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MCU Characters That Are Nothing Like Their Comic Book Counterparts

Updated February 17, 2021 12.6k votes 1.8k voters 199.9k views15 items

List RulesVote up the characters who changed the most from comic to screen.

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!

  • 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.

    Big change?
  • 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.

    Big change?
  • 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.

    Big change?
  • 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.

    Big change?