Way back in the days before the Marvel Cinematic Universe kicked off with Iron Man in 2008, Marvel was in pretty dire financial straits. With no real plans (or finances) to produce films based on their characters, they sold off the rights to some of their most popular characters to major movie studios. Spider-Man and his villains went to Sony, the Fantastic Four and the X-Men went to 20th Century Fox. Most of their other characters were sold off as well, but when the rights to Iron Man reverted back to Marvel from New Line Cinema in 2005, things started to kick off.
When Marvel met with massive success with their “interconnected universe” model, the other studios tried to follow suit with varying degrees of success. Marvel Studios has been almost universally praised for the portrayals of their characters. Even when the movies take liberties with the source material and change characters, it’s still usually regarded as a good decision. Fox and Sony have had their successes here and there, but a lot of the time, they seem to throw the source material out the window and get the characters they use in their films totally wrong! Here are 15 Marvel characters who were just ruined by other studios.
Mystique has been a part of 20th Century Fox’s X-Men universe since 2000’s X-Men. She was originally played by Rebecca Romijn, and the character was mostly done justice. The problems started to come up when they decided to go back to the beginning in X-Men: First Class. Jennifer Lawrence took on the role of a young Mystique who was inexplicably Charles Xavier’s foster sister.
Even by the end of First Class, they seemed to be on the right track. Mystique had joined Magneto’s Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, and she was on the path of a villain. By X-Men: Apocalypse, though, she’s not just a hero, but becomes leader of the X-Men, giving inspirational speeches about loyalty. It doesn’t really make a lot of sense coming from a character who previously abandoned the X-Men, and in the future, has no problem murdering people due to her hatred of non-mutants.
14. FANTASTIC FOUR
What can be said about the Fantastic Four franchise that hasn’t already been said a million times before on the internet? The 2005 and 2007 versions were overly cheesy and boring, and the 2015 version was not only boring, but also a complete departure from the tone, characters and dynamic that make the Fantastic Four great. Comic readers have been petitioning 20th Century Fox to hand the rights to the Fantastic Four back to Marvel Studios for years so the characters can be done the justice they deserve.
The real tragedy of Fox’s failures with the characters is that it soils the property for general audiences who only know the Fantastic Four from the movies. Even if Fox did give the rights back to Marvel at some point, casual movie-goers would still have this negative image in their heads of what they consider to be boring characters.
13. EMMA FROST
You wouldn’t know it from the X-Men movies, but Emma Frost is a complex and interesting character in the comics. She’s sarcastic and manipulative, starting off as a long-time villain, but eventually joining the X-Men and even becoming headmistress of Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters. Even after joining the good guys though, she still has a questionable moral compass and is slow to trust anyone.
Putting aside her retconned cameo in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, her first major appearance in the movies was in X-Men: First Class, played by January Jones, where she’s reduced to Sebastian Shaw’s scantily-clad underling who shows about as much emotion as a department store mannequin and the depth of a puddle. Where comic book Emma Frost was a scheming mastermind, movie Emma just comes off as perpetually bored.
In the comics, Blackheart is one of the most menacing characters around. He’s the son of Mephisto, who’s basically the Devil in the Marvel universe, but Blackheart somehow managed to end up even more evil than his father. As a giant black demonic beast with glowing red eyes and spikes jutting from his body, he also looks far more intimidating than his father.
When Blackheart appeared as the antagonist of 2007’s Ghost Rider, however, he wasn’t intimidating at all. He looks more like a less scary Edward Cullen, and his dialogue sounds like something from a Captain Planet villain, except when he’s talking to his father. In those instances, he sounds like an angsty teenager who isn’t allowed to borrow the car on the weekend. With a name like “Blackheart,” that’s not the kind of image you want.
After the first modern Fantastic Four movie in 2005, fans didn’t have a lot to get excited about for the sequel. That was until it was announced that Galactus would be the villain. In the comics, Galactus is not only one of the most deadly and terrifying entities in existence, but he’s also a giant celestial that devours planets like Skittles. His look is about as iconic as it gets, so how could Fox mess it up?
By turning him into a cloud, because as everyone knows, the most terrifying thing in the universe is a really big cloud. Fox doesn’t even have the excuse of not having the budget for a realistic Galactus, because the money they spent on a giant swirling CGI cloud could have easily gone to superimposing a guy in a Galactus costume onto a space background and fans would have been way happier with it.
10. GHOST RIDER
Normally, when Nicolas Cage is attached to a movie, everyone is excited about it because they know it’s going to be a great movie. Naturally, people get even more excited when he’s attached to play a superhero. The only thing more exciting to audiences is hearing that they’re going to light Nicolas Cage’s head on fire. To everyone’s surprise, Ghost Rider was not a good movie.
Johnny Blaze’s dialogue sounds like it was written by a fourth grader, the director decisions are bafflingly ridiculous and Nicolas Cage’s acting choices are… well… up to his usual standard of insane. An attempt was made to make Ghost Rider more threatening and scary in 2011 with Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, but in the process made the Rider a mindless animal who eats souls, instead of a protector who fights soulless monsters.
Most kids who grew up in the ’90s remember Rogue as the sexy Southern belle with a fiery, strong-willed personality, and that’s a pretty accurate depiction o her comic book counterpart. What we got in the first X-Men movie and beyond was a timid, demure young runaway who by X-Men: The Last Stand is willing to changer herself and take the mutant “cure” so she can have a boyfriend. Even her accent sounds more “deep Alabama” than “Mississippi bayou.”
It’s not really Anna Paquin’s fault, she’s a talented Oscar-winning actress. The same goes for Bryan Singer. This version of the character serves the story of X-Men well, essentially swapping out Shadowcat and Jubilee’s relationship with Wolverine for Rogue. The problem is that, other than the name and the powers (minus flight and super strength), nothing about this character is Rogue.
After the travesty that was 2003’s Daredevil, no one really expected much from the follow-up spin-off, Elektra. No matter what you think about Jennifer Garner’s acting ability, she was a terrible choice for the role of Elektra, who’s typically a bloodthirsty assassin on the edge of good and evil, usually willing to kill whoever she needs to. Even in casual conversation with others, she speaks harshly and directly, making her the kind of character that you love to hate.
Jennifer Garner’s Elektra seemed like a fairly nice woman who developed OCD from her PTSD, but always does the right thing even if it’s likely to get her killed. She also appears to have some kind of extremely inconsistent precognitive abilities in Elektra, which isn’t something the comic book character ever possessed. Even her iconic red outfit only shows up twice throughout the entirety of her movie.
When it was announced that the latest film in the X-Men franchise would be subtitled Apocalypse, fans lost their collective minds. Perhaps the greatest X-Men villain of all time was finally hitting our screens, and everyone was excited… until the first promotional picture of Apocalypse was released. The most common complaint was that the iconic larger-than-life villain looked more like Ivan Ooze from the 1995 Mighty Morphin Power Rangers movie than something that was being released in 2016.
Even putting aside the look though, the character spends most of his screen time giving long generic villain speeches about cleansing the world in his image etc, and thanks to layers of blue makeup and prosthetics, not even the brilliant Oscar Isaac can save what should have been a terrifying force of nature that ended up falling flat.
Gambit was one of the most beloved X-Men characters from the comics and the animated series, so it was no surprise when they squeezed him into the cameo-fest that was X-Men Origins: Wolverine. There wasn’t really a point to him being there, but there wasn’t really a point to the movie itself either.
He has no trace of a Cajun accent or any kind of character, but the worst part is that nothing makes sense about his scene in the movie. Gambit blasts Logan through a wall for mentioning the prison where he was held, then after Wolverine knocks him out in an alley, he’s seen running across rooftops to helicopter down with his staff and ambush Wolverine. Did he teleport onto the roof just to jump back down? Did the writers forget he was already in the scene? And why was he fighting Wolverine in the first place?
Some casting decisions leave us scratching our heads, while others leave us hoping somebody got fired and never gets to cast a movie ever again. Topher Grace as Venom was one of those casting decisions. Venom has always been a big, intimidating monster, who should be played by someone who matches that physical profile. Someone like… Tom Hardy.
Casting Topher Grace wouldn’t have been so terrible if, when he was Venom, he was a hulking black symbiote monster, but anytime he confronts Spider-Man, the symbiote pulls back its face and we’re forced to pretend Topher Grace is capable of being intimidating. To make matters worse, instead of threatening Spidey like an insane alien who eats brains, he makes sarcastic jokes like… well, like Eric Foreman from That ’70s Show.
Throughout the X-Men’s history, Cyclops was always the strong-willed leader of the group who gave his all to bring them together. He was essentially the Captain America of the X-Men. The version we got in the movies had to be pushed aside for Wolverine to take the spotlight, so what we got was a jealous jerk who comes off as the teacher’s pet. Then he’s killed off in the first few minutes of X-Men: The Last Stand, never having been given a chance to shine.
Wolverine has always had a kind of friction-filled relationship with Cyclops because Wolverine is a loner who’s not good at following orders, but he’s also always respected Cyclops. That respect never comes off in the movies, but frankly, movie Cyclops doesn’t ever really seem like the kind of guy who commands respect.
Over 10 years before we got what’s perhaps one of the greatest live-action superhero stories of all time with Netflix’s Daredevil, we had what was possibly one of the worst live-action superhero stories with the same character. It’s hard to say how much of the movie’s failure was due to Ben Affleck, how much was due to last-minute studio interference or if it was just doomed from the beginning.
Unlike his comic book counterpart, Matt Murdock almost always comes off as pessimistic and depressed, but even worse, he’s a terrible lawyer. Even in the superior director’s cut, he comes off as mediocre at best, which misses the point of Matt Murdock being a dual-duty crime fighter, defending innocents by day and beating up criminals by night.
We could write an encyclopedia on how wrong X-Men Origins: Wolverine got Deadpool. Ryan Reynolds would eventually get the chance to redeem the character he portrayed for all of five minutes at the beginning of the movie, but by the time the character was called “Deadpool” he couldn’t have been any less Deadpool if he tried.
The character who’s so known for never shutting up that they call him the “Merc with a Mouth” had his mouth fused shut, his signature katanas are now Baraka-blades embedded in in his arms, his teleporting ability is organic instead of mechanical and he has inexplicable laser eye blasts, which kind of make arm swords pointless. Wouldn’t it be way more effective to just laser blast anything you would cut with a sword? It was so bad that Ryan Reynolds (real-life Deadpool fan) left production halfway through, leaving Scott Adkins to take his place.
1. DR. DOOM
Dr. Doom is probably the best character in the Fantastic Four’s lineup. He might be the best villain Marvel has. One could argue that if everything else was wrong in a Fantastic Four movie, a proper Dr. Doom could still make it great. In the 2005 Fantastic Four, the costume is at least kind of accurate, but he has electricity powers for some reason and he attacks with brute force instead of cunning and intellect.
In the 2015 version, he’s given powers yet again, and this time he’s a whiny millennial computer hacker who ends up looking like a living crash test dummy. He also has no real motivation for becoming evil at the end other than being jealous that Sue talked to the other members of her team, and before reshoots, his name wasn’t even “von Doom,” because who cares about the long-time fans, right?
Which Marvel character from outside the MCU do you feel was ruined in the movies? Let us know who in the comments!