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 three of a five part series. Part 1 is the Marvel Retro Realm. Part 2 is the Marvel Horror 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.
The effects of GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY are already being felt. Phase 3 will be Marvel’s most cosmic Phase yet, with GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY 2, CAPTAIN MARVEL & INHUMANS all set to bring us an enormous, expansive MCU cosmos. Oh, not to mention a couple of films called AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR.
However, with GUARDIANS 2 excepted, all of those films seem as though they’ll have a distinct ties to Earth. With James Gunn saying that the Guardians will occupy their own corner of the MCU, we started to wonder: what else could share that corner with them?
Nova is perhaps the most obvious choice. Having already been featured in GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, the Nova Corps would be an easy film to sell to audiences (or maybe even a TV series). Though the film could focus on the Nova Corps in general, we think Marvel would narrow the focus to one of their most iconic cosmic heroes, simply named Nova. In the comics, Rhomann Dey (played by John C. Reilly in the film) crash lands on Earth, dying and alone after the destruction of his homeworld Xandar. He realizes that he’s the last surviving member of Nova Corps, and he doesn’t want it to die with him. He finds a young man named Richard Rider and grants him the power of Nova, which is more in line with a spacefaring Iron Man than the military uniforms in GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY.
Our NOVA film would be relatively similar, with one major exception: make Richard Rider Xandarian. James Gunn has said that Nova won’t appear in the GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY series because he wants Peter Quill to be the only Terran in space. By making Rider Xandarian, you avoid that problem and make the destruction of Xandar more immediate and personal. Since Xandar has already appeared in GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, audiences would easily buy a young soldier on a quest to avenge his homeworld.
Our next hero is also from Earth, but explores a completely different realm of the cosmos than Nova, the Guardians or most any of Marvel’s cosmic heroes…
Quasar is almost certainly the most obscure hero we’ll cover in this series, but there’s few Marvel heroes as due for a major revival. While the Guardians of the Galaxy and Nova fight pirates, warlords and alien terrorists, Quasar’s adventures are truly among the gods. Quasar wields the Quantum bands, weapons so powerful they were designed by an ancient alien god to be worn by the “Protector of the Universe.” Though his powers are cosmic, he has more in common with Doctor Strange than Star-Lord.
Quasar is Wendell Vaughn, a soft-spoken Wisconsin boy who is hired by SHIELD. He gets a bum assignment because his superiors think he lacks “killer instinct.” In other words, Vaughn is not an alpha male, lacking the typical machismo swagger most soldiers have. His unit guards the quantum bands, which were recovered by an alien who visited Earth decades ago (the same alien known as Robert Grayson in Agents of Atlas). Though a few agents have tried on the bands, the power overwhelms them in moments. When the SHIELD facility is attacked, Vaughn wears the bands and tries to fight the power contained within. Vaughn, realizing that he couldn’t control the power, relaxes, and decides to let the power do what it will. This is key to unlocking the bands: by relaxing and letting the power use him, he is able to use the power in turn.
This is why we’re stumping for a QUASAR film: in a universe filled with arrogant geniuses, swaggering warriors and brash rogues, Wendell Vaughn is someone who literally manifests power with peace. He’s a hero who becomes strong when he ignores self-doubt and accepts who he is. There’s simply no other like him in the MCU.
Though QUASAR is one of the most obscure titles on our list, our next is definitely one of the most famous superheroes in the world. This is a character deserving a massive, planet-sized film of his own…
Planet Hulk sees everyone’s favorite green-skinned rage monster shot into space, landing on a distant planet and fighting alien monsters in a gladiator arena under the brutal reign of the planet’s emperor. Hulk earns the love of the emperor’s lieutenant, Caiera, and the two lead a revolt across the planet, rallying an army. Hulk eventually defeats the emperor and is named the new King, taking Caiera as his wife.
Even for Marvel, this is weeeird. It’s very different than anything Marvel’s ever done, and it throws the Hulk into a bunch of different genres. Both Kevin Feige & James Gunn have vehemently denied that they are working on a PLANET HULK film, with Feige pointing out that PLANET HULK is all about Hulk, when they’d want to focus on Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner.
But we actually think a PLANET HULK film is critical for Marvel in the near future. PLANET HULK is maybe the most well-regarded Hulk storyline in decades, and among his most popular. But more importantly, it shows that Marvel’s characters are not limited by genre. Each CAPTAIN AMERICA film will exist in a completely separate genre than the previous, and the character is stronger and more versatile because of it. By only telling one type of HULK storyline, you run the risk of stagnating people’s love for the character, like with Sony’s SPIDER-MAN franchise. (It’s the same reason we’d also love for Iron Man 4 to be set in Camelot.)
As far as Feige’s concerns, Banner is as much a prisoner as Hulk on this planet. On this alien world, with both characters outmatched and out of their element, Banner and Hulk would have to work together for the first time. Hulk can smash, but Banner can negotiate. It would be especially exciting with Caiera, a woman in love with Banner but who doesn’t fear the Hulk. Literalizing the Banner/Hulk dynamic as two characters working together is perhaps the most exciting prospect of a PLANET HULK film.
PLANET HULK would be a pretty small-scale cosmic film, with the action confined to a single planet. But our final film would have an enormous sweep, stemming directly from the events in AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR…
The Infinity Watch are the people keeping the universe from falling into oblivion. After Thanos assembles the Infinity Gauntlet, an army of superheroes band together and narrowly stop him. Care of the Infinity Gauntlet is charged to Adam Warlock, a cosmic sorcerer and Thanos’ arch-nemesis. Warlock entrusts each Infinity Gem to a hero, and the group part ways. Warlock never intended for the Infinity Watch to become a team, but after being targeted by a villain intent on acquiring each of their Gems, Warlock realized that they were stronger together.
Who would be in Marvel Studios’ Infinity Watch? That’s a tough question. Adam Warlock is a safe bet. Since AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR is likely adapting Marvel Comics’ INFINITY GAUNTLET storyline, it’s hard to imagine that Marvel Studios would not include Adam Warlock. But beyond Warlock, it’s a safe bet it won’t look exactly like the original team. Even in a universe with Rocket Raccoon, I have a tough time believing Marvel Studios is clamoring to get Pip the Troll to the silver screen. What’s clever about the Infinity Watch is that Adam Warlock gave each Gem to a person who is unlikely to use it for personal gain. Though we don’t know exactly who should be on the team…
- … someone like simple-minded Drax would be trustworthy with the Mind Stone.
- … someone cowardly like Howard the Duck could be trusted to keep the Space Stone safe, using it to flee from danger.
- … someone having witnessed the ruin of planets, like Gamora, would be least tempted to use the Power Stone.
- … someone impulsive and short-sighted, like Hulk, would probably not feel the urge to use the Time Stone.
- … someone lacking imagination, like Groot, would not be tempted to alter the universe with the Reality Stone.
- … someone pure of conscience, like Quasar, would not be corrupted by the Soul Stone.
Like most of Marvel’s teams, their INFINITY WATCH would probably focus less on what makes a person strong, and more on what makes a person weak. Even our weaknesses can make us the best person for the job.
What do you think? After GUARDIANS & CAPTAIN MARVEL, are you ready for Marvel’s big push into the cosmos? Sound off in this Reddit thread or the comments below.