Ah, Marvel. Kevin Feige and company have collectively spending the last six years patting themselves on the back for taking one of the biggest risks in recent cinematic history and paying off huge. Having a superhero whose name didn’t begin with Super or Bat or Spider become a box office sensation, being able to directly control how the movies were made, and picking off-key choices like Jon Favreau and Joss Whedon to direct the films…man, Marvel has got it made.
As for DC, they’re currently struggling to have any relevance in superhero cinema, although currently they’re doing better in TV with that Green Arrow show. And they’ve got a Flash show coming out soon, so they’ll do just fine there for a while. But they desperately need a hit, now that they’ve lost their trump card in Christopher Nolan (he’s got nothing to do with Batman Vs. Superman). Their new trump card is none other than the third most popular superhero in the DC Universe, namely Wonder Woman.
Now, this article doesn’t exist as a criticism of Gal Gadot or her acting ability, since frankly, she hasn’t been given much to do in the film world apart from serving as eye candy in the Fast & Furious movies, which is pretty infamous for having no substance whatsoever. Much like Henry Cavill, she hasn’t had a chance to prove herself, and I’ll give DC the credit in sticking with an unknown, since despite all my personal beef with Man of Steel, he did a fantastic job.
That being said, I’m sure you’ve thought that Wonder Woman making her first cinematic appearance now isn’t quite fair. She’s got everything needed for a proper superhero film: a well developed backstory, good villains, and is actually a very complex character in her own right. And not to mention that she’s an immediately recognizable character, plus one that could make a very good movie on her own if the right people are involved.
But interestingly enough, despite being DC’s number three hero, she hasn’t gotten a film before. There’s quite a few utterly obscure heroes who have, who don’t even have half the substance she does. Who could they possibly be?
5. Guardians of the Galaxy
Out of all of the other characters listed here, I’m gonna give Guardians of the Galaxy the benefit of the doubt, since they a) are the second actual superhero team to get a film, as long as you’re not counting The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen, b) happen to be in a Marvel Studios film and c) happen to be in a film directed by James Gunn.
However, they’re the second most obscure group of this entire list, and they’ve gone through several iterations since they were created in the late 1960s. They’ve shifted rosters and purposes several times in the comics, but the most recent version (and the group that now has their own film coming out in August 2014) consist of several forgotten heroes from Marvel’s more experimental days collected into a team of misfits. Much like the upcoming film, their main antagonists are Ronan the Accuser and the much more well known Mad Titan, Thanos.
The most popular of the group seems to be Rocket Raccoon, since dammit, he’s a talking raccoon! I admittedly don’t know a whole lot about the team, apart from what I researched, but they seem like an off key and wacky little bunch, exactly the kind of things Marvel needs. Still, though, why the hell is Rocket Raccoon getting a movie before Wonder Woman?
Daredevil may not have been the best superhero film, but at least the casting was mostly decent (not to mention Michael Clarke Duncan’s excellent performance as the Kingpin). The director’s cut also saved what was a bad film before and turned it into a campy romp.
Where there was miscasting was Jennifer Garner as Elektra, simply because Garner has never successfully played someone who isn’t saccharine sweet. Maybe she was typecast as such, maybe the director was crap (his next film was Ghost Rider, so very likely), but even so, Garner wasn’t right for the material.
Or the material wasn’t right for her, because Elektra was made back in the day when Marvel got a little trigger happy about ninja characters. As superheroes go, Elektra was never a particularly good one. She’s Batman-as-ninja, except completely useless against anything with superpowers. Batman has his gadgets and his brain, Elektra has pointy daggers.
For whatever reason though, some suit somewhere decided that even though the world universally hated the Daredevil movie (although looking back on films like X-Men Origins and Ghost Rider, it looks like a masterpiece in comparison), Elektra was what the world needed. The film itself is laughably mediocre, and further proves what a one-note character Elektra is. Hoo wee.
3. The Punisher
Unlike Elektra, the Assassin With the Coolest T-Shirt (he doesn’t have a neat nickname like the rest do) is actually one of the more complex antihero types that Marvel currently has the film rights to. A war veteran whose family is murdered by the mob, he’s the vigilante that we deserve. A Punisher movie directed by someone like Gareth Evans (who made the excellent Indonesian action film The Raid Redemption) would be kickass.
Granted, we’ve already had a good Punisher film in the form of Punisher: War Zone, which was directed by a UTF favorite, Lexi Alexander. It’s interesting how badly Lionsgate wanted this guy to be the next big franchise, considering that he was all the hero they ever had access to. Lionsgate before The Hunger Games was an interesting studio, that’s for sure. Unfortunately for old Frank Castle, audiences aren’t interested in the black leather clad heroes of the early 2000s, anymore. Which is a shame, because our next hero is no longer relevant because of this.
We love to give Spider-Man the credit for jumpstarting the third era of the superhero film (Superman being first, the Tim Burton Batman being second, and Iron Man starting the fourth and current wave), but it was really Wesley Snipes and his half-vampire badass who did. The first two were pretty good, the third was trash, but they were mindless brainless fun.
Blade is interesting simply because of how well his story seems to work. We had vampire slayers before, we had superheroes before, but no one ever thought of combining the two. What results is a very effectively made character who has a singular purpose. Blade wouldn’t work unless he was revamped a bit, maybe as the head of a SHIELD vampire hunting division or something. Unlike Punisher, gory violence isn’t required for a film starring him to work. You gotta wonder who managed to convince some studio head to make a film starring such an obscure character at the time.
Then again, that’s not always a good thing…
1. Howard the Duck
Wait, so this asshole got a movie before Wonder Woman? All the way back in 1986?!
…Yes, yes he did.
This is primarily the fault of a little known filmmaker called George Lucas. The original comic was actually a satire of cartoon characters at the time, but when the Prequel Master got his hands on it, it changed to a fish-out-of-water comedy involving costumes that would make the Power Rangers laugh and a strangely sexual vibe for what was being marketed as a kids movie.
Howard can only work as a parody or a satire. Think of him as a much lamer Deadpool with no knowledge of the fourth wall. The movie itself randomly has him fighting some random alien menace and hooking up with a human being. Yes, there is a scene in which Howard almost gets laid, and it is really really weird. The film itself is bad in the same magical way that films like Batman & Robin or The Room are terrible: so so awful, yet so funny because of it. I’d highly recommend watching the movie just to see how far Marvel has come since then.
So there you have it. These bozos got a movie before Wonder Woman. And she’s only going to be a supporting player in a Superman film. That doesn’t exactly sound fair. You know what to do next, Warner Bros.