Make Mine Marvel Movies!1 of 16Marvel’s movies and comic books are more intertwined than ever, with their latest film star Doctor Strange headlining his first ongoing series in years leading up to the release of his movie, and a whole line of comic books spinning off of Dardevil, Marvel’s biggest Netflix TV hero.
But the relationship between Marvel’s movies and comic books goes way back – even farther than the MCU itself. Here are 14 of the biggest ways Marvel movies and TV have shaped Marvel Comics.
Marvel Comics Gets Whiplash Adapting IRON MAN 2’s Whiplash back to comics2 of 16Iron Man’s rogue’s gallery is more than a bit top-heavy – some greats like the Mandarin and the various Stanes at the top, then things get a little dicey. So when Marvel was looking for a villain to get physical with Tony Stark for the second Iron Man movie, they ended up merging elements of comic books’ Crimson Dynamo with the ponytail-wearing Whiplash for the MCU Whiplash.
But when it came time for Marvel’s comic book division to capitalize on this revised Whiplash, they equivalently threw up their hands at making sense of the Crimson Dynamo/Whiplash mash up and created a new character. Appearing in 2009’s Iron Man vs. Whiplash series by Marc Guggenheim and Philipe Briones (and designed by Marko Djurdjevic), the all-new Whiplash was unconnected to previous comic book Whiplashes or Crimson Dynamos—except for the fact he coincidentally had the same real name as Crimson Dynamo, Anton Vanko. And the same criminal name (and green hair) as the previous Whiplash.
Wesley Snipes’ BLADE levels up comics’ BLADE3 of 16What’s the first successful Marvel movie? Iron Man? No. Spider-Man? Nada. X-Men? No way. In fact, it was 1999’s Blade with Wesley Snipes. That movie took what was an admittedly C-list Marvel comics character and re-envisioned him outside the superhero genre and squarely into the cinematic world of vampires. The success of the film was a bit of a surprise for Marvel, but one year later comic shelves caught up with it.
One problem though – in comic books, Blade had no superhuman abilities and couldn’t even walk in the sun; all he had was immunity to vampire bites and hypnosis. Marvel had no Blade series at the time, so he received an upgrade akin to his movie powers in a 1999 arc of Peter Parker: Spider-Man. How did it happen? A bite from Morbius caused a reaction with Blade’s unique blood, working as a catalyst for Blade to gain superhuman strength, stamina and senses, as well as the ability to withstand the sun – a key attribute of the Blade movie.
Lady LOKI No More4 of 16Just as Warren Ellis and Adi Granov’s Iron Man series rejuvenated the character in comic books and set the stage for his big-screen success, J. Michael Straczynski and Olivier Coipel’s Thor did the same for the God of Thunder. One of the biggest parts of that paradigm shift was Thor and his fellow Asgardians coming back to life in new ways – the most shocking being Loki coming back as a woman.
Years before Loki would go good or go young or Thor became a woman, the Asgardian mischief-maker came out of the other side of Ragnarok as a raven-haired, eyebrow-less woman. Loki carried on in this way through Secret Invasion and into the creation of the Cabal in "Dark Reign," but as production on the Thor movie got into motion – with a male Loki, played by Tom Hiddleston – Marvel was quick to scuff off the female Loki for a male form in time for his lead role in Siege.
Marvel later introduced the idea that Loki can take any of his/her forms at will, appearing as both male and female in recent appearances.
Extreme Makeover: Star-Lord Edition5 of 16Up until a few years ago, not many people knew who Star-Lord was – or even what his character was like. Originally conceived as an admitted asshole by Steve Englehart in 1976, when he returned to some limelight in Annihilation he was a cranky war veteran working for Ronan the Accuser. If you’ve seen Guardians of the Galaxy, none of that fits right – and Marvel thought so too.
When Marvel relaunched Guardians of the Galaxy in 2013, writer Brian Michael Bendis revamped the Peter Quill character on several levels from his origin, to his personality, hair color, and even age. Along the way he gained some rogue-ish swagger that has become a trademark for the character. And while Newsarama ain’t complaining about the final results it’s interesting to see how different Star-Lord was before Marvel’s movie lights shining on him.
'atta Pepper6 of 16Tony Stark has never has a great history when it comes to relationships with women, and before 2008’s Iron Man Pepper Potts was just one in a long string of female confidantes winding their way in (and eventually out) of Iron Man’s life. But thanks to Gwyneth Paltrow and the story of Iron Man, Marvel Comics reacted quickly by making her a key part of the ensemble cast of the Iron Man comic book launched to coincide with the 2008 movie.
Since then, Pepper came into her own and, for a time, even got her own superhero name - Rescue - as well as armor and a one-shot comic book of her own.
Prior to Secret Wars, Superior Iron Man had her donning an updated armor, dubbed “Iron Woman.”
Two Words: Phil Coulson7 of 16The long, strange history of Agent Phil Coulson. First introduced as a background character in Iron Man and the object of a running joke, once the foundation of S.H.I.E.L.D. in the Marvel Cinematic Universe was realized he became a key part of that umbrella connecting all the Marvel movies. That was only amplified with his “death” in Avengers and his resurrection to lead the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. television series. And while Marvel Comics was slow at first to get on the Coulson bandwagon he is now a big part of the comics line.
In 2012’s Battle Scars series, four years after his movie debut, Agent Coulson debuted alongside Nick Fury, Jr. (more on that later), and quickly became a fixture of S.H.I.E.L.D. in Marvel Comics, even headlining a pair of short-lived ongoing S.H.I.E.L.D. titles.
Science Bros. & Hulk’s Welcome Back Into the Avengers8 of 16For many decades, the Hulk has been kept at arm’s length from the main thrust of Marvel’s stories – and from active membership in the Avengers despite him being a co-founder. Much like Ghost Rider, it was hard for writers to reconcile the Hulk’s powerset into a superteam story when his immense strength and abilities could cut short most villain’s soliloquies… but then there’s also the anger management issues. But with Hulk being brought into the fold in the Avengers movie, the comics’ version has done the same – even going so far as to capitalize on the “Science Bros.” pairing of Bruce Banner and Tony Stark. The re-integration of Hulk into the Avengers became one of the main thrusts of the Indestructible Hulk series launched with “Marvel NOW!”, and both it and Avengers World played up the unique bond Stark and Banner have with their intelligence.
Of course, Bruce Banner is dead, killed at the hands of fellow Avenger Hawkeye in Civil War II - and Tony Stark may be dead too. Kind of puts a damper on that whole "Science Bros" thing.
S is for Synergy9 of 16When the X-Men were adapted to the big screen in 2000, one thing director Bryan Singer left behind was the colorful superhero costumes the characters were familiar with. Gone were the blues and yellows, and in was black leather. So when Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely were tasked to create a new X-Men concept keyed into the buzz about the movie, they did the same.
Derided by some at the time, May 2001’s New X-Men #114 showed the team in black leather uniforms. While these new comics costumed had a big yellow “X” unlike the movie versions, they were intended to invoke the team’s immense popularity due to the movie. It’s interesting to note that both Stan Lee and Chris Claremont agreed with the film’s decision for the less colorful costumes, with Claremont even quipping that real people wearing such colorful clothing would be “disturbing.”
That being said, the thematic sequel to Morrison’s New X-Men run, Astonishing X-Men by Joss Whedon and John Cassaday, quickly went back to the more traditional superhero garb seen on the characters before the movie.
Comics To Film & Back Again10 of 16It all started when Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch got permission to use Samuel L. Jackson’s likeness as a model for Nick Fury in the Ultimate Universe. When it came time to cast a Nick Fury for 2008’s Iron Man, Marvel Studios capitalized on Jackson’s well-known comic fandom and made that alt-universe fiction into real life. When that proved successful, however, Marvel had a problem – the Nick Fury in the main universe, which comprises the bulk of their comic books, looked nothing like the Nick Fury mainstream fans knew from the movies
That’s where things got strange.
After rumors that Marvel might simply flip the Ultimate Nick Fury into the main “616” universe, the publisher instead introduced a new character in the 2012 miniseries Battle Scars named Marcus Johnson who, over the course of the series, lost his eye, joined S.H.I.E.L.D, and found out he was an illegitimate son of Nick Fury.
Nick Fury, Jr..
Marvel quickly pushed this new Fury into the mix of Marvel stories, and in virtually all cases avoiding to mention the “Jr.” part of his name. Although a new recruit into S.H.I.E.L.D., he quickly rose up through the ranks to be a primary agent in the series Secret Avengers. And given his namesake’s fate at the end of Original Sin -- no spoilers – we could see comic book Nick Fury, Jr. be aligned even more closely with what movie fans expect when they think of Nick Fury.
Just don’t call him Junior.
But of course – if he’s Nick Fury Jr. in comics book, what if the movie version played by Samuel L. Jackson is Nick Fury Jr. as well? Would that make David Hasselhoff the original Nick Fury?
Guardians of the Galaxy Is a Thing11 of 16Every so often for the past 25 years, Marvel would dust off the name Guardians of the Galaxy and attempt a revival - which would most likely end up with a cancellation in 12 to 18 issues. That would still be the case if Marvel’s movie division hadn’t seen something in the Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning version of the team and turned it into movie gold with 2014's Guardians of the Galaxy.
At the 2012 Comic-Con International: San Diego, Marvel surprised everyone with the announcement of the Guardians of the Galaxy movie and their comic book division went into overdrive to capitalize – and catch up – with their cinematic counterparts. Marvel Comics dug deep and drafted their de facto top writer, Brian Michael Bendis, and one of their top artists, Steve McNiven, to re-craft the team in anticipation of the 2014 movie. To help the comic's chances even further, for the first arc they even drafted in a temporary team member with Iron Man – who conveniently had just starred in Avengers and had a third film of his own forthcoming.
Sure, without the movie we would have still seen a Guardians of the Galaxy series in the next couple years, but would it have had Bendis, McNiven and the heavy marketing push Marvel’s comic book division gave it? It's doubtful.
Fantastic Four Marginalized12 of 16For being the team and the title which kickstarted the Marvel Age, the Fantastic Four today are positioned as a relatively minor part of Marvel’s comic book line-up. Sure, the characters play a big role in Secret Wars, but you can tell they don’t have the same attention paid to them as Marvel does its other properties.
Although Marvel hasn’t commented directly on the Fantastic Four’s positioning in their line, Marvel’s Senior Vice-President of Publishing has written on his Tumblr account that the fact that Marvel doesn’t own the movie rights to Fantastic Four that they’re less prone to devote their full attention to FF comics when they could be devoting it to comics they own the film rights to. This has lead many fans to believe Marvel is all but abandoning the concept.
Though the FF have lacked their own title since the end of Secret Wars, Ben Grimm has appeared in Guardians of the Galaxy, while Human Torch has been a part of Uncanny Inhumans.
Organic Web-Shooters13 of 16Although Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man was near universally praised upon its debut in 2002, one of the few things fans found fault in was the decision to have Spider-Man’s webshooters be a superpower and not an invention by Parker. Two years later in Spectacular Spider-Man #20, Marvel made a dramatic shift and gave the comic book Spider-Man the same organic webshooters.
Spider-Man obtained this ability in comic books after being temporarily transformed into a spider, and although creepy, he considered it a bonus as he wouldn’t be constantly in need of web cartridge refills. At the time, editor Tom Brevoort told Newsarama that the decision was because of the movie, stating that “at this point in time, a larger audience is more familiar with a Spider-Man with organic webshooters than without.”
Over time, the comic book Spider-Man shifted back to using technological webshooters without explanation – although most fans didn’t need one. And the recent MCU version of the cinematic wall-crawler uses technological webshooters as well.
Tony Snark14 of 16Before 2008, if you wouldn’ve asked comic book fans to describe Tony Stark’s personality the first words that would come to mind is “smart.” But after Robert Downey Jr.’s portrayal of the man in 2008’s Iron Man, Tony Stark became Tony Snark – in movies and comic books.
The Iron Man movie changed the way everyone saw the Armored Avenger, from movie fans to comics fans and even comic book writers. After 2008, Tony Stark’s comic book appearances were imbued with an irreverency and playfulness that Downey himself added to the role; something director Jon Favreau once dubbed as being a “likeable asshole.” Although a hero, he wasn’t “Dudley Do-Right” as Downey describes him. Writers such as Matt Fraction and Brian Michael Bendis picked up on that heavily in the aftermath of the movie, and it’s gone on to become a key part of the character in comic books, film, animation and elsewhere.
Tony's out of the picture entirely in Marvel Comics - for now. Though it's not clear yet exactly what the circumstances are, Tony's down for the count in the wake of Civil War II.
Ant-Man Hits The Big Time15 of 16Scott Lang, the second Ant-Man, has been a Marvel fixture for years. He's done stints as both an Avenger and leader of the Future Foundation, the Fantastic Four's spin-off organization, and even filled in on the main Fantastic Four series.
In 2015, Lang headlined his own hit film that saw Ant-Man join the Marvel Cinematic Universe to much acclaim. The film was a hit, leading to an already greenlit sequel and a memorable appearance in Captain America: Civil War, where he used his Giant-Man powers for the first time.
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