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Background Characters In Superhero Movies That Have Surprisingly Deep Comic Book Backstories

June 10, 2021 1.1k votes 219 voters 81.5k views14 items

List RulesVote up the characters with a lot more going on in the comics.

Superhero movies are big. They’re maybe the biggest thing in the world right now, and it’s gotten to the point that even minor superhero movie characters are obsessed over and analyzed endlessly - and some with good reason. Whether we’re talking background MCU characters, cameos of the DCEU, or X-Universe fill-ins, there’s always a good chance that anyone who shows up in a superhero film, no matter how minor the role, has a rich and complex comic book backstory waiting to be uncovered.

Sometimes, these Marvel and DC characters are adapted so much, they’re practically unrecognizable onscreen. Other times, they’re kept true enough to the source material that their story might one day be expanded upon. Most times, however, they’re just there as a fun little Easter egg to the comic-reading members of the audience - and to make the whole production feel just a little more genuine. 

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    Cable’s Daughter, Hope, From ‘Deadpool 2’ Is The Mutant Messiah In More Ways Than One

    Cable’s daughter, Hope, was one of the driving forces behind the plot of Deadpool 2, despite barely being featured onscreen. It was her grisly demise at the hands of Firefist in the future that prompted Cable to go back in time in the first place. It wasn’t until he was confident he’d secured a safe future for Hope that Cable finally lightened up a bit, even as he delayed his return to his future family.

    But Hope Summers is even more important to the general direction of the X-Men comic book franchise. There, she’s known as the Mutant Messiah, the first new mutant born after the Scarlet Witch attempted to depower the entire population - and that drew her the attention of countless anti-mutant organizations. Hope isn’t Cable’s biological daughter, but he did adopt her as an infant and took her into the future to be raised semi-safely before returning to fulfill her destiny. In time, she’d come back, team up with the Scarlet Witch, and restore mutantkind to its former strength - but Hope was just getting warmed up.

    Shortly after Charles Xavier and Magneto founded the mutant nation of Krakoa, they brought together a group of mutants known as The Five, including Hope and her mimicry abilities, and taught them to combine their powers to resurrect any mutant who happened to perish with full memories of their past existence. Thus, through Hope and her friends, mutants have achieved functional immortality, and so she’s clearly achieved her stated destiny of restoring mutantkind - and ensuring they stick around for the long run. 

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  • Detective Crispus Allen’s DCEU debut in Justice League consists of a single scene in which he delivers a description of parademons to Commissioner James Gordon and offers some commentary on Batman. And maybe that’s for the best because when Allen’s comic book alter ego shows up, it usually means bad things.

    In the annals of DC, Allen is the third notable individual to wear the mantle of the Spectre, which means he’s the third to bond with the Spirit of Vengeance known as Aztar. First came Jim Corrigan, then Hal Jordan, and then Corrigan again - but then Corrigan perished, continuity was reset, and an entirely different version of him came back as a deceitful cop. Allen was investigating Corrigan and was slain for his efforts, only to be offered a chance at holy revenge by becoming the Spectre. 

    As the Spectre, Allen was virtually omnipotent, though not fully in control of his shared body, and was frequently at odds with Aztar’s preference for lethal justice. In the end, Crispus and Aztar sacrificed themselves to save the DC Universe during its Final Crisis - and Crispus might have wiped himself right out of continuity in the process. He’s yet to make an appearance in the post-Rebirth world.

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  • The first Spider-Man trilogy to be put on film was filled with world-building potential, some of which was never realized. One prominent example was Peter Parker coming under the tutelage - and hearing the occasional wise word - of Dr. Curt Connors at Columbia University. Though enrolled in Connors’s quantum mechanics course for at least two years, Parker really only interacted with the professor on a couple of occasions: once to get called “brilliant but lazy,” and once when he needed the Venom symbiote analyzed.

    Of course, many in the audience knew that Connors was destined for more. If his name wasn’t evidence enough of that, his missing right arm was, because that injury would prove to be his impetus in the comics for the self-experimentation that would turn him into the Lizard, one of Spider-Man’s greatest foes. And, indeed, director Sam Raimi did intend to use the Connors/Lizard transformation as a central plot in Spider-Man 4, a script that ended up making a permanent home in development hell.

    Connors did eventually get his turn as the Lizard, but only in the rebooted The Amazing Spider-Man franchise with a new actor portraying him. And given that there’s been a subsequent reboot since then - one that put Peter Parker back in high school - it’ll probably be a long time before the university professor-turned-supervillain appears again.

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  • Early on in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Yondu Udonta had a run-in with Stakar Ogord, an old Ravager colleague. Stakar, continually followed around by a silent, crystalline friend, tears Yondu a verbal new one, reminding him he will “never hear the horns of freedom when you die… and the colors of Ogord will never flash over your grave.” Then, of course, when Yondu does perish at the end of the film, Stakar shows up to ensure that those exact traditions are upheld.

    Shortly thereafter, Stakar is seen addressing his old “team” about Yondu’s demise bringing them back together to pilfer some “stuff.” Among those present are Aleta Ogord, Charlie-27, Krugarr, and Mainframe - all better known as members of the original Guardians of the Galaxy.

    In the comics, Star-Lord, Gamora, Groot, and the team are actually the second squad to take on the name of the Guardians - even though they came first, chronologically speaking. It’s complicated! When Marvel Comics first published Guardians of the Galaxy stories, they were centered on a team of alien refugees in the year 3000. That initial roster included Yondu, Martinex (the silent crystalline fellow accompanying Stakar), and Charlie-27, a powerhouse from Jupiter. 

    The Guardians were soon joined by Stakar and his partner, Aleta, with whom he could merge together to become Starhawk. Eventually, the Guardians went back in time to the present day and became honorary Avengers, inadvertently inspiring the modern iteration of the team. Much later, and after having gone back to the future, others like Krugarr and Mainframe signed up.

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