FEATURE: Marvel Should Adapt Their Horror Universe For Netflix
Marvel is expanding it’s reach to audiences and will eventually have to film the Defenders series, which will likely finally end the first wave of their Netflix series. There has been some speculation over the last couple of months of where the television division could be going with their second wave at Netflix. While I’ve heard my own rumblings of what could be down the line, I’ve made my own campaign for Marvel to choose on the side of horror, greatly contrasting the street-level crime shows they’ve been recently making.
There are plenty of horror characters that could populate Marvel movies and television, not to mention a cameo or two from Benedict Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange, who battled plenty of vampires and demons, even helping to form the Midnight Sons. It’s been thought that his solo film will open the door for a lot of these occult and horror characters to appear in film and television, a side of the Marvel comic book universe just as big as the cosmic side.
Elizabeth Olsen’s Scarlet Witch also has had more than a few adventures with the occult/horror side herself, and if Marvel does give her a solo film that could easily be explored there as well.
In the climate of Game of Thrones, Hannibal, The Walking Dead, American Horror Story, Fear The Walking Dead, The Strain, and Penny Dreadful, audiences are extremely open to this sort of genre material. The former earning twelve Emmys this year and some of highest ratings in HBO history, making it one of the most successful genre TV shows ever made.
A new wave of Marvel horror shows would be not unlike the crime saga that the Defenders shows are turning into, within each series. It’s about time Marvel started rolling out these characters, since they’ve been mostly sitting-on a bunch of them for years. I’m not saying it could hit the level of Game of Thrones, just that there is a huge demand for all things genre for mature viewers, a market Marvel for the most part has ignored.
I’ve also been under the impression if there is a revival of Blade, it would likely usher in a the horror side of Marvel. Leading to things like a Midnight Sons series, not unlike what they’re doing with their street-level heroes via Defenders. Placing their more exploitation characters, not ready for the big screen into smaller serialized stories.
Here’s what this horror universe could look like.
The Nightstalkers could make an excellent alternative title for the team-up series, that original team included Blade, Frank Drake and Hannibal King. If rumors are to believed, Blade’s daughter Fallon Grey, could be picking-up her father’s mantle with Eric acting as her mentor. Having her aligned with a group of seasoned vampire hunters, makes sense if this is indeed becoming a series.
Morbius the Living Vampire, has been a horror staple character for decades, and easily one of the more recognizable “monster” heroes there are at Marvel. Originally, a Spider-Man villain the character would eventually crossover into the Tomb of Dracula comics, along with his own solo outings and team-ups. Michael could easily be a misunderstood character, at odds with the heroes, similar to Punisher‘s rumored role in Daredevil season two. There had been rumblings of Sony wanting to use him in both Raimi and Marc Webb’s films, but ultimately wasn’t used.
New Line Cinema tried to include him in a cut of Blade, but the scene was eventually removed from the final film for whatever reason. He’s the sort of character that could lead his own series, or make one of hell of a supporting lead or villain.
Other unused characters include vampire hunters the Dracula Hunters, which were Quincy Harker, Rachel van Helsing, Indian vampire hunter Taj Nital, and Edith Harker. Adding some expendable human characters makes sense, as we do know that it’s expected in a horror series main characters will be killed-off accordingly.
One of the big names attached to the Midnight Sons team is Johnny Blaze aka Ghost Rider. A cool angle concerning Ghost Rider, is that both Alejandra Jones and Barbara Ketch have become riders, many other people besides Blaze has been given these powers over the years.
A female Ghost Rider could be a way to go as well, since we’ve had two crappy movies with Blaze, and they might as well go another way with the character, as it’s desperately in-need of a reboot and could make an excellent supporting character in a horror series like this. There are also only a few female characters, which could be improved by giving characters like Alejandra Jones into leading roles.
Then again, there have been plenty of alternative male riders as well.
Another interesting C-level hero is Jack Russell aka Werewolf By Night, a werewolf superhero who is one of the main faces of Marvel’s horror universe. He’s kind of a unsung character that really hasn’t been explored in the live-action medium, besides a lame deleted scene in Blade: Trinity. He’s one of the cooler members of the Legion of Monsters, and could make for a an interesting contrast to Blade and Morbius.
The final member is Daimon Hellstrom aka Son of Satan.
Daimon already has a strong connection to an established Netflix character, and that’s Tricia “Patsy” Walker aka Hellcat played by Rachael Taylor in Jessica Jones. The two worked together briefly as Defenders, then left the world of superheroes to get married, becoming occult investigators and helping out the West Coast Avengers from time to time. Basically, they could become something similar to a superhero version of The Warrens from The Conjuring.
The Darkhold Redeemers being an occult team and their connections to demons could also make them a decent addition as well.
LEGION OF MONSTERS and HOWLING COMMANDOS
Man-Thing, N’Kantu The Living Mummy, and The Monster of Frankenstein, the more monstrous characters would team-up in comics like The Legion of Monsters alongside Morbius and Satana Hellstrom. However, considering the makeup needed for a Legion of Monsters project, I’d assume this would lend itself more to a feature film, rather than a series.
It’s interesting the current direction for these horror characters, which includes them being apart of S.H.I.E.L.D. in a modern incarnation of The Howling Commandos, their division S.T.A.K.E.: Supernatural Threat Analysis and Kill Experts. The line-up features a Life Model Decoy version of Dum Dum Dugan, zombie Jasper Sitwell, Nina Price aka Vampire By Night, Man-Thing, Hit Monkey, Warwolf, Orrgo, and Manphibian.
Hidden deep beneath AREA 13 lies the clandestine headquaters of S.T.A.K.E.–a top secret division of S.H.I.E.L.D. housing aliens, mythical beasts, and all manner of extra-normal entities. Under the command of legendary soldier DUM DUM DUGAN, these monsters step out of the shadows and defend the world against super human threats too dangerous for normal men.
Of course this is Marvel’s attempt to make their own version of Darkhorse’s Hellboy/B.P.R.D., and feels like it could make a great TV series as well. The only thing would be it’s expensive need for makeup and effects, while the shows have been a bit grounded with the right creative people it could work.
Shiklah is a newish character that was introduced as the Queen of The Monsters, who just happens to team-up with the Howling Commandos.
Villains could include the likes of WWII era vampire Baron Blood, a British vampire turned by Dracula who just happens to be linked to the linage of the hero Union Jack. People may not even understand, that Blade actually falls under the rights to the Tomb of Dracula comics, along with Whistler and Hannibal King. Bringing him back for a series or team-up could be needed, but his daughter Lilith could always step-in, but would need a name change because of the next villain.
Like Dracula, Lilith The Mother of Demons crosses over multiple horror comics, and is one of the main threats the has the Midnight Sons formed. She’s a former pre-Sumerian goddess, think Gozer from Ghostbusters.
Hellstrom also worked closely with Doctor Strange during his time with The Defenders, and it’s alleged that his grandfather is Dormammu, if we indeed see Strange exploring the demonic dimensions, it would be a strong opening to include Hellstrom and his sister Satana into the MCU. His father is demonic ruler Marduk Kurios also referred to as Satan, who could easily be exchanged for Dormammu or even Mephisto. The demon realm could make for interesting villains and exploration, whatever it’s use in the future.
Chthon, an elder god/archdemon and author of the Darkhold aka The Book of Sins could be something interesting, as the horror side does in fact have a few of their own McGuffins, one being The Darkhold. This book apparently has links to pretty much everything monstrous in the comics, including witches, werewolves, vampires and even the Marvel Zombies. This villain has also possessed the bodies of both Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, but we’ll have to see if Wanda will be dragged into the horror side of things in the future.
Chthon unleashing a horde of zombies or other monsters/demons upon the Earthly realm wouldn’t be hard to imagine and could make a great excuse to finally include Marvel Zombies in the mix via The Darkhold.
Basically, this could be Marvel’s own version of Justice League Dark on a much grander scale, which may or may not be started with Scott Derrickson’s Doctor Strange, which already includes many horror and occult themes/characters in his comics.
Here’s who I’d like to see get involved with their horror universe creatively.
Drew Goddard already has a connection with Marvel as he was originally set to showrun Daredevil season one for the television division, before being called-up by Sony to direct Sinister Six, which is on hold and could eventually get scrapped completely. He’s apparently back for Daredevil season two, and having someone already established within Marvel Television could be a giant bonus for a brain-trust like this. He also has a bit of a history with horror material with Cabin In The Woods, Cloverfield, World War Z, and Buffy The Vampire Slayer.
Charlie Brooker is best known for Black Mirror, a series which has caught the world on fire, and could easily take his talents elsewhere, but I feel could give a bit of depth to these characters, who frankly need a supercharged character development and edge from talented writers.
I feel like the creative team working on The Strain could easily take spots within the Marvel horror universe as well. Show writers Justin Britt-Gibson and Greggory Nations could contribute greatly with Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan providing some creative input as producers.
Having a huge brain-trust like this could end-up having the tools already in place to have a steady-stream of guest directors come into the production and take on an episode or two. I’d love to see people like Eli Roth, Jennifer Kent, and a whole slew of other names directing episodes.
Isn’t it about time Marvel finally opened the doors to the horror universe?