Beyond Batgirl and Nightwing: 9 legacy heroes that need the movie treatment

Contributed by
Apr 27, 2017

With Batgirl and Nightwing both being announced for the big screen in the last few weeks, Fox getting in on the fun with New Mutants and Miles Morales on his way in an animated Spider-Man feature film, it seems the dawn of the legacy hero in film is finally here. Sure, we have characters like Bucky Barnes as Winter Soldier and Rhodey flying around as War Machine, both potential legacy heroes themselves, but not in starring roles.

With DC Films ready to broach the topic of second-generation heroes and Marvel reaching what's sure to be a turning point as Phase 3 comes to a spectacular finish in a pair of Avengers films, the time is right for the legacy characters to truly step up and take their rightful place as film stars in the limelight.

With that, here are nine legacy heroes we'd love to see front and center as superhero movies enter their own next generation. Some of these have been mentioned in other media before, some of them are direct "descendants" of a sort, while some would be new to the big screen altogether.

All of them, however, are awesome.

Kamala Khan/Ms. Marvel

Kamala should be the top of every Marvel wishlist until Marvel Studios (or Marvel TV, if they can get the budget for this megamorphic Inhuman – that means she can shape-shift and also increase or decrease her mass) gets her on our screens. Technically a third generation hero, she's followed in the footsteps of Carol Danvers, who herself spun from (and eventually took over for) Captain Marvel. Kamala is a hero for the simplest of reasons: she desperately wants to be. She's wholly altruistic and wants nothing more than to live up to the legacy of the name 'Ms. Marvel' that Carol established. It doesn't hurt that she's also a Muslim kid, living in a devout Muslim household in Jersey City, and her presence on screen next to a proud Captain Marvel (or even Captain America) could do a lot to push the public consciousness and conversation in a positive direction. It's not a stretch to see how important and fun this character is.

Wally West (the first one)/The Flash

The second Wally West (they're cousins, both named after their grandfather, don't overthink it because hey, comics!) has already made his splash on TV as The CW's Kid Flash, but the original Wally still needs his day in the sun. An entire generation of DC Comics fans know Wally as their Flash, and he could save the day in one particular case: the troubled DC Films Flash movie. That movie can't seem to get any traction or even move past the starting line. Bring in Wally, maybe in a time-travel scenario, to help Barry get off the blocks and turn the mentor/student dynamic between the two on its head. You tracking?

Kate Bishop/Hawkeye

Guys, as many times as we ask if Jeremy Renner would be interested in a Hawkeye movie or Netflix show or a Hawkeye/Black Widow movie, and as many times as he says "Yes, obviously, I like getting paid to act, it's my job," it's probably not going to happen. And Kate Bishop would make a much better solo star, anyway. A member of the Young Avengers, Bishop didn't take the name 'Young' or 'Lady' or 'Kid' Hawkeye, she just took Hawkeye. Her attitude, mixed with a definite heroic streak she couldn't repress if she tried (and she's tried), would make for a great solo hero on screen. Renner can guest star, if only to watch Bishop outshoot Clint. This one's a bullseye.

Amadeus Cho

Now this one's an interesting case. Currently in the comics, Amadeus Cho is running around as the Totally Awesome Hulk. You see, Universal still holds the rights to distribute a solo Hulk movie, hence Marvel Studios being reluctant to make one (and inserting the Planet Hulk storyline into Thor: Ragnarok instead). But Cho is more than just the Hulk -- he's also a super-genius on the level (or possibly surpassing) of the Tony Starks and Reed Richardses of the Marvel Universe. In fact, a lot of young, brilliant minds have popped up at Marvel in recent years, including Ironheart and Moon-Girl. Perhaps a team-up movie where these young heroes team up to save the day when the Avengers are incapacitated? You could make it like the Goonies meets The Avengers meets Doogie Howser. So, basically perfect. Doesn't take an Einstein to see this idea has smarts.

Jack Knight/Starman

The son of the first Starman, this modern age hero met fame and fan-favorite status in the mid-'90s under the watchful gaze of James Robinson and Tony Harris. Jack never wanted to follow in his father's footsteps, making him unique amongst the heroes on this list. His origin story -- in which he reluctantly picks up the Cosmic staff that powers his family after his father retires and his brother is murdered -- would work well as a first film, and his constant desire to not be a hero would make things really shine. In the constellation of superhero films, one starring Jack Knight could be brightest.

Sam Alexander/Nova

While Guardians of the Galaxy introduced a version of the Nova Corps into the MCU, it wasn't what fans of the comics were expecting. With that version decimated by Ronan, however, there's plenty of room to reboot the Corps for the future and use legacy to do it. Sam Alexander is a young hero who gains his abilities as part of this group of 'space cops' when he finds his missing father's old Nova helmet. He then tries to live up to his father's legacy while learning to be his own hero, having adventures both Earthbound and in the far reaches of space. Sam is also a double legacy of sorts, following not just his father but the first human Nova, Richard Rider. This version of Nova could explode into a popular character in the MCU and show that there's space for more cosmic heroes there.

Ryan Choi/the Atom

We already have Ray Palmer as the Atom on TV, so if we're going to bring one to the big screen, why not Ryan Choi? Aside from the desperate need for more Asian representation in superhero stories (and movies in general), Choi is unique in that all of his superheroics are based around his desire to understand the universe as a scientist. While other heroes are brilliant scientists, few, if any (Amadeus above perhaps as the most glaring exception), actually use it as the core of their superhero career. Between Atom on TV and Ant-Man in film already, fans may think they've had their fill of size-changing heroes, but if approached specifically as a scientific adventurer, DC Films could discover the right formula for success. That's our hypothesis, anyway - don't shrink away from this possibility.

Laura/X-23/Wolverine

The only one on this list that's already been on the big screen, Laura simply has to make it back, somehow. Whether it's time travel (hey, the time-traveling hero Cable is about to make his debut in that universe! CONVENIENT!) or taking up a leadership role with the kids in the future following the events of Logan, we need more Laura and we need her soon. Dafne Keen, of course, would need to return after her masterful performance. Basically, stick X-23 in any movie (preferably as the next-generation Wolverine, a role the character plays in the comics brilliantly currently) and we're here for it. You could say this idea is a cut above the rest and would rapidly heal the pain of Hugh Jackman retiring.

Jaime Reyes/Blue Beetle

How do you introduce a legacy character (technically third-generation) without first having the originals involved? You just do! The fact of the matter is, Jaime Reyes' origin, finding a blue Scarab (which turns out to be alien in origin) that gives him awesome Beetle-themed armor and superpowers, doesn't really require knowing who Ted Kord or Dan Garrett are. With the recent Teen Titans animated film, previous animated series appearances and a role in Injustice 2 coming up, Jaime's recognition is already there. Heck, WBTV even produced a proof-of-concept a couple of years ago of Jaime transforming into the Beetle – and it looked amazing. He's a teenage Iron Man with links to alien races and other heroes to discover and learn from -- what's not to like? Open up your hard exterior shell and let this idea infest your imagination.