So, the first thing that happened was that Lord 16 and I needed to get another free week of Disney + so we could watch season two of
BucketHead and the Baby Lone Spacewolf and GreenCub The Mandalorian.
So, the second thing that happened was we realised we’d actually accidentally paid for a month so we’d better get our money’s worth.
Which is why we’ve spent the last couple of weeks mainlining WandaVision and Falcon & The Winter Soldier. Nothing can justify why I subsequently forced him to watch an entire episode of The Inhumans, other than I love the characters in the comic books, and I needed to see if it really is as bad as everyone said it is.
So having steeped ourselves in the current round of extended adverts for the next phase of bloated, self-indulgent big screen Marvel soap operas (which does both shows a disservice: F&WS is an excellent adventure romp, and WandaVision is an utterly extraordinary piece of television) — thoughts turn to who else should have themselves a groundbreaking TV show, and just who is left for the Marvel Execs to dig up, plug into a blender, and spit out. After all, we must be down to the J-grade guys by now, right?
Well, kind of, yeah. So, with a few ground rules below, here are five Marvel characters I think are prime candidates for inclusion into the MTVU.
5 for Friday: The Best of the Rest of the Rest of the Few Who are Left by the Rest
Okay, a couple of ground rules before we start:
Firstly, nobody with a name too similar, and therefore too confusing to the uninitiated, to a current character. After all, 95% of MCU fans don’t give a shit about the comic books and the various minutiae therein. If they did, comic books would be the dominant medium in entertainment, and comic book companies wouldn’t just be marginally profitable product mines for film companies. So no Captains, no Deadanythings, no X-whatevers. Sorry, Captain Britain fans everywhere. By which I mean anywhere. By which I mean sorry, that one guy over there somewhere.
Secondly, nothing too cosmic or super CGI extravaganzaish: WandaVision may have cost $25M per episode, but let’s assume it’s an outlier and we’ve got significantly less to play with. Added to which, any universe with an upcoming movie subtitled The Multiverse of Madness has its megabudget cosmic woo woo plans already in place. So no Mephisto, Negative Zone, The Wacky Adventures of the Spartax Empire, or so forth.
And lastly, no characters who already exist in-continuity, even if they have a minor role. Again, despite much evidence to the contrary, I’m going to assume that the Fiegebots already have plans in place for some, if not all, of those guys, and all will be revealed eventually (Seriously: they resurrected Zemo after 7 years and approximately 900 movies. Nobody is safe). So, as much as I’d place Hellcat number 1 on my list of adventures-I-want-to-see, Patsy Walker already has a place in the Jessica Jones series, and even if it is a watered-down version, a spin-off is entirely up to powers that already have that decision making power. We’re talking completely untouched, fresh content. Although seriously, Marvel. Hellcat. My phone is waiting.
Of course, I haven’t seen every MCU property in its entirety: I’m sure you’ll let me know in the comments if I screw up because I missed one and put them on my list.
All that said, here are my picks:
Yeah, I know he sorta appears in Agents of SHIELD. Sorta. But let’s be honest, it was a pretty piss poor and anodyne version. I’m talking real Deathlok here: the half-zombie, half-machine weird-ass creepazoid whose template is used to create a series of even grossers zombie-machine hybrids to do the bidding of various evilfolk, trapped in the near future and desperately trying to reassert control over his own body while averting the fates of the people he knew in the past.
Done well, Deathlok is repulsive. So repulsive even the majority of superheroes he encounters are grossed out by him and want to get the team-up over and done with as quickly as possible. His flesh half is dead, and nobody has spent a dime on preservatives or embalming fluid. His machine half is remorseless, inhuman, and Terminator-as-fuck. The fact they’re constantly at war with each other, and yet cease to function if separated, has rich potential. Outsider + evil corporation stuff + creepy horror lite + military industrial complex = etc etc etc… you’ve got some rich pickings to focus on.
Forge is one of my favourite X-Men. He’s one of those characters that gets introduced every now and again: a writer thinks “Hang on, surely not every mutation is a fight-ready weapon. Surely every now and again there’s got to be a soft mutation, one that enables a mutant to do more than just punch someone in a new and colorful way.” They then introduce such a character, and every single writer thereafter utterly fails to work out how to incorporate them successfully. Amirite, Doug Ramsey fans? You know it.
Forge is a Cheyenne man, a shaman with the mutant ability to create mechanical devices. Usually portrayed as an obsessive, and untrusted by other mutants — he often ends up working for the Government or other conservative forces– he’s a normal man with genius abilities in both mechanical and mystical spheres. Constantly caught between two worlds: White and Cheyenne; mutant and human; industrial and mystical; conformity and rebellion; he’s a perfect candidate for storylines that demand trolley problem decisions, and a bridge between the MCU and eventual reintegration of the X-Men.
Fantomex is an artificially evolved human with three brains and a spaceship inside him that he can vomit up at will. There, I said it.
Okay, so obviously there’s more than that. A technological human hybrid — the ‘spaceship’ is a techno-package that enables him to extrude his primary nervous system and do clever things with it — he has a suite of special powers that he used to escape from the psychomilitary scientists who created him: the same Weapon X program that created Wolverine… and that guy who shoots exploding fists from his wrists. Clearly, they don’t come up with a good one every time.
Veering between espionage, high-end crime, and shutting down as many of the Weapon X sites and programs as he can, with a ridiculously cool set of powers, and a lifestyle best suited to a David Niven-Michael Caine Sexy Man Simulator, a Fantomex TV series would be like every cliche you ever saw on Archer, only completely laundered, dressed in fresh duds, and engaged in some furious FFM action.
Is he a man who dreams he is a machine, or a machine who dreams he is a man? Well, Aaron Stack used to be a bit from column A and a bit from column B, and now he’s an android for hire who can successfully navigate the worlds of both, and is sarcastic as hell about it. He hates humans, he’s addicted to beer, his teammates all think he’s a dickhead…… remind you of any particular animated robot you might have heard of?
Machine Man is fun. Lots of fun. He’s an acid-etched antidote to the MCU template that could snark the face off Bree Larson’s Captain Marvel, and as he fucks up as often as not, the ‘continuing adventures of’ could resemble a psychedelic cocktail of Bender, The Greatest American Hero, and Shameless. You can’t tell me you wouldn’t watch that.
Ava Ayala is the younger sister of the murdered Hector Ayala, the original White Tiger, first Puerto Rican superhero in comic book history and Marvel’s first Latino superhero, and if that little slice of diversity isn’t enough to get you wondering why we can fill the screens with Sokovians and Vlaterians and Herpaflerbians androids but never once give ourselves a hero of a duskier complexion from a real, actual place, let’s all hunt up Kevin Fiege’s phone number and ask him together, shall we?
Cast your mind back to the acclaim Luke Cage received for being a production that moved beyond the white superhero template and shone light on African American issues, with a cast and production team and authenticity to boot. Here’s another chance to do something just as authentic, and outside of the template, and there’s a metal-solid narrative thread to boot: the first Puerto Rican superhero is murdered and his younger sister has to take up the mantle, solve his murder, and come to terms with both a legacy and a loss symbolised by the same snow-white suit. Given Puerto Rico’s — shall we say, tentative — relationship with mainland USA, and the success Netflix had with creating an inner city urban landscape for their Marvel titles, this should be a no-brainer for Marvel’s new Disney + slave contract: a chance to rebottle somebody else’s lightning and tell a diverse, inclusive, non-white-centric story into the bargain.