It’s not an easy thing to keep a franchise fresh when it is producing 26 movies over the course of 13 years, but the key to the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been variety in storytelling. While all of the blockbusters are set in the same canon, feature big fight-centric set pieces, and have at least a dose of either science-fiction or fantasy in them, what’s great about the films is that it’s common for new titles to explore whole new genres. From the conspiracy thriller that is Captain America: The Winter Soldier, to the heist plot of Ant-Man, to the kung-fu action in Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings, we’ve seen the MCU cover a lot of ground since its inception.
As many styles as we’ve seen Marvel movies pull off, however, there are still plenty that they haven’t tried yet – all with precedential history in the comics. With a seemingly unending number of films set to be developed and released in the years to come, we’d be excited to see the franchise check off any of the following genres on this list.
Eternals spoilers ahead!
We might as well start with the idea that inspired this list, right? In Eternals, MCU fans are introduced to Kit Harrington’s Dane Whitman – and while he doesn’t quite fulfill his destiny in the movie and become the heroic Black Knight, that story is clearly on the way in the canon. That being the case, it seems like there exists an incredible opportunity for the franchise to explore the medieval adventure genre. In the comics, the history of the Black Knight mantle goes back in the hero’s family history to the era of King Arthur, and it would be spectacular to see a film where the story of Dane Whitman’s acceptance of his duty is paralleled with a storyline set in the 5th century, full of castles, iron armor, and broad swords.
While the history of Marvel Comics is best known for the publication of superhero stories, thinking that’s all they’ve ever produced is a narrow viewpoint that excludes a lot of genre exploration. A prime example of this are the books they’ve put out about teen romance… like, for example, 1960’s Teen-Age Romance, or the early comics about Patsy Walker (who took a turn for the heroic as Hellcat post-1976). We’ve seen Marvel Cinematic Universe movies feature characters between the ages of 13 and 19 fall in love (specifically the budding relationship between Tom Holland’s Peter Parker and Zendaya’s MJ), but it could be fun to see the franchise mix things up by having a relationship between a pair of young people be made a primary plot in a film instead of just a subplot.
It was in large part because of the ghouls and monsters in horror comics that Marvel was able to survive during the 1950s when there was a big dip in the demand for superheroes, and yet we sadly have not really seen any homages to that history thus far in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As far as upcoming projects go, the film that is most likely to change that will be the upcoming Blade movie, and hopefully that will be a project that doesn’t wind up pulling any punches and tries to be legitimately scary – while also providing plenty of badass vampire action.
Locked Door Thriller
Marvel movies are typically massive in scope – unspooling adventures that take characters around the world and beyond – but what if there was a film that did the opposite of that? Given the strength of the established characters in the MCU, the franchise could easily tell a story that is solely set within the confines of one location, with heroes and villains locked together and having to deal with conflicts in a confined space. We haven’t seen anything even remotely like that thus far in the franchise, but it would be amazing to see the filmmakers pull it off.
Trailers for the new Hawkeye series have revealed that the MCU version of Broadway has a production about the history of Captain America called Rogers: The Musical – but why stop at a gag on a Disney+ series? There are musically inclined characters in the Marvel canon (the X-Men character Dazzler immediately comes to mind), but even if the franchise doesn’t produce a movie about one of them, a filmmaker could easily make a movie featuring a plot device that forces characters to sing and dance. This is an idea that is probably best saved for when the franchise is in its third decade of existence, but it could be fun.
Western stories were another staple of Marvel Comics during the 1950s, and yet the closest that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has gotten to the genre has been Salma Hayek’s Ajak briefly riding on a horse and wearing a cowboy hat in Eternals. There are multiple avenues to be potentially taken, as a movie could take the recognizable elements of the storytelling and apply them to a present day plot, or there could be an MCU blockbuster that is a bit detached from the rest of the canon because it is set in early 19th century America. Jonah Hex, which is technically a DC Comics movie, sets a pretty low bar for the general concept, but Marvel could do it right.
While we have technically seen an MCU neo-noir, as Iron Man 3 hits on a number of the key trademarks of the genre, what we haven’t seen attempted is a classic murder mystery in the tradition of Arthur Conan Doyle or Agatha Christie. A film that pools together a number of key established supporting characters, a couple of heroes and villains, and a whodunit plot could be extremely compelling and provide a whole new flavor to the franchise.
We’ll have to wait and see what the future holds for all of these genres in the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but for now you can keep up with everything that is coming from the franchise on the big screen by reading our Upcoming Marvel Movies guide. For a look back at the 13-year history of the franchise, check out our guide to watching the Marvel movies in order.
NJ native who calls LA home; lives in a Dreamatorium. A decade-plus CinemaBlend veteran; endlessly enthusiastic about the career he’s dreamt of since seventh grade.
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