When it comes to comic book movies, critics and fans almost universally praise the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Whether it's because Marvel has had better success in terms of reception for its movies than Fox and Warner Bros. or just because fans have a closer connection to the Marvel characters than the rival studio's efforts, the MCU gets a break most of the time. There are rare occasions, however, where Marvel misses on something, with Iron Man 2 or Iron Fist as prime examples, but most of the time, Marvel makes sure everyone leaves its movies and shows happy.
However, there are also times that Marvel messes up and it usually comes down to getting the characters wrong. Sure, for the average movie-goer, those moments don’t matter too much. If a person has never picked up a copy of The Avengers comic books, they likely have no idea when Marvel drops the ball on a specific hero or villain. However, for die-hard comic book fans, these moments are glaring examples that even the great MCU can make mistakes sometimes. Despite being the most successful comic book movie studio in the world, here is a look at 15 times that Marvel Studios got The Avengers and its characters totally, utterly wrong.
15 QUICKSILVER AND THE SCARLET WITCH
When the Avengers started out in the pages of the comic books, the first changes to the lineup came in the 17th issue when Captain America was the only member left and brought in Hawkeye, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch to join the team. It was an interesting move as these were three former villains – Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch were both mutants and the children of Magneto. However, thanks to the disputes with FOX, they couldn’t be mutants and were instead creations of HYDRA.
Sadly, the worst offense here for comic fans was Quicksilver, who lost everything that made him great in the comics – mainly his arrogance and pride. On top of that, despite the problems of X-Men: Apocalypse, Quicksilver in the FOX world was a thousand times more interesting than Marvel’s version. Pietro dying wasn’t a big deal because he was a boring addition to the Avengers.
14 HENRY PYM
When it comes to Ant-Man, there is a lot to say about how great the movie turned out, considering Marvel parted ways with the mastermind behind the entire project in Edgar Wright. Michael Douglas also did a good job playing Henry Pym in the movie, delivering the paranoia and arrogance of the character from later in his comic appearances. However, there is also something to be said about the age of Pym and erasing his history with the Avengers.
In the comics, Ant-Man and The Wasp were founding members of the Avengers, replaced in the movie world by Black Widow and Hawkeye. There is no problem with that move, but to eliminate Janet Van Dyne, and put she and Henry Pym as members of S.H.I.E.L.D., ignoring Pym’s entire career as Ant-Man outside of flashbacks, is a shame.
13 BARON VON STRUCKER
When Marvel announced that Baron von Strucker was appearing in Avengers: Age of Ultron, it was exciting for fans of Captain America, as the Baron was an essential part of his history. However, the fact that he was in and out of the movie in the opening scenes was a huge disappointment. The fact that he just surrendered at the end of that opening battle was, for many fans, a disappointing ending for someone so important.
Consider this: Baron von Strucker is the man who created HYDRA in the comics. There wasn’t anyone – outside of Red Skull – who was as important in HYDRA, and he was just haphazardly thrown into Avengers: Age of Ultron, completely wasting his potential. With so many HYDRA stories, especially in Captain America: Winter Soldier, Baron von Strucker deserved so much more.
12 WHY IGNORE PREVIOUS HEROES?
There are many things that make no sense when you think about the MCU and the Avengers team. When Tony Stark became Iron Man, the entire scene played out like there was no other superhero in the world that anyone knew about. Of course, that was played into when asked if he thought he was the only one. However, what about all the heroes from the past that people had to somehow know about?
Ant-Man and The Wasp worked for S.H.I.E.L.D. As revealed for the upcoming Captain Marvel movie, Carol Danvers operated in the ‘90s. The Incredible Hulk took place about the same time as Iron Man, and he had been on the loose before that movie took place. Why have the Avengers movies acted as if no other super-powered beings existed in the MCU?
11 VERY WEAK VILLAINS
There are always complaints about the villains in the MCU. A lot of the complaints are about the villains being nowhere near as interesting as the heroes. For every great hero like Iron Man or Thor, there are weak villains like Aldrich Killian, Malekith and Whiplash. Loki is the only great villain in the MCU. However, there is something even worse in the two Avengers movies.
While Loki is excellent and Ultron was decent, the Chitauri and Ultron’s army of robot warriors were just dispensable cannon fodder for the Avengers. The Avengers had no problems with beating these "formidable" alien and robot armies, and there is something wrong with the fact that the villains that the Avengers teamed up to fight were so easy to beat. Weak villains make the team-ups in these movies mean less.
10 BLACK WIDOW AND THE HULK
One of the strangest things about Avengers: Age of Ultron was the relationship between Black Widow and The Hulk. Yes, they set this up in the first Avengers movie when Natasha met up with and convinced Bruce Banner to join forces with The Avengers. However, her evident fear of the Hulk seemed out of the ordinary for the character. Then, in the second movie, she was the beauty that tamed the beast.
That was entirely wrong for Black Widow. For someone with the history of Natasha, to use herself as the beauty to calm the beast was insulting and wrong. Of course, with Hawkeye having a family, it makes sense that they would not use the two "mere humans" as a romantic couple, but was one needed at all in the movies? Captain America and Black Widow were a better match, and scenes with Widow and the Hulk came across to many fans as just wrong.
9 THE VISION
The one thing from the comics that worked so well with Ultron was the fact that Hank Pym created Ultron, but Ultron betrayed his father. Changing it to Tony Stark worked just as well. However, the second great thing was that Ultron created The Vision and then Vision betrayed his father. What goes around comes around, and it was a perfectly told story. However, Avengers: Age of Ultron changed that.
Ultron was making the body that would become Vision, but he was not who brought Vision to life. That makes Vision destroying Ultron at the end of the movie mean less. It also took away the great storytelling from the comics. Paul Bettany did a good job portraying Vision, but Marvel throwing away his creation was a mistake.
8 THE ACTION IN AGE OF ULTRON
There are a lot of problems with the characters and the motivations in the Avengers movie universe. However, there is also a big problem with the direction of Avengers: Age of Ultron as well. Joss Whedon directed one of the greatest comic book movies of all-time with the first Avengers movie, and it ended up as the second highest-grossing movie of all time. However, when it came time to direct Age of Ultron, Whedon was pushed to do bigger and louder by the studio.
That caused Whedon to direct some of the most confusing and disjointed action sequences in the MCU. The final fight against Ultron and his robots was poorly directed and impossible to follow. If there was one thing that made Age of Ultron hard to defend, it was the action scenes. Avenging is, of course, in the name, but there has to be a heart beating at its center. AoU was unfortunately all fluff, and not a credit to the team or its history.
7 ULTRON’S VOICE
No offense whatsoever to the great James Spader, but that voice was in no way right for Ultron. Look, it's easy to see what Joss Whedon was thinking. Ultron learned everything about the world through the Internet and Tony Stark, so it makes sense that he would have the sort of speech that the character in the movie ended up having. However, that doesn’t make it the right decision.
Look at animated movies and TV shows with Ultron to hear how the character should have sounded. Ultron is a scary robot that wants to destroy the world and needs to strike fear into everyone he faces. Ultron in Avengers: Age of Ultron talks like James Spader – and many fans felt it was in no way scary or intimidating. It was an interesting move making him sound more human, but that is not what Ultron should be. In fact, the opposite is true.
6 LACK OF DIVERSITY
Look at the first Avengers movie, and you have four white guys, a green guy and a white woman led by one African American man behind-the-scenes. In the second film, it grows to five white guys, a green guy and two white women. Sure, that looks a lot like the Avengers teams from the ‘60s! Then again, there were almost no minorities in comic books at that time, and most female heroes were busy hitting on the male heroes (hello Wasp).
Things are different now. Sure, DC Comics isn’t much better with Cyborg and Wonder Woman as the only diverse characters, but this is strange in modern times for a team like the Avengers. War Machine made his first appearance before The Avengers and Falcon showed up before Avengers: Age of Ultron. There have been a lot of great and diverse characters in The Avengers through the years, and hopefully, the future movies take that into account when the current lineup steps down.
5 BARON ZEMO
Baron von Strucker was a massive disappointment with his portrayal in Avengers: Age of Ultron but Baron Zemo was a complete embarrassment in Captain America: Civil War. The original Baron Zemo was second only to the Red Skull when it came to Captain America’s enemies in the comics during World War II. His son then followed in his dad’s footsteps to bring the character into the current timeline and was a huge enemy in both comics and on the animated Avengers shows.
In the movie, he was a joke. Civil War had Helmut Zemo revealed as a man who stole the brainwashing trigger words to utilize the Winter Soldier, and it turned out that he used it to get revenge for his wife and child dying in Sokovia during the Avengers' battle with Ultron. They took one of the greatest villains in Captain America’s history and turned him into a tragic figure, sure, but one whose villainy and presence were muted, at best.
4 THE MANDARIN
This is a controversial choice because – honestly – the Mandarin twist in Iron Man 3 was brilliant. The scene where Tony Stark realized that the evil terrorist Mandarin was just an alcoholic actor named Trevor Slattery was perfectly executed and well-done. However, the problem came later when Aldrich Killian claimed that he was the real Mandarin and used this villain to create fear in the public so that AIM could continue to operate in the shadows.
The fact that the MCU took one of the most respected villains in Iron Man history and made him a fake villain that was just the cover for AIM was an insult to comic book fans and a disgrace to the comic book character. Marvel tried to fix this with a short film that showed that the non-Slattery Mandarin was real after all, but that doesn’t excuse the movie dismissing him.
3 JANE FOSTER
For many years, Jane Foster was a love interest to Thor and his alter-ego in the comic books, Donald Blake. In the movies, she is played by Natalie Portman, and she was almost tolerable in the first Thor movie. However, by the second film, Portman’s Jane Foster was not anything like the strong and determined character in the comic books. She accidentally found the Aether in Thor: Dark World, but she was just a woman who needs to be saved.
In the comic books, while it is controversial to some, Jane Foster is the new Thor. She is strong and powerful and a fantastically realized superhero. Before this, Jane battled breast cancer and was a courageous survivor. In the movies, she is needy and jealous and petty at times. This character is not the Jane Foster who will one day wield Mjolnir.
Mickey Rourke likes to tell the story of how, when making Iron Man 2, he shot a lot of material that would flesh out his character of Whiplash and make him a lot more three-dimensional, realistic, and not so much of a lackey or generic villain. Rourke then said that the director scrapped all those scenes and his character ended up one-dimensional, generic and boring. This complaint is a problem with a lot of Marvel movies – lame villains.
In the case of Whiplash, it should have been so much better. His dad worked alongside Howard Stark, and it was Tony who reaped the benefits of their hard work while Whiplash’s dad died poor and disgraced. He had a huge score to settle, and his character could have been profound and nuanced. Instead, his character scenes were scrapped for louder and more explosive action.
1 THE ANCIENT ONE
This situation was a case where Marvel was trying to do something that fans could see was diverse and forward-thinking. There had been few strong female characters in the MCU outside of Black Widow. When it came time to make Doctor Strange, Marvel decided to take the Ancient One, which was always portrayed as a wise old man, and make the character female by casting Tilda Swinton. This change was a chance to diversify the Marvel Universe in the movies, but it only went halfway in its efforts.
It backfired because fans didn’t seem to care that they gave the role to a female and instead complained that Marvel changed the Asian character into a white character. In what was supposed to be a step forward for progressivism in superhero cinema and diversification, critics accused Marvel of whitewashing. This caused many fans to dismiss Doctor Strange outright, while others said the film relied too heavily on visual spectacle, without much substance.
Can you think of any other ways Marvel Studios may have ruined the Avengers? Assemble in the comments!