Though the center of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has always been its Avengers properties, the last couple of years have seen Marvel finally branching out beyond its stable base of Iron Man, Captain America, and friends. The expansion to Netflix has been a rousing success, and its darker, more contemplative, street-level vigilantes like Jessica Jones, Daredevil, and Luke Cage have added a new layer of depth to the world that Marvel is continually recreating with every new release. Later this year, Marvel will make its first plunge into weirder depths when Doctor Strange arrives, bringing with him the first hints of an arcane, twisted, and bizarre reality existing beyond the world we know.
And with Doctor Strange opening the floodgates, it’s entirely possible that Marvel could finally delve into its many horror properties. In the comics, the Marvel Universe is populated by a vast array of demons, vampires, toxic fear monsters, and worse, just waiting to rise to prominence and reignite the waning embers of the horror genre. While it’s hard to say whether these characters would be a better fit in the movies, on Netflix, or somewhere else altogether, it’s just a matter of time before Marvel starts tapping into them.
Before they do, get the early scoop on what could be on the horizon as we take a look at 15 Marvel Horror Comic Movies We Want To See.
Now that Marvel Studios has the rights back, it’s really only a matter of time before they bring back the world’s most famous vampire slayer not named Buffy. The first two Blade movies are classics of the genre, and they’re an intriguing case study in how to take a lesser-known comic book character, find what works, discard the rest, and create a pop culture phenomenon. Blade was never a big deal until the movies, and now, even though he hasn’t appeared on the screen in years, he’s a household name.
Bringing Eric Brooks into the MCU shouldn’t be too hard, since the prior movies have already demonstrated what works and what doesn’t. The key is taking the lessons from the past, and approaching the character in a new way, perhaps with a new focus. Though Wesley Snipes has actively pushed to take the role back, it doesn’t seem likely, since Marvel has up to this point never included actors from previous adaptations of a character.
There have been rumors that a new Blade film has been discussed, that would focus on the story of Blade’s daughter, Fallon Grey, a popular high school girl whose life crashes down around her when she finds out about her vampiric heritage. Too early to say, but we’re willing to bet that when Marvel starts getting into the horror game, Blade will be one of the first ones out there. And with the recent steps Marvel Comics has taken towards diversifying their superhero lineups, don’t be surprised if Fallon Grey is given a chance to shine this time around.
14. Son of Satan
The 1970s were a crazy time in the history of Marvel Comics, wherein editorial guidelines were loose, writers were able to take a lot of chances, and a lot of crazy comics appeared that might’ve never made it through the gates in any other decade. Really, the ’70s are the reason characters like Ghost Rider, Deathlok, and many others on this list even exist. But perhaps the most immediately stirring one of these was Son of Satan, a running feature in Marvel Spotlight about a character named Daimon Hellstrom, who was — as you’ve probably guessed — the literal son of Satan.
Though nobody gets to pick who their parents are, it’s pretty hard to compare to the sheer unluckiness of your father being the king of Hell. Born from the womb of a human mother, Daimon is placed in a Jesuit-run orphanage after his mother discovers the true identity of Daimon’s father, and not surprisingly, goes insane. Daimon goes on to become a professor of anthropology, an exorcist, an occult investigator, and a hero, taking the name “Son of Satan” as he battles against the sinister forces of his demonic father.
Son of Satan would be a truly left field choice for Marvel to adapt, but if and when they start tapping into their horror properties, this is one character who definitely makes a statement about how far they’re willing to go.
13. Terror, Inc.
Characters can’t get much stranger or more uncomfortable than Terror, an immortal being from humanity’s early past that has survived in many forms until the present day.
This odd figure’s story begins when an early tribe of Cro-Magnon man slaughter a spiky, green-skinned, decaying bear demon that has been terrorizing them, whereupon the man who killed the bear then assumes the same form: his skin decays, long spikes grow from his face, and he is possessed by the same abilities and curse as the bear. His skin secretes an acid that functions as both a glue and a solvent, allowing him to remove any of his body parts, as well as to replace them with the body parts of other human beings.
This early man is driven away from his the tribe, and he goes on to live through the centuries by many names, one of the most prominent being Shreck, a title he used during the Dark Ages that translates to “Scare.” During this time he also falls in love with a woman who somehow shares mutual feelings toward him, and after her death, he has her hand hermetically sealed in metal, so that when he attaches it to him, it is the one part of his body that never decays.
This ancient man first appears in the present day as a mercenary assassin now named Terror. Since then he has involved himself in many shady endeavors, and as the head of Terror, Inc., he employs a handful of carefully selected employees, including “Boneyard,” who supplies him with specialty body parts.
12. Elsa Bloodstone
Any exploration of Marvel’s more monstrous side won’t be complete without Elsa Bloodstone. Daughter of the near-immortal Ulysses Bloodstone, and ally to a creature named Adam — better known as Frankenstein’s monster — Elsa is a professional monster hunter, an expert markswoman, and a dedicated blogger who creates an online encyclopedia to catalogue all of the many monsters, demons, and ghouls that populate the world. Elsa wears a choker that contains a piece of the “Bloodgem,” granting her superhuman strength, speed, and invulnerability. Her blood is poisonous to vampires, a handy tool for her profession.
Claiming to come from a long line of monster hunters — later clarified to mean “second in a long line,” since her father was alive for over 1000 years — Elsa has battled such fearsome figures as Dracula, N’Kantu the Living Mummy, and Nosferatu, and at times allied herself with such squads as Nextwave and the Legion of Monsters.
11. Morbius the Living Vampire
While vampires in the Marvel Universe are not a new thing, as Blade can attest to, what separates Michael Morbius is that his condition is brought on not by supernatural means, but instead as an accident of science. Formerly a Nobel Prize-winning biochemist, Michael is infected with a rare blood disease, and attempts to cure himself in an experimental procedure involving vampire bats and electroshock therapy. Unfortunately, this instead results in him being transformed into a vampire bat-like creature with chalk-white skin, the ability to fly, a flattened nose, and an addiction to blood. Initially a villain, Morbius has since taken on the uneasy role of an antihero.
Morbius is perhaps most well known for being introduced as a Spider-Man villain, but let’s face it, we’re never going to see a Spidey movie where Tom Holland is fighting a bloodsucking vampire. Instead, it would make more sense to either introduce Morbius on his own, or perhaps bring him into a future Blade film.
10. Werewolf By Night
Jacob “Jack” Russell is the unfortunate inheritor of a curse in his bloodline that stretches back centuries, wherein on the three nights of the full moon he is transformed into a vicious lupine creature. Discovering his curse shortly after his 18th birthday, Jack becomes a wanderer, much like Bruce Banner. He never stays anywhere for long, and tries to lock himself up on the nights where the monster inside him will emerge, but his efforts to contain the beast are not always successful. Eventually, Jack gains the ability to change into his wolf-form at will, and even to maintain his intellect while doing so, but on the nights of the full moon, he is still overtaken by the fearsome animalistic consciousness inside him.
While vampires and zombies have dominated the cinematic landscape for years, werewolves still haven’t really had their turn, other than their secondary role in the Underworld movies and Benicio Del Toro’s 2010 remake of The Wolf-Man. If Marvel were to pull this one off, it could potentially grab an unexploited niche and bring it to the forefront again.
9. The Darkhold Redeemers
The grimoire known as the Darkhold is the Necronomicon of Marvel, an ancient text of black magic authored by the demon Chthon. The power contained within this terrible book is responsible for creating the first vampire, the lycanthropic curse that plagues Jacob Russell, and countless other horrible events in history. However, this ancient history of evil hits a turning point when the Dark Dwarf begins handing out pages of the Darkhold to unsuspecting innocents, granting them wishes at the cost of their souls. This has the unforeseen effect of giving visions of the Darkhold to Dr. Victoria Montesi, whose family was long ago designated to be guardians of the Darkhold… a claim she’d never believed in the past.
When a murder attempt on Victoria instead results in her girlfriend Natasha becoming quadriplegic, Victoria gathers together the Darkhold Redeemers, a group dedicated to making sure that no more innocent lives are destroyed by the Darkhold’s power. Along with Victoria, the Redeemers include occult expert professor Louise Hastings, her magical grandson Jinx, Interpol agent Sam Buchanan, and Modred the Mystic.
8. Ghost Rider
When it comes to Marvel’s horror characters, the demonic fusion of man and demon known as Ghost Rider may be the king. With a flaming skeletal face that’s been tattooed onto thousands of arms and backs, name recognition that other characters would kill for, and dozens of appearances in cartoons, video games, and more, Ghost Rider has had astonishing success for a “superhero” that comes from such devilish beginnings. This only makes it all the more unfortunate that both of his movie adaptations have flopped, each attempt failing to capture what makes the character great.
With an unforgettable costume, a classically tragic character arc, and decades of stories and villains to choose from, it’s truly a shame that Ghost Rider still hasn’t been properly represented on film. Norman Reedus, the actor best known as Daryl Dixon in The Walking Dead, has stated “F*** yeah, I’m down,” in regard to the idea of playing Johnny Blaze — or perhaps Dan Ketch, the second Ghost Rider — but so far, there’s been no real news on Marvel’s front, other than their confirmation that they do have the rights back from Columbia. Still, when it comes to name recognition, Ghost Rider’s got it like few other comic characters, and we’re willing to bet that he’ll be back soon, possibly even with the Robbie Reyes version of the character at the helm.
7. Hannibal King
Another character who has been marked by a poor cinematic depiction is Hannibal King, who was played by a pre-Deadpool Ryan Reynolds back in 2004’s Blade: Trinity, widely considered the weakest movie of the trilogy. Though Reynolds’s depiction of King is mostly in line with his usual wiseass-type antiheroes and similarly entertaining to watch, the comic version is an entirely different character, and one worthy of a proper cinematic depiction.
In the comics, Hannibal King is a private investigator in the 1940s who is bitten by Deacon Frost, the bad guy in the first Blade movie. Vowing never to pass on his curse to another, King continues working in his previous profession, fulfilling his blood lust only through the use of blood banks and corpses, while refusing to use his vampiric powers unless absolutely necessary. Hannibal partners with Blade and Frank Drake to create the private investigation firm known as Borderline Investigations, and later the Nightstalkers. If Blade were to end up in a new adaptation, King may just join him.
One of Marvel’s most unique and underrated characters, the being that we know on Earth as “Sleepwalker” is from the Mindscape, a dimension that exists behind the consciousness of all intelligent beings. In the Mindscape, dangerous alien creatures seek to invade the minds of human beings as we sleep, and during our nightmares, we are only protected by a mysterious collection of “dream police” known as the Sleepwalkers. One of these creatures is tricked by the extra-dimensional monster known as Cobweb into entering the mind of a film studies student, Rick Sheridan, where he becomes trapped.
This results in Sleepwalker coexisting within Rick’s body, emerging outside of him only when Rick dreams, and interacting in our world. After the shock wears off, Rick and Sleepwalker come up with terms of cohabitation for Rick’s mind, and Sleepwalker uses his newfound abilities in the human realm to take on criminals, protect others, and keep a watchful eye for the incoming invasion of Cobweb, who plans to bring his cosmic forces to the Earth.
Though Sleepwalker’s comic book series was short-lived, it was highly creative new spin on both superhero and horror tropes, with a cerebral hook that stood out from his contemporaries. Seeing the Mindscape realized on film could make for a remarkably weird film experience.
5. Jennifer Kale
The sorceress Jennifer Kale is the granddaughter of Joshua Kale, the leader of the Cult of Zhered-Na, based in the Florida Everglades. As a teenager, Jennifer takes an interest in witchcraft and steals one of her grandfather’s books, accidentally summoning the demon Thog to Earth, not realizing that the demon would not be under her control. She is saved by the Man-Thing (more on him soon), and while Thog is successfully forced back to his home dimension of Sominus, Jennifer’s story has only begun.
Later, Jennifer is approached by the wizard Dakimh. In order to prevent the demons of Sominus from invading Earth, Dakimh turns Jennifer into the priestess of Zhered-Na and, by recapturing the Tome of Zhered-Na, she is able to halt the demonic invasion. Jennifer then leaves the Earth to study magic under Dakimh, and she has since returned to the world as a powerful sorceress.
The cyborg killing machine turned guilt-ridden vigilante known as Deathlok comes from the future, where he began his life as Colonel Luther Manning, a devoted husband, father, and patriot. Luther’s life changes forever when he is injured in battle, and then wakes up from an induced coma to find that the world he knew has been torn apart by nuclear war, and that he has been brainwashed into becoming a high-tech assassin known as Deathlok. What is left of his decayed body has been augmented by cybernetic enhancements, and the computer plugged into his brain guides his murderous actions.
Deathlok is finally able to break free from his programming and escape his captors, only to find that his body is trapped in the machine, his life is ruined, his wife has remarried, and the world itself is torn to smithereens. With the computer not allowing him to commit suicide, Luther instead seeks vengeance on the men who changed him into what he is.
Predating both Robocop and Terminator, as well as serving as the influence for the Megadeth song “Psychotron,” the 1970s Deathlok stories were hugely influential on both the comic and cinematic landscapes. A Deathlok movie was in the works at Universal Studios for many years, with a script by David Self, but it never came together. A version of the character technically did appear in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but the cyborg Mike Peterson, while interesting in his own right, is hardly a true adaptation of the gruesome, post-apocalyptic comics that made Deathlok a cult favorite, and a true cinematic depiction of Deathlok has yet to be seen.
Without a doubt, one of Marvel’s foremost horror characters is Man-Thing, the swampy guardian of the Nexus of All Realities. Once a young biochemist named Ted Sallis with a wife and a future in science, Sallis begins researching a way to reproduce the super-soldier serum that created Captain America in the 1940s. However, when Sallis’s research is pursued by the terrorist corporation Advanced Idea Mechanics, he escapes into the Florida Everglades, injects himself with the serum… and then merges into the swamp.
What Sallis is unaware of is that the Everglades actually houses the Nexus of All Realities, a center point for all of the parallel universes in existence, and the result of his ignorance is that these magical forces transform him into something no longer human. Sallis becomes a slow-moving, vaguely humanoid creation of plant matter with glowing red eyes, and his mind is lost to the swamp; his memories scatter, he’s unable to speak, and what was once Ted Sallis is no longer anything more than a fleeting thought. Now a creature that the media labels “the Man-Thing,” Sallis secretes acid in the presence of hostile or extreme emotions, meaning that “whatever knows fear burns at the touch of the Man-Thing.” As Man-Thing, he becomes the guardian of the Nexus of All Realities, and faces a combination of supernatural threats from other dimensions, corrupt land developers trying to destroy the Everglades, and anyone foolish enough to wander in and find him.
Man-Thing was adapted into a low budget Sci-Fi Channel original movie back in 2005, but this B-grade version of the story made major deviations from comic book canon, such as moving the setting to Louisiana, changing Man-Thing’s origin, and most dramatically, presenting a Man-Thing that was far more antagonistic and villainous than the tragic, empathic comic character. Now that it’s been over a decade, we’re ready to see Marvel Studios put him onscreen the right way.
2. Moon Knight
Though Moon Knight is mostly known today for having one of the most striking superhero costume designs out there, it’s the dark and complex nature of his character that puts him on this list. The son of a Rabbi turned Marine turned homicidal mercenary, Marc Spector is a dangerous man, until one day he’s left to die in Egypt. Before this occurs, he is carried into a temple dedicated to the Egyptian moon god Khonshu. Khonshu appears to Spector in a vision, offering him a second chance at life if he becomes the ancient god’s avatar on Earth, and Spector accepts. The mercenary awakens, wraps himself in Khonshu’s silver shroud, and becomes the vigilante Moon Knight, facing off against an array of threats both human and supernatural, including werewolves and apparitions.
Probably the most engaging part of Moon Knight’s narrative is the fact that Mark Spector himself is severely mentally unstable, on a level that makes Daredevil, Batman, and even the Punisher seem sane. There’s always a question of how real his visions of Khonshu really are, or just as importantly, whether he can keep his many alternate personalities in line; Moon Knight is famous for collecting multiple secret identities at the same time, creating entirely disparate lives for himself simultaneously. These personalities include millionaire entrepreneur Steven Grant, taxi driver Jake Lockley, and NYPD consultant Mr. Knight.
Recent comics have actually suggested the idea that all of Spector’s Moon Knight adventures might actually be the delusions of a Marc Spector who has been institutionalized since he was a boy. It’s hard to say exactly where Moon Knight’s future will take him, but let’s hope the big screen (or Netflix) is one of the places he’ll show up next.
1. Midnight Sons
And finally, if a potential wave of Marvel horror properties were to follow the same path as its prior movie and TV franchises, wherein individual characters are introduced so as to eventually collide in an epic crossover… then this is the place where everything lands. The Midnight Sons are the combination of Marvel’s horror heroes, ganging together in order to prevent Lilith, the mother of demons, from devastating the world with her vast array of hellish children. The team has included such members as Ghost Rider, Blade, Hannibal King, Jennifer Kale, the Son of Satan, the Darkhold Redeemers, Morbius, and more.
Doctor Strange is the one who assembles the team behind the scenes, and the sorcerer supreme would be the obvious choice to serve as their leader in a movie adaptation. It’s crazy enough watching a billionaire industrialist trade quips with a Norse god, but watching a team of vampires, demons, sorcerers, and hellspawn quarrel amongst themselves would be something altogether stranger, and would make for a movie experience like no other.
Which Marvel horror comics do you want to see in live-action? Can any of the House of Ideas’ lesser known characters make it in the MCU, or are bigger names like Ghost Rider and Moon Knight the only characters that stand a chance? Sound off in the comments.