For years, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been applauded for just how well it treats the source material. While other comic book films seem to approach movies with a sense of “How much must we keep from the comics?” the Marvel Cinematic Universe tries to bring as much in from the comic books as possible. This was particularly clear in the recent smash hit, Black Panther, which adapted the works of Don McGregor, Christopher Priest, Reginald Hudlin and Ta-Nehisi Coates with a glowing respect for their classic comic book stories.
However, clearly not all comic book stories were created equal. The Marvel Universe has been around for almost 60 years. When you’re putting out new stories every month for nearly six decades, you’re bound to come up with some odd ones over the years. Naturally, these would not be the types of stories that you would expect to ever see adapted into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. So we decided to spotlight 15 of the most notable examples of Marvel Comics stories that the Marvel Cinematic Universe would prefer to keep hidden from movie-going fans.
15. DEMON IN A BOTTLE
One of the most notable comic book storylines involving Iron Man over the years has been his struggles with substance abuse. It was first brought up in Bob Layton and David Michelinie’s epic Iron Man run and then was brought back when Denny O’Neil took over the title, as he felt it needed to be explored in greater depth. It even led to Tony Stark abandoning his armor to James Rhodes while he was in a downward spiral.
The folks at Marvel Studios have already made it clear that they feel this is a subject that would not be able to be explored in the depth that it would require in a film series, so it’s off the table. Jon Favreau did flirt with it in Iron Man 2, however.
14. CAROL DANVERS’ DISTURBING TIME IN LIMBO
In Avengers #200, Carol Danvers (then Ms. Marvel, now Captain Marvel) became mysteriously pregnant and gave birth in a matter of days instead of months. The baby soon grew to adulthood. The adult, Marcus, was the son of the time master known as Immortus. Marcus lived in Limbo and he fell in love with Carol from afar. He used his father’s devices to make her fall in love with him. Since he couldn’t travel to Earth, he worked out a deal where he would impregnate Carol… with himself.
Then time fell apart in his absence, so Carol agreed to go back to Limbo with him. The Avengers were somehow all cool with all of this. It was a terrible, terrible look. She soon returned and ripped the Avengers a new one for letting her go to Limbo with her abuser.
13. FALCON: STREET HUSTLER
Captain America first met Sam Wilson on an island governed by some cronies of the Red Skull. Sam had been brought there as a guide and he soon realized the bad things going on there. Sam agreed to help Captain America defeat the villains. He took on the name Falcon and became Cap’s partner.
Years later, the Red Skull revealed that he had used the Cosmic Cube to turn the real Sam Wilson, a street hustler who had landed on the island as part of a drug deal, into the perfect partner for Captain America, just so that he could turn Wilson on Cap later. The Falcon managed to work through his sordid past, but eventually later writers revealed it to have been a lie the whole time.
12. HANK PYM STRIKING THE WASP
Hank Pym first suffered a mental breakdown after creating the robot who would become Ultron. He adopted a new identity, Yellowjacket, and claimed to have killed Hank Pym. Wasp decided to still marry him even while in a state of mental distress, so it should not be too surprising that their marriage eventually hit the skids.
Hank felt that the Wasp had passed him by as a superhero, so he rejoined the Avengers and tried to prove himself. He tried too hard and shot a supervillain in the back while Captain America was talking her down. They were going to court martial him, so he came up with an idea to build a robot to attack the Avengers and that he would stop it. They would thus forgive him. When the Wasp found out about it and told him to stop, he struck her.
In the early 1990s, Captain America’s personal pilot was John Jameson, the former astronaut who had briefly been turned into the Man-Wolf via the Godstone. He had not been a werewolf in years, but when a town of werewolves came under the control of an evil druid, John was called to them. Cap decided to go look for his missing friend.
Once in the town, Cap was captured and transformed into a werewolf himself! Other feral superheroes began to descend on the town, including Wolverine. Cap-Wolf and Wolverine actually fought each other. Cap was able to control himself and lead a werewolf rebellion, at which point he was cured and everyone agreed to never talk about it ever again (well, we assume that’s what happened, at least).
10. SPIDER-MAN HATES PROTESTS
Often, comic book fans look to the original take on a character as the ideal version of the character, and it is true that we should certainly pay a lot of heed to the work of the creators of major characters, but we also shouldn’t forget that everyone is human and thus, sometimes their personal views might get wrapped up in their creations in strange ways.
For instance, Steve Ditko was an Objectivist who followed the writings of Ayn Rand. He hated the idea of protests and so, too, did Peter Parker become anti-protests in the comics. It’s not something that would translate well to the character as played by Tom Holland in the MCU. It’s funny to see Stan Lee try to add less angry dialogue to Ditko’s angry Peter Parker.
When Black Panther was introduced, he only had a single rival, the villanous master of sound known as Klaw. When Black Panther joined the Avengers, however, Roy Thomas decided to expand his rogues gallery. His first new foe was from his own home country of Wakanda, the villainous M’Baku, who devoured a white gorilla and gained powers by eating its flesh and bathing in its blood.
He was a fairly compelling adversary, except that he decided to call himself “Man-Ape.” In the 1960s, it wasn’t too shocking to have a black man call himself a name with “Ape” in the title, but it sure does not work today. Hence, the Black Panther movie sticking just to M’Baku for the character’s appearance in the hit film.
8. BRUCE BANNER VS.THE YMCA
At the height of the popularity of the Incredible Hulk TV series, the Hulk gained his own magazine series on top of his regular comic book series. The magazine, by virtue of being a magazine, was not subject to the rules of the Comics Code Authority, so the tales inside could be more extreme. Writer Jim Shooter decided to do a story dealing with “modern” terrors.
In his story, Bruce Banner is staying at a YMCA when two men try to assault him in the showers. The problem, at the time, was that Marvel had very few gay characters, so when two of the very first gay men in the Marvel Universe are out to get straight men at the gym. That’s a bad look. The problem now is still the “evil gay” aspect, but really, more the idea in general is way over the line.
7. AVENGERS OVER WAKANDA
There is often an interesting dichotomy between what makes a character work for an ongoing series and what makes them work for a film series. In the former, you’re trying to make them relatable, because people are going to have to follow you for a while. In the latter, you want them to really stand out, because they’re only going to show up occasionally and you want each time that they do to be a big deal.
When he had Black Panther join the Avengers in the late 1960s, Roy Thomas had him move to Harlem, adopt a secret identity, become a schoolteacher and effectively abandon Wakanda. It was done in the name of making him fit in with the ongoing Avengers narrative, but looking at it in the grand scheme of the MCU and it is pretty much the opposite of what Marvel hopes to achieve with the character.
6. THE DEATH OF GOLIATH
In the adaptation of the Marvel crossover event, Civil War, Captain America: Civil War, you could tell how much care the MCU took in making sure that no one came off too badly in the story. The only major injury in the skirmish between the two groups of former teammates was War Machine, and that was due to Vision shooting an energy beam at Falcon and Falcon avoiding the shot. So it was a total accident.
Contrast that with the actual Civil War where Hank Pym and Tony Stark cloned their old friend, Thor (who was thought to be dead at the time), and then saw their Thor clone go haywire and kill the superhero known as Goliath. Can you even imagine the screenwriters trying to work something like that into the MCU?
In 2016, after having his Super Soldier Serum stripped from his system (and becoming a 90 year old man, but at least a 90 year old man in really good shape), Steve Rogers saw his abilities returned to him by a Cosmic Cube known as Kobik. What no one knew, though, is that Kobik (who had the mentality of a young child) had befriended the Red Skull and, knowing nothing else about morality of justice, thought that the Red Skull’s way of life was the way to go.
So Kobik altered Captain America’s reality and made it so that he had always been a sleeper agent for Hydra. Eventually, it turned out that this Cap was actually a duplicate of the real Cap created by the Cube, but it was still such a shock to the character that the MCU wouldn’t touch this plot with a ten foot pole.
4. SCARLET WITCH’S MAGICAL PREGNANCY
After clearly hinting that they were headed in this direction in Captain America: Civil War, the trailers for Avengers: Infinity War show that the relationship between the Scarlet Witch and Vision has moved past friendship and into romance. This echoes the classic relationship between the two in the pages of the Avengers, where the two fell in love and eventually married.
However, it is highly unlikely that the film would ever adapt the storyline in its 1985 year-long maxiseries where the Scarlet Witch used magic to impregnate herself with the essence of herself and the Vision. That, of course, went horribly wrong when we discovered that the Scarlet Witch actually used her reality-altering powers to create the children and they vanished from existence. That’s way too bleak for the MCU!
3. IRON MAN: MURDERER
In the Avengers crossover known as “The Crossing,” the Avengers dealt with an attack from their longtime foe, Kang the Conqueror. However, what they did not realize is that Kang had used his time mastery to travel to the past where he manipulated Tony Stark and turned him into his sleeper agent to help him in his modern day fight against the Avengers. Kang apparently tried Hank Pym first, but it failed. His attempts, though, led to Pym’s mental instability.
In the present day, Iron Man became a flat out villain, murdering at least two people, including the nanny for Crystal and Quicksilver’s daughter, Luna. The Avengers had to go back into the past to bring back a younger version of Tony Stark (pre-Kang) to fight his older self. Older Tony eventually redeemed himself and saved everyone, leaving young Tony to become the new Iron Man (it did not last long).
2. SPIDER-MAN’S ROBOT PARENTS
One of the main parts of Peter Parker’s back story is that his parents died when he was young and that he was then raised by his kindly Aunt May and Uncle Ben. When Uncle Ben died, well, that was a whole big deal about power and responsibility and all that good stuff. However, in Amazing Spider-Man 2, they played with the idea of Peter’s father being alive. The MCU seems to not be going that direction.
If it did, though, it certainly wouldn’t go with the reveal from the early 1990s when Richard and Mary Parker showed up alive… until they were revealed to secretly be robots built by the Chameleon to discover Spider-Man’s secret identity. Chameleon theorized that Peter Parker must know who Spider-Man is and maybe he would be willing to tell his resurrected parents.
1. THOR NUKING CHINA
In the early days of the Marvel Universe, the go-to bad guys were Communists. Heck, the main reason given for the Fantastic Four going off on their ill-fated space flight was the fear that the Communists were going to beat the United States to the stars! However, by “Communist,” they mostly meant the Soviet Union. China tended to get less attention.
However, they were not ignored completely, as they sent an agent called the Radioactive Man to fight Thor early in Thor’s career. After a difficult battle with the Chinese villain, Thor finally wrapped him up in a hurricane and dropped him on China, which set off a nuclear explosion. Yep, Thor nuked China. That would probably not be a good idea for a Marvel film’s box office receipts outside the United States.
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