Three years ago yesterday, I wrote an article on this site regarding the MCU and the direction I think they're taking things, as well as my preference to view it as its own alternate universe. Today, I'm here to point out some breadcrumbs that I feel are leading to an awesomely spooky gingerbread house, one that's not quite finished being built yet, and may have altogether been abandoned. What's more, the swamp in which it lies is ripe with storytelling potential!
Many before me have speculated on this part, and it is well-documented all over the internet, so I'll try not to get too in-depth so we can move on to the meat of my story.
At this point, you've probably all seen Iron Man 3. Well there's one character in particular from that movie that I'd like to bring to your attention.
This is Ellen Brandt. In the movie, she's given the back story of being a war veteran who lost an arm and volunteered for the extremis program. This allowed her to re-grow her arm, but what about those scars?
In the comics, Ellen is the wife of Ted Sallis, a scientist working to try and recreate the Super Soldier serum that created Captain America (scientists really need to come up with original ideas, amirite?). Several versions have been told, but the basic story goes, Ellen sabotages Ted's work, seemingly killing him in an explosion in his lab hidden deep within the Louisiana swamp. His formula, however, fuses his mangled body with the swamp, and the Man-Thing is born! He gets his revenge when she returns to the scene of the crime, because everyone knows, "Those who know fear burn at the touch of the Man-Thing!" (If you didn't read that in Stan Lee's voice, go back and read it again.) That's why the scars never heal.
Man-Thing is also mentioned briefly by Maria Hill in an episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
So, how could we bring such a horrifying creature into the world of the MCU? Well, for that, the story of what Man-Thing is, is about to get weirder.
Upon gaining his incredible power within the swamp, Man-Thing was also chosen to be the Guardian of the Nexus of All Realities. The Nexus is a focal point located within the swamp, where every reality, every timeline, every universe converge in one spot without somehow spilling over into one another. You can't actually cross over from one reality to another without trying really hard (or occasionally by ridiculously complicated accident), and Guardians like Man-Thing are there to make it harder. He's basically inter-dimensional border patrol.
A mention of the existence of the Nexus can be seen on Selvig's chalk board in Thor : the Dark World.
That's where the show takes place. On the Nexus.
Ideally, the first episode or two would tell Ted's story about how he became the Man-Thing, and his assignment as Guardian of the Nexus.
Afterwards, the show could play in several different directions. Being a doorway to every reality means that we basically have our own formula for a modern-day Twilight Zone, set within the Marvel Universe.
Each following episode could be a different tale of the terrifying or bizarre, and would allow for Marvel to tell the stories of many characters that may not be worthy of an entire series or movie, or to get an origin out of the way, and each one can be framed with the narration of the Man-Thing himself a la Rod Serling as he watches over his ward. Occasionally, an episode might be set in our own world, showcasing the horror that takes place when the Man-Thing or other-worldly escapees interact with us unsuspecting mortals.
Other than that, there are tons of stories from Marvel that could easily be showcased. Including, but not limited to:
Simon Garth: The Zombie
A tortured man who is turned into a voodoo zombie and forced to kill. He is able to break free from his curse temporarily when his controller turns his puppet towards Simon's own family! But how long can he fight it?
Jericho Drumm finds out that his dying twin brother, Daniel, has been practicing as a voodoo priest, and was cursed. He performs a ritual that allows Daniel's spirit to attach to his own, and together they work to stop Daniel's killer, while becoming a powerful voodoo sorcerer, even rivaling the abilities of Stephen Strange!
I know what you're thinking, "GR's already on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.", but I'm not talking about Robbie Reyes, I'm talking about Johnny Blaze, or any of the others, really. Assuming AofS doesn't tell the full story of where the Spirit of Vengeance got his power, we could get a brand new origin story regarding ANY of the Ghost Riders before him, and even if they do, they still have some great standalone stories to star in. I personally want to see an episode based on The Ghosts of Highway 13.
Yeah, this one is a little silly, but it could play really well. It's about a Japanese macaque monkey that becomes a serial killer of hired killers! The best part is James Gunn himself has wanted to direct something like this since before he was given the job of bringing us Guardians of the Galaxy. How awesome would it be to have him guest direct this episode?
Howard The Duck
If you were rolling your eyes at the last one, you're probably having spasms right now, but bear with me. Howard has teamed up with Man-Thing himself in the comics, and since he actually comes from a different universe, it only makes sense. I want to see Seth Green's vocal talents return, have him team up with our Guardian of the Nexus, and maybe in the end, find out how he becomes a part of Tivan's Collection.
This is probably the most violent of the stories I'd like to see, so I don't know if it would make the cut (honestly, I could see it being an awesome video game), but it's one of my favorite comic stories. It tells the tale of an ancient warrior who becomes cursed with a body that quickly rots away. He tries to reverse the curse, but it only makes him immortal. The only way for him to keep having a somewhat "normal" life is to rip fresh limbs off of his enemies to replace the old ones. The story gets even crazier when we return to him in present day, where he runs a very successful business as an assassin.
Admit it, you knew this one was coming. An alternate universe where our heroes have been infected with a virus that makes them crave the flesh of the living? How crazy would it be to see the survival story of powerless people as they try to hide from zombie Iron Man and zombie Cap while the two start their own Civil War over who gets to eat them? And don't tell me it wouldn't work — Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman wrote the Marvel Zombies comics too!
There are, of course, several other stories that could be told, these are just a few of the ideas I've had floating in my head for awhile. Ever since watching Stranger Things, I knew it could be done. I knew I just needed to get my idea out there, though. Marvel, if you're listening, I'm waiting, and if you need a creative consultant, I'm ready.
Let's make this happen!
Seeing as we're on the subject of zombies, have you checked out Kirkman's other zombie property, The Walking Dead? If you haven't, here are a few reasons why you should:
What do you think of a Man-Thing Netflix show?