Despite being the subject of 12 films (and counting), The Marvel Cinematic Universe is still in its early stages, with superheroes (excepting WWII hero Captain America) being a new phenomenon and The Avengers more or less the only team of its kind.
The comic book universe, however, has a several-decade head start over the movies and quite a few colorful characters have served as Avengers over the years. Marvel Studios may not own the rights to some of its most iconic characters (for example, the X-Men and Fantastic Four movies were produced by 20th Century Fox), but there are still quite a few neglected superheroes to take their place.
From Asgardians to aliens, former villains to intergalactic space police, here are just a few that we’d like to see make the jump from comic to film…
10 ECHO (Maya Lopez)
A Native American superhero, Echo has the power of ‘photographic reflexes’, giving her the ability to copy any skill that she’s seen before. She is able to become a master martial artist simply by watching a single fight and an expert pilot by observing someone do the same. Echo is basically the Swiss Army knife of superheroes, despite not having any actual superhuman abilities.
Echo is distinguished even further by being one of the few deaf superheroes. She might be an expert lip-reader, but this is still quite a severe drawback, and Echo often struggles to properly communicate with her teammates (especially those wearing masks). It would be quite a step forward for Marvel to include a superhero with a disability in the MCU, especially one as capable as Echo.
9 CAPTAIN BRITAIN (Brian Braddock)
Initially conceived as a corny British version of Captain America (it’s right there in the name), Captain Britain is an English superhero with a host of superpowers granted through magic. The mystic arts have seen sparse use in the MCU thus far, though Doctor Strange is set to flip that on its head. Captain Britain could serve as the perfect foil to Captain America; powers granted through magic instead of science, superpowers instead of peak human ability. Also, he’s from Britain, which isn’t America.
Notably, Brian Braddock’s version of Captain Britain has served as a leader many times, often heading up teams that protect Great Britain and Europe. While the Avengers are based in America, it’d be quite a jump for the MCU to show teams forming in other countries, possibly even inspired by their example.
8 SQUIRREL GIRL (Doreen Green)
Y’know who didn’t think Squirrel Girl was a threat? Doctor Doom. And who suffered history’s most embarrassing defeat at the hands of a horde of squirrels? That’s right: Doctor Doom.
Originally conceived to prove that superheroes don't always have to be dark and gritty, Squirrel Girl is how a generation of kids learned that you should be very afraid of the chipper ones with silly powers. In addition to speaking the language of adorable woodland critters, Doreen Green has all the attributes of a squirrel, including a bushy tail, claws and heightened agility. Other abilities include mastery of martial arts and immense cunning that allows her to take on major league enemies far stronger than her.
The MCU already has a light-hearted vibe, but as things get darker, Squirrel Girl could be just right for keeping things fun and breezy. There’s also the fact that, in the comics, she is powerful enough to defeat Thanos. Yes, that Thanos.
So at least we now know how Infinity War: Part II is going to end.
7 THOR (Jane Foster)
In case you haven’t been keeping up with the comics, Thor is a woman now. For the time being, at least. Jane Foster, played by Natalie Portman in the MCU, was deemed worthy to wield Mjolnir and has taken the mantle of the mighty Thor after the real Thor could no longer wield his hammer.
While the MCU is lacking in female superheroes, there’s also a trend of them becoming temporarily empowered; it happened to Jane Foster herself in Thor: The Dark World and also Pepper Potts at the end of Iron Man 3. The girlfriends can sometimes be allowed to rise to the occasion, but this would signify a former damsel love interest stepping up and taking the superhero mantle for herself… and to boot, it’d be due to a magical hammer deeming her awesome enough to rule all of Asgard.
If Chris Hemsworth ever leaves the role, this would also be a convenient way for him to step out without leaving a Thor-shaped hole.
6 MOONDRAGON (Heather Douglas)
She may only have been an Avenger for about seven minutes, but Moondragon certainly left her mark. A unique case, Heather Douglas’ parents were killed by Thanos, after which she was taken to a monastery (in space) and taught to use psychic powers, along with learning many other skills. She would later join the Avengers, the Guardians of the Galaxy and the Defenders, though never remaining a member for long due to her superiority complex and rampant romantic interests.
Moondragon’s most famous connection is that of her father: Drax the Destroyer. Drax already appeared in Guardians of the Galaxy, seeking revenge for the death of his family; in the comics, however, Heather actually survived, making it possible that the same thing happened in the MCU.
Moondragon’s "powers" were uniquely achieved purely through training and discipline, making her an oddity amongst Marvel characters. Combined with her extreme character strengths and flaws, plus her connections on Earth and far beyond, Moondragon’s character could be used as the link between the Guardians of the Galaxy and the rest of the MCU. If nothing else, she is a fascinating character study and nowhere near your average hero/anti-hero/villain/whatever she decides to be at that moment.
5 QUASAR (Wendell Vaughn)
Spacefaring comic book characters from the Silver Age were traditionally proud, noble figures. Wendell Vaughn, on the other hand, is the opposite. He’s an everyman, just another guy trying to make his way in the universe, who also happens to be a superhero.
Originally an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., Vaughn was considered capable yet unfit for field work by his superiors due to his laid-back attitude. However, this worked to his advantage in controlling the Quantum Bands, which require the user to have a flexible will. Quasar is able to use the Quantum Bands to manipulate energy, forming solid constructs, laser blasts, forcefields and even draining energy from nearby sources.
Quasar’s personality would be suited to the MCU, which is overflowing with both serious and snarky characters but lacking in someone truly laid-back. He also has ties to S.H.I.E.L.D., meaning that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. would serve as an appropriate way to introduce him to the universe.
4 MOON KNIGHT (Marc Spector)
Moon Knight is sort of like Batman, if Batman wore all-white, had magical powers and suffered from multiple personality disorder. He’s not actually all that much like Batman, but Marc Spector is still rich guy who beats up bad guys by night with martial arts skills and a plethora of weapons, so he's close enough.
Moon Knight is a fascinating character because of his identity crisis; as the avatar of Khonshu, Marc Spector constantly struggles with his past as a mercenary and the continual juggling of alter-egos.Moon Knight is possessed by the ancient Egyptian god of vengeance, and his powers become stronger closer to a full moon. Introducing ancient polytheism into the MCU might seem like it wouldn’t fit with the current tone, but details can always be changed - not to mention that the Norse mythology of Thor has been incorporated rather smoothly.
3 SONGBIRD (Melissa Gold)
Also known as "Screaming Mimi," Songbird is an example of a supervillain-turned-hero who never truly lost her edge. Best known as a member of the Thunderbolts, Melissa Gold started as a villainous wrestler, eventually progressing to supervillainy, then heroics. Her powers are varied, but include supersonic screams, echolation and general sound-related abilities.
The female characters in the MCU certainly haven’t been characterized as overly feminine - even the non-action-oriented ones tend to be scientific geniuses or stellar CEOs - but Songbird has the potential the be the roughest of them all. Her powers are granted through technology, creating an easy origin, and there is currently a lack of street-level supervillains in the MCU, which would make Songbird a welcome addition. What’s more, her redemptive arc would be a refreshing shake up of the formula, which currently consists mostly of the big bad guy getting hold of some technology/enhancement and being decisively beaten by the end of the movie. A change would be nice.
2 VALKYRIE (Brunnhilde)
A few similar characters from Asgard may already have been introduced, but with Thor: Ragnarok on the horizon, there’s always room for more. Valkyrie is a superhero and Asgardian with combat skills on par with Lady Sif, as well as a potential love interest for Thor. Fitting with her name, Valkyrie also has various abilities relating to death, such as knowing when a person will die and transporting herself back and forth from the realm of the dead.
The character of Brunnhilde has gone through a number of changes, appearing in teams such as the Defenders (soon to be featured on screen) and the Avengers. She is usually connected to Thor and Asgard, though featuring her as part of Avengers, even if for a brief time, would be an interesting step forward. The actual Avengers films have only touched on Asgard, and Valkyrie could be a way to truly introduce the multiple realms and include a powerful female character in the mix.
1 NOVA (Richard Rider)
Nova has been described as a cross between Green Lantern and Spider-Man, for reasons that should be obvious: a teenager gains extraordinary power as part of an intergalactic police force, wacky hijinks ensue when he has to hide it from his friends and family. His name is even alliterated. While possessing a fairly stock-standard set of powers, Nova’s real draw comes from his Richard Rider persona, who, as previously mentioned, must operate as both an ordinary teenager and a member of the Nova Corps.
Xandar and the Nova Corps made prominent appearances in Guardians of the Galaxy, but in a different form to the comics. While the MCU portrays them as more ordinary law-enforcement, it’s interesting to see the changes wrought by Ronan’s attack on Xandar. Did they realise that they needed more muscle? If so, Richard Rider could appear in the future as a fledgling member of a fledgling elite force, drawing Earth’s superheroes together with the ones currently knocking about in space.
Any Avengers that you think should make the jump from comic to film? Let us know in the comments!