Over the past decade, Marvel has been the leading company when it comes to superhero flicks. They kick-started the Marvel Cinematic Universe back in 2008 with Iron Man, but since then have released dozens of movies with different Marvel characters.
The MCU has made these characters more popular than they already were, but some of them had gotten movies prior to being a part of the MCU. With many of these characters being created in the ‘60s, it wasn’t long before the superheroes were given live-action movies and TV shows. Here are 10 Superheros You Forgot Had Movies Before They Joined The MCU.
10 Captain America
Chris Evans is most known today for his role as Steve Rogers, a.k.a. Captain America, but he wasn’t the first actor to wield the shield. Captain America is one of the oldest heroes on this list, with Joe Simon and Jack Kirby creating the character back in 1941.
Three years later, the character was given a serial with Dick Purcell playing Cap, but the character also got TV movies in 1979 (starring Reb Brown) and in 1990 (starring Matt Salinger). Despite the character being a popular superhero, neither of the TV movies were well received.
9 The Punisher
While Jon Bernthal portrayed Frank Castle for two seasons of Netflix’s The Punisher before it was canceled, a handful of other actors played the character before him. The first time the Punisher graced the big screen was back in 1989 with Dolph Lundgren in the role of the infamous vigilante, but the film received mostly negative reviews.
Thomas Jane then took on the role in the 2004 film The Punisher, before being replaced by Ray Stevenson for Punisher: War Zone. None of these three films got very good reviews, but most people agree that Bernthal and the creative team at Netflix did the character justice.
8 Howard The Duck
When most people think of superheroes and comic books, usually they don’t think of an anthropomorphic duck named Howard. Despite being unlike most superheroes, Howard the Duck is a Marvel character that got his own film in 1986. The film was directed by Willard Huyck and starred Ed Gale as Howard, with Lea Thompson and Tim Robbins.
The film was widely panned by fans and critics, but the character has appeared in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Howard first appeared during the end credits scene for Guardians of the Galaxy but also made appearances in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Avengers: Endgame.
Daredevil was created back in 1964 by Stan Lee and Bill Everett. The character was first played by Rex Smith in the 1989 TV film The Trial of the Incredible Hulk. That being said, Ben Affleck is more notorious for his role of Daredevil. Upon its release in 2003, Daredevil got negative reviews.
Despite the film being criticized, many people would agree that the darker director’s cut of the film is what really should have been theatrically released. Ben Affleck was given another shot at a superhero role when he was cast as Batman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Daredevil was redeemed when Charlie Cox took on the role for Netflix’s Daredevil.
6 Ghost Rider
Ghost Rider joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe when he became a character on the fourth season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. The character was played by Gabriel Luna, who will also be starring in a solo Ghost Rider TV show on Hulu in 2020. Before that, however, Nicolas Cage was the face of Ghost Rider.
Cage appeared in two Ghost Rider films while Sony Pictures still owned the rights to the character. The 2007 film received negative reviews, but the sequel, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, got even poorer reviews. Eventually, Ghost Rider could get his own film in the MCU, but for now, the character is sticking to the small screen.
5 Doctor Strange
Doctor Stephen Strange was first mentioned in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in Captain America: The Winter Soldier when Agent Jasper Sitwell mentions him in passing. A few years later, the character got his solo film with Benedict Cumberbatch playing the Sorcerer Supreme.
Strange has been an instrumental part of the battle against Thanos, but before that, he went up against Morgan le Fay in the 1978 TV movie Dr. Strange. The movie was directed and written by Philip DeGuere with Peter Hooten starring as Strange. The film was made in hopes of giving the character a TV series, but the film faced negative reviews and low ratings, meaning a TV show was out of the question.
4 The Hulk
Mark Ruffalo has yet to get a solo movie in the MCU, but Edward Norton brought the character to the MCU in The Incredible Hulk. Before that, though, Eric Bana starred in Ang Lee’s Hulk. The film got mixed reviews, but the live-action TV series that aired from 1978 to 1982 got much better reviews.
The series spawned several TV movies, most notably The Trial of the Incredible Hulk, which starred Bill Bixby as Bruce Banner and Lou Ferrigno as the Incredible Hulk. The film not only included Daredevil but also marked Stan Lee’s first appearance in a Marvel movie.
Despite Ben Affleck’s Daredevil getting negative reviews, the film did well enough at the box office to warrant a spin-off featuring the character Elektra. Elektra Natchios, played by Jennifer Garner, had a big role in Daredevil, making her an obvious choice for a spin-off.
The 2005 film sees Elektra being resurrected by Stick before protecting a family from The Hand. Most people didn’t enjoy the film, which was made clear by its poor box office performance. Thankfully, Elektra was redeemed when Élodie Yung played the character in Netflix’s Daredevil starting in season 2. The actress later reprised the role for The Defenders in 2017.
Comic book fans were ecstatic when they found out that Spider-Man was finally going to be joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Tom Holland was cast in the role, first appearing in Captain America: Civil War before getting his own solo films Spider-Man: Homecoming and the recently-released Spider-Man: Far From Home.
Spider-Man had gotten several films prior to him joining the MCU, including Sam Raimi’s three Spider-Man films starring Tobey Maguire and Marc Webb’s two Amazing Spider-Man films with Andrew Garfield. Long before those, however, Nicholas Hammond played Peter Parker in the 90-minute Spider-Man TV movie. The film acts as a pilot to CBS’ The Amazing Spider-Man TV series, which ran for two seasons from 1977 to 1979.
1 Nick Fury
Samuel L. Jackson’s character Nick Fury has played a huge part in tying together the Marvel Cinematic Universe ever since his appearance in the post-credits scene of Iron Man. Before that, though, another famous actor took on the role. In 1998, David Hasselhoff played Nick Fury for the TV movie Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.
The film sees Fury come out of retirement to help the government defeat HYDRA, who plans on attacking Manhattan. The movie was meant to be a pilot for a new TV series featuring the Marvel character, but since the film got poor reviews, the series was never picked up.