Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is just a few weeks into its global run but it’s clear that it will be another feather in Marvel’s cap. A massive financial success and another critical success, it also, based on my conversations, seems to be trending as a Top 5 film with many MCU fans. With the success of the two Guardians films, it’s easy to forget that this was far from a sure thing when Kevin Feige gave it the green light in 2012, but James Gunn has done an incredible job of bringing his vision to the screen and given us a couple of science-fiction gems. With a highly-anticipated third film on the way in 2020, which Gunn says will conclude the story of this version of the Guardians, Gunn has a chance to direct one of the first great sci-fi trilogies of the 21st century. While there will always be room for more Guardians films, Marvel Studios would also like to expand their universe and to do so, it might be time to take another chance on a lesser known property, but one that could, like Guardians, attract a visionary director to a high-concept sci-fi film. The story of Adam Brashear, Blue Marvel, could connect the science of the MCU to the extra-dimensional adventures of Ant-Man, Doctor Strange and Thor and could be the next underdog powerhouse franchise for Marvel Studios.
Dr. Adam Brashear, the Blue Marvel, was introduced in 2008 in a 5-issue mini-series, Adam: Legend of the Blue Marvel, written by Kevin Grevioux. You might recognize Grevioux from his work as Raze in the Underworld films, which were originally conceived by him and the first of which he also co-wrote with director Len Wiseman, but Grevioux has appeared in dozens of shows and films in addition to working on other comic book projects including New Warriors. Grevioux is also a distinguished man of science, holding a degree in Microbiology and having dabbled in chemistry, psychology and genetic engineering. Grevioux’s scientific interests clearly influenced his writing and were especially clear in his work on Adam, when he fully developed the character of the Blue Marvel which he had created during his teens.
Grevioux’s Blue Marvel origins as a hero are rooted in classic Marvel archetypes and though written in 2008, took place in the 1960s alongside so many other Marvel characters. A former Marine and brilliant scientist, Brashear’s work on harnessing the energy of antimatter from a parallel universe went sideways, exposing him, and his best friend and colleague, Conner Sims, to an unimaginable amount of radiation when the machine keeping the spacetime boundary between the two universes stable exploded. Brashear’s exposure left him a living antimatter reactor capable of producing massive amounts of energy, flight and just about any superpower imaginable; Sims, however, was transformed into pure energy and soon found himself incapable of sustaining a human form for long. His inability to maintain a stable physical manifestation of himself contributed to a break in his psyche and he became the villain known as Anti-Man. For a time, Brashear served as the masked hero the Blue Marvel, retiring at the request of President Kennedy after a rip in his mask during a battle with Sims revealed him as an African-American hero, something the culture of the time wasn’t ready to accept. The battle, which apparently destroyed Sims, was the end of the Blue Marvel, and Brashear went back to work as a scientist.
Brashear married, had children and became a physics professor. Despite being retired, Brashear saved the Earth on many occasions, defeating aliens and keeping a multiversal being known as the Infinaut from creating a massive breaching reality and manifesting at such a size as would cause the complete destruction of our planet. Following the death of his wife and along side his oldest son Kevin in their undersea labs at the Marianas Trench, he continued work on antimatter and other dimensions, ultimately discovering the space between realities called the Neutral Zone. Here, matter and anti-matter co-existed leaving endless possibilities for energy. Adam and Kevin’s exploration of the vast space when on until a villain, Doctor Evald Skorpion, attempted to use the Neutral Zone to destroy reality. Skorpion sabotaged the Brashear’s portal, causing it to expand and allowing extra-dimensional energies to begin destroying everything. To save all reality, Adam had to destroy the portal with his son Kevin still in the Neutral Zone, trapping him there forever. Brashear attempted several times to bring his son home, failing at every turn. Angry at his father for sacrificing his brother, Adam’s youngest son Max began his own research, funded by terrorists, into the Neutral zone under the name Doctor Positron.
The Blue Marvel has recently been a part of Luke Cage’s Mighty Avengers and currently serves as a member of the Ulitmates, solving multiversal (and potentially even bigger) problems. His work has brought him into contact with Galactus, reunited him with his friend Conner Sims and seen him go head-to-head with other Cosmic entities and forces. He has reconciled with and worked alongside his son Max and recently entered into a relationship with fellow Ultimate member Monica Rambeau, aka Spectrum.
As Marvel Stuidos shifts its sights to the future of the MCU post-Infinity War, we hope that the story of Adam Brashear is one that they are ready to tell. A powerful and intelligent hero, Brashear will mesh nicely with the existing science-based heroes and help further explore the concepts of extra-dimensions and what really goes on in space. With the rights to the Fantastic Four seemingly set to remain at Fox, Brashear is the perfect character to take on the role as the explorer of the unknown. His origin story reads like so many of Marvel Studios’ best films and plays to the trope of the villain’s powers being tied to the heroes. His family ties will help create interest and tension to add some drama and his interracial relationship with Marlene Frazier, the woman who ultimately becomes his wife, would allow Marvel Studios to tackle some very real issues we’ve yet to see in one of their films. Adding Blue Marvel to the docket also allows Marvel Studios to continue to address the lack of diversity in their films, something Feige has said they intend to do well beyond Black Panther and Captain Marvel.
Depending on how Marvel chooses to play it, a Blue Marvel film could either continue to add some depth to the history of the MCU or take place in the current day. If Marvel Studios chose to make Brashear and older, more experienced hero similar to his comic book self, they could place the origin story in the 1980s, making Brashear a contemporary of Hank Pym. In this instance, reaching out to gauge the interest of Denzel Washington would seem a no-brainer. Should Marvel choose to have the origins occur in real time and grow the story of Brashear over time, maybe we see Disney employ some more inter-company synergy and give John Boyega one of the meatiest roles in their new universe.
Regardless of the timeline, having Brashear and Sims investigating the types of extra-dimensional energies used to create portals in Doctor Strange. Even though we’ve only recently seen them in the timeline, the existence of magic and the Ancient One in the MCU predates the film. Brashear and Sims could crack the science behind the magic and open up a portal, unprepared for the events unfolding on the other side. To some extent, you can imagine the film following some key beats from other sci-fi horror films like The Fly or Event Horizon and becoming a little introspective on the dangers of exploring the unknown. With that theme in mind, the dream director is Alfonso Cuaron, though I know that Marvel Studios often tends to look for up and comers. Perhaps someone like Jordan Peele (Get Out) or Colm McCarthy (The Girl With All the Gifts) could put something together that would catch Feige’s attention.
Truth be told, none of us have any idea in what direction Feige intends to take the MCU. However, outside of some longtime favorites like Richard Rider, Monica Rambeau and the Squadron Supreme, I can’t think of a character I would like to see more. What are your thoughts about the possible inclusion of Dr. Adam Brashear to the MCU?