Making a comic book movie that is faithful to the source material is an incredibly difficult thing to do. Many comic book characters have a history that goes back 50-60 years, which means that picking out a version of a character that will make comic book fans happy, while at the same time making it marketable for a wider movie-going audience that may or may not have read the comics is one of the hardest tasks superhero filmmakers have.
Film adaptations don’t always pan out so well - both in terms of box office, writing quality, and characterization - and it leads to many characters being ill-received when they are brought to life on the silver screen. But sometimes, magic happens and the live-action version reigns superior to the one found in the pages of comics.
With that said, let’s have a look at 15 Comic Book Characters Who Are So Much Better In The Movies.
It's unclear how we got to where we are with the latest film iteration of Mystique, but she has somehow become the most important player in the X-Men film franchise. Ever since mega-star Jennifer Lawrence took over the role, she has been featured more and more prominently in the movies. Kudos to Lawrence for making the role her own and it being such a huge success, but Mystique was never this big of a deal in the comics.
Somehow by the time X-Men: Apocalypse came around, Mystique was the leader of the X-Men, outshining everyone else on the roster. In the comics, Mystique is mainly a villain, with a bit of an anti-hero presence. Definitely nothing like what we’ve been seeing on screen lately. Lawrence will be reprising her role in X-Men: Dark Phoenix.
14 Captain America
Before Captain America: The Winter Soldier came out, Steve Rogers was mainly seen as a goodie-two-shoes who had a less-than-stellar rogues gallery of foes to tangle with. His most famous and well-received storylines involved him dying.
When Winter Soldier came out, it completely changed how people view Cap. He wasn’t the narc of The Avengers anymore, he was his own interesting and captivating hero. Remember when he was kicking dudes off that boat in the opening action sequence of The Winter Soldier? You’d be hard-pressed to find something so hardcore and amazing in the pages of comics.
The film was so well-received that the follow up, Civil War, was allowed to be the first entry the new iteration of Spider-Man would be seen in. That’s a big sign of trust in the Star-Spangled Superhero.
13 Iron Man
Tony Stark has had to deal with some very tough times in the comics. He’s a pathetic, alcoholic, and unfortunately, before the movies came out, that was the most interesting thing about him - aside from the fact that he fought a goofy dragon named Fin Fang Foom.
Enter, Robert Downey Jr. Wow, what this dude did to Iron Man could never have been predicted. He completely took in the role and made Tony Stark a wise-cracking superstar. Not only did his performance elevate the status of the character from a B-level superhero, but it completely changed the character’s disposition in the comics. Plus, Tony Stark is in everyone’s franchise now. He pops up in Captain America: Civil War, The Avengers, The Incredible Hulk, and will be playing a big role in Spider-Man: Homecoming. He’s the glue that is keeping all of this together, even if it was dope to see Captain America kick his butt in Civil War.
Talk about a character no one cared about before his movie came out. When it was announced that Guardians of the Galaxy was coming out, many people thought, “Wow, Marvel is really scraping the bottom of the barrel of superheroes to make a movie about, aren’t they?” My, how the tides have turned.
Guardians of the Galaxy was a mega-smash-hit, and a large reason for that is because of Chris Pratt’s performance as Star-Lord. He is another quippy renegade and has brought the character into the public consciousness. Whether it be Pratt’s goofball charm or the fact that the movie was just plain cool, Star-Lord has gone through quite the change in the books because of the movie. He even got an outfit upgrade!
Never before have more people cared about this once-obscure character that had a very difficult time selling copies of his comic property.
If you asked anyone what the highlight of the last two X-Men movies were, you would undoubtedly hear a vast majority of them talking about Quicksilver’s action scenes. Sure, Jennifer Lawrence is great, and you can’t go wrong with casting Michael Fassbender in any role, but Evan Peters’ turn at playing the speedster had everyone raving. The “Time In A Bottle” scene from Days of Future Past was one of the most incredible pieces of superhero cinema most people have seen. He even got his own special action scene in Apocalypse because of how well-liked his time on screen was.
Compare that to what Quicksilver does in the comics and you’ll likely find that the dude is far inferior. He doesn’t play that big a role in any titles, and his solo stuff is pretty weak. Plus there was that time Wolverine caught him and his twin sister getting it on.
10 J. Jonah Jameson
Has there ever been a casting as perfect as J.K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson? Literally perfect. Honestly, it doesn’t get much better than this. J.K. Simmons was so well-received by critics and fans alike that there was even a segment of fans that thought he should continue the role through every reboot of the character on film. Whenever he was on screen, it was entertaining as hell. The fast-talking, scummy film version was definitely a highlight of the Sam Raimi series.
In the comics, Jameson doesn’t really do much. Sure, he’s a classic character from the Spider-Man franchise, but he’s pretty much just Peter’s boss and a foil for Spidey. It just doesn’t measure up to J.K. Simmons’ amazing portrayal of the boss of The Daily Bugle.
It's unclear how many people were aware of this android before Avengers: Age of Ultron came out, but Paul Bettany has put on an inspired performance as the robot everyone has come to love. It has garnered a new interest in the character since people saw him lift up Thor’s hammer to prove he is a worthy hero. At a time where the Avengers didn’t know whether they could trust the android or not (they had just been introduced to the evil android, Ultron), this moment proved pivotal to the plot and made people realize, “Oh yeah, he’s a good guy.”
Add in the fact that he played a large role in Civil War, and it's clear that Vision in the movies is much better than what we’ve seen on the pages of comic books.
Has Vision ever lifted Thor’s hammer in the comics? Nope. ‘Nuff said.
8 Baron Zemo
Zemo is the main antagonist in Captain America: Civil War, and he’s the dude who put the entire plan of splitting the Avengers up into motion during the movie. He is cunning and tricky, playing the Avengers like fiddles, making them turn on each other. His plan was a success and by the end of the film, you really have to wonder, “Is this the end of the Avengers?” Of course it’s not, because there are several movies planned for the future, but if you didn’t know that, you’d be worried.
Zemo in the comics never played such a pivotal role in any storyline and he is tasked with trying to be intimidating while wearing what looks like a purple sock on his head - not striking fear into the hearts of anyone. He wasn’t the catalyst for Civil War in the comics and will always be a second-rate villain in Captain America’s already weak rogues gallery.
7 Nick Fury
How awesome is Samuel L. Jackson in this role? This is how awesome — his turn as Nick Fury has forced Marvel to change his race in the comics. That’s right, through much of his history, Nick Fury was a white guy, which is why David Hasselhoff played him originally. Once Jackson took on the role, all versions of Nick Fury were changed to be black.
Of course, there was already a black version of the leader of S.H.I.E.L.D. who debuted in 2001, but Jackson embodied the role so much that comic writers were inspired to make all iterations of the character black. That’s boss.
Can you imagine being unaware that Nick Fury was white in the comics, picking up one of his titles after seeing the movie, and seeing that he’s actually white? That would be so confusing. It’s a good thing Marvel made the change.
Oof, this one is a doozy. In the comics, Ant-Man is notorious for beating his wife, the Wasp. It’s something that follows the character to this day. He is haunted by the fact that he was the perpetrator of domestic abuse, and carries a massive guilt about it. It led to him being kicked out of the Avengers, and he is still searching for redemption in the comics.
Haven’t seen any of that from the Marvel movies, have you? Of course, the Ant-Man who shows up on screen played by Paul Rudd is Scott Lang, who isn’t the domestic abuser. But Michael Douglas plays Hank Pym, and there was no mention of his sordid past at all, and it doesn’t appear there will be in the future. When asked about the domestic abuse situation, Marvel exec Kevin Fiege had this to say about the character, “Guess what we’re not doing.”
Therefore the Ant-Man in the movies is superior because he doesn’t beat women.
When Sin City first came out, it was heralded as a crowning achievement of comic book cinema. It was one of the first comic book movies to literally feel like the pages came to life. The aesthetic of the film was amazing and it opened the world up to Frank Miller’s story, making it even more popular than ever before.
One big part of the reason why it was so successful was because of the stellar casting, and Mickey Rourke playing Marv was simply fantastic. It was like someone found a genie’s lamp and wished for the character to be real. Again, the editing and post-production on this film made it even better, but Rourke’s portrayal of the gruff, mean, and no-nonsense Marv is one of the finest live-action adaptations of a comic book character ever.
The comic book version of Thor is certainly cool. The title relies heavily on Norse mythology and looks to honor those traditions as much as possible. Thor even talks in a Shakespearean manner to give him an air of grandiosity. But something about the character in the comics just never translated for audiences and Thor comic books were never hot sellers.
Chris Hemsworth taking on the role of Thor has certainly done wonders for the character. He’s funny, brawny, handsome, and he doesn’t have to wear that god-awful outfit he does in the comics. He doesn’t speak in the sometimes-hokey manner that Thor in the comics does. Plus, he hasn’t been seen as a frog or a giant horse person yet, but that’s a discussion for another time.
3 Julie Powers
Scott Pilgrim is one of the most beloved Canadian pieces of comic book history of all time. Seeing Scott fight through Ramona’s evil exes on the pages is dynamic and awesome.
But Edgar Wright’s version of the Scott Pilgrim story is superior in many ways. It’s flashy, hilarious, fast, and a lot of that can be attributed to the cast. Michael Cera is great as Scott, Brandon Routh plays a jerk super well, and Jason Schwartzman is as slimy and gross as possible in the movie.
One performance that had audiences cracking up and taking notice was Aubrey Plaza as Julie Powers. She perfectly embodied the character as a sarcastic a-hole who was always giving Scott a hard time. It fit Plaza perfectly because that’s the type of character she always plays. But she excelled in it, so who cares if she is typecast as the mean, sarcastic girl in every movie/TV show?
2 Harley Quinn
Look, many people consider Suicide Squad to be a big swing-and-a-miss for the DC movie universe. Many critics considered the plot to be disjointed and uninteresting, and it definitely didn’t turn things around for DC’s recent run of poorly received movies (Wonder Woman can be thanked for that). But despite all of the poor reviews the film received, one thing was almost always mentioned, Margot Robbie’s performance as Harley Quinn.
Expectations were high once it was announced Robbie would play Quinn, and she knocked it out of the park. In fact, it has completely changed how the character, who has always been a bit of a pawn in Joker’s bigger plans in the comics, is seen by the public. She made her on-screen debut as a semi-leader of the Suicide Squad, rather than a hapless, hopelessly-in-love sucker. Sure, there’s a bit of that in the movie, but a majority of it is her kicking ass.
Thank goodness for the film adaptation of Yondu. He is a tough-on-the-outside, sweet-on-the-inside outlaw who has no problem using this arrow to take out an entire ship full of his enemies. He is so awesome and his breakout in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 can be attributed to his badass aesthetic and Michael Rooker totally made the character one you could care about.
Yondu is significantly less awesome in the comics. He wears a weird, slightly too-tight outfit, isn’t a cool anti-hero outlaw, and didn’t make audiences cry like Yondu did in the most recent Guardians movie (we're still recovering). Plus, he actually shoots the arrow out of a bow instead of simply whistling it around like he does in the movies. He can still control it with his whistle, but if that’s true, why does he need to shoot it out of a bow?
Which comic book characters do you think are better in the movies? Let us know in the comments!
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