The MCU adaptations of Marvel Comics’ storylines often diverge from the source material, such as in the case of Secret Invasion and Civil War.
Characters like Iron Man and Thor have had their iconic comic book narratives altered or simplified in the MCU, as seen in Demon in a Bottle and God Butcher.
While elements from famous comic book stories like Infinity Gauntlet and Planet Hulk appear in the MCU, they are significantly changed or left out altogether.

The MCU got some of Marvel’s most famous comic book storylines completely wrong, even when the franchised still delivered well-received, popular movies and TV shows. When Iron Man (2008)’s success kicked off what would become known as the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Marvel Studios only had the right to certain characters. Heroes like Spider-Man, the X-Men, and the Fantastic Four were originally off-limits for the MCU, which is why the franchise was always significantly different from Marvel Comics’ Earth-616.

The absence of characters from the comics is not the only reason why some MCU movies or TV shows could not match the tone or the scale of the source materials. For example, Marvel’s Secret Invasion, the latest entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe timeline, happened in a context where the MCU could use the Fantastic Four. From major events that became self-contained adventures to storylines that were completely changed, here are 10 Marvel Comics stories the MCU botched.

10 Secret Invasion

Marvel’s Secret Invasion show is the most recent example of an MCU adaptation that completely changed the source material. In the comics, Secret Invasion is a major crossover event that included dozens of superheroes and informed the entire Marvel Universe. The Avengers, the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, and many other Marvel characters were involved in a story that was full of twists. Several superheroes were revealed to be Skrulls, and Secret Invasion would arguably only work in the MCU if it was done as an Avengers movie. Instead, Marvel’s Secret Invasion was a self-contained show whose only Avenger, Rhodey, was a Skrull all along.

9 Civil War

Unlike Secret Invasion, Marvel Comics’ Civil War was adapted into a movie that featured almost every superhero in the franchise. Still, regardless of the scope of the film, Captain America: Civil War could not match the scale of Marvel’s Civil War comic book. The Civil War storyline was not limited to a specific character and instead set the narrative for the entire Marvel Universe for months. Every Marvel book at the time, from Spider-Man and Fantastic Four to Avengers and X-Men, was affected by Civil War. Civil War could have been an entire phase where every MCU movie was affected by Captain America and Iron Man’s clash.

8 Demon In A Bottle

The nine-issue Demon in a Bottle comic book from 1979 belongs in the list of best Iron Man stories. Demon in a Bottle explored Tony Stark’s unhealthy alcohol use and put Iron Man’s health at the center of the story in a way that no other comic books were doing. Demon in a Bottle expanded on Marvel’s tradition of treating its heroes as humans who go through real-life issues, an approach that worked especially well for Iron Man. Tony Stark would make his big screen debut three decades later with Jon Favreau’s Iron Man (2008), which reinvented the character and changed Tony Stark’s pop culture legacy forever.

Related: Every Marvel Cinematic Universe Movie Ranked Worst To Best

Iron Man (2008)’s Tony Stark was very different from the one in the comics. The MCU Iron Man combined aspects of other Marvel characters that had yet to appear in the franchise, namely Hank Pym and Reed Richards. Important Iron Man stories were skipped over or reinvented, including Demon in a Bottle. Iron Man 2 is loosely based on Demon in a Bottle, as it sees Tony facing Justin Hammer while dealing with a health problem. However, instead of the alcohol issues, Tony was dealing with the contamination generated by his ARC reactor, thus removing the nuances of the original story.

7 Extremis

Iron Man 3 continued the MCU’s trend of loosely covering a famous Iron Man comic book while making a lot of changes to the original story. The premise of Iron Man 3 is somewhat similar to the Extremis story arc. Dr. Maya and Aldrich Killian have developed a new virus known as Extremis, which is quickly turned into a weapon. However, Iron Man 3 plays entirely differently from the comic, with Tony Stark facing the Ten Rings organization and the man who goes by Mandarin. Ironically, the Extremis comic reinvented Iron Man for a new generation and inspired the MCU’s take on Tony Stark for the 2008 film.

6 God Butcher

Thor: Love and Thunder brought Gorr the God Butcher to the MCU, but the film could not have been more different from the God Butcher storyline. In the comics, Gorr can travel through time. The villain takes on the God of Thunder during different points of Thor’s life, with the story serving as a celebration of Thor’s legacy while featuring one of the most powerful beings in the Marvel universe. Not only was Christian Bale’s Gorr significantly weaker than his comic book counterpart, but the time travel aspect of the story was not used. Love and Thunder‘s tone was also very different from God Butcher’s.

5 Infinity Gauntlet

Marvel Comics’ Infininity Gauntlet storyline, which is centered on Thanos and the Infinity Stones, inspired the MCU’s Infinity Saga. More specifically, Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame saw Thanos using the Infinity Stones to erase half of the universe, leading to the heroes’ response in Avengers: Endgame. However, despite the similar premise, neither Infinity War nor Endgame are too similar to the Infinity Gauntlet storyline. One of the biggest differences between the MCU’s Infinity Saga and Marvel’s Infinity Gauntlet comic is the absence of Adam Warlock in the former. Adam Warlock, who would only debut in the MCU after Endgame, was one of the main characters in the Infinity Gauntlet comic.

4 Planet Hulk

Avengers: Age of Ultron ended with Hulk getting into a ship and flying into the unknown. Hulk’s final scene in Age of Ultron strongly suggested that the MCU was going to adapt Planet Hulk, which sees the Emerald Giant crashing on a distant planet after being exiled from Earth by the Illuminati. While the MCU did adapt elements from Planet Hulk in Thor: Ragnarok, the movie little resembled the comic. The idea of the Hulk becoming a gladiator on an alien planet was there, but everything else was missing. Likewise, World War Hulk, which builds up from Planet Hulk, was never incorporated into the MCU.

3 Age of Ultron

Unlike Iron Man 2 or Infinity War, Avengers: Age of Ultron specifically used the title of a major Marvel Comics story. Age of Ultron was a relatively new comic book compared to other stories that the MCU adapted, yet it was already one of the biggest Marvel crossover events. Apart from featuring Ultron as the main villain, the MCU’s Age of Ultron had nothing to do with the comic book. An “age of Ultron” timeline never happened, and Ultron was nothing but a “villain of the week” for the Avengers to take on. Ultron’s origins, powers, and characterization were also very different.

2 Kree-Skrull War

Marvel’s first Kree-Skrull war story happened in 1971, with Avengers #89 introducing the conflict between Skrull and Kree. Earth’s Mightiest Heroes were caught in the middle of this galactic conflict, setting up events that would impact the Marvel universe for decades to come. Both the Kree and the Skrulls are in the MCU, and the Kree-Skrull war is part of the MCU’s timeline. However, instead of adapting this conflict as an Avengers movie, the MCU incorporated the Kree-Skrull war in Captain Marvel (2019). Most Avengers have never interacted with a Kree or Skrull in the MCU.

1 New Avengers: Illuminati

Marvel Comics’ Illuminati story was an extension of the New Avengers saga, which reshaped the Marvel Universe and changed the Avengers forever. New Avengers: Illuminati introduced a secret council of superheroes formed by some of the most powerful and influential people in the Marvel Universe, including Professor X, Iron Man, Black Bolt, Mr. Fantastic, Namor, and Doctor Strange. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness featured the live-action debut of Marvel’s Illuminati, but their lineup and purpose were very different from the comics. Instead, Doctor Strange 2‘s Illuminati were from an alternate universe. They were easily killed by Scarlet Witch and had little to no impact on the MCU‘s Phase 4.

Key Release Dates

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