With the superhero movie thunder still rolling, Marvel Studios is apt to bring virtually any character to life. Since the MCU is looking to add more diversity to the mix, could Red Wolf be on the way?
Why Red Wolf? Marvel has no shortage of characters to develop for live-action. Since most of the recognizable faces have already been included in the MCU, Kevin Feige and company have been pulling from the more obscure characters, at least in the eyes of the mainstream audiences. We’ve got Daimon Hellstrom coming to Hulu, Devil Dinosaur and Moon Girl on Disney+, and it’s not like the Guardians of the Galaxy had a massive following before the 2014 movie.
The other part of my logic is diversity. There’s already been Black Panther and Captain Marvel, which gave us our first African-American and female-led MCU entries, respectively. On the horizon for Phase Four, we have Shang-Chi and the Ten Rings, which will be the first MCU film starring an Asian-born superhero. As the MCU becomes more inclusive, it stands to reason that a Native American character would fit in the current cinematic universe.
Although the first use of the name Red Wolf was in 1962’s The Rawhide Kid #27, the first modern incarnation of Red Wolf, William Talltrees and his wolf, Lobo, debuted in 1970’s Avengers #80. Although later versions of the character stayed in the Wild West time period, Talltrees was part of Marvel’s 616 continuity and was at one time a member of the Rangers.
A year after the original Red Wolf made his debut, the character was retooled as Johnny Wakely, a superhero from the nineteenth century. The bronze age’s Marvel Spotlight was the testing ground for many characters and ideas, and it all started with Red Wolf. As the story goes, Stan Lee, who had moved into the role of editor, wanted to try a western comic, a genre that had lost popularity a decade before. As with many of the Marvel Spotlight subjects, Wakely’s Red Wolf would ascend from the pages of Spotlight and star in the first six issues of his own self-titled series.
Once again, Red Wolf was brought to the modern age of superheroes, though it was short lived. Beginning with Red Wolf #7, Thomas Thunderhead would take up the mantle from Wakely who was said to be Thunderhead’s great, great, grandfather. This didn’t do much for sales, however, as the series was canceled after Red Wolf #9. Although Wakely has appeared in subsequent storylines, Thunderhead has been lost to obscurity.
As odd as it may sound, Bob Layton’s offbeat version of Red Wolf could be the most likely choice for the MCU. In the pages of Hercules, readers met a futuristic, alternate-reality Red Wolf named Rojahn Smythe. Set in space, this Red Wolf hailed from the 24th century. Directors James Gunn and Taika Waititi have shown propensities for quirky characters, and the space-traversing Smythe would fit the bill for an appearance in GOTG or one of Thor’s cosmic adventures.
Another version of Red Wolf came in the decade of comics excess known as the 1990s. In this story, Kang the Conqueror travels back to the 1800s, where he encounters Wildrun, who is portrayed as the first Red Wolf. Kang becomes the only one to ever defeat Wildrun in battle, and, for the sake of comic book logic, Wildrun then joins Kang’s Anachronauts. In later issues, Wildrun would be referred to as the first of the Red Wolves, which firmly ties him into the Red Wolf mythos.
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