by Brett White
Not to knock the source material, but the Marvel Cinematic Universe has accomplished the unthinkable. They’ve created versions of characters previously deemed too complicated or unfamiliar and made them connect with audiences in a big way. Iron Man became an A-List hero after spending decades in Spider-Man’s shadow. Thor, a riff on Norse mythology tied to an impenetrable and retconned to death origin, was turned into a charismatic warrior with a surprising knack for comedy. “Marvel’s the Avengers” was the franchise’s crowning achievement, proving that the Hulk can be done right outside of comics in addition to creating what could go down as one of the best Avengers stories told in any medium.
With all of the success the Marvel films have had, it’s no wonder the comic books have slowly started incorporating these changes, either as a reaction to or in anticipation of their big screen counterparts. Marvel Comics followed up a post-credits cameo by galactic bad guy Thanos in “Marvel’s the Avengers” with two Thanos-led mini-series. Here are five more examples of Marvel’s attempt to make their films and comics more simpatico.
Nick Fury Jr. and “Cheese” Coulson
Samuel L. Jackson and Clark Gregg act as the glue holding the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe together. Initially, both of those characters had no counterparts in the main Marvel universe. The film version of Nick Fury was based on a parallel universe’s iteration of the character, who rose to prominence in Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch’s series “The Ultimates.” The character’s look was modeled after Jackson, so the casting worked out quite well there. As for Agent Phil Coulson, he was first seen in “Iron Man” as a generic S.H.I.E.L.D. agent.
Fast forward to 2012 and the average person aware of the Marvel movies thinks Nick Fury looks like Samuel L. Jackson and considers Agent Coulson to be a top agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. Thus the mini-series “Battle Scars” was born, which introduced Marcus Johnson (a.k.a. Nick Fury Jr.) in its first issue and Agent Phil “Cheese” Coulson in its sixth and final issue. The duo currently star alongside Hawkeye and Black Widow in the series “Secret Avengers.”
The Avengers are everywhere
And I don’t just mean all of the Avengers, I mean specifically the six movie Avengers. Most or all of the movie sextet (Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Hawkeye and Black Widow) can be seen monthly in the series “Avengers” and “Avengers Assemble.” In addition, all of the movie team except for Black Widow have ongoing series (a problem that should be rectified ASAP). Black Widow’s keeping busy, though, as she currently stars in “Secret Avengers,” had a recent story arc devoted to her in “Avengers Assemble,” and co-starred in the “Winter Soldier” series alongside Bucky Barnes.
When the Avengers show up in other comics, it’s pretty much a guarantee that all six movie Avengers will be front and center, usually with Captain Marvel or Spider-Woman rounding out the ranks. The six even cross over into each others’ books. Iron Man has appeared in “Hawkeye,” “Indestructible Hulk” and “Thor: God of Thunder”; Thor’s popping up in “Indestructible Hulk” this week and Black Widow will have an extended role in an upcoming issue of “Hawkeye.”
With the “Extremis” story line forming the backbone of “Iron Man 3,” writer Kieron Gillen and artist Greg Land made a sort-of-sequel titled “Believe.” In the story, A.I.M. has forced Maya Hansen to recreate Extremis, a nano-tech serum designed as part of a rogue super soldier project. The dangerous technology is then unleashed to those willing to pay for it, which is a pretty bad predicament considering it’s power. Both A.I.M. and Maya Hansen play a pivotal role in “Iron Man 3,” so fans wishing to be super in-the-know should snag a copy of “Believe.”
Guardians of the Galaxy
The Marvel movies have firmly committed to taking their heroes to space, and thus the comics have followed suit. Marvel’s cosmic line of comics went through a huge makeover in 2006 with the event “Annihilation.” The event spawned an ongoing “Nova” series as well as a sequel, “Annihilation: Conquest,” which in turn spawned a new “Guardians of the Galaxy” series. These comics were critically acclaimed but constituted a rather independent corner of the Marvel Universe. However beloved those books were, they were all gone by 2011.
Because of their slow disappearance from the comics, their loyal fanbase was pretty blown away when a Guardians of the Galaxy film was announced following the aforementioned Thanos cameo. Now Marvel Comics have launched two new ongoing series with the goal of improving their cosmic characters’ visibility and to fully integrate them with the rest of Earth’s heroes. The Guardians teamed up with the Avengers last year in the comic “Avengers Assemble” and Iron Man has joined the team for their new ongoing series.
As soon as Jeremy Renner’s costume was released in promotional stills for “Marvel’s the Avengers,” Hawkeye’s iconic mask and classic purple tights were doomed. His Wolverine-esque mask (which atually pre-dates the Canadian mutant’s by about a decade) was a mainstay in the comics until Clint Barton traded it in for a pair of purple sunglasses. The uniform he sports now is much more in line with his movie uniform in terms of practicality and subtlety, even if he usually wears a t-shirt and jeans in his monthly comic.
Can you think of any other changes the comics have made to reflect the films? Let us know in the comments below or hit us up on Twitter!