BY Eric Rezsnyak
As of this writing (February 2024), the Marvel Cinematic Universe is in a vulnerable position, and its Avengers film franchise is reportedly undergoing significant retooling behind the scenes following negative reception to many of its Phase 4 projects. But let us not forget: the MCU has given us top-tier entertainment over the past 15 years. And given the extensive catalogue of characters and storylines the Marvel Comics have to explore, we believe there are plenty more great movies (and TV shows) to be made.
So while the Avengers line-up in the MCU remains unknown or in flux at the moment, we thought we would dig through our back issues and put forth our list of comic-book Avengers we would love to see join Earth’s Mightiest Heroes on the big screen. (Or at least get a proper introduction in the MCU broadly.)
Technically, Dane Whitman – the most notable Black Knight to serve as an Avenger – has already been introduced in the MCU. He was played by Kit Harrington as a supporting character in the polarizing Eternals film (which personally I enjoyed, even if it wasn’t perfect). In fact, in the film’s post-credits scene, he reaches for his legendary Ebony Blade, the indestructible but very cursed object that defines the character. Knight has been a comic-book Avenger for decades, and is overdue for his shot on the big screen. Currently the live-action Knight is a victim of circumstance. The pandemic had a significant impact on Marvel’s plans. The Blade movie – in which he was allegedly supposed to appear next (Mahershala Ali was the off-screen voice talking to Dane in Eternals) has been going through development hell, and has yet to even start shooting. And the MCU in general has slowed down production. But I’m hoping we do eventually get Black Knight. He’s an interesting character that brings together fantasy elements and technology, and can even cross over into mystical plotlines. He’s also had multiple significant tenures as an Avenger in the comics. He deserves to be here.
Hercules has also technically been introduced, in a seconds-long cameo by “Ted Lasso” star Brett Goldstein at the end of Thor: Love and Thunder. Marvel is allegedly moving forward with a fifth Thor film, and we hope it picks up the plotline that would have Hercules seeking revenge on the Asgardian after he humiliated Herc’s dad, Zeus, in Thunder. Hercules is THE longest-serving comic Avenger to not be properly introduced in the MCU, having first joined the team way back in the 1960s. A muscle-bound oaf who serves as a great substitute for Thor when Thor is off Thor-ing, Hercules has had several long stints on the Avengers since, and his character has been broadened in recent years to explicitly reference his bisexuality. As of now, there’s no public plans to bring him back in the MCU. We hope Goldstein is hitting them gym because Herc HAS to be built like a brick shithouse, and preferably wearing as little clothing as possible.
This one is tricky. The now-shuttered Marvel Television shingle did a solid job with Bobbi Morse/Mockingbird in “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” with Adrienne Palicki (“Friday Night Lights,” “The Orville”) portraying her as a recurring character, writing her off in favor of a never-picked-up spin-off. It was a fairly comic-faithful interpretation, but “AoS” is only quasi-canon in the MCU, and we haven’t heard from Palicki or the character in a decade. Except in the Disney+ “Hawkeye” series, we learn that Hawkeye’s wife, Laura (Linda Cardellini), was initially a spy who went by the codename Agent 19 – Mockingbird’s designation. Was she ever technically Mockingbird? We may never know.
The MCU has been approaching the Hulk in interesting ways in recent years, not giving the Jade Giant his own movie since 2008’s Incredible Hulk while simultaneously raising his stock thanks to Mark Ruffalo’s great turns in all the Avengers movies, Thor: Ragnarok, and Disney+ series “She-Hulk” (which I loved, sorry haters). A great next step would be the introduction of boy genius Amadeus Cho, who became Hulk’s comic sidekick for many years (and eventually the Totally Awesome Hulk himself), and served on the Mighty Avengers team led by Hank Pym. Cho is a great character, a spunky Gen Z foil for the Science Bros. I’d welcome him in the MCU with or without Gamma radiation.
Like his half-brother Hercules, literal god of war Ares would be a great addition to the MCU, though his Avengers affiliation is comparatively less significant. Ares was an occasional antagonist for the comic Avengers before eventually joining the pro-registration Mighty Avengers team as well as Norman Osborn’s Dark Avengers, before ultimately being killed brutally by The Sentry (a notable omission on this list, because I can’t stand The Sentry). Ares wields a giant ax, lots of muscles, and a bad attitude. But he’s a character I think could work better in live action than he did in comics.
This is a purely personal pick, as I have always loved Tigra. In the comics, Greer Nelson has been an Avenger for more than 40 years, most of them spent on the West Coast chapter of the team. While she has never been an A-player, she’s a fun addition to a team, and she was a featured member of the “Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes” cartoon and ALMOST had her own Marvel Television cartoon that would be a buddy show with her and Dazzler. (Don’t even get me started on how badly I want a Dazzler live-action project.) Important to note, Tigra is not the same as Hellcat, also an Avenger who was quasi-featured in Netflix’s “Jessica Jones,” which is again only debatably MCU canon.
I feel like Jocasta is right there, ripe for the MCU picking, but it would require Marvel to revisit Ultron, and they seem uninterested in doing that outside of “What If?” Jocasta was the Bride of Ultron – one of at least two – who went on to buck the control of her creator/husband and join the Avengers, first as a reserve member and finally as a full-fledged Avenger in Hank Pym’s Mighty Avengers roster. She’s subsequently been used as a supporting character in the Iron Man comics. I think there’s a lot of potential with Jocasta between Ultron, the legacy of Tony Stark, and Vision. While the MCU version of the character lacks the connection to her, the last time we saw Vizh he was flying off to understand himself, and Jocasta would make an interesting companion on his, shall we say, Vision quest.
This one we’ll apparently be getting soon. As of this writing, Marvel is back working on a Disney+ comedy show featuring Simon Williams, a super-powered Hollywood actor and a longtime Avenger in the comics. Yahya-Abdul Mateen II (HBO’s “Watchmen,” Black Manta in the Aquaman movies) is set to play Williams, with Ben Kingsley reprising his role as Trevor Slattery (the fake Mandarin) and Ed Harris and Josh Gad rounding out the cast of this comedy series. It’s an interesting approach. Wondy had a solo comic series in the 90s that this show will likely pull from, and they’re pretty clearly going to need to rework his origin, jettisoning the Avengers/Ultron stuff. It’ll be great to have Wonder Man introduced, as he’s had lengthy runs as an Avenger, especially on the West Coast wing of the team. He has also spent multiple lengthy runs dead, so there’s that.
Ghost Rider has already had two movies AND appeared on “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” but neither of the Nicholas Cage flicks are part of the MCU, and “AoS” is only kind of considered canon. Ghost Rider became a critically important Avenger during Jason Aaron’s recently concluded run on the comic, and would bring an interesting vibe to the cinematic team. Tragic backstory, outrageously powerful, heavily mystical but also very cool boy toys – he needs a reintroduction to the MCU sooner rather than later. The question is where/when. Marvel seemed to be building up its horror corner with Blade and “Werewolf by Night,” but again, those plans have reportedly been scaled down. Ghost Rider could work on either Midnight Suns OR the Avengers in a kind of mystical Hulk-esque role. I mean, he LITERALLY avenges dead people. Duh.
The Inhuman princess was seen in live action in Marvel Television’s disastrous 2017 “Inhumans” series, played by Isabelle Cornish. But given Black Bolt’s appearance in Multiverse of Madness, I’m hoping Marvel hasn’t completely written off those characters – there’s so much more you can do with them, especially Crystal. Crystal has the distinction of being not only a long-time Avenger – she was a main character in the comic team for a most of the 1990s – but she also served as a member of the Fantastic Four AND was a major player in multiple Inhumans books. Her elemental powers make her the Marvel equivalent of an avatar, and her complicated personality makes her anything but two-dimensional. I would love to see Crystal reintroduced, or even INTRODUCED, in the MCU, and would especially like to see her “Dynasty”-esque comic rivalry with Eternal Sersi brought to TV or movie screens.
This one’s an obvious inclusion, especially now that Marvel’s space arm seems to be up for grabs with the conclusion of James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy saga. Quasar has been around in the comics since the 1980s, and he served as an Avenger for a decent run in the 1990s, especially around “Operation: Galactic Storm.” Broadly Marvel’s analogue to Green Lantern (although you could say the same for the Nova Corps), Quasar is cosmically powerful thanks to his Quantum Bands and, sometimes, Cosmic Awareness. Marvel is allegedly getting ready to launch a Nova project starring Richard Rider and, maybe, Sam Alexander, and that feels like a great opportunity to introduce Quasar, specifically the Wendell Vaughan version. (As much as I like Phylla-Vell, that character is WAY too complicated for live action.)
HEAR ME OUT. Doctor Druid is widely regarded as one of the very worst Avengers, a balding middle-aged man with low-level mystical and mental abilities. He joined the team in the mid-1980s and was a jerk from the start, becoming a flat-out threat over time once he was seduced into betraying the team by Terminatrix. BUT! There is meat in that story that would make for a terrific movie or TV series. A smug asshole who ingratiates himself to the Avengers, being able to do things that literally almost nobody else in the team could do, who eventually tries to wrest control and eventually psychically manipulates them one by one? Juicy! I think he’s a unique character. Also, I’m reading the Stern run of Avengers on Marvel Unlimited right now, and I have to correct the misconception that Druid was some pot-bellied loser. Druid is a thicc king in that book! There are shots of him in a swimsuit that put Daniel Craig’s James Bond to shame. Justice for Doctor Druid!
Which Spider-Woman? All of them, honestly. Two Spider-Women have served in the comic-book Avengers, Julia Carpenter on the West Coast Avengers in the 90s, and Jessica Drew in the 2000s New Avengers, who has gone on since to be a significant member of the team. Both would be great MCU additions. Julia is getting introduced on the big screen this month as Sydney Sweeney plays her in Sony’s Madame Web, but it’s unclear how much of that will be Marvel canon. Jessica appeared in Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, but in a very different iteration, a pregnant motorcycle-driving hero voiced by Issa Rae. I would like to see a more comic-accurate Jessica Drew in the MCU. When Jessica was introduced in the 70s comics, she was largely unconnected to Peter Parker and that franchise. She was a spy who was empowered via a complicated origin involving the High Evolutionary and Mount Wundagore, all of which I would be happy to see scrapped for the big screen. The important element to the character is that she’s a spy and you genuinely never really know whose team she’s on. That was played to great effect in the original comic “Secret Invasion” arc, not the dreadful Disney+ series of the same name, which many thought might ultimately introduce her. But we’re still waiting for a live-action Jessica.
Which comic-book Avengers would you like to see on the big screen? Drop them in the comments.