The Avengers: Age of Ultron grossed more than $191 million in its recent opening weekend, second only to the first Avengers movie in 2012. It is a great time to be a superhero, with everyone from Ant-Man to Green Arrow and The Flash getting movie adaptations or TV series. Netflix recently jumped into the fray as well, with a version of Marvel’s Daredevil. Superhero comics, in a slump a decade ago, are now more popular than ever, as fans flock to conventions nationwide and filmmakers dig ever deeper into the superhero pantheon for material. Of the thousands of heroes and heroines out there, here are some of the films fans most want to see made. Some are already in the works, while others have long been the subject of rumors.
10. Wonder Woman
The Amazing Amazon is a longtime fan favorite, and she even had her own television series starring Lynda Carter in the 1970s. Yet Wonder Woman has been conspicuously MIA in the film genre during the explosion of superhero flicks in recent years. Fans will get to see plenty of this heroine in the next few years. Israeli model-actress Gal Gadot will make a cameo appearance as Wonder Woman in the 2016 Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice film, then will get her own standalone Wonder Woman flick in 2017. It’s hard to believe, but that will be the first superhero movie with a female lead since 2005’s Electra. Gadot is also scheduled for appearances in Justice League films due out in 2017 and 2019.
In Age of Ultron, Marvel actually seems to be giving the sharp-shooting Hawkeye his own storyline, complete with a backstory and a love interest. But are audiences ready for a character that many feel is a “deep-bench superhero” to star in his own film? (As Sheldon Cooper once said on The Big Bang Theory, “No one ever says, ‘Help me, Hawkeye…’”) A quick Internet search reveals rumors of Hawkeye scripts that have been stuck in development hell for years. Hawkeye actor Jeremy Renner noted in a recent interview that, “There are always talks about things … but that doesn’t ever mean they’ll become reality.”
Part of the DC Batman universe of characters, Batgirl also makes many fan lists for movies they would like to see made. Alicia Silverstone did play Batgirl in the 1997 pre-reboot movie Batman & Robin. It’s worth noting there is a fan-created short film, released in 2015, entitled Batgirl Rises.
7. The Hulk
The Hulk became one of Marvel’s first breakout characters in the 1960s, and stands as a modern Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde character that would become the prototype for Stan Lee’s “heroes with problems” winning formula. The Hulk had a memorable TV series starring Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno in the 1970s, but 2003 and 2008 Hulk films failed to make a splash. The Hulk got a reboot with The Avengers, starring Mark Ruffalo as David Banner, but it is surprising he hasn’t gotten another solo movie, given the character’s popularity. Oddly enough, Ruffalo recently told Collider.com the reason that hasn’t happened is because Universal, not Marvel, owns the rights to a standalone Hulk film (the same curious situation blocked a Spider-Man cameo in Ultron). If Marvel and Universal were to work out a Hulk film deal, it would be 2020 at the earliest before it came out.
6. Legion of Superheroes
An underground hit, there has actually been serious talk in early 2015 by Warner Bros. of the Legion of Superheroes finally making it to the big screen. The LSH exist in the DC universe on 30th century Earth, where they travel back in time to recruit 20th century Superboy to fight cosmic supervillains in the future. The Legion got a minor cameo on the Smallville TV series, as well as a brief, two-season cartoon series. The success of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy in 2014 may have proven that lesser-known comic book franchises can still have viability at the box office.
5. Captain Marvel
The Carol Danvers incarnation of Miss Marvel who assumed the mantle of Captain Marvel turns up on many fan’s wish lists. Like Spider-Man, Captain Marvel didn’t quite make the cut for a cameo in the second Avengers movie. But good news for Captain Marvel fans — Marvel has announced that a Captain Marvel movie is in the works for 2018. The lead has yet to be announced, but Canadian actress Katheryn Winnick has lobbied for the role (and shared the above fan art on Instagram). Winnick would be perfect for fight scenes — she holds advanced black belts in karate and Tae Kwon Do and is a licensed bodyguard
4. Justice League of America
DC Comics has been trying to fast track a Justice League of America movie for years, and the payoff is near. DC is launching a preface to the JLA with the Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice flick next year. That will be followed by the Justice League Part One, scheduled for release in 2017; a second JLA movie has been announced for 2019. The JLA is DC’s counterpart to The Avengers, and although the new Superman and Batman franchises are popular, DC has lagged behind Marvel in developing other characters into stars. The Green Lantern (2011) bombed with fans and critics, and it’s unclear if JLA member Green Arrow will ever reprise his role from the CW television series on the big screen. However, the studio and fans alike have high hopes for The Flash, starring Ezra Miller and set for release in March 2018.
3. A Mystery Men Sequel
Now a 1999 cult classic … if fans ran the world, a sequel for this quirky movie starring Janeane Garofalo and Ben Stiller would be a done deal. Smart and sophisticated, Mystery Men poked fun at the whole superhero trope in a way not seen since the campy 1960s Batman TV show. Mystery Men also featured a fully fleshed out dark fantasy world in a similar vein to Tim Burton’s vision of Gotham City in the first two Batman movies. Unfortunately, like many films of the 1980s and ’90s, the technology and film production quality just hadn’t caught up with the ideas yet.
2. A Dr. Horrible Sequel
In 2008, Avengers director Joss Whedon released a 42-minute Internet superhero musical, Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. Starring Nathan Fillion, Neil Patrick Harris and Felicia Day, this cult classic can now be seen reenacted in the tradition of The Rocky Horror Picture Show at many fan conventions. Word is Whedon will give this musical web series a big-screen treatment now that he’s finished with the Avengers, although the director has thus far only hinted at the possibility of a sequel.
1. Black Widow
Although fans love her, Black Widow conspicuously lacks her own franchise, and many have accused Disney and Marvel of sexism for ignoring female characters. While the Natasha Romanov-turned femme fatale super heroine has made appearances in recent Iron Man, Thor and Captain America movies as well as The Avengers, fans want more. They’ve organized social media campaigns calling for a Black Widow movie starring Scarlett Johansson, and many ripped the character’s perceived role as a mere love interest in Ultron. At least four of Johansson’s co-stars in The Avengers franchise have said she deserves her own film. Given the popular support, it seems inconceivable Black Widow won’t eventually get her own film. On a strange note, some have suggested that Johansson’s role in the 2014 film Lucy actually makes more sense if viewed as the Black Widow origin story.
One More: Aquaman
The King of Atlantis has often been the butt of jokes putting him on the lame end of the superhero spectrum. That may be about to change. Jason Momoa, best known for his imposing role as Khal Drogo on HBO’s Game of Thrones, will appear as Aquaman in the upcoming Justice League films in 2016 and 2017. Then, he gets a standalone Aquaman flick in 2018, presumably exploring the character’s origins.
Many movie industry observers credit superhero franchises such as Ironman, Batman and The Avengers with saving Hollywood; six of the top 10 biggest opening weekend box office hits of all time are superhero flicks released since 2007. Will fans and moviegoers ever tire of this genre? One troubling trend in the film industry is the recent increase of sequels, reboots and adaptations over original releases. Certainly, it’s called show “business” for a reason, and studios will go with proven moneymakers. But could something truly original break through today, the way Star Wars did in 1977?