12 Lesser Known Heroes That Deserve Their Own Movie (And 12 Big Names Who Don’t)
Some major characters have issues that would make a movie version of their adventures fail to click with audiences.
In Hollywood, the biggest thing right now is superheroes. Whether they are good or bad, it doesn’t matter, because they tend to do well at the box office. Even if they’re not well received, they still go ahead with sequels, because the chances are that people will still watch the films. The latest example is Venom as, despite bad reviews and word of mouth, the Spider-Man spin-off had a monster opening to make it a success. Combine that with the buzz growing for Aquaman and how Marvel continues to dominate the entire world, it seems comic book movies are here for a long while to come. Thus, companies are busy going about to find the next character to make work on screen. While of course, the focus is on big-name characters, there’s also the fact some lower-tier characters can also be hits.
But not all heroes work as well on screen. Indeed, some major characters have issues that would make a movie version of their adventures fail to click with audiences. Some characters have long been ignored by fans but have all the potential to work wonderfully on the big screen. At the same time, even famous heroes can have a hard time finding success with a big solo movie. With Shatterstar getting his own comic book series, we thought it was time to talk about the heroes that don’t get nearly as much attention as their teammates. Here are 12 lesser-known heroes who do deserve their own solo movie and 12 big names that don’t to remind fans how tricky making comic books on film work.
24 DON’T: GAMBIT
In the comics, the Cajun thief has a very cool vibe going for him. With his nice accent, staff weapon and long coat, Remy LeBeau also has the ability to charge up objects with energy. He usually uses it on playing cards to turn them into weapons. The character did show up in X-Men Origins Wolverine but has had bad luck since. Twice, Channing Tatum was to play the role in either an X-Men sequel or Deadpool only for it to be cut.
The challenge is that Gambit works well in the X-Men but not as much as a solo star. He’s better at riling up the team with his attitude and antics rather than being on his own as a gentlemen thief. That’s probably proven by how his solo film has been stalled numerous times with multiple screenwriters and directors coming and going. It just seems having his own movie isn’t in the cards for Gambit.
23 DESERVE: DAZZLER
This might be an offbeat choice but Marvel has wanted to make a Dazzler movie for years. A mutant with the ability to transform sound into bursts of light, Alison Blaire has worked with the X-Men a lot. However, she’s more comfortable as a rock star and will put the idea of a new album ahead of fighting the bad guys any day. A movie would be fun, mixing Alison’s challenges in the music industry with the occasional super-fight.
Fans love to imagine the likes of Taylor Swift or Christina Aguilera in the role. Plus, the character can stand up to things like social media bullying and just be a general inspiration. Mixing music and Marvel may seem weird but Dazzler could make it work for a fun adventure.
22 DON’T: HAWKEYE
Now, the comic book Hawkeye has proven himself capable of headlining a solo book. Clint Barton’s title is great for showing how a guy whose “power” is shooting arrows handles working with Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. It also shows Clint as a down-to-Earth guy with great humor and trying to make ends meet while tangling with bad guys. However, the movie Hawkeye isn’t really as great as the comics, which means that a solo movie wouldn’t really work out for him. Jeremy Renner is getting up there in years and is not as capable of pulling off the big action sequences needed to make Hawkeye work.
Besides that, the fact that the movie version is married with kids, it makes the plot lines a little more difficult and awkward to deal with. The brutal fact is that some fans just don’t like Renner’s interpretation of the role, as it is a far cry from the wisecracking nice guy of the comics. The comic book version is deserving but the MCU’s take on Hawkeye doesn’t support a solo adventure.
21 DESERVE: LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES
The potential is just incredible. A mainstay of DC for decades, the Legion is a group of young people who protect the 30th century where Earth is part of an alliance of planets. The characters boast a bevy of incredible powers and terrific touches. From the nobility of Lightning Lad to the arrogance of Brainiac 5 and the humor of Bouncing Boy, the Legion have everything needed to make a super-hero movie work. The huge cast can be daunting but if you start small and then build up in members, it can work.
The action alone would be terrific. The Legion can do battle with alien armadas, ruthless criminals, dictators and cosmic threats alike. Mixing up the classic super-hero action with sci-fi conflicts and a bit of teenage attitude would lead to an amazing movie. If DC wants to look to the future with their films, the Legion is the way to go.
20 DON’T: BLACK CAT AND SILVER SABLE
Sony has been attempting for years to turn Spider-Man into their own cinematic universe. The failure of Amazing Spider-Man 2 and the character going to the MCU seemed to end that. However, Venom has revived a lot of the talk despite how hard it is to do Spider-Man stuff without Spidey. A big project discussed has been a team-up movie between the Black Cat and Silver Sable. Which totally ignores the issues of both characters.
To be frank, Cat has always been a Catwoman knock-off. And if a solo Catwoman movie can’t work, how can Felicia Hardy’s? Silver Sable has been a popular supporting character in the Spider-Man mythos but not as effective as a lead. Her cold mercenary attitude can rub folks the wrong way and not support a movie. It just makes little sense to let two supporting characters with nothing in common headline their own movie.
19 DESERVE: MISTER MIRACLE
The New Gods are always a complex thing for fans to get into. Jack Kirby crafted a huge cosmic backstory for these warring factions of super-beings and it’s just gotten more convoluted as time has gone by. However, the character of Mister Miracle could be the key to making it work on screen. Scott Free was the son of the noble Highfather who, as part of a peace agreement, was sent to the care of the evil Darkseid. Scott endured torture for years on Apokolips before finally escaping.
Heading to Earth, Scott found a new career as the world’s greatest escape artist. His series have focused on his great humor and his relationship with the gorgeous Barda humanizes him more. The movie would be able to have some fun with the character for his adventures, while laying the groundwork for the cosmic battle he gets involved in. The character alone is just waiting to escape the comics for the big screen.
18 DON’T: KITTY PRYDE
There are a lot of X-Men who deserve solo movies. Wolverine, obviously, but you can argue Beast, Nightcrawler and Storm can all handle a solo adventure. But Kitty Pryde? That’s something else. The character has been long popular with her ability to “phase” through solid matter. She’s also ninja-trained to be a good fighter and proven herself as a leader of the team. Ellen Page did a good job playing her in the movies yet the character just doesn’t have what it takes to carry a movie.
Even attempts at her own solo series have failed as Kitty has tried college but realizes she’s not cut out for a “normal” life. She’s way too tied to the X-Men and works much better as part of the team. Having her in a new X-Men film is fine but carrying her own movie doesn’t work nearly as well for Kitty.
17 DESERVE: KA-ZAR
It’s easy to dismiss this character as a Tarzan knock-off. However, he’s a modern guy who’s very intelligent and integrates technology into his adventures. What makes this a great movie idea is that Kevin Plunder calls the Savage Land home. Found deep under Antarctica, this jungle area is home to living dinosaurs as well as other dangerous creatures. Basically, imagine mixing the Marvel Universe and Jurassic Park. You can just hear the tickets being sold.
Ka-Zar thinks his home is the best place to live, and since he has mastered the land, it would be fun to see. His relationship with wife Shanna and sabretooth tiger Zabu allows for a fun supporting cast. The adventure would be terrific from fighting dinos to another big threat. If Marvel wants to elevate their C-list guys more, Ka-Zar is a great way to do it.
16 DON’T: CAPTAIN ATOM
It’s a shame this may not work as the character has potential. Nate Adam was an Air Force pilot framed for treason. He agreed to take part in an experiment with a quantum engine only for it to explode. It thrust Nate twenty years into the future and also granted him incredible cosmic powers. The character has been a big one in the DC Universe for years, sometimes turning to a bad guy but he was still a dependable powerhouse.
The problem is that his powers can be rather complex to work on film. He can be just way too powerful and thus hard to find a proper threat for him to handle. Then there’s the fact that following Captain Marvel, the plot of “military figure turned cosmic hero” is way too familiar. With so many other heroes in the DCU who deserve a movie, Atom might be low on the list.
15 DESERVE: NOVA
In the MCU, fans know the Nova Corps as basically a band of space cops who aid the Guardians of the Galaxy. They’ve been mentioned in the comics but most know Nova as a solo guy. Infinity War says Xandar was destroyed by Thanos and that leaves all the potential for a solo film. The plot just writes itself: One Nova Corps member manages to crash on Earth and before passing, he gives the helmet to a teenager. Whether it’s original Nova Richard Ryder or newer hero Sam Alexander, the potential is amazing.
You can have a kid suddenly thrust into the role of a galactic warrior and totally in over his head. Richard would be adjusting to it with his family while Sam sees it as the coolest thing ever. They would have the learning curve of the powers before facing a new threat and that would introduce more cosmic action to the MCU. Basically, it would be Green Lantern…only good.
14 DON’T: HAWKMAN
On the one hand, this character has been a long-time DC mainstay. Even non-comic book fans are familiar with the image of the winged warrior taking flight. The problem with a solo movie is the backstory. No character in comic book history has had such a confusing, convoluted and at times downright incomprehensible history as Hawkman. He’s been a reincarnated Egyptian prince, a space cop, a “hawk god” and a mix of all three. And those are the saner versions.
Legends of Tomorrow showed how hard it was to make the character work just on TV. A movie would need a more complex origin and given how challenging that is, it’s hard to see it working. Plus, the entire winged hero thing might just come off silly. Maybe he could work in a Justice League sequel, but it would be very interesting to have this hero in a standalone film.
13 DESERVE: ALPHA FLIGHT
Fans from the Great White North will no doubt support this choice. Contrary to popular opinion, Canada does have crime and it would thus make sense they would have super-crime in the Marvel Universe. Enter Alpha Flight, the premier super-team of that nation. The characters alone would be great in a film: Leader Guardian, his wife Vindicator, siblings Northstar and Aurora, Sasquatch (a brilliant scientist who turns into a Yeti), the short warrior Puck and more. The characters have been popular for years and are deserving of attention.
It would make sense in the MCU that Canada decides to have their own super-team to handle threats. The mix of mutants, Inhumans and regular warriors would lead to a fun cast of characters to root for. Canada itself is a vibrant land for a movie and thus, a film of their super-team can take off well.
12 DON’T: CABLE
After the success of Deadpool 2, there’s been a major push for Cable to get his own movie. Josh Brolin was great in the part of the time-traveling mutant warrior and could definitely carry a solo film. The idea of Cable going around time to solve problems is interesting and Brolin could be effective in the role. However, the character has drawbacks which include a very complex backstory. Comic book fans know it would be crazy, especially when you get into the origins. After all, it’d be hard to present him as the future son of Cyclops and Madelyne Pryor when the latter hasn’t shown up in the movies.
Plus, while Brolin was good in Deadpool 2, he was the straight man to Deadpool’s antics. That same seriousness can sink a solo movie and make it too dark for fans to get into. Plus, it just adds to the same over-the-top aspects that made the character a joke for years. It’s best to just leave Cable as a side player rather than the star.
11 DESERVE: MOON KNIGHT
It’s easy to write off Moon Knight as “the Marvel Universe Batman.” However, the character has demons even Bruce Wayne could never imagine. Once a mercenary, Marc Spector was saved from near death by the Egyptian god Khonshu. He thus dedicated himself to fighting crime in a very cool costume. However, it’s been shown the man is basically a mental case with multiple personalities. He can be cool and effective one minute then a raving mess another. He can be a wealthy playboy then pretend to be a cab driver.
That makes him unpredictable to the extreme and thus a great persona for a movie. There’s been some talk of a Netflix series but a movie would also be good. It can delve into Marc’s differing identities as he faces a big threat yet his own mind is his worst enemy. Plus, that awesome costume can show off great in a film and let Moon Knight shine.
10 DON’T: NIGHTWING
The problem with a Nightwing solo movie is having to do something Batman-related without showing Batman. On the one hand, it would be intriguing. Seeing Dick Grayson growing up and leaving behind Robin for his own identity could be interesting. There’s also how Dick sees fighting crime as an adventure, not a holy crusade and he has a much better sense of humor. But while the elements are there, the execution can be flawed.
It would just mean bringing up too much baggage of Batman which is complex given how rough the DCCU has been already. It’s hard to see a screenplay that can give Nightwing his own push rather than just making him a second-rate Batman. While the character could be deserving in some ways, he might just have way too much to live up to.
9 DESERVE: DARKHAWK
Part of a wave of heroes that debuted in 1990, Darkhawk appeared to be your standard teen hero. Chris Powell was the son of a disgraced cop who discovered an amulet while running from criminals. It allowed him to transform into an armored figure and he soon began to fight crime. The book grew bigger when Chris discovered that the Darkhawk was one of several cosmic warriors and soon he found himself clashing with “evil Hawks.”
A movie would be fun for fans, since they can once more take a Tom Holland approach and deliver a movie that is fun, lighthearted, and filled with amazing action sequences. The book had a gritty vibe as Darkhawk faced numerous tough enemies. He even teams up with the Guardians of the Galaxy at one point! He may be a “C-list” superhero to many but a movie can elevate Darkhawk to the attention he needs.
8 DON’T: SWAMP THING
For years, this character was presented as scientist Alec Holland who was mutated into a swamp-like creature. Alan Moore elevated him by revealing that Swamp Thing was actually an avatar of nature tangling with events beyond even the Justice League’s power. He’s had a few solo titles yet it’s hard for fans to get behind a creature that’s not human and his clashes with supernatural foes could be hard for a film to replicate.
The character would work better in the DCCU as a side figure who shows up to give some aid then goes back to the swamps. It would be fun to have him remark to Superman on how Swamp Thing handles threats greater than imagined. While the character is interesting, a solo movie would be a hard sell for many non-comic fans.
7 DESERVE: BOOSTER GOLD AND BLUE BEETLE
For decades, fans have loved the antics of the “Blue and Gold” team. Ted Kord was an inventor who took up the costumed persona of the Blue Beetle. Booster Gold was a disgraced football player from the 25th century who went back in time to become a hero. While they were popular, the two really took off when joined in the Justice League International. Fans adored their comedy and get-rich-quick schemes that often blew up in their faces. Their banter was infectious and made them a great pairing.
It’s deepened as Booster has become a real hero but has to hide it to protect his identity. A movie would be great, a terrific “time travel road comedy” of the two trying to clean up messes in history (many of which they caused). If DC wants to “lighten up” in their films, Blue and Gold is the way to do it.
6 DON’T: THE AUTHORITY
For a time in 2000, the Authority were the hottest super-team around. This Wildstorm group was basically the Justice League not held back by the rules. They had no issue with taking out enemies and facing a slew of major threats. A big bit was trying to truly change the world from taking down dictators and then proceeding to set up their own governments. But as time has gone on, the mood that boosted the Authority to success has faded.
Given the complaints over the DC movies being “too dark and gritty,” trying to push a movie of super-heroes who literally just spend all their time taking people out probably wouldn’t go over well. The Authority really works better on the comic book page as in a movie you’d have to neuter them down (especially Midnighter) and rob them of the qualities that made them work. As much as their stories can seem perfect for big-budget action, the team doesn’t deserve their own film.
5 DESERVE: WITCHBLADE
For a long time, this character was best known for a “cheesecake” type of outfit. Sara Pezzini was a cop who found a mystical gauntlet. Handed down through generations of women (including Joan of Arc), it gave Sara special powers to fight both regular criminals and supernatural threats. At first, the outfit left little to the imagination in showing off Sara’s body. Thankfully, that was toned down to become a suit of armor that aided her well.
There was a brief TV show but the character is overdue for a comeback. Mixing a police procedural with a supernatural aura can lead to a great movie. With the right actress, fans can get behind her, and enjoy the story of Sara’s struggle with her new powers as she tries to lead a normal life. The character can easily show that she is more than just eye candy, as she can definitely hold her own in a fight.
4 DON’T: LOBO
Lobo is a great example of a parody that got out of hand. After being introduced as a lunatic who wiped out his own planet, the mercenary made more appearances in the late 1980s. Keith Giffen decided to change him into a send-up of the over-the-top action anti-heroes like the Punisher and Wolverine. Lobo went around pummeling people and causing mayhem while firing off bad jokes. However, the joke was on Giffen as fans loved this take and boosted the character to major popularity.
The issue with him as a movie star is that it would be hard to make that satire work on film. The character is a maniac who has no issues causing pain to innocents just because he’s bored. It’s one thing to root for a bad guy, another for a complete sociopath. Lobo would be better as some side threat in a Superman movie, instead of producers trying to make him a star of his own.
3 DESERVE: ROM
Due to various legal issues, Marvel can no longer use or even mention what was once one of their best titles. Rom is a cyborg who comes to Earth hunting the Dire Wraiths, a band of evil shapeshifters. He uses his scanners to find them in disguise and then blast them into another dimension. However, to regular humans, it looks like some evil robot is blasting innocent people. Thus, Rom finds himself hunted by the world he’s trying to save.
The title was hailed for its gripping storylines as Rom faced the Wraiths. It also had an emotional core as Rom wrestled with his lost humanity and feeling the weight of this war. The character is making a comeback under IDW and Hasbro wants to make him part of their own cinematic universe. That can work to finally give Rom the attention he deserves.
2 DON’T: DEATHSTROKE
While he sometimes falls into the “anti-hero” side, Slade Wilson works much better as a pure villain. This deadly mercenary is enhanced with superior strength, intellect and reflexes and always puts money first. He can have a moral code at times but more often, he’s a gun for hire. Some fans can argue he could be deserving of a film with his backstory, because some people like to root for the bad guy. However, while Deadpool can offset his actions with his great humor, Deathstroke is serious.
The character would be much better off as a side villain as he’s always about doing the job, not some major world-conquering plot. Justice League hinted he could be a member of a Legion of Doom and that would likely work better than giving him a solo film.
1 DESERVE: DOC SAVAGE
Doc Savage was the first super-hero. He had no powers but boasted an incredible physique matched by the most brilliant mind on the planet. The star of the 1930s “pulp novel” era, Doc was a fantastic figure who would travel the world stopping evil plots. He vowed to never take a life and even went out of his way to redeem criminals rather than punish them. His adventures had a cool sci-fi vibe to them and included elements that have inspired many other heroes (such as his Fortress of Solitude).
There’s also Doc’s great gang of helpers, the Famous Five, who aid him in his adventures. There was a movie back in the 1970s but that failed to capture the character properly. There’s been some talk of a new film which he deserves. In so many ways, Savage paved the way for slews of heroes and a new audience should discover him.
A long-time comic book fan and lover of action/sci-fi/fantasy works as well as adoring making lists.