Comic book movies are here to stay (sorry Martin and Francis), and as fan of that type of cinema, I couldn’t be happier. We obviously have Marvel Entertainment to thank for paving the way. They not only created the most successful franchises in film history, they’ve also set the standard going forward for comic book films, and most importantly, shared universes. But, with their ground-breaking Infinity Saga concluded, the question has to be asked: Who’s next?
With the vacuum Marvel has created, it provides a way for publishers with exciting new characters to be considered by the studios and get their own movie-versions.
“Valiant is clearly positioned to be the next Marvel…”
Valiant has had a stake in the comic community since the early 90s. And to the fans who have read their titles for the past 30 years, it seems like a no-brainer that many of their characters should get their moment on the big screen. Valiant recently made a big move with Bloodshot starring Vin Diesel, which is set to hit theaters in 2020. Valiant is clearly positioned to be the next Marvel with a deep bench of characters and storytelling spanning thousands of years. If Bloodshot turns out to be a hit, there are more than enough characters to build a Valiant Cinematic Universe. Valiant is the last connected comic book universe, with over 2,000+ individual and team-up characters, with interwoven cross-over storylines that span time and space. Get ready for the VCU and these are just some of the comics that should have their own theatrical versions…
Archer and Armstrong (Valiant Comics)
Originally written and illustrated in 1992 by the brilliantly talented Barry Windsor-Smith, and rebooted as a Harvey Award-Nominated title in 2014 by Fred Van Lente, Archer and Armstrong is the kind of buddy action/comedy franchise that Hollywood loves. The fact that these characters also play a pivotal role in the Valiant Comic Book Universe means their integration into a Valiant Cinematic Universe would be that much easier.
Armstrong is an immortal who’s been around since ancient times for 10,000 years and has been a part of almost every significant historical event. He’s also a nihilistic drunk, think Wolverine except more drunk, and instead of claws, he has a supernatural satchel that he can pull almost any item from. He meets Archer who’s a boy trained to be an assassin meant to kill him, but they end up becoming buddies by circumstance. This unlikely pair is comedy gold and dramatically different than the kind of heroes in tights and capes. Any universe featuring Armstrong would lend a strong possibility to the introduction of his two brothers, also immortals, one a brilliant time traveler, the other one of the fiercest warriors in the pages of Valiant.
X-O Manowar (Valiant Comics)
X-O Manowar is the centerpiece of the Valiant universe. He’s easily their most recognized character, and probably their most successful title. What X-O Manowar gives us is a Guardians of the Galaxy/Flash Gordon‘esque” space opera with a hero (a displaced out of time warrior) in a power suit made of symbiotic alien technology — it’s an actual living piece of tech which adds a whole other dimension to the story. Given the right cast and respectable budget, it has potential to be a huge hit. (If Ryan Gosling is looking to get into a comic book movie, this would be the perfect fit.)
Livewire (Valiant Comics)
In the current social and political climate, Livewire is a major movie studios’ dream. An African-American, female lead who is strong, complex, and has the ability to control machines with her mind. The pool of talented, young African-American actresses is deep these days, and with the right director involved, this could be a hit on the level of Black Panther.
From the darker side of the Valiant universe comes Jack Boniface who is bonded to a powerful voodoo spirit. Jack must work with an ancient order of New Orleans sorcerers to protect both the living and the dead in tales both heroic and horrific. Think Spawn meets Hamlet set in New Orleans. Shadowman is ripe material to mine for a director like Guillermo del Toro. (Guillermo, get on this one!)
A 1970s London ageless punk voodoo priestess with a pink mohawk who will save you from demons… so she can punch you herself. Punk Mambo is Girl with the Dragon Tattoo meets V for Vendetta with a bit of True Blood mixed in as well.
Shadowman and Punk Mambo are two characters from the darker side of the Valiant universe who interact with a sinister place known as the Deadside where one can check in but can’t check out. Except for these two, who happen to have some impressive powers as well.
All of these characters live in the same Universe, yet are all but untouched by the cinematic world. With a more realistic and grounded cast of characters that reflect present day current events they seem prime to be the next step on the comic/cinematic evolutionary ladder. Any reader of Valiant knows that their characters are more complex, unpredictable and dangerous–some, heroes one day and villains the next, that’s what you get in the Valiant universe.
What about other titles from DC Comics? Well, given the track record of Warner Bros. and how they’ve handled the properties of DC, a betting man would probably say the odds are slim. The success of Joker, Aquaman, Shazam!, Wonder Woman, and Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight are the exceptions, not the norm for this studio. But with that said, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t some titles that could still be a huge hit. In fact, here are just a few comic books that could have a serious impact on the big screen.
The Books of Magic (DC/Vertigo Comics)
With the Harry Potter stories being over and done with (for now), there is room for another magic-based series. The Books of Magic gives the audience an intriguing, underdog hero in the form of young Tim Hunter, who is swept into a world of powerful beings who all have a vested interest in his future. We also get access to DC’s vault of magical characters such as Zatanna, John Constantine, Doctor Fate, Black Alice, Entrigan, and even the Spectre. But most importantly, we get a phenomenal story from Neil Gaiman himself. This has the potential for not only single film success, it’s practically designed for an extended universe.
The Invisibles (DC/Vertigo Comics)
Ask any rabid fan of his, and they will tell you that Scottish writer (and comic legend) Grant Morrison’s “magnum opus”is The Invisibles. Morrison, who dramatically transformed and brought success to every title he has touched since the 1990s, reached his peak with the quirky and high-minded series about five bizarre, yet extremely dangerous agents of a secret organization known as “The Invisible College.” This series is what you get if you were to mix Kingsman and Deadpool, with a little bit of The Matrix. And with Grant Morrison involved, this could be a summer blockbuster without question.
The Few and the Cursed (Indie Comic)
With the exception of Cowboys and Aliens and Jonah Hex, there haven’t been many Westerns based on comic books with a major Hollywood budget. The Few and The Cursed is a story that can easily fill the Western void. The story of an alternate America around 1910 where, because of a lack of water, society hasn’t progressed any further than the western age. Add to that, magic and monsters exist in this world. The heroine is a beautiful, nameless, red-haired, gun-slinger who helps keep the demons at bay. Throw in a name like Emma Watson, Karen Gilan, or Sophie Turner, and a big name for the villain, and this movie will fill theater seats.
Skies of Fire (Indie/Ray Chou)
In the fantasy world where air travel and dominance means power, a sky-pirate named Delmonte attacks one of this strange world’s most important trading ports, then retreats in a never ending storm called The Expanse. It’s up to the captain of the royal guard, Helen Pierce to round up a crew crazy enough to go into The Expanse and bring Delmonte to justice. This story could be extremely expensive to make, but could also be the most gorgeous comic to film movie ever made. And with the right talent for Delmonte and Pierce, there’s no reason it wouldn’t succeed.
Sex Criminals (Image Comics)
Imagine if you had the power to stop time every time you had an orgasm. This is the story of Suzie and Jon who, after stopping time when they have sex, decide to use that frozen hour to rob banks, stores, and people standing on the street corners. That is till, the “time cops” (you read that right) get wind of their activities and decide to hunt them down. This book is hilarious from start to finish and a movie based on this concept starring some of the funniest comedic actors would be a guaranteed “R-rated” hit.
Hack/Slash (Image Comics)
Buffy the Vampire Slayer never had to hunt down the scariest and most famous slashers in history. This task has been given to Cassie Hack and her “Jason Voorhees-like” partner, Vlad. In the comic, they hunt down everybody from Chucky the Doll to Evil Ernie. And with the high sex appeal and gory, brutal kill-scenes, any fan of the horror genre would line up for this on day one.
Night of the Cadillacs (Comixology)
It’s The Warriors meets The Lost Boys. Supernatural gangs battle each other for territory, food, and blood-rights. But not agreeing with his clans methods towards humans, a rebel vampire takes matters into his own hands when he helps a young human girl escape. This is ripe for “young Hollywood.” And if done correctly, could mean a box-office hit, and cult-movie favorite.
Give Me Liberty (Dark Horse Comics)
With the current political climate where it is, Give Me Liberty is positioned perfect story for the big screen. Written by comic veteran Frank Miller, the story is set in a dystopian United States torn apart by factions (sound familiar) and the power of corporations in this new world. The lead in this story, Martha Washington (a young African-American woman), discovers through her many talents with a computer, a major government conspiracy is at play.
I’m sure even as I’m writing this piece, there is probably meeting at a cafe somewhere in Hollywood about Kurt Busiek’s Astro City. Every major (and minor) film company is fighting it out for the rights, cause they all want piece of that sweet money-making pie. The books I listed are just only a few titles that I feel warrant a shot on the big screen (or at least a decent Netflix spot). And the opportunity for smaller studios to get in on the “comic craze” has never been bigger than it is right now. The only thing we can hope is, going forward, that any comic making the transition to film is treated with the care and respect that they deserve.