As superheroes continue to defeat the forces of evil – and their competition at the box office – more and more DC and Marvel comics characters are getting their chance to shine on the big screen. The Justice League and Avengers take care of the most world famous heroes, but what about the characters who are just as powerful, popular or important – but nowhere near as well known? Some of the best comic stories are yet to be told, assuming the studios know where to look.
Here is our list of 10 Underrated Superheroes Who Deserve Their Own Movies.
A superpowered alien marooned on Earth is a story comic fans have heard dozens of times. But when Superman refers to Martian Manhunter as “the most powerful being on the face of the Earth,” he is clearly deserving of more than a supporting role. The story of how J’onn J’onzz, the last surviving Green Martian came to Earth has changed over the years, but the important points remain the same: J’onn lost his wife and family, wound up on Earth, and decided to help those who couldn’t help themselves. Also, he’s one of the most powerful heroes in the DC Universe, able to fly, read minds, phase through objects, become invisible, change his shape and density, and even regrow himself from a single hand. Manhunter obviously became a staple of the animated Justice League, but if you ask us, Bruce Wayne admitting J’onn is basically a combination of Batman and Superman means leaving him out of DC’s movie universe would be a colossal mistake.
In the modern age of unmanned aircraft and military drones, the superhero Darkhawk may not be as groundbreaking as he used to be. Even so, the story of a teenager who finds a mysterious amulet that allows him to pilot an extra-dimensional android is a big screen hit just waiting to be made. The teenager Chris Powell may lack the name recognition of Tony Stark, but his suit of armor is even more powerful, even if he’s not actually wearing it into battle. If Marvel plans to keep pushing their technology, alien scheming, and cosmic plot lines – while bringing in younger fans with Spider-Man – then a Darkhawk appearance in the MCU would be an unexpected, but potentially brilliant twist.
The Cosmic side of the DC Universe may be dominated by Darkseid and the Green Lantern Corps, but the supporting cast in the colourful corners of space are just as important – and few are as interesting as Captain Comet. Created between the Gold and Silver Ages of comic books, Adam Blake was one of the first mutant heroes, introduced over a decade before Marvel’s X-Men. Blessed with superhuman strength, psychic and telekinetic powers, Blake took up the ‘Comet’ name to fight crime, before exploring the galaxy. Comet returned to the DC spotlight in the 2006 series “Mystery in Space,” which saw the hero uncovering the mystery of his own resurrection on Hardcore Station, an intergalactic hive of criminals and drifters. If DC wants to match Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy or the return of Star Wars, this is one space based hero that could do the job – without dealing with the universe’s biggest cosmic villains.
Beta Ray Bill
The Avengers can throw some mean punches, but only one of them wields the power of a god. So when Thor first came across an alien spaceship headed for Earth, he was more than surprised to find a being on board that could match him blow for blow. The alien was none other than Beta Ray Bill, one of the last survivors of the Korbinite race placed into a body resembling a horse-like animal from his homeworld. After claiming Thor’s hammer for himself, the pair would grow to respect eachother as noble warriors, with Odin giving Bill a hammer of his very own (forged in the same dying star as Mjolnir). The horse-faced warrior went on to become a fan-favorite and a serious weapon in Marvel’s cosmic wars, even starting a romance with Lady Sif. If Chris Hemsworth wants to hang up his cape any time soon – or starts crossing paths with Marvel’s alien races – handing the spotlight to Beta Ray Bill would be a dream come true for comic fans.
Some may write him off as a rip-off of Batman, but Marvel’s supernatural Moon Knight is anything but. When former US Marine and professional boxer Marc Spector found himself working as a mercenary in the sands of Egypt, a run-in with valuable artifacts (and fellow hired guns) leaves him lifeless in front of a statue of Khonshu, the Egyptian Moon God. Offering to return Marc to life if he acts as his living Avatar, the Moon god blesses him with superhuman strength tied to the phases of the moon. It isn’t all just hunting criminals, though, since the gift splits Marc’s personality into pieces, making him even more of a wild card in Iron Man and Captain America’s Civil War standoff. The bottom line is that even Taskmaster, the deadly copycat of Marvel’s universe, refuses to mimic the Moon Knight’s fighting style. Why? Because he’d rather take a punch than block it, with each hit seen as penance for the pain he caused in his former life.
In the Marvel movie universe, you don’t need a superpower to be an effective fighter in the war between good and evil. But as the studio’s plans grow, there’s no time like the present to introduce a European operative – even better, one who fights not just terrorist threats, but supernatural ones. There are three men who have used the name of Union Jack, from wealthy British aristocrats fighting in costume during World War I & II, to a commoner lucky enough to wear the famous costume. He may not be a supersoldier, but Jack could easily fit into the ranks of SHIELD’s top agents. And if Marvel wants to wade into supernatural horror, the hero’s long history with vampires and the occult makes him the perfect candidate.
The Justice League may feature a superpowered alien, an Amazonian demigod, and a super speedster, but they all share the same weakness: Magic. And when it comes to sorcerers, Zatanna Zatara is hard to beat. Uttering magical spells in battle against DC’s deadliest villains is one thing, but when wounded enough to put normal magicians out of a fight, Zatanna has even resorted to writing out spells in her own blood – how’s that for dedication? Knowing that Warner Bros will be bringing magic into their movie universe, Zatanna’s power, experience with the League, and history with John Constantine makes her a no-brainer for a starring role.
Ask any comic fan, and they’ll tell you that calling Dick Grayson ‘Batman’s sidekick’ is selling him short. As Robin the Boy Wonder, Dick used his time under Batman’s wing to master dozens of martial arts and languages. But he was destined for greater things, becoming the leader of the Teen Titans, before deciding a new name was needed for his solo career. Remembering Superman’s stories of the Kryptonian crimefighter Nightwing, Dick set his sights on Bludhaven, a city in need of a protector just as Batman had watched over Gotham. But it wasn’t just Dick’s fighting skills that made him effective. When DC’s New 52 saw Grayson unmasked to the world, Batman convinced him to fake his own death, and take up a career as a secret agent, launching the brand new comic series “Grayson.” Knowing that Zack Snyder’s Justice League movie universe features a version of Batman who’s been fighting crime for decades, we have to believe a plan for Dick Grayson is in place – if not as a masked vigilante, then as a covert operative gathering intel for the Dark Knight.
Vic Sage was living the typical life of any famous reporter, before a close friend gave him a tip he couldn’t resist. To thwart the black market sale of of an artificial skin, Sage covers his own face with the product, and ambushes the men behind the crime. Realizing that hiding his famous face will let him uncover crimes – and stop them himself – he takes a new name: The Question. Audiences are used to masked vigilantes, but a DC hero with a passion for journalism, beating criminals for information, not “justice” – would be a welcome change. Blurring the line between normal reporting and a supernatural terror — with the audience in on the joke – The Question is too unique a hero to pass up.
If there’s one character whose absence from the big screen is downright criminal, it has to be Doctor Fate. The name refers to the helmet worn by the hero more than the person underneath it, having been passed down to a half-dozen people throughout DC’s history and alternate Earths. Uncovered in the tomb of the ancient god Nabu the Wise, the original Fate was trained in the ways of magic from the god himself, blessing him with a golden cape and costume to wear along with his signature helmet. Granting the wearer not just magical attacks, but superhuman strength, flight, and invulnerability, the Helmet of Fate has been a major factor in too many storylines to count. Every comic fan is sure to have their favorite version, but with the hero’s popularity in the comics, animated series, and even the TV series Smallville, the lack of a major movie role is a problem that DC’s supernatural-focused movies will hopefully solve.
So what do you think of our list? Did we miss any of your favorite or most underrated superheroes? Let us know in our comment section and don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel for more videos like this one!