As much as we love our superhero movies, the characters that appear on the screen are vastly different than the ones who appear on the page. Sometimes this is for the better: lame characters who haven't been taken seriously for decades like The Penguin, Rocket Racoon, and Aquaman have all been completely revamped for the silver screen in a way that retroactively improved their images. Heck, even minor characters like Batroc the Leaper and Henri Ducard were able to make a comeback!
Of course, for every adaptation that improves a hero or villain, there are about three more that makes them worse. Need we mention how Batman & Robin butchered Batgirl? Or how the MCU still acts like it doesn't know what to do with any of Thor's supporting characters?
Perhaps the greatest sin committed against a superhero in the world of cinema is the act of de-powering the character. So many times we see heroes who are able to take on demigods in their comics struggle to fight back against robots or mere henchmen in their big budget adaptations. Then there are those characters whose powers are just too "out there" for general audiences (looking at you, Doctor Strange).
We're here to give these underpowered characters their due. Here are 15 Superheroes Who Are So much Stronger In The Comics.
Let's get this one out of the way right off the bat. When it was first announced that Vision would be making his way into the MCU, fans were a little bit skeptical. The character is one of the publisher's more bizarre, and he has the powers to rival Marvel's best.
In the comics Vision has the ability to change his own density, appearing as lightweight as a feather or as heavy as a boulder. He can also shoot beams of solar energy out of his head and can "phase" through objects at will. Not to mention was trained in hand-to-hand combat by Cap himself. It's very easy to see how he may be too overpowered for the MCU.
What we got instead was a watered-down version of the character. The Vision in Age of Ultron and Civil War has a completely different origin and powers that really haven't been explained. Powered by the Mind Stone, the former J.A.R.V.I.S. is still able to float and phase through things as well as shoots beams of (mind powered?) energy. If comic book vision was in the MCU, he could have taken out Captain America's entire team on his own!
Let's be honest, 1997's Spawn was a pretty terrible film on top of being an already terrible adaptation. Sure, John Leguizamo was kinda fun as Clown (when he wasn't passing gas or the subject of terrible CGI) and Michael Jai White was awesome as always, but the film was plagued by a poor script, terrible effects, and a PG-13 rating. The movie also had a bad habit of not showing Spawn's mask and cape, aka his defining features. Even worse is how bare-bones the character is when it comes to his magic powers.
In the comics, Spawn literally had no limits. He drew from an infinite internal power source that allowed him to do whatever his mind could think of: abilities like resurrecting the dead or talking to animals are not out of the realm of possibility. Spawn's suit also draws power from the energy of the evil within any human, animal, or (sometimes) location around him. Anyone who has ever picked up a Spawn comic and witnessed the character's insane abilities can tell you why the '97 film was such a disappointment.
13 Green Lantern
Must we talk about Green Lantern? Ugh. The film looked promising. It really did! It had the charismatic Ryan Reynolds as Hal Jordan, Blake Lively as his love interest Carol Ferris, and Mark Strong as Sinestro. On top of this, it was supposed to be the movie that launched DC's own cinematic universe to rival Marvel's. Instead Green Lantern flopped hard and the company would have to wait until 2013's Man of Steel for their shot at the DCEU. What exactly happened to make this movie such a disaster?
Well, poor writing aside and godawful supersuit aside, it felt like the showrunners didn't really understand Green Lantern's powers. His ring is powered by the Green Light of Willpower, allowing him to create anything his mind can think up. In the earlier days of the character the ring allowed a Lantern to transform physical objects, such as turning them invisible and shrinking them down to size. It is even said that a Lantern Ring can transform its wearer physically if they truly believe they can change. Meanwhile, Green Lantern had the character creating giant Hot Wheels tracks and catapults. Yeah...
12 Ghost Rider
Oh, the Ghost Rider movies...What could have been. Nicholas Cage was a die-hard fan of the character and had that "biker dude" look down to a tee, making him the logical choice to play Johnny Blaze in the live-action adaptation. However, much like a few of the other entries on this list, they kinda sucked. They were far from the worst comic book movies we've ever seen. Plus, we got another batcrap-crazy performance out of Cage that's always a riot to behold!
To be fair, both Ghost Rider and Spirit of Vengeance were able to capture the power of the Rider's bike fairly well; driving up walls and moving at lightning-fast speeds were not uncommon in either film. However, Doctor Strange himself warned the rest of the Illuminati that Ghost Rider was "the most powerful of them all" and that he could take on the Hulk if he wanted to. Where was this in the movies!?
Johnny Blaze struggled with a group of jeeps in Spirit of Vengeance, for crying out loud! Not to mention the fact that in the comics Ghost Rider uses his internal Hellfire to do awesome things like shoot flames out of a shotgun.
Kids, let us tell you a little story about a time, at the height of the NBA's popularity, in which basketball players inexplicably tried to become actors. Kareem Abdul Jabbar got his shot with Enter The Dragon in 1973. Michael Jordan snagged the lead role in Space Jam! Then there was Shaquille O'Neal. Bless his heart, he tries. He really does. But his lack of acting talent really showed when he took on a semi-serious role in Steel, a superhero flick based on the DC character of the same name.
In the DC comics Steel is a D-list hero at best, but still one of its strongest human beings. John Henry Irons is a genius inventor who created a powerful metal suit that allowed him to fly and gave him the superhuman strength to wield a powerful sledgehammer. In the film adaptation, these elements aren't really present. The suit and sledgehammer are there, but the character showed no signs of flight or super strength whatsoever. For a guy that was supposed to be a replacement for Superman, the version played by Shaq was about as underpowered as you could get.
Before you get out your pitchforks, Hugh Jackman's Wolverine was freaking awesome! The actor has practically become the definitive version of the character, playing Logan nine times over the course of seventeen years. You all know the story: a mutant with a healing factor and claws takes part in the Weapon X program, where he is tortured and given an invulnerable adamantium skeleton. He escapes, loses his memory, and stumbles across the X-Men. Logan is a silent loner type who has a tendency to fly off the handle.
Alas, compared to the Wolverine that appears in the pages of X-Men, Jackman's version of the character is fairly weak. Let's start off with healing factor. Across the course of the X-Men movies we see that Logan regenerate from being shot in the head, having bits and pieces of his body disintegrated by the Dark Phoenix, and getting severely burned from an atomic blast. Comic book Wolverine has a healing factor so powerful that he can regenerate from a singular drop of blood. The films also fail to mention Logan's super-human hearing and eyesight and focus mainly on his ability to smell his enemies.
If we're being completely honest, the Hawkeye who appears on screen is far better than anything we could have expected. Though he takes a more prominent role in both Avengers films, nobody expected Clint Barton to be any more than a glorified cameo in the MCU. Thankfully, we were all dead wrong; Jeremy Renner's Hawkeye is a character that fans can't get enough of. Seriously, where is our Hawkeye Netflix series!?
Even with his increased popularity, Marvel seems to be holding back many of the abilities that make him the world's greatest marksman. Barton in the MCU is an excellent shot, but the version that appears in the regular comics is a marksman on par with the likes of Bullseye. In one case Hawkeye was able to take out his opponents by ripping out his own fingernails and flicking them into their jugulars. Now that's something that'd be fun to see on screen. Then there are his trademark "trick arrows." We saw some exploding ones and arrows that split, but we want more variety!
8 John Constantine
Before we begin this entry, let us say that we're not talking about the Constantine who appeared on the NBC show and within the Arrowverse. That version was the spitting image of the character on the page. For this entry we are talking specifically about the version played by Keanu Reeves in the 2005 film Constantine. Though the film has become a guilty pleasure over the years, it was met with lukewarm reception from general audiences and much anger from fans (Constantine as a black-haired American?!).
Though he carried himself similarly to his personality in the books, the writers changed up John's power set somewhat. Now he could summon invisible beings into the light by reciting an incantation and had two glyphs on his arm that could be used to reveal supernatural beings. The biggest cardinal sin of the Constantine movie was not including the character's greatest power - his ability to con his way out of any situation.
Constantine has a sleazeball personality, using his conman skills to smooth talk his way into getting what he wants. Likewise, the character in the comics had the ability to travel through the passages leading to Heaven and Hell (mostly to avoid detection from his enemies).
Much like Wolverine earlier on this list, the Thor who appears on the silver screen is extremely strong. So far he is the only member of the Avengers roster who can take on the Incredible Hulk one-on-one (without cybernetic upgrades). Mjolnir itself is all sorts of powerful; it allows it's wielder, should he be worthy, to summon up the powers of lightning and thunder. Plus, the hammer itself is a crazy-heavy bludgeoning tool!
Worthy as he may be, the Thor on the pages of Marvel comics is way more powerful than anything we've seen on screen. Like, ridiculously so. There, he has the ability to travel through time, regenerate from heavy wounds, create gusts of wind with his breath, and (at one point) do battle with his enemies for nine months at a time without getting tired.
Then there are the feats he performs with Mjolnir, such as controlling multiple elements (not just lightning) and absorbing the energy from an enemy's attack. Did we mention that he can create mini tornadoes just by spinning around with his cape?
With less than a month to go before the release of Spider-Man: Homecoming, this could very well change. The upcoming film will feature a scene reminiscent of Spider-Man 2's train scene in which Peter tries to hold together an entire ship that has been cracked in half using only his webbing and his raw strength. Thanks to the recent spoilery trailer, we know that he only succeeds with the help of Tony Stark.
Spider-Man has always suffered from inconsistent power levels when it comes to the movies; he's able to stop a runaway train with his raw power, yet regular thugs can take a hit from him without getting so much as a concussion? Similarly, his webbing is strong enough to hold his body weight but can be cut by Cap's shield?
Don't get us wrong; Spidey has this issue of inconsistent power in the comics as well. However, the Webslinger has been able to go toe-to-toe with the Hulk and live to tell the tale. In fact, he was even able to defeat the green giant on a few occasions.
Then there's the topic of his Spidey Sense. Aside from the first two Raimi films, Peter's greatest power in the comics has been nonexistent in the movie universe!
Yeah, you knew Cyclops was going to be on here. Has any other character in the X-Men franchise gotten more screwed over? Scott Summers was a main character in the first X-Men movie before spending most of the sequel incapacitated. After this he was reduced to a minor role (in which he was killed off) in The Last Stand, a bit part in Origins, and a quick cameo in Days of Future Past. The latest film tried to bring Summers into the fold again, but the story's focus remained on Professor X, Mystique, and Beast instead.
Don't even get us started on how much they mangled Cyclops' powers in these movies. In the comics Scott is the leader of the X-Men. Not Wolverine. Not Mystique. Scott. This means that he has a much better tactical strategies and combat skills than he does in the films. His optic beams are severely underpowered, as well; Cyclops is able to manipulate his blasts in the comics so precisely that he can drill a millimeters-wide hole through a log or reflect his blast off a reflective surface. In fact, he once admitted that he has never used his powers to their full extent because he feared what would happen.
4 Drax The Destroyer
If we had told you ten years ago that Drax the Destroyer would be one of the MCU's most beloved characters, you would have laughed us off the stage. Drax has been around since 1973, but was never even a blip on anyone's radar until he was brought to life by Dave Bautista in Guardians of the Galaxy. The character has an unrelenting hatred of Thanos, whom he blames for the death of his wife and daughter; he refuses to give up his "mission" until the Mad Titan has been destroyed.
The big issue with Drax in the movies is that he really doesn't have any superpowers. He's just a cool-looking alien assassin. The original incarnation of the character had a near-invulnerable body that allowed him to project beams of concussive blasts out of his hands. Originally, Drax was able to fly through space and could survive for long periods of time without any sort of oxygen or sustenance. At one point the Destroyer was so powerful that he was literally able to punch Thanos' heart straight through his body.
3 Scarlet Witch
This entry is a big one. If not for Scarlet Witch, there would still be hundreds or thousands of mutants running around in the pages of Marvel Comics. With one little sentence, "No more mutants," she completely warped the fabric of time and space to create a world in which those with the X Gene were few. Even in her early form, Wanda's only limitation to her powers was the imagination of the writers. Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created her with "hex powers" or undefined magical abilities that allowed random things to occur.
Now, compare that to the character we got in Age of Ultron and Civil War. There's a huge difference in power. Wanda's powers are unlocked after a series of experiments with the Mind Gem (although we are never truly told how she got them exactly). The MCU version of the character uses her magical abilities to... freeze people in place? Telepathically move things with her mind? Shoot beams of energy? Scarlet Witch is one of Marvel's most powerful characters, yet she seems like an afterthought in the MCU.
2 Kitty Pryde
Remember when we talked about Scott getting screwed over in the X-Men films? Well, we may have found a character who had it worse. Kitty Pryde has been a fan-favorite of the franchise since her introduction in 1980. She is most well-known for the role she played in the comic book version of Days of Future Past and her status as being the youngest member of the X-Men. Also known as Shadowcat, Kitty has the ability to phase through objects at will. When Bryan Singer adapted her most famous story, however, she was only able to play a bit part. Ouch.
In the comics, Kitty can do more than just walk through walls. Thanks to her abilities (which literally manipulate the structure of atoms), she was the only member of the future X-Men team to be able to repossess her old body with her own consciousness in the DOFP storyline. She can also completely mess up anything containing electromagnetism (including the human body) by phasing through it. Recently Shadowcat got a huge upgrade in power when she took over for Star Lord; she now has nearly God-like powers that allow her to teleport and travel throughout space and alternate dimensions.
1 Jean Grey/The Phoenix
Oh FOX... you've had two chances to get Phoenix right. And both times you missed the net. The studio is going to give it another go with X-Men: Dark Phoenix, which will focus heavily on the character. Maybe third time is the charm? The main issue with the films so far is that they like to pretend that this is just some sort of power that Jean Grey has locked away inside of her. While they are somewhat right, there is much more to the Phoenix Force than what we've been shown.
The Phoenix Force is the most powerful thing in the entire Marvel Universe. Even the likes of Galactus and Thanos tremble in its presence. Though it manifests itself through Jean, the Force is its own entity created outside the cosmic planes of being. The power of this entity allows its host to suck away the life force of future beings before they can even exist, travel via black hole, and absorb energies as powerful as our own sun. The Phoenix Force is the embodiment of the Marvel Universe's life force and cosmic energy. Fox better not drop the ball again.
Did we miss out on any weak movie superheroes? Do you disagree with our choices? Let us know in the comments!
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