Black Panther is, in every sense of the word, a triumph for Marvel Studios. It’s been blessed with an overwhelmingly positive response from both critics and fans and it’s continually earning more and more more at the box office – it might even beat out The Avengers to become the biggest MCU movie of the lot in terms of domestic gross.
It’s fair to say, then, that it has well and truly blasted away any dated beliefs from out-of-touch studio execs that say a superhero pic starring someone other than a white guy can’t be a barnstorming success. Not that this is the sole reason it’s been a hit, of course – far from it – but Black Panther will surely open the door to many more Marvel movies starring black leads in the future.
As the MCU has starred only Caucasian folks so far as its protagonists, there are plenty of black heroes and heroines rolling around the comic book universe that are crying out for an appearance on the big screen. With the franchise set to renew itself in major – and currently unknown ways – in Phase Four, and its accompanying TV shows also increasing in number all the time, there are many ways for these characters to now show up.
But which heroes, in particular, do we think deserve to follow in Black Panther’s footsteps? Here are our top eight picks, and if you feel like we’ve left anyone out, be sure to let us know in the comments section down below.
One of the most prominent heroines in the modern Marvel universe is finally coming to the MCU next year when Brie Larson makes her long-awaited debut as Carol Danvers in Captain Marvel. But comic fans may remember that Carol wasn’t the first female Captain Marvel on the page: that honor goes to Monica Rambeau.
She actually made a pretty big impact when she went by the title, too. Not only was she a longtime member of the Avengers, but Rambeau even led the team for a period in the late 1980s. Even after she stopped going by Captain Marvel, though, Rambeau stuck around the Marvel universe – trying on other names like Photon, Pulsar and, most recently, Spectrum.
Given her key history with Captain Marvel lore, Monica deserves to appear in the future of the MCU, which will no doubt feature a whole lot of Carol Danvers. Interestingly, it’s been rumoured that actress DeWanda Wise is playing Monica in Captain Marvel. If that’s indeed true, let’s hope it leads to a bigger role for the character in Phase Four.
Recently, MCU fans were shocked when it was revealed that Black Panther‘s Shuri is even smarter than geniuses like Tony Stark and Bruce Banner. But, at least going by the comics universe, there’s yet another Marvel hero who’s been officially classified as the smartest person on Earth. And that’s 9-year-old Lunella Lafayette – AKA Moon Girl.
An Inhuman, Moon Girl possesses supremely advanced intelligence as well as the ability to swap consciousnesses with her best pal, Devil Dinosaur – yes, she has a pet dinosaur. DD himself actually goes back decades – a creation of comic book legend Jack Kirby, Devil Dinosaur was initially paired with Moon Boy before Moon Girl was created back in 2016. Since then, though, she’s made a big impression on the MU – which needs to be repaid with an MCU appearance.
Recently, it was announced that Ant-Man and the Wasp’s Laurence Fishburne will be producing a Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur animated TV series. It’s great news that the character will be making her screen debut, but it would still be fun to see her become part of the MCU at some point. After all, she’d be a good ally for another bunch of teen heroes we’d like to see…
Everyone knows that Steve Rogers was the only successful super-soldier created by Project: Rebirth, right? Actually, no. It was later revealed in the comics that the government continued the experiments on African-American test subjects. The result was another, secret, Captain America: Isaiah Bradley.
In the modern-day, his grandson Eli Bradley attempts to make a name for himself as Patriot. The thing is, though, he hasn’t inherited his grandpa’s powers. However, his heroic heart and bravery is enough and Eli joins the Young Avengers – alongside other adolescent heroes including Hulking, Wiccan, Speed, Iron Lad and Miss America. In a twist, he sacrifices himself but is resurrected with a blood transfusion that finally gives him Isaiah’s abilities.
Patriot is a great character with a rich story to explore, then, and the obvious home for him in the MCU would be in a Young Avengers movie. Seriously, the idea of a teenage spinoff of the Avengers would be such an obvious big hitter for the MCU that we’re surprised we haven’t heard anything about it happening yet. Maybe it’s one of those mystery movies that’s been given a release date?
Deathlok might look a bit like a Marvel take-off of DC’s Cyborg mixed with a zombie but he’s actually much more than that (not to mention the fact that he predated Victor Stone by 8 years). The details have varied over time, but Deathlok is usually depicted as a military man who’s resurrected with cybernetic enhancements. The character’s original run in the 1970s was a leading voice at the time for mature comics and went on to inspire many future Marvel creators (including The Avengers’ Joss Whedon).
Yes, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. fans will recall that J. August Richards has already played Deathlok in the first couple of seasons of the MCU-related show. But, if we’re honest, the series kind of wasted a character who could have a lot of potential to lead his own vehicle as a compelling anti-hero, so we’d be interested in seeing a rebooted take at some point.
Thankfully, that wouldn’t cause any continuity glitches as there have been several versions of Deathlok in the comics – AoS‘ Mike Peterson was even created for the show. Interestingly, one iteration – Henry Hayes – served as a soldier in Kandahar, much like Frank Castle in Netflix’s The Punisher. Spinoff, anyone?
We have many questions about what’s going to happen to the MCU after Phase Three finishes, but one of the biggest is: what does the future hold for Iron Man? Robert Downey Jr. can’t keep playing the genius billionaire playboy philanthropist forever, but how on Midgard will Marvel be able to find someone to replace him? Maybe the best idea is to have the next ironclad hero be someone completely different from Tony Stark.
With that in mind, enter Riri Williams, AKA Iron Heart. Created by Brian Michael Bendis (the mind behind Miles Morales and Jessica Jones) in 2016, Riri was a student of Tony’s who took over from him when he was comatose for a time – an A.I. version of Stark even acted as her JARVIS. She was chosen due to her ability to create her own homemade version of the Iron Man armour.
Alternatively, rather than introducing Riri Williams, another contender to take over Iron Man’s mantle might already exist in the MCU: T’Challa’s scientific prodigy of a sister Shuri. She shares a few traits with Riri and Letitia Wright’s character already has a lot of fan support and a warm reaction from critics.
As the number of times we’ve heard Black Panther called “the first ever Marvel movie with a black lead” proves, the Blade trilogy is often overlooked nowadays – which is a shame as, if you think about it, those films helped kickstart the rise of the superhero movie genre that ultimately created the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With that in mind, we – and the Daywalker’s legion of fans out there – think that Blade deserves a spot in the MCU.
Unless Marvel Studios’ changes the tone and direction of its movies, though, we don’t think a Blade 4 is a good idea – sorry, Wesley Snipes. Instead, the character is a much better fit for the Marvel’s TV division as the Netflix shows have proven they can be much more gritty, mature and, surprisingly, a lot more mystical (see: Daredevil‘s the Hand) than their silver screen counterparts.
One idea for how a Blade TV series could work would be for it to follow an abandoned idea from the comics: have the Daywalker mentor his teenage daughter, Fallon Grey, in the ways of being a vampire hunter. If they wanted, they could even bring Snipes (now 55, after all, and, let’s face it, more of a TV star than a movie leading man anyways) back to play this older version of the hero.
When Spider-Man was folded into the MCU and rebooted for the third time in less than 15 years, many called for Marvel to sidestep Peter Parker and go with Miles Morales, Peter’s replacement as the wallcrawler in the Ultimate universe in the comics. Likely due to Peter Parker’s iconic nature, the studio didn’t choose this route – however, they did drop a few references in Spider-Man: Homecoming that suggest Miles could be on the way in Phase Four.
First of all, Donald Glover – who’d famously been linked with Miles’ character for years – was cast to play Aaron Davis in the movie, the criminal uncle of Miles’ in the comics. He even name-checked his nephew in a deleted scene. Given this, we’re keeping our fingers crossed that Miles could be on his way in the vaguely near future. Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige has even made some positive comments on the topic.
Sure, we’re excited to see what Sony have cooked up in their upcoming animated movie Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, which promises to explore the multiverse of Spider-characters out there. But we’d still like to see Miles appear in live-action soon, too. Not that we necessarily want him to replace Tom Holland’s Peter Parker.
Maybe the pair could operate as partners? After all, both of them are swinging around the comics universe at the moment.
Sam Wilson (Captain America)
We’ve already discussed the issue Marvel will have when they reach the fateful day Iron Man needs to be replaced, but what about Captain America? Thankfully, there are a few options open to them. The two most obvious candidates are Steve Rogers’ best buds Bucky Barnes and Sam Wilson. But which of them would be the better contender to become the next Sentinel of Liberty?
Well, going by the comics, that’s definitely Sam. Though Bucky stepped into Rogers’ boots for a while, Wilson’s tenure as Captain America has been much more notable. In recent years, Sam has taken over from his friend and has proven himself every bit as brave, wise, compassionate and as in tune with what Captain America is all about as Steve. And, if you want to get all sociological about it, there’s probably a deeper meaning to having a black man take on the mantle of the hero who represents the face of the USA.
Obviously, the MCU is a completely different ballgame from the comics universe, but Sam is still the top pick to replace Rogers. Bucky is much more interesting as a fractured anti-hero than he would be as a symbol of hope like Cap, anyway. We’ve liked what we’ve seen of Anthony Mackie as Falcon so far and we’re willing to watch what he can do if he’s promoted to the Captain America role.