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Old Live-Action Marvel Characters We Want To See In The Multiverse Saga

As the Marvel Cinematic Universe continues its "Multiverse Saga," the doors keep opening wider for the return of old Marvel heroes and villains from movies and eras past. We've already seen the long-awaited return of Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield as their respective Spider-Men, Patrick Stewart in his long-running role as Professor Charles Xavier, and plenty of others, including Evan Peters as a fake version of his "X-Men" character Quicksilver and Anson Mount as Black Bolt from Marvel's failed "Inhumans" series — which technically was a part of the MCU at one point. 

That's not to mention the upcoming return of Ryan Reynolds and Hugh Jackman as Deadpool and Wolverine in a third MCU-adjacent "Deadpool" movie. With all the excitement surrounding the return of some of these famous Marvel legends from the pre-MCU world, it's hard not to hope or wish for the return of other classic characters from those stories. From the cast of the theatrical "Fantastic Four" films to Lou Ferrigno's Incredible Hulk, there are plenty of Marvel icons to bring back into the fold by the time the heavily-anticipated "Avengers: Secret Wars" — an event that will, if they follow the original comic book crossover, connect countless multiverses — comes out.

If the MCU wants to dive deep into Marvel's colorful film and television history, then these are some of the characters they should consider bringing back at some point in "The Multiverse Saga."

The Fantastic Four (2005 cast)

While not the first to play Marvel's first family, the cast of the Tim Story-directed 2005 film — which includes Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Michael Chiklis, and Chris Evans (yes, that Chris Evans) — are the definitive live-action version of the Fantastic Four to date. Appearing in both "Fantastic Four" and "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer," these versions of Mr. Fantastic, the Invisible Woman, The Thing, and the Human Torch work incredibly well together, and feel like they were pulled right out of the original Stan Lee-written comics.

This version of the Fantastic Four have faced off against Doctor Doom (twice), the Silver Surfer, and a strange variant of the planet-eating Galactus in their two outings, and though they didn't get a third installment, there was no doubt that they'd save the world again if given the chance. The chemistry between these four has been unmatched in other live-action Fantastic Four adaptations, be it the unreleased 1994 feature film or the poorly received 2015 reboot.

Though Reed Richards appeared as a member of the Illuminati in "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" — played by John Krasinski — many were hoping for the return of Ioan Gruffudd as Mr. Fantastic. But there's still hope, and although we still haven't seen the MCU's version of the Fantastic Four just yet, different variants are still fair game — possibly even variants of the Human Torch who happen to look exactly like Captain America.

Nicolas Cage as Ghost Rider

No casting for a Marvel character has been more strangely loved than Nicolas Cage as Johnny Blaze, aka Ghost Rider. First appearing in the 2007 "Ghost Rider" film, Cage returned for a 2012 semi-sequel, "Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance," though there's very little connecting the two movies besides Cage himself. Though he's not the only live-action Ghost Rider out there — there's an MCU variant from "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." played by Gabriel Luna — he's by far the most recognizable.

Cage brings a certain, well, Cage-ish flare to the role that no other thespian could, and that's part of why we love him. Though the first "Ghost Rider" is fairly average, and the sequel feels more like a fan film than a Marvel blockbuster, there's no doubt that it would be great to see Nicolas Cage saddle back up as the flaming Spirit of Vengeance once more as we head into the tail-end of "The Multiverse Saga." No one can quite capture the role like he can.

Though Johnny Blaze's Ghost Rider makes an appearance in his fiery form in "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.," we have yet to see the human behind the flaming skull. Maybe the MCU's variant of Blaze still looks like Nicolas Cage? Though there are no current plans to bring the Spirit of Vengeance back to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it's not because he isn't willing.

Wesley Snipes as Blade

The first modern Marvel superhero to get his own theatrical blockbuster, Blade is a vampire hunter who originated from Marvel's "The Tomb of Dracula" series before quickly becoming a fan-favorite leading man. Played to perfection by Wesley Snipes, this dhampir got his own complete live-action film trilogy — with a second film directed by horror-fantasy legend Guillermo del Toro — before transitioning to the small screen for a single season with a different star. In the comics, he's worked with British Intelligence, the Nightstalkers, and has even been a member of the Avengers.

Of all the live-action vampire hunters, Blade is one of the coolest and continues to excite fans whenever he enters the room. But most of his modern popularity comes from the Wesley Snipes interpretation of the character, who remains the definitive Blade for most people. Still, many are rightfully excited to see Mahershala Ali take on the character in the MCU's upcoming reboot film, but even Ali can't replace Snipes in our hearts. If one incarnation of the famed vampire hunter is good, then two vampire slayers must be better.

The return of Snipes' Blade would bring the modern Marvel filmography full circle in a way that even Patrick Stewart's Professor Xavier and Tobey Maguire's Spider-Man have yet to achieve. Plus, Marvel Studios guru Kevin Feige co-produced "Blade: Trinity," so just like his work with many of the other Marvel heroes, it would be something of a reunion as well.

The X-Men (2000 lineup)

Even though "Blade" was Marvel's first successful feature film, "X-Men" was the movie that ushered superheroes into the 21st century. The original lineup — which included Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, James Marsden as Cyclops, Halle Berry as Storm, and Famke Janssen as Jean Grey — brought Marvel's famed mutants to life and kickstarted a franchise that would run for nearly 20 years. Future members of the team would include Nightcrawler, Colossus, Beast, Kitty Pryde, Iceman, Rogue, and Bishop, among others.

Of all Marvel's superhero teams, the X-Men have always been the most beloved, with a vast history of diverse characters and plenty of alternate timelines to explore. Fans knew what to expect with Fox's "X-Men" films, and there was a sort of comfort in that. With the return of Patrick Stewart's Professor X in "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness," and the eventual return of Hugh Jackman's Wolverine in the upcoming "Deadpool" threequel, the door is open for the rest of the X-Men to return, and maybe even Ian McKellen's villainous Magneto as well.

If Marvel really wanted to get people excited about mutants going forward, bringing back the future cast of "X-Men: Days of Future Past" would be the way to go, with Cyclops and Nightcrawler in tow of course. Even with the various timelines and continuity changes, there's no doubt that fans would be ecstatic to see the old X-Men back on screen, especially if they were to work alongside the Avengers.

Lou Ferrigno as The Incredible Hulk

The original Incredible Hulk, Lou Ferrigno, played the not-so-jolly green monster in "The Incredible Hulk" TV series, which ran from 1978 to 1982. The show then transitioned into various made-for-television reunion films, some of which featured team-ups with Marvel heroes like Daredevil and Thor. The alter-ego of the late Bill Bixby's Dr. David Banner, the Hulk just wanted to be left alone, though he would fight for the innocent if necessary. Ferrigno's iconic Hulk became a cultural sensation during its time, and the character is still instantly recognizable today.

Since the series ended, Ferrigno has remained a part of the Hulk's recent filmography, having appeared in small cameos of the physical and vocal variety in Ang Lee's "Hulk," the MCU's "The Incredible Hulk," and the first two "Avengers" films. Even up through "Thor: Ragnarok," Ferrigno was still lending his vocal talents to the MCU's version of the character. Still, we'd love to see the original television triumph return to smash some worthy opponents. 

Though Bixby's Banner met his demise at the end of "The Death of the Incredible Hulk," and Bill Bixby himself died in the early 1990s, both Lou Ferrigno and the Hulk live on and could easily return in some capacity in the MCU's future. Without "The Incredible Hulk" TV series, it's possible that the green goliath wouldn't be the same Marvel staple we know and love today, so why not bring him back to celebrate how far superhero television has come?

Doug Jones as Silver Surfer

After his epic debut in "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer," we're long overdue for another appearance of Doug Jones' Norrin Radd, aka the Silver Surfer. A cosmic being with incredible powers and a tragic vocation, the Silver Surfer is originally the herald of the planet-eater Galactus, who desires, above all, to consume the Earth. Though the Fantastic Four and the Silver Surfer push Galactus back, breaking the Surfer's connection to his former master, that doesn't mean it's the end of Norrin Radd's journey.

Doug Jones — known for playing fantastical creatures, monsters, and villains in both movies and TV — played the Silver Surfer to perfection, and it's a true shame he was never able to reprise his role in a spin-off capacity. But, with all these epic returns to the Marvel Universe, and the constant expansion of the MCU's cosmic world in the "Thor," "Guardians of the Galaxy," and "Eternals" films, there's certainly a place for Jones' incarnation of the Silver Surfer here.

With one of the sleekest designs in all of comics, and one of the most impressive power-sets captured on film, the Silver Surfer is a must for the future of the MCU, and we would no doubt love to see Doug Jones reprise his role.

Ben Affleck as Daredevil

Before he won the role of a brooding DC Comics character who tackles street crime in a big city after the death of his parents, while wearing a costume equipped with horns, Ben Affleck played a Marvel Comics character who tackled street crime in a big city after the death of his parents while — you guessed it — wearing a costume equipped with horns. That's right, long before Charlie Cox became synonymous with the role, Ben Affleck played the Man Without Fear. 

While Affleck's portrayal — and his "Daredevil" movie as a whole — was met with mixed reviews, seeing him in the red leather again after all these years would be a sight for sure. The way his "Daredevil" film used echo-location was miles better than the way it was portrayed in the Netflix series, and if anyone could play Kingpin better than Vincent D'Onofrio, it would be the late Michael Clarke Duncan. Affleck's Daredevil may have been a bit underwhelming for some, but if he returned now, fans would go crazy for it.

With all the hype surrounding Cox's Daredevil and his re-appearance in the MCU, it may be time for a new, or, rather an old, Guardian Devil to make his way back to the Marvel Universe. If he can come back as Batman after the trainwreck that was "Justice League," then there's no reason that Ben Affleck couldn't return as Daredevil too.

David Hasselhoff as Nick Fury

Did you know that David Hasselhoff played Nick Fury on TV? His 1998 television film, "Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.," was meant to be a backdoor pilot for a series that would explore Fury's work in espionage, but it never quite took off. One thing is clear though, Hasselhoff certainly looks the part, and is a closer page-to-screen adaptation of Nick Fury than Samuel L. Jackson's MCU variant, at least if you're going off the original comic books by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.

Jackson's portrayal of Fury — who was based on the "Ultimate Universe" version of the character — has since been adapted into Marvel Comics overall. But it would be fitting to use Hasselhoff's incarnation of Nick Fury in the MCU, if only as a fun nod to the character's origins. Of course, no one could replace Samuel L. Jackson's version of the character, but seeing "the Hoff" as the iconic Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. would be amusing indeed.

While David Hasselhoff already has a connection to the MCU thanks to cameos in James Gunn's first two "Guardians of the Galaxy" movies, that doesn't mean he couldn't return in a different capacity, namely as the Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. himself. Or at least another universe's version of him.

Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy

At first glance, this one may seem like too big of a stretch. Andrew Garfield's Peter Parker spent much of his time in "Spider-Man: No Way Home" either atoning for the mistakes he made surrounding Gwen's death in "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" or working on his own self-worth issues because of it. It's been made very clear that Gwen is dead and not coming back any time soon. But if we learned anything from "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse" or even the animated "What If?...," it's that multiple versions of the same character can exist in other universes.

Following the tradition of the Spider-Gwen character — a version of Gwen Stacy with spider-powers who lost her own Peter Parker — it's plausible that Andrew Garfield's Amazing Spider-Man could make his way back to the MCU and possibly encounter a version of Gwen from another world, one who could sympathize with his own grief. It would be an exciting way to bring Emma Stone back into the Marvel fold, just as it would be a great way to introduce more Spider-people beyond just Peter Parker.

In the same vein as the version of Captain Peggy Carter we saw in "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness," a Spider-Gwen Stacy would be a great nod for comic book fans and lovers of "Spider-Verse" alike, and an excellent excuse to bring an exciting version of the character to the screen.

Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane Watson

While Kirsten Dunst's Mary-Jane Watson may not have been everyone's favorite Spider-Man love interest, there's no doubt that MJ is an iconic character that we'd love to see again on screen (and no, Zendaya's Michelle Jones version doesn't count). Though Emma Stone's Gwen Stacy was arguably more beloved, Dunst's MJ was a vital part of Peter Parker's journey. Sure, he messed up his relationship with her on more than one occasion, but "Spider-Man: No Way Home" seems to imply that they worked it all out in the end.

Throughout the original "Spider-Man" trilogy, MJ grows from being a teenager with big dreams to eventually living them. Not only that, but her ability to handle being kidnapped by not one, but four different supervillains deserves some sort of praise. If Dunst's MJ were brought back into the Marvel fold, they'd no doubt have to take some greater inspiration from the comic books and give her a bit more to do other than play the damsel in distress.

In both the comics and onscreen, Peter and Mary Jane have a hard time staying together. Whether it's marriages that get erased from history, or fail to happen at all, Marvel often makes it hard for these two to remain a family in the long run. Here's hoping that Dunst's MJ and Tobey Maguire's Spidey are able to stay united, and that we can finally see it onscreen.

Nicholas Hammond as Spider-Man

Nicholas Hammond played the wall-crawler in "The Amazing Spider-Man" television series that ran between 1977 and 1979. Though it only lasted 13 episodes, the series is notable for being the first live-action series starring the webslinger. Fans at the time might not have been enthusiastic about Hammond's Spider-Man, mostly because his stories neglected most of the comics' supporting cast and villains, but he'd no doubt be a welcome addition to the MCU now.

Although the series ended in 1979, episodes from the show were re-edited and re-released into sequel films over the next few years, such as "Spider-Man Strikes Back" and "Spider-Man: The Dragon's Challenge." Though Hammond wasn't the first person to play Spider-Man in live-action — that honor goes to Danny Seagren, who played the character on "The Electric Company" from 1974 to 1977 (via IGN) — he was the first to star in his own TV series and movie, as well as the first to portray not only Spider-Man but also his alter-ego, Peter Parker. As far as live-action superhero landmarks go, Hammond's Peter Parker deserves at least a reference.

In fact, Hammond hoped he'd be contacted for an appearance in "Spider-Man: No Way Home," given that he was the original live-action Peter Parker (via The Hollywood Reporter). While he didn't make it on screen with Tom Holland, Andrew Garfield, and Tobey Maguire this time around, there's always a chance that this version of Spider-Man could show up at some point in the future.

Shinji Tōdō as Spider-Man

Speaking of live-action Spider-Men, Shinji Tōdō is known for playing the Japanese version of the webslinger, named Takuya Yamashiro. Tōdō's Yamashiro has become something of a cult icon over the past few decades, as newfound fans have discovered his Japanese "Spider-Man" television series. Airing from May 1978 until March 1979, "Spider-Man" yielded 41 episodes and a feature film during that time and launched a whole new breed of live-action television that would eventually inspire franchises such as "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers."

That's right, this Spider-Man is nothing like the version you know, and has his very own giant robot — named Leopardon — to help fight against the giant monsters who threaten our world. Rather than the classic "bit by a radioactive spider" origin, Yamashiro's origin ties into alien invaders, UFOs, and strange extraterrestrial spider-powers that come from the blood of an alien rather than a spider. The Japanese Spider-Man has been featured in various Marvel comics over the years, and is actually set to return in the next installment of the animated "Spider-Verse."

Despite the strangeness surrounding Shinji Tōdō's interpretation of the character, fans would love to see his unique take on Spider-Man return to the screen. Just think about how cool it would be to see Leopardon fight alongside the rest of the MCU's greatest heroes.

Tom Hardy as Venom

Okay, so Tom Hardy's Eddie Brock/Venom has technically crossed over to the MCU already, if you count the end credits scenes of Sony's "Venom: Let There Be Carnage" and "Spider-Man: No Way Home." But this "Lethal Protector"-inspired version of the symbiote-fused anti-hero deserves more than that. Though the Venom symbiote recognizes Tom Holland's Spider-Man (as it should, since all symbiotes across the multiverse are connected via a hive-mind), they've never actually interacted onscreen, and we're still dying to see that.

Since the "Venom" movies take place in the same world as "Morbius," it's entirely possible that the Lethal Protector and the Living Vampire could meet up themselves, and eventually make their way to the MCU to battle Spider-Man. This seems likely, given the MCU Vulture's ideas for a team-up as seen at the end of "Morbius," which only strengthens the connections between the Spider-Man-inspired Sony universe and the MCU proper.

With his strange blend of morbid humor and extraterrestrial flare, Venom would make a fine addition to the MCU, and the thought of him interacting with characters like Thor or the Guardians of the Galaxy is enough to make us wish for some sort of crossover between them. The Venom symbiote's knowledge of the universe would certainly come in handy if he and Eddie decided to untether themselves from the Earth. But let's not get too ahead of ourselves: we still need Hardy's Venom to meet up with Holland's Spider-Man first.

The Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. crew

The "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." crew are technically a part of the MCU, at least originally, but given their absence from the larger universe since their initial inception, it might be time to finally unite this group of ragtag heroes with the greater multiverse. Originally led by Agent Phil Coulson, this S.H.I.E.L.D. crew single-handedly saved the world on countless occasions, often from behind the scenes, and have even inadvertently aided the Avengers themselves.

Including the likes of Melinda May, Daisy Johnson (aka Quake), Fitz and Simmons, Mack, and a host of others, this team of highly-capable espionage agents would be perfect additions to Nick Fury's intergalactic war in the upcoming "Secret Invasion" series. Besides the fact that Fury and this group have already interacted, they'd be invaluable assets to S.W.O.R.D. given their experience with Inhumans, time travel, intergalactic travel, and even the supernatural.

No doubt, if Charlie Cox's Daredevil and Vincent D'Onofrio's Kingpin can make their return to the MCU after starring in the "Daredevil" Netflix series, there's no reason why the "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." crew couldn't return as well. We might have missed them in "Avengers: Endgame," but we hope to see them return by the next "Avengers" two-parter.