Like many hardcore comic book fans, my friends and I spent the weekend talking at length about everything "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" got right. Cap has been my favorite superhero as long as I can remember and not only was I blown away by the movie itself but also by the courage Marvel demonstrated in being willing to upset so much of their cinematic status quo with what is essentially a political thriller unlike anything we've seen in a superhero film to date. Fans and critics mostly seem to agree that Feige's experiment with different sub-genres within the world of superheroes is paying off artistically and commercially, a trend that will hopefully continue with this summer's "Guardians of the Galaxy".
My friends and I got around to talking about what Kevin Feige has achieved in such a short period of time with the Marvel Cinematic Universe and what moves he might make in the future to keep these movies fresh and engaging. The topic turned into a drunken game that I thought would be fun to share with other Marvel fanatics online. For the sake of keeping this game interesting we can only choose from projects and story lines that have not been announced or heavily rumored about thus far. We can reasonably expect Black Panther, the Inhumans, or Doctor Strange to be announced at some point in the future, so hands off. The goal of this exercise is to find characters or story lines that break new ground for the Marvel Universe, not to anticipate obvious sequels to successful franchises (unless you can think of some brilliant new direction for an existing character).
For me personally, I would like to see Marvel tackle Jim Starlin's epic run on the character of "Warlock" from the 1970s.
As a kid in the 1980s I first came across some special editions published by Marvel that collected Starlin's entire run on the character from 1975-1977, a run that is now collected in a great hardcover volume of Marvel Masterworks. This was my first exposure to cosmic space opera in the world of comics and I was absolutely mesmerized, particularly by the grand finale that saw Spider-Man, the Thing, Captain Marvel & the Avengers teaming up with Warlock to save Earth from total destruction at the hands of Thanos. A lot of readers remember Warlock from "The Infinity Gauntlet" (1991) and from the 2008 run of "Guardians of the Galaxy" but in my opinion all of these stories fall short of what Starlin accomplished decades ago with this hallucinatory and often emotionally overwrought saga.
The story of Adam Warlock is uneven and ends abruptly, but the high-water marks of the tale are unforgettable and overflowing with cool ideas. The opening arc of this collection sees Warlock going to war with the Universal Church of Truth, a galaxy-spanning cult of religious fanatics that worships the Magus, a dark deity that turns out to be none other than a twisted version of Adam Warlock from the future, now hopelessly insane, immensely powerful, and rocking a huge white afro (I'm still trying to figure that one out). Just this plot twist alone about made my 8-year-old head explode. To fight the Magus, Warlock joins forces with Gamora (soon to debut this summer in "Guardians of the Galaxy"), a troll named Pip (basically Tyrion Lannister) and a total badass we recognize from the closing credits of "the Avengers", Thanos. I don't want to give too much away to those who have not had the pleasure of reading this story, but I love scenarios where villains and heroes are forced to form a temporary alliance for a common goal, in this case, stop the Magus and prevent the future where Warlock becomes the Magus from ever taking place. After many twists and turns the story climaxes in my all-time favorite Avengers story that I referred to above, one that takes place in "The Avengers: Annual" #7 (1977) and "Marvel Two-In-One: Annual" #2 (1977).
If adapted, this tale would be an excellent bridge across several existing Marvel franchises, introduce an excellent new protagonist, and possibly even entice Fox and Sony to form a temporary partnership with Marvel so that Spidey and the Thing don't get left out of the fun. Obviously this is unlikely from a legal standpoint but the goal of this game is suggesting cool stories, not correcting the mistakes Marvel made in the 90s licensing out some of its best characters to greedy studios.
So give me a shout and let me know what stories and characters you think would bring something new to the Marvel Universe. Kevin Feige clearly doesn't need any help from us to run his studio but there's no harm in getting our thoughts out there about stories we'd like to see in the future. For now, make mine Marvel.