Possibly the most troublesome Marvel Comics characters to create on the big screen are the gods and god-like figures that reside in the comic book universe. Some of these characters, such as the gods of Asgard, seem easy enough to adapt to the screen since they are the most humanlike of all the god-like beings. There are other cosmic beings such as the Celestials and Elders of the Universe that mainstream movie fans would laugh off the screen if they showed up as drawn in the pages of the comics. However, just because the movies tried to make them look “normal” to please moviegoers does not mean they achieved the goal of creating gods that were respectful of the source material. Instead, they created characters that ended up as jokes.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has created some fantastic portrayals of gods. There have been some that appeared in the movies and made people forget about what they saw on the pages of their beloved comics. However, there have also been portrayals that made fans of the comics shake their heads in disgust and openly ridicule the final product that Marvel put up on the big screen. With gods playing such a significant role in the recent Marvel Cinematic Universe storylines, here is a look at eight of the Marvel gods that surpassed their comic book counterparts and seven more which needed to return to the drawing board.
15. BETTER: ODIN
The Thor movies did a great job in bringing Odin to the big screen. It helps that Marvel signed Anthony Hopkins to play the role since he seems born to portray mythological figures – especially the most powerful of them all. The look of Odin in the comics is very similar to that of his appearance in the Marvel movies, and that is a good thing. However, it might be Odin’s appearance as a warrior that elevates him in the films. Hopkins brings majestic royalty to the character.
There is also a lot to be said about Odin’s appearance in Thor: Ragnarok, where even a broken down and subdued All-Father remains majestic. Honestly, out of all the gods from Asgard that appear in the three Thor movies, Odin stands grand and mighty throughout the series. He is easily one of the best adaptations of any god in the Marvel Universe when it comes to the appearance on the big screen.
14. WORSE: THE GRANDMASTER
This choice is meant in no way to disparage the fantastic performance that Jeff Goldblum delivered in Thor: Ragnarok. Yes, Goldblum was portraying himself in the role, but it was still highly entertaining and brought a lot of humor to a movie that was overflowing with crowd-pleasing moments. With that said, the only thing that made Goldblum’s character The Grandmaster was the Contest of Champions and the fact that they called him The Grandmaster.
The Grandmaster is one of the Elders of the Universe – an ageless being who also happens to be the brother of The Collector. He is ageless and all-powerful, someone who toys with people and forces them to play his games. A perfect look at The Grandmaster came in the animated series Ultimate Spider-Man. While Goldblum was a lot of fun, the gray hair and a blue streak down his chin were all that made him look even partially like this Marvel Comics character.
13. BETTER: THOR
When it comes to the core superheroes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, they are almost universally perfect. Chris Evans is Steve Rogers. Robert Downey Jr. is Tony Stark. Even that talking rodent they found to play Rocket is an accurate facsimile of the comic book raccoon. This fact is also apparent when looking at Chris Hemsworth, who seems like he was born to play Thor, the God of Thunder.
The comic books have been hit and miss with Thor. When it is bad, it is really bad (hello Crossing era Thor). However, when it comes to the movies, Marvel went out of its way to create a perfect appearance for the God of Thunder. His costume is fantastic, and he looks every bit the popular Marvel Comics god. Even when Thor was the lamest of the Avengers on screen, he looked fantastic.
12. WORSE: THE COLLECTOR
Benicio Del Toro is at an interesting point in his career. The one-time Oscar-winner has been taking on roles in giant tentpole movies. Those roles have been strange to put it lightly. His most recent role in Star Wars: THe Last Jedi was as a stuttering hacker, a complex character that straddled the line between good and evil. However, his tics and traits are also very unusual and seem to be what Del Toro specializes in now. That is also evident in Guardians of the Galaxy.
The Collector is one of the Elders of the Universe, the brother of The Grandmaster. This MCU character is much wiser than Grandmaster turned out to be in Thor: Ragnarok, but Collector was very odd and nothing like his comic book counterpart. Once again, this was an interesting character but was not The Collector from the comics and proves that Marvel is not interested in the accurate portrayals of the larger-than-life cosmic beings outside of few exceptions.
11. BETTER: EGO
When it came to Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Marvel chose to go in two different directions with Ego, The Living Planet. Marvel repeated the same tactics as it did with the Collector and Grandmaster, and that was making Ego look like a human instead of an alien sentient being. As a cosmic entity, Ego could have ended up looking like a joke in the movie. Unlike the two Elders, Ego looks like a big fat planet with a face.
However, the movie made Ego into one of the coolest dudes in Hollywood history – Kurt Russell. It doesn’t get any cooler than having Snake Plissken show up in a Marvel movie, and that alone makes this a perfect choice to represent a character that looks like a joke even in the comics. By the end, Marvel did have Ego look more like the planet, and surprisingly, it worked very well in the battle scenes where it appeared and was in no way a letdown.
10. WORSE: DORMAMMU
Dormammu was always going to be a problem for the Marvel Cinematic Universe to pull off. In the comics, Dormammu is the Lord of the Realm of Darkness and is a being that can appear in various sizes with a flaming head. It is interesting to know that Marvel perfected a creature like this with Surtur in Thor: Ragnarok, but the studio went in a very different direction in Doctor Strange.
Dormammu was merely an idea in Doctor Strange. While it was cool that Benedict Cumberbatch performed the motion capture of the face of Dormammu in the movie, playing the scenes against himself, it was still just a giant flaming head with glowing eyes that kept killing Strange over and over again until giving up. It wasn’t terrible, but it was just too much CGI, and Dormammu was never an actual character in the movie.
9. BETTER: LOKI
While the superheroes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe all seem perfectly cast, the most popular character is a villain — the God of Mischief, Loki. Tom Hiddleston took on the role of Loki with great flair and delivered a performance that shines brighter than any villain in a comic book movie to date. Not only did Hiddleston portray Loki perfectly, he also looks fantastic.
In the comics, Loki often looked skinny and slightly slimy. While the movies duplicated his costume with careful accuracy, Marvel made him look much more menacing and formidable as an opponent for The Avengers. The films also managed to make his ridiculous horns from the comics look realistic on his head. This character might be the most improved villain in the movies when it comes to appearance.
8. WORSE: MALEKITH
One of the most derided villains in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is Malekith the Accursed from Thor: The Dark World. The leader of the Dark Elves should have stood as a frightening and powerful adversary of Thor and the gods of Asgard. Instead, there was little to differentiate Malekith from someone like Ronan, but while the Guardians of the Galaxy villain looked good, Malekith’s appearance was a huge disappointment.
For one thing, the movie version of Malekith was missing the comic book’s voluptuous blonde mane, almost a mixture of a demonic elf and ’80s era Tawny Kitaen. Nothing was menacing about how Malekith looked in the movie, and that was painfully obvious when seeing how great the film treated Kurse. With Malekith looking weak, it almost made sense that the humans helped beat him instead of Thor using all his power to conquer his enemy.
7. BETTER: SURTUR
There are a lot of reasons given for changing how certain god-like characters look when it comes to the movies. In the case of someone like Ego, making him look human worked better than throwing a giant silly planet up on the big screen. When it comes to characters like Dormammu and Surtur, there is a need to make the villains look realistically dangerous instead of like giant cosmic beings. While Marvel turned Dormammu into nothing more than a head in space with glowing eyes, it stuck with the giant creature for Surtur, and it worked spectacularly.
At the start of Thor: Ragnarok, the God of Thunder faced Surtur in its realm and fought the demon in an entertaining scene. It was proof that even a giant CGI being with a flaming head can look great with the right designers. At the end, when Surtur rose over Asgard, he looked terrific as well, a considerable improvement over the face of Dormammu and proof that Marvel can get these god-like beings both loyal to the comics and right for the big screen.
6. WORSE: GALACTUS
While Marvel proved with Surtur that a giant god-like being can still appear as a real creature and look dangerous without unintentional laughs, Fox struggled with its portrayal of Galactus and went with the easy way out. Instead of a giant purple outfitted cosmic, yet human-looking entity, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer chose to make him a cloud. The fact that Silver Surfer looked great made Galactus even more of a disappointment.
According to director Tim Story, it was Fox that was not interested in making Galactus into a giant alien creature in a spaceship eating planets. He also mentioned that the fear might have been unfounded based on what the world started to see in later Marvel movies. To be fair, Gah Lak Tus in the Ultimate Universe was robot drones, so it always could have ended up worse. Maybe with Marvel acquiring Fox, it can finally give the world the real Galactus.
5. BETTER: VALKYRIE
Thor: Ragnarok appears a lot on this list, and that is because that particular movie did almost everything right. In the comics, the Marvel character known as Valkyrie was a blonde bombshell named Brunnhilde, a former member of The Defenders. While it could have been easy to cast a beautiful Hollywood starlet to come in as eye candy for the male fans, Thor: Ragnarok did one better and created a much more unique looking Valkyrie.
Since the Valkyries were a group of warriors, the MCU didn’t need to bother bringing Brunnhilde to the big screen and instead cast Tessa Thompson to play the last surviving member of the Asgardian protectors, something that was completely different than what fans remember from the comics. The character model was so popular that she is coming to Marvel Comics for the Exiles series!
4. WORSE: THANOS
Maybe this pick isn’t fair because fans should wait until Avengers: Infinity War comes out to judge how Thanos looks on the big screen. However, as X-Men: Apocalypse proved, seeing a god-like character looking a little strange in trailers is a warning sign for the movie.
When Thanos was sitting on his throne in The Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy, he looked incredible. Thanos was menacing with just a touch of the laid-back arrogance that makes the character great. In the trailer for the next Avengers movie, Thanos looks like a mixture of Homer Simpson and a purple minion, with a mix of Hellboy. Honestly, this look does not bode well for Thanos, who looks more like a guy starting a fight at a bar than a conqueror of worlds.
3. BETTER: HEIMDALL
There were a lot of complaints at the start of the Thor franchise surrounding casting Idris Elba as Heimdall. The idea was that Heimdall was white in the comics, which some fans believed should remain true in the movies. However, by the time Thor: Ragnarok rolled around, there are few people who don’t see Elba as a perfect version of Heimdall. In the comics, he is a large, brutish man. In the movies, he looks fantastic.
Whether he is wearing his gold battle armor or his leather outfit from Thor: Ragnarok, Heimdall looks like he could take on, and beat, just about anyone. Add in the awesome look of his gold eyes, which some still believe might be an Infinity Stone, and Heimdall might be the perfectly designed Asgardian god from an aesthetics standpoint.
2. WORSE: APOCALYPSE
One of the biggest complaints that came out of the X-Men movies was the look and appearance of Apocalypse. In the pages of the comics, Apocalypse is a threatening and destructive looking god, one of the world’s first mutants. He was hulking and looked like he could destroy anyone that stepped in his way.
With no disrespect to Oscar Isaac, X-Men: Apocalypse made him look much less threatening than his comic book counterpart. With the exception of the Professor X dreams where Apocalypse was a giant, he is not that intimidating in the movie. Bryan Singer didn’t take kindly to the complaints, saying that a great actor like Isaac playing Apocalypse was more important than making him look powerful. That doesn’t make the fact that he looked so bad forgivable.
1. BETTER: HELA
Whether it was the trailer before the movie came out or the final product in Thor: Ragnarok itself, the best looking god in all of Marvel movies is easily Hela. That isn’t to say the character doesn’t look great in the comics, as the film did a great job in re-creating her on the big screen, even making her horned helmet look amazing.
However, Cate Blanchett brought something that just made Hela a spectacular creation in the film. While she did not get as big of a role as the character deserved, when Hela was on the screen, she owned every inch of it. Somehow, Blanchett made Hela look awesome in a way that only Tom Hiddleston achieved before with Loki. Hela is easily the best-designed god in any Marvel movie, and tops on our list!
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