For a generation of fans, Marvel’s superheroes and villains are defined by the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Marvel’s other movies. Even though superheroes dominate pop culture in a previously unthinkable way, the comic books where these characters were created are, at best, a moderately interesting curiosity, to the majority of superhero movie viewers. While that thought might shock lifelong comic book readers, the cinematic success of these characters is a testament to the talents of the comic book creators who created them. Over the past few years, Marvel and other publishers have reinvented their characters in the shadow of their cinematic counterparts in the never-ending quest to turn moviegoers into comic readers.
Now, CBR is taking a look back at some of the Marvel characters who were redesigned to match their movie counterparts. In this list, we’ll be counting down characters who were dramatically altered from how they traditionally looked or acted in comic books to mimic their portrayals on the big screen. While some of these changes didn’t last for more than a few pages, some of them totally redefined characters for a new generation. In a handful of these examples, new, film-inspired deigns even supplanted the long-standing characters who originally inspired Marvel’s movies.
In Thor: Ragnarok, Tessa Thompson received rave reviews for her turn as Valkyrie, a disgraced Asgardian warrior who was unlike anything from the character’s complex comics history. After Roy Thomas and John Buscema introduced the concept of Valkyrie in 1970’s Avengers #83, Marvel’s most famous Valkyrie, Brunnhilde, officially debuted in 1973’s Defenders #4. Over the decades, this Nordic Valkyrie became a definitive member of the Defenders, joined the Secret Avengers and had largely supporting roles throughout the Marvel’s comics.
Even though Brunnhilde is still an active part of the Marvel Universe, a new version of Valkyrie that’s based on the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Valkyrie will star in the upcoming series Exiles. While this Valkyrie isn’t officially the character from Taika Waititi’s 2017 movie, she’s openly inspired by the appearance and mannerisms of Thompson’s Valkyrie. She’ll work alongside other alternate reality heroes in a series by Saladin Ahmed and Javier Rodriguez.
As the Asgardian God of Mischief, Loki has been causing trouble on a universal scale since he was introduced by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber and Jack Kirby in 1962’s Journey Into Mystery #85. Over the years, Loki has usually presented himself as a lanky adult male with slightly ghoulish features and a helmet with gargantuan horns.
A year before Tom Hiddleston debuted as the MCU’s younger, more nuanced Loki in 2011’s Thor, his cackling comic book counterpart was killed during the 2010 crossover Siege. Around the time Thor was released, Loki was reincarnated as a sympathetic pre-teen in the critically-acclaimed Journey Into Mystery revival. After a few years as a Bart Simpson-esque cosmic trickster, a magical spell turned Loki into a young adult who looked remarkably like Hiddleston’s villain. In addition to smaller horns on his helmet, this Loki copied Hiddleston’s long hair, layered costume and moral ambiguity.
Since Mystique has the mutant ability to shapeshift, she can completely change her appearance at a moment’s notice. Despite that, the X-Men villain has maintained a pretty consistent default costume since she made her full debut in 1978’s Ms. Marvel #18, by Chris Claremont and Jim Mooney. When she’s not posing as someone else, Raven Darkholme has usually had blue skin and a white bodysuit, usually with a long white skirt.
Shortly after the release of 2000’s X-Men, Mystique and a few other X-characters starred in Fabian Nicieza and Kevin Maguire’s miniseries X-Men Forever. Since Rebecca Romijn’s Mystique traded clothes for strategically-placed scales in the movie, the Marvel Universe’s Mystique got the same look after being zapped a sentient alien spaceship. Although she claimed that this look was her new “template,” it wasn’t seen again after that story ended, and she morphed back into a less scaly form.
Even though he’s an android, the Vision has been the soul of the Avengers since 1968. After betraying his builder, Ultron, in Roy Thomas and John Buscema’s Avengers #57, the Vision became one of the team’s most iconic members. For most of his existence, the Vision has worn costumes that were predominantly yellow and green, occasionally with red accents.
In 2015’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, Paul Bettany’s Vision came to life with a decidedly different look. His green costume was broken up into red-trimmed patterns. The yellow that traditionally adorns Vision’s costume was confined to his cape, the diamond on his chest and the Mind Stone that powers him. When his comic book counterpart joined the Uncanny Avengers in 2015, his costume was redesigned with red-and-green in a slightly different pattern. While he’s still wearing this costume, the yellow that defined the character’s appearance for so long is almost totally gone.
12. DOCTOR OCTOPUS
While he might be one of Spider-Man’s signature villains, Doctor Octopus hasn’t always had the best luck with costumes. Since Stan Lee and Steve Ditko created him in 1963’s Amazing Spider-Man #3, Otto Octavius has usually worn a somewhat ill-fitting green jumpsuit with yellow-orange highlights. After a brief period wearing a suit-and-tie in the 1990s, he donned a more sensible look inspired by Spider-Man 2.
In that 2004 Sam Raimi film, Alfred Molina’s Doc Ock concealed his tentacles with a large green overcoat. Around that same time, an all-green oversized lab coat became a key part of Otto’s comic book attire. This gave him a slimmer, sleeker profile that made him look like the legitimate threat that he is. Doc Ock kept some variation of this look until he started physically deteriorating in the lead-up to his starring role in Superior Spider-Man.
To match his brash, sometimes abrasive personality, Hawkeye usually wore the kind of flashy purple and blue costumes that only work on the comics page. While Clint Barton started out as an Iron Man foe created by Stan Lee and Don Heck in 1964’s Tales of Suspense #57, the archer evolved into one of the Avengers’ most stalwart members.
When Marvel re-envisioned its classic heroes for the modern day in the Ultimate Universe, that world’s Hawkeye wore tactical leather gear instead of Barton’s usual gaudy colors. Unsurprisingly, the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Hawkeye wore a similarly subdued outfit that fit Jeremy Renner’s limited role as Hawkeye in 2012’s The Avengers. By the time Matt Fraction and David Aja started their critically-acclaimed Hawkeye run later that year, Marvel’s Hawkeye had changed into a similarly simple pair of gray pants with a black t-shirt that had a stylized purple arrowhead on it.
10. NEGASONIC TEENAGE WARHEAD
Before 2016’s Deadpool, Negasonic Teenage Warhead was nothing more than a minor X-Men character with an unusually impressive name. When she was created by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely in 2001’s New X-Men #115, Ellie Phimister used her precognitive abilities to see the impending destruction of the mutant haven Genosha and promptly died.
After Tim Miller’s Deadpool introduced a drastically different version of the character, her comic book counterpart returned to the land of the living. To match Brianna Hildebrand’s nuclear-powered character, Marvel’s Warhead traded her deadlocks for a buzzed haircut and a more punk-influenced ensemble. After she was mysteriously revived, Warhead joined Deadpool’s team, the Mercs for Money, and began exhibiting a range of new abilities. According to a version of Warhead from a possible future, she could develop reality warping abilities that could make her one of Marvel’s mightiest mutants.
Toad never gets any respect. Even though he’s one of the X-Men’s oldest foes and has led the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, he’s been more of an annoyance than a threat since he was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1964’s X-Men #4. Despite that, the leaping mutant was still one of the X-Men’s first movie villains in 2000’s X-Men.
In that movie, martial artist Ray Park portrayed a more imposing version of Toad. In addition to his leaping ability, Park’s Toad was an experienced fighter who used his prehensile tongue and paralyzing saliva to battle Jean Grey to a standstill. In Fabian Nicieza and Kevin Maguire’s X-Men Forever, a defect in Toad’s genetic structure was corrected during a time-traveling adventure. As a result, Toad got the powers of his cinematic counterpart for good. More recently, Toad gained the bizarre ability to engulf his extended tongue in flame.
When he was created by Steve Englehart and Steve Gan in 1976’s Marvel Preview #4, Star-Lord was a galactic policeman in an alternate reality. When a slightly more recognizable version of Peter Quill emerged in the Marvel Universe during the mid-2000s, he wore a blue uniform with a mask that still wasn’t too different from the original Star-Lord’s costume.
After Chris Pratt’s Star-Lord shimmied his way into audiences’ hearts in 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy, Marvel’s comic book Star-Lord essentially became a clone of his cinematic counterpart. The relatively serious Star-Lord that fought intergalactic wars and helped form the Guardians of the Galaxy was completely supplanted by the jokey space pirate he was on screen. From the mask to the red leather trench coat, every detail of Star-Lord was duplicated after that film’s surprise blockbuster success.
At the end of the day, Falcon is just a man with a giant pair of mechanized bird wings. Since he was created by Stan Lee and Gene Colan in 1969’s Captain America #117, Sam Wilson has served with the Avengers and, most notably, Steve Rogers’ definitive modern partner. While he originally wore a revealing green suit, Falcon’s costumes have almost exclusively been red and white for decades.
In the Ultimate Marvel Universe, that world’s Falcon his flying contraption over a simple t-shirt and fatigues. While that look inspired Anthony Mackie’s Falcon in 2014’s Captain America: The Winter Solider, it took on a more armored look in his subsequent appearances. While Wilson was serving a well-earned stint as Captain America in comics around then, Falcon’s recent redesign took a major cue from the MCU. His current black and red costume mimics the muted color palette of Mackie’s Falcon.
As one of the deadliest assassins in the Marvel Universe, Bullseye doesn’t miss much, but his fashion sense hasn’t always been on the mark. Bullseye emerged fairly fully-formed in his 1976 debut, Marv Wolfman and Bob Brown’s Daredevil #131. While his almost iconic, target-themed costume has only gone through incremental changes, his vendetta against Daredevil has only gotten bloodier over the decades.
In Mark Steven Johnson’s Daredevil, Colin Farrell’s Bullseye ditched the character’s usual costume and mask for a reptile-skin trench coat and a target-shaped scar on his forehead. Around that 2003 film’s release, Bullseye reappeared with a similar look in Kevin Smith and Glenn Fabry’s unfinished series Daredevil: The Target. While he initially tattooed the target on his forehead, Daredevil carved it into the assassin’s head during a particularly brutal battle. After a few years, Bullseye returned to his traditional costume for good during 2006’s Civil War.
Before Wesley Snipes made Blade Marvel’s first modern movie star, the vampire hunter wasn’t really a major player in the Marvel Universe. After his 1973 creation in Tomb of Dracula #10, by Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan, Blade primary dealt with vampires and supernatural threats on his own and in supporting roles around the Marvel Universe. In the early 1990s, Blade began wearing a spiky leather jacket and pants in a totally forgettable, generic ensemble.
When Snipes’ Blade made his cinematic debut in 1998’s Blade, the vampire hunter got a major makeover. Snipes’ character wore tactical armor under a black trench coat with every-present sunglasses and had distinctive designs shaved into his hair. After the movie’s success, this look quickly became the standard for Blade’s appearance. In comics, Blade, who had always been human, was also turned into a vampire and began to mirror the stoic personality of Snipes’ Blade.
4. WILLIAM STRYKER
Even though he starred in one of X-Men’s most memorable stories, William Stryker only made one appearance in the first 20 years of his existence. In Chris Claremont and Brent Anderson’s seminal graphic novel, X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills, Stryker was a religious fanatic who spouted anti-mutant rhetoric and encouraged his Purifiers to commit crimes against mutants.
In the Fox’s X-Men movies, Stryker took on a very anti-mutant role as the face of the Weapon X Program. After Brian Cox’s militaristic Stryker debuted in 2003’s X2, Stryker returned to comics in Claremont and Igor Kordy’s X-Treme X-Men storyline, “God Loves, Man Kills II.” After his Purifiers became a costumed paramilitary force, Stryker and his men killed hundreds of students at Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters. After tormenting the X-Men in a few more major storylines, Stryker recently restarted the Weapon X Program in the pages of Weapon X.
3. PEGGY CARTER
For decades, Peggy Carter was just Captain America’s World War II love interest, and was largely lost in the shadow of her niece, Sharon Carter, Captain America’s modern girlfriend. Even though she was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1966’s Tales of Suspense #77, she wasn’t named until 1973. In the modern Marvel Universe, she appeared irregularly in titles like Avengers in supporting roles until her death in 2011.
After Hayley Atwell’s Peggy Carter stole the show in 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger, she starred in Agent Carter, which chronicled her post-war adventures for two seasons. Although she was dead, Carter headlined her first series with Kathryn Immonen and Rich Ellis’ 2015 flashback series, Operation S.I.N. While Carter kept the blonde hair and beret she had usually worn in comics, she had a distinctly Atwell-inspired look on Michael Komarck’s covers for that series.
Since he was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1963’s X-Men #1, Cyclops has been a little blue. From the yellow-and-blue uniforms of the 1960s to the iconic blue-and-yellow costume from in the 1990s, the X-Men’s most famous leader had a consistent fashion sense. By keeping the colors of the X-Men’s original uniforms, Scott Summers was visually signified as Xavier’s prized pupil.
After James Marsden’s Cyclops wore all-black leather in 2000’s X-Men, that all changed. When Cyclops returned to the X-Men after being briefly merged with Apocalypse, he wore an all-black uniform that even replaced his famous yellow visor with a darker new model. That costume only lasted for a few months in 2001, though its presence was still felt in the Frank Quitely-designed yellow and black uniform he adopted later that year in New X-Men.
1. NICK FURY
Before he led S.H.I.E.L.D., the original Nick Fury was a WWII character created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1963’s Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos #1. When Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch gave Fury a major role in the Ultimate Universe series, The Ultimates, this Fury’s design was clearly modeled after actor Samuel L. Jackson.
After Jackson’s surprise appearance as Fury in 2008’s Iron Man kickstarted the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Marvel replaced one its comic book Fury with a new Jackson-inspired creation, Nick Fury Jr. Created by Matt Fraction, Cullen Bunn, Christopher Yost and Scot Eaton in 2012’s Battle Scars #1, Fury Jr. was the original Fury’s previously unmentioned son. Through a bizarre sequence of events, Fury followed his father’s footsteps by losing an eye and joining S.H.I.E.L.D. While the original Fury was exiled on the Moon, Fury Jr. took on a central role in the Marvel Universe.
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