Marvel once created animated movies that would be highly entertaining, filled with a range of characters and engaging story lines. Planet Hulk for example, shocked fans at its graphic imagery and ability to adapt a well established comic book story into an animated format that mirrored the original while being original in itself. However they quickly dropped in quality, while their competitors over at DC mastered making animated movies that continue to grow in popularity. DC's next adaption of the Killing Joke story is already getting fans excited after getting a glimpse of the iconic story set for the animation treatment.
Where Marvel went wrong is by creating original stories far to early, and not utilize popular comic book plot lines like DC did. While the idea of The Next Avengers featuring the Avenger's children was initially a good concept, the film failed to deliver. Marvel even attempted joining forces with the anime company Madhouse to create four series and two movies. Sadly all failed to engage fans the way they were intended as many aspects were far from alignment to Marvel comics continuity.
DC have only just started to create original stories in their movies now they have a large enough following and team of writers who know the character's abilities and backstories extremely well. Their latest movie Justice League vs Teen Titans. was 100% original and still managed to keep true to many aspects of the characters. While the odd aspect was embellished, it did not fail to build on their animated films while allowing them creative freedom.
Marvel need to return to some of their more popular stories and titles retelling them through animated forms for multiple reasons. The first is the fan for those stories and titles are already out there and will eagerly payout to see them in motion form. The second is that Marvel own all the characters within the comics through means outside of the live-action films. This would mean fans could finally see the Avengers cross-over with the X-Men or Spider-Man assist the Fantastic Four. Here are 10 potential option they could follow to begin their new Marvel Animated Universe.
1. The Coming of Galactus
This title would allow Marvel to skirt right past establishing characters through origin movies. With so many of their characters well known to audiences it seems pointless for them to retell those stories in animated form. So with a threat to the entire planet they could simply pull a load together to fight the force of Galactus. It would also give fans the Fantastic Four as they should be, considering Fox blundered that franchise up massively. I do not know about other Marvel fans, but I have also not forgiven Fox for what they did to Galactus in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. For those unaware, the character is one of the ultimate forces of nature in the universe. His entire purpose is to devour planets and acts as part of the cycle of the universe's evolution. The added bonus is Galactus has arrived to Earth several times to devour the planet, so they would have plenty of options on which heroes to choose to feature in the flick.
2. Avengers: Ultron Unlimited
While Age of Ultron only came out last year, it was not considered the "crown jewel" that many were hoping for. An animated interpretation of this story could give the think tank over at the HQ of the Marvel Cinematic Universe a little jolt on how a story should be done. Basically Ultron goes beyond in this story. To just get the Avengers attention he commits genocide on the entire population of Slovenia. The story written by Busiek and Perez was even criticized as being "dark", but the DC animated movies do not shy away from the darker elements of the stories used. They would also have many choices on how they can adapt this story, with so many other stories centered around Ultron to make it slightly different from the comic version, including his true origin.
3. Secret Wars
Secret Wars is a highly popular Marvel comic story, as it was one of the first major stories to feature characters from multiple comic lines crossing over into a single title. On a planet mashed together by parts of other planets, heroes and villains find themselves on the strange "Battleworld" which was created by the being known as the Beyonder. The purpose was primarily for the Beyonder to witness which side would win, good or evil. Perhaps the gem in the hero line-up is the fact Magneto surprises the heroes when he is placed on their side by the Beyonder. The reason is because, while his method may not align with the good guys, his cause for mutant equality is that of good. It saw the introduction of the heroine Arachnia and is where Spider-Man first appeared in his black suit, that eventually turned out to be iconic villain Venom. The best part about this story is the amount of diverse characters featured. So while they wouldn't have to use them all, they would have plenty of options to choose from.
With Marvel continuously killing off the villains in their movies, a Thunderbolts live-action movie seems more and more unlikely. The Thunderbolts would give the writers freedom to explore some of the darker tones behind these characters and allows fans to see them return through animated movies. It is just an interesting idea of former villains forming a team of superheroes. DC are about to give us just that with Suicide Squad, but they have not introduced the Squad in the animated movies. This would allow Marvel the chance to break the ground on this idea in an animated format first. An added bonus for them is the amount of villains that have been on the Thunderbolts roster. They wouldn't even need to cover the origin of the team to make a good movie, all they would need to do is pick the correct story to translate into a movie.
5. The Pheonix Saga/Dark Pheonix Saga
This story would have to be told over two movies, which is something DC did when they made Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part 1 and Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part 2. Now I can not speak for all X-Men fans, but for me the third X-Men film never happened as far as I am concerned. They took one of the best known comic stories of all time and completely trashed it. If Marvel had control of the plot, for X-Men: The Last Stand, it would have been much better movie. So Marvel could easily transfer this story into a two part animated movie to get back at Fox for how they handled the story. I personally can not see how an animated version of these stories would not be a mega success if done to align with the comics.
6. The Runaways
The Runaways has been talked about for years as a potential movie for Marvel. An animated format would be ideal for them to test the waters for a fan reaction to the concept. Simply having a movie covering them finding each other and forming a team would work. They can also use this as a way to cover some if not all the characters backstories, including who their villainous parents are. It has the added bonus for the originality of the characters. Being a team of heroes consisting of children of villains is what makes the series special. Additionally with them all being teenagers, it would mean they could have them encounter Spider-Man who can assist them in coming to terms with their bad pasts as his is also tainted with dark parts. By doing this they could feature a well known character to help introduce audiences to a new cast of characters.
7. Dark Avengers
During a period in the comics, the Marvel mainstream universe was pretty much ran by Norman Osborn known as "Dark Reign". This resulted in dark versions of many teams to be formed, including the Avengers. Using villains and disguising them as heroes, Norman employed a new team set to make a mark in Marvel history. When you have a team of twisted criminals pretending to be heroes you have the formula for an interesting movie as the real heroes fight from the shadows to reclaim their titles. The Dark Avengers were the pinnacle of these dark teams, with Norman selecting top villains he knew he could control. Venom became his Spider-Man, the psychotic psychiatrist Moonstone took Ms Marvel name, Bullseye assumed the title of Hawkeye and the son of Wolverine Daken took his father's identity. It was also the debut of Iron Patriot, as Norman took the place of Captain American and Iron Man in creating a new hero that combined elements of both heroes.
8. Avengers Disassembled
All good things must come to an end, and they did for the Avengers in this story. This was one that shocked Avengers readers as they witnessed an out of control She-Hulk kill some of her fellow Avengers, which was the trigger in causing the Avengers to disband. Much like how the New 52 changed the history of DC comics, the Avengers Disassembled story saw the beginning of the modern era for Marvel comics and helped shaped many of the events that played out in the coming years. While seeing how a team formed is always fun, there is something compelling about watching their demise also.
9. House of M
It only makes sense if they did an Avengers Disassembled film they may as well follow it with the House of M story. It was during this story all of Marvel history was warped into a new twisted alignment where mutants were the ruling class. The culprit behind the disbanding of the Avengers was none other than the Scarlet Witch, who used her powers to create this new world. Once the Avengers figured out the world was wrong, thanks to a young mutant girl and Emma Frost, they managed to change things back to how they were. But not before Scarlet Witch utter three little words, "No more mutants." With these words everyone returned to the mainstream reality, but the mutants had been reduced from hundreds of thousands to a population of no more that 198. This story was so popular that an animated movie would see massive sales.
10. Marvel Zombies
Marvel Zombies is a fun set of graphic novels set in an alternate reality to the mainstream universe. The main difference is...even the Marvel heroes couldn't stop a zombie apocalypse. The series has seen many fun reality crossovers, and features some unexpected characters from Marvel including Howard the Duck. Perhaps the best crossover was when Ash from The Evil Dead franchise arrived in their world having fallen through the dimensions landing in one filled with Marvel heroes. The movie has been spoken about before by Marvel. An animated movie would be the easiest way for them to achieve a successful movie as it would require pretty much as many characters as they could manage.
Do you think Marvel should bring in a team that can create animated movies that will rival DC's animated movies? What stories or titles would you like to see brought to an animated movie format?