The Marvel Cinematic Universe's Effect on Comic Book Back Issue Prices

Avengers: Endgame is almost out and one of the most curious places where the hype over this blockbuster film is being felt is in the comic book back issue market.

As characters get introduced into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, their comic book appearances have risen dramatically in value. This interest has gotten to the point where even the hint that a character trait from the comics will be appearing in one of the movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe has led to a sharp increase in back issue prices for certain books.

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When it comes to the classic Avengers character, the effect of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has had less impact, but it still has had some major influence in certain areas. Generally speaking, the first appearances of characters like Captain America, Spider-Man, Iron Man and Hulk were already major investment books long before the first film in the MCU was ever released.

Therefore, Captain America Comics #1 was always going to be an extremely expensive back issue, whether Cap ever appeared in a major motion picture or not (we're not counting his 1940s film serial or his 1990 direct-to-video film as "major motion pictures")...

The impact, however, of the film universe is felt in a few other areas, though. One, in just how expensive these classic issues became. For instance, Spider-Man's first appearance was increasing in value with a general high pace throughout the 1990s, but when he finally appeared in his own major motion picture, the prices began to skyrocket. They would increase exponentially year after year.

The other major area is that certain characters like Iron Man, who were more important to the Marvel Cinematic Universe than they have been to the regular Marvel Universe, have seen a contextually greater increase in price than their fellow mainstays...

In other words, these comics were always expensive, but the Marvel Cinematic Universe has made them even more expensive and the role that they play within the MCU has played a role in their relative price increases.


On a much smaller scale than the classic characters like Captain America, Spider-Man, Iron Man, Hulk and Thor, there are the first appearances of characters in classic comics that were always minor collectibles due to their vintage, but have exploded in popularity after the characters debuted in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

For instance, the first appearance of Groot in Tales to Astonish #13 was always a collectible comic book....

Jack Kirby's pre-Fantastic Four monster comics have always had a dedicated following. So Groot's first appearance was valuable. It just clearly has gone up exponentially since Guardians of the Galaxy was released in 2014.

Carol Danvers' first appearance in Marvel Super-Heroes #13 was also always a collectible comic book (the second appearance of the Mar-Vell version of Captain Marvel and the introduction of Mar-Vell's human secret identity of Doctor Walter Lawson)...

The comic, though, has more than tripled in value since Carol's film debut in Captain Marvel was officially given a release date (once a film gets an official release date seems to be the point where the collectors begin to really get interested in the character's first appearance).

The debut of the War Machine armor in Iron Man #282 is a curious case...

Originally released at the height of the speculator craze of the early 1990s, the comic book was a collector's item right away. However, over the years, as the War Machine armor ceased to be used in the comics, its popularity dramatically waned. War Machine becoming a major character in the Iron Man and Avengers films, though, led to to a major recovery in the comics' value.


On the other side of the aisle are those comics that were never particularly "hot" books until they suddenly became hot once people realized that they had the first appearances of major Marvel Cinematic Universe characters in them.

Incredible Hulk #271, featuring the first Marvel Universe appearance of Rocket Raccoon, went from being a book you could possibly find for less than a dollar to a book worth hundreds of dollars....

Similarly, Avengers #257 having Nebula's first appearance in it was likely something few fans were even aware of before the blue-skinned daughter of Thanos made her film debut alongside Rocket Raccoon in Guardians of the Galaxy...

Avengers #181 had a classic George Perez cover, so it was never necessarily a "dollar" book, but nor was it a particularly highly sought after collectible (besides the Perez cover) until people realized that it featured Scott Lang's first appearance in it...

The book now sells for more money than Lang's first appearance as Ant-Man in Marvel Premiere #47.

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