After multiple #1 movies and billions of dollars in sales, everyone is familiar with the “Marvel Cinematic Universe”. That’s the core group of movies based on Marvel Comics properties which have been produced by Disney… the Iron Man, Captain America, Avengers, Hulk, Guardians of the Galaxy, Ant Man, Doctor Strange, etc… films.
Then there are the ancillary ones, the movies which are connected by their origins in Marvel Comics but whose story rights are owned by other companies than Disney. This includes Fantastic Four, X-Men and other mutant titles (including Deadpool) and Spider-Man. These stand apart from the MCU… for now. The jump from outside of the MCU to inside (and then back out again, and now maybe inside again) by Spider-Man has raised the distinct possibility of further property crossovers, and has flagged the other Marvel character movies as “potential MCU”… perhaps to have elements incorporated into the MCU, perhaps not.
Of all of the potential MCU characters, there is one movie franchise which is typically forgotten. That’s the Transformers.
Most of the Transformers were given their names by a Marvel Comics writer who was assigned to come up with names, histories, and storylines for characters based on a line of popular transforming robot toys in Japan. The Transformers comic book was used to introduce readers to the toys in a successful example of marketing.
Getting names is not enough. Publishers often produce unrelated products, and Marvel in particular has a history of producing comics that aren’t part of their bread-and-butter superhero line, as the Destroyer comic (based on the action hero by Murphy & Sapir) and the Samurai Cat comic (based on the Mark E. Rogers character) aptly demonstrate.
What sets the Transformers apart is that they were actually incorporated fully into the Marvel comics universe. In issue #3, they have a cameo of Nick Fury and an extensive crossover with Spider-Man. In issue #4, they introduce the DinoBots for the first time, and the reason for the DinoBots is simple: they’re from the Savage Land, a “Land that Time Forgot” location which allowed Marvel to integrate the pulp-era character copyrights they owned of Ka-Zar and Sheena, male and female Tarzan knock-offs.
Those aren’t the only alternate movies, though. Marvel comics acquired the comic book rights to another famous movie character in the 1970s, and they used him extensively during that time period. He had direct interactions with key characters from the MCU, including being tracked by Nick Fury of SHIELD and fighting directly against the Avengers. So, technically, they’d also have to be recognized as being a potential member of the MCU, and all of the other movies to have featured his co-stars and spin-offs would, too.
The character’s name? Godzilla.
Question of the night: What’s your favorite giant creature film?