Hooray for the time we live in, right? If I could have go back in time and tell my 12-year-old self about the Avengers movies and the Daredevil series, that kid would be overjoyed. If I could go back in time and tell a younger version of myself that Batman and Robin would be forgotten (ish) and be replaced by the Nolan movies, that guy would be relieved. If I were to go back and tell myself that Man of Steel would come out and show the world some real super-powered mayhem... well... I would not have cared... I have never really dug Superman. He's lame. I shan't apologize for it.
However, now that we live in this fantastic world where the sins of Star Wars movies past are being corrected, and we get to see the world saved every three months or so by brightly-colored heroes, there have been questions raised as to whether we have too many of these films in our theaters. Have we reached a saturation point? I would say no.
Who among us doesn't look forward to each and every one of them? We watch the heroes we love so we can geek out about it later, and we watch the heroes we hate so we can rip on them to everyone. That being said, there is more to comics than buff men and women saving the world, and there is room in the cinematic world for more personal stories. There are niche and forgotten characters that deserve there own space on screen, if for no other reason than to give us some variety other than costume color palettes. Here are 5 that deserve a spot in the limelight, and the directors that should probably be attached.
1. Scud : The Disposable Assassin
Director - Matthew Vaughn
Scud, created by Rob Schrab, exists in a world where assassins can be bought from vending machines for the purposes of death and instant gratification by the purchaser. One exceptionally handy feature of Scud's particular product line is, upon completion of their mission, they self destruct. While on his first mission (the assassination of a bizarre mish-mash of a pop-culture female monster named Jeff), Scud manages to see the self-destruct warning sticker on his back via a mirror during a ridiculously long fight scene. With a healthy appreciation for his own existence, Scud opts not to kill Jeff, but instead horrifically maims her, placing her on life support. Scud then works as a freelance hitman in order to pay Jeff's medical bills, keeping her and himself alive. What part of this does not sound appealing? I imagine it would be a fairly CG heavy flick, the voice work would have to be spot on, and the film would have to balance off-kilter humor and heavy violence... all things that Matthew Vaughn can handle in spades (Kick Ass and X-Men: First Class, anyone? ). The franchise potential here is astronomical, as are the opportunities to tell more personal stories about life and the nature of violence...oh, and love. Kinky Robot on human love. Because reasons.
2. Lady Death
Director - Guillermo del Toro
Created by Brian Pulido and Steven Hughes, Lady Death is a goddess that reigns in Hell, her agendas constantly changing depending on the writer. Her story begins during the Northern Crusades, before assuming the mantle of Lady Death. As a young girl named Hope, she is threatened to be burned at the stake, having been accused of witchcraft due to her father's wicked reputation. (He was a right bugger of a guy. Hated babies and puppies and such.) While the fires are being lit, she makes a bargain with a demon that would save her life, but requires her to serve the armies of hell. What follows is the story of her rise to power as she becomes involved in a war between Satan and her own dastardly father, ending in a struggle that lands her reigning over Hell, and signaling a time of judgement on Earth. The story would make for a fairly epic trilogy of horror inspired fantasy films, and I can think of none better than Del Toro to do it. With his eye for the macabre, and his strong sense of storytelling, he certainly has the chops to do it. There were rumors flying way back when that he was set to direct the Lord of the Rings films...This would be a much better fit for him, I think. The costumes would be a challenge, however, as once the story goes on in Hell, every character seems to get their outfits from their local fetish shops. It might require a wardrobe update.
Director - Brad Bird
Created by Scott McCloud (who also has written a number of informative books on the very culture and art of comics), Zot! tells the story Jenny Weaver, a young girl in high school, who discovers similarly aged man named Zot that hails from a parallel universe. The world he comes from is an idealized version of our own, wherein it's constantly 1965, but the technology is far more advanced than our own and seems modeled after H.G. Wells novels. Everyone is taken care of, and sickness is a thing of the past. Jenny is drawn to Zot, a superhero in his own world, and the universe he comes from, as they are so far removed from the darkness of our own real world. An interesting turn in the story involves Zot and Jenny being stranded in the real world, with Zot determined to help solve the crime and ugliness that exists here. He has no experience with homelessness, poor people, or social injustice, however, and is found far out of his depth. He is often beaten, bloodied and broken in his pursuits here, where he would have been nearly invincible in his own world. Despite all this, he presses on, determined to stay optimistic while Jenny becomes more and more fearful for his life. It's a touching story about child-like optimism, love, and the need to stand for what you believe in. Who better than Brad Bird, director of The Iron Giant, to bring this story to life? The man has made a career out of telling stories about the realities of our world that appeal to the child in all of us, and the ability to do so would be a requirement for translating Zot! to the screen.
Director - Any number of people at Pixar. ( probably John Lasseter )
Created by Jeff Smith, Bone is a much celebrated story about three cousins (Fone, Smiley, and Phoney ) trying to make it back to their home in Boneville after the three of them are run out of town due to Phoney's long history of financial schemes. What starts out as an adorable fish out of water story becomes something more epic, as the three cousins find themselves wrapped up in a long standing war between the human kingdoms and the evil hordes and their rat-creature army. A lot of stuff is at play here, including a crush forming between Fone and the human (soon to be warrior princess) Thorn, a fantasy story that would suite most Tolkien fans, and several contemporary references to comics, fast food franchises, and Moby Dick (Fone reads this constantly, which puts most people in the story to sleep). Between cow races, massive battles, the domestication of a rat-creature pup, and discussions on fate, there really is something for everyone here. Given the awards and appreciation of the art and story from the source material, the people handling the film would have to have a strong appreciation for the art form, as well as a history of telling stories of the same vein. Enter Pixar. This would be their first movie they didn't produce internally, but it might also be their best and broadest.
5. Uncle Sam
Director - Martin Scorsese
Written by Steve Darnall, with art by Alex Ross, Uncle Sam tells the story of a homeless man named Sam (who bears an uncanny resemblance to the cartoon character from oh-so-many historical military ads) as he wanders along the streets of great American cities. During his travels, he is bombarded by visions of of the injustices in US history that include images of slavery, the civil rights movement, wars, etc. Along the way he meets several human manifestations of American ideals and horrors, leading himself to the conclusion that America, and the hopes we founded the country on, might not be as wholesome as they were once thought to be. He sees where we were, and were we are going, and eventually confronts the very hypocrisy he sees plaguing the country, a mirror opposite of himself. By the end, we return to the homeless man, much as he was in the beginning, but now somewhat hopeful for the future. It's a controversial story, one that is sure to upset a lot of people, but a story that may be more relevant now than it ever has been. Considering the tone of the story, and the style of the artwork, I would put my money on Martin Scorsese. Take a look at the art, and then look at a film like Gangs of New York, and you'll see a lot of parallels. He'll treat the story with the heft of reality it deserves, while also putting it forth as a work of a great and established filmmaker, as a work that demands to be taken seriously. He might even usher in a long set of amazing, respected directors to start working on this new comic book genre of movies. Where is the bad in that?
Of course, this is just a compilation of my own silly thoughts.
I love each of these stories, and I would encourage you to read these as well. I can think of several more of these films that should be made, and even more that should be translated to television or Netflix. But what do you think? Do you agree with my list? Would you like to see more articles like this? What would you like to see on film? Use your words, people.