It’s no secret the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is the largest, most successful cinematic universe the film world has ever seen.
At 20 movies and counting, most of which have been critically and commercially successful, this particular universe keeps growing and getting stronger because cinematic hasn’t stopped Marvel from expanding their universe to other mediums.
The most notable is their decision to produce series for some of their darker, more mature heroes on Netflix.
Marvel has already produced a series for five of their more mature heroes: Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist, Luke Cage and The Punisher. Each of these characters (except Punisher) have already had two seasons and most either expect or have a third season for each character coming. In addition to their standalone series, Marvel has found a way to maintain its ensemble formula in their Netflix corner of the MCU by establishing and giving a mini-series to their other superhero team: The Defenders. In total, Marvel has produced 10 seasons worth of viewing material in their MCU-Netflix universe (soon to be 11 with the release of Daredevil Season 3 later this year).
Producing these darker, more mature themed characters for Netflix allows Marvel more creative freedom and fewer restraints on the content they choose to include in these shows. Graphic violence, intense action, darker themes, the occasional sex scene (cough, Jessica Jones, cough, Luke Cage, cough) and some explicit language that you’d never hear in an MCU film, all combine to differentiate themselves from the main franchise.
There are certain characters that just don’t fit the MCU mold, but are so popular among comic fans that Marvel had to find a way to establish them in their universe. That’s what you’re seeing from the Marvel-Netflix deal — characters that would be out of place in the main MCU storyline, but are still popular enough to deserve their time in the spotlight.
These characters and their stories can be portrayed on a much smaller scale where the conflicts and consequences are more contained and not as far reaching as say the Avengers. So, are Daredevil and friends the only Marvel characters deserve the Marvel-Netflix treatment? The answer to that is, ABOSULTELY NOT. So, hot on the heels of Marvel’s latest venture in their Netflix universe with Iron Fist season 2, lets’ take a look at five more smaller scale Marvel characters that would work perfectly in Marvel’s Netflix corner of the MCU.
White Tiger (Angela del Toro)
WHO IS SHE: Angela del Toro is a character who has potential to be a huge hit for Marvel’s Netflix universe, as well as one that would be easy to set up. A lesser known character like del Toro would require an introduction in one of the already established series. Lucky for Marvel, del Toro has crossed paths Daredevil numerous times in the comics, and the source of her powers have a direct connection to K’un-L’un (Iron Fist).
In the comics, the source of her power comes from the Jade Tiger, a long-lost enchanted statue from K’un-L’un. The statue was broken into separate pieces (or amulets) and dispersed throughout the world to ensure the statue could not be reconstructed and used for evil. A few pieces of the statue ended up surfacing in America where they were discovered by del Toro’s uncle, Hector Ayala, who wore them and became the first White Tiger. Hector was framed for murder and despite his lawyer’s best efforts, was convicted. Who was Hector’s lawyer you ask? Why it was none other than Matt Murdock/Daredevil.
Hector was then shot and killed trying to escape prison. Angela, a federal agent at the time, was involved in an ongoing FBI investigation related to Murdock (under suspicion of being Daredevil). She was given Ayala’s amulets as a result of his death. Discovering Murdock really was Daredevil, she sought his advice on what she should do with the amulets. Murdock, as Daredevil, put del Toro through a series of trials that required her to use the amulets and fight crime. After saving a shopkeeper from some burglars, del Toro was so touched by the gratitude show to her from the shopkeeper, that she quit her job with the FBI stating that she had found a new calling.
WHAT ARE HER POWERS AND ABILITIES: While wearing the amulets, del Toro is granted superhuman strength, speed, stamina, agility and endurance. The amulets also refine del Toro’s fighting skills by enhancing her martial arts prowess. The ability del Toro gains from the amulets that stands out the most is a chameleon-like ability to blend in with her surroundings. Using the amulets, she can camouflage herself to remain out of sight. However, this ability only works while del Toro is in costume as they cannot affect her normal clothing.
WHY IT WOULD WORK: The inclusion of White Tiger would allow Marvel to keep expanding their universe and would also give them yet another female-led superhero series. White Tiger’s backstory is tailor made for the Marvel-Netflix treatment and as already mentioned, her comic history (along with the history of the source of her powers) has already laid out a clear path for Angela to be established in this universe.
WHO IS HE: This is an obvious one, and one we have already discussed in the Matrix. Fans have been clamoring for a Moon Knight standalone series for years, and for good reason. Marc Spector, a Jewish-American born in Chicago and the son of a rabbi, had been a heavyweight boxer before up and joining the marines. Afterward, he decided to leave the military to become a mercenary.
While working as mercenary in Egypt, Spector stumbles upon an archaeological dig site. The dig had uncovered an ancient temple whose artifacts included a statue of the Egyptian Moon God, Khonshu. Attacked, defeated, and left for dead by other mercenaries that wanted to loot the artifacts for themselves, Spector found himself being carried to a temple of worship by Egyptians who still worship the ancient gods. As they placed Spector in front of a statue of Khonshu, Spector’s heart stops and Khonshu appears to him in a vision offering him a second chance at life, if and only if, Spector agrees to become the Moon God’s avatar on Earth.
Spector awakens, wraps himself in the silver shroud that once covered Khonshu’s statue, and departs for America. Intent on distancing himself from his past life as a mercenary, Spector creates the identity of Steven Grant, a millionaire entrepreneur, by investing the money he had accumulated over his years as a mercenary. Still wanting to maintain an ear to the ground on the street level, Spector also creates the identity of Jake Lockley, a taxicab driver.
The criminal organization, known as the Committee, are the ones to dub Spector as Moon Knight and even supplied him with his weapons and costume. Still acting as a mercenary, Spector works for the Committee, hunting down targets (mostly of the supernatural kind) and receiving rewards for missions completed. However, he eventually finds himself in opposition of the Committee and becomes a mercenary of good, protecting his city from threats.
WHAT ARE HIS POWERS AND ABILITIES: Spector is proficient is multiple types of fighting styles, including: Boxing, Kung Fu, Judo, and Muay Thai (just to name a few). He is considered an “Olympic-level” athlete and skilled acrobat and gymnast. He is also considered a master strategist (getting any Batman vibes yet?). Spector gained his superhuman powers because of his pack with the Moon God to become the God’s avatar on earth.
Moon Knight’s strength, endurance, and reflexes are enhanced depending on the phases of the moon. The fuller the moon, the more strength Moon Knight draws from it. Moon Knight also has three separate alter ego’s (mentioned above) which have caused him to develop dissociative identity disorder (like Typhoid Mary in Iron Fist Season 2). Each alter can take control of Spector at any given moment, but he has shown some sense of control of switching between the alters dependent on the situation.
WHY IT WOULD WORK: A Moon Knight series could be very intriguing. Sure, vigilante takes on crime syndicate is something that has been done countless times, but the mystical aspect of how Spector derives his powers would add a new, refreshing element to Marvel’s Netflix universe. Think of this series having the potential to be a little bit of Batman mixed with the Punisher and throw in a dash of Ancient Egyptian mythology….sounds like a winner!
WHO IS HE: While it’s hard to imagine anybody other than the great Wesley Snipes in this role, fans have been very vocal of wanting to see new version of Blade brought into the MCU whether that be through a new film franchise or his very own standalone Netflix series. Given that the Netflix series allow writers and showrunners to explore darker themes and face fewer restrictions on their content, Blade would hands down work best as part of Marvel’s Netflix corner.
Born Eric Brooks, Blade was born in a brothel in the Soho neighborhood of London, England in 1929. His mother, a prostitute, experienced severe labor complications in which a doctor was summoned to assist. That doctor turned out to be Deacon Frost, a vampire that feasted on her during child birth. This, however, inadvertently passed along certain vampiric enzymes from Frost’s blood to Eric.
At age 9, Eric helped an old man that was being attacked by vampires. This old man was Jamal Afari, a jazz musician and vampire hunter, who then moved in with Eric and trained him in combat. Blade later joined a street gang called the Bloodshadows, in which a cocky Eric dispatched of the gang’s leader to take control. The gang hunted vampires, demons, and warlocks for months with ease in the streets of London, until they ran across a vampire more powerful than they had ever faced before. After barely defeating this vampire and taking heavy casualties, Eric was finally humbled and dedicated himself fully to the complete extermination of the supernatural.
WHAT ARE HIS POWERS AND ABILITIES: As mentioned above, the enzymes were passed on to Blade while feeding on his mother during childbirth. They did not turn Blade into a full vampire, but rather gave him certain vampiric abilities. Blade is immune to the bites of typical vampires. The enzymes also gave him superhuman strength, stamina, speed, and agility. They also enhanced his senses to the point where he can sense supernatural creatures. Blade’s lifespan was prolonged as well, the rate at which he ages slowed down considerably.
Similar to Wolverine, Blade also possesses an enhanced and rapid healing factor, making near impossible to significantly cripple him in a fight. Being that only some of the enzymes were passed on to Blade, he is not a full vampire and therefore is unaffected by daylight unlike typical vampires. In addition to his superhuman/vampiric abilities, Blade is also a master of the martial arts, proficient in numerous fighting styles such as: Boxing, Capoeira, Jujutsu, and Karate. He is also an expert swordsman and marksman.
WHY IT WOULD WORK: A standalone Blade series would again, introduce something new and refreshing to the MCU corner of Netflix. The supernatural has already been touched upon in Daredevil Season 2 and Defenders with the inclusion of the Hand. Blade deserves a second chance in the light (pun intended) and Netflix would be the perfect platform to bring him back into the fold.
WHO IS HE: Like White Tiger, this is a character that would require an introduction in another hero’s established series. Paladin, known as Paul Denning, is a mercenary and private investigator. His past is largely a mystery, which would allow the writers and showrunners ample freedom to mold this character as they see fit.
Again, like White Tiger, Paladin has regularly interacted with Marvel’s Netflix universe heroes in the comics. When he was first introduced, Paladin sought out Daredevil’s assistance in tracking down the Purple Man (Kilgrave from Jessica Jones). This ended up bringing him into conflict with Daredevil. However, he and Daredevil ended up working with one another later on.
That seems to be the case regarding Paladin’s relationships with other Marvel heroes. He clashes with them, only to work alongside them later. He isn’t a villain, but his mercenary activities often bring him into conflict with other heroes. He has a moral compass, but he has no problem throwing it aside to earn some money for his services. Paladin is not a bad guy and his skillsets are very useful, which leads to him being recruited often to assist other heroes on their missions.
WHAT ARE HIS POWERS AND ABILITIES: Paladin’s physical strength, speed, stamina, agility and reflexes are all slightly superhuman. He is also a very formidable hand-to-hand combatant, proficient in certain fighting styles such: Boxing, Judo, and Taekwondo. In addition to being a skilled combatant, Paladin is also a skilled marksman, actor, spy, and detective.
While he has occasionally been written to use lethal force, Paladin’s preferred weapon is a stun gun that fires a beam of light and scrambles signals within his target’s nervous system which sufficiently renders most people unconscious. The gun is also equipped in such a way that it can only be operated by Paladin. He wears full-body, bulletproof attire equipped with a helmet that is sealed air-tight, which supplies him with an hours-worth of air. The lens in his helmet also come equipped with infrared vision.
WHY IT WOULD WORK: Paladin draws many comparisons to the Punisher regarding his abilities. While he is slightly superhuman, he relies on his weapons and fighting skills to take down his targets. Unlike the Punisher, Paladin is not out for vengeance, he is out to get paid. This would be a breath of fresh air to Marvel’s Netflix universe, an anti-hero that only does good deeds in return for a reward. As mentioned above, Paladin’s backstory is largely a mystery, meaning that the writers would have essentially a blank canvas to work with. They could use that canvas to paint a backstory that conveys how Paladin came to be the way that he is. Someone who only helps if the price is right and someone who is willing to toe the line between good and evil just to earn a buck.
Ghost Rider (Johnny Blaze)
WHO IS HE: After Gabriel Luna’s take on the Robbie Reyes version of Ghost Rider was so well received in Agents of Shield, a lot of fans are itching to see the Johnny Blaze version done justice. Blaze was a stunt daredevil. During his childhood, his mother walked out on his father and took his two siblings with her, leaving Johnny to live with his father. His father died while performing a stunt, so Johnny was adopted by a new family who helped him fabricate his past in hopes that it would be less painful for him than the actual truth.
He repressed any of his real memories of his family and replaced them with false memories. For example, his mother no longer walked out on the family, but instead had died heroically. Crash, the patriarch of the family that adopted Johnny, had become a real father figure to Johnny. When Johnny learned that Crash had developed a form of life-threatening cancer, he turned to the occult for a cure. His studies led him to a spell that allowed him to summon Satan himself. Unaware, Johnny had in fact summoned Mephisto. Out of desperation to save Crash, Johnny sold his soul to Mephisto. Crash survived the cancer, but later died performing a stunt.
Mephisto, true to his word, saved Crash from the cancer, but when Crash died he came for Johnny’s soul only to be driven away. Angry that he could not claim Johnny’s soul, Mephisto bonded the demon Zarathos to Johnny as an act of revenge, thus transforming him into the Ghost Rider. While still obtaining his own soul, Johnny was forced to punish the wicked upon Mephisto’s demands. Much to Mephisto’s chagrin, Johnny maintained his soul and his ability to exercise his free will, which brought him into conflict with Mephisto repeatedly.
WHAT ARE HIS POWERS AND ABILITIES: As an agent of Heaven, empowered by the Spirits of Vengeance that were created by God to punish the sinners and the wicked of mankind, Johnny is one of the most powerful beings within the mortal and immortal realms. In addition to the flaming skull, Blaze also commands a supernaturally powered motorcycle that allows him to travel faster than conventional vehicles while also granting him the ability to accomplish impossible feats, such as riding straight up a building or riding across water.
Ghost Rider’s main weapon is his ability to summon and use hellfire. He can fill weapons and vehicles with this hellfire as well. He also possesses superhuman strength and reflexes while also being near indestructible. While hellfire is his main weapon, the Ghost Rider is also made up of hellfire which he can manipulate to regenerate from any damage he takes. While the flaming skull is the most iconic aspect of the Ghost Rider, the chain he uses is equally iconic. Using hellfire, he engulfs his bike chain in hellfire and can control the chains actions with his mind. As if he wasn’t strong enough physically, Ghost Rider also possesses the ability to make his victims experience all the emotional pain and suffering that they have inflicted on people through his Penance Stare, which permanently damages his victims’ souls.
WHY IT WOULD WORK: A Ghost Rider series would be something totally unique to the Marvel Netflix universe. The series would incorporate biblical mythology and religion as well introduce the audience to Marvel’s versions of heaven and hell. Johnny’s story would make for a gripping and intense story of a man who sold his soul to save someone he loves and now must fight against and work with the Devil to keep what remains of it.
Luna’s Ghost Rider faced limitations and restrictions due to the fact the character appeared on a show broadcasted on ABC. By giving him his own series on Netflix, they can really let loose with the demonic character, explore more of the darker themes and demonic/biblical lore associated as well as being able to portray more graphic violence. I mean, come on, the guy uses an inflamed bike chain as his weapon of choice!