Whats the number one sin most companies commit when making a comic book movie? Ask anyone, and they’ll tell you that it’s “not sticking to the source material.” No matter how many times fans try and express their feelings on the matter, studios don’t seem to listen. To this day, we still haven’t had a 100% accurate comic book adaptation (although some have come pretty close!).
This has led to some disastrous superhero movies being made, like Steel with Shaq or Catwoman with Halle Berry. Even movies that are considered “good” like Iron Man 3 and Captain America: The First Avenger are seemingly dinged for the changes they made to beloved comic book characters. Let’s be real, here: The comic book industry has been around for almost eighty years now. Chances are, each character has gone through multiple origin stories, costumes, jobs, and love interests over the years. This begs the question- What is “comic book accurate?”
Yes, there have been some horrible interpretations of these characters on the big screen and yes, for the most part sticking close to the established status quo has been a successful formula for these movies. But, sometimes a director or writer will come along and implement changes into a character or story that makes them even better than their comic book counterparts. Here are 15 Comic To Movie Changes That Actually Worked.
15. Ra’s Al Ghul is Bruce’s Mentor
In recent years, Ra’s al Ghul has skyrocketed in popularity. Nowadays the character is everywhere; he was a central figure in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy, and has been featured as a prominent recurring villain in the Arrowverse as well as Gotham and the Arkham video games. With a name that literally translates to “The Ghoul’s Head,” Ra’s is the mastermind behind the League of Assassins.
The character has Nolan to thank for his recent prevalence. In the comics Ra’s was just a random villain who Batman encountered. In Batman Begins, Henri Ducard acts as Bruce Wayne’s mentor while training to become the Caped Crusader. The two develop a connection, and Ducard is the only one he goes out of his way to save after he burns down the League’s headquarters. Of course, it’s later revealed that Henri and Ra’s are one in the same.
This version of the character was also much more sympathetic than his comic counterpart. Rather than wanting world domination or money, Ra’s wants to rid the world of crime in a more extreme way than Batman.
14. Wonder Woman takes place in World War I
Not only is Wonder Woman the highest-grossing movie of summer 2017, but it is now considered the best movie in the entire DCEU by a long shot!
When it was first announced that the movie would take place during the First World War rather than World War II, some feared that Warner Bros. was just trying to avoid looking like they were ripping off The First Avenger. Thankfully the time period of the early 1900s fit in perfectly with the classic themes of the hero; much like Diana, it was a time of unprecedented interactions between vastly different cultures.
Thanks the the invention of chemical weapons and modern technology it was the most violent war the world had ever seen, causing faith in humanity to dwindle. These factors actually helped hammer home the core message of the film in a way the WWII setting never could.
13. Organic Webshooters
Although it’s looking like Homecoming is going to give it a run for it’s money, the original Spider-Man Trilogy (or at least, the first two movies) are still considered the quintessential versions of the character on the big screen. Starring Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst and directed by Evil Dead’s Sam Raimi, these movies were a part of the initial “superhero boom” of the early 2000s. At the time, studios were still a little bit hesitant to adapt the more “unrealistic” elements of the genre.
This mean that Peter Parker wasn’t the one to build his web shooters or create his web formula. In fact, neither of them existed at all in this universe! Instead, Spider-Man had organic webbing that was produced inside his body and shot out his wrists via applied pressure to his palm.
12. Bane’s Origin and Characterization (TDKR)
The character of Bane is only known for one thing: breaking the Bat. So when it was first announced that Tom Hardy would be appearing in The Dark Knight Rises as the Hispanic Luchador-like crime boss, fans were left scratching their heads.
For starters, Hardy was from the wrong culture. Also, Bane normally gets super-strength from a drug called Venom. Isn’t that concept a little too comic-booky for a Nolan flick? Last but not least, the only exposure most people had with the character was the disaster that appeared in Batman & Robin. It became clear that for the character to work there were going to have to be some major changes.
The Bane that appeared in TDKR was almost nothing like his comic book counterpart. He had a weird steampunk-looking mask with pipes as well as a huge military jacket on top of his ridiculous voice. Furthermore, Bane was the new leader of the League of Shadows (a group that he hadn’t really been affiliated with in the comics). Yet, he was about as badass as you can get!
11. The Eye of Agamatto is the Time Stone
The world of Doctor Strange is filled with all sorts of mystical objects with great power and unexplained origins. The item most associated with the Sorcerer Supreme, however, has always been the Eye of Agamotto. Though its origins are never fully explained in detail, we know that it was originally used by the Vishanti Agamotto while he acted as Earth’s Sorcerer Supreme. In the modern day, Strange is almost never seen without it due to the Eye’s nearly unlimited magical abilities.
In the MCU, the Eye of Agamotto’s origin and abilities are much more clear. Instead of coming from an alternate dimension or being created from an ancient sorcerer, the amulet is simply a vessel for one of the six celestial Infinity Stones.
In particular, the Eye of Agamotto holds the Time Stone, which allows Doctor Strange to manipulate the fourth dimension of time and space. Sadly, this means that Strange’s time with the Eye is going to be much shorter than in the comics; Thanos is going to get his hands on it one way or another come Infinity War.
10. Drax isn’t a human
Drax the Destroyer has quickly risen the ranks from the depths of the D-List to become one of Marvel’s most recognizable heroes. The character got his start all the way back in 1973’s Iron Man #55 alongside Thanos the Mad Titan.
When we first meet Drax he is a normal human being named Arthur Douglas. While driving with his family out late at night in the desert, a ship flown by Thanos attacks their car, killing Douglas and his wife. Thanos’ father, The Mentor, takes Douglas’ daughter under his wing and resurrects Arthur in a new body with the sole purpose of killing Thanos. Comic book Drax wears a purple cloak, can fly, and can shoot laser beams out of his hands.
Marvel Studios may have thought this was a little bit too much for the casual audience, and instead opted to make Drax more like his current comic book iteration. Now the Destroyer is just a member of an alien race who is amazingly brutal and lacks the ability to understand metaphors. They still kept the backstory of Thanos being responsible for killing his family, but the Drax that appears in Guardians of the Galaxy has no connection to Earth whatsoever.
9. Deadpool and Blind Al’s relationship
Deadpool seemed like it was destined to fail from the get-go. FOX obviously wasn’t sure what to do with the character, having completely butchered him in X-Men Origins: Wolverine and allowing his standalone movie to rot in development hell for years after.
Thankfully, fan reaction to some leaked test footage online was so positive that the film was finally greenlit. But even then, it was slated for release in February, a month where movies go to die. Thankfully, the company was completely wrong; Deadpool was loved by fans and critics alike and went on to make more money than any February opening ever.
Blind Al, Deadpool’s roommate, was featured prominently as a minor character in the movie. However, the relationship between the two in the movie and the comic books is almost night and day. On the page Blind Al is Wade Wilson’s hostage whom he often abuses both physically and mentally, throwing her in a small box when she makes him angry and killing anyone who tries to help her escape.
8. Peter Quill’s Dad is Ego
Whoever decided that ’80s icon Kurt Russell should play the retro-obsessed Star-Lord’s father deserves a raise. It should be made double if it’s the same person who decided to make the character Ego the Living Planet! In Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 fans discovered that Peter Quill gets his extraterrestrial genes from Ego, a being that wooed his mother back on Earth in the ’80s and now wants to reunite with his son. Of course, there is something much more sinister at play here…
In the comics, Quill’s father is an alien named J’son from the planet Spartax. The Spartoi are a humanoid race of people who live to be hundreds of years old and hold an uneasy truce with the Shi’ar Empire. Much like Ego, J’son wanted to convince Star-Lord to join him and help lead his empire. Unlike Ego, however, the Spartoi didn’t have any sort of elaborate scheme for intergalactic domination.
7. Bucky is a friend, not a sidekick
The deep bond between Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes is basically the defining feature of the last two Captain America movies. Though Bucky is a more minor character in The First Avenger, he is the central focus of both The Winter Soldier and Civil War. Cap has shown that he would literally do anything to help his best friend; the only remaining link to his 1940s past. It also helps that Chris Evans and Sebastian Stan have great on-screen chemistry that seamlessly translates into the characters’ friendship.
But remember, there was none of this in the original Captain America comics. Bucky Barnes wasn’t Steve’s best friend from childhood. Instead, he was a teenage sidekick akin to Robin that Cap took under his wing after meeting him during the War.
The deviation of the MCU from the comic books worked for the better; instead of Rogers acting as an inspiration to Bucky, the script is completely flipped and Bucky gets to act as Steve’s guiding light.
6. Zod’s motivation in Man of Steel
Every remembers the iconic quote of “Kneel before Zod.“ It’s the perfect representation of how the character has normally been portrayed, as a maniacal warlord hellbent on galactic conquest. The origin of Dru-Zod is fairly straightforward: he was a general on the planet Krypton before becoming disillusioned with his leadership and trying to completely take over the planet. Zod and his cronies were sentenced to the Phantom Zone and were thus able to survive the destruction of Krypton.
In the comics and Superman II, Zod is simply a conqueror who wishes to take over Earth after his release from the Phantom Zone.
2013’s Man of Steel flipped this trope on its head by completely changing up Zod’s motivations. Now, instead of simply wanting to conquer Earth, he wants to completely terraform it and create a new Krypton. His beef with Superman is more intense in the DCEU, as well: Jor-El’s son was naturally born rather than genetically enhanced (something against Kryptonian rules) and his DNA is the only thing that can allow Zod to repopulate his new Krypton.
5. Sam Wilson being a Iraq War Veteran and the Origin of His Flight Suit
Sam Wilson’s superhero origin in the pages of Marvel Comics is somewhat more bizarre than what we know from the MCU. Wilson grew up in the New York suburb of Harlem with a pet falcon that he had raised for years. When he saw an ad in the paper asking for a trained falcon to help out with hunting and tracking, he jumped at the opportunity. Of course, he discovered that this was actually a front by the Red Skull for enslaving and ruling the native people of a tropical island. Wilson reported the incident to Captain America, who took him on as a sidekick and gave him a costume. Later on, his origin would be retconned via the Cosmic Cube.
The MCU gives us a much more streamlined and plausible version of the Falcon. Instead of being a random person off the street who wants to do good, Wilson is a veteran of the Iraq War who volunteers his time to help fellow soldiers with PTSD.
4. Peter Quill’s obsession with retro music
Believe it or not, Star-Lord has been around since the ’70s. He has always enjoyed anonymity thanks to the fact that he was a D-list hero who only appeared every now and then as a supporting player. It wasn’t until Brian Michael Bendis took over Guardians of the Galaxy in the early 2000s that Peter Quill became a more well-known name in the circles of Marvel readers. The fact that this mostly-forgotten character was going to headline a big-budget movie meant that the MCU had a complete blank slate to reimagine Star-Lord.
What they created has gone on to become one of the most popular heroes in the entire MCU. Nowadays nobody asks “who?” when Peter Quill’s name comes up in conversation thanks to the hilarious and charismatic personality he has.
One of Star-Lord’s defining features is his love of retro music from the ’70s and ’80s, as he always tosses on his Walkman when he’s about to get in on the action and acts as though the device is an extension of himself. This personality trait has a meta-purpose, as well: It allows the Guardians movies to have some really rockin’ soundtracks!
3. Michelle Stands in for MJ
When it was announced that Zendaya would be starring as one of the female leads in Spider-Man: Homecoming, the internet went through the ceiling. They all assumed that she would be playing Mary Jane Watson, Peter’s longtime love interest and eventual supermodel wife; they were not happy. To ease some of the tension, Marvel came out and said that the actress wasn’t going to be playing Mary Jane but a new character named Michelle, and that Liz Allen was going to be the love interest of Homecoming. At the end of the movie, Michelle reveals that her friends call her “MJ.”
Was this a simple nod to the controversy, or is Michelle the new Mary Jane? Either way we don’t care! If it’s the first, then Michelle was a great new addition to the Spider-Man lore with her “don’t-give-a-crap” attitude and quirky personality playing off Peter’s more straight and narrow one.
If it’s the second, then it looks like Parker’s love life is in good hands. The audience will get to know Michelle as a character better as the series progresses, making us care about her more and showing us just why Peter fell in love with her in the first place.
2. No Secret ID for the Mighty Thor
As far up as the “Bronze Age” of superhero history, it was essential that each and every hero had their own secret identity. Even characters that were supposed to be huge public figures like Cap or Iron Man never made their true identities public knowledge. One of the more bizarre secret identities of the Silver Age was that of Donald Blake, aka Thor Odinson.
To show his arrogant child humility, Odin places Thor’s mind into that of a medical student named Donald Blake. Blake would eventually regain his memories of his godhood, but the God of Thunder continued to use this alias for the majority of his first comic run.
It may have been alright at the time, but the whole “med student” thing would have slowed down the already complex plot of the first Thor movie. Also, it just feels unnecessary and tacked-on in the modern day superhero genre.
We got a nod to Thor’s identity in the form of a driver’s license from one of Jane Foster’s old boyfriends (who looked suspiciously like the God of Thunder), but even that was thrown to the side almost immediately once S.H.I.E.L.D. inspected it.
1. Jarvis is an AI software…and Vision…and Howard Stark’s Butler.
In the comics, Tony Stark had inherited a large mansion in downtown Manhattan. Not needing another house all to himself, he generously donated it to the Avengers for use during their adventures. The house was dubbed “Avengers Mansion” and Tony’s loyal butler, Jarvis, pledged to serve the team as he did his former master. Not wanting to seem like they were copying the Batman movies, the MCU had the Avengers take up residence in Stark Tower and the butler is nowhere to be seen.
Or is he? In the MCU, Jarvis takes the form of J.A.R.V.I.S., the AI program that runs the technology in Tony’s home and assists him in his Iron Man suit. He got an upgrade in Age of Ultron when Tony uploaded the program into Ultron’s new body, creating longtime Avengers member The Vision.
However, the physical character of Jarvis still exists in the MCU… just as Howard Stark’s butler, not the Avengers’. Edwin Jarvis appeared in the flesh in the short-lived Agent Carter series played by James D’Arcy. All three changes to the character made him a more central figure in the lore, which is more than what can be said for his comic book counterpart.
What do you think of our list? Were all of these comic-to-movie changes for the better? Was there one that we missed? Let us know in the comments!
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