The Marvel Cinematic Universe is more popular than ever, with hit properties that span across both film and television. The studio hasn't been afraid to embrace the future of media, as well; Marvel's Netflix series have become a headlining staple of the service, bringing fans the darker, grittier, urban-flavored character dramas of The Defenders saga.
As the MCU continues to add new corners to itself, we think there's prime opportunity to continue varying the brand with other spinoff ventures and little "sub-universes" of the MCU. Here are 5 Marvel Cinematic Sub-Universes We Want to See.
The Marvel Tsunami brand was one of the misfires of the early '00s - an attempt to create an imprint that would appeal to readers of Japanese manga. Of course, other than the visual aesthetic, it's hard to pinpoint what an Americanized vision of a Japanese literary form is supposed to be - which is why Tsunami didn't even make it a year (born and died, 2003).
However, what was a failure on the comic book front may actually work in the MCU... with some tweaking. In 2016, exposure to Japanese manga and anime is much more mainstream (thanks Millennials!), and Hollywood is poised to get in on that action, with Ghost in the Shell and Death Note movies signaling a new wave of popular anime adaptations. Marvel would be smart to get in on the coming trend by bringing Tsunami back on the big and small screens.
One of Tsunami's most popular titles, Runaways, is already headed to Hulu as a live-action series; that streaming service may be the perfect place to build a Tsunami imprint. It could offer live-action shows with Eastern flavor, or actual anime series, and it wouldn't be limited to the old roster (Human Torch, Namor, Venom, etc...), but would incorporate anything brand-appropriate (for example: Young Avengers, Squirrel Girl, or New Mutants).
As Comicbook.com Marvel expert Jamie Lovett states: "Where the core MCU appeals to adults and younger audiences with solid, classic storytelling, and the Defenders on Netflix appeals to those who like grittier fare, Tsunami would appeal to young adults and teens by combining the humor of the MCU with the action scenes of the Defenders and a brighter, modern aesthetic. It would, ideally, be both youthful and cool."prevnext
Marvel Studios already broke the seal by allowing sex and violence into their Netflix series Daredevil and Jessica Jones. Now that we know the MCU can have an adult section, it's time to push that limit with some Marvel Knights action.
Based on the sub-imprint of Marvel Comics released in the '90s, the MCU Marvel Knights sub-universe would be a corner of MCU populated by heroes who are willing to cross the lines characters like Captain America, Spider-Man or Daredevil won't. The comic imprint featured characters like, Black Widow, Punisher and Shang Chi; since the latter two already have Netflix series in the works, and the former would be great in a solo movie or Netflix series as well, the Marvel Knights brand is already primed to sell itself.
For other characters fans have pushed to see in the MCU - like Moon Knight, or Cloak and Dagger - Marvel Knights would be a much more suitable home than the standard MCU, or the "street-level" world of The Defenders team.prevnext
Another product of '90s-era Marvel Comics, the "Midnight Sons" imprint was created to bring supernatural-themed Marvel characters like Blade, Ghost Rider or Morbius the Living Vampire into one united corner of the Marvel Universe.
With the continued practice of blending more and more genre fare into these live-action comic book stories, it's clear that supernatural horror is the next big vein for comic book movies to tap. DC and Warner Bros. are already moving ahead with their Dark Universe (aka "Supernatural Justice League") film; Marvel needs to maintain pace as an industry trend-setter and get their own supernatural horror property off the ground. But instead of one film, how about a whole sub-universe? A Marvel's Midnight Sons imprint on a streaming service or premium cable station would give all those True Blood/Marvel geeks the perfect union.
Ghost Rider is already being rebooted via Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 4 - a perfect back door into a Midnight Sons saga that sees the new Rider in his own series (Nic Cage cameo required), while characters like Blade and The Nightstalkers, Morbius, and the Darkhold Redeemers (remember them?) headline other series that eventually converge in a big supernatural superhero event. Dark Universe? More like small potatoes.prevnext
The simple fact of the matter is that the MCU we know can't last forever. The actors will age and/or tire of their roles; the audience will tire of seeing the same characters - both in big event crossovers and in their respective solo franchises. There will need to be fresh blood. Marvel Comics is already blazing a pathway of change for the MCU to follow, by making major changes to lead characters (a new Cap, female Thor, and now "Iron Heart," the female Iron Man). However, even if (when?) the MCU evolves into a place where we see different versions of our favorite heroes onscreen, some fans will inevitably want to see the original characters continue their adventures. And with the "Ultimate Marvel" imprint, there's prime opportunity for Marvel to double-dip into its own success.
The Marvel Ultimate universe was started in 2000 as a "modern" and "edgier" re-introduction to the Marvel Universe. The re-launches of characters like Spider-Man, The X-Men, and The Avengers (aka "The Ultimates") were so successful that the Ultimate universe ran for 15 years, until last year's "Secret Wars" event merged all the different Marvel realities into one, incorporating certain aspects of the Ultimate reality into main canon.
If the MCU wants an easy way to reintroduce characters like Spider-Man (Miles Morales!), Tony Stark, Steve Rogers, or Thor, with new actors in the roles and new creative vision driving the films, then the Ultimate imprint is a great (read: fan-approved) way to do that.prevnext
It's the one big domino that Marvel fans have yet to topple, but the need for it to happen is growing fast. The X-Men Universe needs to be part of the MCU, and it's definitely a big enough brand to fill out its own sub-universe (with proper oversight... finally).
With Doctor Strange poised to break down all kinds of barriers of reality within the MCU, this is a no-brainer move with a dozen different pathways of storytelling to make it happen (mutant powers are the ultimate dues ex machina). Marvel wants the full use of its characters, and Fox should realize (like Sony did) that the crossover event to merge the X-Men and MCU would by itself be a huge sell. Since Legion will bring the X-Men continuity to TV this fall, the X-Men brand is primed join the MCU on the small screen as well.0comments
For the X-Men franchise, an MCU merge would be the perfect time to get new actors into pivotal roles like Wolverine, Mystique and Magneto, as Hugh Jackman, Jennifer Lawrence and Michael Fassbender/Ian McKellen all move on. Bonus: The Fantasic Four and elements of Marvel Cosmic (Galactus, Silver Surfer) would likely be part of the deal as well.
So again: this needs to happen soon. For the good of Fox, the MCU, the fans, and Marvel Comics itself.prev