Total Nerd

MCU Heroes Who Have Surprising Superpowers In The Comics (But Not The Movies)

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Vote up the MCU heroes who have comic book powers you didn't know about.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is, at its heart, an adaptation. Yes, an adaptation that has grown to take a life of its own, but an adaptation nonetheless - and that Marvel Comics source material naturally contains characters, locations, events, and even superpowers unique to the comics. That means even heroes as ubiquitous as the Avengers have secret powers and abilities one would never know about unless they cracked open a comic book. 

Whereas the MCU is stuck explaining away superpowers as pseudo-scientific, the Marvel Comics universe has no such qualms, which really opens up the door to a multitude of wondrous special abilities. Comic book superpowers can be mechanical, magical, medical, or just plain mysterious - and never exactly what you see in the movies. 

  • In any form, T’Challa is the rightful king of Wakanda and the Black Panther, which grants him the rights to the heart-shaped herb and all the miraculous abilities that come with it: enhanced strength, speed, agility, and durability. His vibranium-laced panther suit only adds to his greatness, allowing him to absorb and disperse kinetic energy in a blast of purple power.

    But the T’Challa of the Marvel Comics universe has another important regal title, and it’s one that comes with its own set of impressive superpowers. The comic book Black Panther is also the King of the Dead, ruler of Necropolis, and that gives him the ability to commune with - and occasionally command - the dead. 

    Usually, the Black Panther uses this ability to simply consult with his ancestors, something he’s done frequently in the MCU through visits to the ancestral plane. In the comics, however, he can perform temporary resurrections, craft ectoplasmic weapons, and also call upon the undead to obey his will, which has led to him commanding an army of zombies on multiple occasions - but always in defense of his homeland.

  • The Natasha Romanoff of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is impressive because she pointedly does not need any superpowers to be the Black Widow, a founding Avenger. Instead, Romanoff utilizes her extensive training, cunning tactical mind, and a few pieces of tech gadgetry to get the job done, no matter the threat she’s facing.

    Things are significantly different for the Marvel Comics Black Widow. That version of the character was born in the late 1920s, encountered Captain America and Nick Fury in WWII, and was then recruited into the Red Room program, where she was injected with a modified version of the Super-Soldier Serum that granted her an extremely long lifespan. She’s been functionally in her prime ever since, but that’s not the full extent of her nigh-immortality.

    During one big superhero crossover, Natasha perished - only to wake up again in Russia with all her memories intact. She eventually discovered this was the result of a Red Room cloning initiative that kept dozens of identical “backups,” lest the original Black Widow ever fall, thus ensuring she’ll stick around for a few more decades to come. 

  • The MCU Star-Lord’s half-Terran/half-Celestial physiology doesn’t grant him any obvious superpowers - save for the ability to hold an Infinity Stone slightly longer than most mortals - unless he’s directly connecting to his dear old planet-sized dad. 

    The comic book Peter Quill isn’t the child of Ego, but J’Son of Spartax, a far more ordinary alien maniac who also holds no special abilities except for being a bit more durable than a human. But the Marvel Comics Star-Lord is enormously powerful, regardless of his parental figures, and that’s because he’s also the Master of the Sun.

    Quill’s status as Master of the Sun is a relic from his earliest comic book adventures that suddenly became relevant again during a near-death experience. Trapped in another dimension for some time, Peter remembered he had been chosen by the last Master of the Sun, a being of great cosmic importance, to take on the mantle. After getting in touch with his true potential, he returned to Universe-616 where he rejoined the Guardians of the Galaxy and displayed myriad new solar-based powers - including the ability to become a living power plant and provide endless energy to his Element Guns (or to his photosynthetic friend, Groot).

  • Peter Parker’s ability to “do whatever a spider can” is as well-known as superpowers come, especially because it was once delivered in theme song form. Whether in the MCU or elsewhere, he’s got the proportional strength, speed, and agility of a spider, along with the ability to stick to walls, swing from homespun webs, or detect danger through his spider-sense/Peter-tingle. 

    However, the MCU has yet to explore the whole “he’s got radioactive blood” angle of Spider-Man’s powers. In the comics, that radioactive blood - a result of a bite from a radioactive spider, naturally - grants Spidey long-term immunity from practically all poisons, diseases, and infections. He can still be poisoned, of course, but the toxin always works its way out of his system rapidly before any long-term damage can be done.

    The immunity even extends as far as vampirism, meaning Parker can survive a bite from Dracula’s hordes without becoming a member of their undead race - something that comes in handy amidst the vampire-strewn pages of Marvel Comics.