Comic book movies have come a long way since their humble black-and-white film serial origins. After watershed movies like Superman and Batman in the late ’70s and ’80s, as well as the superhero boom in the early 2000s, our current climate of comic book movies is beyond the wildest dreams of fans growing up before the turn of the millennium. Now it seems like nothing is off the table, with more obscure superheroes like Ant-Man and the members of the Guardians of the Galaxy getting big-budget adaptations of their own, introducing them to global audiences and making them household names in the process.
Marvel fans have already had the excellent Logan, but Marvel Studios have a trilogy of titles scheduled for this year for fans to get hyped for – Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Spider-Man: Homecoming, and Thor: Ragnarok. Each looks awesome in their own way, but all three promise to introduce a bunch of comic book characters we’ve never seen on the silver screen before. To celebrate this fact, we’ve put together a rundown of the pre-existing characters we’ll all be sitting down to watch in the coming months. Here are the 15 Marvel Characters We’ll Finally See In Movies This Year.
15. Phineas Mason/The Tinkerer
While he doesn’t have nearly the same amount of name recognition as bad guy like the Green Goblin or Doctor Octopus, The Tinkerer has been around almost since the very beginning of Spider-Man’s web-slinging adventures, making his debut in Amazing Spider-Man #2. Phineas Mason is a brilliant scientist and skilled inventor. When superheroes started appearing, he quickly grew to resent them and set his sights on Spider-Man, turning criminal in the process. He teamed with Quentin Beck aka Mysterio to convince Spidey of an alien invasion (spoiler: it didn’t work) and has been an infrequent but persistent presence in the comics ever since. He’s a low-level crook that mostly invents or improves equipment for bigger supervillains like Scorpion and Jack O’Lantern. In one memorable story, he’s visited by The Punisher who deems him more of an accessory to crime, rather than a criminal in his own right. Due to this, Frank Castle lets him off “easy” and merely severs his spinal cord with a screwdriver instead of outright killing him. What a lovable scamp that Frank is.
It was announced that actor Michael Chernus would be playing Mason in Spider-Man: Homecoming. It seems likely that the Terrible Tinkerer will probably be more of an annoyance to Peter Parker than any real threat, but if the movie follows the comic book lore, there’s potential for future appearances further down the line. Let’s just hope they skip the time when the Tinkerer messed with the Spider-Mobile and captured Spidey with his own stupid car. That’d be embarrassing for all involved.
Don’t worry. We’re not going to blame you for not knowing who Brahl is. He’s a minor character even for die-hard fans of the original obscure Guardians of the Galaxy comic series. So what do you need to know? Well, Brahl is an alien, specifically an Achemonian. His species have the power to alter their physical composition. He can turn intangible at will, meaning that he can avoid potential damage and even phase through walls. He’s a skilled covert operative with crazy-sharp talons and the ability to fire energy blasts. Brahl made his debut in Thor Annual #6 (1977) and soon became a thorn in the Guardians’ side, joining the Minions of Menace – a rival group of cosmic crooks assembled to battle the combined forces of the Guardians and Thor.
Brahl will make his cinematic debut in Guardians Vol. 2 played by long-term James Gunn collaborator Stephen Blackehart. In the movie, Brahl is part of the Yondu’s group of intergalactic criminals, the Ravagers. As the first movie played fast and loose with its characters, he’ll probably be more of an alien thug rather than anything more exciting, but you never know. Interestingly, Stephen Blackehart was also in the first Guardians movie, playing a Knowhere Dispatcher. He’s the guy that Drax holds at knifepoint to draw Ronan the Accuser to Knowhere. This puts Blackehart in elite company, making him one of a select few actors who have played multiple roles in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
13. Tullk Ul-Zyn
Another one from the “Huh?” pile, Tullk Ul-Zyn was a bounty hunter. You’ll notice we’re using the past tense here (in the comics at least) as Tullk was killed a mere issue after his debut in Annihilation: Ronan #1 in 2006. Little is known of Tullk in general. We know he’s a mercenary, he’s got green skin…and that’s about it. We haven’t seen his origins and/or any of his equipment or abilities, so he’s basically a blank slate for James Gunn and the rest of his team to work with.
In Guardians Vol. 2, Tullk will be played by actor Tommy Flanagan, probably best known for his portrayal of Philip “Chibs” Telford in Sons of Anarchy. Tullk is also a member of the Ravagers like Brahl, and he seems to be an alien misfit. Vol. 2‘s Tullk is completely different to his comic counterpart, appearing more humanoid, lacking green skin, and being decidedly less rotund. It’s unlikely he’ll play a big part in the proceedings, but Tommy Flanagan is a master at stealing scenes and making the most of limited screen time, so our hopes are high.
For those not in the know, Ayesha can be a bit of a confusing presence. Part of this is the crazy number of aliases she’s had over the years. She’s been known as Ayesha, Kismet, Paragon, J’Ridia Starduster, and is often simply referred to as “Her”. Ayesha is basically the female Adam Warlock, created as his genetic twin in the Enclave’s second attempt to make a cosmic being capable of purging the Earth of war and crime. Like Warlock, she’s a living battery for powerful cosmic energy, able to store and use it however she sees fit. Ayesha is superhumanly strong, nigh-on immortal, incredibly fast, and has the power of flight. She made her first appearance in Incredible Hulk Annual #6 (1977) and has since grown in power and stature, becoming a massive threat to all who oppose her, including the Avengers and the Fantastic Four.
The movie version of Ayesha seems to be pretty different to how Kismet has been portrayed in the comics. This time around, Ayesha is the Golden High Priestess of the Sovereign People. Her motivation remains the same, however, as she seems to want to “cleanse” the galaxy of some of humanity’s nastier traits. We’ve only seen a few glimpses of Elizabeth Debicki in action, but she already looks to be a fantastic foil for the misfit Guardians. Her appearance could also be the start of bringing Adam Warlock himself into the mix, something that fans have been clamoring for since the first movie.
Hoo boy, this one is going to take some explaining. Taserface aka Overkill is a member of the Stark race from the planet Stark. That name is no coincidence, as Tony Stark is indirectly responsible for the alien race. The Earth-691 version of Iron Man ended up sending his technology into space when Earth was invaded by Martians, deeming it too dangerous to end up in the wrong hands. However, the rocket ended up going off-course, floating for years before it eventually crash-landed on a distant alien planet. The primitive inhabitants soon discovered the onboard tech and used it to advance their understanding of science and technology. They came to worship Tony Stark as an idol, naming their planet and species after him. Their desire for new tech led to them invading and conquering other planets to drain them of their precious resources. Taserface is a Stark scout that ended up running afoul of the Guardians on a recon mission.
The movie version of Taserface, played by Chris Sullivan, seems to cut out all of the confusing parallel Stark stuff. Taserface is a member of the Ravagers and looks likely to be a minor antagonist in the movie. Here’s hoping he gets a scene or two to really show his stuff, because that face is haunting.
10. Ned Leeds
Ned Leeds is perhaps best known as the guy who “stole” Betty Brant away from Peter Parker. After Brant and Parker dated for a while, Betty got frustrated with Parker’s unexplained absences and turned to Daily Bugle reporter Ned Leeds for comfort. The two grew closer and eventually married. As is often the case with Peter’s friends, Leeds soon turned to villainy, although his turn and fate are more tragic than anything else. Leeds is sent to investigate the Hobgoblin, but is soon brainwashed by Roderick Kingsley into thinking he himself was actually the goblin. Kingsley manipulates Leeds for his own nefarious purposes, causing Ned to suit up as Hobby and commit various crimes. When the heat gets to be too much for Kingsley, he retires the Hobgoblin persona and uses Leeds as a patsy, leaking his identity to the criminal underworld. Ned ends up being brutally murdered while on assignment in Germany, and Kingsley gets away scot-free.
We haven’t seen much of Spider-Man: Homecoming‘s Ned Leeds, but he’s very different to his comic counterpart. In his cinematic debut, he plays Peter’s best friend and high school classmate. Based on the trailers, Leeds may be the only person (save for Tony Stark) who knows Parker’s secret. Many have already noted that actor Jacob Batalon looks and acts more like another Spider-Man character – Ganke Lee, Miles Morales’ geeky Korean-American BFF. Just how much of the comic book Leeds is present remains to be seen, but it would be undeniably awesome to have the Hobgoblin show up much later down the line.
9. Liz Allan
Liz Allan first appeared in Spider-Man’s debut in Amazing Fantasy #15, but she wasn’t named until Amazing Spider-Man #4. She was portrayed as an attractive popular girl at Peter’s school, serving as one of Peter’s earliest love interests, made complicated by the fact that she was dating jock bully Flash Thompson. Peter and Liz end up crushing on each other at different times, but circumstances always seem to get in the way of them getting together. Writer Gerry Conway brought Liz back over a decade later when it was revealed that she was the step-sister of Mark Raxton, aka the villainous Molten Man. She ends up marrying Harry Osborn and the couple have a child together, although Harry’s mental state ensures it’s not a happy marriage, and things spiral downwards, finally culminating in Harry’s death. Like the Tinkerer, Liz Allan has been an infrequent but lasting supporting character in both the Spider-Man and Daredevil comics.
Just how much of this will inform the MCU’s take on Liz Allan is still unknown. Although as Laura Harrier is portrayed as a classmate of Peter and Ned, it seems very unlikely that they’ll rush to fill in some of the darker elements of the character. If anything, the main inspiration for this take seems to be from the underrated Spectacular Spider-Man animated series. Will Liz Allan be Peter’s first love? Will they manage to finally get together after decades of circling around each other in the comics? They’re shown sharing a quick kiss in the newest trailer, but whether it develops into anything more than that is a question only the full movie can answer. Guess we’ll have to buy a ticket to find out.
8. Ego the Living Planet
Ego is perhaps one of the weirdest Marvel characters ever created. Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Ego is a gigantic sentient planet who made its first full appearance in Thor #133. He’s a massively powerful being who has complete control over his substance, climate, and atmosphere. Ego has often used this to tempt would-be invaders down to what appears to be a lush green planet, only to absorb them. He can generate both flora and fauna, and has often created strong humanoid protectors to help him stave off attacks. This is all very impressive, but arguably his best attribute is his mind. Ego is classified as having “super-genius” intellect, putting him on the same level as some of Marvel’s biggest brains like Hank Pym, Reed Richards, and Tony Stark. However, as his name implies, he can be quite precious about this and has a rather large superiority complex. In addition to this, Ego can generate huge amounts of psionic energy, capable of destroying entire starships with his mind, as seen in 2000’s Maximum Security #1.
The first Guardians movie left us with a mystery over the identity of Peter Quill’s father. Many fans assumed it would be J’Son of Spartax as it is in the comics, but it’s already been confirmed that Ego, played by the legendary Kurt Russell, is Star-Lord’s dad in the MCU. We’ve only seen the movie Ego in his human form so far, but we’re secretly hoping for an appearance from the big purple planet too (and we’re likely to get it, since Ego’s been teased as “the biggest visual effect of all time“). Imagine a planet with Kurt Russell’s face and voice. If that isn’t worth the price of admission, we don’t know what is.
7. Skurge The Executioner
The title of “The Executioner” has been held by several characters in the Marvel universe, but the best known of these is Skurge, a mighty Asgardian warrior who uses a crazy badass/enchanted/double-bladed battle axe. Skurge became known as The Executioner after he fought in a hellacious war against the Storm giants. He’s mostly known for falling in love with Amora the Enchantress and committing various heinous acts in an effort to impress her. Due to his unrequited love, he’s easily manipulated, as he has teamed up with Loki, Baron Zemo and Doctor Doom over the decades — all to win Enchantress’ favor. This proves to be a double-edged sword, however, and Skurge has even switched sides and aided Thor on occasion.
Fans were stoked when it was announced that the brilliant Karl Urban will serve as one of the main antagonists in Thor: Ragnarok. Judging by his drastic haircut, it seems like Urban’s appearance will be pretty similar to his printed counterpart. Outside of looks, little is known of how the MCU version of Skurge will play out. Whether or not the Enchantress will make an appearance remains unknown, but a snarling Karl Urban going toe-to-toe with Chris Hemsworth’s Thor is definitely something we want to see.
Like a lot of Marvel’s Asgardian characters, Valkyrie has roots in Norse mythology, having been loosely based on the legendary shieldmaiden Brynhildr. Marvel’s take on the character (named Brunnhilde) first appeared in The Avengers #83, created by Roy Thomas and John Buscema. She’s the handpicked leader of the Valkyrior, powerful beings tasked by Odin to choose which fallen warriors make it to Valhalla. Brunnhilde has the standard suite of Asgardian abilities. She’s superhumanly strong, tough, and agile, making her a skilled and deadly warrior. Her signature weapon is Dragonfang, an enchanted sword made from the tusk of an extra-dimensional dragon. (Fun fact: Dragonfang was presented to her by Doctor Strange after he inherited it from the Ancient One. After she left her role as Valhalla guest list curator, she became a longtime member of the Defenders as well as part of the Secret Avengers.)
Brunnhilde will be played by Tessa Thompson in Thor: Ragnarok. As plot details are thin on the ground, we don’t know how significant Valkyrie’s presence is, but we’re hoping she sticks around for future installments. The MCU could do with a few more kickass women in its ranks, and Valkyrie fits the bill perfectly.
Little is known of the Elders of the Universe other than the fact that they’re the oldest living beings in the Marvel universe. Yes, even older than Aunt May. Eternity is a long time when you’re immortal, and so many of the Elders have dedicated their existence to a singular purpose. In Taneleer Tivan’s case, it was collecting. With En Dwi Gast, it’s his obsession with games that drives him and results in his nickname of Grandmaster. Grandmaster has studied countless worlds’ customs and games, and mastered them in the process. This wasn’t enough for him, of course, and he created tournaments with willing (and not-so-willing) participants to satiate his desires. These tournaments have often had incredibly high stakes like the fate of entire planets, and the Grandmaster almost always comes out on top. On the rare occasion that he does lose, En Dwi Gast honors his side of the bargain, bound by his own rules of fair play.
When all this is taken into account, Jeff Goldblum seems like the perfect choice to play a strange ethereal being with interesting character flaws. In an interview with Empire, Goldblum called Grandmaster “a hedonist, a pleasure-seeker, an enjoyer of life and tastes and smells.” We can’t wait to see what he comes up with.
In the comics, Hela is the Asgardian Goddess of Death, ruling over Hel, the eternal realm of souls that were neither honored nor dishonored in death. She has tried to extend her power to Valhalla and Asgard itself on multiple occasions, and usually comes to blows with Thor, who understandably wants to stop her. She’s also Loki’s illegitimate daughter, but it’s way more complicated than that, involving a younger Loki from a previous Asgard before Ragnarok reset the cycle. Either way, she shares her father’s love of manipulation and trickery, and has used them to become one of Thor’s most enduring enemies.
Again, as Thor: Ragnarok‘s plot details are being kept tightly under wraps at time of writing (although a trailer is rumored to be hitting soon) we don’t know precisely what Cate Blanchett’s take on the character will be. However, the actress’ performance has already been hyped by the Hulk himself. According to Mark Ruffalo, “She plays the worst of the worst. So evil…She is going to kill us. It’s such a great part she gets to play.” November can’t come soon enough.
Of all the characters on this list, Mantis has one of the most interesting and unusual histories. She initially appeared in The Avengers #112. After her first run in Marvel comics, the character was ported over to DC Comics, then Eclipse, then Image, before finally settling back down with Marvel. Mantis is half Vietnamese and half German, with her father being the wartime superhero Libra. Her father leaves her at an alien temple with the Priests of Pama, a sect of the Kree. The priests train her, and she excels at martial arts, becoming known as “Mantis”. She’s proven herself a capable warrior over the years, having defeated expert combatants like Captain America and Thor, despite having no super strength of her own. Mantis is also a powerful telepath and empath, using her abilities to read peoples’ minds and identify weaknesses in opponents. She’s been a member of the Avengers, the Fantastic Four, and the Inhumans in the past, but nowadays, she’s more commonly associated with the Guardians of the Galaxy.
Her appearance in Guardians Vol. 2 has been a long time coming. While she doesn’t have the green skin of her comic book version, she does still have her signature antennae. From what we’ve seen from the various trailers, her empathic abilities are all accounted for, embarrassingly revealing Star-Lord’s crush on Gamora. Pom Klementieff already looks set to be right at home alongside the Guardians’ big personalities, and we’re hoping that she gets several opportunities to unleash her deadly martial arts.
Herman Schultz is sort of a running joke in the Spider-Man series. Granted, they can’t all be A-Listers, but Shocker is somewhat of an anomaly in Spidey’s impressive rogues’ gallery. He has no superpowers to speak of, but he’s a gifted engineer who fashioned himself a pair of Vibro-Shock gauntlets he uses to effectively throw powerful punches and vibrate safes and bank vaults apart. His unique suit, made from yellow quilted material, may not be the most impressive or fear-inducing get-up, but it serves an important purpose in protecting him from the gauntlets’ powerful feedback and residual energy. He has posed a significant threat to the web-slinger on numerous occasions, but his self-confidence is often his downfall, leading him to be cocky one minute and cowardly the next. He’s a fascinating character, and well worth including in the Spider-Man series to add a bit of flavor to the villainous roster.
We’re still lacking a clear look at the MCU Shocker, played by Bokeem Woodbine, but several toy leaks and a short glimpse in second trailer have shown him to be in a similar (but less garish) outfit to his comic book appearances. With the Tinkerer and the Vulture already announced to be in the movie, it seems probable that Schultz will have little more than a high-level henchman role, which is a fine fit for the character.
The appearance of Adrian Toomes aka Vulture has been an incredibly long time coming. He was one of Spider-Man’s first ever villains, debuting in Amazing Spider-Man #2 in 1963 as a former engineer who creates a flight harness. After he’s betrayed by his business partner, Toomes dons the harness and wrecks the business. He soon develops a taste for crime and embarks on a full-time villainous career as the Vulture. He’s one of the founding members of the Sinister Six, and he’s constantly found new and devious ways to stick his beak into Spider-Man’s life and mess with the web-head.
Vulture appeared in concept art for Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2, but the decision was made to go with Doc Ock instead. Raimi’s canned Spider-Man 4 was intended to have Toomes as its main villain, where he’d be played by John Malkovich, but we all know what happened there. Eventually Michael Keaton was cast as Vulture in Spider-Man: Homecoming, and fans of the character will finally see him make his cinematic debut after over a decade of waiting. Interestingly, Toomes’ beef is with Tony Stark this time around, but his basic motivation and thirst for revenge appear to have remained the same. The movie’s look isn’t as goofy as the comic book version (basically an old man in green pajamas with wings) but he seems no less threatening. With Keaton’s relevant history playing Bat and Bird men, we’re hoping for a truly special villain for a rookie Spider-Man to fight.
What other Marvel characters are set to make their big screen debut in 2017? Which of these new characters are you most excited to see? Let us know in the comments.