Nearly every single person in the world knows that the Marvel Cinematic Universe films are adapted from comic books, but very few people know which specific comic books any film is adapting. Despite comic book movies’ record-breaking gross at cinema box offices, the MCU’s viewers aren’t aware that, although no scenes in the MCU are taken word-for-word from a comic, many are extremely close.
The 84-year-long history of Marvel Comics is fodder for excellent film adaptations that thrill millions. Changes are part of the process and accepting this is part of being a healthy fan of anything but there’s also joy in finding the connections. The many filmmakers and television showrunners working together to create the MCU don’t often grab entire scenes directly from the comic books but on the rare occasions they recreate one exactly, they really make something spectacular.
10 Thanos Rests In His Garden Home
The conclusion of 2018’s record-smashing film, Avengers: Infinity War depicts Thanos retiring as a farmer in the final frames almost perfectly paralleling the conclusion of its main inspiration. Other than the absence of Gamora, Adam Warlock, and Pip the scene nearly matches the final pages of The Infinity Gauntlet #6 from 1991. Even his scarecrow of armor appears in the corner of a frame.
The end moment is haunting in both The Infinity Gauntlet #6 and Avengers: Infinity War. In the MCU, triumphant film Thanos smiles and the audience feels horror knowing he’s ended half the universe’s population. In the comic book, Thanos smiles as he accepts omnipotence isn’t the goal he wants. Two almost identical scenes, both are weirdly serene.
9 Truckers Try To Lift Thor’s Hammer, Mjölnir
Fun little scenes in comic book adaptations come directly from comics as easily as big ones. In a rare cameo, screenwriter and comics writer J. Michael Straczynski pops up in two short scenes that take place in New Mexico during the Thor film. The second scene he adapted from his own script for The Fantastic Four #538. It just originally occurs in Oklahoma.
Early in the MCU, Thor’s magic hammer Mjölnir arrives in the New Mexico desert and attracts much attention. During the 2011 film, folks obsess over it the same way when fate dropped it in the Oklahoma plains in the 2006 comic books. The hilarious scene showing truckers failing to lift Mjölnir comes directly from comic panels.
8 Ho Yinsen Sacrifices Himself To Save Tony Stark
During 2008’s blockbuster film Iron Man, Tony Stark learns a lesson in humility from Professor Ho Yinsen while they’re kidnapped. Despite the gulf of years, the first 40 minutes is close to the story’s first telling in Tales of Suspense #39 from 1962. No moment is closer than Yinsen buying the original Iron Man suit time to power up for the first time by sacrificing himself.
The bedrock of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is the first Iron Man movie. Its main character, Tony Stark, becomes a hero when he realizes that he has been selfish and Professor Ho Yinsen’s sacrifice inspired that growth. The real tearjerker may be his death a few minutes later, but the set-up is also great.
7 Killmonger And T’Challa Fight At Warrior Falls To Control Wakanda
When The Black Panther and Erik “Killmonger” N’Jadaka fight in Jungle Action #17, they’d already faced off eleven issues previously. Other than small details, the ending of “Panther’s Rage” is identical to the intense encounter one-third of the way through the 2018 film Black Panther. Killmonger severely injures T’Challa and throws him off Warrior Falls, though things continue beyond that in this comic.
The “Panther’s Rage” storyline from 1973 in Jungle Action has no discussion of “ritual combat,” though there’s a “challenge” under “tribal law” in #5. The two battles at Warrior Falls between T’Challa and Erik “Killmonger” N’Jadaka in these Black Panther comics are implied to be for the same stakes: domination and control of the fictional nation of Wakanda.
6 Steve Rogers Becomes Captain America
The first depiction of Steve Rogers being injected by poor Dr. Abraham Erskine’s serum to become Captain America is in the original Captain America Comics #1 published way back in December 1940. Other than a handful of details (like Steve’s injection being multiple needles in a chamber instead of a single, simple syringe) Howard Stark’s presence is pretty much the only difference.
The moment Steve Rogers becomes a peak physical soldier in 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger is extremely close to the same moment in Captain America Comics #1, it’s a tribute to Joe Simon and Jack Kirby’s original creation. Sad yet hopeful, the death of Dr. Erskine and the birth of Captain America is a stirring scene.
5 Skurge The Executioner’s Last Stand
Sometimes, the grandest scenes are best, and comic book writer and artist Walt Simonson has a flair for grand. At the conclusion of a Simonson storyline in Thor, obsequious villain Skurge the Executioner takes a heroic turn and defends Asgardians and mortals against Hela’s endless undead horde on a bridge with only two machine guns.
Skurge the Executioner has a dramatic death scene in Taika Waititi’s 2017 film, Thor: Ragnarok, that nearly perfectly parallels a classic scene in Thor #362. The only difference is the location: in the comic, it’s the bridge Gjallerbru in Hel and, in the film, it’s the Rainbow Bridge in Asgard. Though the setting changed, everything else about this fatal showdown remains absolutely epic.
4 Luke Cage Smashes Out Of Seagate
The first African-American superhero to headline his own comic book, Luke Cage, premiered in 1972’s Hero for Hire #1. Framed for a crime he didn’t commit, Carl Lucas signs up for an experiment run by the prison doctor. Luke escapes Seagate Penitentiary by smashing right through the outer wall, surprising even himself, in Luke Cage season one, and it happened the same way in his comics debut.
Seagate Prison is the setting of the 1972 comic book origin of Luke Cage. In Luke Cage season one episode four “Step in the Arena,” he smashes his way right after getting his powers and changes his name soon after. The scene is powerful in both its shocking imagery and its politics.
3 Spider-Man Lifts Massive Rubble Off His Back
One of the most iconic moments in the 60-plus-year history of Spider-Man is the first five pages of The Amazing Spider-Man #33. Spider-Man: Homecoming includes a shorter version near the end when the ruins of the Vulture’s Brooklyn warehouse lair trap Peter Parker. Peter finds the inner strength to push harder and lift a huge amount of rubble off his own back.
Tom Holland’s performance as a young Peter Parker has captivated audiences with moments like the one in Spider-Man: Homecoming recreating the sequence from The Amazing Spider-Man #33. It’s yet another case of a scene lifted almost exactly from a comic book but taken out of context. Only the goal that spurs his burst of strength is different.
2 Punisher Gives Daredevil An Impossible Rooftop Choice
The first collaboration between Netflix and Marvel Television, Daredevil, contrasted the rough justice of the main character against the even rougher justice of the Punisher. In 2000’s The Punisher #3, writer Garth Ennis gave readers a story titled “The Devil By The Horns” and one gripping scene made it to the second season’s third episode.
One of the chilling moments in Daredevil comes after the then-recently introduced Punisher gets the drop on Daredevil. The Punisher ties him to a brick chimney, duct-tapes a gun to his hand, and tells Daredevil to shoot or he’ll kill a criminal right in front of him. The scene ends somewhat differently but the concept and some dialogue come from an issue of The Punisher.
1 Steve Rogers Wakes Up In The 21st Century
The end of Captain America: The First Avenger told film audiences the story of Steve Roger’s awakening from suspended animation. The changes from the classic comics are from a different comic book source: 2008’s The Twelve #1. Here, a set of World War II superheroes awaken in a hospital made-up to convince them it is still the late 1940s.
The clever, exciting, and bittersweet final moments of Captain America: The First Avenger shows that the film’s hero, Steve Rogers, has survived but he is not when he belongs. The film’s writers beautifully captured the unique experience of waking up in the Twenty-First Century like Rip Van Winkle by borrowing a scene from different Golden Age of Superhero Comics characters.
MCU films have certainly taken liberties over the years, but from Thor to Thanos to Spider-Man, there are plenty of moments straight from the comics. Read More