Running from 2000 to 2015, the “Ultimate Marvel” line featured a reimagined Marvel Universe for the modern world. At first, it served as a way for creators to tell updated origins for classic Marvel heroes and villains. Later in the line’s life, however, it became a place where comic book creators could tell stories that took huge risks and do things they could never get away with in the main comic book line.
The Ultimate Marvel Universe was noteworthy for its often gritty tone. It also commonly tried to take a more realistic approach to superheroes, by showing their effect on world politics. Stories tended to be more violent with graphic imagery, leading to some truly shocking moments. In fact, it often surprised its readers by re-imagining a drastically different take on a character or situation. With that in mind, here are the most controversial moments from the Ultimate Marvel universe.
16. ULTIMATE WOLVERINE VS HULK
The opening scene of “Ultimate Wolverine Vs. Hulk” (2005) by Damon Lindelof and Leinil Francis Yu shows Wolverine with the lower half of his body missing. It’s revealed that the Hulk had ripped Wolverine in half during a brutal fight, tearing apart the tendons between his adamantium covered bones. This was a shocking scene, especially because Wolverine had to crawl back to the scene of the fight and get his original legs back. As you might imagine, the image of Hulk ripping Wolverine in half was one of the main selling points of this series.
That opening scene would have been enough for this series to make this list, but it was also plagued by massive delays. The first issue was released in December 2005, with the second issue being released in April of that year. Due to more delays, the sixth and final issue wasn’t released until May 2009. The worst part of the delays was that, after the opening scene in the first issue, the series flashed back to set up the titular fight, which didn’t occur until the third issue. Fans had to wait over three years just to see the scene that Marvel had promised from the very first issue.
Many of the Ultimate Universe characters were very similar to their mainstream Marvel Universe characters, just updated to fit in the modern world. Some characters, however, were completely altered and barely resembled the originals in any way at all. Deadpool, first appearing in “Ultimate Spider-Man” #91 (2006) by Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley, is one of the oddest examples of this. Sergeant Wilson, a veteran of the Wakandan Wars, was an anti-mutant bigot who appears to be a cyborg with superhuman strength, a healing factor, the ability to shapeshift and a horrifically disfigured face.
He’s the leader of the Reavers, a group of fellow anti-mutant cyborgs. They kidnap the X-Men, along with Spider-Man, and take them to an island where they’re hunted down for sport as part of a sick reality show. While this Deadpool is still insane, he’s missing the classic Deadpool’s sense of humor. Ultimate Deadpool didn’t appear again until he was killed by the mainstream Deadpool in “Deadpool Kills Deadpool” #4 (2013) by Cullen Bunn and Salva Espin.
14. THAT SEX TAPE
Iron Man and Black Widow almost got married during “The Ultimates 2,” but unfortunately, it turned out Natasha Romanoff was a spy and secretly betrayed the team. She even tried to kidnap Tony, but he used nanobots to give her brain damage and then escape. Black Widow was later killed by Hawkeye, and the series ended with Tony depressed about losing her, only until he laid eyes on his next sexual conquest. It seemed like the saga of Tony Stark and Natasha Romanoff was over.
The opening scene of “The Ultimates 3” (2008) by Jeph Loeb and Joe Madureira, however, revealed that someone had leaked a sex tape of Iron Man and Black Widow. The weirdest part of this scene is that the Ultimates are sitting around together and watching it on a giant television screen. It’s later revealed that Ultron leaked the tape in an attempt to distract the heroes so he could kidnap the Scarlet Witch. Ultron never reveals how he knew that the team’s reaction to the sex tape would be to creepily watch it together while everyone yells at Tony.
13. THE BLOB EATS THE WASP
After the death of the Scarlet Witch, Magneto went crazy and decided to combine his powers with Mjolnir, causing giant tidal waves and volcanic eruptions across the globe. He also instantly froze Latveria, as shown in “Ultimatum” (2008) by Jeph Loeb and David Finch. New York City was one of the places struck by a gigantic tidal wave, and many of the superheroes were killed, including Beast, Nightcrawler, Daredevil and many others. Hank Pym and Hawkeye survived the wave, and immediately began searching for their teammate, Wasp.
What they found was a truly horrifying, and disgusting scene. They come across the Blob eating Janet Van Dyne’s body, and declaring that it tastes like chicken. Hank Pym freaks out, and in his Giant Man form, picks up the Blob and bites his head off, spitting it back out onto the street. Pym then has Janet’s body taken back to his lab for “the Jocasta Project.” Unfortunately, Pym was killed by an army of suicide-bombing Multiple Men the next issue, putting an end to the Hank Pym and Janet Van Dyne story.
12. WOLVERINE MURDERS CYCLOPS
Ultimate Wolverine’s jealousy of Jean Grey choosing Cyclops over him took a dark turn in “Ultimate X-Men” #24 (2003) by Mark Millar and Kaare Andrews. Wolverine, Cyclops and Kitty Pryde are on a mission searching for missing marines in the Savage Land, near Magneto’s old base, where they find a crazy computer and reanimated zombies. The issue ends on a cliffhanger, however, and Wolverine and Kitty Pryde are shown returning home without Cyclops in “Ultimate War” #2 (2003) by Mark Millar and Chris Bachalo.
Wolverine says that Scott is dead, which Kitty confirms, although she doesn’t know the details. It’s revealed in “Ultimate X-Men” #29 (2003) by Mark Millar and Adam Kubert that during the fight against the computer zombies, Cyclops was knocked off a ledge. Kitty left to find an exit, Wolverine took advantage of the situation and, pretending to help Cyclops up, let him fall to his apparent death. Cyclops survived, although he spent 31 days paralyzed at the bottom of a pit before he was rescued. Wolverine was only briefly kicked off the team before being welcomed back by Cyclops himself.
11. NOT QUITE MJOLNIR
Mjolnir is as important a part of Thor as Iron Man’s armor is to him, but that was drastically changed in the Ultimate Universe. First appearing in “The Ultimates” #4 by Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch, Thor’s hammer looked like a combination between an axe and a hammer. While Thor claimed to be the Norse god, it was suggested that he was just a psychiatric nurse who had suffered a mental breakdown. This seemed to be confirmed when a man claiming to be Thor’s human brother revealed Mjolnir’s origin. It was actually a weapon designed by the Norwegian government, and is the source of all of Thor’s powers, rather than a divine lineage.
Gunnar turned out to be Loki in disguise, but it also turned out he wasn’t lying about Mjolnir being a fake. Thor eventually regained the more classical looking Mjolnir, but only briefly. He lost it during the fall of Asgard in “Ultimate Comics: The Ultimates” #2 (2011) by Jonathan Hickman and Esad Ribic. Thor went back to wielding the fake Mjolnir until “Secret Wars” (2015), during which the Ultimate universe ended, and the fake Mjolnir made its way to the mainstream Marvel Universe.
10. GOAT LEGGED DOCTOR DOOM
A descendant of Vlad Tepes Dracula, the Ultimate Doom was Victor van Damme, who found himself working at the Baxter Building as a part of a think tank for young geniuses. He started working with Reed Richards on a teleportation device, as revealed in “Ultimate Fantastic Four” #2 (2004) by Brian Michael Bendis, Mark Millar and Adam Kubert. When they attempted to test the device, Victor changed Reed’s coordinates without telling anyone, causing the accident that created the Fantastic Four. Victor was also transformed in the accident, turning him into Doctor Doom.
This version of Doctor Doom wasn’t wearing a suit of armor, but had skin that had been turned into metal, granting him superhuman strength. Also, in an odd twist on the original, his legs were turned into goat legs. Doom having metal skin was obviously inspired by the original’s suit of armor covering up his scarred face, but the goat legs seem like a completely random change to the Doctor Doom mythos.
9. GAH LAK TUS AND THE SILVER SURFERS
The arrival of a planet-devouring entity known as Gah Lak Tus was first foretold in “Ultimate Nightmare” (2004) by Warren Ellis and Trevor Hairsine when an alien robot known as the Vision broadcast a warning across the Earth. That was followed up by the alien race known as the Kree arriving on Earth and trying to prevent humans from escaping the planet before Gah Lak Tus arrived, as shown in “Ultimate Secret” (2005) by Warren Ellis, Steve McNiven and Tom Raney.
When Gah Lak Tus finally arrived in “Ultimate Extinction” (2006) by Warren Ellis and Brandon Peterson, it was revealed to be a swarm of robots (shaped like the classic Galactus’ signature helmet) that would kill all life on the planet and then drain the Earth of its energy. Also, multiple Silver Surfers begin forming suicide cults across the planet, helping to lower the population’s resistance to Gah Lak Tus. Luckily, Reed Richards saves the planet by harnessing the big bang from an emerging alternate reality and directing the blast at Gah Lak Tus’ swarm.
8. THE DEFENDERS
After it was revealed that Hank Pym was an abusive husband, he was kicked off the Ultimates (and also physically beaten by Captain America). He desperately wanted to continue being a hero, however, so he tried branching off on his own. In “The Ultimates 2” #6 (2005) by Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch, he made contact with a group of amateur heroes calling themselves The Defenders.
Unfortunately, as Pym quickly discovered, none of them actually had any super powers, and they publicly embarrassed themselves on their first mission. The weird part was that team was made up of characters like Power Man, Valkyrie, Nighthawk and Black Knight, who are genuine heroes in the mainstream Marvel Universe. In the Ultimate Universe, however, they were just jokes. The Defenders would later show up in “Ultimate Comics: New Ultimates” #1 (2010) by Jeph Loeb and Frank Cho, having acquired superpowers by making a deal with Loki.
7. THE SLAUGHTER OF HAWKEYE’S FAMILY
Ultimate Hawkeye, unlike the classic version, was a family man. He lived with his wife, Laura, with whom he had three children. Unlike the rest of the Ultimates, Clint Barton’s personal life wasn’t a mess and he seemed to be happy. During the events of “The Ultimates 2” by Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch, however, that all came crashing down. A traitor from within the Ultimates team leaked info about Bruce Banner’s membership to the public, as well as information that caused Thor to quit the team.
In “The Ultimates 2” #7 (2005), a kill squad breaks into the Barton’s home and kills Laura and the children, including the baby. Hawkeye recognizes the leader of the kill squad, who is later revealed to be Black Widow, the traitor. Hawkeye is captured and tortured, but eventually breaks free when he pries off his finger nails and uses them as projectiles. He eventually finds Black Widow, who had been hospitalized by Tony Stark, and puts an arrow through her head.
6. CAPTAIN AMERICA VS. FRANCE
One of the many updates to Captain America in the Ultimate Universe was that he was written like a man from 1944. The mainstream Captain America seemed to fit into the modern world with relative ease, but the Ultimate version was truly a man out of time. He had trouble getting used to modern culture, and even complained about curse words and revealing clothes in movies at one point. Also, during the climactic battle against the Chitauri in “The Ultimates” #12 (2003) by Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch, Cap made his feelings about France known.
While fighting against Herr Kleiser, an alien disguised as a Nazi, Cap briefly lost the upper hand. When Kleiser suggested that Cap surrender, the response was aimed at an entire country. Cap, pointing at the giant “A” on his mask, shouted “You think the letter on my head stands for France?” Obviously, this was a reference to France surrendering during World War II, a move that the Ultimate version of Captain America seemingly had a problem with.
5. REED RICHARDS: EVIL
The Ultimate version of Reed Richards was drastically different than the original. He started off as the heroic leader of the Fantastic Four, but after the events of “Ultimatum,” and the disbanding of the Fantastic Four, Reed snapped and turned evil. After failing to take over the world during the “Ultimate Doomsday” trilogy (2010) by Brian Michael Bendis and Rafa Sandoval, Reed founded the Children of Tomorrow. He built The Dome, where time traveled at a much faster rate than in the outside world, which Reed used to develop a hyper-evolved race of human followers.
Reed and his followers attacked and destroyed Asgard and began conquering Europe. He then teleported a genetically-altered suicide bomber into Washington D.C. The resulting explosion killed the President, all of Congress and countless innocent people. It was one of the most despicable crimes anyone ever committed in the Ultimate Universe, and it was perpetrated by Reed Richards, one of the most heroic members of the classic Marvel Universe.
4. WOLVERINE SLEEPS WITH JEAN GREY
Just like his mainstream counterpart, the Ultimate version of Wolverine had a thing for Jean Grey. They first met when Wolverine was sent by Magneto to kill Charles Xavier. In “Ultimate X-Men” #2 (2001) by Mark Millar and Adam Kubert, Wolverine lets his old Weapon handlers capture him so that the X-Men can save him. That’s when he meets Jean Grey, who appears to be in her late teens at the time, while Wolverine has been alive since at least World War II.
Logan is obviously attracted to her, and Magneto even notices, commenting that Wolverine is waiting to kill Xavier until he can bed her. Jean gives in to Logan’s advances in “Ultimate X-Men” #4, where they’re shown kissing. They’re then shown in bed together in “Ultimate X-Men” #5.” The relationship ends in the next issue, however, when Wolverine reveals to Jean that he was sent to kill Professor X, which unsurprisingly infuriates Jean. Although Wolverine continues to show interest in her after this, she continuously rejects his further advances.
3. DEATH OF PETER PARKER
“Ultimate Spider-Man” by Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley was one of the first comics to be released from the Ultimate line, and definitely the most popular. Bendis’ take on a teenaged and inexperienced Spider-Man connected with fans, and turned Bendis into one of Marvel’s premiere writers. During his run on the book, Bendis did the unthinkable, and actually killed off Peter Parker in a storyline appropriately titled “Death of Spider-Man” (2011).
After Spider-Man is accidentally shot by the Punisher, Norman Osborn is able to kill him in a fight that claims both their lives, with Peter dying in Aunt May’s arms in a truly heartbreaking scene. After this, Miles Morales was almost immediately introduced as the new Spider-Man in “Ultimate Fallout” #4 (2011) by Brian Bendis and Sara Pichelli. It was clear that Peter was killed off to make room for Miles. While the new Spider-Man ended up being popular in his own right, it still stung to see Peter killed off like that.
2. THE INCREDIBLE CANNIBAL
In his first appearance in “Ultimate Team Up” #2 (2001) by Brian Michael Bendis and Phil Hester, the Hulk acts pretty similarly to his mainstream counterpart. He’s strong and angry, but he mostly just wants to be left alone. Later, a seemingly cured Bruce Banner joined the Ultimates as a scientist. When he overheard the other heroes making fun of him, he freaked out and injected himself with Hulk formula combined with Captain America’s blood in “The Ultimates” #4 (2002) by Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch.
This new Hulk was much more aggressive, and rampaged through midtown in New York City. When Iron Man shows up, Hulk threatens to eat Tony and actually tries to bite his face. Hulk’s cannibalism is later confirmed, and even used as a weapon by Captain America when the Chitauri invade. He unleashes the Hulk against the alien leader, who ends up getting his head bitten off. Bruce Banner is later shown lamenting about the memories of eating a person.
1. QUICKSILVER AND SCARLET WITCH
First appearing in “Ultimate X-Men” #1 (2001) by Mark Millar and Adam Kubert, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch were the twin children of Magneto. At first, they were simply shown to have a very close relationship, with Pietro being incredibly protective of Wanda. When they joined the Ultimates in “The Ultimates” #8 (2002) by Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch, they had grown much closer, and were often seen in romantic situations together. At this point, the twins implied relationship was mostly just a joke, and nothing explicit was ever shown or stated. Wanda was even shown flirting with one of Hank Pym’s Ultron robots at one point.
Everything changed in “The Ultimates 3” #1 (2008), however, when it is explicitly stated that they were lovers. The strangest part about the scene is that when Wasp tells Captain America about it, she acts like he’s having troubling processing it because he’s from 1944. Wanda is killed later in the issue, ending the creepiest relationship just when it was made official.
Which moments from the Ultimate Universe made you feel uneasy? Let us know in the comments!
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