With every movie Marvel release, the company raises the bar for the superhero genre and provides fans with more and more memorable and unique cinematic experiences. By building a remarkably fun and vibrant cinematic universe populated with our favorite heroes, Marvel Studios has been able to churn out one film after the next, each of them unique and different from each other, all while still tying into the larger Marvel Universe.
As more Marvel movies have been released since the one that started it all, 2008’s Iron Man, Marvel has gotten more and more daring in making movies that fit comfortably within their own genre. For example, Thor was an epic space opera, Iron Man 3 was basically a Christmas movie, Captain America: The Winter Soldier was an old-school espionage thriller, and Ant Man was a comedically-charged heist film.
With the recent news that Thor: Ragnarok would be a buddy film between Thor and The Hulk, and that the upcoming Spider-Man Reboot would be a coming-of-age film, we decided to take a look at Marvel’s upcoming film slate – as well as what they may have coming down the pipeline in the future – and pick which genres we’d love to see these films tackle. In keeping with the tradition of fun and unexpected stories told within the confines of a superhero film, we present you with 10 Movie Genres We'd Like to See Within the Marvel Cinematic Universe
10 War Movie – Black Panther
It’s tough to tackle adult stories with real-world consequences when your movie has to appeal equally to children, teenagers, and overseas audiences who famously love giant robot explosions, but if anyone can make a war film within the superhero genre amidst these constraints, it’s Marvel. Following along the lines of unflinching stories of war such as Saving Private Ryan, Apocalypse Now, and Blood Diamond, Marvel could bring a touch of sensitivity and realism to a superhero landscape that too often features mass destruction without ever focusing on the consequences.
By framing its upcoming Black Panther film as a war movie set in the Kingdom of Wakanda, audiences could be treated to a mature and thoughtful story that fits with the tone set by the Black Panther comics. By providing a topical and unflinching look at current events and porting them into a superhero setting, a Black Panther movie could lend itself perfectly to the War genre and become something more substantial than a typical blockbuster. If Marvel can find a way to focus on human villains rather than the various robotic alien hybrids of films past, Black Panther could be a worthwhile addition to the Marvel universe, as well as a stunning and exciting departure from traditional War films.
9 Magic Realism – Doctor Strange
Magic Realism is a genre that isn’t seen much these days, but with films such as Pan’s Labyrinth and Beasts of the Southern Wild giving audiences a reason to love the genre once again, Marvel could be in a good position to add some wow to their universe by adopting the genre as their own. Defined as a genre that incorporates fantastic or mythical elements into otherwise realistic fiction, a Magic Realism film would feel right at home in the MCU, and perhaps would find no better place to be than attached to Doctor Strange.
Though it’s clear that the source material lends itself perfectly to the genre, the best part of a Magic Realism Doctor Strange would be Marvel breaking conventions and adding a little indie-sensibility and fun to the MCU. Movie fans and superhero fans alike could be treated to a delightfully off-kilter film packed with visuals and a narrative style that aren’t often seen in a conventional tentpole release. While the risks of making a plus-$100-million film into a love-letter to Magic Realism are high, chances are that people are going to see Doctor Strange no matter what genre it's set in; so Marvel may as well go for broke and tack on some inexplicably strange imagery to a movie that deserves it more than any other.
8 Western – Guardians of the Galaxy 2
If the goal of a Western film is to stick its heroes in beautifully barren settings, throw some conflict their way, and introduce a host of small frontier-style characters drinking and playing cards at various saloons, then one could argue that the first Guardians of the Galaxy is basically already a Western. But while the first Guardians film in no way played it safe – featuring a talking raccoon bounty hunter, a sentient tree voiced by Vin Diesel, and Andy from Parks and Rec – Guardians of the Galaxy 2 could and should blow all conventions out of the water by doing the unexpected; going full Western.
The central gang of Guardians is perfectly suited for a Western, as is the makeup of the franchise. Though the Old West is replaced with outer space, the central idea of a gang of misfits traveling around from location to location to, ahem, guard the galaxy, is an inherently Western concept. In Guardians 2, Star Lord and his ragtag gang could visit a lawless space frontier and encounter resistance while they gunsling their way to righteousness.
7 Road Trip Movie – Ant Man and The Wasp
It’s been a while since we've had a great Road Trip movie, but since Ant-Man has already solidified itself as a comedy, a road trip with Ant-Man and the sequel’s new hero, The Wasp, driving around the country and solving crimes – or just shrinking and expanding – would be astounding. Since it was clear in the first Ant-Man that Scott Lang and Hope van Dyne have very differing ideas on how to be a hero, when the sequel inevitably introduces Hope as The Wasp, there will be a perfect storm of pre-established tension to fuel the tank of the first ever Superhero Road Trip film.
Following in the footsteps of Planes, Trains & Automobiles or Thelma & Louise, Ant-Man and The Wasp already has the advantage of having a title with “and” in there, which looks like a pretty important pre-requisite to a great Road Trip Film. If the movie focuses on the comedy inherent in these two characters' differences and mixes it with, say, a tech-heist that must be pulled off at various locations around the country, then adds a dash of Michael Pena, Ant-Man and The Wasp will have a winning formula that no other superhero film would be able to replicate.
6 Psychological Thriller – Venom
Getting dark and gritty was always the plan with Venom, but now that Marvel has partnered with Sony and may be able to create the Venom film that the world deserves, there would be no better way to bring the menacing symbiote to the world than in the form of a Psychological Thriller. If Marvel wanted to get creative and really show the unhinging of its main anti-hero, Venom, a Psychological Thriller that utilizes gritty cinematography, innovative direction, and a tight, winding script would be the most exciting superhero film to come along in, well, forever.
Getting someone to direct along the lines of Darren Aronofsky - whose film Black Swan was among the most breathtaking in this genre in decades, and whose recent Noah is an example of a big-budget flick with a personality all of its own – would set the stage for an thriller of epic proportions. Aside from the talent that could be drawn to a film like Venom amidst the genre that has provided iconic performances such as Anthony Hopkins in The Silence of the Lambs and Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver, Venom would help the Spider-Man film series break out of its past and propel Marvel’s most recognizable hero and villain to all new heights.
5 Comedy – Ghost Rider
It could be argued that Ghost Rider and Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, both starring Nicolas Cage, were comedies. But were they supposed to be comedies? Would anyone cite them as an example of a great comedy? Does anyone even remember these films? In the very likely event that the answer to any of the above questions is “no,” Marvel should just reboot Ghost Rider and turn it into their first fully-fledged comedy.
Sure, all Marvel movies have elements of comedy in them – and that’s what differentiates them from DC’s brooding film universe – but nothing in the MCU has been an outright comedy; until now. With Ghost Rider, the character is already so ridiculous that the only way to properly handle him would be to go the route of Borat and watch the hilarity ensue as the flaming skeleton biker makes various stops along the highways of America. How do Bed and Breakfast owners respond when he sets his pillow ablaze? Would Wendy’s serve him through the drive-thru? These are things that we’re all dying to find out, so get to it Marvel.
4 Found Footage – Runaways
Though a Runaways film hasn’t been announced yet, Marvel could shake things up by greenlighting a Found Footage movie that takes place squarely within the MCU, and yet focuses on teenagers that aren’t yet part of some grand, worldwide crime-fighting syndicate. Though Found Footage films have been getting tiresome, overdone, and sloppy as of late, films like Chronicle and Cloverfield have us holding out hope for the genre.
Since Runaways, written by Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona, focuses on a group of teenagers who steal weapons from their parents – whom they’ve discovered are part of a crime organization – and soon learn that they have inherited their parents’ powers, Marvel would have to be careful to differentiate a Found Footage version of Runaways from the similar Chronicle. But with the right writer and director on board, planting Runaways in the Found Footage genre could be a home run. With even half of the budget of Marvel’s regular movies, Runaways would still be among the highest budget Found Footage films ever made. And when focusing on a group of dysfunctional teenage superheroes set within the MCU, with enough money to make kick-ass effects but not enough to make the Marvel braintrust nervous about taking risks, Runaways could be the little Marvel movie that die-hard fans have always wanted.
3 Prison Escape Film – Inhumans
A bit of history on what Inhumans actually are within the context of the MCU; they’re basically Marvel’s way of introducing mutants. Since Fox owns the rights to X-Men and all mutant-related things, Marvel wanted a way to explain normal people that have superpowers, and so they’re going back to the comic book group of Inhumans, who are essentially people living on Earth who have evolved from the Cree to have powers. So with that understood, and an Inhumans movie coming out in 2019, let’s focus on the fact that Marvel has yet to do a Prison Escape film, and that such a genre would fit perfectly with Inhumans.
A Marvel Prison Escape film is the film we all want to see, considering that it would be told in close confines and would basically be like the best scene from Guardians of the Galaxy, except it would be the entire movie. In a world where the Inhumans are imprisoned and being experimented on, we could spend time with our group of Inhuman heroes as they develop a plan to break out of where they are being held and regain the freedom that they deserve. Following along the lines of Shawshank Redemption, an Inhumans Prison Escape film could do wonders for the MCU by spending a full-length film’s worth of time just getting to know the Inhumans and focusing on the details of their escape plan; thus acclimating audiences with who these Inhumans are and how they think. If Marvel can pull off a third act that doesn’t involve the destruction of a flying city for once, an Inhumans film could be a small and personal film that proves the depth of Marvel’s characters and the moral maturity of its universe.
2 Monster Movie – Namor
Featured on our list of Phase 4 Marvel Movies We Want to See, Namor is a tricky character that could go horribly wrong in a number of different ways. Considering that neither Marvel nor DC has yet to go into the deep dark ocean for any of their films, it’s easy to think that Namor is more trouble than he’s worth. But considering that he’s actually one of the very first superheroes, having made his debut during the Golden age of Comic Books in 1939, and fighting alongside Captain America and The Avengers, Namor is actually an important character in the history of comics, and if done right could be a great anti-hero in a surprisingly great film.
Since Monster Movies were once all the rage and are currently all the rage once again, it would be great to see Marvel make a film that is pure blockbuster fun and turn Namor into the Marvel Monster Movie that we all want to see. For their first foray into the deep, Marvel has countless options to get creative and unleash an ocean-dwelling monster on the people of Earth, only for Namor to come along and save everyone. If the Namor film has more horrifying and unstoppable monster mayhem than underwater merman, it could set the tone for a bad-ass superhero that has fallen away from pop-culture in recent years, and provide one of the most exciting departures from Marvel form in its cinematic history.
1 Revenge Film – Fantastic Four
No, we’re not talking revenge on those who have made three bad Fantastic Four films already, but considering that Fox may be done with the franchise (if common sense compels them) and Marvel will eventually get it back, Marvel should claim the First Family of Superheroes as their own by giving the Fantastic Four a fun new vibe and a grungy, guerrilla-style Quentin Tarantino or Robert Rodriguez vibe. Considering that the Fantastic Four were unwillingly subjected to their powers – a fact that this year’s reboot tried but ultimately failed to touch on – Fantastic Four would be a perfect film to coat in a revenge aesthetic, focusing on the groups refusal to accept what happened to them, and their selfish desire to get payback on those responsible for it.
Though Reed Richards is often cited as being responsible for the accident that created the Fantastic Four in the comics, a slight tweak by Marvel could alter the origin just enough to allow for a Fantastic Four film that we’ve never seen before. By going just this side of campy, the film could embrace what the other three failed to realize was their downfall, and live within the comic book world of soap-opera-esque melodrama, while still firmly being an MCU film that gives depth and emotion to characters that can level entire cities. As the Fantastic Four seek revenge in slickly-shot scenes of gratuitous superhero violence, only by the very end of the film will they learn that they need to use their powers for good, thus flipping the superhero script on its head, as it usually doesn’t take a full film of revenge-fueled mayhem to set our heroes straight.
Are there any genres that you’re dying to see within the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Which heroes do you think would fit within your favorite genres? Sound off in the comments below!