The Marvel Cinematic Universe remains popular because of its large pool of characters. The MCU has helped make characters like Iron Man and Ant-Man into household names, and the recent acquisition of characters like the X-Men mean this impressive universe is just going to keep growing. Of course, popular heroes and villains are only one part of the equation -- the MCU also has a large cast of supporting characters. This ranges from best friends and love interests all the way to henchmen and mentors. For the most part, the MCU does a faithful job of adapting these different support characters. People like Pepper Potts, General Ross, and War Machine seem like they walked right off the panels of your favorite back issues.
Sometimes, though, Marvel drops the ball on this. We get characters that look nothing like the comic characters they are based on, characters that have been seriously changed (and often for no good reason). These changes leave longtime comics fans scratching their heads and wondering why Disney seemed to give up on faithfully adapting all characters. Don’t believe us? You don’t need the all-seeing eyes of Heimdall... just keep reading to check out these 15 MCU supporting characters that look nothing like they should!
15 MARY JANE
Spider-Man: Homecoming made many waves when it came to adapting iconic Marvel characters. For the most part, this is an improvement: the world of Peter Parker’s original '60s comic no longer reflects the diversity of our modern world. The best example of this is Mary Jane. For most of the movie, Peter knows this character as “Michelle.”
It’s only at the end that she reveals that her friends call her “MJ,” hinting heavily that she’s the Mary Jane we know from the comics.
However, she is very different from the comics incarnation in terms of skin, hair, and even personality. Future movies will tell if she ends up being more like Peter’s redheaded soulmate, but for now, we’re big fans of this new MJ and how she keeps Peter on his toes!
14 BARON MORDO
A very surprising element of the Doctor Strange movie was the presence of Baron Mordo. Most comics fans know him as a hardened villain, but here we see when he made an effort to be a good guy before falling from grace. On many levels, though, this MCU character is very different from the comics.
First, is the change or race. Second, they have facial hair differences, with the comics version sporting a beard and the MCU version being clean-shaven. Finally, the comics version wears a much more flamboyant set of emerald robes while the MCU version is rocking a much more conservative green tunic. Since we see the MCU Mordo start walking towards his own personal dark side, maybe he’ll start looking more like his comics version.
13 FLASH THOMPSON
Part of what makes Spider-Man easy to relate to is him being Peter Parker. None of us have amazing powers, but many of us know what it’s like to be a geeky kid dodging bullies. And for king of the nerds Peter Parker, Flash Thompson has always been that bully...but he’s very different between comics and MCU.
The comics Thompson is a stereotypical bully: a white, privileged jock.
In Spider-Man: Homecoming, we get a Flash Thompson that is physically different, but he still echoes the original version. He is no longer Caucasian and no longer an athlete, serving instead as a fellow brain alongside Peter Parker. However, he regularly torments Peter Parker by turning other students against him and gives not so clever nicknames such as “Penis Parker.” In this sense, he’s the same bully the character has always been.
12 THE COLLECTOR
We haven’t seen a lot of The Collector in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He popped up during the credits of the second Thor movie, and he played a role in Guardians of the Galaxy. Since then, he’s been pretty quiet. However, odds are good that he’ll pop up again in Infinity War. One thing’s for sure, though: he probably still won’t look much like his comics counterpart.
In all fairness to the MCU, they really tried: this character has similar colors in terms of hair, skin, and clothing. However, the hair itself is different, with the comics version having more adventurous locks. The comics character also has a broader goatee and an upper-body costume that looks like he stole it from his vet's cone of shame collection (don’t tell Cosmo). And, of course, the MCU version is runway ready with some absolutely silly, fuzzy shoulders.
11 TRISH WALKER
Jessica Jones fans soon fell in love with the character of Trish Walker. She is a successful radio host and veteran entertainment personality, and she is the best friend (and occasional partner in crime) of Jessica Jones.
She is also very different from her comics incarnation in a couple of very major and noticeable ways.
The first is the hair color -- the Trish (or Patsy) Walker of the comics is a redhead. To be fair, though, the show did give her red hair in childhood flashbacks. Also, the comics Trish is a full-blown, super-powered hero named Hellcat, complete with costume! While the second season of Jessica Jones is likely to go in some weird directions, it’s safe to say we won’t see Trish in spandex anytime soon.
10 JUSTIN HAMMER
When it comes to MCU supporting characters looking different than their comics counterpart, Justin Hammer is one of the biggest examples. In the MCU, Justin Hammer is portrayed as a relatively younger man...a kind of evil mirror to the relatively young and successful Tony Stark. However, he was originally very different.
The Justin Hammer of the comics is very much an old man. Instead of being a rival American industrialist, this Hammer is an aging British manufacturing magnate. He still ended up being a thorn in Tony’s side, basically taking over for Obadiah Stane and helping to finance many supervillains. And while the MCU Hammer lives on (albeit in prison), his comics counterpart died in the cold depths of space, leaving his daughter to carry on in his name.
9 NED LEEDS
Many of these characters retain the essential elements of their comic book namesake and just have a few tweaks here and there. However, the character of Ned Leeds from Spider-Man: Homecoming is different.
He’s not just completely unlike the Ned Leeds of the comics, but he’s basically an entirely different character!
In the main Marvel universe, Ned Leeds was a Daily Bugle Reporter who becomes a pawn of the Hobgoblin and is later killed. This character was older, Caucasian, and generally nothing like the MCU Leeds. Interestingly, though, the MCU Leeds looks and acts like a different character altogether: Ganke Lee, who was the best friend of Miles Morales in the Ultimates Universe! Now that Homecoming has obliquely mentioned Miles, we can only wonder if Ned Leeds will ever meet this other Spider-Man.
8 THE GRANDMASTER
The fact that Thor: Ragnarok was such a broad comedy ended up being a pleasant surprise for many fans. One of the reasons it worked so well was The Grandmaster, played to self-aware perfection by Jeff Goldblum. He managed to imbue the role with both charm and menace, and audiences didn’t know when to laugh and when to cringe. With his comics outfit, though, you’re basically cringing all the time.
The MCU character could mostly pass as human, and his paint line goatee is the most alien thing about him. The comic version, though, has blue skin and a shock of white hair. Also, while the MCU version dressed goofily (he looks like he stole the suit from an early Star Trek season), the comic version is just the kind of ugly yellow spandex that even the X-Men would be embarrassed to wear!
One of the few things disappointing about Thor: Ragnarok was that we were missing some familiar faces. As usual, we had no appearances by Thor’s one-time love Jane Foster, and this meant no appearances by amusing sidekick Darcy. Most grievously, we had no appearances by Lady Sif, who seemed like major competition for Thor’s affection. Replacing them all is Valkyrie, a charming and commanding character.
She is a fierce warrior and an even fiercer drunk.
She is also wildly different from the comics version. While the comics character looked like she went to the tailor and said “give me a Thor outfit,” Valkyrie in the MCU has more distinctive armor. They also have different skin coloration and hair color. Ultimately, though, they kick just as much ass!
6 THE SHOCKER
When it comes to supervillain names, there are the bad ones. Then there are the terrible ones. And right here at the bottom of the list is The Shocker. His name comes from special gauntlets that allow him to shock his foes. We see two different versions of this character in Spider-Man: Homecoming, but neither looks like his comic version.
The comic incarnation of this character is very loud, sporting a bright yellow and red suit. The MCU version wears subdued street clothes, and he doesn’t bother covering his face with any kind of mask. This is perfectly in line with the MCU toning down the wilder costumes, but the character still looks nothing like his source material does. Perhaps the Spider-Man sequel will show this character putting on a more colorful outfit?
5 THE TINKERER
The Tinkerer is another MCU character where it’s obvious they made an effort. He is not wildly different like some of our supporting characters...he’s still a genius inventor, he still wears welding goggles on occasion, and so on. But there are plenty of differences between him and his comics version once you look more closely. The most obvious feature is age.
The comics Tinkerer is usually shown as an older man, while the MCU version seems much younger.
The second is their hair -- while the MCU version covers up with a beanie, it’s clear that he is not bald like in the comics. Finally, the comics Tinkerer typically wears glasses, whereas the MCU version sees fine without them. Like other characters, though, Tinkerer has multiple movies to potentially become more like his source material.
Jarvis is the rare MCU character that we have seen multiple times. First, we see him as Iron Man’s onboard computer system. Later, we see the real version as a man who assisted Howard Stark. Finally, we see him as The Vision in Age of Ultron. However, none of these versions truly resembles the man in the comics. In the comics, Jarvis is the Avengers' butler. He’s typically portrayed as a well-dressed man who is also balding and chubby.
The closest version we get on-screen is the Jarvis who served Howard Stark, but that man is very different from his comics inspiration: he is thin, has a full head of hair, and so on. It looks like Infinity War will show us Vision without the Mind Gem...maybe he’ll finally look like he does in the comics?
Yondu became a surprisingly popular MCU character. Or maybe it shouldn’t be a surprise: the character is played by the charming Michael Rooker and given a poignant and moving plot in Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2.
In both his major appearances, though, this character doesn’t really resemble the comics version.
First, there’s the clothing. The MCU Yondu is given an understated red jacket to indicate his membership in The Ravagers. The comics version, though, had a spandex uniform that was much more militaristic. He also had a bandolier and a belt that would make Mr. Worf and Mr. Wayne jealous. Finally, the comics version sports a prominent space mohawk...the MCU Yondu typically has a more modest headpiece, and even his replacement one pales to the huge comics version.
The Punisher series on Netflix had to walk a tight wire with fans. It had to simultaneously give Frank Castle a new and exciting character arc while also bringing in enough familiar elements from the comics. One of these elements is the tech genius sidekick Micro...a man who looked vastly different in the MCU! The comics Micro was typically portrayed as a kind of chubby Beatnik.
If that wasn’t bad enough, he also had a highly unflattering bowl cut and was later portrayed as being bald. Comparatively, the MCU version is more flattering: the sketchy goatee has become a full beard, and the bowl cut has given way to a disorganized mop of hair. And, of course, the MCU version has lost those groovy green glasses and traded in the loud white shirt for an understated hoodie.
1 THE ANCIENT ONE
Doctor Strange was a major movie for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It didn’t just bring a new world of magic and sorcerers to us, but it also brought the inimitable Benedict Cumberbatch to the MCU. His appearance and portrayal of Strange lines up pretty well with the comic...but his mentor is a different story. Doctor Strange is trained by The Ancient One, and she serves as the Sorcerer Supreme of the Planet. In the movie, The Ancient One is a bald woman played by Tilda Swinton. However, this character in the comics was originally portrayed by an old Tibetan man.
This ended up being one of the character changes motivated by politics, though.
Disney changed the character from Tibetan to Irish helped the movie get screened in China (who obviously has no love for Tibet).