MCU Characters With Surprisingly Dark Comics Backstories

Over 300 Ranker voters have come together to rank this list of MCU Characters With Surprisingly Dark Comics Backstories
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Vote up the Marvel characters you didn't know had dark comic origins.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has its emotional highs and lows, but it often strays away from any subjects that could be considered too heavy. Instead, most of the MCU movies are generally light-hearted and usually cut any tension with a joke. However, by trying to avoid darker subjects, the MCU often has to change its character’s backstories.

The MCU is no stranger to changing characters from the comics. In fact, many minor Marvel characters have their backstories changed drastically by the movies. Character relationships are also mixed up quite a bit. This is sometimes to make them fit better with the established canon, like changing Mysterio’s backstory to relate to Tony Stark, while other times, these backstories get changed because they are just way too dark for the MCU.

  • Mantis Had Her Mind Erased At Age 18 And Became A Sex Worker
    Photo: The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special / Disney+

    Who Is Mantis In The MCU: Mantis originally appears as a sort of assistant to Ego, as he says he needs her powers to help him go to sleep. When Ego’s villainous plan is revealed, Mantis joined the Guardians of the Galaxy to help defeat him and became a full member of the team. She also reveals to Peter Quill AKA Star-Lord in The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special that she was also a child of Ego, making her Quill's half-sister.

    What’s Her Comic Backstory: Before she was born, Mantis’s parents Gustav Brandt and Lua Nguyen were on the run from her uncle, Khruul. Shortly after Mantis’s birth, Lua was slain and her father lost his sight. Gustav and Mantis found refuge with the Priests of Pama who trained Gustav in martial arts. However, Gustav decided to leave Mantis behind and return to the United States, leaving her to be trained by the Priests. In preparation for making her the next Celestial Madonna, the Priests of Pama gave Mantis telepathic abilities but also wiped her mind. Mantis then believed she was an orphan and was forced to resort to intimate work to keep herself alive.

    230 votes
  • Ned Leeds Got Unceremoniously Taken Out After Being Brainwashed Into Villainy
    Photo: Spider-Man: No Way Home / Sony Pictures Releasing

    Who Is Ned Leeds In The MCU: Ned Leeds is Peter Parker’s best friend in the MCU. Ned eventually discovers Peter is actually Spider-Man and begins doing whatever he can to help Peter with his superhero adventures. Ultimately, Ned loses all memories of his friendship with Peter due to a spell Doctor Strange casts at the end of Spider-Man: No Way Home, and it is unclear how close they will be now that high school is over.

    What’s His Comic Backstory: Peter didn't cross paths with Ned Leeds until he started working for the Daily Bugle in the comics. A field reporter for the Bugle, Ned eventually married his coworker, Betty Brandt, with Peter Parker acting as best man. Unfortunately, things took a turn for Ned when he began investigating the Hobgoblin. The original Hobgoblin, Roderick Kingsley, brainwashed Ned, leading the reporter into thinking he was actually the Hobgoblin and even committing crimes of his own. Ned was eventually tracked down by crooks who thought he was the real Hobgoblin and savagely beaten. Ned died when one of the criminals slit his throat, his last thought being an unspoken apology to his wife Betty.

    257 votes
  • Flash Thompson Struggled With Heavy Drinking And Lost Both His Legs While Serving In The Army
    Photo: Spider-Man: Homecoming / Sony Pictures Releasing

    Who Is Flash Thompson In The MCU: In the MCU Spider-Man movies, Flash Thompson is Peter Parker’s high school acquaintance. While Flash occasionally picks on Peter, they both seem to have a lot of mutual friends and a similar level of relative popularity. Flash is ironically a huge fan of Spider-Man and even pretends to be the hero's close personal friend.

    What’s His Comic Backstory: Flash Thompson was originally depicted as a high school bully in Marvel comics, with Peter Parker being one of his favorite targets. Over time, Flash and Peter eventually became friends, and Flash enrolled in the U.S. military. After returning from his first tour of duty, Flash struggled with heavy drinking, a fact Norman Osborn exploited to cause a near-fatal car crash for Flash. Flash spent years in a coma, and when he returned he initially had lost some of his memory. After recovering, Flash returned to military service, only to lose both of his legs while fighting in Iraq.

    196 votes
  • Who Is Clint Barton In The MCU: Of all the Avengers in the MCU, Clint Barton AKA Hawkeye is the most grounded. Not only does he not possess any superpowers, but he also is a normal family man while not on duty. Barton uses his incredible archery skills and arsenal of trick arrows to keep up with his teammates on combat missions. He also serves as a mentor for younger heroes like Wanda Maximoff and Kate Bishop.

    What’s His Comic Backstory: Clinton Barton and his brother Barney grew up working for their father in his butcher shop. Their father, who was an alcoholic, used to mistreat both boys, even more frequently when he drank. Eventually, both of Clint’s parents passed in a car accident when his father was drinking behind the wheel, and both Clint and Barney were sent to foster care. The brothers eventually found themselves working for a carnival where they were mentored by the villains Trick Shot and Swordsman. However, when Clint tried to turn in Swordman for stealing from the carnival, Sworsdman beat him and left him for dead. Barney and Trick Shot both turned on Clint after that.

    165 votes
  • Who Is T’Challa In The MCU: Though introduced as the prince of Wakanda in Captain America: Civil War, T’Challa quickly becomes King when his father T’Chaka is slain in Baron Zemo’s strike on the United Nations. After realizing the dangers of trying to seek revenge, T’Challa returns home to rule Wakanda. After the tragic real-life passing of actor Chadwick Boseman, Marvel made the difficult decision to have the MCU’s T’Challa pass off-screen in the opening of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.

    What’s His Comic Backstory: As a child, T’Challa accompanied his father T’Chaka to perform a ceremony near the border of Wakanda. T’Chaka was confronted by Ulysses Klaw and a group of mercenaries who wanted access to Wakanda in order to mine vibranium. When T’Chaka refused, Klaw and the mercenaries opened fire on him. Klaw turned his attention to young T’Challa, and T’Chaka sacrificed himself to save his son. Shortly after watching his father pass, T’Challa also lost his adopted mother, Ramonda, when she was kidnapped and taken to South Africa.

    117 votes
  • James Rhodes Was The Target Of Abuse From Other Children And Gang Members During Childhood
    Photo: Iron Man 2 / Paramount Pictures

    Who Is James Rhodes In The MCU: James Rhodes is a United States Airforce Colonel and close personal friend of Tony Stark. Rhodes is one of the few people Tony trusts enough to grant access to his Iron Man suits, and eventually, Rhodey becomes his own version of the hero going by the moniker War Machine. Rhodes Has Iron Man and the Avengers' backs in several major endeavors including Aldrich Killian's Extremis attacks and the fight against Thanos.

    What’s His Comic Backstory: Before joining the Marines, James Rhodes had a difficult childhood. He was born and raised in Philadelphia, where he was met with constant harassment and mistreatment from those around him. As a young black man, Rhodes was often the target of cruelty and harassment by white children. Many gang members also targeted Rhodes after he declined to join their ranks.

    117 votes