In a world where Ant-Man not only has his own movie, but a movie that grossed over half a billion dollars, superheroes are the kings of cinema. Not to mention that the likes of Aquaman, often a joke to the world, has made his big screen debut and is getting his own film in the future, so the sky is the limit for superheroes on the big screen. That said, with Marvel and DC movies already planned through the next five years, there are some characters that still haven’t made the leap to the big screen, and may never. That in mind, here are our picks for the best comic superheroes without movies.
(For the sake of variety, we’ve chosen characters that not only aren’t in movies but don’t have movies planned and are also not on television.)
Best Comic Book Superheroes Without Movies: Animal Man
A lower-tier character that debuted in the 1960s, Animal Man (naturally) could channel the abilities of animals to leap across buildings, pick up cars, fly, swim, you name it. What separated him from other superheroes was his family life at home, and the series evenly split its time between Buddy Baker the hero and Buddy Baker the father and husband, albeit intertwining its plots between the two. His origins were later changed from “too close to an alien ship explosion” to being the “Avatar of the Red,” an animal counterpoint to Swamp Thing as an Avatar of the Green. The best way for superhero films to thrive on the big screen is give us things we haven’t seen and to continue to offer different films from everyone else, which Animal Man definitely does.
Best Comic Book Superheroes Without Movies: Creature Commandos
Speaking of being different, DC’s Creature Commandos is not only supremely different from any other comic book film coming out now, but it scratches an itch for a very specific niche. The team is made up of one regular guy, Lt. Matthew Shrieve, and he’s joined by some interesting other soldiers, namely: a werewolf, a vampire, Frankenstein’s monster, and a Gorgon (think Medusa). A squad of monsters fighting the battles of War that normal soldiers can’t? Sign us up. Modern versions of the team have also brought in Mummies, Creature from the Black Lagoon-type monsters, and even the likes of Dr. Ray Palmer, aka The ATOM.
Best Comic Book Superheroes Without Movies: Doctor Fate
Doctor Fate first made his debut in the 1940s but has since gone on to become a staple of DC Comics as one of their leading magical heroes. The important thing to note about Doctor Fate is he is a legacy hero, meaning a number of different people have worn the costume and become the hero. Be it on different Earths or following the death of the previous version of the hero, there’s always a Doctor Fate around. Fighting to restore order into the world, Doctor Fate is equipped with the Amulet of Anubis, Cloak of Destiny and Helmet of Fate that have their own specific abilities but combine to allow the wearer flight, enhanced strength, magic use, and a number of other screen-worthy powers.
Best Comic Book Superheroes Without Movies: Elsa Bloodstone
We won’t be happy until monster-themed superheroes make it to the big screen and Marvel’s very own monster hunter Elsa Bloodstone is a good hero to have on your side. The daughter of the immortal monster hunter Ulysses Bloodstone, Elsa retains a lot of her father’s abilities: speed, strength, durability, and enhanced healing, but maintains the sensibilities of a modern woman over the centuries-old grump. In one version of her comics, she creates an online blog to catalog the monsters of the Marvel U, which seems like ripe material for a feature.
Best Comic Book Superheroes Without Movies: Moon Knight
Mercenary Marc Spector found himself in a compromising position in the Egyptian night, dying in the sand. Luckily the Egyptian god Khonshu offers him another shot at life, as long as he agrees to become his avatar on Earth and help travelers of the night. Spector later creates a few other civilian identities for himself, which becomes an important plot threat where his multiple personalities battle for control over his body. Many might think of Moon Knight as a rip-off of Batman giving his gadgets and appearance, but there is one big difference between the two of them: Moon Knight wants the bad guys to see him coming for them.
Best Comic Book Superheroes Without Movies: Ms. Marvel
Though still pretty young when compared to the likes of other superheroes, Kamala Khan has already proven herself to be a noteworthy character and a fan favorite. What makes Kamala special is that she was just like so many other comic book readers, she was a fan. A teenager that lived in New Jersey and looked over at the superheroes in New York with wide eyes and went home to write fan fiction about them. Kamala would later go through the Inhuman process of Terrigenesis, giving her the ability to morph her body into great shapes and sizes. Kamala then decided to do what anyone in that position would do, become a hero, and she picked up the mantle of Ms. Marvel after her favorite superhero, Carol Danvers (who had ascended to the rank of Captain Marvel).
Best Comic Book Superheroes Without Movies: She-Hulk
Though two Hulk movies haven’t been well received, the character has found new life as a supporting role in The Avengers movies (and the upcoming Thor: Ragnarok). Will we ever see another solo Hulk movie? It remains to be seen, but bringing in his super-powered cousin Jennifer Walters is a good place to start. The distinction between Jennifer and Bruce is that Jenn’s powers don’t make her a mindless monster, she retains not only her brains but her full personality, making her the type of superpowered fighter worthy of the big screen.
Best Comic Book Superheroes Without Movies: Thunderbolts
Though the leader of the group (Baron Zemo) technically just made his debut in film, there doesn’t seem to be a way for this particular storyline to come about in the MCU. See, Zemo came up with a great plan, he and a few other villains formed as The Masters of Evil who masquerade as heroes called The Thunderbolts. Once they reached a revered status like The Avengers, Zemo believed they could gain their and SHIELD’s trust, allowing them access to all of the secret files on the heroes. The plan started to work too, and in the absence of The Avengers (though to be killed at the time), the public began to love the Thunderbolts, and some of the members thought they were pretty good at being heroes. Once The Avengers returned though, Zemo was forced to reveal his plan to maintain the loyalty of the group, but his teammates thought too highly of themselves and turned on the evildoer.
Best Comic Book Superheroes Without Movies: Ultimate Spider-Man
You might be thinking “We just saw Spider-Man,” but now we mean Miles Morales, the Ultimate Spider-Man. There’s no denying Peter Parker’s place in the superhero pantheon of the world, but Miles brought a youthful energy and new perspective to the character that had been lost in comics. Also, the character has a sweet costume and additional superpowers that Peter didn’t have, like the ability to turn invisible and venom strike that can paralyze his foes. Perspective is another factor in maintaining longevity for superhero movies, and mixing things up with Spider-Man could be the solution to that in a few years.
Best Comic Book Superheroes Without Movies: Young Avengers
The name says it all. Teenage (or younger!) versions of characters that have at least a passing similarity to main members of The Avengers. What makes the Young Avengers special isn’t that they’re just facsimiles of characters we already like, they’re characters in their own right with relationships, goals, and weaknesses that make them relatable and interesting. Plus they’re kids, so they don’t have the same problems as the fully-grown Tony Stark or Steve Rogers. Members of the team have included Hawkeye (Kate Bishop), Hulkling (a shapeshifter with a passing resemblance to the green hero), Noh-Varr (a pop music obsessed Kree warrior), Miss America (capable of punching holes in reality itself), Prodigy (a mutant who can absorb the knowledge of those around him), Speed (…a speedster), Wiccan (a powerful mutant with magical abilities) and even Kid Loki (literally Loki as a kid).
What superheroes without a movie are your favorites? Sound off in the comments below!