MCU Characters With Drastically Different Comic Backstories

List Rules
Vote up the characters whose comic book origins are nothing like what we see in the MCU.

Marvel Studios and its Marvel Cinematic Universe have generally drawn rave reviews from longtime readers of Marvel Comics for being willing to faithfully adapt the treasured and storied source material - but adapting does not entail making an exact copy. As a result, there are plenty of MCU characters with completely different backstories than their comic book counterparts, though there’s almost always at least some level of homage at play.

When it comes to comparing Marvel backstories in the comics versus the movie, it’s a fool's errand, as the differences are more often than not a result of the change in medium more than anything. It’s best to think of the annals of Marvel Comics and the continuity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe as separate and distinct entities - not competing with one another, but complementary. 

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  • Hela, the Goddess of Death, shows up out of nowhere in Thor: Ragnarok to reveal herself as Thor and Loki’s much older (and much more powerful) sister, who had been banished by Odin all this time for her fatal obsessions. But that backstory is not at all accurate to the Hela of Norse mythology - or to the Hela of Marvel Comics.

    In both the traditional telling of her story and her Marvel Comics canon, Hela rules over the realm of Hel and is not the adoptive sister of Loki - she’s his daughter. If that’s not strange enough, her giant pal the Fenris Wolf is also Loki’s child in this continuity, as is the World Serpent and Odin’s eight-legged horse. All of which, again, is mythologically correct.

    106 votes
  • Drax’s MCU origin is as tragic as it is simplistic. He was living a peaceful life on his home planet until Ronan the Accuser showed up and slayed his family and half of his people on Thanos’s orders. From there, Drax sets off on a life of bad decisions that lands him in an interstellar jail, where he becomes a founding member of the Guardians of the Galaxy - and eventually gets his revenge.

    The themes of revenge are considerably more direct when it comes to the comic book canon of Drax. Believe it or not, Drax was once human saxophonist Arthur Douglas, who was enjoying a nice drive with his wife and daughter when Thanos showed up out of nowhere and offed them all for fun. Feeling bad about the whole thing and wanting to keep his son in check, Thanos’s father, A’Lars, uses his cosmic abilities to resurrect Drax as an incredibly powerful engine of vengeance and sets him on a lifelong quest to slay the Mad Titan. 

    Drax’s daughter also eventually returns as a bad, bikini-clad space psychic, but that’s a story for another time. 

    99 votes
  • Very little time is spent on Mantis’s origin in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but it’s a pretty simple one - she was discovered in a larval state on some alien planet by Ego the Living Planet, who might just be her father, and adopted because of her unique ability to put Ego to sleep. And that’s it, really, until she meets and joins the Guardians of the Galaxy.

    The backstory of the comic book Mantis, who was associated with the Avengers long before she was a Guardian, is quite different and significantly more complicated than that of her MCU counterpart. This Mantis was born in Vietnam as an ordinary human, but quickly identified by a sect of Kree fanatics as the “Celestial Madonna.” Those alien cultists endowed Mantis with her telepathic and empathic abilities and trained her in combat until she was 18, and then mindwiped and dumped her in the streets of Saigon to find her own way to her supposed destiny of restoring the Cotati race - which is exactly what she ends up doing. 

    69 votes
  • Before partnering up with Rocket, the personal history of the original Groot was largely unknown - and probably always will be, given that that character perishes in Guardians of the Galaxy, only to be replaced by their adorable progeny. Presumably, he’s just an alien tree from a planet of alien trees.

    But the comic book Groot is a member of the Flora colossi race who once referred to himself as the “Monarch of Planet X” and fancied himself a cosmic warlord - though that eventually proved to be a bit of a front once he softened up and joined the Guardians. In his more villainous days, Groot was perfectly capable of speech, which he would mostly use to threaten and cajole his allies. Over time, however, he lost the ability to speak thanks to the congenital hardening of his vocal cords.

    83 votes
  • Yondu Udonta’s origin, if you can call it that, is pretty short and sweet as told in Guardians of the Galaxy - he’s just an old space pirate. His backstory is expanded on in Vol. 2, in which it is revealed that Yondu is an old space pirate who used to hang around with a bunch of other space pirates and perform quasi-heroic tasks, which is actually a lot more in line with the history of the original comic book Yondu.

    The first team to bear the name of the Guardians of the Galaxy in the pages of Marvel Comics were not from the mainstream Marvel Universe at all, but from an alternate timeline set in the Year 3000. There, Yondu was one of the last surviving members of the Centaurian race who took up with a band of other planetary orphans to form the original Guardians.

    Later, Yondu travels to the present day, meets the Avengers, and eventually perishes - only to be replaced by an ancestor of his who, conveniently enough, looks a whole lot more like Michael Rooker. 

    70 votes
  • Split between Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1 and 2, Peter Quill’s origin as Star-Lord centers around an alien abduction following the tragic demise of his mother, Meredith Quill - both of which have a lot to do with the cosmic origins of his father. Eventually, Peter learns that his dad is actually a being of unfathomable might known as Ego the Living Planet, but he also learns that Ego was responsible for his mother’s cancer, and so Peter has to eliminate him shortly thereafter.

    In the comics, Star-Lord was also captured as a child following his mother’s demise, but neither event had anything to do with his father - though his dad does happen to be an important cosmic figure in this continuity, too. Known as J’son of Spartax, Peter’s comic book father is a bit of a totalitarian and usually as antagonistic toward the “backwater apes” of Earth, but he’s most often depicted as a few steps short of supervillainy. He also only wiped Meredith's memories of him instead of slaying her, so he and Peter are on significantly better terms. 

    96 votes