A reunion with DC’s Swamp Thing could help make Man-Thing an MCU success

Swamp Thing may not have been a success for the DC Universe, but Marvel could still learn from it when bringing Man-Thing into the MCU.

Swamp Thing and Man-Thing have no official connection to each other, but they are two comic book characters, one from DC and one from Marvel, with more in common than Quicksilver and The Flash. Both are creatures, born from the swamp, who were once men.

In DC Comics, Alec Holland was murdered in a Louisiana swamp and his body was mixed with a bio-regenerative formula. This transformed him into Swamp Thing, avatar of “The Green”, which is somewhat comparable in power, only for plants instead of humans. Poison Ivy is another famous DC character with a strong connection to The Green.

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Marvel’s Man-Thing was originally a scientist named Theodore Sallis who tried to recreate the Super Soldier Serum in the Florida Everglades. AIM eventually came to steal his work, and to protect it, Ted Sallis injected the untested formula into himself.

He plunged into the swamp in an attempt to escape the villainous AIM, unaware that The Everglades is home to the Nexus Of All Realities, a magical gateway to the multiverse. The mixture of his formula and the magic of the swamp turned Ted into the Man-Thing, a humanoid plant creature and guardian of the Nexus.

SWAMP THING & MAN-THING SHARE MANY SIMILARITIES

swamp thing dc universe

Both characters were created in the late 1970s, and their stories outside of the comics business are very different. Wes Craven directed one film about the plant man in 1982, which would be followed by a sequel, Return Of The Swamp Thing in 1982.

In 1990, a live-action television series of the character’s same title began airing, eventually airing 72 episodes over three seasons. An animated television series also called Swamp stuff ran for five episodes in 1991. Almost two decades later, Gary Dauberman and Mark Verheiden created a new Swamp stuff TV shows for the now defunct DC Universe streaming service.

As for poor Theodore Sallis, the Man-Thing has only received one major live-action adaptation to date, specifically the 2005 Syfy TV movie, Human things. While Swamp Thing has no obvious future in live-action right now, Man-Thing is set to make his MCU debut this October in the Disney+ Special, Werewolf By Night.

SWAMP THING: HOW DC’S CREATURE IS DIFFERENT FROM HUMAN THING

Given the apparent similarities between these two elemental heroes and the fact that Swamp Thing has seen far more screen time, what can Man-Thing learn from his DC counterpart?

The 2019 Swamp Thing TV series was rated TV-MA and mixed horror, science fiction, romance and drama. The DC Universe series ran for 10 episodes, and it was a bit of a mixed bag. Intense, bloody action sequences in the heart of the swamp were definitely a highlight. While Man-Thing makes his MCU debut in a horror franchise, Werewolf By Night has a softer TV-14 rating than Swamp stuffand the violence cannot therefore go to the same brutal length.

That said, director Michael Giacchino planned for his project to receive a TV-MA rating while directing it, so expect some scary moments throughout.

In addition, there are rumors that Man-Thing will receive a Disney+ special along the lines of Werewolf By Night at some point in the MCU’s future. With confirmation from Disney that the upcoming TV series will be rated TV-MA, there is no reason why a hypothetical Human things the project could not keep up Swamp Thing’s footsteps and go by the mature judgment. But R-rated violence wasn’t the only thing Swamp Thing (2019) had to offer.

Swamp stuff may have contained some wooden dialogue and some unnecessary B-stories (I’m looking at you, Blue Devil), one thing it established was the monster-man duality at the heart of both Swamp Thing and Man-Thing’s characters.

SWAMP THING LEAVES SO MAN-THING COULD RUN

Alec Holland was a scientist who was murdered in the swamps of Marais, Louisiana, and his soul was revived in a humanoid plant body, giving him nature-related superpowers. Alec was in love with a scientist named Abby Arcane, and he wanted to become human again so he could be with her, among other things.

As time went on, he became more of a creature of the green than the human that was Alec Holland before a shocking revelation. In reality, Alec Holland had died that night in the swamp. Swamp Thing was an avatar of the green that had been born as a phoenix from the ashes of Holland. Swamp Thing had Holland’s memories and desires, but he was an entirely new entity.

This sci-fi exploration of just what makes us human was one of the more fascinating elements of Swamp Thing’s on-screen adventures. Swamp Thing has the ability to speak and he has memories, and these two elements alone greatly distance him from Man-Thing. After becoming the Human-Thing, Theodore Sallis was almost destroyed, in a way.

What remained was a being of pure feeling, ruled by his heart, lacking the traditional mind of Homo sapiens. Man-Thing did not experience memory as humans do, although he held onto some glimpses of his past life. The transformation from human to animal goes further with Man-Thing than Swamp Thing, but the question of whether or not these heroes will regain their humanity is a constant in their story.

Tonally, Man-Thing would do well to find a middle ground between the moody drama of Swamp Thing (2019) and the over-the-top camp of Swamp Thing (1990). He’s the servant of emotion and the guardian of a multiversal portal, so balancing drama with wacky comic book madness is a must when it comes to Man-Thing in the MCU. If fans love Man-Thing after his MCU debut later this year, it might inspire Warner Bros. Discovery to reinvest in Swamp Thing. I would love to see Avatar Of The Green appear in the upcoming Keanu Reeves Constantine successor.

Do you prefer Swamp Thing or Man-Thing? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below or on our social media! For now, we can all look forward to seeing Michael Giacchino’s Man-Thing story in Werewolf By Nightwill stream on October 7, 2022, only on Disney+.

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