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A British presence has long lurked in the Marvel and DC Comics landscape courtesy of such successful writers as Alan Moore (“Watchmen”) and Neil Gaiman (“Sandman”). Here we check out five of the greatest, stealthiest British superheroes.
An Essex boy, Brian Braddock uses the “Amulet of Right”, bestowed upon him by Merlyn of Arthurian legend, to transform himself into Captain Britain. An all-round hero, he possesses the powers of agility, flight, intellect, super-senses, and combat proficiency. An introduction to movies could arise from various sources, as Captain Britain is an ally of Captain America and recently agreed to join the Avengers on the page.
He is also twin brother to Psylocke, one of the X-men, and formed the crime-fighting group Excalibur with Phoenix, Nightcrawler, Shadowcat, and others, Captain Britain works with the British government via their secret arm MI:13, which would provide a captivating spy angle for any storyline. Inclusion of this character in a future Avengers instalment, perhaps in the aftermath of the Captain America/Iron Man civil war, could throw up some great culture clash sequences.
Percival Sheldrake as Knight and his son Cyril as Squire were hailed as the Batman and Robin of England when they were first created by DC Comics in the 1950s. Having acquired magical armor from the hero Shining Knight, Knight is a skilled detective and adept at hand-to-hand combat. And thanks to his armor, he’s somewhat immune to blade damage or projectiles.
After Percy’s death, Cyril lurched into debauched excess fuelled by depression. The revival of the character saw him languishing in the post-punk rock London of the 1980s. Cyril (as Knight) died at the hands of The Heretic and his mantle was subsequently taken up by ex-Squire Beryl Hutchinson.
Set in English manors, castles and pubs, where evil morris dancers and Arthurian foes proliferate, this series is unapologetically British. It would lend itself to a suitably tongue-in-cheek depiction, perhaps at the hands of director Edgar Wright (Scott Pilgrim Vs The World) or screenwriter-producer Jane Goldman (Kick-Ass).
This character, first seen in the 1950s, has had multiple revivals. He was originally titled Marvelman when created by the UK’s Len Miller as a thinly-veiled substitute for Fawcett Publications’ Captain Marvel (the latter having been steamrollered into copyright hell by Marvel). Mike Moran is a journalist and former RAF officer who is able to switch his consciousness to a superhuman body with the power of flight, strength, and telepathy, with the utterance of the codeword “Kimota” (“atomic[k]” backwards).
Alan Moore reinvented the character in 1982 with a dark storyline in which Marvelman becomes a God and gradually loses his humanity, throwing up questions about the handling of extreme power. Back in 2009, it was reported that a Marvelman movie with a budget of $80 million had been planned, but the project failed. Marvel subsequently announced that Neil Gaiman would finish his Miracleman storylines in print, which perhaps suggest that they may be laying the groundwork for a movie version.
Audiences may recall winged X-man Angel Salvadore in X-Men: First Class, but there is another winged X-man yet to be portrayed — Pixie. Megan Gwynn is a Welsh teenager who, after narrowly avoiding a road traffic accident, discovers she has mutant powers. They include fairy wings for flight, the ability to produce fairy dust that causes comical hallucinations for her foes, a soul-dagger to wield against magical beings, and the power of sorcery (including a teleportation spell that gives her even better skills than Nightcrawler).
On the page, Pixie is cheerful and feminine, and given the popularity of the humor injected into X-Men: Days of Future Past by Quicksilver, she would make a welcome addition to the casts of future movies. In addition, her tutor was Scottish lycanthrope Wolfsbane, who had a scandalous relationship with another pupil, Omega-level mutant Elixir – the drama almost writes itself.
Jessica Drew was born in London to scientist parents whose life’s work involved splicing spider DNA into the human genome, harnessing the adaptive abilities of arachnids. Gaining special powers while still in the womb, following laser exposure, Jessica possesses superhuman strength and speed. She can transform her body’s bioelectric energy into venom blasts, secrete a sticky substance from her hands and feet to climb surfaces, is immune to poisons and radiation and produces strong pheromones that make her irresistible to men.
A complex character originally training with and working for the evil organization HYDRA, Spider Woman now forms part of the New Avengers team alongside Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor. With Black Widow currently the only female Avenger on screen, the introduction of another arachnid girl could lead to fireworks.