10 Shows That Marvel Animation Should Bring (Back) To Life

Marvel Animation is a growing powerhouse for bringing beloved Marvel Comics characters to life on the small screen, from classic favourites to fresh faces. While the Marvel brand is unchallenged in live-action, its foray into kids-friendly cartoons hasn’t been as strong as its Distinguished Competition but in the last few years, they have been on the right track.

This new banner under Marvel Studios was unveiled alongside the recent trailer for X-Men ‘97, the modern revival of the original X-Men: The Animated Series, this is not its first project, and the division has been responsible for other recent animated projects, including What If…? and I Am Groot, available on Disney+.

With a treasure trove of characters and storylines at its disposal, here are some compelling ideas (in no particular order) for new Marvel animated shows that Marvel Animation can tap into, to either revisit or develop, to captivate audiences and expand the ever-growing Marvel universe.

Revivals & Spin-offs:

1) The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes (2010 to 2012)

Marvel Secret Invasion Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes (2)

While we’re reviving older Marvel animated programmes like the beloved X-Men: The Animated Series in the form of X-Men ‘97, why not bring back another Saturday morning classic that was gone too soon? The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes had exceptional storytelling, character development, and well-executed adaptations of classic Marvel comic book arcs, including one of the better takes on the Secret Invasion saga.

Additionally, the 2-season series from what 2010 successfully captured the essence of iconic Avengers team dynamics while introducing lesser-known characters, like Mockingbird and Abigail Brand, to a wider audience. By bringing back The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, Marvel has the opportunity to reignite fan excitement, delve deeper into the Marvel universe, and continue the legacy of a fan-favourite animated series.

2) Marvel 1602

One of the highlights from Season 2 of What If…? is the exploration of an Elizabethan era-themed universe in the episode “What If… the Avengers Assembled in 1602?”. The episode was loosely based on the 2003 eight-issue comic book limited series, Marvel 1602, by writer Neil Gaiman, and artist Andy Kubert. 

The series explores the idea that Marvel superheroes started appearing 400 years earlier, in the year 1602 (the series was written in 2002) for unknown reasons, and its success led to three sequels — 1602: New World, Marvel 1602: Fantastick Four, and Spider-Man: 1602. The concept holds plenty of promise for a dedicated spin-off, exploring the exploits of familiar heroes in a different setting, including Wanda Merlin and Sir Nicholas Fury, as well as the Merry Men comprising Steve Rogers, Bucky Barnes, and Scott Lang.

3) Marvel 2099

Established in 1992, Marvel 2099 was a Marvel Comics imprint that brought familiar names into a possible future of the Marvel Comics Universe, labelled 2099.

It started with four comic book series — Doom 2099, based on Doctor Doom; Punisher 2099, based on a new character who adopts the mantle; Spider-Man 2099, about a geneticist who attempts to re-create the abilities of the original Spider-Man; and Ravage 2099, an all-new hero. 

Its initial success led to more books – 2099 Unlimited, Fantastic Four 2099, Ghost Rider 2099, Hulk 2099, X-Men 2099, and X-Nation 2099, a growing concept built upon transporting audiences to a futuristic world where new heroes and villains emerge, from a hacker whose consciousness had been downloaded into a robotic body, to the likes of Vulture 2099, an insane cannibal who wishes to rule the sky. 

A few of these characters have made minor appearances in animation over the years, including the more recent debut of Miguel O’Hara’s aka Spider-Man 2099, voiced by Oscar Isaac, in Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, and there seems to be an appetite by audiences for more. From cybernetic enhancements and advanced technology to dystopian landscapes, this series would offer a fresh and exciting glimpse into Marvel Comics’ possible future.

4) Deadpool

The success of HBO Max’s Harley Quinn animated series proves that there’s potential for an analogous approach for the Merc with a Mouth, Deadpool, a character with similarly offbeat humour and penchant for chaos.

In fact, there were plans for a Deadpool animated series crafted by Donald Glover (Community, Solo: A Star Wars Story) and his screenwriting brother Stephen (Atlanta, Mr. & Mrs. Smith) in 2017. Envisioned as a raucous and irreverent addition to the superhero animation landscape, the show aimed to capture the same adult-oriented humour that made Archer a hit. Unfortunately, the project hit a snag due to creative differences and never saw the light of day. However, with the success of the Deadpool films and Deadpool & Wolverine on the horizon, perhaps now is the perfect moment to resurrect this tantalising idea.

5) Captain America and the Howling Commandos

The Howling Commandos, led by the iconic Captain America, are a diverse and dynamic team of soldiers with unique skills and personalities. Set against the backdrop of World War II, their missions are steeped in rich history and potential for thrilling storytelling, which would provide ample opportunity for high-stakes action, espionage, and heroic deeds.

The team made their live-action debut in Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) but the switch to a modern setting means many of them have passed. Still, Marvel could go back and cover the period when Steve Rogers worked with the team, and adopt an animated approach in the style of G.I. Joe, to capture the nostalgic essence of classic animated series while bringing to life the daring adventures of these legendary characters.

New Takes

1) The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl

Squirrel Girl has powers that seem whimsical and even comically useless — like a squirrel tail, squirrel teeth, and an army of squirrels at her command — which can easily translate to madcap, cartoony adventures. The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl comic series, created by Ryan North and Erica Henderson, even showcases her taking on formidable foes like Doctor Doom and Galactus.

Often emerging victorious through wit and empathy rather than brute force, her ability to defuse conflicts by understanding her adversaries’ motivations adds depth to her character, making her escapades both hilarious and surprisingly heartfelt. With its perfect blend of humour and heart, Squirrel Girl’s story has the potential to captivate audiences of all ages, making it a prime candidate for a delightful and entertaining animated series.

2) Pet Avengers

Between DC League of Super-Pets and rumours of an adaptation of Jurassic League (a prehistoric take on DC’s heroes and villains that sees them as dinosaurs), there may be a market for an animated series featuring Marvel’s own superpowered animals.

The Pet Avengers typically includes characters such as Lockjaw (the Inhumans’ teleporting canine), Throg (a human cursed into a frog with Thor’s powers), Redwing (Falcon’s live avian partner in the comics, not movies), Lockheed (X-Men’s Kitty Pryde/Shadowcat’s dragon friend), and more. These furry, feathered, and scaly heroes could help introduce younger audiences to the Marvel Universe and provide existing fans with a light-hearted and entertaining alternative to traditional superhero stories, showcasing the power of teamwork and friendship in unexpected and heartwarming ways.

3) Momokoverse

The Momokoverse is Marvel’s answer to anime. Originating from the mind of Japanese artist and writer Peach Momoko, the Momokoverse is set in Japan’s Edo period and features whimsical and fantastical tales that blend elements of mythology, folklore, and modern pop culture.

With characters like the Scarlet Samurai, the ancient wolf Logan, and various yokai interpretations of Marvel characters, there is ample opportunity for imaginative storytelling and visually stunning animation. A Momokoverse animated series could capture the hearts of audiences with its charming characters, captivating world-building, and themes of friendship, adventure, and self-discovery. Additionally, it would provide Marvel with a unique opportunity to expand its animated offerings and appeal to fans of manga and anime.

4) X-Babies

Created by the villainous Mojo thanks to his bizarre obsession with reality TV, the X-Babies are pint-sized versions of the X-Men, each with adorable quirks and personalities. From Bub (Wolverine) to Shower (Storm) and Creepy Crawler (Nightcrawler), the team’s Looney Tunes-esque escapades provide endless opportunities for hilarious antics and heartwarming adventures.

Despite originating as a parody of network tendencies to ‘babyfy’ iconic characters (such as Scrappy Doo, Muppet Babies, and Flintstone Kids), the X-Babies have captured the hearts of readers for over three decades, demonstrating their enduring appeal and potential for animated entertainment.

While based on the X-Men, this fresh take is a project of its own — a cartoon featuring these pint-sized heroes would not only entertain audiences with its whimsical charm but also pay homage to the beloved legacy of the X-Men franchise in a fresh and playful way. If it can work for Mojo and comic readers, why not television audiences?

5) New Spider-Man (non Peter Parker) cartoon

Yes, we know that Marvel Animation has begun work on a new Spider-Man animated project, Your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man (originally Spider-Man: Freshman Year), which will reportedly focus on Peter Parker’s origin story and early days using the Spider-Man persona.

But enough with origin stories! And dare we say it — enough with Peter Parker as Spider-Man. The web crawler has a rich legacy of excellent animated shows, including The Spectacular Spider-Man (2008 to 2009), Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends (1981 to 1983), Spider-Man Unlimited (1999 to 2001), and Spider-Man: The Animated Series (1994 to 1998), so maybe it’s time to explore one of the few dozen other heroes who have adopted the persona, and yes, we’re not even talking Miles Morales here.

With Spider-Man’s enduring popularity across generations, we’re eager for fresh storylines, characters, and adventures that can resonate with both long-time fans and new audiences. If the Spider-Verse films are any indication, fans are ready for unique Spider-Man stories with visually captivating animation.

Bonus: What If…? Avengers vs. X-Men

With one massive Avengers live-action franchise, and two big animated series spinning out of Marvel Animation — What If…? and X-Men ‘97 — a crossover would be a no-brainer. And the basis of this crossover? A special take on the iconic AvX or Avengers vs. X-Men comic books.

Throw in multiverse shenanigans to include the voice talents from the live-action X-Men films and it would be a groundbreaking event in animation history. Imagine iconic actors including Hugh Jackman (Wolverine), Patrick Stewart (Professor X), and Halle Berry (Storm) reprising their roles in animated form, bringing a sense of authenticity and nostalgia to the characters they’ve portrayed on the big screen. 

Who will they be fighting? Why, the Avengers of course, this time from the live-action Marvel Cinematic Universe, with those actors reprising their roles, which a majority already do in the Disney+’s What If…? series.  This crossover would open up various possibilities, allowing for unique and inventive storylines that blend elements of the beloved X-Men films with the imaginative storytelling of What If…?.

Fans would be treated to exciting and unexpected scenarios, exploring alternate realities where familiar characters face new challenges and make different choices. It would be a celebration of the rich history of the X-Men franchise, honouring its legacy while pushing the boundaries of creativity and storytelling in animation.

With so many captivating ideas at their disposal, Marvel Animation has the opportunity to deliver an array of diverse and engaging series that will captivate fans both old and new. Whether it’s exploring new corners of the Marvel universe or reimagining classic characters for a new generation, there’s no limit to the adventures Marvel Animation can bring to our screens.