In the process of condensing the long, complicated histories and backgrounds of beloved comic book characters, superhero movies tend to simplify things a bit. The plot is streamlined, the characters are trimmed to their core and sometimes, superpowers are changed. Sometimes, this is done so that the characters can be better understood by audiences who don’t read the comics, or sometimes it’s because their powers are just plain weird or lame. Whatever the reason, changes to classic powersets have gone down, and the hardcore fans have taken notice, for better or worse.
Superpowers don’t make sense to begin with, of course, and some of the best comic book movies have managed to use sci-fi storytelling to smooth over even the weirdest powers. In fact, some powers just have to be completely re-written. Then again, some of the examples of changed powers don’t seem to have a reason behind them, being modified just for the heck of it. The X-Men movies seem to be the biggest offender of power-swapping, if only because of the fact that some mutant powers just don’t work on screen. But it’s not just X-Men that have changed their characters’ powers! Here are 16 times superhero movies and TV shows changed a character’s powers.
16. THE OMEGAS (X-MEN: THE LAST STAND)
The critically-panned X-Men: The Last Stand featured perhaps the biggest cast of mutants in any of the X-Men movies thus far. The large number was made up of The Omegas, a mutant revolutionary group that fell under the command of Magneto as his new Brotherhood of Mutants. Among their numbers were both original characters and watered-down versions of more-famous X-Men, some who weren’t ever bad guys in the comics.
One example is Quill, who has spikes coming out of his face and, thanks to a typo in the credits, was stated to be psychic Mutant Quentin Quire. There’s also Callisto, who, in the comics, had enhanced strength, speed, agility and durability. These abilities are traded for super speed and a mutant tracking/power-classification sense in The Last Stand.
15. TOAD (X-MEN)
Toad’s mutation and powers have gone through a lot of changes in the comics, never really settling on one power set. Seriously, did you know that he can shoot fire from his tongue now?! The powers that have been pretty constant throughout his comics career are the toad-like abilities of enhanced strength in his lower body (allowing for leaping), the ability to cling to surfaces and a prehensile, elongated tongue.
Played by martial artist and physical actor Ray Park, the First X-Men film version of Toad had all of his usual physical abilities and even his toad-tongue. However, on top of all this, Toad was both a mechanical genius, seen tinkering with various devices, and had an additional power of spit. Yes, you read that right, the X-Men version of Toad had the ability to spit a goop that could harden to be incredibly strong and durable. Gross.
14. DOCTOR DOOM
Victor Von Doom was a gifted genius in the fields of sorcery and science, working tirelessly to research ways to combine the two. After an accident that left him scarred, Victor build a suit of armor to cover himself and enhance his abilities, taking the name Doctor Doom. As cool as these power are, both movie versions of Doctor Doom completely rewrote them.
In the 2005 Fantastic Four movie, Doom was depicted as a rich entrepreneur who funded and took part in the space mission that gave the Fantastic Four their powers. The cosmic radiation caused Doom to develop metallic skin, electrokinesis and the ability to absorb and redirect energy. In the 2015 film, Victor was an antisocial computer programmer who got trapped on Planet X during a voyage to the alternate dimension. After a mysterious liquid fused to his space suit, Victor gained telekinesis and control over the planet’s elements.
13. KITTY PRYDE (DAYS OF FUTURE PAST)
In the original Days of Future Past comic, Rachel Summers uses her telepathic abilities to send the future mind of Kitty Pryde into the body of her past self in order to stop the events that would lead to a mutant holocaust. However, since Ellen Page’s Kitty Pryde didn’t have enough star power to fuel a DoFP film, her role was replaced with Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine.
Kitty was still included in the film, though, as the one who sends Wolverine’s mind back in time.DoFP opens with a display of this power, which is used by her and the other runaway mutants to retroactively escape Sentinel attacks. Kitty Pryde never showed this mental/time-based ability in the comics, and only had her phase shifting. It was a nice way to include her in the film, though it left a lot of her comics fans scratching their heads.
12. SPIDER-MAN’S ORGANIC WEBBING
Spider-Man can do anything a spider can; crawl on walls, jump great distances and spin webs… sort of. Spider-Man’s webbing is actually a creation of his rather than part of his powers. The brilliant Peter Parker concocted his own webbing fluid, which, when fed through shooters that he designed and built, would turn into spider-like webbing with great tensile strength and durability.
However, in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man, Peter’s webbing is actually part of his powers, produced organically by his body. The film depicts Peter’s wrists housing a web-sac of sorts, supposedly leading to a spider-like organ that shoots the material. There were originally plans to use the webshooters, as seen in the deleted scenes, but the film ultimately decided on taking a page from the Ultimate comics. As gross as the organic webbing is, it still worked for the film.
11. EMMA FROST (X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE)
They say diamonds are a girl’s best friend, so Emma Frost must be very close with them. Bad jokes aside, most know that the White Queen has two powers, powerful telepathy and the ability to turn into solid diamond. As a telepath, Emma is nearly as powerful as Professor X and can perform advanced psychic techniques like astral projection and mind control.
When turning to diamond, Emma is nearly indestructible and immune to any outside psychic attacks. As powerful as this ability is, it was never quite clear why it was chosen to be the only ability used by Emma Frost during her brief appearance in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. As much as we’d all like to forget that movie happened, it did, and it chose a weird group of mutants to be featured in it, changing half of their power sets..
10. BANE (THE DARK KNIGHT RISES)
The events depicted in The Dark Knight Rises were meant to be a realistic interpretation of the events depicted in Batman: Knightfall. The film featured a contemporary version of Bane, one slightly different from the comics. Both versions depict the character as an escaped prisoner of one of the harshest prisons in the world, but their source of power is a bit different.
In the comics, Bane was chosen to be a test subject for Venom, a highly-addictive steroid-like drug that would massively increase muscle growth and durability in the user. Bane survived the tests but must take the drug every 12 hours to survive. In The Dark Knight Rises, bane’s strength and durability come from his mask, which feed him a gas that dulls pain. He wore the mask to numb the injuries he sustained early in life, and its effect helped him to fight without holding back.
9. JUGGERNAUT (X-MEN: THE LAST STAND)
The third X-Men Film’s interpretation of Juggernaut is already widely disliked — “I’m the Juggernaut, bitch” — and some comic fans have even more reason to hate the characters. The film depicted Juggernaut as a mutant who becomes unstoppable when gaining momentum. He was given a mutant origin to fit Magneto’s need for an army of powerful mutants. However, Juggernaut was never a mutant in the comics.
In the comics, Cain Marko was the step-brother of Charles Xavier who joined the military and was deployed to Korea. While exploring a hidden temple, Cain found a gem containing the spirit of the entity known as Cyttorak. After reading an inscription, Marko was granted the powers of Cyttorak, becoming a human Juggernaut with super strength, a mystic force field, and unstoppable momentum. It was similar to the film version in many ways (though arguably less powerful), but with a bit more mystical flair to it.
8. ABE SAPIEN
Abe Sapien, the amphibious agent of the B.P.R.D. is perhaps best known for co-starring in Guillermo del Toro’s 2004 Hellboy. This version of Abe, however, was a bit different than his comics counterpart, mostly due to his powers. Abe is more of a highly-trained agent in the comics, and a supporting intellect in the film.
In the comics, Abe’s amphibious body gave him the ability to breath underwater and walk on land as well as a form of immortality. He also eventually got increased strength, speed, agility and durability. He is an excellent marksman and hand-to-hand combatant to boot. In the film, Abe is not very strong and not much of a fighter, his strength coming from his intelligence and psychometric abilities. Further, the film version of Abe requires a water apparatus to breathe on land, as he is apparently only able to breathe underwater.
7. COLOSSUS (DEADPOOL)
The films versions of Colossus prior to Deadpool were a bit… watered down. The metallic mutant is barely given any time in the spotlight and doesn’t have a lot of trademarks of the comics. The Colossus we saw in Deadpool was a much better version of the character, running around like a big metal dad to Deadpool and Negasonic Teenage Warhead. However, as great as this depiction of Colossus is, there was one thing slightly off about him.
The character got his signature Russian accent, massive frame, super strength and metallic body, but one key thing is missing. In the comics, Colossus always had the ability to turn his metallic armor on and off. The Colossus we see in Deadpool seems to lack this ability, shown to be in metal form during the entire film, even when he’s eating cereal or travelling in a car. It was a strange choice for the movie, but again, it kind of works for its comedy.
6. THE ATOM (ARROWVERSE)
Shrinking is, let’s be honest, kind of a lame superpower. It’s actually pretty impressive that a movie like Ant-Man managed to make the power seem cool and useful. Despite this, it’s still a bit difficult to depict shrinking powers in film, as they work a bit better in comics. This is why it’s pretty understandable that the Arrowverse version of Ray Palmer, A.K.A. The Atom, was changed quite a bit from his comics counterpart.
Ray’s white-dwarf-star-powered shrinking belt is instead replaced with a power suit. While the A.T.O.M. suit still gives Ray the ability to shrink, it is not initially depicted with this ability and is instead shown to be an Iron-Man-esque power suit. The suit enhances Ray’s strength, speed, durability and grants him the ability to fly, the shrinking ability appearing later in the series.
5. NEGASONIC TEENAGE WARHEAD (DEADPOOL)
Before Deadpool hit the screens, most people had never heard of Negasonic Teenage Warhead, but they sure liked the sound of her name. However, that name is a bit misleading, as the character’s original comics book powers aren’t all that destructive. In fact, the comics version of Negasonic, whose name comes from the Monster Magnet song, actually has the power to create anything from thin air, possessing reality-manipulating abilities that work at the quantum level.
While the comics version of Negasonic Teenage Warhead can alter reality and will whatever she wants into existence, the Deadpool version of the character has powers much more fitting to her name. Portrayed by Brianna Hildebrand, Negasonic Teenage Warhead showcases the ability to create explosive blasts that detonate from her body. Way more badass.
4. SCARLET WITCH
Speaking of reality bending, perhaps the most famous reality-warping character in the Marvel universe is Scarlet Witch. While the origin of Wanda Maximoff’s power has changed over the years (once a mutant, now an Inhuman) the abilities she possesses have stayed the same, at least the comic Marvel universe. In the comics, Scarlet Witch has the ability to alter reality and probability through the use of chaos magic… which we admit is a pretty nebulously-defined power in the first place.
Scarlet Witch made her Marvel Cinematic Universe debut in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, where she and her brother Quicksilver were shown exhibiting power after experimentation. Wanda’s first full appearance was in Age of Ultron, where we got a look at her full power set. Instead of being a reality-warping witch, Wanda possessed telekinesis, telepathy, hypnosis and energy projection. Essentially she is given a more concrete set of powers that act like reality manipulation.
3. DEADPOOL (X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE)
Ah yes, everyone’s favorite film interpretation of the merc with a mouth, X-Men Origins: Wolverine. All joking aside, as bad as the final product of Deadpool was in Wolverine, there was at least some redemption to the character: Ryan Reynold’s portrayal. Were it not for his passion for the character, we would have never gotten the masterpiece that was Deadpool. However, the first on-screen interpretation of the character is the exact opposite.
Pretty much everyone knows by now that Deadpool’s power is an accelerated healing factor, one that’s even stronger than Wolverine’s, so why did X-Men Origins: Wolverine mess that up so badly? Instead of, or rather on top of, his healing factor, Deadpool is given the powers of various other mutants who were captured by William Stryker. Some of these powers include teleportation, laser vision and retractable adamantium katanas in his arms… seriously… WTF??
2. SPIDER-MAN’S SPIDER-SENSE
When Spider-Man made his MCU debut in Captain America: Civil War, he seemed like the perfect interpretation of the character. He fought and moved like Spider-Man and showed off all of his spidery abilities, including his spider-sense. While avoiding attacks from Cap’s team, Spider-Man showed that he saw various attacks coming before they actually hit him, part of his precognition.
Yet, in Spider-Man’s first solo MCU film, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Peter seemed less experienced, and his powers didn’t seem as fully developed. That was strange, since the film took place after Civil War. In Homecoming, we also see that Peter’s new suit, given to him by Tony Stark, has a lot of nifty gadgets, including an AI that essentially stands in for his precognitive spider-sense. However, comic fans will be glad to know Peter will have his Spider-Sense in Avengers: Infinity War, if the reports about the Infinity War trailer can be trusted, that is!
1. MCU CAPTAIN AMERICA
Captain America came into being when Steve Rogers wanted to serve in the US military during WWII. Unfortunately, Steve wasn’t all that built for fighting with his small frame and lack of muscle. But, Steve was smart, resilient and wanted nothing more than to serve his country. This was why he was chosen for the super soldier program, an experiment that turned his body into one of peak physical strength and vitality. Taking on the identity of Captain America, Steve Rogers became the world’s first super soldier, capable of feats of peak human physicality.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe version of Steve is a lot stronger than his comics counterpart. Rather than being at peak physical strength, the MCU version of Cap well past human potential. This Captain America is capable of truly incredible feats, like holding down a helicopter with his bare hands. He’s always been super-human, but not to that level!
Are there any other changes to superhero powers that we missed? Help us out in the comments!
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