As one of the most successful comic book companies to ever grace the planet, Marvel Comics has pioneered several innovations in the industry. It is responsible for the creation of legendary superheroes like Spider-Man, Iron Man, Captain America, and many more.
Marvel Studios ushered in a new era of film strategies with their stand alone superhero films, and the wider, interconnected universe known as the MCU. Several studios have taken inspiration from Marvel’s lead, but none have come close to the success that is the MCU. They are proof that imitators can’t just copy and paste their formula and ride off into the sunset.
But, with those many successes, Marvel, as a company, has made several grave errors in judgment. In fact, some of these errors could have possibly led to the downfall of the company if it didb;t bounce back. When we look back at the legacy of Marvel Comics and Marvel Studios, we will surely only remember the great triumphs they’ve accomplished.
That’s mainly because Marvel would desperately like us to forget about these huge mistakes it has made over the years. That’s right, the infallible Marvel has made some egregious blunders that would be better swept under the rug.
Here are 16 Huge Mistakes Marvel Wants You To Forget About.
16 The Inhumans
Let’s start with Marvel’s most recent blunder.
Marvel was primed to release a film surrounding the superhero struggles and stories of the alien race known as The Inhumans. It was supposed to be a part of Marvel Studios’ “Phase 3” and Vin Diesel was in talks to play one of the lead characters, Black Bolt. People were excited to see the property on screen for the first time after the smashing successes of Guardians of the Galaxy.
Then it all fell apart. The film was nixed in favor of a television series, and despite trying to make a big deal out of the situation by filming some scenes in IMAX, Inhumans was so poorly received it almost made people forget about how lackluster the Iron Fist Netflix series was.
Everything from the CGI, the acting, and the script was not up to snuff for diehard Marvel fans, and the project is largely seen as a huge failure.
It has yet to premiere on TV, but the head of Marvel TV has alluded to the fact that Inhumans will only last one season.
15 Captain America — Hydra Agent
In order to keep comic books fresh, writers will sometimes do something incredibly drastic in order to get readers interested in their product again. Well, in recent years, Marvel did the unthinkable — it revealed that Captain America has been an agent of Hydra the entire time. That’s right, the man who has been fighting against the uber-Nazi organization was a part of it the whole time!
When fans of the character read this, they were understandably ticked off. Captain America is one of the most classic comic book characters of all time, and a swerve like this was sure to annoy fans. Heck, even Chris Evans, the man who plays Cap in the MCU, was taken aback by the reveal.
The backlash was so intense, that now Marvel has backtracked hard.
14 Fantastic Four Movie Rights
A long time ago, if you could believe it, Marvel was in a tough spot. It was hemorrhaging money and it looked like the company was about to fold under their vast financial problems. As a last minute solution, Marvel decided to sell the rights to some of its most popular characters to movie studios in order to make a quick buck. Luckily, the move saved the company, but it came at a great cost for its movie-making future.
One of the properties Marvel sold the rights to was the Fantastic Four, and it's been regretting the decision ever since. After selling away the movie rights of the first family of Marvel, several films have been made dedicated to the superhero team, and almost none have been successful.
But now with the MCU, Marvel would desperately like to have those movie rights back. Unfortunately for Marvel, Fox refuses to return the rights.
13 Sexism In The Comics
Marvel has a long, long history of comic books. Since the company’s creation in 1939, it has published countless stories with innumerable characters. With a history that goes so far back, you’re bound to have some stories they’d like us to forget about. The times change and attitudes toward certain people and issues remain fluid.
Which is why Marvel would probably like us to forget about a lot of the sexism that was going on in the books in the 1940’s-1970’s. Looking back at those books now is almost cringeworthy. Ant-Man beat his wife, comments were made about the entire female gender, women were seen as less than men.
Sure, those comic books were the product of that specific era in history, but if those books were written today, they’d definitely be labeled as problematic.
12 X-Men Movie Rights
Another property Marvel sold off back in the day was the X-Men. What a huge mistake that turned out to be. Not only are the X-Men one of Marvel’s most popular franchises in the comic books, they have proven to be a box office success, with several great movies coming out about the team.
Marvel Studios wants these rights back so badly that the company recently took the the pages of the comic books to attempt to write them out of continuity for a bit and put a focus on the team known as The Inhumans. We see how that turned out. The Inhumans was a huge flop for Marvel, and X-Men still carry on as one of the best comic and movie franchises.
11 Unrealistic Female Bodies
Going along with the theme of sexism in comic books, several people have noted the incredibly unrealistic portrayals of women in the books. Almost every single female character in Marvel’s publications is a buxom beauty with giant breasts, a tiny waistline, and a bodacious booty.
As people progress to a more understanding and inclusive society, these unrealistic body types are becoming more and more frowned upon. Little girls who want to see themselves represented in comic books are having a hard time identifying with a lot of the female superheroes Marvel has been putting on its pages for decades.
There is a bit of a movement to have artists shift towards a more realistic portrayal of woman, but it appears to be moving at a snail’s pace, which is something Marvel might want to consider expediting.
10 Mistreating Writers And Artists
If you get into any kind of creative field, you will find that big companies want to take advantage of your work. You see, when you work as a comic book writer, artist, or creator, you are a contract worker. Which essentially means that anything you create while working for Marvel belongs to Marvel, not you. You can create something for Marvel, write it for one issue, and then Marvel can do anything it wants with the characters you’ve created.
That’s exactly what happened to the creator of Ghost Rider, Gary Friedrich. Friedrich took Marvel to court for compensation he felt he was owed from merchandising sales and the like. Marvel was profiting off his creation and didn’t give him any piece of the pie.
Friedrich lost the lawsuit, and Marvel countersued him and ordered him to stop selling anything Ghost Rider related at conventions. Luckily, a judge later overturned the decision and the two parties settled out of court.
9 When the business nearly died
One of the biggest mistakes Marvel could have ever made was allowing Ron Perelman to purchase their company back in 1989. Perelman was an instrumental figure in what is known as the great comic collapse of the 1990s, and nearly brought Marvel to its knees, driving it into financial peril.
Once Perelman was in control of the company, he jacked up comic prices. He believed “real fans” would still buy. Sure, many did, but many more stopped buying the product. He also purchased several other ventures during his time with Marvel including trading card companies, magazines, and sticker companies. His investments plunged Marvel into $700 million in debt, which is one of the big reasons why ir had to sell off the film rights to many of its most popular characters.
8 Character Designs in the 1990s
There was a lot to love about the comic books created in the 1990s. But there was even more to hate. A lot of the storylines were silly and it seemed like the only thing the creators were interested in was making things more extreme.
The character designs in Marvel comics showed that off. Characters were shown as more muscular than ever. They had giant, unrealistic, and physically impossible bodies. Their physiques were ridiculous and Marvel fans took notice. It’s not just that the heroes looked unrealistic - they looked just plain silly.
If you need an example of these abominations, just look up basically anything Rob Liefeld did for Marvel, and you’ll understand. Characters like Cable and Captain America fell victim to this terrible artwork and Marvel would like to bury those designs deep in the annals of its history.
7 The 1994 Fantastic Four Movie
Marvel actually took steps to make sure this atrocious movie would never see the light of day. We would all love to forget this movie ever happened, but unfortunately for us all, it's just not possible.
The movie was made primarily so that a small studio could retain the rights to the characters (sound familiar?), and what happened next was so bad it’s almost hilarious. The costumes looked stupid, the script was awful, and the acting was out-of-this-world bad.
When then-Marvel executive Avi Arad heard about the film, he quickly bought it, reimbursed the production company for its costs, and never released it. He felt that spending the money to buy the movie would be more financially prudent for Marvel than having the film released and cheapening the Marvel brand with such a poor movie.
It’s unfortunate that Arad isn’t around now to do the same thing with the recent string of awful Fantastic Four movies.
6 Jim Shooter and Defiant Comics
The story of Jim Shooter and Marvel Comics is a messy one. Jim Shooter was a Marvel employee from 1976 to 1987, and worked his way up to becoming editor-in-chief. He implemented new rules that benefitted artists in terms of pay, but he ran things on very strict deadlines, which many artists and creators didn’t enjoy, leading them to leave to work for DC.
Shooter eventually got the axe from Marvel and went on to work for another company called Defiant Comics.
While at Defiant, Shooter created a new comic book called Plasm. Marvel realized they had the rights to a character named Plasmer, and sued Shooter’s Defiant Comics for stealing one of their characters. Marvel sued the company so hard that it had to fold and cease existing.
5 Retcons Galore
In comic books, there is a phenomenon known as “retconning” in which the company erases the publication’s entire history in order to tell new stories with the same characters, maybe reinvent their origins, and to freshen up stale properties.
Marvel has become so reliant on this tactic that no one knows what stories are canonical, and which ones aren’t anymore. It’s an incredibly bad look for the company when a person can go into their local comic book store and read one story about a character, and pick up another book from a year ago where the character has an entirely different arc and characterization. It’s just hard to make sense of it all.
Marvel has employed this tactic too many times over the past few years and it can lead many readers to become disillusioned with the products, and not buy them anymore.
4 Throwing Away Original Artwork
As many people know, having original comic artwork from decades ago is a very valuable commodity. You can head over to eBay and check out how expensive some of these rare pieces of art go for, and known that you’ll never make enough money to ever purchase them.
Well, back in the day, these pieces of art weren’t seen as valuable at all. In fact, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby would toss out heaps upon heaps of their original artwork while trying to get their careers off the ground.
Stan Lee talked about how they had to toss tons of their art because their office simply didn’t have the room to house it anymore. “Some kid would come up to deliver sandwiches from the drugstore and we'd say, 'Hey, kid, on your way out, take these pages and throw them somewhere,’” he told Playboy, “If one of those guys had brains enough to save some stuff, he'd be a very lucky man right now."
3 The Infamous Incest Storyline
Here we go.
Marvel once ran a storyline where Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, a pair of twins, hooked up with each other. As gross as that sounds, it gets even grosser. Wolverine was the one who was peeping on the twins engaging in sexual acts with each other.
Many readers saw this as a cheap shock-value stunt and were not very happy about this depiction of the superhero twin children of Magneto.
What’s worse is this wasn’t the first time and it wasn’t the last time the twins were implied to have a more-than-familial relationship with each other. For some reason, Marvel keeps gravitating back to incest when it comes to these two, and it’s something they should probably shy away from or forget it ever happened.
Why? Because it’s freaking gross.
2 Image Comics
As Marvel writers and creators got more and more fed up with their treatment at the company, they began leaving in droves. Many left to work for rival company, DC, and others chose to start their own companies.
One of the most successful companies to come from this mass-exodus from Marvel was Image Comics. Todd McFarlane famously brought some of his favorite collaborators with him to form the company in order to give great creators a place where they’d love to work and they knew they’d be treated fairly.
Image comics took off with successful series like Spawn, The Walking Dead, Savage Dragon, and several others, and Marvel lost many talented creators and their great ideas in the process.
1 Failed Crossovers
Sometimes companies will do questionable things in order to make a quick buck. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and Marvel was not immune to the pressures of making quick cash while damaging its reputation just a bit.
In order to accomplish this, Marvel engaged in some pretty silly and downright stupid crossovers. There was a deal with the soap opera, Guiding Light, that led to a miniseries in their comics that was a gigantic flop. There was a superhero named NFL SuperPro created in order to appeal to NFL fans in hopes that jocks would start buying comic books. There was also a deal with Casablanca Records to create a new, disco-themed superhero named Dazzler in order to spike sales of disco albums, and maybe even boost Marvel's sales a little bit.
Out of all of these, Dazzler was probably the most successful crossover, but even she has been relegated to the background of X-Men comic books in embarrassing fashion.
What else do you think Marvel would rather forget? Sound off in the comics!