While comic books provide extremely rich source material for the films, the stories on screen are usually very different from the comics. In the past, this was often due to budgetary reasons or because special effects just weren’t good enough to recreate the giant scope of the extraordinary splash pages of the comic books. There also still exists rights issues regarding character ownership when it comes to the films, but the special effects have improved so dramatically over the last decade that almost anything seen on those pages is now possible.
At the end of the day, films rely on a budget, contractual obligations, the eligibility of actors and the creative decisions of the studios that are behind each film. Although they can’t always reproduce the best comic book stories given all the different factors that can influence a film, they sometimes takes cues from the comics or reproduce iconic shots to pay homage to where the story came from. Some of the following, diehard comic fans will probably already know, but for those moviegoers that are not as familiar with the source material, here are 15 Marvel Cinematic Universe scenes (in no particular order) that are ripped straight out of the comics.
15. WHO THE HELL IS BUCKY?
In the comics, the Soviets found Bucky Barnes frozen in the English Channel, brainwashed him to the point where he couldn’t remember his name and turned him into their spy. He had absolutely no recollection of his previous life. He was a shell of a man trained to the peak of human condition who was brainwashed to hate the West. In the films, the exact same thing takes place, except the Soviets are replaced by Hydra.
Ed Brubaker’s run of Captain America comics is considered to be some of the best Cap stories around. The Winter Soldier’s famous line from the story is brought to life in Captain America: The Winter Solider. Cap is shocked to discover that the mysterious Winter Soldier turns out to be his old sidekick, who he thought was dead. When confronted, the Winter Soldier icily replied the iconic line: “Who the hell is Bucky?”
14. ULTIMATES VOL. 1
The Avengers was heavily influenced by the story in the first volume of The Ultimates by Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch. In the comics as well as in the film, the Avengers are formed by SHIELD who sought out all the heroes in the event of a world catastrophe. After the team was formed, they were pitted against the Hulk who went on an unstoppable rampage.
They later must join forces to stop a planetary invasion from the alien Chitauri race. Although there are a few significant differences between the film and the comic series (such as some characters that are in the comics like Ant-Man, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch who only appear later in the film series), there are many beats that are exactly the same. If you’re a fan of The Avengers film, give it a read!
13. THE SOKOVIA ACCORDS
The Sokovia Accords came into effect due to the destruction in Lagos, Nigeria caused by Crossbones. The Accords are legal documents which attempted to hold superhumans accountable for their actions, because even though they are trying to save civilians, their actions have always resulted in collateral damage and civilian casualties. They state that the Avengers must work in accordance with the United Nations. They are no longer a private entity that decides when and where they act but must abide by the rulings of a United Nations panel which deems whether their involvement is necessary.
Similarly in the Civil War comic book series, the Superhuman Registration Act required all superheroes to register with the government. The comic even pitted those for the act, led by Iron Man against those who opposed it, led by Captain America, much like in the film.
12. CAPTAIN AMERICA KNOCKS OUT HITLER
The 1941 cover of Captain America’s first comic book appearance in Captain America Comics #1 by Jack Kirby and Joe Simon, which depicts Cap punching Hitler, is brought to life in Captain America: The First Avenger. In the film, the American government decides to use Steve Rogers as a publicity tool in order to get civilians to support the war by buying war bonds.
They dress him up as Star Spangled Man (which is essentially a replica of the Captain America costume in his first comic book appearances which features brighter colors than the more functional suit he uses later in the film) and have him perform in Broadway shows and propaganda films. It is during the Broadway shows that audiences get a glimpse of Cap knocking out Hitler as depicted in his first comic appearance.
11. CAPTAIN AMERICA BLOCKS IRON MAN
The cover of the final issue of Civil War illustrated by Steve McNiven and Dexter Vines was beautifully reproduced on screen at the end of the Captain America: Civil War film. The shot takes place late in the conflict, after Helmut Zemo’s plan to pit the Avengers against each other is revealed. He shows Iron Man the tape of Bucky, who was brainwashed by Hydra at the time, murdering Tony’s parents.
Captain America protects Bucky knowing that he had no control over his actions when he murdered Tony’s parents, so a fight between Cap and Iron Man ensues. It’s a brilliant strategic move, as Zemo doesn’t have to lift a finger to fight his two enemies. He gets them to destroy each other for him. It also provides a perfect opportunity to reproduce the gorgeous comic book cover in the film.
10. SPIDEY AND TONY STARK’S RELATIONSHIP
With only two outings in the MCU, Tom Holland is making big waves and many are saying he is the best Spider-Man to grace the silver screen. A big part of this is due to his on-screen chemistry with Robert Downey Jr. In the Ultimate Spider-Man comic book series, Peter Parker and Tony Stark have a similar relationship to the one they have in the MCU.
Like in the comics, Tony is a reluctant mentor who takes Peter under his wing in order to recruit him as a member of the Avengers. He often tests him to see if he is mature enough to become not only a member, but an integral part of the team. While in the movies, Tony provides Peter with a new suit, in the comics he redesigns Peter’s web shooters.
9. THE DARK DIMENSION
Artist Steve Ditko brought Doctor Strange to life in the comic books, and although Ditko despised his hippy fans, his psychedelic work on Doctor Strange, particularly when the Doctor would travel to other dimensions, became hugely important to ‘60s counter-culture. His surrealistic work on the character predicted hippy culture’s fascination with psychedelia and many believed he was a hippy as well.
Scott Derrickson, director of Doctor Strange, admitted to being directly inspired by Ditko’s work on the Doctor Strange comic book series for the end sequence of the film when Strange squares off with Dormammu in the Dark Dimension. The scene looks like literally leapt off the page and on to the screen, as Derrickson’s vision of the Dark Dimension looks exactly like we think a real creepy and ominous Dark Dimension would look in real life.
8. SHIELD WAKES UP CAP
This is another instance that the MCU is directly inspired by The Ultimates run by Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch. At the end of Captain America: The First Avenger, Steve Rogers crashes a plane in the Arctic to prevent Hydra’s onboard weapon from detonating and killing millions of people. Instead, the weapon, plan and Cap end up frozen in the ice.
He wakes up 70 years later in present day New York City, where Nick Fury informs him that the world needs his help once again and convinces him to join the team he is starting to help protect the world. In The Ultimates, Cap was discovered in the ice by the Avengers instead of SHIELD, but he does wake up in SHIELD’s care and breaks out to discover he is in the future.
7. ANT-MAN AND HAWKEYE
Fans love when their favorite heroes come together on screen. It’s no wonder they come out in droves to watch MCU films as they continue to bring iconic characters together. In Captain America: Civil War, they got to see a classic shot from the comics come to life before their eyes. The cover of The Avengers #223, illustrated by Klaus Janson, depicts Ant-Man laying atop Hawkeye’s arrow head.
In the movie, Ant-Man and Hawkeye perfectly replicate this pose in the airport battle scene. They find themselves on Captain America’s side of the conflict, and they prove to be a fantastic team. Hawkeye shoots the arrow of which Ant-Man sits on top of directly at Iron Man. Ant-Man then messes with Iron-Man’s suit functionality while still in his miniature form. Great teamwork!
6. AVENGERS MASKS
Jon Watts, director of Spider-Man: Homecoming admits that he was really influenced by John Hughes movies for his take on Spider-Man, particularly Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. But he also took a few cues from the comics. He was directly inspired by a scene in Ultimate Spider-Man #42. There’s a brief scene in the comic written by Brian Michael Bendis and drawn by Mark Thibert which depicts thugs robbing a store wearing superhero masks.
The thieves hide their identity by disguising themselves as Captain America, Iron Man and Batman. In the film, a gang of robbers using Vulture’s weapons rob ATMs while wearing Avengers masks. This was a blink and you missed it moment that only the greatest of Spidey fans will remember was taken directly from the source material.
The Hulkbuster, also known as Veronica in Avengers: Age of Ultron, first appeared in 1994 in Iron Man #304. In the movie, the suit was created by Tony Stark and Bruce Banner in order to stop the Hulk in the event of a worst case scenario where the Hulk got out of control.
In the film, Tony Stark uses the suit to try to stop the Hulk after Scarlet Witch (Wanda Maximoff) manipulated Bruce Banner and making him turn into the Hulk using her powers. The suit in the movie looks almost exactly like the one found in the comics and seeing it on screen for the first time is a sight to behold. The suit also made appearances in various Iron Man animated adventures.
4. UNWORTHY THOR AND PLANET HULK
Although Thor: Ragnarok isn’t out yet, the trailers prove that it wears its influences proudly on its sleeve. Thor’s look is clearly tied to the “Unworthy Thor” storyline where he is no longer worthy of wielding the Mjolnir hammer, meaning he can no longer rule Asgard. In the new movie, Thor sports a short haircut and a similar costume to his unworthy comic book counterpart.
Meanwhile, the events of the film take place on Sakaar where warriors battle in a huge space arena. The Hulk, who has become a great warrior on the planet, also wears a gladiator costume similar to the one he wore in the “Planet Hulk” storyline. Only time will tell how closely the film will tie to these two storylines, but the movie is certainly shaping up to be very exciting.
The Iron Man storyline “Extremis” is considered one of the best Iron Man stories there is. It helped usher the Armored Avenger’s place in the modern Marvel Universe and added a creepy sci-fi element to the title. The now-classic Iron Man saga is written by Warren Ellis and illustrated by Adi Granov and it greatly influenced the story of both Iron Man and Iron Man 3 as well as the overall look of Tony Stark’s famous Iron Man suit.
Iron Man’s origin in the first film closely resembles the one presented in the “Extremis” storyline. The comic also became the primary influence on the third film in the series and features soldiers powered by the Extremis virus. Furthermore, Granov was brought on as a suit consultant for the first film and a conceptual illustrator for the second movie.
2. SPIDEY TRAPPED UNDER RUBBLE
Spider-Man: Homecoming gives a nod to the 1965 story called “If This Be My Destiny” by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. In the story, Peter has to retrieve a serum to save a terminally ill Aunt May. Exhausted from fighting Doctor Octopus, he found himself trapped under a pile of steel rubble. While there, visions of his aunt and uncle help him retrieve the strength necessary to lift the rubble off.
The film echoes this scene as Spidey is buried under rubble. In the comic, Spider-Man states: “I must be worthy of that strength — or else, I don’t deserve it!” and Tony alludes to this passage in the movie when he says “If you are nothing without the suit, you don’t deserve it”. It’s this relentless sense of self-worth that drive both scenes and it’s what makes them both so effective when Spidey emerges from the wreckage.
1. RHODEY’S INJURIES
Rhodey’s devastating injuries caused by friendly fire during the airport battle in Captain America: Civil War which brought an end to the conflict (at least for a little while) was very emotional for audiences. In the “Civil War” mini-series, Bill Foster A.K.A. Goliath was killed by a clone of Thor. Both of these instances (even though they include different characters) illustrate the futility of heroes fighting each other and the destructive consequences that can come of such violence.
Rhodey has also been severely injured in the comics many, many times. He became a quadriplegic due to a terrorist attack in Dubai and Tory Stark had to fashion cybernetic limbs so that he can continue to serve as War Machine. Tony does the same for his friend at the end of Civil War when it is discovered that he has lost the use of his legs after the airport catastrophe.
Do you remember any other MCU moments that came right from the comics? Let us know in the comments section!
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