Marvel is willing to make movies out of its more obscure properties; we’ve seen this already with Guardians and Ant-Man. Both of those were pretty far down in the Marvel roster of popularity. The movie boost worked for Guardians, I’m not yet convinced it will work for Ant-Man, I have doubts but we’ll see soon enough. So what about properties that were once not obscure but no longer exist?
I think that early Excalibur would make a great team movie for the Marvel Universe. It was a popular light-hearted comic back in its day, though the frequent artist and writer changes were not kind to it. The first run was something special; for those of you not familiar with Excalibur it was basically X-Men UK. Over half of the original team was from the X-Men roster, Kurt Wagner (Nightcrawler), Kitty Pryde (Shadowcat, with Lockheed), and Rachel Summers (Phoenix). The other two members were the British born Meggan and Brian Braddock (Captain Britain). Five members are pretty perfect for an ensemble feature film.
It was arguable the best comic of its albeit short lived era (on issue #24 artist and co-writer Alan Davis left) but Excalibur remained a lot fun up until #34 when writer Chris Claremont left. After that the tone and quality of Excalibur nose dived like a featherless chicken. Marvel didn’t know what to do with the title; after all it was a fun X-Men spin-off in a lot of ways and X-Men was all about the “serious.” We’d also had The Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen by this point and comics were desperate to be taken seriously.
Marvel decided to make Excalibur more of a serious series and it went fairly gritty, then recovered for a short time when Davis briefly returned, then went really gritty again after he left. Team members were killed off, left catatonic or replaced. Captain Britain was even removed off-frame in a jarring plot shift. It’s not worth reading again until #83-103 when Warren Ellis took over. After he left Excalibur v1 limped on for a while but it was laid to rest on issue #125 with Captain Britain and Meggan’s wedding.
The obvious problem here is so many of the cast would be mutants and Fox owns the rights to Marvel’s mutant family. If Marvel and Fox could agree on the use of Captain Britain (non-mutant) then this could become part of the extended Fox mutant movies. I’d prefer it to be Marvel but given the great ball of tangled yarn that are the rights issues I’m not sure agreement is likely. Would take a lot of legal wrangling and that in itself is expensive and I doubt either company wants to take that on.
Regardless of likelihood if it was my script I’ve focus on the redemption of Captain Britain, a long time alcoholic, through his love for Meggan. Lots of intimacy between him and Meggan and a shifting Pheonix whose loyalties are not fixed. Humour through Kitty and Lockheed and Kurt holding it all together. The antagonists would be Saturnyne and Brian’s brother, the insane reality altering Jamie Braddock. Keep the enemy count low and make the reasons for conflict personal that that it’s clear and immediate danger. It would retain the lightness of tone evident in Guardians and be assuredly non-gritty.
I never knew I wanted this Marvel and Fox, but I do now. I know the odds of this happening are at about 1% but I’m holding a sliver of hope akin to when you drop toast. Will it land butter side up? Only if you’re really lucky. If you can pick up issues #1-34 they are well worth the read.
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