MCU Characters That Are Nothing Like Their Comic Book Counterparts
When adapting comic book characters from page to screen, the various creative teams working at Marvel Studios can't always be 100% faithful to the source material. While some characters, like Iron Man's Tony Stark, are nearly indistinguishable from their print counterpart, others - like Yondu, for example - haven't been so meticulously recreated.
Why isn't Captain America: Civil War's Helmut Zemo a fascistic German baron like in the comics? Why is Guardians of the Galaxy's Drax not a reincarnated saxophone player? Why can Anthony Mackie's Falcon not telepathically communicate with birds? Why was Bucky Barnes not a teenager in Captain America: The First Avenger? All of these characters and more have been tweaked from the Marvel Comics characters they were based on. And before you start scrolling, there are plenty of spoilers for many Marvel Cinematic Universe films waiting for you down there, so be careful!
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Would you be surprised to learn that Ulysses Klaue (better known as Klaw), storied antagonist of the Black Panther and Fantastic Four, is a being of pure sound? Detailed in the pages of 1966's Fantastic Four #56, Klaw jumped into a sound converter of his own design and became a form of extra-physical sound. It is some wild stuff. Due to this, he is essentially both immortal and indestructible, though he is pretty easily trapped in vibranium, which is a huge disadvantage going up against the likes of the Black Panther.
For those who know the character only from the MCU films Avengers: Age of Ultron and Black Panther, this will come as a big surprise, because the Klaw portrayed by Andy Serkis definitely is a being of flesh and blood. So much so, he is gunned down by Killmonger in Black Panther. While the MCU's version of the character has a version of the iconic sound converter arm prosthetic - because his arm was cut off by Ultron in the second Avengers movie - he is a far cry from the all-sound villain of the comic books.
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Classic Iron Man villain the Mandarin has been around almost as long as the armored Avenger himself. Introduced in 1964's Tales of Suspense #50, this villainous mastermind uses his astounding intellect and the might of the Makluan Power Rings to go up against Tony Stark in the pages of Marvel Comics. He has proven to be one of Iron Man's most capable and long-lasting foes.
The Mandarin of Iron Man 3, whether it be Ben Kingsley's Trevor Slattery - who portrayed a fake version of the character in propaganda - or Guy Pierce's Aldrich Killian, who proclaimed himself the real Mandarin during the film's climax, was clearly not a faithful adaptation of the comic book character. Some fans were not happy about this, and Marvel Studios got the hint and a proper adaptation of the character is on the way as the main villain of the upcoming film Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.
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If we're talking about characters who are similar in name only, Helmut Zemo needs to be put front and center. Outside of the name and hating Captain America (among other superheroes), the Helmut Zemo of the MCU and the Helmut Zemo of Marvel Comics are two entirely different characters. The purple-ski-mask-wearing Zemo of Marvel Comics is the 13th in a line of fascist German barons who fashions himself a would-be savior of the world, if only he could conquer it first. Goofy sock puppet design aside, Zemo has become an iconic Marvel villain after making hundreds of appearances since debuting in the 1970s.
The Zemo of the MCU, who was introduced in Captain America: Civil War, is a former Sokovian colonel whose family perished in the Battle of Sokovia at the end of Avengers: Age of Ultron. Zemo blames the Avengers for the demise of his family and seeks the destruction of the superteam by putting together a highly elaborate plan of sabotage through Civil War's runtime. This Zemo seems to have little to do with his comic book inspiration, though it appears Zemo will actually be wearing the iconic purple mask when he returns to the MCU in the upcoming Disney+ series The Falcon and The Winter Soldier.
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If one goes looking for similarities between the Taskmaster of Marvel Comics fame and the one now haunting the MCU, they’ll come up almost entirely empty-handed. The two Taskmasters share superpowers and a first name that could be shortened to “Tony,” and that’s it.
The comic book “Tasky” is Anthony Masters, a former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who debuted in Avengers #195 and took an experimental Nazi super soldier serum that granted him “photographic reflexes,” or the ability to perfectly replicate the physical skills of anyone he’s witnessed in action. Tragically, Masters’ new powers resulted in his brain retaining too many new memories and pushing the old ones out, causing him to lose touch with his past and of his original personality, eventually leaving S.H.I.E.L.D. altogether for more criminal endeavors. Soon, only Taskmaster remained - a mercenary with no real moral compass in an admittedly goofy pirate-themed costume complete with buckler, cutlass, and skull-shaped mask.
Taskmaster would develop a reputation for flippancy and for doing anything for a buck, including assassination missions and running training camps for would-be henchpersons. He’s now perhaps best known for his bromances with fellow mercenaries Deadpool and Black Ant.
Antonia Dreykov’s mimicry powers come from a chip implanted in her spine following a near-death experience and the Red Room’s biochemical brainwashing. The daughter of General Dreykov, Antonia spends most of her life as her father’s silent assassin, never so much as uttering a single line of dialogue, and certainly not cracking wise. Her attire is not intended to invoke thoughts of Blackbeard, but instead to hide the scars of her almost-demise at the hands of Natasha Romanoff. Where her story goes from here remains to be seen, but chances are high that it will continue to diverge far from the path of Tony Masters.
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First appearing in 1966's Avengers #32, Bill Foster became a mainstay of Marvel Comics for the next 40 years until his demise at the hands of a clone of Thor in 2006's Civil War #4. Foster fought evil under superhero monikers like Giant-Man and Goliath, becoming involved with superhero teams like the Avengers, Defenders, and Champions. In addition to his superhero exploits, Foster was an accomplished academic and biochemist as well.
Marvel Studios took the intellectual aspects of the comic book character and brought him to the screen in 2018's Ant-Man and the Wasp, where he was played by Lawrence Fishburne. This version of the character is matured up to be closer in age to Michael Douglas's Hank Pym, is former member of S.H.I.E.L.D., and is shown to be a professor at Berkeley. Though Fishburne's Foster did work with Hank Pym on a project involving Pym Particles, he was never able to become a superhero and fight crime. Given his age, it's unlikely he will do so in future MCU films either.
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The original Guardians of the Galaxy team of Marvel Comics was not from the main Earth-616 universe and did not have adventures in modern times. No, the first Guardians of the Galaxy team, introduced in 1969's Marvel Super-Heroes #18, had their adventures in the Earth-691 continuity during the 31st century. One of the members of this team was Yondu, a member of the primitive, mystic Zatoan tribe of the planet Centauri-IV. This Yondu is imbued with a sixth sense of sorts that allows his people to form empathic relationships with various lifeforms. He also sports a pretty revealing outfit.
The Yondu of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, brought to life by Michael Rooker, is a space pirate who happens to have the same name, as well as blue skin and a red mohawk like his comic book counterpart. That's about all they have in common. These two characters are so different, Marvel Comics actually added a new version of Yondu based on the big screen version in 2016's Star-Lord #1 that adhered more faithfully to what fans of the movies would expect.