I’ve thought a lot about how to bring comics into newer times, and I really think there needs to be some casting changes. Now I’m not saying we have to ditch the ionic characters, but it’s time to see other characters stepping up and becoming icons themselves. Not to mention, this might start attracting a bigger audience.
Six Minor Characters I’d Elevate into Iconic Character Roles
Pepper Potts as Rescue (Iron Man)
Matt Fraction’s current run on Invincible Iron Man took Tony Stark out of the picture. Tony erased his brain until he was in a coma. And in the meantime, Pepper stepped up, ran Stark Industries, and became a superhero in her own right as Rescue. No doubt, the Iron Man movie put more spotlight on Pepper as a character. But Fraction really let her step out on her own. (Which really started with her role in too soon canceled The Order.)
Heck, Pepper, Maria Hill, and Natasha Romanov outwitted Norman Osborn, Victoria Hand, and all the H.A.M.M.E.R. minions in their own Tower.
Plus, Pepper clearly found a purpose she hadn’t had before as Rescue. Happy to be a hero and full of empathy for the people. Pepper was happy Tony didn’t put any weapons in her suit. She was glad to be saving people.
Tony can just stay in his coma. Because oddly enough, Fraction hasn’t convinced me the world needs Tony Stark.
Why Marvel will never do this: They’re making lots of money on the Iron Man franchise, specially around Tony Stark as Iron Man.
Check out Rescue’s origin in Invincible Iron Man Omnibus, Vol. 1 by Matt Fraction and support this blog.
James ‘Bucky’ Barnes as Captain America
I love Steve Rogers. I just want to make it clear that Steve is one of my favorite comic book characters. That said, I love seeing Bucky take up as Captain America because Ed Brubaker did a wonderful job with the story. And as thrilled as I am to have Steve back from the dead, I think there are other stories which can be told about Steve. (In fact, some of my favorite Steve stories are from when he gave up the mantel; at least, when he questioned the government.)
Bucky has a lot of potential. He’s carving out a life for himself. Bucky works as the post-9/11 Captain America, where the world is a little darker and the Avengers are outlaws. (However, I don’t like that the man wearing the Captain American uniform is the defacto leader of the Avengers.) I love his dynamic with both the older and the newer Avengers.
Right now, I’m really happy that Marvel is letting Bucky be Captain America.
That said, I don’t think it’s going to last because of the upcoming Captain America and Avengers movies.
Find out how well Bucky does as Captain America, buy The Death of Captain America Omnibus by Ed Brubaker and support this blog.
Kate Kane as Batman
Greg Rucka’s run on Detective Comics with Kate as Batwoman in the lead has been brilliant. It works so well because of the similar superhero styles Kate and Bruce share. It works because Bruce is not breathing down Kate’s neck, telling her it’s his town, and that she better obey him or get the hell out. (Which he’s completely done a million times to other heroes.) Kate is a detective, but in a military investigation tradition.
Kate has a fresh perspective on the role of the Bat. She doesn’t have a history with Bruce or the rest of the Bat-family going all the way back to her formative childhood like other characters. Kate has the potential to build her own Bat-family, eventually. This really makes me not care if Bruce Wayne ever comes back.
Why DC Comics will never do this: The rumor mill says people (read: homophobes and sexist jerks) were unhappy with a lesbian as the title character and Bruce is already slated to come back.
Read this gorgeous tale about Batwoman and fall in love, buy Batwoman: Elegy by Greg Rucka and support this blog.
Dick Grayson as Batman
I know, I have two choices for Batman, but there are enough Batman titles that Dick and Kate can split them.
Anyway, it’s always seemed to me that ever since Dick moved from Robin to Nightwing, things just seemed off. Like as Nightwing, he was finding himself out from the under Bruce’s eye. But it was more like a teenager going off to college; college ends sometime. And now Dick graduated to become Batman.
I loved the moment in Detective Comics Annual #27, where it’s pointed out that Dick’s not your daddy’s Batman. It’s true. In that scene, Dick lets other heroes save the day while he makes sure a child finds the police or his parents. Bruce would’ve left the kid or made the Question shepherd the kid to safety so he could take down the bad guy. Dick is tough, but has a kinder side.
Why DC Comics isn’t going to do this (permanently): They tried once to replace Bruce as Batman and lost a lot of money. So much that Bruce healed his broken back with push-ups (How come Babs never thought of that?) because he’s the goddamn Batman.
Discover Dick as Batman, buy Batman and Robin, Vol. 1: Batman Reborn by Grant Morrison and support this blog.
Ms. Marvel as Captain Marvel
In House of M, Ms. Marvel finds herself Captain Marvel, the most famous and beloved superhero in that world. At the launch of her solo series, Carol longs to became the superhero she saw in herself as in the regular Marvel-verse, Ms. Marvel is just another Avenger.
With Ms. Marvel’s solo series finished and all the founding Avengers either dead, retired, or otherwise out of commission, it makes all the sense in the world to promote Ms. Marvel to Captain Marvel and have her lead the Avengers. In fact, I’m fine with her not even taken up the title. (You know, Monica would have something to say about that.)
But I do think it’s high time that Carol leads the Avengers, and not just for the short-lived run that was the post-Civil War and pre-Secret Invasion Mighty Avengers. She has the skills and the powers. Carol’s found the hero within herself and her true calling. Plus, she proven time and time again that she can lead the team.
Why Marvel won’t do this: I don’t know. Maybe a little to do with the upcoming cash-cow Avengers movie and Carol not being in it.
Find out why Ms. Marvel is awesome, buy Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1: Best of the Best by Brian Reed and support this blog.
Jennifer Walters as Hulk
I’m flat out tired of Bruce Banner as Hulk stories. I enjoyed Planet Hulk, but Hulk back on Earth is just boring. His constantly growing supporting cast is far more interesting than he is. Plus, we all know how much I love She-Hulk.
I say, let Jennifer step up to the plate as the title Hulk character and finally emo-off Bruce Banner. Let her have her wacky adventures, which were always more fun than her cousin’s stodgy smash-and-bashes. And then Lyra or Skaar or even Betsy can fill in the roles in the other Hulk titles. Let’s see how long the Leader lasts against Jennifer Walter’s brains and muscle. Let’s see Jennifer as the Hulk on the Avengers’ team.
Why this won’t happen: See upcoming movies and Jennifer’s never going to be on the Avengers as long as Bendis is writing it as he does not like her. (Bendis, feel free to correct me, but I did see you give a talk where you said She-Hulk was a ridiculous character to have on the Avengers.)
Enjoy She-Hulk doing the smashing, buy She-Hulk Vol. 1: Single Green Female by Dan Slott and support this blog.
Others I considered:
Victor ‘Anole’ Borkowski as Cyclops now that Cyclops is Professor X
Namora as Namor
Maria Hill as Nick Fury (permanently)
Wiccan as Doctor Strange
X-23 as Wolverine
Amadeus Cho as Hank Pym
anyone as Superman