Ever since the very first Marvel Studios film release in 2008, Marvel’s film releases have certainly not been generic , in the sense that you surely cannot look at, say, Iron Man 2 and Guardians and the Galaxy and say, “Oh, they’re just the same type of film.” Marvel has made a point of trying to do different types of films to best suit its various superheroes. With that being said, though, there is certainly a general sort of approach that Marvel does take with all of its films, in that the company likes to keep its films at a level where the whole family can enjoy them. There hasn’t been an R-rated Marvel Cinematic Universe film, for instance. So while the films vary in tone and style, they are relatively family-friendly.
When Marvel launched its Netflix initiative, however, the company went the other way and came up with shows that were darker, edgier and the TV equivalent of an R-rated film (TV-MA). This has led to a lot of amusing memes comparing Marvel’s Cinematic Universe with its Netflix Universe. We have collected 15 of our very favorite memes for you here.
15. DIFFERENT DESIGNS FOR DIFFERENT PEOPLE
This meme, showing the standard design for Buzz Lightyear and Woody from Toy Story versus a grimmer and “cooler” version of the two characters, is a meme that is based on the different style designs that you see in the Marvel Cinematic Universe versus the Netflix Universe. The best example is a character who wasn’t technically part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but had a costume that would not look out of place in the MCU.
We are namely talking about the original Daredevil costume worn by Ben Affleck in the Daredevil film. It was very colorful, but contrast that with the darker costume that Daredevil wears in the Marvel Netflix series and you’ll get a strong sense of the design differences between characters in the MCU and character within the Marvel Netflix universe, even if Affleck’s wasn’t technically in the MCU.
14. POOR IRON FIST…
One thing that is consistent in pretty much all of the world of memes is that, if you have a chance to make fun of the Marvel Netflix version of Iron Fist, you take it. Outside of people making fun of Barry Allen changing the timeline, images making fun of Iron Fist for just being himself are probably the most popular superhero media memes on the internet.
In this instance, Iron Fist is once again getting some guff over seemingly not being that unique (previously, people had mocked him for having an origin too similar to Oliver Queen from Arrow and Doctor Strange from Doctor Strange), as Winter Soldier also technically has an “iron fist.” Winter Soldier probably has a cooler background story, as well.
13. A COLDER TONE
An interesting aspect of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is that, following the original couple of films (Iron Man and Incredible Hulk), their films have been mostly pretty devoid of any sexualized content (and it wasn’t even like those two films had much graphic content, either, just a lot more than later films). That’s definitely a major area where the Marvel Netflix series differ from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which is disturbingly demonstrated with this meme.
It compares a snow man as the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Jack Frost attacking a woman as Marvel Netflix. The severity of violence in the Marvel Netflix Universe definitely is a lot more disturbing than in the MCU, including some equally disturbing villainy with the mind-controlling villain, Killgrave, in Jessica Jones.
12. IT WAS HER!
The longer that superhero films and superhero television series go on, the more opportunities we have to see some humorous examples of actors appearing in multiple roles in different films (already, both actors who played Human Torches in modern day films, Chris Evans and Michael B. Jordan, have gone on to appear as different characters in Marvel Cinematic Universe films).
This meme amusingly points out that Mariah, the city councilwoman who is also the behind-the-scenes villain of the first season of Luke Cage was played by the great Alfre Woodard, who also played a mother whose son was killed during an Avengers battle and whose anger towards Iron Man over her son’s death led to Iron Man instituting major changes in how superheroes operate in Captain America: Civil War.
This amusing meme comparing the regular Muppets of Sesame Street to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the Muppets wielding knives as the Marvel Netflix Universe brings to mind a significant difference in how the two different universes handle fighting against a crowd of bad guys.
In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the Avengers took on a Chitauri invasion in The Avengers, but the fights against the Chitauri were mostly cartoon levels of violence (the destruction of the New York City buildings were more visceral) and that goes for most of the times that the heroes take on large groups of people (like Captain America knocking out a whole pile of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents in Captain America: Winter Soldier). Contrast that with the famous hallway fights of the Daredevil Netflix series and the difference is stark. In Daredevil’s fight, every punch is felt, every blow resonates off of the screen.
10. CLOWNING AROUND
Probably the most famous meme examining the differences between the two styles is this one, which comes in a number of different varieties, but the basic concept is that Marvel films are like Ronald McDonald — fun, upbeat and colorful — while Marvel Netflix shows are like Pennywise the Clown from Stephen King’s It — a dark and twisted creature made up of pure evil.
Interestingly, even here, the design of Pennywise is a bit of what we’re talking about. While he has always been a killer clown, there is still a significant difference between the 2017 Pennywise and the 1990 Tim Curry version, sort of like how there have been film attempts at Punishers before, but none seem to have quite the same grit as the Marvel Netflix version of the character.
9. A DIFFERENCE OF VIEWPOINTS
Marvel Netflix’s The Punisher is at the heart of this meme, as well. The meme shows the beliefs of Iron Man and Captain America, as expressed in their respective films, and then counterbalances against the Punisher’s viewpoint. In a lot of ways, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is filled with fights over ideas.
The whole point of Captain America: Civil War, for instance, was Captain America and Iron Man having conflicting views of how much freedom was okay to give up to improve the security of the world. After all, Iron Man was prepared to build a giant global A.I. to protect the world, though his view was kind of obvious on the subject. The Punisher, though, has no deep thoughts beyond just wanting to kill other killers. It’s a dark yet hilarious contrast.
8. I WANT THOSE GUNS
Clearly, one of the biggest differences between the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the Marvel Netflix Universe is the scope of stories. While the Marvel Netflix Universe is technically the same universe as the films, the connection has remained fairly vague. We just keep hearing about the event in Midtown Manhattan without explicitly discussing how it changed world that these heroes now live in.
Similarly, despite the Chitauri flying around on basically alien dragons, it still surprised people in the Defenders that dragons exist. That disconnect leads to the humor in this meme, where the Punisher is shocked at the sort of alien weaponry that the Guardians of the Galaxy run around with regularly. Can you even imagine what the Punisher could get up to with a few ion cannons?
7. THAT’S NOT KETCHUP!
A fascinating “fight” happened behind the scenes of the making of The Avengers. When Agent Coulson was killed, Loki’s scepter was initially shown sticking through him, with a bunch of blood spilling out from the wound. The ratings review board determined that would make the film have to be rated R. Naturally, they did not want the film to be R, so they made a bunch of cuts and now the scene is much shorter and most of the gore is off screen.
Contrast that with the Marvel Netflix Universe, where blood and gore are a constant in episodes and we think that you can understand the point behind this meme contrasting ketchup with tons of actual blood as being the difference between the MCU and Marvel Netflix.
6. MORE TIME FOR VILLAINY
Naturally, one of the major difference that you’re going to have between a film universe and a television show universe is that you have literally six times the amount of time to tell your story. As a result, that means that you have much more time to develop your characters, especially your villains. Of course, unlike the heroes, the villains tend to only appear in a single film, making it harder to give them proper development.
Imagine how much more we could get to know Zemo in Captain America: Civil War if producers had the time that the Marvel Netflix shows had to develop Kingpin and Killgrave. Zemo’s plan probably still wouldn’t make all that much sense, but at least we would better understand his thinking a little more.
In this meme, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is depicted as the standard, upbeat version of Mickey Mouse, while the Marvel Netflix is depicted as a grim, dark version of Mickey. This matches up well with the general way that the two different universes approach costuming. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, most characters wear costumes. Some of them are gaudier than others, but most of them wear costumes.
Even in the cases where the costumes are relatively subdued, like the Scarlet Witch, Black Widow and Hawkeye, they’re still clearly uniforms. Contrast that with the Defenders, where three of the group wear no costume of any kind, with Iron Fist at least having his stylized chest tattoo to make him look a bit more like a “proper” superhero. Luke Cage and Jessica Jones go to battle just wearing their normal clothes.
4. MORTAL KOMBAT?
Since Spider-Man has joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Captain America: Civil War and Spider-Man: Homecoming, he opens up a whole pile of new memes, as Spider-Man’s wisecracking ways translate very well to memes that involve making fun of other characters. In this instance, we get a humorous exchange where Spider-Man meets Luke Cage and confuses him with Jax from Mortal Kombat.
Jax was introduced as Sonya Blade’s superior officer and has become one of the more popular characters in the Mortal Kombat canon. He is best known for his bionic arms, which he got in Mortal Kombat 3. Since Winter Soldier also has bionic arms, it’s a bit more understandable for why Spider-Man would get confused and think that Luke Cage’s powers derive from bionics and not just standard super powers.
3. DEAD IS DEAD
Death in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is a rare thing, mostly because the studio doesn’t want to give up on the opportunity to do more with its intellectual property. Before Thor: Ragnarok saw a bunch of Thor supporting characters killed off, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has not had a whole lot of death in it. Agent Coulson was killed, but then they brought him right back.
Quicksilver was also killed, but that was only after Joss Whedon fought with the studio execs to be allowed to kill him (he still had to do an alternate take where Quicksilver survived his bullet wounds). In the Marvel Netflix Universe, however, there has yet to be a season where major characters did not die. Nearly every show had a regular cast member end up dead by the end.
2. WHOEVER IS WORTHY
This one is a bit out there, as it doesn’t technically involve the Thor from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but it is too funny to not feature here. Before the superhero boom of the 2000s, you had to look far and wide to even see references to Marvel comic book characters in films. When Quentin Tarantino re-wrote 1995’s Crimson Tide to add the Silver Surfer debate, for example, that was huge for comic book fans.
A similar instance happened in 1987’s Adventures in Babysitting, where the little girl in the group, Sara, is a huge fan of Marvel’s Thor. Later in the film, they meet a mechanic named Dawson who she thinks is Thor because of his long blond hair and the sledgehammer he is holding. Amusingly enough, said “Thor” was played by Vincent D’Onofrio, decades before he depicted Kingpin on the Daredevil Netflix series.
1. YOU CAN’T CATCH HIM, HE’S THE GINGERBREAD MAN!
Another aspect where the very format of each universe dictates how characters are treated is that television series need to fill in so many episodes that there really isn’t a good reason to eliminate characters unless you have to. In this meme, we see a nice Gingerbread Man and an evil one to show the differences between MCU and Marvel Netflix. Of course, the Gingerbread Man also symbolizes how villains are more likely to get away in the Marvel Netflix Universe.
This is because you need them for future seasons. Kingpin can’t be taken down completely in just one season of Daredevil because you will need him for Season 3 of Daredevil. A similar thing happened with the Hand, who lasted a number of seasons before seemingly being taken out in Defenders. The Marvel movies can afford to lose antagonists with greater ease (although, Loki is too good to lose).
Which do you prefer, Marvel’s movies or its Netflix shows? Let us know in the comments!
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