11 Marvel Characters Who Deserve Their Own Franchise
By Meredith B. Kile
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Throughout the month of March, CBSi is celebrating International Women’s Month and the upcoming release of Captain Marvel by honoring the Women of Marvel, the ladies in front of the camera and behind the scenes who help bring some of the most beloved comic characters to the big and small screens.
Captain Marvelis making history as the first MCU film centered on a female hero, but the Marvel comic canon is rife with powerful ladies fully deserving of their own franchises. From the Valkyrie to the Dora Milaje, from Black Widow and the Red Room to Peggy Carter and the founding of S.H.I.E.L.D., there are countless storylines that are just waiting to be explored by Marvel Studios' impressive roster of talent.
“Let's just do it!” Black Panther breakout star Letitia Wright told ET of teaming up with more of Marvel’s fierce female characters. “I think if we're going into the next phase of Marvel, we've gotta completely take that off the list. An all-female Marvel cinematic experience. I'm down for that.”
With that said, here are a few of the female Marvel stars we'd love to see embark on their own adventures:
This one is a bit of a cheat, as a Black Widow standalone project is currently in the works, with The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby director Ned Benson recently brought in to work on the script. During last year’s press for Avengers: Infinity War, Scarlett Johansson told ET that she was ready for her own Black Widow movie “in the right context.”
“I mean, I've played this character for a long time. It’s been probably eight years or more and, you know, so much has happened in my life and has happened as a performer, happened in my life, personally,” she explained. “I love playing this character and I think that there’s an opportunity to explore the Widow as a woman who has kind of come into her own and is making independent and active choices for herself, probably for once in her life. She hasn’t always had that possibility. So if it fits those criteria then yes I do want to do it.”
The next chapter of Black Widow’s story will come into clearer focus after the events of Avengers: Endgame, but it would be great to see her stand on her own and find a life and adventures outside of the team. We'll always have Budapest.
One of the breakout stars of Thor: Ragnarok, Tessa Thompson’s Brunnhilde is perfectly positioned for a standalone franchise (provided of course, that she didn’t turn to dust in the Thanos snap). We know just enough about the bisexual, booze-swigging Valkyrie warrior to pique audiences’ interest, with plenty still left to explore. And Thompson herself is intrigued and excited by the female-centric projects coming down the Marvel pipeline, so it doesn’t seem like it’d be a tricky sell.
“I think what we're seeing, regardless of a Lady Liberators or an A-Force movie or a female ensemble Marvel movie, is that in phase 4, women rule supreme,” she told ET. “We're seeing a Black Widow movie in the works, which I hear about and am so excited [about], Captain Marvel with Brie Larson and [Lashana Lynch].... Of course with Black Panther, those incredible warrior women in that film. We're seeing that women are at the forefront of these stories. So I think audiences will be pleased to know that yes, the future of Marvel seems to be very female, indeed."
An international spy, wrestling with the pulls of patriotism, loyalty, and her love for her king? The treatment for “La Femme Nakia” practically writes itself, and Lupita Nyong'o toplining an espionage thriller is an exhilarating enough concept -- even without the Marvel ties. With a starring turn in Jordan Peele's upcoming thriller, Us, Nyong'o seems more than ready to take on her own franchise.
“There’s been nothing like it,” she told ET’s Nischelle Turner of being part of Black Panther at the film’s premiere last January. “So of course, with that comes a deep sense of responsibility. You’re the first to do something like this on this level. So yeah, it’s definitely something you feel challenged by. There’s no rule book for it -- there have been many Marvel movies, but none like this. We’re writing the rule book of Wakanda and Black Panther.”
After a tumultuous limbo period, ABC renewed Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. for a sixth and seventh season last year, promising more adventures from Marvel's eternally underrated team of TV heroes. And while the group dynamic has been a joy to watch throughout S.H.I.E.L.D.'sthrilling storylines -- which have taken them everywhere from space to hell to inside the sinister alternate reality of the Framework -- it’s always felt like Daisy was destined for something more. We’d love to see Chloe Bennet suit up for further adventures as the young hero learns to truly harness her Quake powers and use them for even greater good. (Plus, maybe some of our other S.H.I.E.L.D. faves could make an appearance!)
In fact, in some parts of the Marvel comic canon, Daisy’s journey ends with her as the director of S.H.I.E.L.D., which Bennet told ET's Leanne Aguilera she could see happening... eventually.
“I don’t think she’s ready [right now], at all. I think she has a lot of learning to do,” she admitted. “They’re doing a really good job of maturing her at a very fast rate. It feels organic, you know, growing alongside the character.”
In comic canon, T’Challa’s younger sister eventually dons the Black Panther mantle herself, and while that would be undeniably cool to see play out on screen, we’re probably still a few years out from Chadwick Boseman stepping away from the feline super suit. In the meantime, we’d love to see breakout star Letitia Wright explore Shuri’s own adventures, as both a princess and the brains of the operation behind Wakanda’s world-leading tech.
While speaking about the future of her character, Wright told ET she’d like to get Shuri out on her own -- perhaps even outside of Wakanda -- while also assuming a larger role in the royal family. “I'd like to see her have a bit more responsibility in the land as well,” the actress noted. “She is a princess and I think in the first film she's kind of like, 'Yeah, I'm a princess... but I'm in the lab.’ But for her to have a bit more responsibility of having a say in what happens in the land as well, and what goes on, that would be cool because it can show a little bit more of maturity for her.”
Daughters of the Dragon
Season two of Iron Fist gave fans the Misty Knight-Colleen Wing team-up they wanted, but not the full partnership they deserved. With the cancellations and complicated contracts behind Marvel TV’s Netflix unraveling, this one is probably the longest shot of all, but the idea of these two (plus any number of the Defenders ‘verse’s fierce female characters) sharing the screen again is just too good to leave off the list.
“I think that’s as much a compliment to those original characters as it is to Jessica [Henwick] and Simone [Missick]’s portrayals,” Marvel TV head Jeph Loeb told Entertainment Weekly last year of the fan-driven demand for a Daughters of the Dragon spinoff.
Kids in action movies and superhero blockbusters are often more plot device than fully-formed characters, solely around to be reminders of their heroic parent’s latent humanity or pawns in a bad guy’s attack. Not so for Cassie Lang, who has already shown signs of the pluck and fearlessness that leads her to eventually don the Ant-Man-tle herself in comic canon. She may not be ready yet, but Abby Ryder Fortson's character dropped enough hints in Ant-Man and the Wasp to lead some to believe that her destiny is already in the cards.
(Another interesting detail from comic canon? Cassie Lang’s team-up with Monica Rambeau, which is sure to be on more fans' minds after they meet the MCU’s newest precocious preteen in Captain Marvel.)
With all due respect to the eminently fabulous Olivia Colman, it’s time to get Glenn Close that Oscar by any means necessary. If that means sending Close’s Irani Rael (and her fabulous hairstyle) back into battle -- whether it’s an insert story that explains Xander’s battle against Thanos for control of the Power Stone, a standalone adventure centered on the Nova Corps, or something completely different -- we’d be more than ready for it.
Okoye & The Dora Milaje
Truly, there’s no shortage of Black Panther characters deserving of their own franchise, and Wakanda's all-female fighting force, the Dora Milaje, led by Danai Gurira's indomitable Okoye, are worth exploring. Fans were wowed by the powerfully synchronized warriors in Black Panther's battle scenes, and it would be interesting to dive deeper into the military mindset and team dynamics among the impressive combatants in their own project.
“We had some amazing women in there, I loved the women we got to get together with for the Dora Milaje,” Gurira told ET last February. “These women are, some of them are stuntwomen, some of them are from dance… even circus performers. It was a very interesting group of women who came together, from all over the world, and who all brought in grace and ability and all of that.”
"We need to see more women stories being told," she also noted. "I think that's something that's being slowly more and more realized and proven without a shadow of a doubt."
Raised in the Red Room, S.H.I.E.L.D.-adjacent and highly trained in the art of disarming and neck-snapping. Sound familiar? Agent Carter’sDottie Underwood was a spiritual precursor to the Black Widow, though she never quite came over to the good side. Her love-hate dynamic with Peggy was contentious perfection and Bridget Regan's turn as a kickass assassin who can disappear into any persona deserves all the screen time we can give it.
And, on that note…
Honorable Mention: Peggy Carter
It’s not really fair to put Peggy on this list, as she did get her own franchise in the form of Agent Carter’s stellar two seasons on ABC. But there’s so much more story to tell about the former code-breaker turned S.H.I.E.L.D. founder. Revive the show, or give us a movie, starring Hayley Atwell and Dominic Cooper’s fantastic young Howard Stark, about how the Strategic Scientific Reserve eventually became the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division. Pretty please?