole truckload of legal wrangling. So for the sake of argument, we’re going to go with Dracula’s Daughter, Lilith, instead. Like Satana, she’s a true-blue badass in her own right. She also helps to balance the gender equality scales and keep things from becoming too much of a sausage fest.
Marvel’s shambling muck-man has already been given the cinematic treatment in his own 2005 straight-to-video feature (spoiler: it’s not very good) as well as gaining Easter Egg status in a throwaway line on AGENTS OF SHIELD. He’s also already got ties to the MCU through Howard the Duck’s cameo in GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (his first appearance was in Howard’s own title). A monstrous, hulking mass of rotting swamp with the ability to burn anyone he touches who acts as the sentinel of a door to alternate realities? Come on, that’s basic math right there.
So once we get all these ducks in a row, like any good universe-spanning multi-franchise epic, what do we do with them? What’s it all leading to? Who’s the “big bad” for this corner of The Marvel Universe?
For starters we could go with DRACULA. Once the star of his own incredibly successful and influential title (TOMB OF DRACULA), Marvel’s take on Count Dracula is elegant and ruthless. It should also be noted that TOMB served as the birthplace for both Blade and Lilith, both of whom would have serious grudges to settle if he were the front and centre threat.
There’s also MEPHISTO. The Devil Himself, ’nuff said. The occult analog of the MCU’s Thanos — scheming, all-powerful, more than willing to let others do his dirty work for him. He brokered the contract that turned Johnny Blaze into Ghost Rider. Re-jig the mythos a bit, and he could also be father to Daiman Hellstrom and Satana, further complicating the dynamics of this anti-hero collective.
Or we could be really ambitious and bring in an invasion-scale enemy. The superheroes of an alternate Earth, except they’re intelligent, undead, and they have their eyes on OUR world as their next feeding ground. That’s right: bring on The MARVEL ZOMBIES! I know, there’s no way in hell this will ever happen — the logistics of juggling the licenses and getting ALL the A-listers on board as zombified versions of themselves are enough to make one cross-eyed — but one never knows what they can get, unless they ask, right?
Look, this is probably all “pie in the sky” wishful thinking, but think about it: a decade ago, Rocket and Groot were unknown outside of the circles of comic fandom, and even then, they were pretty obscure. And yet, here we are, with both characters as household names. You’ve taken chances, and they’ve paid off. Adding The Marvel Monsters to Phase IV would be a great and ballsy way to expand the MCU, both in variety and longevity.
Not to mention, seeing Fin Fang Foom’s name on a marquee would delight this fella right here.
So do what feels right, Marvel. The decision lies in your hands.