Around the time of publication of part three of my and Anthony Flagg’s ongoing series about the Marvel Cinematic Multiverse Marcoverses, our amazingly talented editor Ms. Lizzie Hill proposed an idea about an offshoot article. She threw out the idea about exploring the Monsterverse within the MCM and how that would naturally grow from projects already announced and those rumored to be in the pipeline. Just before the publication of part three, Ms. Lizzie Hill ran an exclusive about Marvel’s own Werewolf by Night getting his own Disney+ project. Between her proposal and Werewolf by Night report, my mind began to race with possibilities. So like any good reporter when given an assignment, Anthony and I started to investigate the different monsters that exist in Marvel Comics and how a Marvel Monsterverse could develop within the films and shows of the MCM. Although we do already have some “monsters” introduced, such as The Incredible Hulk and Groot, they don’t fit in with any typical horror elements present in modern monster films. At least not the way that they are currently presented in the MCM. Though with the promise of Blade (Mahershala Ali) coming soon along and the monsters spilling out of Moon Knight, it’s time to see which characters could make an appearance in this new Monsterverse and how that world would develop over time.
The Usual Suspects – Frankenstein, Dracula, The Living Mummy
It’s easy for a few things to instantly come to mind when you think of the word ‘monster’. Werewolf, Dracula, Frankenstein, and The Mummy are likely the first. With hundreds of years and multiple adaptations, any of these would be a great start for Marvel’s Monsterverse because of their wide familiarity with general audiences. Looking back we’ve seen Frankenstein’s Monster and Dracula on-screen over decades, with a few memorable (both good and bad) portrayals.
While we have seen plenty of mummies over the history of cinema, none were actual depictions of N’Kantu the Living Mummy, Marvel’s take on the classic creature. With a history spanning three thousand years, N’Kantu began as a Swarili chieftain living in Sub-Saharan Africa during the rule of Aram-Set, the Pharaoh of Egypt. Becoming enslaved by the Pharaoh along with his people, N’Kantu refused to let his spirit break, eventually leading to a rebellion and killing the Pharaoh. However, he is met by the royal wizard Nephrus who injects him with a special fluid and entombs him in a sarcophagus as punishment for his treason. What a way to spend eternity. However, eternity only lasted long enough to drive N’Kantu insane, which lasted until about the 20th century. Upon awakening, N’kantu terrorizes the streets of Cario which is only the beginning of his crazy adventures in modern time. I think that N’Kantu could easily be adapted in either a movie or show on Disney+. The jumping-off point for such a story is approaching quickly, with Moon Knight set to premiere in 2022 which is partially based in Egypt. Moon Knight as a character is given powers from the Egyptian God Khonshu, a deity that was around during N’Kantu’s time. A flashback in Egypt could then spin forth into a Living Mummy show set mostly in ancient times and hints at the character’s future in modern MCM times.
Of all the typical attractors, with the exception of a werewolf who has already been attached to a Marvel project, the introduction of Dracula first seems the most likely. Dracula began his adventures in Marvel comics in his own series The Tomb of Dracula in 1972. Much like his literary and movie counterparts, he was a blood-sucking, bat-morphing monster who served as a villain to many heroes. As Lord of the Vampires, Dracula works diligently to build an army of the undead, in hopes of ruling the world. With Blade making his introduction soon, it makes logical sense to have the world’s most recognizable vampire onscreen. Especially when Morbius might be off-limits while Sony decides what to do with it, for now at least. It would be interesting to see Dracula already established as a leader among the Monsterverse when audiences are introduced to him. By silently moving in the night, Dracula could show how monsters have existed without tipping off any of the heroes. In fact, in the world I’m building in my head, Dracula is a king on the chessboard and to him, everyone else is just a pawn.
Frankenstein’s Monster would also serve as an interesting addition to the mix. Though more so due to his maker rather than the reanimated body. In many ways, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) served as the Doctor Frankenstein to Ultron’s monster (taking the role that originally belonged to Hank Pym). So the creator-creation relationship has been explored before, I would hope if they touch on that dynamic that it’s more of a reflective moment (one quick flashback) to build upon the character. Similar to how we saw Kathryn Hahn’s Agatha absorb the power from the other witches in WandaVision, a nice reanimation sequence just to add significance to how long the monster has survived (3 centuries). Like many of the characters in this subsection, Frankenstein would serve best with an initial origin story that quickly thrusts them into modern-day life.
Is he a man, a thing, or – a Man-Thing?
Doctor Theodore Sallis made his way into Marvel comics in Savage Tales #1 and eventually had his own ongoing series within the Adventure into Fear brand. In the comics, ‘Ted’ is a scientist that is working in the swampy Everglades of Florida to recreate the super-soldier serum that was given to Steve Rogers. When he learned that Advanced Ideas Mechanics (A.I.M.) is working in the area, he decides to destroy his notes and injects himself with the serum while trying to escape. Crashing his car into a swamp where the formula and magic of the swamp manage to transform him into something horrific. He becomes a slow-moving, plant-like creature with menacingly glowing red eyes. He loses the ability to talk and only has the faintest memory of his life prior to being Man-Thing.
Besides being a scary monster residing in a swamp, Sallis develops the ability to sense human emotion, and when he senses fear he becomes enraged and secretes a corrosive acid that burns through people’s skin if they come into contact. It is said that the acid can burn a person to ashes within seconds. While his appearance and powers scream monster, most of the time Dr. Theodore Sallis acts as a hero, though perhaps accidental. As he stumbles upon situations, Man-Thing will save those who need it and burn those who seek to do harm. Since we know that there have always been attempts at replicating the serum, this character could be a simple comic-to-screen adaptation. The story could be done in the present day and location, as currently the big stories mostly happen in the cities alongside both coasts yet they dipped into Louisiana more than once for Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Which it could easily tie into, either with the government attempting to replicate the serum or through the use of the power broker once more.
The Alien from the Black Lagoon – Manphibian
Manphibian made his debut in Legion of Monsters #1 way back in September 1975. He was shown to be an alien, though his name and race are unknown. Though he had been alive for over a thousand years prior to his arrival on Earth. He ended up on our planet after chasing one of his own across the stars after the fellow alien killed Manphibian’s partner. In his attempt to exact revenge on his partner’s killer, both became trapped within Earth for over a millennium.
Like all great naps, Manphibian’s slumber came to an end when he, and the murderous alien were awakened by oil drilling occurring right on top of them. Through a series of rather unfortunate events, the killer got away, which began a search that took years to complete. While some could argue that Manphibian may not fall into the monster category because he is more alien than anything else, I think his appearance and presence alone are enough to warrant inclusion in our Monsterverse. At seven feet tall and just over 400 pounds (and also looking straight out of a Black Lagoon monster film), Manphibian is scary, intimidating, and monstrous if he was ever seen out on the street. Based on his outward appearance, he fits most of the profile in regards to a monster. He as well got his start in the Legion of Monsters, which is what we are building to. More on that in a bit.
LongShots – Morbius
Morbius is a wild card for mine and Anthony’s Monsterverse, for a few reasons (especially after growing up with the animated version who had a ‘modified’ method of sucking ‘plasma’ – Anthony). The first and probably the most obvious is that Sony owns the rights to the character. As most fans know, Morbius, a film about the living vampire, is scheduled to release in early 2022 with Jared Leto playing the lead role. While Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios have played nice with Spider-Man, the other character’s from Spider-Man’s sandbox feel off-limits with the connective tissue between them. Venom has felt separate from the Spider-Man films, with Sony indicating that they are connected and Marvel saying they aren’t.
The second reason is that Morbius is similar to Dracula, which will be an integral part of the Monsterverse that we are building. Not that there isn’t room for more than one vampire in the MCM, it would be important to distinguish the two so that the stories are not too similar to one another. Also, it should be noted that they each have very different motivations with Dracula being inherently evil.
However, if the two studios were able to play nice with each other here, Morbius would be interesting to see in play within the MCM. Deriving his powers in an attempt to cure himself of a blood disease, Dr. Michael Morbius ends up combining Vampire Bat DNA with Electroshock therapy, which cures his blood disease. However, he develops “Pseudo-vampirism” which means he has to drink blood to survive and exhibits aversive reactions to the light. As well, he can also fly and heal from his wounds. If the MCM stuck to this origin story, he would be quite different from Dracula, who is a supernatural vampire and not a vampire of science. They could also look at a problem from one who has embraced their vampirism (Dracula) and thrives off of the chaos that ensues, and one who is reluctant and feels bag for his thirst for blood (Morbius).
Overall- Legion of Monsters
So with each character that would be introduced in the Monsterverse, an origin story would be essential to learn who that character is and what their motivations are. As each individual story unravels, what overarching story would bring our monsters together to fight as a team? A “legion” as they are called. With the development of this article, it felt like Anthony knew right away what the big bad of this new Marcoverse would be. Here enters Robert Hellsgaard and with him a connection to more of the supernatural side and perhaps a Midnight Sons connection. Hellsgaard is an engineer in the late 1800’s who discovers his entire family murdered by a pack of werewolves. He set on his new life mission to eradicate the werewolf population and along his travels meets Ulysses Bloodstone (father to famed monster hunter Elsa Bloodstone).
During their travels, Hellsgaard builds himself a suit of armor, similar to the original Iron Man armor, and becomes trapped in Limbo until the 1970s where he is released via a portal in Japan. Their intentions being to get any possible information to defend themselves against monsters that had been terrorizing them. Hellgsaard even manages to form an alliance with them to help him in his quest to rid the world of monsters as he had been doing before. See where we’re going with this? With the introduction of Werewolf By Night into the MCM within the current phase, Hellsgaard’s origin story is an easy jump. The monsters that we will be rooting for will also be the creators of their greatest enemy. Similar to how Tony Stark created many of the villains in the MCM due to his actions. It would also give them a reason to unite, something that monsters just don’t seem interested in doing unless they are forced to. This also allows for the introduction of Monster Metropolis. A city beneath the streets of New York where supernatural beings of all kinds reside together in harmony. Though the monsters weren’t always at peace, and only retreated beneath New York due to a war between the Succubi (initial ruling class of the monsters) and Vampires. This lasted centuries and greatly weakened the monster forces. Introducing these initial monsters opens the door for others to follow. Eventually, we could see the likes of Franken Castle, The Invisible Woman, and even Mole Man join the ranks now that the doors to the castle are firmly open.
What Marvel monsters would you like to see in live-action? Let us know in the comments or on social media!
References/sources: Den of Geek