We've all pretty much accepted the Disney/Marvel merger by now, which is a good thing. Especially since we now have to learn to accept the Disney/Lucasfilm merger on top of that. My brain is still processing that bit of news, so let's get back to talking about Disney and Marvel. When it was first announced the internet as a collective group began to theorize and imagine just what could come about this momentous merger.
Obviously the first thoughts led to a dynamite Marvel movie produced by Pixar, which is another company under the huge Disney label, but as Pixar generally only works on original material the chances of that happening are small. I wouldn’t definitively say it would never happen, but chances are still slim. But with the announcement of Big Hero 6, the first Disney Animation/Marvel film, we see both studios take a leap from their respective comfort zones. Big Hero 6 is pretty much unknown to anyone but comic fans, and it certainly doesn’t fall in the realm of Disney’s generally family-friendly non-violent singing-animals structure. Obviously Disney doesn’t only produce that kind of film, which the choice of Big Hero 6 illustrates.
So this of course opened the floodgates of what other kind of Marvel characters would make a good fit for a Disney Animation production. I tried to keep in mind some of the licensing issues with certain characters, but may have thrown that out the window in certain cases. Eventually I arrived at a list of movies I not only thought fit well in the Disney mold, but possible movies I now really want to see made. Immediately.
Hawkeye & Black Widow
I’m slotting this film in with the belief that Marvel and Disney would draw from the already established Marvel Studios characters and choose to expand on that. I really dug both Hawkeye and Black Widow from The Avengers, and loved the history that was alluded to between the characters. We know both agents have worked together frequently in the past, but the movie doesn’t expand on this, which leaves it open for what could be a really awesome animated film.
Rewind a few years, and we see Agents Barton & Romanoff on one of their many missions that helps form their unique relationship that we see in The Avengers. Throw in some Hydra/A.I.M cannon fodder, an espionage based plot, some humorous camaraderie slowly developing into a love story, and some awesome animated action like we saw in the amazing Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes TV series and we have a movie. This fits nicely with the forbidden love theme Disney likes to use, while safely investing more time on the characters The Avengers brought to the spotlight.
Now Darkhawk is a bit of an odd choice, as he is at best a b-list hero in the Marvel U., which is probably the biggest reason why I’ve always been a fan. His story is fairly simple, and would lend itself well to the Disney style of animated filmmaking. Chris Powell, a somewhat troubled youth reeling from a bad experience with his father finds a special amulet. This amulet bonds with him, enabling him to trade places with an android body that he can control, which he uses to fight crime and help keep his family and neighborhood safe.
Now, not only did Darkhawk have one of the coolest looks of the early ’90s, he had a unique story and background that was equally at home among the stars or in Queens, New York. His story may act as a little wish fulfillment for the younger generation, because who doesn’t want to control an awesome robot that can fly and shoot darkforce beams out of his chest? I know I did as a child, and I probably still do, although I wouldn’t tell anybody. Except I just did…
Nova is a perfect example of a character who would really make a great animated film. Nova tells the story of the first human to join an intergalactic police force known as the Nova Corps (sound familiar?), and has been a mainstay of the Marvel U. since the early ’90s. The draw of Nova is how relatable the characters of both Richard Ryder and Sam Alexander are. Ryder was the first Nova and held the role until very recently, when Sam Alexander inherited the mantle. Either character would make a good film, but Marvel is hyping up Sam Alexander presently, so he is the likely choice.
And it’s a classic Disney story; a young man striving to reach his potential outside of his element, like Aladdin or even Pinocchio. With the cosmic setting being something Disney Animation doesn’t tackle often, it would definitely be a very visual movie, and some of the imagery that comes along with the Nova Corps would make one beautiful film. I’ve been a fan of Nova since he first appeared, so in my mind this movie can’t fail.
Power Man & Iron Fist
First of all, this would have to be the 70′s version of the duo, because that is probably the grooviest partnership in any decade. The ultimate odd couple, Luke Cage (Power Man) and Danny Rand (Iron Fist) would easily make one of the funniest Disney couplings ever. Cage, a streetwise youth from Harlem, was experimented on and granted impenetrable skin and enhanced strength. Danny was raised in the mystical city of K’un L’un, and studied to become a master of martial arts enabling him to wield the power of the Iron Fist. The two formed a friendship that lasts to this day, as they are both premier members of the Avengers.
The 70′s version is the go to story to follow because it wasn’t just a story of a black bruiser and a white martial artist rocking big collars and metal headbands. It told the story of two friends struggling to make a difference in their neighborhood, and doing what they could to improve the social consciousness of their city. They also loved to make money and were coined as Heroes for Hire. I think this would make a great premise for the film, as our two heroes determin where the line is drawn between making a profit and doing the right thing, while giving us a pretty hilarious buddy movie.
Now I know this may seem like a weird entry on to the list, but I am going to stand by it. Disney loves their princesses, and Wanda Maximoff AKA Scarlet Witch is the closest thing to princess the mutant race has. As the daughter of Magneto, Wanda could be considered mutant royalty. Her reality altering hex powers have always made her a formidable foe, and she has been an equal part of both the Avengers and the X-Men mythology for a long time.
I would focus the story on Wanda’s upbringing on Wundagore Mountain, and her training to control her developing mutant powers. Wanda started off as just a young girl unsure of who she was, raised amongst the gypsies who took her in while the magical energy of Wundagore Mountain influenced her. Mix in some genuine mystical beings and a dash of chaos magic, and the story turns into a bona fide Disney flick to match The Sword in the Stone or even The Little Mermaid.
This potential film seems like an absolute no-brainer. Marvel has been interested in bringing Black Panther to the cineplex for a while now, with nothing really taking shape. There have been rumors of his involvement with future Avengers films, but at this point it remains only that. It has been discussed how difficult it might be to properly bring the story of T’Challa, King of Wakanda to life on the big screen, but I think those hurdles make it a perfect candidate for the animated treatment.
We’ve been close a few times, with BET’s “animated series” (which was really just a motion comic) and the Ultimate Avengers 2 straight to DVD animated movie. While both of these were decent attempts, I think the story of Black Panther deserves a little bit more than what we’ve seen. Although his portrayal in Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes was pretty spot on. With the scientific jungles of Wakanda and the generational history of the Black Panther to draw from, this story of a prince inheriting his crown and his destined role in life mirror The Lion King, or even one of my personal favorites The Emperor’s New Groove… kind of.
There are a few Spider-Girl’s out there, but for the purpose of these films I will be talking about the most popular one, May Parker. May is the alternate future daughter of Peter and Mary Jane Parker, who takes over the webs when her inherited powers kick in. May never initially got the blessing of her father, who had suffered an injury and was forced to retire as Spider-Man earlier in his career. She proved herself as not only a worthy successor of the role, but the true daughter of both Peter and MJ, an odd synthesis of the two that made one hell of a character.
May’s story would make a perfect Disney film, and offer some really great visuals along with some relatable characters. It would make an interesting addition to the Spider-Man cinematic universe without stepping on the toes of any of the current movies as it is set in the future. The story options are endless, as Spider-Girl took its cue from any and all parts of the Spidey mythology. Plus I just really love May Parker, and would love to see her take on another form of media besides the comic book, which she has yet to do.
Namor the Sub-Mariner is a character who is just begging to star in a movie. Known as the first mutant, Namor is the son of an Atlantean princess and a human boat captain, which sets him apart from pretty much every race on the planet. While he started out as a villain/anti-hero, Namor has been a member of the Invaders, the Avengers, the X-Men, and the secret council of heroes known as the Illuminati, as well as king of the underwater city of Atlantis.
We already know Disney can handle an underwater setting, and I would love to see Namor in all his glory as the King of Atlantis. While dealing with the ramifications of pollution and man’s effect on the oceans Namor calls home, we would also see the development of the royal arrogance Namor is famous for, while getting a glimpse of the lonely fishy inside of him. A live action movie about Namor has been in the works for a while, but much like Black Panther hasn’t really gained any steam yet.
The New Warriors was easily my favorite team of heroes as a kid, and despite them not really being active in the Marvel Universe anymore, I still think it would make a great animated movie. When the New Warriors debuted in 1989 they featured a team of young heroes that had mainly made appearances in other comics up until this point. The original lineup consisted of Night Thrasher, Speedball, Firestar, Marvel Boy (Justice), Namorita, and Nova, who was included in our list already. The team also grew to include members like Rage, Darkhawk (previously mentioned), Turbo, and a few more characters in its 75 issue run (I’m not including some of the other volumes, which were less than stellar).
The team dealt with a lot of issues that real world teens experience as they grow to adulthood, only they did it with their team behind them in the crazy world of superheroes. It was a series that told some great stories and built up some great characters, while not being afraid to shy away from key issues and experimental stories. Start off with the Nova movie to breed some familiarity with the characters, and lead in easily to New Warriors to make a sensational series of animated movies. This is actually pretty unlikely, but as a lifelong New Warriors fan I would love to see this happen.
The Inhumans started off in the pages of the Fantastic Four as a race of powered beings separated from humanity and forced to evolve on their own. The Inhumans are led by a royal family with incredible powers, and the silent yet powerful Black Bolt is their king. Generally the Inhumans have to deal with the damage man is doing to the earth around them and humanity’s inability to accept them. They have spent time as monarchs in space, lived on the moon, and some of them have even been members of the Avengers, the Fantastic Four, and the Illuminati.
This is yet another series that has had a long standing movie/TV adaptation in the works. The Inhumans home city of Attilan would make an excellent setting for a film, and offer some unique visuals much like Atlantis: The Lost Empire. While it could touch on some of the usual themes involved with the Inhumans like their exile from humanity or the damage of pollution, I think it would be simpler to follow a human character who has found his way into Attilan and meets the Inhumans for the first time, adding a nice mix of culture shock and introducing the mainstream audience to some great characters.
That wraps up our list of potentially amazing Marvel and Disney animated films. And by our list I clearly mean mine, because after I finished putting it together I realized it was basically a bunch of fan service for myself. I’m oddly fine with that.
What do you think? Would you be interested in seeing any of these movies? Have some of your own you’d like to see? Let us know in the comments section!
Images: Marvel, Disney