Man-Thing: More than Man, More than Monster

Ted Sallis was a chemist and biologist working on trying to replicate Captain America’s super-soldier serum. He toiled away in his hidden lab deep in the everglades, his only companion being his beautiful girlfriend, Ellen. After finally breaking the code, and a passionate night of love making, Ted comes face to face with an Advanced Ideas in Mechanics (AIM) hit squad. Seems Ellen was more than a pretty face.

Ted burns his notes and sets his lab ablaze, snatching the formula and making his escape in the confusion. He doesn’t get far, however. AIM is hot on his trail; firing rounds at Ted’s car, critically injuring the scientist. His only hope of getting away now is injecting the serum into himself to keep him conscious to get to safety. But with blood loss and a blown tire, Ted swerves into the swamp. The AIM squad leaves dejected.

However, Sallis didn’t die, or did he? As the unbeknownst mystic properties of the swamp combine and mutated the serum, turn Ted’s body into a lumbering, plant-like monstrosity; unthinking, only reactionary, and fueled by the emotions of others. The aggressive nature of AIM lead the creature back to their hideout. Bullets do nothing, fire enrages him, and fear… fear causes a chemical to secrete from his hands, and Ellen soon discovers whatever knows fear burn at The Man-Thing’s touch!

Along the way Man-Thing saves babies, gets into ethical/moral quandaries, is introduced to the greater Marvel Universe, helps a dead clown’s spirit move on by reenacting key moment’s of the clown’s life, fights ghost pirates in space (as in “yar matie!” phantasms on a flying pirate ship with sails that is in outer space), and more often fights what you might call his arch-nemesis, Thog the Nether-Spawn! Whether as a bat-like creature terrorizing locals, plotting revenge against Man-Thing, or becoming a public figure to bring the world’s rage and aggression past everyone’s boiling point, Thog was a classical kind of demon. As the guardian to the Nexus of Realities, these were all common occurrences to the Man-Thing.

Unfortunately, with the exception of the past few years, many recent decades have misused the silent giant. Having his powers work in very odd ways or changing the mythology of him. They keep wanting him on a team, and much like Spider-Man, I think that’s great for a team-up but not permanently. It’s like the writers wanted to use him but didn’t really understand.

They even made a “movie” of “him”: a made for Syfy movie about Native Americans bringing Man-Thing to life to stop land developers while activists have to try to stop him. They had turned my favorite superhero into a 3rd rate Pumpkin head. And while he has fought developers and out of control activists before, it was always with a very morally grey area, and isn’t fitting to be THE Man-Thing movie.

‘Two figures enter earth’s atmosphere, one is rock, the other is green. They fight as they fall. Reentry, they both envelop in flame as they thrash. The rock creature starts to break apart. Cut to city, people walking: the fireball comes down, force from impact shatters glass and throws people. People gather around hole. “Marvel” a smoldering hand reaches out “Presents” Man-Thing rises from the crater, people run screaming, his eyes glow crimson as his face vines writhe and he bellows a whale-like noise. “MAN-THING”.’ That is what I would do for a teaser to an official, Marvel made Man-Thing movie.

What would my movie be? Well, the first 3 paragraphs above for one, mix in some of the less fantastic stuff from the 4th. Have AIM try capturing him. Have SHIELD come to find out what happened, Nick Fury, Maria Hill can be major parts in it; cameos by Agents of SHIELD characters. Maybe Mandroids armors are introduced, maybe bring Abomination back? Ends with big bad being pushed into the Nexus. Mid-credits: The wizard, Dakimh the Enchanter, with Jennifer Kale and Howard the Duck appear before Man-Thing pleading for help as music swells. Post-credits: big bad is restrained in darkness by the shadows themselves, Thog leans in, “So… tell me about… Earth…”

As I said, Man-Thing is my favorite superhero. He combines my love of horror and superheroes together along with exploitation-style writing and avant garde situations. I’m grateful he’s back to basics, sad that it took so long, and very sad he hasn’t received a moment to shine in Marvel’s movie spotlight.