by Brett White
The climax of the latest “Iron Man 3” trailer was packed with armor, hinting that it won’t just be Tony Stark and James Rhodes donning a suit in the film. This fact has pretty much been confirmed by Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige (spoilers ahoy), and it got us thinking about the other supporting characters that have taken on some of Marvel’s most popular mantles. The aforementioned “Iron Man” films have done a decent job of expanding its characters into the roles assumed by their comic book counterparts. How do the rest fare?
If Captain America’s franchise follows the source material faithfully, we could leave “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” with a replacement Cap ready to go. Following the assassination of Steve Rogers just after Marvel’s “Civil War” event, Bucky himself filled the role for two years. The Bucky Cap era was generally well-received and defined Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting’s work with the character. While we’re not ready for Chris Evans to hand the shield over to Sebastian Stan full time, the franchise’s source material has a back-up ready to go.
It’s more likely we’ll see Bucky in the stars and stripes before we see John Walker in them. Walker replaced Rogers in 1986 before beginning a long career as U.S. Agent, starring in series like “Force Works” and, most recently, “Dark Avengers.”
Thor’s own comic book history is pretty complex. Just ask your local Thor historian about Dr. Donald Blake and get ready for a continuity nightmare. Thor’s temporary replacement was born out of a complex story involving the continued essence-merging and de-merging between Thor and architect Eric Masterson. Masterson took on the role of Thor for a brief time in 1991 before assuming his own super identity, Thunderstrike. Thunderstrike’s solo series lasted for 24 issues and his popularity (powered by his ponytail and cool leather vest) waned quickly, so it’s unlikely we’ll get Masterson on the big screen any time soon.
At this point it’s easier to point out which of Bruce Banner’s supporting character’s haven’t taken on a gamma irradiated alter ego. Banner’s wife Betty Ross, played by Liv Tyler in the 2008 film, and her father General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross, previously played by William Hurt, now smash through the Marvel Universe as Red She-Hulk and Red Hulk, respectively.
We haven’t even mention Jennifer Walters or Rick Jones, who have yet to appear in film. Walters’ She-Hulk was Hulk’s first spin-off character and is arguably one of the most popular women in Marvel Comics. Jones, Banner’s longtime sidekick, is now the blue-scaled A-Bomb. With a follow-up “Hulk” film still on the back-burner, it looks like we’ll have to wait a while to see if any of Banner’s pals will also hulk out.
In a roundabout way, it was “Amazing Spider-Man” itself that created Peter Parker’s most notable replacement. A fan campaign to cast “Community’s” Donald Glover in the Marc Webb-directed reboot caught “Ultimate Spider-Man” writer Brian Michael Bendis’ eye, and thus Miles Morales was born. A teenager of African American and Latino descent, Morales represented a tremendous step forward for diversity in mainstream comic books. If a reboot is needed after Marc Webb sees his vision through, Morales could help comic book movies make similar inclusive strides.
Pretty much every Spider-Man fan can agree that Morales is a much better option than Spidey’s other replacement. His clone, Ben Reilly, filled in for the hero in the mid-’90s. Why was Reilly so reviled? Because it was revealed that he was the real deal and Peter Parker was the clone, a move so infuriating that Marvel changed their minds a few years later.
Nicolas Cage may be hanging up his flaming skull after two outings as Johnny Blaze, but he made a completely plausible suggestion for his replacement. “It would be interesting if they did it with a female Ghost Rider,” he said, perhaps unintentionally giving a nod to Alejandra, Marvel’s most recent Ghost Rider. Alejandra’s reign was short-lived, lasting nine issues between 2011 and 2012, but she would definitely make for a bigger visual change than the ’90s Ghost Rider, Daniel Ketch.
Are you ready for any of these replacements to step in? Let us know in the comments or hit us up on Twitter!