Marvel Studios has been doing an excellent job of jumping between varied genres from war, espionage, action, supernatural, comedy, horror, fantasy, sci-fi, and space operas.
There seems to be one particular notch in their belt missing, that is a western.
Many have compared superhero films to the western genre being the most dominant/popular genre before making way to other trends. What would happen if Marvel Studios tackled a group of western superheroes? It’s something that doesn’t come that often when folks are talking up future projects or their wish lists.
We’re now this deep into the MCU and Marvel has not started adapting their western characters. Those include a large string of heroes from their old Wild West/Mighty Marvel Western comics and the rarely mentioned superhero team The Rangers.
I think you could do a Rangers series where you essentially get a mash-up of Sergio Leone’s Dollars Trilogy, The Magnificent Seven, Young Guns, Tombstone, True Grit, and many more. Marvel could end up combining their various western heroes and placing them in the 1800s.
Here is a rundown of characters that jump out to me as solid contenders for a hypothetical Rangers roster set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Phantom Rider is the original incarnation of Ghost Rider, who was later renamed when the blazing skulled biker version was thrust into pop culture a decade later with Johnny Blaze and obviously is still the better known of the two.
There have been many people that took on the superhero persona such as Carter Slade, Jamie Jacobs, Lincoln Slade, Reno Jones, Hamilton Slade, J.T. Slade, and Jamie Slade (Hamilton’s daughter).
Reno Jones was a black incarnation of the hero and going that route in the MCU could be a huge nod to Bass Reeves, the real-life black lawman that inspired The Lone Ranger and in The Watchmen series on HBO had a huge impact on Hooded Justice.
Phantom Rider appeared in the original Ghost Rider film played by Sam Elliot.
Like with their major Asian superhero Shang-Chi, Marvel Studios could do some modernization and image repair of their lesser known Native American characters as seen with a new character like Demon Rider.
Native American heroes like Red Wolf and Apache Kid (Alan Krandal) don’t deserve to be completely erased because their comics were made by culturally/racially insensitive people, the former has been given a modern update and I think Red Wolf most certainly could be a mantle passed down generation to generation we’ve seen with Baron Zemo and Union Jack.
You could also add a character like Spirit Rider/Demon Rider, aka, Kushala. She was around in the 1800s and could add a supernatural/horror element.
How you change things is bringing Native American writers and creators into the writers’ room/creative process. A recent example is the Taika Waititi-produced FX series Reservation Dogs, which hopefully will lead to more mainstream projects featuring indigenous actors/creatives.
The Kid Trio are likely Marvel’s best known gunslingers with Two-Gun Kid (Clay Harder/Matt Hawk), Kid Colt (Blaine Colt), and Rawhide Kid (Johnny Bart/Johnny Clay). They also did multiple team-ups in the comics and could easily get their own spinoff series.
Rawhide Kid is an openly gay character and could make for some major inclusion.
There are only of a couple of female characters with Avenger member Firebird (Bonita Juarez), Arizona Annie, Shooting Star (Victoria Star), Swift Cloud (Jackie Cassidy), and Spotted Doe. However, Marvel could easily create new characters like Demon Rider or gender swap the excessive amount of male characters since not all of them would likely get starring roles.
Similar to Marvel’s expansive horror character lineup, the studio has just as many of these outlaw, gunslinger, and bounty hunter characters from the old west to pull from for years to come.
The many other characters in their back pocket include Black Rider/Black Mask (Matthew Masters), Kid Slade (Matt Slade), Outlaw Kid (Lance Temple), Gunhawk (William Downing), Kid Cassidy (Richard Cassidy), Ringo Kid (Rand), Western Kid (Tex Dawson), Boom Boom Brown, Tarantula (Clay Riley), The Raven (Thorn Trask), Wolf Waco, Hurricane (Harold Kane), Richard Trask, Tall Bear, Caleb Hammer, Wyatt Earp, Iron Mask (Don Hertz), and super-powered Rangers team member Texas Twister (Drew Daniels).
Marvel Studios could take advantage of Alberta’s growing film and television production industry (alongside the Canadian dollar and tax incentives) as the Canadian city could double for many western American terrain. Alberta was used for Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven, The Revenant, The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford, Little Big Man, Shanghai Noon, Brokeback Mountain, Legends of The Fall, Let Him Go, and Predator 5.