We get it – Superman, Batman, Spiderman and other big-name world savers are awesome. We don’t need another big-budget blockbuster to drill these guys into our culture and box offices more every year. There have been, for example, 5 different incarnations of Superman since he first debuted on the screen in 1948. That’s one every 15 years. Batman receives a similar treatment – since his first appearance on the silver screen in 1966, 9 spinoff franchises have been launched, ranging from animated series to Tim Burton’s controversial interpretation, to Christopher Nolan’s wildly successful Dark Knight, and, coming soon, Zack Snyder’s highly anticipated “Batfleck.”
The Amazing Spiderman shattered reboot records by spinning an entirely different origin story, with an entirely new creative team, just five years after Tobey Maguire catapulted to stardom as Peter Parker.
Rebooting “safe” franchises that have already garnered loyal fanbases has sadly all but replaced the idea of taking a chance on an unknown hero, no matter how cool his or her character or how creative and formidable his or her superpowers are. To be fair, Hollywood has occasionally tried (and failed, miserably) to bring some lesser-known super players to the screen. But they’ve focused on the wrong characters – Daredevil? Talk about a cliché origin story (toxic spill = super powers). The Green Lantern? This one-dimensional character was only one of many reasons critics panned the film adaptation as “comic-movie hell."
What many movie-goers really want is huge action sequences and incredible crime-fighting abilities we’ve never seen before on the big screen rather than another mindless reboot. Pay attention, Hollywood. We dug up the most powerful and entertaining superheroes most people have never heard of who really need their own big-budget Hollywood movies.
5 Big Bertha (Marvel)
Ashley Crawford is just your average supermodel in Milwaukee – who also happens to be a mutant with superhuman crime-fighting abilities.
What’s her power? She’s a mutant who has the ability to shape her body to the ultimate figure – but she can also increase her mass to gargantuan proportions, gaining superhuman strength and even becoming bulletproof in her full form.
Being extraordinarily obese doesn't slow Big Bertha down. Even when she’s the size of a building she’s able to jump incredible heights and distances, and she can even bounce bullets back at her challengers. Her go-to move, however is far less glamorous – she often ends a fight by sitting on her enemies, rendering them immobile with her superhuman bottom.
OK, admittedly her premise is a little silly. But don’t pretend it wouldn’t be awesome to see Big Bertha make a cameo in the next Avengers installation, playing opposite The Hulk on the big screen. Who would play her? Gwyneth Paltrow did a fine job bouncing between slender and stout in Shallow Hal, but we’d like to see Melissa McCarthy inject a much bigger personality into this entertaining superhero.
4 Martian Manhunter (DC Comics)
Despite being one of the core members of the Justice League of America and one of Superman’s closest allies and friends, J’onn J’onzz (otherwise known as The Martian Manhunter) hardly gets any screentime.
The Martian is an extraterrestrial humanoid who was accidentally pulled to Earth by an experimental teleportation beam. As Martian technology has not yet advanced far enough to enable his rescue, he turns to a life of fighting a crime on Earth.
What are his powers? The Martian Manhunter possesses a long list of them – from superhuman speed and strength to advanced telepathy, shape-shifting, x-ray vision, invisibility, flight, controlled energy attacks and more. Basically, he’s Superman from Mars.
Imagine Games Network recently ranked the Martian Manhunter as the 43rd greatest comic book hero of all time and one of the most criminally underrated characters in history. While he’s been featured a few times in animated TV series as an ally of Superman, and he even once made an appearance on Smallville – the Martian has never made it to the big screen.
3 The Sentry (Marvel)
At the beginning of his story, Bob Reynolds suddenly remembers ingesting an experimental super-soldier formula and being transformed into The Sentry – the man with the power of a million exploding suns. You know. No big deal.
Except, Bob doesn’t remember anything about being The Sentry. And despite learning that he’s played a huge part in the stories of some of Hollywood’s favorite superheroes – he helped Hulk learn to control his rage and was best friends with Mr. Fantastic, often teaming up with the Fantastic Four to save the world – no one seems to remember who he is until they do some investigating.
But forget the fact that no one remembers how awesome this guy was; it gets even worse for Bob. In a dramatic twist, Sentry discovers that he and his arch nemesis, The Void, are actually two parts of the same person – an unpleasant side effect of the experimental formula he ingested in the first place.
But wait, what’s more! He discovers that he had once destroyed The Void by using his powers to erase the Sentry from the memories of everyone in the world, including himself, which is why no one remembers who he is. And if he wants to defeat The Void again – well, you know what he has to do.
Come on, Hollywood. It’s an awesome mystery thriller with one of the most powerful superhero origin stories. This is a super-genre blockbuster mash-up waiting to happen.
2 Wasp (Marvel)
Why hasn’t The Wasp been in any of the Avengers movies? She was one of the founding members of the Avengers – and was even the one to give them their name – and a long-time leader of the team. Not to mention that she would have been significantly more entertaining on the big screen than ScarJo’s Black Widow.
Who is she? Janet van Dyne, also known as “The Winsome Wasp,” is a socialite turned vigilante after the death of her father. Using one of her father’s experiments, she gains the power to shrink, grow wings and disseminate “wasp stings” – huge fire blasts of energy. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Wasp can grow to massive sizes, gaining superhuman strength and endurance in the process.
While these super powers are awesome in their own right, the most impressive aspect of Wasp is her intelligence and ability to lead the Avengers. And OK, her sex appeal. Who should play her? We see Rashida Jones stepping up.
1 Dr. Strange (Marvel)
Dr. Stephen Strange is a brilliant neurosurgeon whose hands were injured in a car crash – rendering him unable to perform surgery. Too proud to take a teaching job, he travels the world searching for a cure, and becomes a disciple of the Ancient One, the Earth’s Sorcerer Supreme.
After strengthening his sorcery skills, Dr. Strange takes the Ancient One’s place as defender of the Earth against all magical and mystical threats. Using artifacts such as the Cloak of Levitation he gains the ability to fly, and he also harnesses energy and uses more traditional magicians’ pieces, such as a crystal ball.
OK, so Dr. Strange doesn’t exactly fit in with the current landscape of mutants, super people and shape-shifters. But movie execs would be wise not to discount magic as the basis for a huge summer blockbuster. Anyone remember another magic movie franchise that shattered records and cashed in big for ten years straight? That's right, Dr. Strange could fill the magical void in Hollywood left behind by Harry Potter.