Kevin Feige has famously said that Marvel Studios already has plans through 2028. With the roster of heroes Marvel still has left, we can believe it. This is Part 1 of a five part series. Part 2 is the Marvel Horror Realm. Part 3 is the Marvel Cosmic Realm. Part 4 is the Marvel Espionage Realm. Part 5 is the potential of the Inhumans in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Though Marvel has a full universe, it’s generally segmented into specific realms; high science, street crime, magical horror, and more. Even now, Marvel Studios is paving the way for multiple realms within the MCU. James Gunn has said that GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY will lead to a distinct Marvel Cosmic realm, unattached to the Avengers. Marvel’s Netflix series, beginning with DAREDEVIL, Marvel’s building a street-level realm, focused on crime, drugs, and vigilante violence.
Agent Carter is all on her lonesome within the “retro” Marvel realm. Though it started with CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER, AGENT CARTER has deepened the retro MCU, exploring an alternate reality that is very similar to our history but very distinct at the same time.
We doubt that AGENT CARTER’s elaborate world building will end with the series. Marvel recycles, plans and repurposes elements across all of its films and TV series. It’s very possible that AGENT CARTER could lead to not just more adventures of Peggy Carter, but a full fledged Marvel Retro Realm.
What might that look like?
Namor the Sub-Mariner is Marvel’s first & oldest superhero. He’s the half-human prince of the sunken city of Atlantis. Namor is a complex hero; he’s closer to Magneto than Captain America, treating the “surface” world with mistrust and sometimes hostility. He attacks ships, pirates, and even Nazis during World War II. Though often viewed as a villain by the rest of the world, he fights tirelessly to defend Atlantis.
NAMOR could slide quite easily into the MCU. Though it would test Marvel Television’s budgetary limits, NAMOR could serve as a sister series for AGENT CARTER. Marvel could use Namor’s Silver Age origin, where Namor lives as an amnesiac vagrant, having forgotten his royal heritage. The first season could see Namor slowly piece together his memories, solving the mystery of the wings on his feet, or why he can breathe underwater. Namor could battle Leviathan, the villainous Russian spies in AGENT CARTER, as they attempt to gain access to a powerful Atlantean artifact. In the end, Namor discovers not just his identity, but a connection to the surface world.
Namor was Marvel’s first hero, and one of their most popular of the 1930s. However, if you want Namor, you absolutely need his fiery counterpart:
The Human Torch is one of the first comic book superheroes to have his own solo title. He was one of Marvel’s most popular characters of the 1940s. Unrelated to the FANTASTIC FOUR Human Torch, this Human Torch is Jim Hammond, a sentient android created by the mad scientist Phineas Horton. With Hammond, Horton achieved a thinking, feeling, artificial man, but a design flaw causes him to burst into flame whenever exposed to oxygen. Deemed a public threat, Hammond was sealed in concrete, but was able to escape after a crack slowly let in oxygen. Over time, he learns to control his fiery abilities, and vows to help humanity.
Like NAMOR, a HUMAN TORCH series would probably focus on Hammond’s status as an outsider. But while Namor is a brooding & violent anti-hero, Torch is a good egg. He reaches out to humans to forge connections and make his own family, eventually taking a sidekick, a young mutant named Toro. Exploring the differences between Namor & the Torch would be very appropriate. Marvel’s first great crossover was a brawl between Namor and the Human Torch, battling and laying waste to swaths of New York City. It would be exhilarating to see Marvel tackle that storyline, maybe even dedicating an episode of each TV show depicting the fight from each hero’s perspective.
There is a major problem with the Human Torch. 20th Century Fox definitely owns the name of “Human Torch,” because of its association with the FANTASTIC FOUR. However, Jim Hammond already exists in the MCU, in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo during THE FIRST AVENGER. But perhaps Marvel can skirt around this problem by looking to what their Distinguished Competition has done with Green Arrow:
Atlantis, flaming androids, Marvel Comics created some characters in the 1940s, but the oddest are still to come…
The Agents of Atlas are a pretty new team in Marvel Comics, but its members are some of the oldest. Prior to 1951-1961, Marvel was known as Atlas Comics, publishing horror, Westerns, war comics, spy, and even Bible stories. In 2006, a few of these characters were assembled for AGENTS OF ATLAS, a comedy/action series where Dwight Eisenhower himself assembles a team far stranger than the Avengers.
We see an AGENTS OF ATLAS TV series deviating a little bit. After failing to capture the mysterious international crime lord Yellow Claw, disgraced Agent Jimmy Woo is fired from the FBI. Years later, a listless and drunk Woo is recruited by the Atlas Foundation, an organization seeking to understand strange sciences and magics. Jimmy is excited to be back in the field, but dismayed to find out he’s heading a team of oddballs and weirdos:
- Venus, a magical illusionist who claims to be an Olympian god;
- Robert Grayson, a quiet and stoic young man wielding alien technology;
- Namora, cousin of Namor;
- and Ken Hale, alias Gorilla Man, a mercenary transformed into a talking gorilla.
The series would be a combination of AGENTS OF SHIELD and GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY. However, while the team travels the world, collecting artifacts and monsters, they soon discover that the Atlas Foundation is affiliated with the same Yellow Claw that Woo hunted years ago. Though the team is unable to bring Yellow Claw to justice, they thwart a major attack on US soil, and seize control of the Atlas Foundation, with all of its technology and resources at their disposal.
The series would end with the Agents putting together a plan to storm Yellow Claw’s compound in China. However, they soon realize that they aren’t the only ones after Yellow Claw…
The Invaders are a team of Marvel’s best 1940s heroes, often involved in WWII adventures. Captain America, Namor & the Human Torch headline the heroes, as they battle Nazis and the Axis powers all over the world.
For the MCU, our proposed INVADERS series would combine all story threads from the previous series as our heroes embark in a secret war into enemy territory. Instead of Captain America, Peggy Carter has to manage the clashing personalities of Namor, Human Torch, and the Agents of Atlas. Yellow Claw, usurping Leviathan, kidnaps Dr. Phineas Horton and a handful of Atlanteans english college. Horton is forced to experiment on the innocent mermaids in order to create a super soldier that can rival Captain America. The Invaders are formed to combat Yellow Claw’s forces, and put a stop to him once and for all.
AGENT CARTER is a delightful series, working perfectly well as a standalone. But the potential for Marvel’s retro universe is enormous, and even after a movie and TV series, remains largely untapped. If ABC decides it wants a realm similar to Netflix’s DEFENDERS, there is nowhere stronger to start than Marvel’s retro realm.
What do you think? Which retro Marvel hero would you love to see? Sound off on Reddit or the comments below.