Marvel Studios has explored new ground lately. Ant-Man was a full-on comedy, Captain America: Civil War was deadly serious, and the Netflix shows Daredevil and Jessica Jones have bordered on horror. It’s the latter examples that are most interesting, as there’s actually some precedent for Marvel touching on horror.
Between 2008 and 2011, the Marvel Knights branch of Marvel cinema produced two titles that didn’t wholeheartedly embrace horror but certainly flirted with the genre. Punisher: War Zone (2008) provided a brutal take on The Punisher (who was recently revived in Daredevil). However, because the project was made outside of the vaunted “Cinematic Universe” of Marvel Studios, it’s since been mostly forgotten. Though if you remember this film and were really a fan of its bloody action, you can still enjoy it here in a browser-based multiplayer game.
In 2011, Marvel Knights was responsible for Ghost Rider: Spirit Of Vengeance, an action thriller and follow-up to Ghost Rider that, like Punisher: War Zone, has been left on the fringes of the superhero genre. This site still hosts a casino game based on the movie, and it brings the film to life in satisfying style. The rock music and fantasy metal graphics surrounding the slot reel perfectly capture the spirit of the character, who sold his soul to the devil to become one of Marvel’s most interesting antiheroes. Unfortunately, the character on the big screen has gone nowhere since.
But with Marvel Studios exploring new genres (or at least new tones), a return of the Marvel Knights concept of darker, more adult superhero cinema would allow the studio to really explore horror. The release calendar for the studio’s films pretty much stretches into infinity, so expecting one or two legitimate scare flicks in the bunch seems reasonable. How much fun would it be if characters like Black Panther or Moon Knight appeared in full-on gore thrillers?!