Gabbing Geek Water Cooler: Iconic Comic Book Characters Without Their Own Movie

Watercooler Chat

The Gabbing Geek water cooler is a lot more interesting now that Tom and Jimmy are here.  Before they joined, any time Watson, Jenny, and I stood around the cooler talking about an interesting subject Watson would tell us to shut up and “Save it for the podcast!”  (It’s true, I do. – Watson)  Which is really awkward when we’re just trying to order at a restaurant.

But now that we have more people we can actually have water cooler conversations without Watson shutting it down.  And so we thought we’d kick off this first Gabbing Geek Water Cooler chat with the following topic.  Superhero movies are all the rage.  Seriously.  Look it up.  And yet there are so many great characters that still don’t have movies announced.

I tried to find a funny water cooler picture and came across this one from the North Delaware Happening website. And I realized nobody does funny like people in North Delaware, so I went with it.

The question is this–in the modern superhero movie age (defined as starting with Iron Man) what iconic comic book character still doesn’t have a movie announced/released that needs one?

Tom: Finding an iconic comic book character that isn’t in line for a movie is rather rough. Even the lesser known ones are getting a shot, and counting television, that means Green Arrow, the Atom, Firestorm, John Constantine, Supergirl, the Teen Titans, Daredevil, Luke Cage, and so forth are all coming soon. But Alan Moore’s take on a forgettable plant monster, starting with the brilliant single issue “Anatomy Lesson” made Swamp Thing an icon. Without Swamp Thing, Moore’s career Stateside may not have gone anywhere too quickly, there would have been no John Constantine, there may not have been a Dream of the Endless, and there may not have been a Vertigo line. Plus, he has done other media in the past, so non-fans may recognize him, which would be how I would define “iconic”.

Not getting it done for you, Tom Kelly?  BURN!
Not getting it done for you, Tom Kelly? BURN!

Watson:  My Gabbing Geek co-hosts always call me the antagonist of the Gabbing Geek podcast (“Actually, we used the phrase ‘douchebag’ or ‘troll’ not ‘antagonist.’  Sincerely,  Jenny and Ryan”), so I ain’t gonna talk about some do-gooder in my entry.  I’m more interested in seeing an iconic villain who has never made it to the big screen; pre OR post Iron Man era.  Seriously, can Brainiac get some screen time? I’m sure the only reason he hasn’t appeared in a film is because he’s only been around for a short while.  OH WAIT!  He was created in 195-freaking-8! He’s Superman’s #2 villain behind a bald headed business man.  He’s so iconic that the word “Brainiac”used to describe a smart person is based on his name and NOT the other way around.  I am hopeful that with “grounded in reality” superhero movies giving way to gods among us level villains like Zod and Thanos, Brainiac will actually make it into the next solo Man of Steel film.  Use the Kryptonian origin story introduced in the Superman The Animated Series cartoon and it fits the Snyder MoS mythology to a tee!

"I would attack you now Kal-El, but I am downloading a Java update at moment..."
“I would attack you now Kal-El, but I am downloading a Java update at moment…”

Jenny:  As the crazy feminist of the group, you all knew I was going to pick a woman. I mean – come on. Too easy right? But that’s where you are wrong. It wasn’t easy at all. The level of difficulty was established by noting that the character cannot have already been in a movie/TV series or slotted to be in one. Let’s be real, you all know I would love to talk more about how we need an EXCELLENT Wonder Woman movie, or how we need to see more of Captain Marvel or Ms Marvel (kinda one in the same), but I’m not allowed. To make things interesting, I upped the difficulty by not choosing someone like Spider-Woman, She-Hulk, or Batgirl. I did this not because I don’t like their stories (they are excellent stories) but because I hate that these characters are just the “Female” versions of their already popular male counterparts. They were all created after (“after” meaning time vs. mirror) the male version….humph. I want to write about someone original, someone who has their own story – separate from being a female version of a male character. There are lots of characters I thought long and hard about, some I almost chose, but had to delete because it was pointed out they made a cameo in a movie/TV series, etc. My runner up choice was Angela, and I would have made her my final choice but she only started her career in 1993. My final choice has had a longer run debuting in 1978. She has her own standalone story and has not appeared in any previous movies/TV, and that choice is: Madame Xanadu! I know, I know – some of you out there just passed out because I chose a DC character. Others of you may have passed out because I chose Madame Xanadu. Nonetheless, she has a great story! (The picture below probably sums up your reaction to my pick)

madame_xanadu_demon_knights_007_2012_01

Madame Xanadu’s (alias: Nimue Inwudu) is the descendant of the Elder Folk, a survivor of Atlantis who evolved into the race known as the Homo Magi. At one time Madame Xanadu has an affair with the infamous Merlin, blaming him for manipulating Camelot and the course of history. Merlin has the last laugh, though, as he succeeds in stripping most (but not all) her magic away from her, forcing her to use potions to maintain her immortality. 

Xanadu wanders around the world for some time, becoming an advisor to many great rulers like Kublai Khan, Marie Antoinette, and other notable names in history. Having developed herself as an advisor, eventually she meets clientele plagued by supernatural problems. Although she can advise them, some force prevents her from directly interfering in solving their troubles. If one of her clients manages to conquer a supernatural force, she can contain that entity in jars within her fortune parlor to prevent it from causing any further trouble.

Rich background and original story? – CHECK. Ability to cross reference history and bring in interesting character cross overs? – CHECK. Kick-ass woman who holds special powers? – CHECK! Let it be written, so let it be done. Suck it Ryan!

ugo-xanadu_480x480

Jimmy:  I’ll admit, I struggled with this assignment.  With so many superhero movies in development, what character was iconic enough to not count among their rank?  I had a list of suspects, but how to confirm?  Then I had a revelation…I’ll go straight to the source.  Ms. Impossible.  She is not geeky at all, and has probably never read a comic book.  Sure, if she recognized someone, that was your obvious exclusion.

So I showed her a picture of Namor: The Sub-Mariner.  “He looks like he is underground.  But there are fish.  Oh, he is underwater…but he has little wings on his feet?”

Next up, Hawkman.  Not recognizing Namor didn’t surprise me, but I thought this was my sure thing.  She had no idea.  Not even a guess.

There was moderate success with She-Hulk, but it was mostly a guess as she is familiar with the Hulk and noted their similarities.

Hmmm.  This was not going to be easy.  Next up, classic Marvel character and founding member of the Avengers, Wasp.  “Oh I know this one!  She’s that girl from the X-Men movie!”  Understandable given the similarity with their wings, but again, swing and a miss.

So I had to go to my back up list.  Ones that didn’t really qualify.  First up, Barbara Gordon.  (The Batgirl that appeared in the dreadful Batman and Robin was named Barbara Wilson and was not Commissioner Gordon’s daughter.)  I tried a picture of her as Oracle.  “Is she in a wheelchair?  I have no idea.”  And then a picture of her in costume…”Is it Batwoman?”

I had one character left, and since in my world Spider-Man 3 never happened, Venom was still up for grabs.  “It looks like Spider-Man eating a snake.”  Yup…back to trying to do this on my own and decided to run with Namor.  (Honorable mentions that I didn’t think to show her at the time are Cable [who she would have zero clue about, and may be appearing in an X-Force movie if it ever gets made] and Plastic Man [this might have been another dark horse, but in the same vein as Hawkman, so who knows].)

As any geek knows, Aquaman usually gets the short end of the trident.  From pop culture to even his own comic, he gets grilled for only having the power to talk to fish.  I won’t get into the merits of Aquaman here, others have already done so much better than I ever could, but whatever you can say about him, they pretty much all apply to Namor.

They both have a human father, and a mother from Atlantis.  Both are super strong, super speedy underwater and fairly invulnerable.  Aquaman’s most made fun of power?  Yup, Namor can communicate telepathically with sea life too.  And they both can’t stay outside of water too long without losing his powers.

There are really only two major differences.  One, Namor can fly.  “He has little wings on his feet???”  And secondly, he is a bad ass.  Some would argue that Aquaman can be as well, but Namor has been since day one.  (And has 2 extra years of ass kicking under his green Speedo having debuted in 1939 to Aquaman’s 1941.)  He seems to spend more time as an anti-hero and trying to steal Reed Richards wife then he does playing the hero card as a member of the Invaders, Defenders or the Illuminati.  He could easily slide into any number of Marvel Universe films as ally or villain.

Unfortunately, Namor’s film rights seem to have gone the way of Spider-Man’s back in the days before Sam Raimi.  As MCU God Kevin Feige puts it about getting a film made, “… there are entanglements that make it less easy. There are older contracts that still involve other parties that mean we need to work things out before we move forward on it.”

Let’s hope they eventually do, because you just know that DC is going to mess up the Aquaman movie, and Marvel can show what a true King of Atlantis film should look like.

Ryan:  At first I felt really nervous about picking Yorick Brown.  Because Yorick is iconic but only within the comic reading population as the lead character and sole Y-chromosome remaining in Y: The Last Man.  He doesn’t have the mass name appeal of your typical superhero, but that’s also why he can be so appealing among new comic readers who are tentative about taking the leap up, up, up into the sky with colorful underwear and x-ray vision.

But then Jenny picked Madame Xanadu as her iconic character.  By comparison, Yorick Brown is the friggin Kim Kardashian of the comic universe.  But then again, compared to Madame Xanadu everyone is Kim Kardashian.  I hear that the last issue of the Madame Xanadu mini-series was her walking around the DC universe trying to find someone who knew who she was.  The issue was 149 pages long and crossed over with every pre-Crisis Earth and it only ended because they ran out of characters.  Nobody knew her.  Madame Xanadu’s mother didn’t know her.

Yorick Brown.  Icon in need of a movie or a decent Netflix series.

He also has a monkey and is the last man left alive on Earth. But that doesn't matter. Because Madame Xanadu.
He also has a monkey and is the last man left alive on Earth. But that doesn’t matter. Because Madame Xanadu.

ryan

Gabbing Geek co-founder, podcaster

6 thoughts on “Gabbing Geek Water Cooler: Iconic Comic Book Characters Without Their Own Movie

  1. My challenge to the readers: Can you come up with a women comic character that doesn’t already have a male version, that didn’t make a cameo in a movie or TV, and has her own Origin story older than the mid 90’s, and that I (Jenny) have actually read. … the only answer is Madam Xanadu. Crazy right?

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