Stop the presses. Storm and Thor might be hooking up, and it could change the future of superhero movies as we know them. A recent Reddit post featuring Storm and Thor on a date has re-ignited the question comic lovers have been asking since the dawn of the Golden Age of Superhero Movies: Where the #$%&* are all the superhero crossovers?
The short answer? It’s complicated. The long answer? A decades-long corporate guerilla war, the death of hundreds of comic book characters and the sale of dozens of others. And Storm and Thor might be the only ones who can save us.
First, Let’s Talk About This Romantic Situation
Thor kind of has game. And that’s just in two dimensions. Since these panels made their web rounds, millions of comic book fans have been dreaming of a lightning-infused, fast-paced Mr. and Mrs. Smith-caliber action comic. And they might just get it.
Comic movie hitmaker Joss Whedon, for one, has been toying with a little more romance into Thor’s storylines. And since it’s also worked for the Hulk and Black Widow, Cap and Peggy Carter, the will-they-won’t-they/how-will-they-make-it-work-with-all-this-constant-violence could be just what superhero movies need.
Granted, Thor already has Jane Foster. And while Natalie Portman is definitely adorable (and part of the official cannon*), she and Thor don’t have any of the pre-destined, matching-powers kismet that leads to super-slick comic book pick-up lines and superhero on superhero heat.
That goes double if Halle Berry is replaced with Lupita Nyong’o as rumor suggests she might be. Without putting too fine a chronology on things, Marvel has been flirting with the idea of re-casting Storm for 2018’s new Black Panther movie starring (also rumored) 38-year-old Chadwick Boseman. And the A-list name that’s being bandied about (and demanded by fans) is none other than Lupita Nyong’o.
Chris Hemsworth and Lupita Nyong’o locking lips mid-air as dual-cast lightning fills the sky? It certainly sounds like billlions in merchandising and box-office dollars. So why hasn’t Marvel gotten on it already?
Marvel Is A Little Busy Killing Off All of Its Characters
WTF, we just spent all this time talking about Storm and Thor?
Before you panic, you should know that Storm is one of the few X-Men that did survive the cleansing. In fact, her marriage to Black Panther is rumored to be in the upcoming movie, along with — for those wondering what about Storm and Thor? — their cringe-worthy divorce which would be great because it’s one of the most cold-blooded goodbyes in comicdom.
That is unless you count the time when Storm’s ex-boyfriend Forge threw one of the most laser-fire filled pity parties in fiction and opted to pout in a collapsing dimension rather than let the ex who dumped him** save his life.
And speaking of crossover-worthy storylines, few Marvel characters have as many as Storm. There was the time she wielded Mjolinir*** and took over Asgard, the time she was leader of the X-Men, a member of the Avengers and the Fantastic Four. She was even a vampire once, and she had a thing with Wolverine (although not at the same time).
Even her origin story sound like box-office gold: a power-wielding African royal fish-out-of-water’s her way around Brooklyn in a story that writes itself so well that it’s already kind of Coming To America (but with lightning and mutant battles instead of McDowell’s and a sidekick named Semi).
It’s no wonder that she’s one of the characters that Marvel can’t let go. And her place in comic fans’ hearts is just as deeply entrenched. Greg Pak, one of comicdom’s most celebrated writers says that she’s a big reason why he picked up comic books in the first place:
“The character made an impression on me as a young kid. She really blew my mind. I’m half Korean, half white, and grew up as an Asian-American kid in Texas. It was a big deal to see characters who were not white … When I found out about X-Men and found out about Storm, it was a pretty awesome thing to see.”
So why isn’t Storm a Marvel movie staple already?! Things are in the works: she now has her own series, and a bigger role in the X-Men possibly preparing her for a bigger role in the comic book movie pantheon. There’s just one catch: Marvel doesn’t own the rights to Storm anymore, and the war they’re waging to get her back could determine the future of superhero movies.
X-Men Endings: Marvel’s Real-Life Guerrilla War
Once upon a time in a galaxy known as the Milky Way, at a spacetime coordinate known as the 90’s, the corporate entity Marvel Comics found itself in a financial hole. So dire were the circumstances that Marvel could only see one way out: to sell off its children. Spider-Man went to Sony, X-Men and the Fantastic Four went to Fox and the rest of their most salable children were scattered to the Dickensian winds. And when even that wasn’t enough, Marvel ended up selling itself to Disney, the great consumer of speculative fiction worlds.
Which, if you’ve been keeping up with your comic book movies, is just the kind of cosmic injustice you need to add “super villain” to your once mild-mannered resume. Well that, and billions of dollars: just what Marvel made for itself by turning its comic book millions into comic book movie billions. All while planning its revenge.
After several years of watching Fox and Sony exploit their brainchildren for millions (while turning a blind eye to Marvel’s repeated requests for crossovers), Marvel did the unthinkable: it killed off the X-Men. First in a massacre by Scarlet Witch which stole 90% of the X-Men’s powers and killed many others. Then by declaring no new X-Men stories or X-Men action figures. In fact, even the name mutant is becoming verboden in Marvel circles.
If you’re thinking, isn’t that going a little bit too far? You’re not alone. At least one Marvel fan has protested that “it’s a shame to see the company squelch such a rich creative property — one that has millions of fans and thousands of official or unofficial co-creators — for cold, commercial reasons.”
But if Wicked has taught us anything, it’s that most villains are misunderstood. And while one side of this story is certainly Marvel going on an infanticidal rampage to avenge itself for what was after all a fair deal, it’s not the only story. Marvel knows something that many fan’s don’t: Fox can only retain ownership of the X-Men as long as they’re still using them. As soon as the story lines dry up, the characters have to go back to their rightful owners.
So, while Marvel’s actions are kind of crazy, they’re not crazy crazy. What is crazy crazy? Marvel’s tactics seem to be working. Whether it’s Marvel’s willingness to go George R.R. Martin on its creations, or the billions of box office dollars being lost from missed crossover opportunities (and Fox and Sony’s struggle to match the blockbusting quality of it’s characters’ parent company), Marvel characters’ adoptive parents are beginning to see the light.
Fox has already handed over Qucksilver and Scarlet Witch. And now even Spider-Man is back (albeit on loan) with Marvel for a Spidey reboot. And if they continue along this path of truth and reconciliation, powerhouse characters like Storm are lined up to be the next in the line of super hero characters called up to the origin story, multi-phase majors.
In fact, rumor has it that Storm was already supposed to in Joss Whedon’s Age of Ultron. But it was already so chock full of super hero cameos that there just wasn’t room. But with Thor:Ragnarok still two years away and buzz about Storm’s recasting already in the works, anything could happen.
Hoping for a surprise Storm storyline might be premature, but a handful of Easter Eggs and a teaser trailer foreshadowing a new X-Men origin story is more than enough to give comic fans hopes for more of the crossover heavy super hero v. super hero future that we’ve been dying for. And that’s going to make summer 20?? pretty awesome.
* The Storm and Thor story line that appeared in the Reddit post is actually from Marvel Adventures: Thor, The Bringers of The Storm. And while part of Marvel Comics, the teen Marvel Adventures stories aren’t technically part of the Marvel cannon, but not necessarily excluded from comic book movie fair game.
**Only she didn’t, it was sort of a misunderstanding.
*** Actually a copy of Mjölnir forged by Loki who tricked Storm into those shennanigans in the first place, because of course he did.