For many of Marvel‘s flagship characters, the transition from the page to the screen has been phenomenally accurate. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has been well-received for its handling of beloved characters. Though some may argue that too many liberties are taken in the films, what it really boils down to is the characters. What appears to be most important to Marvel Studios is that the characters remain the way fans envisioned them.
However, sometimes the writers will make slight changes to fit the story, such as placing someone in a different time period, associating them with different people, or giving them an occupation that’s new to the character. For example, Marvel Studios made some alterations to the story of Captain America, but nothing that they’ve done changed the person that he is. At heart, he’s still same the star-spangled Avenger who punched Hitler on the front cover of Captain America Comics #1.
We could go on and on about how well Marvel characters have been portrayed in the MCU, but instead, we will take a look at the Marvel characters who didn’t turn out quite the way we expected. Some characters received such major overhauls that their personalities no longer matched the characters in the comics. With that said, here are 15 MCU Characters Who Act Nothing Like Their Comic Book Counterparts.
Earth’s Mightiest Marksman has been a key member of The Avengers since he joined the team in 1965. In Hawkeye’s earliest days as an Avenger, he was thought of by his teammates as an arrogant loudmouth who constantly feuded with the Captain America while struggling — and failing — to gain the affections of Scarlet Witch.
Years later, Hawkeye has undergone an amazing amount of character growth. Hawkeye has toned down his back-talking and overconfident behavior, while still retaining the traits that made him popular. Hawkeye is a person who the audience can connect with because he’s a normal person without super powers. He doesn’t have the strength of the Hulk or the off-the-charts IQ of Iron Man. He’s a person who manages to keep his sense of humor and remain calm, even when he’s surrounded by characters who outclass him.
The version of the character that appears in The Avengers is a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. His life is about missions, protocol, and following orders. We aren’t able to see much of his personality in the first film, but other movies have shown that the character does possess a small amount of his counterpart’s snarkiness, but not nearly enough.
After viewing Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, former Marvel Comics writer Steve Englehart admitted that he was dissatisfied with the portrayal of Mantis, a character that he had created in the pages of The Avengers. Englehart felt that the character presented in the film had no resemblance to the comic book version.
When Englehart was writing The Avengers, Mantis was introduced as a martial artist, raised by alien priests to be the mother of the Celestial Messiah. Mantis always spoke in the third person and referred to herself as “this one.” This aspect of her personality was dropped for the film, along with her air of confidence that was reinforced by her superior martial arts skills.
The movie’s Mantis had other new character traits, such as her social awkwardness. Her physical appearance and empathic powers seem to be the only two things she has in common with the character she was based on.
13. Bucky Barnes
In the Golden Age of comics, Bucky Barnes was well-known as the loyal sidekick of Captain America. This teenage army mascot became a costumed hero after discovering the Captain’s true identity. Even after Bucky’s “death,” he continued to appear in flashbacks as an innocent young boy. He was the Robin to the Captain’s Batman, until he was reimagined in the movies, as the brainwashed Russian assassin the Winter Soldier.
Sebastian Stan’s portrayal of the Winter Soldier has been spot-on, but the same cannot be said for his “Bucky Barnes” persona, featured in Captain America: The First Avenger. This Bucky acted more like a big brother to Steve Rogers than a sidekick, especially in the film’s first act. The MCU version of Bucky is clearly a more mature, role-model figure than the teenage sidekick that comic book fans were expecting.
In Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Yondu encounters an old associate named Stakar, who angrily banishes Yondu from the Ravagers. Though Stakar was highly opposed to the practice of trafficking children, as the leader of the Ravagers, he doesn’t seem to have a problem with other criminal activities.
The comic book version of Stakar, aka Starhawk, isn’t a leader in any sense of the word. This former member of the original Guardians of the Galaxy was barely tolerated by his peers due to the secrets he kept from the group. In fact, Yondu was never banished from the original team; it was Starhawk himself who was expelled from the group due to his questionable decisions.
One of the things that always frustrated his teammates was that he always called himself “The One Who Knows.” As a person who was sent back into the body of his infant self to relive his life over and over again, he knows how his cycle ends. This aspect of the character gives him a certain element of wisdom. When interacting with his fellow Guardians, this wisdom would often make him seem similar to the Vision.
11. Madame Hydra
On Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Coulson and his team were uploaded into a virtual world called The Framework. Living in The Framework with them is their enemy, the android known as AIDA– though in The Framework she’s known as Madame Hydra.
Madame Hydra’s intention was to build a body for herself in the real world, so she could finally have the freedom of a human being which she had always been denied. In the pursuit of this goal, she engaged in numerous evil acts, as she strove to control the people around her. Madame Hydra also manipulated Agent Fitz into having a relationship with her. In this virtual world, Fitz seemed to be the only thing she actually cared about.
In the comic books, Madame Hydra has earned a top spot in Captain America‘s rogues gallery as a nihilist and a terrorist. Her obsession with death causes her to kill without even needing a reason. Her reckless desire to bring pain and suffering has startled heroes and villains alike. Even Red Skull was disgusted by her. This puts Madame Hydra on a whole new level of evil, and separates from her milder on-the-screen counterpart.
10. Rhomann Dey
John C. Reilly’s character in Guardians of the Galaxy is Rhomann Dey, a member of the Nova Corps in the service of Nova Prime Irani Rael. He was portrayed as a family-man with a distinguished war record, who works at the galactic peace-keeping organization. The most memorable aspect of the character was his humorous lines used to provide comedy in what would otherwise have been serious moments.
His importance to the film can’t compare to his impact in the comics. Heroic warrior Rhomann Dey was the Nova Prime who came to Earth on a mission to defeat an evil alien named Warlord Zorr. Rhomann Dey was fatally wounded in battle, forcing him to choose a successor before his death. In choosing Richard Rider to become the Nova Prime, Dey played a big role in creating one of Marvel’s most popular cosmic heroes.
9. Maria Hill
In the comic books, Maria Hill is a by-the-book S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who eventually becomes the agency’s director. Her devotion to protocol has made her a thorn in the side of dozens of heroes. In Civil War, she tried to arrest Captain America for refusing to cooperate with the Superhero Registration Act.
The MCU presents Maria Hill in a new light. This version of the character is a likable person who is loyal to S.H.I.E.L.D., but not in a way that distorts her moral compass. She was a big help to the heroes in Captain America: Winter Soldier, when HYDRA tried to take down S.H.I.E.L.D. She appears to be much more reasonable and friendly than her blunt, headstrong comic counterpart who doesn’t care what other people think of her.
8. Ronan the Accuser
The villain of Guardians of the Galaxy was a Kree warrior known as Ronan the Accuser. As an ally of Thanos, he supported the genocide of the Xandarian race and used one of the Infinity Stones to gain ultimate power. Ronan was killed at the end of movie, thus keeping his character from developing much further than that.
The comic book version of Ronan has been around for decades, which has given him plenty of time to develop and become a more layered character. Ronan is a hero to the Kree, who always puts his people first. It was his loyalty to the Kree that made him a villain. When the Kree’s interests align with Earth’s, Ronan can even be an ally or an anti-hero.
Ronan also had enough good qualities to earn the love and respect of his Inhuman wife, Crystal.
Wong was introduced in Strange Tales #110 in 1963 as a Chinese martial artist sent by the Ancient One to be Doctor Strange‘s manservant. Wong was often seen greeting Doctor Strange’s guests and completing other menial tasks for his master. As a butler to a superhero, Wong was a lot like Jarvis — if Jarvis knew kung fu.
Some critics have labeled Wong as a racial stereotype due to him being a Chinese manservant who knows martial arts. The new Doctor Strange movie worked to avoid this criticism by modernizing the character.
At one point in the film, we can see Wong listening to Beyoncé on his iPod. However, the film Wong doesn’t appear to know martial arts, and has a more adversarial relationship with Doctor Strange than his comic book counterpart. We’re certain that the movie version of Wong would take offense at being called a manservant.
6. Aldrich Killian
The comic book character Aldrich Killian was a scientist suffering from depression. He helped develop a powerful new technology called Extremis. Killian sold Extremis to terrorists, but he was consumed by guilt when he realized what he had unleashed upon the world. Unable to live with his actions, he committed suicide.
The MCU version of the character shared a similar background, but went down a totally different path to become the main antagonist of Iron Man 3. In the film, Killian was a disabled scientist whose ideas were rejected by the man he idolized most: Tony Stark.
Killian founded the terrorist organization AIM and developed the Extremis technology to create an army of super soldiers. After struggling to overcome his disabilities with the help of science, Killian decided to take revenge on Stark. His devotion to his goal turned him into a heartless killer.
5. Batroc the Leaper
The first fifteen minutes of Captain America: Winter Soldier featured an action-packed scene of the Captain jumping out of a plane and beating some bad guys on a ship. All of this led up to a showdown with a no-nonsense kickboxing mercenary named Georges Batroc. Batroc gave the Captain a good fight, until he suggested that the Captain was nothing without his shield, which was when the Captain decided to put Batroc in his place.
The film gave us our first live-action Batroc, but without the comic book character’s dramatic flair — hence the name “Batroc the Leaper.” The MCU Batroc was also missing his cartoonish handlebar mustache and ridiculous costume.
Comic Batroc is a character who fits into stories that are meant to be more fun than dark. He continuously believed that he can beat the Captain, despite how many times he’d been proven wrong. One thing we can say for comic Batroc: he had an everlasting supply of confidence.
4. The Mandarin
Iron Man faced off with Iron Monger and Whiplash in his first two films, but neither of these was considered to be his greatest villain. That title belongs to The Mandarin: a Chinese sorcerer who harnesses magic from the ten rings he wears. He’s a character who fans were anxious to see debut on the big screen.
Expectations were high when Ben Kingsley was cast to play the highly-awaited villain in Iron Man 3. The film featured a major twist which revealed that The Mandarin was just an actor hired to pose as a terrorist. His job was to distract from Aldrich Killian’s criminal activities. This twist didn’t sit well with a lot of fans.
3. Baron Mordo
One of the most important villains in the world of Doctor Strange is without a doubt Baron Mordo. In the movie, Mordo was a disciple of the Ancient One, and we only witnessed the beginning of his descent into villainy in the post-credits scene.
As a loyal pupil throughout most of the film, Mordo believed in the Ancient One and everything she stood for. It was only the revelation that she was breaking her own rules by draining power from the Dark Dimension that shook his faith in her. Disillusioned by the misuse of magic by his own mentor, Mordo decided he would kill all sorcerers who defy nature’s laws.
The version of Baron Mordo featured in the comics had a much simpler reason for becoming evil. He wanted power. In fact, Mordo desired it so much that he was willing to seek it from the Dread Dormannu himself, an act that would have made the MCU’s Mordo scowl in disgust.
2. Baron Zemo
The conflict between Captain America and Iron Man in Captain America: Civil War was all instigated by one man: Helmut Zemo. Zemo was an intelligence officer and family-man, whose life was ruined by the battle with Ultron in Sokovia. Broken by the loss of his family, Zemo gave in to his hate and devoted himself to destroying The Avengers, by turning them against one anther.
The only similarity between the comic version of Helmut Zemo and the movie version of the character is that they both are driven by hate.
In the comics, Baron Zemo held a deep hatred for Captain America– the man he blamed for the death of his father– though this wasn’t his only motivation for becoming a supervillain. His father’s legacy was a constant inspiration to him, as he took great pride in the Zemo name. Zemo was also a character who was already unapologetically evil, and was thus not someone who needed a tragic backstory to explain his need for revenge.
The comic book version of Yondu was a founding member of the original Guardians of the Galaxy, and at one point was believed to be the last surviving member of the Centaurian race. Yondu was an extremely religious person who, like all Centaurians, had a deep connection to nature that he could feel both spiritually and telepathically.
As a man of nature, Yondu despised technology and preferred the wilderness over any spaceship. Yondu was also a man of high principles. He followed a strict moral compass, and if he were to ever stray from it, his soul wouldn’t be at peace. If Yondu ever violated his code of beliefs, he would commit suicide without a moment’s hesitation.
If that doesn’t sound like the Yondu you know from the movie, that’s because they’re nothing alike outside of the red fin and the flying arrow. The MCU’s Yondu is portrayed as a rogue with little use for morals, though the character does receive a tremendous amount of depth in the sequel.
Did you notice any major differences between comic book and movie versions of any other MCU characters? Let us hear it in the comments.
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