13 of the Biggest Changes the MCU Makes to Marvel Comics Stories

Wednesday, 03 June 2015 - 3:39PM
Comic Book News
Wednesday, 03 June 2015 - 3:39PM
13 of the Biggest Changes the MCU Makes to Marvel Comics Stories
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The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is just about the biggest name in movies right now, but it wouldn't exist without the Marvel universe that has been painstakingly laid out in decades of comic books. While the movies have found great success in adapting the these stories, they've also changed a number of things where they see fit. A lot of the time, these changes are made to allow the studio to build a more cohesive universe, but other times it's because the tangled web of ownership rights over various Marvel characters just won't allow for the stories to match up exactly as they did in the comics. While there have been dozens upon dozens of deviations from the Marvel comics stories in the MCU, we've lined up 13 of the biggest for you below.

(Note: We are going to ignore most of the differences that have come about because of Fox and Sony's ownership of the X-Men and Spider-Man franchises, and instead focus on those that are more applicable to the MCU)

1. Nick Fury founds the Avengers

The Avengers movie features the head of S.H.I.E.L.D., Nick Fury, bringing together Thor, Iron Man, the Hulk, and Captain America, along with S.H.I.E.L.D. agents Hawkeye and Black Widow, to form the Avengers and stop Loki from conquering the world. In the comics, the Avengers are brought together after Loki tricks the Hulk into going on a rampage, and Thor, Iron Man, Ant-Man and Wasp all show up independently to stop him. The five realize they've been tricked and team up against Loki, forming the Avengers. The Hulk then leaves the team in the second issue, and Captain America shows up in issue four, but at no point does Nick Fury get involved. Fury does lead a different team in the comics though, one that he has nothing to do with in the movies.

2. Nick Fury doesn't lead the Howling Commandos

In the comics, Nick Fury leads the Howling Commandos, a World War II army unit, before going on to work for S.H.I.E.L.D. Since the Nick Fury of the movies isn't nearly old enough to have this backstory, the Howling Commandos are instead led by Captain America in Captain America: The First Avenger.

Now, back to that Avengers lineup

3. No Hank Pym or Wasp in the Avengers

As we mentioned in item 1, the original Ant-Man, Hank Pym, and his wife, the Wasp, are founding members of the Avengers in the comics, and have stayed members in one form or another for most of the team's fifty year history. But in the MCU, we're already two Avengers movies in and haven't seen either character. Hank Pym is scheduled to show up in Ant-Man, but as an old man. Hank will, we assume, be too old to join the Avengers at this point, though that opportunity may fall to the second Ant-Man from the comics and the star of the MCU film, Scott Lang. And the Wasp? Her alter ego from the comics, Janet Van Dyne, is apparently dead in the Ant-Man movie, though there is some speculation that her daughter, Hope, may take up the Wasp mantle in the MCU. In addition to missing out on founding the Avengers, the MCU also robbed Hank Pym of another defining moment of his from the comics..... 

4. Tony Stark creates Ultron

In the comics it's Hank Pym, not Tony Stark, who creates the evil robot known as Ultron. But due to the MCU's demotion of Pym, Stark is the one who gets the credit (or blame) for creating him. One thing Avengers: Age of Ultron does get right about Ultron is that he is the creator of the Vision, but he does so in a very different way from the comics.

5. The Vision is based on Jarvis

In Age of Ultron, the Vision's brain is based on Jarvis, Tony Stark's computer system/virtual butler. In the comics, the Vision's mind was based on the brain patterns of Wonder Man, a superhuman character who doesn't exist in the MCU (at least not yet). The Vision is also in possession of one of the infinity gems in the movie, something that never happens in the comics, and while this Jarvis plot makes perfect sense for the MCU, it would have been pretty out of place in the comics.

6. Jarvis is a computer

The movies feature J.A.R.V.I.S., Tony Stark's intelligent computer system that he uses for pretty much everything. But in the comics, Jarvis is Edwin Jarvis, Tony Stark's regular ol' butler who bears a fairly strong resemblance to Bruce Wayne's Alfred. That's not to say there is no Edwin Jarvis the butler, though. The Agent Carter TV show features Edwin Jarvis as the butler/assistant to Tony Stark's father, Howard. But Jarvis is hardly the only character to have a very different appearance in the movies than in the comics.

7. The Mandarin is fake

For most of Iron Man 3, we are led to believe that the lead villain The Mandarin, a world-renowned terrorist who has it out for Tony Stark. Then the twist comes that reveals the Mandarin doesn't exist and is a decoy played by an actor named Trevor Slattery. The comics version of the Mandarin is a Chinese supervillain with ten rings that imbue him with mystical powers. He's also the archenemy of Iron Man, which is why several fans of the comics were less than pleased with the film's depiction of the character. That may be why Marvel released a "one-shot" short film depicting members of the Ten Ring terrorist organization meeting with Slattery implying that there is a real Mandarin who is more than likely quite unhappy about the actor's imitation. So maybe we'll get a comic book version of The Mandarin someday after all... something we don't expect to happen with the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver.

8. Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver aren't mutants

Fun fact: MCU movies can't use the word "mutant" because Fox owns the rights to all X-Men properties, and mutants fall under that category. The Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver of the comics are both mutants, meaning they were born with their powers, but their X-Men connections run deeper than that. They're also the children of the X-Men's greatest foe, Magneto. Obviously the MCU had to switch things around so as not to run into issues with Fox, so in Age of Ultron the twins receive their powers from Hydra experiments and are the orphans of nondescript Eastern European parents. If you want a more slightly more faithful portrayal of Quicksilver (and we mean slightly), check out X-Men: Days of Future Past. 

9. Hawkeye has a family

One of the bigger twists in Avengers: Age of Ultron was the reveal of Hawkeye's wife and kids. The comics version of the character has no children, but was once married to fellow Avenger, Mockingbird, who coincidentally is actually a character on the TV show, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. It's somewhat surprising that Hawkeye was able to keep his family a secret for so long in the MCU, given how the films treat other secrets.

10. There are no secret identities

The MCU movies are remarkably void of any secret identities. The public knows that Iron Man and Captain America are really Tony Stark and Steve Rogers, Hawkeye doesn't wear a mask like he did for most of his comic life, and it's also common knowledge that Bruce Banner is the Hulk. Most of these characters, especially Iron Man, kept their identities secret for decades in the comics, but have been revealed in recent years. Perhaps they wanted to avoid that whole 'Masked-Man' trope that is so common with superhero movies and TV shows these days?

11. No Donald Blake

In the comics, Thor's alter ego for most of his run was Dr. Donald Blake, a regular run-of-the-mill doctor. Blake would tap his cane to turn into Thor, and would revert back to human form if separated from Mjolnir for more than 60 seconds. The movies left out Blake and just had Thor be Thor, simplifying the character and abandoning the somewhat dated concept of an ordinary character transforming into a superhuman. Which brings us to another greatly simplified character.

12. Drax is an alien

This may be hard to believe, but Drax in the comics is technically an earthling, and a pretty decent saxophone player at that. He and his family are killed by Thanos after they spot his spaceship while driving. Drax, whose real name was Arthur Douglas, has his soul placed in a powerful body by Thanos' father, and is given the purpose of killing Thanos, and so begins the tale of Drax the Destroyer. Now obviously the MCU's Guardians of the Galaxy cut out the middleman by just making Drax an alien who had his family killed, but Thanos doesn't factor directly into things, because it's actually Ronan who is the subject of Drax's anger. 

13. Yondu raises Peter Quill

Peter Quill of the comics is raised on Earth, not in outer space, and the only thing he shares with Yondu is that they're both members of the Guardians of the Galaxy-only 1,000 years apart from each other. Yondu in the comics is a member of the Guardians team from the year 3,000, while Peter Quill leads the Guardians in the present day. Why did the movie include Yondu and intertwine him with Quill? We have no idea, but it worked and the movie was awesome, and that's all we care about. It's changes like this we can get behind.

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