Ten Marvel Legacy Movies That Are Not X-Men Or Spider-Man

Years before Iron Man commenced the Marvel Cinematic Universe, many Marvel characters and stories were licensed to various Hollywood studios and adapted into standalone films and series, the most popular being Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy and the seven X-Men editions.

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However, while the friendly neighborhood web-wielding teenager and the mutants were dazzling audiences year after year, other characters and their stories from the extensive Marvel library were given big screen treatment. Some were met with mixed reviews and are getting a second chance on the small screen via streaming channels.

10 Blade (1998)

Blade readying his razor-sharp boomerang with a grin in Blade 1998

One early attempt to adapt a Marvel comics character for the big screen features Wesley Snipes as a hybrid creature of the night. Born on the night his mother was turned into a vampire, Blade possesses many classic vampire traits like sensitivity to light and thirst for blood. However, he’s mortal, with the instinct to hunt other vampires.

While other Marvel legacy characters are appearing on streamers, Blade is being rebooted in phase four of the MCU. It will see academy award-winner Mahershala Ali in the lead role. The success of the first film paved the way for two sequels, Blade II spirit Blade: Trinity co-starring a pre-DeadpoolRyan Reynolds.

9 Daredevil (2003)

Matt Murdock (Ben Affleck) is an attorney by day and the self-appointed guardian of Hell’s Kitchen by night. Here, he battles two of his strongest foes, Bullseye, an assassin who likes to boost he never misses, and his boss Kingpin. Murdock must overcome his blindness from an early age as he seeks to rid the storied New York City borough of organized crime.

The character’s likeness, played by Charlie Cox, was used to launch the short-lived Netflix Defenders universe featuring partners, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist, and Luke Cage. Cox recently appeared in 2021’s Spider-Man: No Way Home as Murdock fueling speculation that his TV character arc might continue in the MCU.


8 Hulk (2003)

Eric Bana in Hulk 2003

Dr. Bruce Banner, a geneticist, experiences a horrific transformation after he is exposed to gamma radiation condemning him to become an oversized green monster when under extreme stress. When he is unable to temper his aggressively violent instincts brought on by the syndrome, the US military liaison, General Ross is called upon to contain the situation with extreme prejudice.

Before Edward Norton or Mark Ruffalo portrayed the giant green monster, there was Eric Bana. This Ang Lee production served as the first attempt to bring an origin story for the eventual Avenger since the 1977-1982 television series, into the mainstream.

7 The Punisher (2004)

Thomas Jane as Frank Castle in the 2004 version of The Punisher

Once an FBI agent, Frank Castle (Thomas Jane) goes forth in search of the murderers of his wife and children adapting an uncompromising violent persona known as The Punisher. With an iconic skull t-shirt, leather clothing, and wielding dual pistols, Castle leaves no stone uncovered as he pieces together the motive behind the killings that trace back to a crime lord named Howard Saint (John Travolta).

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The film was followed up by Punisher: War Zone in 2008 this time with Ray Stevenson as Castle. As part of the Marvel Netflix line of original series, Jon Bernthal became the latest actor to tackle the role and is rumored to return either in the MCU or become part of the new Disney + family of Marvel TV efforts.

6 Elektra (2005)

Jennifer Garner in Elektra (2005)

Jennifer Garner sports her character’s signature red costume as the top assassin for The Hand. When her employer orders her to eliminate a father and daughter, she has an attack of conscience, choosing to become their guardian instead of the instrument of their deaths, a decision that brings the full weight of an international criminal organization upon her.

Garner first played the character in 2003’s Daredevil and later married her co-star, Ben Affleck. The character returned in Netflix’s The Defenders as a love interest for Matt Murdock but was portrayed by French actress Elodie Young. Her ongoing struggle with The Hand became part of the miniseries’ plot.

5 Fantastic Four (2005)

During an experiment aboard a space station, a cosmic anomaly instills unique powers on scientist Reed Richards, his colleague Sue Storm, her pilot brother Johnny, and astronaut Ben Grimm. Their unique abilities designate them the Fantastic Four among the public. Jealous of their newfound status, Dr. Victor von Doom plots to siphon the group’s abilities for his own nefarious initiatives.

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Considered by many comic enthusiasts as the “first family of Marvel,” the Stan Lee and Jack Kirby line of characters were featured in the 2007 sequel Fantastic Four: The Rise of the Silver Surfer. Johnny Storm was portrayed by Chris Evans who was later cast as Captain America in several MCU films beginning with 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger.

4 Ghost Rider (2007)

Ghost Rider looks into the distance on his motorcycle in Ghost Rider.

Johnny Blaze (Nicolas Cage), a daredevil entertainer, once bargained with his soul to the master of hell, Mephistopheles (Peter Fonda), for his father’s life. When the master’s son, Blackheart, attempts to usurp his power and possess hell, he offers to transform him into Ghost Ridera skull-faced, fire-breathing demon hunter, for the express purpose of deposing Blackheart and his cohorts.

For anyone who is familiar with Evel Knievel, many aspects of Blaze channel the man that performed death-defying feats of amazement with his motorcycle in the 1960s and 70s. Cage reprised his role in the 2011 sequel Ghost Rider: The Spirit of Vengeance.

3 Deadpool (2016)

The “Merc with a Mouth” is born in an underground laboratory studying mutation that Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) mistook for a black-market cancer clinic. As a result of his transformation and disfigurement, Wilson’s fourth-wall-breaking, vulgar alter-ego Deadpool goes on a killing spree to draw out the mastermind behind his circumstances and win back his girlfriend whom he left in search of a miracle cure.

The character of Wade Wilson appeared briefly in 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine but was dismissed by fans as a crude interpretation, an analysis that sparked a year’s long process to make a standalone Deadpool movie with Reynolds reprising his role that was finally accomplished in 2016. That iteration became the highest-grossing R-rated film of all time , spawning a 2018 sequel.

2 Deadpool 2 (2018)

Two years after the first movie, Ryan Reynolds returned to fill the suit of the anti-hero title character this time battling a time-traveler named Cable on the trail of a young mutant named Russell aka Fire Fist. Cable believes Russell is responsible for his family’s death twenty-years down the road. In response, Deadpool launches X-Force, a “gender neutral” squad of heroes to protect Fire Fist and contain Cable.

Like its predecessor, the film tested the limits of unlimited cursing and grotesque violence but was met with admiration from the fanbase and an invitation to join the MCU following Disney’s acquisition of 20th Century Fox in 2019. An edited version of the movie referencing The Princess Brideentitled Once Upon a Deadpoolwas released soon after to test the feasibility of the character in a standard PG-13 MCU offering.

1 Venom (2018)

Venom Movie 2018 Reviews

Journalist Eddie Brock is unwillingly joined by an alien symbiote named Venom during an investigation into The Life Foundation. The alien’s foul-mouthed and sadistic nature battles with Brock’s better instincts as they both try to solve the threat of the foundation’s head, Carlton Drake. The combination, however, affords Brock superhuman abilities which gives them a fighting chance.

Brock was previously featured as a villain in Raimi’s third Spider-Man film with Topher Grace of That 70s Show wearing a black spider suit in addition to the symbiote. Tom Hardy assumed the role in 2018 and returned for a sequel in 2021’s Venom: Let There Be Carnage alongside Woody Harrelson as the title villain, Cletus Kasady, a serial killer infected by a piece of Venom’s symbiote.

NEXT: 15 Movies And TV Shows That Are Considered Part Of Marvel Legacy

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