Natasha Romanoff and Hawkeye both share similarities with their comic book counterparts but differ in personality and relationships.
Characters like Wong, Mantis, Drax, Hope Van Dyne, Star-Lord, G’iah, Namor, and Scarlet Witch have undergone significant changes when transitioning to the MCU.
Marvel Studios made many changes to some iconic characters from Marvel Comics when adapting them for the live-action Marvel Cinematic Universe. Marvel Studios may have only been developing live-action superhero films since 2008’s Iron Man, but Marvel Comics has been publishing the stories they’re based on since 1939, then known as Timely Comics. Marvel Comics was officially born in 1961, revitalized with the release of The Fantastic Four #1, which introduced Marvel’s First Family to readers. Over the last eight decades, Marvel Comics has showcased hundreds of vibrant characters, and only a handful of these have been seen in the MCU.
The translation from page to screen often means that several aspects of heroes and villains that work well in Marvel Comics need to be changed when bringing them into live-action. Often, comic storylines are simply too fantastical to be featured in the more-realistic MCU, and some characters are vastly different because of these changes. On top of this, Marvel Studios perhaps hasn’t had enough time to flesh out characters’ backstories as detailed as Marvel Comics has, meaning huge storylines from early in certain characters’ stories may have been completely omitted from the MCU. Here are ten examples of MCU heroes who are wildly different from their Marvel Comics counterparts.
10 Natasha Romanoff, A.K.A. Black Widow
Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff shares many similarities with her Marvel Comics counterpart. Both were trained as assassins in the Red Room, both defected to the United States and worked for SHIELD, and both became a prominent member of the Avengers. However, Marvel Comics’ Black Widow actually has superpowers after having been enhanced by biotechnology that allows her to heal and slows her aging process. Marvel Comics’ Black Widow has also had a number of romances with characters including Daredevil, Hawkeye, and the Winter Soldier that the MCU never explored. Her backstory with Ivan Petrovich, time with the Champions, and more recent clone storylines were also never shown in the MCU.
9 Clint Barton, A.K.A. Hawkeye
While both Marvel Studios’ and Marvel Comics’ Clint Barton share the same set of skills, their personalities are wildly different, as Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye was made much more approachable for the live-action MCU. Marvel Comics’ Hawkeye first appeared as a supervillain but was reformed after meeting Black Widow. In the comics, Barton is tough, witty, and hardened, whereas the MCU’s Hawkeye is calmer and prioritizes family over his superhero antics. Marvel Comics’ Hawkeye was married to Bobbi Morse’s Mockingbird – adapted into Laura Barton in the MCU – and he also becomes a leader of the Thunderbolts and the West Coast Avengers, which hasn’t yet been explored in the MCU.
Marvel Comics’ Wong is vastly different from his MCU counterpart, usually depicted as nothing more than a servant to his mentor, Doctor Strange, who happens to know martial arts. Wong has little depth to his character in the comics, though he is featured in storylines that involve him being turned into a vampire, engaging in a romantic relationship with Sara Wolfe, and even being diagnosed with cancer. In the MCU, Benedict Wong’s version of the character has much more purpose. Marvel Studios made Wong a peer of Doctor Strange rather than a servant, made him the Sorcerer Supreme after Avengers: Endgame, and gave him a much more comedic personality.
Perhaps the biggest change to Mantis in the MCU is that she was introduced as an alien, rather than the half-Vietnamese, half-German human she is in Marvel Comics. Mantis’ comic backstory as an expert martial artist, bartender, and sex worker were omitted from the MCU, and Mantis’ identity as the Celestial Madonna, a being destined to have a powerful child, has also been avoided. Mantis’ partnerships with Vision, Kang the Conqueror, and the Swordsman haven’t been explored, as the MCU instead made her the empathic servant to Ego and a member of the Guardians of the Galaxy – which only happened after she’d been an Avenger in Marvel Comics.
6 Drax The Destroyer
Much like Mantis, Drax the Destroyer started his Marvel Comics journey as a human named Arthur Douglas. Following an attack by Thanos, Arthur’s family was assumed dead, and his soul was transferred into an alien body, transforming him into Drax. This backstory was adapted into Thanos and Ronan killing Drax’s family in the MCU. Marvel Comics’ Drax also battled the likes of Thanos, Captain Marvel, and Adam Warlock. Drax was used as comic relief in the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise, a far cry from his hardened personality in the comics. Drax’s relationship with his daughter, Moondragon, in Marvel Comics has also been omitted from the MCU.
5 Hope Van Dyne, A.K.A. The Wasp
In Marvel Comics, Hope Van Dyne is actually known as Hope Pym, and rather than operating as the superhero Wasp, she is actually the supervillain Red Queen. Evangeline Lilly’s version of Hope Van Dyne is unrecognizable, as her Marvel Comics counterpart was shown to have a mission to defeat the superhero team A-Next after the deaths of Hank Pym and Janet Van Dyne. In the comics, Janet Van Dyne is the Wasp instead of her daughter, and this version of the Wasp was depicted as a founding member of the Avengers, which was never explored in the MCU. The Wasp’s MCU future is unclear after Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.
4 Peter Quill, A.K.A. Star-Lord
The biggest change to Peter Quill from Marvel Comics refers to his heritage. In the MCU, Chris Pratt’s Star-Lord was revealed to be the son of Ego, a Celestial, while in Marvel Comics, Star-Lord’s father was J’son, heir to the throne of the planet Spartax. This means that Marvel Comics’ Quill had no innate abilities like his MCU counterpart – though these were stripped after Ego’s death in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. In Marvel Comics, Peter Quill was never abducted, instead joining NASA and being found by the Ravagers after getting stranded in space. Star-Lord had a long career in space prior to the Guardians of the Galaxy.
G’iah in Marvel Comics was depicted as a Skrull agent living on Earth with her partner Klrr, disguised as an American couple hoping to pave the way for a full-scale Skrull invasion. Emilia Clarke adapted the character in the MCU’s Secret Invasion, shown to be the daughter of the former Skrull General Talos. During Secret Invasion, G’iah became enhanced with the abilities of various Avengers, transforming her into a version of Marvel Comics’ Super Skrull. In the comics, Kl’rt became the Super Skrull after being gifted the powers of the Fantastic Four, but G’iah’s abilities were granted to her from Nick Fury’s Harvest, the DNA of multiple MCU characters.
While depicted as the King of Atlantis in Marvel Comics and introduced as Marvel’s first mutant, Namor’s backstory was changed significantly for the MCU. Instead of Atlantis, the MCU’s Namor rules over Talokan, an underwater city fueled by vibranium. Talokan is inspired by Aztec and Mesoamerican cultures, making it more realistic than Marvel Comics’ depiction of Atlantis. Even so, both Marvel Comics’ and Marvel Studios’ Namors are mutants with the ability to fly, an elongated lifespan, and amphibious physiology, though the root of these abilities was very different in the MCU, as they were the cause of his mother ingesting a vibranium-infused herb while he was still in the womb.
1 Scarlet Witch
In Marvel Comics, Scarlet Witch has been a mutant and was for a time depicted as the child of Magneto. Scarlet Witch has also been an Inhuman and a human that underwent genetic experimentation at the hands of the High Evolutionary. All of these backstories are a far cry from her big-screen backstory. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Wanda Maximoff had her powers activated through exposure to the Mind Stone, though WandaVision seemed to suggest that Wanda’s powers started much earlier.
Key Release Dates
Captain America: Brave New World
Marvel’s Fantastic Four
Avengers: The Kang Dynasty
Avengers: Secret Wars
The MCU has changed many Marvel Comics heroes. Read More