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Given that "The Avengers" is finally in theaters, you might think Marvel has tapped all of its resources at this point. After all, not only does the movie feature solo stars Thor, Iron Man, Captain America and The Incredible Hulk, but the studio has also already collaborated on franchises for "X-Men," "Fantastic Four," "Spider-Man," "Ghost Rider," "Daredevil" and "Blade," among others. What's left?
As it turns out, there's still plenty left in Marvel's vast character library — and with the success of "The Avengers," it's a guarantee you'll be seeing some of them on the big screen sooner rather than later.
Here's our handy guide to the films you'll probably see from Marvel, the films you might see from Marvel and a few films you'll unfortunately never see from Marvel. Enjoy!
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Doctor Strange: Unquestionably the most prominent Marvel superhero who hasn't yet landed his own movie, Doctor Strange is a master of the mystic arts who uses his sorcery to battle evil. Recent rumors suggest that "Doctor Strange" may end up being an animated film -- possibly even from Pixar -- rather than live action.
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Ant-Man: Marvel's smallest hero is scientist Hank Pym, who accidentally creates a potion that can shrink him to ant size. Creating a helmet that allows him to talk to ants, he battles crime alongside his wife, The Wasp, who can also shrink thanks to genetic modifications. Ant-Man may not be the most obvious pick for a movie, but Marvel already has a script ready. Bonus fact: In the comics, it's Ant-Man who suggests the creation of the Avengers, which may be extra motivation for Marvel to bring him into the mix.
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Black Panther:The first black superhero in comics, the Black Panther is an African king named T'Challa who gains his powers from his people's panther god. Marvel has had a script for a Black Panther movie bouncing around for years, but now the studio's finally getting down to brass tacks. Black Panther is another member of the Avengers and could provide even more synergistic crossover possibilities.
Deadpool: Now here's an interesting case. Deadpool is a wisecracking mercenary whose superhuman healing power allows him to get his ass kicked repeatedly. He was played by Ryan Reynolds in the 2009 film "X-Men Origins: Wolverine," where (spoilers!) he got his head cut off. Despite this, Fox is working with Marvel on a Deadpool solo film tentatively scheduled for 2014. Whether or not the dismal returns on Reynolds' "Green Lantern" will affect the project remains to be seen.
Luke Cage: An ex-con who gained super strength and near-invulnerability thanks to a botched experiment, Luke Cage was originally created in the '70s to cash in on the blaxploitation craze. In recent years, he's become one of Marvel's biggest characters thanks to, you guessed it, his role as an Avengers leader in the comics. Marvel is currently hard at work on a script for a Luke Cage film.
Iron Fist: Speaking of Luke Cage, no list would be complete without mention of his best friend and frequent partner in crime fighting, Iron Fist. Iron Fist (real name: Danny Rand) is a kung fu genius who was trained in a mystical, other-dimensional city to power his life force into a devastatingly powerful super-punch. During the "Crouching Tiger"-inspired Asian action boom at the beginning of last decade, Iron Fist was frequently named as one of the most likely characters to make the jump to film. Since then, his stock has cooled. If the right star is found, though, he could be a strong candidate.
Also Check Out: 10 Things You Need to Know About "The Avengers"
The Inhumans: Secretly living among us for centuries, the Inhumans are a genetic offshoot of humanity that gains superpowers by subjecting themselves to the transformative powers of the Terrigen Mists. Marvel recently revealed that they are working on an Inhumans script, but considering their extremely low profile even in the comics, we'll believe Black Bolt and company are getting their own movie only when we see them on the big screen.
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Deathlok: In the not-very-distant future, elite solider Luther Manning is seemingly killed in action, only to be raised from the dead when his body is fitted with cyborg parts. If that sounds pretty much exactly like "Robocop," well, don't blame Marvel; Deathlok first appeared way back in 1974. The similarities might keep Marvel from pursuing a movie, though; they had a script done several years ago but haven't made any progress since, while a "Robocop" remake is still going strong.
Morbius the Living Vampire: Marvel helped kick-start the vampire craze with the 1998 hit movie "Blade," so it's only fitting that they could help breathe new life (or is that undeath?) into the genre with Morbius the Living Vampire. One of Spider-Man's best frenemies, Morbius is a scientist who tries to cure himself of a rare disorder, only to send it into overdrive instead -- which causes him to crave human blood as the only means to stave off the disease. Scrap magic and add in science instead and you have the perfect formula for a 21st century nosferatu.
Runaways: Rumors of a Runaways movie have been floating around ever since the characters first appeared in 2003. This one isn't anything like the Kristen Stewart film about Joan Jett's rock band, though; instead it's about a group of teens who discover their parents are supervillains trying to destroy humanity. Marvel began work on a film in 2008, getting as far as the casting process; but in 2010 they postponed the project indefinitely to focus on "The Avengers." Whether or not they will ever start it back up is anybody's guess.
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Squirrel Girl: As you might guess by the name, Squirrel Girl is a girl who also happens to be half squirrel, giant fluffy tail and all. Plus, she can mentally control any squirrels in her area, an ability that's handier than you might think. Squirrel Girl recently joined the Avengers … as their babysitter. We're guessing that's not quite enough to land her a movie deal.
Also Check Out: The Idiot's Guide to "The Avengers"
Flatman: Here's another hero that comes straight out of the "Snakes on a Plane" school of names: Flatman is a hero with the astounding power to make himself extremely flat. This does allow him to slide under doors, a power that would be much more useful if his partner wasn't named Doorman. Hey, it couldn't be any worse than the Catwoman movie, right?
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Doop: Doop is a mysterious alien who resembles nothing so much as a gigantic floating ball of snot. Doop was a member of the short-lived superhero team X-Statix, serving as their cameraman; he didn't actually fight crime, he just broadcast their reality TV show. Actually, come to think of it, Doop might be the best fit for Hollywood after all.
Hellcow: When Dracula found himself without any humans to feed on, the lord of vampires was forced instead to sate his hunger by feeding on a nearby cow. Turned into an immortal vessel of bovine vengeance, that heifer was transformed into Hellcow, doomed to wander the Earth for centuries in a quest to find and destroy her maker. Instead, she found both Howard the Duck and Deadpool, meaning Hellcow is just three degrees from Kevin Bacon.
Ego the Living Planet: You know how they say having a big ego can give you a swelled head? Well, nobody has ever had a head as swelled as Ego the Living Planet, who literally is a living planet with a gigantic face on one side of it. Er, him. And since even planets have vanity, he also sports a mustache that's about 8,500 miles long. In the past he's battled foes such as Thor, but let's just say you probably won't be seeing Ego any time soon, unless the solar system happens to hold open tryouts.