Monday, May 12, 2014

Some villains that Marvel Comics won't be bringing back for the movies

So, let me see if I've got this straight: The Amazing Spiderman 2 is no longer the top grossing movie in America, but is still the top grossing movie worldwide. And in the course of this movie, Spidey has to fight the Rhino, Electro, and Green Goblin Jr.

And I'll be honest, I didn't think we'd be seeing the Rhino in a Spidey movie anytime soon, because, frankly, it's kind of a stupid costume. But they took some liberties with the concept, and there he is.

Still, there are some villains in the Marvel Universe that we aren't going to be seeing any time soon, for a number of reasons.

(Full disclosure: Marvel may have less embarrassing villains running around than DC - even if you only take the combined Rogue's Galleries from Batman and the Flash - but they've produced their share of stinkers. And these are only a sampling. I didn't try to get scientific, or make a complete list. These are just a few of the worst - Marvel Marvel has some great heroes and villains, but they haven't all been winners.)

There's a lot of reasons that characters might be flops. Sometimes, science catches up with a character. In Human Torch Comics #27 (1947 - that's Marvel's original Human Torch, a robot who burst into flame when exposed to oxygen), the writers had no idea why it would be a bad idea to introduce Asbestos Lady. She had an asbestos suit. That was her "power."

She disappeared after a few years. Probably into a cancer ward. (In fact, the Marvel Wiki entry for her ends with:
The Asbestos Lady was again imprisoned, but learned in the years that followed that she had contracted cancer due to her constant exposure to asbestos. Her final fate is unknown, but she is believed to have succumbed to the disease.
...but I'm pretty sure that was a retcon that they just threw in later. It doesn't seem to be in the original material that I remember.

Sometimes, a villain just comes out at the wrong time.

Marvel first started using Sinbad (the legendary sailor, not the 90s comedian) in 1974; their version owes a lot more to the Ray Harryhausen movies than to the original legends, of course.

But, as far as timing goes, if you're going to create a mystical genie, who was tricked by Sinbad to go to the future and fight the Fantastic Four (in a one-shot entitled The Fantastic 4th Voyage Of Sinbad), there's nothing wrong with that. There are worse ideas.

But maybe naming him Jihad, and having a cover date on the book that contains him dated September 2001 (a week and a half before a couple of airplanes were flown into the Twin Towers) was a mistake.

Admittedly, the comic book came out in July (because that's how cover dates work). But it still said September.

Chris Claremont (the writer of that particular adventure) was just another victim of 9/11.

But sometimes, the problem has nothing to do with any outside forces. Sometimes, for instance, the writers run out of villains, and just throw some random crap out.

Like The Matador, who first appeared in Daredevil #5 (1964), and seemed to reappear every 10 years or so, just long enough for everybody to forget who he was.

Because what he was, was a bullfighter. That’s it. A guy in a stupid outfit, with a sword that he didn’t use much, and a cape. He liked to use his cape to blind people, and then hit them. That was pretty much it.

If you've been reading Marvel comics for a while, you've probably seen the Kingpin. A fat crimelord modeled on the actor Sydney Greenstreet, he's been a problem for several of Marvel's heroes. But he wasn't the only plus-sized crimelord.

There was, for example, Ulysses X. Lugman, or "the Slug." He was a major drug lord, and he was fat. About 1,200 pounds worth. He wasn’t strong, and he could barely move. Whenever he appeared in a comic frame, he would be eating.

He was smart, and apparently a master planner. He had plenty of henchmen, and lots of money. And, really, he would occasionally demonstrate one superpower: once in a while, he would decide to smother people in the folds of his fat.

Just... eww...

I really don't think that will translate well to the silver screen. But Marvel seems to like fat villains for some reason.

They introduced Pink Pearl in Alpha Flight # 22 (May 1985). She didn't really have powers. She was kind of strong. She was tough (because of her... I don't know, fat armor?). And she was fat. And Canadian.

Other times, the entire concept for a villain is just stupid. For example, in "Obnoxio the Clown vs. the X-Men #1," a one-shot from 1983.

I'm going to ignore Obnoxio the Clown here, because he wasn't a villain so much as a recurring annoyance. But further down this page, we find Eye-Scream. His power? He could turn into any flavor of ice cream.

I think I've made my point just in explaining him.

Sometimes (maybe a lot of times) the writer and the artist are just on drugs.

How about Goody Two-Shoes? He was in The Thing #7 in 1984. He had a bad Swedish accent and "atomic boots." And he kicked things.

Turner D. Century (Spider-Woman #33 - December 1980) hated the modern age.

He dressed like somebody from 1900, rode a flying tandem bike (that's a mannequin on the back seat - even girls in comic books were embarrassed to be seen with him), and his two big weapons were a flamethrower umbrella, and a "time horn" that was supposed to kill anyone under 65.

'Nuff said.

The Disco Era gave us the Hypno-Hustler, in The Spectacular Spider-Man #24 (1978).

He had goggles that could hypnotize people. Or he used his guitar (and his hypnotized backup singers, the Mercy Killers) to hypnotize people. (You see the theme yet?) His boots spit knockout gas and had retractable spikes. And he was so much worse than even his description makes him sound.

But the Disco Era has other crimes to answer for.

In 1978, The Amazing Spiderman #s 182 and 183 gave us a two-fer of crappy villains. The Rocket Racer (who first appeared a year earlier) had a rocket-powered skateboard, and punched people with his rocket powered gloves. And he was fighting The Big Wheel (a guy with a giant mechanical wheel that climbed walls; it was equipped with both guns and grabby-arms).

Even if it wasn't ridiculously dated (and even if one of them wouldn't have a trademark fight with Hasbro), I don't think these two could be redeemed.


Grung_e_Gene said...

The Amazing Spiderman 2 was absolute Dreck.

There have been 35 Marvel Comic Book movies since 1998's Blade, when the Original Batman franchise exploded.

The tally is about 50% good 50% ho-hum to awful. Daredevil comes to mind...

What we will never see is a risky Marvel movie where in a villan like Mystero from the Spidey Universe engages in a game of wits and psychological warfare.

Nameless Cynic said...

Daredevil, Electra, the first Hulk movie - they don't always hit it out of the park. But the superhero movies that work tend to be action, not dark psychological stuff. I'm not sure anybody would go for that idea.

Grung_e_Gene said...

NC, your post made me craft a post about the Marvel Films and comics myself. Thanks for that.

I'm thinking of The Dark Knight which managed to blend action and psychological warfare (excepting that mess of a sonar scene near the end) very well.

What I was thinking about for Spidey was the quintessential story from the 80's; Kraven's Last Hunt.

Although I admit I'd probably be disappointed by what Sony Pictures did with that storyline.