The newest Morbius trailer just dropped, making it clear a character that the average filmgoer had never heard of a decade ago—never mind wanted to see a movie about—is really and truly going to be on big screens everywhere. He’ll join Venom as another anti-hero spun out from Spider-Man to blaze his own cinematic trail.
With Sony hungry for more Spidey-related content and Venom’s somewhat surprising sequel success, rumors of more anti-heroes getting films of their own have been swirling for years. But rather than wait, we like to be helpful and move things along. So here are 10 Marvel anti-heroes connected to ol’ Webhead who would make excellent film fodder.
Top 10 Anti-heroes From Spider-man Comics That Should Appear in the Movies
After the success of Venom and Venom: Let There Be Carnage, the time is right for Hollywood to make like Marvel Comics in the ’90s. In other words, wall-to-wall symbiotes far as the eye can see!
Ok, I confess, I’m being a bit facetious. Still, Agent Anti-Venom, aka Flash Thompson, has a great storytelling hook that’s difficult to pass up. Peter Parker’s old bully turned friend comes back from serving disabled. The U.S. government has other uses for him, though, so they offer him a chance only to continue “fighting for the country” by merging with a symbiote. They further sweeten it by letting him wear an arachnid symbol like his idol, the Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man.
MCU/Sony continuity demands some changes but given Carnage’s ending (no spoilers, I promise), that sort of thing seems easier than ever to work out. Plus, the idea of Tony Revolori action star is an absolute kick. Or they can always dig into the Raimi-continuity and bring back Joe Manganiello, an actor who has already demonstrated a willingness to don a costume and pick up a firearm.
This one, admittedly, runs the risk of getting labeled as a knockoff by readers. However, Felicia Hardy is too much fun to leave on the table, Catwoman comparisons be damned.
Hardy, trained by her father and her mentor Black Fox to be a career criminal, sets about it with impressive skill. However, after meeting Spider-Man, the burglar feels inspired—more by her attraction than altruism, but still—to try for the straight and narrow.
Given the vagaries of film, perhaps we can’t give the fans a Black Cat/Spidey romance. Maybe the inspiration is something more of admiration from afar. Regardless, the result is the same. Black Cat pursues her own desire for shiny baubles while also using her talents to bring a little bit of balance to the socioeconomic scales of her city. Think of her as Robin Hood or like a one-woman Leverage team who can’t help but keep a few items for herself now and then.
I’ve been beating this drum for years now, and, you know what? Gonna keep beating it. With entire Twitter accounts and people’s personalities devoted to reminding us how bad health care is in the United States, Cardiac should be an easy layup.
Elias Wirtham is a surgeon who loses faith in the system when he learns his brother died of a curable disease. Why did Joshua Wirtham never receive that cure? It turns out a pharmaceutical company buried it when they learned holding on to it, for now, would mean more profits in the long run.
So Wirtham ditches the scrubs for subcutaneous Vibranium implants and a beta reactor heart to become Cardiac. Then he sets out to solve problems the comic book way: indiscriminate vigilante violence against anyone he perceives as immoral in the medical establishment. Given our current health care system, he hardly wants for targets.
Imagine the mix of excitement and repulsion viewers would thrill to watching Cardiac brutally eliminate pharmaceutical CEOs and CFOs of health care insurance companies.
Mark Raxton, Liz Allen’s step-brother, made a bad choice. In a moment of weakness, he stole an experimental alloy he helped develop from his employer. Rather than sell it to the competition for big bucks, though, he ended up doused with it. The result fusion turned his skin gold, resulting in superhuman strength. He can also will his skin to heat up to impressive temperatures.
Like in the comics, you can have Raxton quickly realize the error of his ways and strive to make amends. Like any good anti-hero, though, his prior sins and his temper don’t let him color in the lines a hero like Spider-Man can. Instead, Molten Man must evade the law while seeking to punish other companies developing technologies to harm and kill others instead of improving human life.
A purple-clad mercenary with no name (although he often goes by Paul Denning) Paladin tends to be a man with skills available to the highest bidder. His love of money does not stop him from having a code, however. For instance, he uses stun guns, not standard firearms. More, even though he’d prefer he was a bit more amoral, he finds it difficult to ignore the voice of his conscience. He may be for sale, but he’s not a monster.
What he definitely is is an unrepentant flirt. Think of him as a less bogged down by decades of sexism Bond type. His dalliances aren’t motivated by misogynistic resistance to monogamy and commitment, but more of an ethical polyamory. He enjoys his brief romances, and the women he’s with know precisely what they’re signing up for and do so gladly.
Imagine a latter-day gunslinger who keeps doing good from job to job despite choosing a fundamentally immoral occupation. A sort of gregarious wanderer who rarely dwells on his choices, he blows into town, solves problems, has a great time, and moves along.
The MCU has already gotten this one on the tee for us. By casting Donald Glover as Aaron Davis in Spider-Man: Homecoming, they introduced the character and gave us an actor of considerable charisma ready to take on the role.
All the movie needs to do is pick up where we last saw Davis, webbed to his car, urging Spidey to keep the neighborhood safe for kids like his nephew. We witness how Davis makes his less than legal living and his growing inability to feel ok with being a career criminal.
Perhaps he first dons his Prowler gear to take out rivals, but quickly gets a taste for the heroic life. Soon, it’s a genuine struggle for him to figure out who he truly is. Low-level career criminal by day, costumed hero by night. Can he hold that dialectical? If he can’t, what’s the fallout?
Thomas Fireheart is the owner-operator of a lucrative company, Fireheart Enterprises, who also has the power to turn into a sort of humanoid cat (think the film Cats except never ever do that). At first, he used his ability to do lucrative criminal work until he ended up in debt to the Wall-Crawler. Then he felt obligated to both protect Spidey and improve his public image.
The twist is, Fireheart feels honor-bound to act in this manner, but he loathes it. He doesn’t like being in anyone’s debt, especially the flashy and disrespectful Spider-Man. He’d much rather work for high-paying criminals on one-off jobs that line his pockets and create no need for further relationships.
It’s easy enough to unbraid that idea from the Webslinger by either making that moment happen in flashback or have it be a more general debt. For example, what if while Puma was pulling a job for Crime Master, a civilian gets hurt. Fireheart feels obligated to make amends for the sin by using his skills and wealth to fight crime. However, unlike, say Prowler above, he gains no satisfaction from it. Instead, he’s doing the right thing and hating every minute of it.
Robert Farrell, a prodigy out of Brooklyn, has a rough hand. In his teens, his mother died. He, the oldest of seven, felt obligated to keep the family together. Unfortunately, even his genius wasn’t enough to get a reliable, well-paying job at his age, so he had no choice but to turn to crime. Using his mind to invent all the tools he needed—including the rocket-powered skateboard that gives him his name—Farrell became a thief to support his brothers and sisters.
In the comics, it isn’t long before Farrell ends up back on the straight and narrow. In adaptation, though, the idea of Farrell becoming more of a Breaking Bad-style figure, one who takes to crime like a duck to water and enjoys it too much to stop, could be far more compelling. As he grows in power and prestige, his work to “save” his family puts them increasingly in the crosshairs of higher-powered, more dangerous supervillains. Can he quit the work he started for them, or did it stop being about family a long time ago?
While “doing to for the ‘gram” is probably a bit outdated, performing for social media clout remains a popular pursuit for younger would-be influencers. Screwball figured out how to do it as a criminal first and best, recording her exploits for Reels, TikTok, and YouTube all at once. In an era where the American Dream seems as hollow as ever, and young people are increasingly less likely to live longer than the previous generation and significantly less likely to outearn them, why not break the law for profit and followers?
Of course, Screwball is more of a prankster than anything else. Her crimes are stealing from companies too big to fail and vandalizing grotesque monuments to criminal capitalism. It’s not like she’s recording herself committing brutal assaults or murders. When she crosses Roxxon, though, Marvel’s evilest company is more than happy to seize her feeds and make the world think she’s exactly that kind of criminal.
Silvija Sablinov, aka Silver Sable, inherited the family Nazi-hunting business. However, by now, most World War II-era Nazis that escaped prosecution are either dead, or her family already caught them. Still, it isn’t like hatred and genocide have gone away. Sable has outrageous amounts of money and a seemingly endless reserve of disgust for bigots.
The world’s governments already resent her and her family for decades of extrajudicial actions that ignore treaties, alliances, and national self-interest. So it isn’t like stopping now is going to make Silver Sable International popular.
Also, there’s something undeniably delicious about a scourge of white supremacy being a woman with bright white hair decked out from neck to toe in a white bodysuit. Talk about your subversion of symbols.
While he lives, terror dies, as he loves to tell us over and over again. Think of Solo as, essentially, Punisher but wholly focused on terrorism and without any of the self-discipline. He’s angry, he’s reckless, and he’ll never use just one bullet to get a job done when he can use an entire clip, six grenades, and a mortar shell.
Making Solo both a figure of fun, a scary example of excessive force on an international scale, and a deeply broken guy isn’t an easy swing. Suppose a movie can navigate it, though. In that case, you’ll end up with a knowing critique of the War on Terror that still recognizes the real pain and sacrifice of the true believers who fell for the idea that if you kill enough people, eventually terrorism will end.
Tim Steven is a sad tomato, Tim Stevens is three miles of bad road. He’s also a therapist, staff writer and social media manager for The Spool, and a freelance writer with publications like ComicsVerse, Marvel.com, CC Magazine, and The New Paris Press. His work has been quoted in Psychology Today, The Atlantic, and MSN Ireland. Feel free to find him @UnGajje on Twitter or in a realm of pure imagination.