Let's all take a moment and give a big round of applause for Marvel Studios. Everything they touch turns to gold, they have movies lined up for the next four years that all have people salivating and their Netflix shows are pretty damn incredible too. But, I realized something in the midst of all this Marvel-mania; Kevin Feige and the rest of Marvel Studios have been pulling this off playing without a full deck.
Sure, I'd hardly call it a handicap to have Captain America, Iron Man and the Incredible Hulk on your roster, but it's still mighty impressive that Marvel has raked in so much money without their biggest guns like Spider-Man (up until the past year anyway), X-Men and the Fantastic Four.
Nonetheless, the more we progress through the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) the more Marvel is going to need fresh faces in order to keep audiences hooked and continuing to throw down their cash. Unfortunately for them, some of the characters associated with those three entities I mentioned above are locked away because of old contracts. While we can't literally stage a jailbreak and rescue these characters, we can do the next best thing and rank the top 15 characters Marvel Studios needs to get back.
These entries will be primarily ranked on storytelling potential that they could bring to the MCU and also the fan demand for said characters. Also, while it isn't known for sure that some of these characters are owned by other studios, a general rule of thumb we're going by is if the character originated in a series owned by a studio not named Marvel Studios, we'll assume that their rights are tied up elsewhere.
15 The Thing
While Wolverine may be known as the grumpiest character in the Marvel Universe, Benjamin Grimm a.k.a The Thing could give him a run for his money in that argument.
Making his comic debut back in 1961 alongside the rest of his Fantastic Four team-mates, The Thing is the physical powerhouse of the group who can take a tremendous amount of abuse thanks to his rock-hard skin.
While Grimm tries to play the tough guy card, deep down on the inside he is known for being a softy toward the people he cares about most, notably his longtime girlfriend Alicia Masters and eternal pain in his ass the Human Torch. He might hide it under his literal and metaphorical tough exterior, but The Thing actually has one of the biggest hearts in the Marvel Universe. The movies would surely benefit from the presence of this scaly rock monster.
14 Molecule Man
Likely one of the most powerful men in Marvel Comics, Owen Reece a.k.a Molecule Man's powers are quite simple to explain. He literally controls inorganic matter. Depending on the time period of Marvel we're talking about, he's also been able to control energy and organic matter, but even with those limits placed on his power, he is still one of the most powerful beings in the Marvel Universe.
His own insecurities, self-loathing and fear have been his main stumbling blocks over his history though, as those character flaws have prevented him from using his powers to their full potential. It's likely that the Marvel films would have to tone down his powers (we don't want the movies to last 10 seconds now do we?) but a man with Reece's powers would make a hell of a villain for the whole of the MCU to battle.
He may have started out as a Fantastic Four villain, but Molecule Man could take on any superhero team in existence and likely crush them all.
13 Kang The Conqueror
Another Fantastic Four villain that casual fans will have probably never heard of, Kang The Conqueror is a time traveler from the 40th century who uses the future's advanced technology to travel back through time in order to rule over civilizations. Intrigued yet?
While he technically has no super powers of his own, Kang's advanced technology allows him to accomplish feats like creating force fields and fire energy blasts, and of course he has a mastery over the time stream.
If Kang The Conqueror were to find his way back into the timeline of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, we could have any number of possibilities with Kang popping in various time periods and having heroes chase after him throughout time. Hell, I think I just pitched an idea for another Netflix series, where's my millions of dollars, Marvel?
While Rogue has been prominently featured in Fox's X-Men franchise, their version of the character doesn't resemble the original version of Anna Marie. While Rogue in the comics started as a fiery villain who eventually turned to the X-Men, the movies showed her as shy and timid.
Some leeway should be given to film studios when it comes to Rogue though. Since she absorbs the powers, memories and personalities of whoever she touches, her original character can be radically different depending on what period of X-Men comics you read. Her most popular character variation though would have to be the 1990s X-Men cartoon version, southern accent and all.
If Rogue were to be reborn in the MCU, I have a good feeling that she could be properly portrayed as the confident, ultra-flirtatious and powerful mutant we all know she should be. While other Marvel heroines like Scarlet Witch and Black Widow tend to stay serious most of the time, a character like Rogue could be the more playful and fun heroine of the MCU.
Galactus, a.k.a that giant alien being who devours the life force of planets in order to sustain himself. Seriously. For those who haven't purged the memories of Fantastic Four: Rise Of The Silver Surfer out of their minds, they may remember that "Galactus" made an appearance in that film as a freaking cloud. That will simply not do if Marvel were to get their world-eating giant back.
One of the Fantastic Four's oldest and most powerful foes, Galactus was created by the legendary Jack Kirby back in 1966. Galactus is so menacing to whatever world is in his sight that only the Ultimate Nullifier (a weapon which destroys any target - comics are ridiculous) puts fear in him.
While it would undoubtedly be difficult to pull off in a live action movie, Galactus could be a great villain for the MCU to band together and take down. Even better, they could not show Galactus until the last 10 minutes of the movie and just have the fear of his legend be all we know about him. Just don't make him a cloud.
10 Invisible Woman
If we were to go by their natural power sets, Susan Storm is undoubtedly the strongest member of the Fantastic Four and would absolutely make a great addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
With her ability to turn invisible and to create some seriously overpowered force fields, Invisible Woman could take out her Fantastic Four team-mates if she had to. More importantly than having another superhero in the MCU though, Invisible Woman would be a good addition because she would be Marvel Studios' the first super mom. Franklin Richards, the son of Sue Storm and Reed Richards, is one of the most powerful beings in Marvel history, and I think it would be interesting to see how those two raise an impossibly powerful child while balancing their superhero duties.
I mean, I have no idea how I would do it, but that's why I don't have superpowers. Yup, that reason and that reason alone is why I don't have superpowers.
*While Marvel Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada said on Kevin Smith's Fat Man on Batman that Marvel Studios does have the rights to Namor, I personally think that he didn't sound too sure of himself so Namor is going on there.
Holding the distinction as being the first character ever created by Marvel Comics, Namor opened the floodgates for Marvel to establish itself as one of the top comic book companies on the planet. And despite that, Namor's film rights are tangled up between Universal Studios and Marvel.
While casual onlookers may dismiss Namor as just another Aquaman, Namor's character is significantly different than Aquaman's. While he has fought for the common good of the planet, he is prone to waging war on the surface dwellers who pose a threat to his underwater world and making alliances with villains of the Marvel Universe.
If Namor were to make an appearance in the MCU, Marvel could explore the possibilities of having a amazingly powerful sea king with a morally grey personality. I'm sure it would be worth it, and probably a hell of a lot more interesting than any Aquaman movie.
8 Human Torch
In a superhero universe filled with sarcastic, arrogant and humourous heroes, there is one character who is quite literally the biggest hot head of them all. I'm of course speaking of Johnny Storm, a.k.a Human Torch of the Fantastic Four.
An original member of the Fantastic Four, Storm revels in the adventure and spotlight that comes from being in the public eye as a superhero. His carefree nature and quick wit plays perfectly off of partner Thing's gruff exterior.
One of his best friends though isn't a Fantastic Four member but Spider-Man. With Spider-Man: Homecoming starting off a new Spider-Man series, I think it would a good opportunity to tie a young Johnny Storm into Peter Parker's high school circle. It wouldn't be accurate to the comics, sure, but the MCU has shown plenty of times that they're set on making their own mythology and not worrying too much about the preciseness of the source material.
If one were to construct a Mount Rushmore of X-Men members, Ororo Munroe's face would certainly have to be placed on that mountain.
Making her debut all the way back in 1975's Giant Size X-Men #1, Storm is one of the X-Men's most loyal members and one of their most powerful as well. Her power to control weather systems and tap into the elements have kept her on the higher tier of heroes in the Marvel Universe.
There is an certain aspect of her character that could make for a very interesting story in the MCU though. Back in the mid 2000s, Storm became married to a certain Wakandan king who recently debuted in Captain America: Civil War. Though they're not married anymore, I think it would be pretty fun to see a Storm and T'Challa romance on the big screen. It would give us another look at the character that we haven't seen from Fox's X-Men movies.
6 Professor Xavier
Making an appearance in all of the X-Men group movies, Professor Charles Xavier literally has one of the most powerful minds in the Marvel Universe with his telepathic abilities being able to essentially do anything he wants to our minds. Thank Odin he's on our side.
While Xavier is known to most people as the leader of the X-Men, Xavier's contributions to the Marvel Universe have extending reach far beyond the merry band of mutants. Xavier is one of the founding members of the Illuminati, a group of characters in Marvel which all gather together to discuss how to deal with the various crises that arise in their world. As the face of the mutant community, Xavier has one of the biggest roles to play in the shady underground group.
If placed into the MCU, audiences can get a different look on how they view Xavier. Perhaps a light can be shed on a little more of Xavier's morally grey deeds rather just keeping him on as the X-Men's bald-headed and wheel chair bound leader.
5 Silver Surfer
One of Jack Kirby's most visually striking creations, many newbies to Marvel may not have even heard of the Silver Surfer, but they certainly should know of the Sentinel of the Spaceways.
Endowed with amazing abilities granted courtesy of the Power Cosmic, the Surfer's power knows nearly no limit as he has practically any power that one can imagine. To put it simply, imagine Superman with silver skin and a surfboard. While it is most likely that the Surfer wouldn't be as powerful in the movies as in the comics, he would still be one of the most dominant forces in the MCU if he were to reside in it.
While he was featured in one of those Fantastic Four films best left forgotten, the Surfer can definitely be re-invented for the MCU. Imagine the Surfer joining up with the Guardians of the Galaxy to travel along the stars, toppling space tyrants and having a good time. Whatever they do with him, a silver being riding a surf board through space is something that should fill your soul with joy.
4 Mr. Fantastic (Reed Richards)
There's average intelligence characters, there's genius level characters, and then there's the Reed Richards level genius.
Arguably the smartest character in comic book history, Mr. Fantastic's powers might be pretty cool, but its his ridiculous scientific ability that makes him one of the most dangerous men in the Marvel Universe. In a way Richards is like Batman; given enough prep time, he could dismantle nearly any foe.
Richards has proven numerous times that he can take on beings of galactic might with his unparalleled ingenuity and technological prowess, but he's a workaholic, spending way too much time on science rather than his wife. His personal life may take hits because of his work, but there's nobody else the Earth would want on their side in a cosmic war than Mr. Fantastic.
Seemingly out of nowhere, Deadpool has become one of Marvel's most popular characters in the past decade. His fourth wall-breaking insanity, twisted sense of humour and power set have him a fan favourite. But what if Deadpool were able to interact with whole Marvel Cinematic Universe?
While Deadpool was funny enough on his own with a couple of minor cameos in his first movie, how great would Wade Wilson be if he could play off of Robert Downey Jr.'s Iron Man or Chris Evans' Captain America (I smell a Human Torch joke in there somewhere)? He most likely would act as a supporting cast member, but I honestly think that Deadpool is best suited like that. I predict he would wear out his welcome if left to his own devices for too long.
Just for comedy value and the fact that he could interact with anybody in the Marvel universe, the fans need their Deadpool in the MCU.
Yes, he has been in several X-Men movies and has had quite a few solo films of his own, but the mutant known as James Howlett is one of the Marvel Universe's most popular characters and deserves to be alongside the icons of Marvel.
A near eternal presence in the Marvel universe, Wolverine is probably the most written about character in Marvel's history as his entire life has been chronicled through countless comic series, so there is plenty of Logan's life that can be shown in more films.
There is an even bigger reason why it makes so much sense for Wolverine to make his MCU debut in the next few years though. With Fox's version of the character rumoured to die in his third solo outing in 2017, I don't see a better time than now for the character to finally be recast and plopped into the MCU after Infinity War.
1 Doctor Doom
Out of all the sins Fox has committed with their various Marvel movies and depending on who you ask there's quite a bit of them, none is worse than the bastardization of Victor Von Doom... twice.
Known as one of the most powerful and badass villains in comic book history, Dr.Doom has everything you could possibly want in a villain. He's a brilliant scientist, he is an extremely powerful sorcerer and has an ego that would make Tony Stark blush. Don't forget that Dr. Doom is also the dictator of the fictional country Latveria, if you needed another reason to fear now you have one; diplomatic immunity.
While he is technically a Fantastic Four villain, Doom's power is so vast that he has conquered the Marvel multiverse in a recent comic series, making him a threat to everyone in the MCU.
If Marvel Studios are thinking of a big bad guy for their next series of movies after Infinity War, there is no better option than DOOM.