Who Was That Masked Man?

Today's casting news of James Spader as the villain Ultron in 2015's <b>Avengers: Age of Ultron</b> has overshadowed other recent castings. While it's not likely to get "Batfleck" instantly out of the comic book fan's lexicon, it does take eyes off the <b>Guardians of the Galaxy</b>, coming over half a year prior to <b>Age of Ultron</b>. <p>When Vin Diesel announced he was in talks for a starring role in an upcoming Marvel films, fans’ imaginations went wild at the possibility. Due to scheduling and some inspired casting choices that turned into Diesel playing Groot in the forthcoming <b>Guardians of the Galaxy</b> film hitting theatres in 2014, but Diesel revealed that originally his talks with Marvel were much bigger – <a href=” http://www.newsarama.com/18785-groot-s-vin-diesel-says-he-was-originally-going-to-star-in-marvel-phase-3-movie.html”>namely a new feature film in Marvel’s Phase 3 slate of 2016 and 2017</a>. <p>Although the <i>Riddick</i> star didn’t reveal which character (or characters) he was originally talking with the Marvel Studios’ staff about, it once again got our mind rolling on contenders that present themselves for a Vin Diesel Marvel movie. What movies are Marvel angling to make that was brought up to Diesel? We have our ideas, and want to know what you think. <p>Be warned: with Diesel taking the role of Groot it diminishes the possibility of him taking on a second role in a Marvel movie, but then again stranger things have happened.

Adam Warlock

Adam Warlock may be considered a smaller star in Marvel’s constellation of cosmic characters, but when he was created he was meant to be a big deal – and he could be once again. <p>Created by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee in what would be one of their final collaborations, Adam Warlock began life as ‘Him;’ an artificially-created human that rebels against the secretive cabal of Earth scientists who made him. Jim Starlin looped him into the cosmic side of things, using his Soul Gem (one of the gems from the Infinity Gauntlet) and taking him down a dark path fighting a villain named Magus that turned out to be a future version of himself. <p>While not on the front-line of properties in line for a movie adaptation by Marvel, it’s the epitome of a dark horse candidate that has all the right elements to come together in movies like it’s never been able to in comics. <p>Plus, you could always loop him into the Thanos storyline coming out of the post-credits scene of <i>Marvel’s The Avengers</i>.

The Punisher

Vin Diesel said he was in discussion for “new IPs,” but reviving the <b>Punisher</b> franchise under the Marvel Cinematic Universe could be “like new” in more than a huckster-y car salesman type way. <p>With the rights to the Punisher now firmly back under Marvel Studios’ umbrella, the character might be an ideal member of a street-level branch of Marvel’s family of movies – or as a surprise addition to an <i>Avengers</i> movie, ala his appearance in <i>Civil War</i>. No matter how Frank Castle pops his head back into film, he’s going to return – he has a wealth of stories and his one of the most well-known Marvel characters to the general public. <p>As for Vin Diesel playing Frank Castle, the first question to ask is obvious: can Diesel grow Castle’s trademark black hair, or should he even try?

Moon Knight

Contrary to what most people say, Moon Knight isn’t a low-rent Batman. He’s crazy. <p>As made undeniably firm by Brian Bendis and Alex Maleev’s short-lived <b>Moon Knight</b> series, Marc Spector is a fascinating post-superhero character in and out of the costume. With multiple personalities that take the form of Marvel’s top heroes, Spector-as-Moon-Knight is a great story of a man fighting villains and fighting his own demons. <p>Picturing Diesel as Moon Knight, you could really see Marvel making purposeful steps outside of the shadow of Batman and portray Spector not as the well-dressed millionaire like Bruce Wayne but as a well-to-do hero who lives a very different life.

Hercules

Marvel’s already had success taking one mythological great and transposing him into movies – why not one more? <p>Another Kirby & Lee creation, Marvel’s <b>Hercules</b> is less a rebellious demigod and more of a down-to-earth brawler with a penchant for beer. This Lion of Olympus is less John Wayne and more John Belushi, and seeing that at play within the Marvel U could create for an interesting movie that hits home without being a <i>Thor</i> retread. Think <i>Conan The Barbarian</i> meets <i>The Hangover</i>. <p>And to think of it, Diesel’s <i>Fast & Furious</i> co-star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is already doing his own <i>Hercules</i> movie outside Marvel; how about for a friendly rivalry on who can do it best?

Black Bolt

<p>In addition to starting in a solo new Marvel movie, you can’t leave out various Marvel teams that Diesel could also front. At the top of that list would be the quiet, brooding Black Bolt in an <b>Inhumans</b> movie. <p>With Matt Fraction already dreaming up a dramatic re-invention of the Inhumans for debut this December in the <i>Inhuamity</i> event series, I wouldn’t put it past Marvel Studios to be simultaneously working on an <b>Inhumans</b> movie project of their own. Back in March 2011 there were reports that a script was being developed, and in November 2012 Stan Lee confirmed this was in development. <p>Picturing Vin Diesel playing the near-mute Black Bolt seems perfect, relying on his on-screen presence and using his deep voice sparingly but to great effect. Also, Diesel works well in ensemble films as seen in <i>Fast & Furious</i>, and could work great with characters like Medusa, Karnak, and the loveable Lockjaw.

Namor

He’s one of Marvel’s oldest heroes, and also one of its angriest. We think Diesel can play angry. <p>In modern comics he’s never quite been able to catch up to his birthright, appearing mainly as a supporting character in the X-Men until <i>AvX</i> but has been a member of virtually every major superhero team including the secret societies the Illuminati <i>and</i> the villainous Cabal. Potential-wise he has as much, if not more, for a movie than <i>Iron Man</i> did a decade ago, but it’ll take more work — especially with the shirtless nature and undersea scenes — to make it work. <p>Back in 2009 while promoting <i>Fast & Furious</i>, Diesel even talked about his discussions with <i>The Surrogates</i> director Jonathan Mostow about doing a <b>Namor</b> movie, saying it would be “interesting because of its World War II/new York connection.” <p>There’s really a number of upsides to doing a <b>Namor</b> movie: you have the ability to do undersea battles, bring out a personality-driven hero even more cantankerous than Tony Stark, and also tie in all over the Marvel timeline from the 1940s to the present day. <p>That is, of course, assuming Namor lies with Marvel right now, as he's also been associated with both the Fantastic Four and the X-Men, which both lie with Fox.

The Vision

When Diesel first revealed he was in talks with Marvel about a movie, most eyes gravitated towards the android Avenger the Vision as an ideal role, partially due to a tease Diesel made that included the word “vision” in the post. Although that ship has sailed, it does bring up some interesting ideas and old news stories that thread together to form a great picture. <p>Back in 2009, <i>Variety</i> reported that Marvel was hiring screenwriters to flesh out concepts for movies based on some of its lesser-known heroes, and the Vision was amongst their speculated list. The Vision has always been seen as more of a team player inside the ranks of the Avengers, but with recent interviews by Joss Whedon elaborating on how the introduction of Ultron would be changed from his comic origin you could see how the Vision could be the next step in that path. <p>In comics, the Vision is created by Ultron as an undercover agent against his creator Hank Pym and the Avengers. The Vision ultimately rebelled against his creator (the same way Ultron did to his), turning into one of the Avengers’ staunchest members. <p>Whether on its own or as part of <i>Avengers: Age of Ultron</i>, I could see Vin Diesel – or a host of other actors – really solidifying the role of the density-altering hero as both a pillar of the Avengers or on his own. <p>But man, I’d do something about the costume.

Nighthawk

Who? That’s what most people think, but this Squadron Supreme member has a long history in comics and some fans up at Marvel Studios’ HQ who see the possibility in him standing on his own. And who better than a name actor like Vin Diesel to get people to take notice? <p>Created back in 1969 as a villainous analogue to DC’s Batman, Nighthawk later grew to be a hero in the ranks of Squadron Supreme in some alternate reality tales. Between his life as a villain and as a hero, he’s fought an odd assortment of foes and setbacks – from Mephisto, the Sons of the Serpent and even the IRS. <p>Marvel’s given him several shots at a solo career, from a big part in <i>The Ultimates</i> to his own MAX series. Marvel even inserted him in the animated series <i>The Super Hero Squad Show</i> a few years back, voiced by none other than Adam West. Cast in a showdown with Iron Man, West-as-Nighthawk got off a few zingers that made him stick in fans’ minds even today. <p>Like the Vision, Nighthawk is one of the names Variety bandied about in 2009 as “lesser-known properties” Marvel was looking to develop as a feature film. With this character, they have a relatively blank canvas to explore with some connection to the Marvel U they could explore if they wanted.

Iron Fist

The martial arts genre has a long and celebrated history in movies, and aspects of it appear in virtually every action movie in the form of fight scenes and acrobatics. Marvel has their own kung fu star waiting in the wings, just waiting for his chance to strike: and this guy, he as an iron fist. <p>Created by Roy Thomas and Gil Kane based on the then-blossoming kung fu movies of the 1970s and Kane’s own earlier creation Amazing-Man, Iron Fist came into comics as a different kind of hero. A down-to-earth hero (despite his sometimes eccentric high collar), Iron Fist mixed the Marvel-style hero stories with exotic kung fu locales like K’un Lun to create a great series. In 2007, Matt Fraction, Ed Brubaker and David Aja created a perfect template for an <b>Iron Fist</b> movie in the form of an ongoing comic series that steeped the character in pulpy mystery while staying true to his roots. <p>And if you think Marvel hasn’t thought about an <b>Iron Fist</b> movie, you’re kidding yourself. Back in 2000 Marvel went as far as hiring a star (Ray Park) and a director (Kirk Wong) to start shooting in 2002, but was continuously put on hold due to Marvel’s tight finances at the time and several directors coming in and out. Now here in 2013 there might be some conflict with the recently released <i>Man With The Iron Fist</i> movie, but there’s got to me some way of working out that little wrinkle. <p>Picturing Vin Diesel as Danny Rand seems like a match made in heaven, with Diesel’s penchant for action movies and genre filmmaking. And as a bonus, Marvel hired the guy who dreamt up <i>xXx</i>, Rich Wilkes, to do a draft of <b>Iron Fist</b> back in 2010. With Diesel’s familiarity with that franchise and Wilkes work, it could be a reunion far sooner than the rumored <i>xXx</i> sequel.

Thanos

Thanos isn’t new; he appeared in <i>Marvel’s The Avengers</i>. Yes, but he’s as close to new as you’ll get. With just a couple seconds on screen, he generated more talk than arguably the alien armada that ran rough-shod over the Avengers earlier in the movie for about 30 minutes. So image Diesel putting a voice to Marvel’s Mad Titan… but in his own. <p>How would it work, you say? Imagine Diesel-as-Thanos in a villain-fronted <i>Infinity Gauntlet</i> movie pulling together the villains pursuit of the Infinity gems from the various Elders of the Universe and setting his plan to take over the universe in motion. We could see shades of Jason Aaron’s recent <i>Thanos Rising</i> storyline mixing with Jim Starlin’s opening bars of the Infinity Gauntlet, played out as a slow-build event movie with Thanos in the driver’s seat. <p>And Diesel’s already on record with wanting to play a leading role in a Marvel movie but as a villain. In an interview with MTV News back in 2009, Diesel said he “would like to play the protganost of a story that is also like a Marvel villain – like Doctor Doom or something.” <p>Why have Doctor Doom when you can have Thanos?

If Not GROOT, Who? 10 Other Marvel Roles Vin Diesel Could Have Played

Date: 29 August 2013 Time: 09:00 PM ET