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– by Nick Doll

The Marvel Cinematic Universe, as well as Marvel Studios’ competitors, have begun to realize the key to keeping their superhero films fresh is mixing them up with other genres.

Before the MCU was more than just Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk, Christopher Nolan made The Dark Knight a crime thriller, almost more comparable to movies such as The Untouchables than Tim Burton’s Batman films.

Marvel Studios’ more recent and more successful films have taken the tried and true superhero genre and combined it with genres such as heist films (Ant-Man), space operas (Guardians of the Galaxy), a war films (Captain America: The First Avenger), a mystical and trippy adventure (Doctor Strange), a John Hughes type coming-of-age story (Spider-Man: Homecoming), and just plain comedies (Thor: Ragnarok and many others), among others.

Obviously, even though they’re 17 films into this world, the MCU isn’t going anywhere any time soon, and in order to keep things fresh, they’ll need to keep on mixing up the genres.

With that in mind, we asked the following question: what genres should the MCU dip into next to keep their library fresh?

To be clear, for this list, we are covering only Marvel Cinematic Universe films, so while certain genres may exist in some of the other Marvel TV shows, we opted to keep discussions exclusively focused on their movies.

1. Horror

Marvel Studios’ competitors are all over this genre, so it’s time for the MCU to make the same venture. Fox is releasing New Mutants, Sony has Venom, and Spawn is coming from Todd McFarlane; all described as horror films.

Horror may be a trickier genre for the Disney owned MCU to pull off, as apparently R-rated films are a “no no.” But it doesn’t mean it can’t be done.

There are several routes Marvel can take to create a horror film. Doctor Strange 2 could easily be made darker, with a more horrific foe, some sort of supernatural force only the Sorcerer Supreme could take on. With Baron Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofer) already set as the villain for the sequel, he could summon creatures from our nightmares from a darker dimension. So, though it couldn’t be rated R, the Doctor Strange franchise could at least take a darker, scarier path, making it the least family friendly franchise in the MCU, which would be refreshing.

Another option is to create a film set outside the Marvel Universe, a multiverse or “what if” type story, using the Marvel Zombies comic for direction. Marvel Zombies is a five-issue limited series from 2005, written by Robert Kirkman of Walking Dead fame. In this alternate universe, the world’s superhero population has been infected with a virus which, well, turns them into zombies. Changes would need to be made, as with any adaptation of a classic story in the MCU, making Marvel Zombies a viable option, should Marvel ever want to venture into alternate universes.

2. Buddy “Cop”/Bromance

Some have called Thor: Ragnarok a buddy film, while others say it is also a road trip movie. I didn’t feel like it was much of either. Yes, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) team up and have some witty banter, but I’m more thinking more what the MCU version of Lethal Weapon or Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid would look like.

One of my favorite comics, the one I feel has the best buddy team, is Spider-Man/Deadpool, which unfortunately would never come to pass in the MCU due to the fact that Sony still has the rights to Spider-Man (even if they are willing to share… for now), and Deadpool is owned by Fox. But, I’ve already seen real potential in two characters who have had a wonderfully offbeat relationship in Captain America: Civil War.

The Winter Soldier/Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) and Sam Wilson/Falcon (Anthony Mackie) were absolutely hilarious together in Civil War. Whether it was Wilson refusing to adjust his seat so Bucky could have more leg room, the pair giving Captain America that look when he finally kisses Sharon Carter, or their bungled fight against Spider-Man in the airport scene, these two are quite the entertaining pair to watch.

Like any good buddy cop pairing, Falcon and Bucky are a bit mismatched, but also have great chemistry. In a post Avengers 4 world, for all we know Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) will be dead, and it will be time for a new Captain America. Both men have held the title of Captain America in the comics, so why not make them both Cap and call it Captains America? Or, leave them as Falcon and Winter Solider and still pair them together.

I don’t care which approach Marvel uses, but get these two Captain America sidekicks their own film, Marvel! Do it!

3. Spy Thriller

I guess you could call Captain America: The Winter Soldier a spy thriller, but only in the loosest of terms. I would say it is a ‘70s style conspiracy thriller; what I would like to see is a full-on spy adventure akin to 007 or Mission: Impossible.

You could do a young Nick Fury movie, even pre-Captain Marvel – which is set in the ‘90s – involving Alexander Pierce as well. Obviously we would no longer be using Samuel L. Jackson and Robert Redford, respectively. But if you could cast young versions of them, set it in the ‘70s or so… baby, you got a spy thriller going! This would also be before the age of superheroes (except Captain America, who would be frozen in ice at the time), so you can go full spy movie, leaving any superhumans out of it completely (Hank Pym’s Ant-Man was active in the ‘80s, so it would predate him as well). Is it still a superhero movie, then? Maybe not, but it can certainly still live in the MCU and expand the universe.

Or, we could kill two birds with one stone and make the Black Widow movie we all want a straight-up spy thriller with limited superbeings. I would say set it before Iron Man 2 as well, before the age of heroes. Show us the type of missions Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) was on when we meet her again in The Avengers. Infiltrating enemy bases, using fake identities, preventing WWIII, that sort of classic spy stuff is what I would like to see incorporated into the MCU.


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