The success of superheroes in virtually all media forms is proof that we simply can't get enough of people with amazing powers doing extraordinary things. Comics have been around for decades and they have produced some of the most iconic, memorable and innovative heroes and villains. Unfortunately, not every creation can be a winner. For every Batman, there is a Matter Eater-Lad. For every Lex Luther, there is a Stilt-Man For every Spider-Man there is an Arm-Fall-Off-Boy.
Not all super powered beings can be interesting or, in some cases, even useful. While some of these unfortunate fictional souls simply languish in mediocrity, there are a few that, with the right tweaks and a makeover, could prove worthy of redemption. Here are 10 Supposedly Lame Superheroes That Deserve Gritty Reboots.
Doug Ramsey was an X-Man with the ability to instantly understand any language, written or verbal. While a useful super-power for those working as courtroom translators, it’s hard to battle giant robots and Magneto by knowing all of the verb conjugations for the formal usted. As such, Cypher faded into the background, only to be trudged up when the more capable X-Men needed some ancient scroll translated or a computer terminal hacked.
After sacrificing himself to protect one of his teammates, Cypher was brought back to life via a MacGuffin that now enables him to read any and all “language,” including body language, fighting style, machinery binary code and even architectural design. While this is an improvement, just imagine Doug Ramsey mixed with Jason Bourne or James Bond, capable of traversing the world without ever losing anything in translation, and you’ve got a winner.
9 Moon Knight
Although popular opinion of Moon Knight has seen a favorable shift in recent years, he can’t seem to shake the Batman comparisons. Yes, both Batman and Moon Knight are normal guys with a particular set of skills. Yes, both characters use an array of gadgets and gizmos to assist in their crusade against crime. Yes, both mask their vigilante activities by posing as billionaire playboys. But where Batman has some emotional baggage, Moon Knight is straight from the loony bin.
Moon Knight has dissociative identity disorder and three separate personas, each one helping him fight crime and his own personal demons. The Taskmaster, a villain who can copy the fighting styles of his opponents, once said that he does not copy Moon Knight’s fighting style because Moon Knight would much rather take a punch than block one. By his own admission, Moon Knight wears white so that his enemies can see him coming. A psychologically unstable superhero with a death wish, Moon Knight is so dark he makes Marvel’s Daredevil seem like the opening bout before the main event.
8 Madame Fatal
A golden age superhero that was never particularly popular, Madame Fatal was a man who dressed as an elderly woman to surprise the low-lifes that he despised. Often ridiculed by readers and other superheroes, Madame Fatal disappeared from comic books rather unceremoniously.
While a cross-dressing male wasn’t very well received in the forties, a modern spin might revitalize the character. A Madame Fatal adaptation could feature a man with severe PTSD, who utilizes his disguise to gain the upper hand while taking out thugs, like a cross between Mrs. Doubtfire and Charles Bronson in Death Wish. Of course, the events of the film may well be in the head of a deluded man, similar to Taxi Driver’s Travis Bickle.
7 Tildie Soames
The story of young Tildie Soames isn’t lame, it’s heartbreaking. A mutant with the power to bring her dreams to life, Tildie manifests a monster from a nightmare, which kills her parents and the police officer called to the scene.
As tragic as Tildie’s story is, it would be amazing to see this concept turned into a film. An atmospheric, gothic horror film similar to the works of Guillermo Del Toro could inject a rich narrative and striking, imaginative visuals to this concept of a young girl who can pull her dreams into the real world.
DC’s first attempt at creating a superhero that was openly gay resulted in a ridiculous facsimile of stereotypes and offensive jokes. More comic relief than legitimate superhero, the motivation behind Extrano’s dialogue, actions and appearance was always questionable. Possibly realizing their blunder, Extrano was killed off, but not before contracting AIDS… it was not the most sensitive portrayal of an LGBT character.
Luckily, redeeming Extrano would be simple. First, stop dressing him like a hybrid court jester and colorblind gypsy. Second, write him as an actual human being who happens to gay instead of a walking punch line. With Marvel’s Doctor Strange hitting cinemas soon, audiences will be better acquainted with comic book mysticism, making it the perfect time for a more realistic Extrano to crop up on Arrow or The Flash.
5 Section 8
Section 8 are a collection of “superhero” oddballs operating in Gotham City with questionable to outright offensive moral taste. The group’s leader, Sixpack, is a homeless wino who fights criminals with broken bottles. Shakes is a man who makes villains uncomfortable with his extreme palsy, which causes him to shake uncontrollably. Dogwelder welds dead dogs to people’s faces. There are more members, but you get the idea.
While Section 8 has done some good, the reliability of their narrative comes into question due to Sixpack’s constant inebriation. Despite the silly nature of this team, an adaptation could re-imagine Section 8 as a group coming to grips with the collateral damage, guilt and regret that comes hand in hand with possessing super powers.
4 The Black Condor
There have been a few superheroes who have used the Black Condor moniker, and all have been forgettable in their own way. However, the original Black Condor has an origin story that a screenwriter with some comedic chops could have serious fun with.
Orphaned as a baby and subsequently raised by a condor, Richard Grey, Jr. didn’t learn how to talk, but he did learn to fly by studying the movements of his avian siblings. You read that right. No radioactive condor pecked him. No gamma rays bombarded him. The guy learned to fly through sheer will.
Eventually, Grey was adopted by a human and taught how to read and write. After migrating to the USA, he adopted the identity of a recently assassinated U.S. Senator and began a career of debating bills by day and taking out vigilante justice on street scum by night.
A big screen adaptation could reimagine the Black Condor with his tongue firmly planted in cheek. Imagine a Stephen Colbert-type personality delivering hilariously conservative quips while busting baddies.
3 Ulysses Soloman Archer
There was a time in pop culture history when the United States was obsessed with truckers and big rigs, mainly due to the novelty song “Convoy” and movies like Smokey and the Bandit. Capitalizing on this fascination, Marvel introduced Uylsses Soloman Archer (USA), a long-haul trucker who, after having his head crushed by his brother’s murderer, is fit with a metal plate that receives CB radio transmissions.
USA uses his newfound “power” to track the killer across a bunch of fly-over states, all while delivering foodstuffs and saving the fifty bucks it would have cost him to buy an actual CB radio at RadioShack.
As silly as it sounds, Ulysses’ odyssey to avenge his brother could be turned into an action-packed revenge flick. Picture this property in the hands of Tarantino and it becomes a pulpy, violent noir film that you know you’d go see at the cinema.
2 Squirrel Girl
Squirrel Girl is a mutant who has the ability to talk to and control squirrels. She somewhat resembles one herself, with her own bushy, prehensile tail. Proving that you should never judge a book by its cover, Squirrel Girl has proven herself a competent superhero time and time, defeating the likes of Doctor Doom, Thanos, M.O.D.O.K. and others.
A comedic take on the character would feel right at home on Netflix, where Squirrel Girl could engage in part time superheroing while pursuing other interests, like navigating modern dating with the help of her cute rodent friends. A more lighthearted approach would prove the perfect foil to the seriousness of Daredevil and Jessica Jones. In fact, a crossover with Jessica Jones and the upcoming Luke Cage wouldn’t be out of the question, since Squirrel Girl eventually becomes the nanny for Danni Cage, the daughter of Jessica and Luke.
With Deadpool nabbing the highest ever opening for an R-rated movie, the Internet has been buzzing with speculation over the next superhero property to take the “adult” route. After all, comic books have included mature storylines and adult themes for years.
Originally conceived as the anti-superhero team, X-Statix lampooned the seriousness of most other superhero titles. The team’s roster reads like a flat out parody. There’s El Guapo, a womanizer who has a symbiotic relationship with a sentient skateboard. Gin Genie, who could unleash powerful seismic blasts, dependent on her blood alcohol level. And Zeitgeist, who vomits acid onto enemies, sometimes to hurt them, sometimes just to gross them out. Oh, and did we mention they’re reality TV stars, whose exploits are filmed by an extraterrestrial blob?
A film adaptation could be both bizarre and hysterical, providing the perfect palate cleanser for all of the other paint-by-numbers superhero movies out there.
Can you think of any other superheroes that should be given a dark and gritty makeover? Let us know in the comments!