The news that Disney is acquiring Marvel Entertainment hit geekdom like
an atom bomb this morning. There’s been lots of speculation, excitement
and fear. But one thing stood out amidst the huge infodump of news:



John Lasseter has met with Marvel folks, and everybody got very excited.



This sounds like Pixar could be making a Marvel movie. But what Marvel
movie could they make? Most of the major characters are probably headed
for live action treatment, and Pixar’s already made a semi-definitive
Marvelesque movie with The Incredibles. I don’t think they’d want to tread the same ground, so that leaves out properties like Power Pack.
But the Marvel library is deep, and there are many, many titles and
characters that would make great Pixar films. Here are ten that are perhaps more obscure.



Ka-Zar – I have to be honest here: I don’t know if Ka-Zar is an X-Men character. While there was a Ka-Zar who appeared in Marvel Comics #1 from Timely Comics (the precursor to Marvel), the modern Ka-Zar first appeared in The X-Men #10. But let’s assume he’s not in Fox’s clutches – Ka-Zar is an amazing property for Pixar. He’s Tarzan living amongst dinosaurs!



Born Lord Kevin Plunder, Ka-Zar’s father discovered the Savage Land, a
prehistoric paradise hidden in a crater in Antarctica. When his parents
were killed Ka-Zar was found and raised by a sabre-tooth tiger, Zabu.
Master of the Savage Land, Ka-Zar battles dinosaurs and Man-Apes, as
well as the usual Marvel Comics assortment of monsters and aliens.



Imagine Pixar doing a pulpy dinosaur movie! This one seems like a complete win on every possible level imaginable.



Quasar
– Wendell Vaughn was just a regular SHIELD agent until he became the
owner of the Quantum Bands, cosmic weapons of unbelievable power. With
the Quantum Bands forever attached to his wrists, Vaughn discovers he’s
been chosen to be the Protector of the Universe, a big calling for a
square from Wisconsin. His mentor is Eon, a huge green boulder with a
face and a huge eye and tentacles (so fucking weird looking), and
Quasar battles cosmic threats on Earth as well as in the deepest
reaches of space.



Quasar’s particularly great for Pixar because the character is a normal
guy thrown into such bizarre situations, most of which would be fairly
silly in live action. Eon alone would just be far too weird to take
seriously in a live action film. And the kinds of threats that Quasar
battles – like Oblivion, the personification of non-existence – and the
scale on which he battles them would make any live action film mostly a
cartoon anyway. I just love the way that Vaughn’s Midwestern pluck and
politeness serves him in encounters with the trippiest cosmic beings
imaginable, and I think Pixar would have a blast with that.



Sleepwalker – This is a character almost no one knows,
and for him to work on film he’d have to be reimagined slightly, but
the basic concept offers a lot of fun possibilities. Sleepwalker is a
resident of the Mindscape, a dimension that abuts the unconscious of
all intelligent beings. In the Mindscape he’s a member of a group that
guards the dimension, acting as a sort of dream police. But
Sleepwalker’s archnemesis Cobweb tricks him and has him trapped inside
the mind of a normal Earth film student. The two have to learn how to
cohabitate in the same brain, while Sleepwalker uses his weird dream
powers to fight crime and injustice on this plane and the Mindscape.



The comic focused way too much on what was happening in the waking world; a good Sleepwalker movie
would definitely have to spend more time in the Mindscape. And the
world of dreams is a place where Pixar could run wild. Perhaps the
waking world could be represented by very mocapped, very realistic
looking characters, with the Mindscape being a just totally off the
charts blast from the animator’s imagination. And since nobody really
likes Sleepwalker, Pixar could have a very free hand in reimagining
him; hell, they could probably turn him into an actually viable
character.



Guardians of the Galaxy – Modern day astronaut Major
Vance Astro ends up in the 31st century. There he falls in with the
Guardians of the Galaxy, a team made up of aliens who are the last
remaining members of their individual species. Together they’re
battling the Badoon, an alien race that has been conquering system
after system and who are now trying to take Earth. The members of the
team are Martinex, a guy from Pluto whose body is made of crystal;
Charlie-27, a block-headed powerhouse genetically engineered to live in
Jupiter’s gravity; the blue-skinned, red-mohawked sort of Na’vi-like
Yondu from Alpha Centauri; Starkhawk, an Arcturian who has been granted
extraordinary powers by an ancient Hawk God, and the Mercurian Nikki,
who can withstand incredible heat, has flames coming out of her head,
and is a sharp-shooter.



Think Star Wars if everybody was an alien. The Guardians
fight big space opera battles against the Badoon, trying to free worlds
and shut down the aliens’ evil plans. Even cooler is the possibility to
tie it all into the Marvel Universe – in the Guardians of the Galaxy comic
in the 80s the team found Captain America’s shield, which Vance Astro
would go on to wield. Many of the members have ties to Marvel heroes
(Starhawk is Quasar’s kid!). Big space adventure with a weird cast of
characters who could never be done live action? Perfect for Pixar.



Damage Control – In a world where superheroes regularly
brawl their way through buildings and landmarks, somebody has to clean
it up. That somebody is Damage Control. Operating out of New York
City’s famous Flatiron Building, Damage Control is the construction
company that shows up and makes sure the city in shape for the next
issue of a Marvel comic. Imagined as a sitcom, Damage Control is weird
workplace comedy in the Mighty Marvel Manner; not only are there the
usual office workers involved, but the Search and Rescue arm of the
organization hires many superbeings, and occasionally famous ones show
up as part of court-ordered community service. Greek god Hercules
worked with the team in that capacity, for example. And since Damage
Control is partially owned by Tony Stark, Iron Man is no stranger to
their adventures.



While Damage Control could conceptually be a live action
movie, I think it would work particularly well in CGI. For one thing,
the inherent scope of the material – huge swaths of destruction must be
cut in order to make Damage Control useful – would make a live action
comedy movie cost-prohibitive. For another, making Damage Control a
cartoon allows you to use some of the stranger heavy hitters in the
Marvel Universe. Imagine an opening scene with Fin Fang Foom, the giant
Chinese dragon, making a mess of Lower Manhattan. But what makes Damage Control a
Pixar movie, and not a Dreamworks movie, is the human interaction among
the staff. All of the humor comes from the characters, not from making
fun of the situations.



Project Pegasus – Hidden in the Adirondack Mountains is a
secret government research project known as Project PEGASUS (Potential
Energy Group/Alternate Sources/United States). Originally tasked to
find alternate energy sources, Project PEGASUS over time evolved to
become a facility where superpowered beings were studied and sometimes
imprisoned. There’s a normal staff of scientists, bureaucrats and
security personnel, but also a bunch more exotic types. The subjects at
PEGASUS ranged from Jack of Hearts, a half-human half-alien who could
fly and shoot blasts from his hands, to Wundarr the Aquarian (a sort of
Space Jesus), to Nitro, a villain whose power was exploding.



While the mission of PEGASUS in the comics was ever-changing – was it a
research facility, was it a prison, was it a halfway house for weird
characters who had nowhere else to go? – a Pixar version would likely
focus on the halfway house aspect. A dysfunctional family of
superbeings with an authority group of humans – there are a lot of
interesting dynamic to explore here. And with the Marvel Universe open
to them, Pixar could pick and choose some of the weirder, more unusual
super characters to feature. Think of it as Toy Story meets The Incredibles.



Squadron Supreme – In an alternate reality there are
alternate superheroes, all of whom are very reminiscent of DC’s Justice
League. There’s the superman Hyperion, the dark vigilante Nighthawk,
the speedster Whizzer, the toug gal Power Princess, the hotshot with a
power ring Dr. Spectrum, the undersea guy the Amphibian, and the
Skrullian Spymaster, a shape-chaning green alien. And that’s just the
original guys – they added other characters, like Tom Thumb, a genius
midget, Nuke, a radioactive man, and Arcanna, a magician. In Mark
Gruenwald’s amazing 12-part miniseries, which came out a year before Watchmen,
they decided to use their power to take over the world and make it a
utopia. Things didn’t work out the way they planned. It was a
hard-edged look at what might really happen if superpowered people
lived among us.



If Pixar ever wanted to go PG-13, this is the property with which to do
it. A smart and dark examination of the dangers of well-meaning fascism
(which is exactly what’s behind superheroes), Squadron Supreme is like Watchmen if
everybody had powers and there was less nudity and swearing. The Mark
Gruenwald miniseries is a huge, sweeping epic that would cost 250
million if done live action. Animated and stylized it would be cheaper
and more accessible to the masses – superhero deconstruction your 13
year old nephew could watch. Of course it seems unlikely that Pixar
will be going PG-13 any time soon, but if they did…



The Eternals – At the dawn of man the mysterious giant
armored beings The Celestials arrived on Earth. They experimented on
the nascent human race, creating two offshoots. One was the Deviants, a
monstrous subhuman race. The other was the Eternals, who had the
genetic possibility to be long-lived and super-powered. The Celestials
left, intending to one day return to Earth to judge humanity. The
Eternals split into two factions – one lead by Kronos, the other by the
warlike Uranos. Uranos and his people left Earth while Kronos
experimented with cosmic radiation that activated the Eternal’s dormant
genes. The experiment scattered Kronos’ particles across the universe,
while his sons Zuras and Alars, led the Eternals in a new golden age,
which included building a city called Olympus in Greece. You see where
this is going? Over the years the Eternals have stayed aloof from
humanity, but every now and again they get involved in our affairs, and
when the Celestials returned to judge the Earth they had to take part
to save themselves.



A science fiction take on the Greek gods. This seems like something
Pixar could sink their teeth into. Created by Jack Kirby after he left
DC and The New Gods, The Eternals is
thematically similar, and has all of that big idea Jack Kirby stuff
that influenced generations. Maybe Pixar can’t get their hands on The New Gods (and
you bet everyone who counts Kirby as an influence wants to try their
hands at that), but this is the next best thing. And because Kirby, as
usual, never finished his story, there are a lot of places to go with
the concept of scifi Greek Gods. You could set the whole thing in the
past, or you could set it during the return of the Celestials. Giant
armored beings fighting analogues of the Greek Gods over modern New
York? Yes please!



Thunderbolts- When the Avengers were thought dead, a new
superteam stepped into the void created by their loss. Called the
Thunderbolts, these mysterious newcomers included the patriotic Citizen
V, the armored MACH-1, the gadget guy Techno, the growing man Atlas,
the super screamer Songbird, the mega-powered Meteorite and the young
girl Jolt. But it turned out that, except for Jolt, all the members of
the Thunderbolts were actually supervillains. Led by Baron Zemo, son of
a Nazi supervillain, the members of the Masters of Evil used the ruse
as a way to gain public trust and get access to all of the information
the Avengers had. The plan was to take over the country from the
inside. But some of the team members had a change of heart, and they
took on Baron Zemo, using the Thunderbolts as a way to go straight.



This is probably the least CGI-specific concept on this list. It’s also
potentially the toughest, as many of the characters would have to be
changed, since some of them come from the rogues galleries of Marvel
characters whose film rights are owned by other studios. But what I
like about Thunderbolts for Pixar is the theme: redemption. Pixar’s been tackling more and more mature themes lately, with Up‘s
meditation on loss being the most grown-up yet. So why not redemption?
These villains find that when they play the hero they become the hero.
They like the role. They like being good better than being bad, and
they have to figure out how to make up for what they had done in their
previous lives – if they can ever make up for it. It’s a dilemma we all
face, because in our own ways we screw things up and have to make them
better. The idea that you can atone for what you’ve done is a very
adult one, but also really identifiable for kids.



And I think Pixar could have a good time with a bunch of bad guys.



Prime/The Ultraverse – Marvel doesn’t just have the
Marvel Universe. There are a number of other properties that fit under
the Marvel Entertainment umbrella (like the New Universe, for one. They
have a super powered football team!), but the one that I think has the
most possibility is the Ultraverse. Originally published by Malibu
Comics when everybody and their dog were starting new cohesive
superhero universes, the Ultraverse was a wild and fun place that died
when Marvel bought it up. Now the many characters, including Prime, a
kid who turns into a big, beefy superman (not original, but the
execution made it work), sit gathering dust.



Prime is really a 13 year old boy who is able to create an adult,
superpowered protoplasmic body around himself (it’s messy and gooey
when he turns back into a boy). It’s essentially Shazam!, but what made
Prime really unique is the fact that the Prime body was
itself an extension of the kid’s subconcious. The way it looke was
impacted by who and what he held in high esteem at any given moment –
the original body was cartoonish in musculature and had a face that
looked like the kid’s dad. Later, when Prime met grim n’ gritty
superheroes he turned into Rogue Prime – tattoos, spiked armor, facial
scars, all the bullshit from 90s comics. The series didn’t last long
enough to really explore this, but the idea of the kid literally
becoming his role models is too good to pass up. And the cartoony
nature of the Prime body makes a stylized Pixar take perfect.



Of course Prime isn’t the only Ultraverse character out there. I’d love
for John Lasseter to have gotten excited not about any of the Marvel
Universe characters but about having access to this unused library. A
boy can dream. Which is what Prime’s all about, after all.