This weekend, Captain America: The Winter Soldier will be the second starring vehicle for the star-spangled Avenger following 2011's Captain America: The First Avenger. Of course, that doesn't leave room for the early 90's film adaptation, a dubious low-budget affair where Cap had prosthetic ears and the Red Skull was Italian. Somehow, people still wanted a movie of that: in fact, superheroes tend to get multiple opportunities onscreen to show us the goods. It's rare that a comic book adaptation doesn't get a second chance to wow us.
But sometimes, it happens. Sometimes a character with decades of history simply gets left behind after one big-screen adventure. Usually it's because the movie is something like Steel or The Spirit, a joke that no one really gets. But sometimes, a direct continuation is the carrot dangled in front of fans, the one they could never grab, because no one saw the first movie, or because the creative people in charge never saw the potential in future installments. Here are five superheroes that we'd love to see hit the screen once more and five superhero sequels we'd love to see.
DREDD 2Legacy: In the early nineties, Sylvester Stallone threw his weight around to turn Judge Dredd into a generic star vehicle for himself, neglecting the source material's dark humor and ultraviolence.
The Movie: All memories of Stallone's version were blown out of the water by Pete Travis and Alex Garland's claustrophobic actioner. This smaller story of the fiercest cop in Mega City One allowed a clearer focus on Karl Urban's sneering Judge Dredd, a killing machine who only sought efficiency in his goal of a crime-free city. Ultimately, it somehow made even less money than the Stallone version, despite more than a decade of inflation and 3D prices.
The Sequel: Urban and company have openly discussed a sequel, as the movie has a small but devoted cult. However, it appears the follow-up will be adapted into a standalone comic, a pity considering this world was developed by screenwriter Garland with a trilogy in mind. A straight sequel could pursue the corruption amongst Judges suggested in the earlier film, while keeping the emphasis on hard-R-rated violence and Urban's iron jaw.
ELEKTRA 2Legacy: Jennifer Garner popped up not only in Daredevil but also in her own standalone film. Unfortunately, that was a cheaper affair that Fox barely supported and remains, other than the Punisher films, the lowest-grossing Marvel movie yet.
The Movie: Stripped away from its relationship to the somber Daredevil, Elektra is a cheeseball action picture with some low-rent fun provided by journeyman director Rob Bowman. It doesn't really work too well – a subplot about a gifted young girl is a groaner – but there are enough low budget ninja attacks to keep the attention on a Sunday afternoon. What Elektra has going for it against other superhero films is its size: the action stays restricted to the sai-wielding heroine and a group of lethal, superpowered pursuers.
The Sequel: Elektra has one of the richer, more complex backstories of all the comics. And yet, it's Daredevil that's getting another shot, being relaunched as a series for Netflix. Which is too bad: now that Elektra has reverted back to Marvel, we might not see her get another solo adventure again. If done right, however, there's no reason a stripped-down Elektra follow-up, possibly with an R-rating, can't be pretty much just like last year's The Wolverine.
THE ROCKETEER 2Legacy: Dave Stevens' beloved throwback only reached fans in this 1991 Disney picture, which later greatly influenced director Joe Johnston's Captain America: The First Avenger.
The Movie: If you ask anyone of a certain age, they love The Rocketeer. Ultimately, the film was an unfortunate flop in theaters, which seems inconceivable when one sits today to watch the adventures of pilot Cliff Secord as he utilizes a stolen jetpack for his own heroic adventures, taking to the skies to fight the Nazi scourage.
The Sequel: There's plenty of material to plumb to follow-up the adventures of Disney's most unsung onscreen heroes. The first film established the hero as a myth. Now that he's fully absorbed into the role, he can really take to the skies with confidence. Disney must be flush with hit movies, because The Rocketeer seems ripe for at least a redo, and nobody's doing a thing about it.
THE INCREDIBLE HULK 2Legacy: The Hulk was the star of a series of television movies before showing up in 2003's Hulk, which may or may not be canon depending on whom you ask.
The Movie: At the very beginning of the onscreen Marvel universe, there was Louis Letterier's The Incredible Hulk, featuring Edward Norton as the gawky, misunderstood Bruce Banner. Since then, we've seen Captain America and Thor three more times, and Iron Man four, while our only taste of the jolly green giant was as Mark Ruffalo in The Avengers, casting doubt as to whether Letterier's muscular action picture is part of the Marvel continuity or not. Norton's great in the role, and the way this monster fit into the still-developing Marvel world was intriguing, showcasing a number of four-panel-ready action sequences.
The Sequel: Get Ruffalo in there to finally follow the events of The Incredible Hulk. What's happened as he attempts to control his transformations? What happened to the Abomination? Where is Betty? Is Ty Burrell's Doc Samson still an obnoxious jerk? We already know what the other heroes are doing when the Avengers are not assembling. What about the Hulk?
SPAWN 2Legacy: The Image Comics sensation was both the star of a hit movie and a fairly extreme HBO animated miniseries that showcased him as a vengeful angel of punishment voiced by Keith David.
The Movie: Spawn is certainly one of those 90's movies where they were drunk on the possibilities of special effects but hadn't fully figured them out yet, or what their relationship was to the story. As a result, it's a killer FX reel, even if the story feels perfunctory and rather unfinished. Still, one of the strengths of the character was his arresting physical presence, and as the dark avenger of the night, Michael Jai White looked great as the mask enveloped him and he cascaded from the ceiling gliding from his billowing cape. It's a lousy movie, but the potential is there for multiple entertaining movies. Preferably without John Leguizamo, who gives one of the all-time most noxious performances as villain Clown.
The Sequel: Todd MacFarlane long ago discussed a straight sequel that would have been rated-R, following the cop characters Sam and Twitch as they investigated a series of murders by the mysterious caped vigilante in the shadows. Making the "hero" a supporting player was an intriguing idea, one we'd like to see in more comic book movies, though unsurprisingly, MacFarlane happened to be full of it at the time. Jai White is still bouncing around in the world of low budget martial arts epics, and a lot's happened with the character since the last time you picked up a Spawn comic. If there was a direct continuation happening (the film was a minor box office hit), would you really be surprised?