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The Avengers as They Should Be



Marvel movie fans have nothing on Marvel comic book fanatics. Fans of superhero films have only been paying attention since 2008's Iron Man, but these live-action adaptations are only a screen-friendly ghost of their ink-and-paper beginnings, with cinematic outfits that don't always do their originals credit. Our design team worked with cosplay photographers to highlight some of the biggest differences between the MCU's Avengers and their comics counterparts, as well as how they'd appear if they stuck faithful to the comics—as well as some of the ways they're spot on.


Hawkeye is the only on-screen Avenger who looks nothing like his comic book counterpart. Clint Barton ditched his gaudy pointed mask and jersey for a more tactical approach on the big screen. In 2012, Hawkeye's comic outfit was modified to seem more like the film version and less like a scaly, purple Wolverine. There's a reason we never saw the old-school mask in Avengers or X-Men: it's absurd.

For what it's worth, both versions of Hawkeye are quite proficient at shooting arrows and are former SHIELD operatives. It's revealed that Hawkeye in the movies has a secret family, although Hawkeye in the comics only had romantic ties with Black Widow and Mockingbird, a.k.a. Bobbi Morse. The latter featured on Agents of SHIELD for a while, but in an entirely different connection, further separating the two realms.


Falcon is also unrecognisable, as he is not the same character in the MCU as he is in the comics. It's an over-the-top superhero costume: red and white, with huge red wings and a plunging neckline that exposes a lot of exposed chest. Add a genuine pet Falcon to the mix, and you've got comics at their most ludicrous. MCU Falcon is a man dressed in army fatigues and armed with a pair of very sophisticated, technological wings. In any case, goggles look a lot cooler than that white facemask.

Falcon's comic past is bizarre in ways that the MCU could never manage. Rather than a former paratrooper, comic book Falcon is an ex-criminal who was mentally fused with a falcon by a cosmic-cube-wielding Red Skull...and, like Aquaman on land, Falcon has limited power over all birds and can see through their eyes psychically. Try to bring that to the big screen without seeming silly.


Thor debuted in 1962, decked up in the best pseudo-Norse garb, featuring the biggest wings ever seen on a helmet and kneepads that would make a goalie blush. Strangest of all are the six strange discs that line the front of Thor's tunic, which are so iconic that they've stayed with Thor through many different costume modifications, and even appear on his movie outfit...despite the fact that no one knows what they do. Movie Thor only wears the winged helmet on rare occasions, and he also prefers the armoured arms of later Thors, as naked arms are so yesterday. And what about that beard? Thor in comics enjoys a clean shave.

The storey of Donald Blake is one major element that the MCU overlooks. Only in comic books, Thor was granted amnesia and imprisoned in the body of a crippled med student for a decade before re-discovering his magical hammer. Blake, as a doctor, had a double life with Thor and fell in love with nurse Jane Foster, who is definitely not the same as the MCU's storm-chasing Jane. In fact, if you pick up a contemporary comic book, you might be astonished to learn that Jane Foster is Thor, since comic books are tricky. With the Hulk already in the picture, the MCU simply didn't want to see another skinny intellectual person transform into a beefcake, so poor Don Blake was eliminated entirely.

The Scarlet Witch

When your name contains the colour of your outfit, you can't really make too many wardrobe modifications, but the MCU created a significantly less exposing suit for its live-action Scarlet Witch. She appears in the comics wearing nothing but a low-cut bodysuit and a spiky headgear. Quite often, she's in far less. Thankfully for the MCU's MPAA rating, Scarlet Witch's on-screen attire is more "fall fashion collection" than "naughty magician's helper."

The MCU reworking of Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver is the result of studio squabbles, not some brilliant Hollywood narrative twist. In the comics, the two were born mutants—until their origins were retconned to make them genetic experiments, which aren't quite mutants in comic terminology. The couple are HYDRA experiments in the MCU. Scarlet Witch in the comic book has powers that are entirely concentrated on cosmic "chaos magic," which has nothing to do with delivering people mind-altering nightmares. She can, in theory, and rather inconsistently, modify the likelihood of anything happening. Good for Vegas, but not always effective against an army of Ultrons.


Quicksilver from the MCU should not be confused with Fox's X-Men Quicksilver, who has more realistic, mutant-y beginnings. Quicksilver has donned a variety of outfits in comic books, ranging from a green unitard with a lightning bolt motif through multiple blue unitards with...a lightning bolt theme. The pattern is effectively and quietly incorporated into Quicksilver's sporting attire by the MCU, but here is another occasion where we're pleased we don't get the complete spandex package.

Sure, Quicksilver is really quick; that's difficult to mess up. He, like the MCU's version, began his career as a bad man before joining the Avengers. So the movie's plot twist isn't all that surprising, even if comic book Quicksilver doesn't bite it on his first excursion. Instead, he marries an Inhuman woman and has a rather fulfilling life. Let's not even get started on Ultimate Universe Quicksilver's sexual relationship with his own sister, since that's disturbing fanfic territory.


Vision appears in Marvel comics as a basic android with a bright red face and a green and yellow suit. The entire thing is highlighted with a sun gem at the apex of his widow's peak. Movie Vision is noticeably more robot-like, covered with patterns and undeniably mechanical shapes, as if someone wanted everyone to know for certain that this person is a robot. The colossal yellow comic book collar? Sadly, he is vanished.

With his debut appearance in Avengers: Age of Ultron, the MCU shoehorned Vision into their continuity by modifying a slew of minor facts. While both versions are brought to life by Ultron, the comic book Ultron was created by Ant-Man rather than Tony Stark, hence Vision's whole family tree is different. Tony Stark is given much too much credit, especially considering Ultron in the comics just took an old mechanical body that had been lying around since the Golden Age. And, while Vision's solar diamond is formidable, it pales in comparison to the Infinity Stone that his live-action counterpart wears. What hasn't altered is Vision's love interest in Scarlet Witch. In the comics, they marry.In the MCU, the romance is only getting started.

Captain America

The nicest thing about MCU Captain America is that he's unquestionably vintage Cap, even though his uniform changes in subtle ways all the time. The famous shield is the most visible distinction between the original appearance of Cap and today's Cap. It began as a simple shield-shaped shield before evolving into the circular shield he now employs. Captain America, like other MCU outfits, is more tactical-looking than in his comic beginnings, when he is frequently seen donning scaly armour. Steve Rogers even simplified it for a while with a "Super Soldier" suit, removing the flag-like stripes and replacing it with a new emblem. And we've seen that aesthetic before in the MCU.

Captain America in the MCU is nearly entirely faithful to the books, which makes his cinematic appearances exceptionally enjoyable. Even Cap's early stumbling about an army camp is reminiscent of 1941, with a few changes. Cap is a patriotic mascot in the MCU before he is taken seriously as a hero. Cap goes undercover as a dumb private who is dispatched on secret missions with the camp's mascot, Bucky, and a shield gifted to him by FDR in the comics. Comic book Cap has lost and regained his abilities, died and resurrected, and even pretended to be a HYDRA spy for a time. MCU Cap has a lot to be excited about.


This outfit transition from the comics to the MCU is fortuitous. During his early comic book appearances, Ant-Man was not immune to the spandex-and-underwear aesthetic, and his ant-controlling helmet was a big, alien-like, silver dome. It's good for sci-fi, but it's rough on the big screen. Fortunately, Paul Rudd's hero appears to be wearing a high-powered combat suit. While both helmets have an ant-like look, the MCU version is spot on.

Because the MCU is already brimming with brilliant heroes, Ant-Man doesn't receive much credit for being a technological whiz. In both the MCU and the comics, there is more than one Ant-Man. Hank Pym, the original, adventured in the suit with the original Avengers before abandoning it, and Scott Lang subsequently stole the outfit from Pym to rescue his family, which should sound familiar. The films mix and match timeframes, Ant-Men, and bad corporations...and, spoiler warning, Scott Lang was pretty much dead throughout Civil War anyhow, so any part he had in the film was merely tossed in for star power. Sorry about that, bug person.

War Machine

For the rest of our piece, we'll look at characters whose cinematic appearances don't alter significantly enough to justify the full Photoshop treatment—but who nevertheless witnessed a lot of changes from the page to the screen. We'll begin with War Machine, sometimes known as 'grey Iron Man,' whose appearance has always been a variant on Tony Stark's unused or modified armour designs. So, if the universe has an Iron Man, War Machine will be his flawed twin, although with more weaponry and a more serious colour palette. The MCU War Machine seems like it sprang right from the pages of a comic book, but the later Iron Patriot armour is a different storey.

In Iron Man 3, Rhodey's armour is repainted solely to provide comfort and trust to the American people, who are increasingly sceptical of the loyalties of superpowered humans. In the comics, the Iron Patriot armour is first seen on Norman Osborn, also known as the Green Goblin, who had managed to take over HAMMER, which had previously succeeded SHIELD. Osborn is, of course, the organization's mad leader, but the armour did give an extra layer of protection, both physically and from public scrutiny. How can somebody waving an American flag be evil?

The Hulk

The Incredible Hulk and comic books Both the Hulk and the MCU Hulk are gigantic green wrath monsters, but the MCU Hulk is a few giant leaps and bounds ahead of the Hulk's initial form. Bruce Banner was grey when he initially turned into the half-naked giant. Hulk soon took on a green tint, but reverted to his grey form on occasion, and vacillated wildly between clever and stupid depending on colour and whichever writer wanted to put their imprint on Hulk at the time. The Hulk from the Marvel Comics Universe is just "common green Hulk."

The comic book Hulk was irradiated as a result of a heroic act, but the movie Hulk becomes a monster as a result of a standard failed science experiment. It took a few years for comics Hulk to gradually deteriorate from a semi-intelligent grey man to an incoherent green dude, but Hulk's cinematic makeover opted to skip Hulk's sorrowful descent into lunacy and just start him off ignorant. Hulk has undergone several transformations, and the most recent comic book Hulk is really Amadeus Cho, a brilliant young scientist who appears to have totally cured Banner. Moviegoers are probably not prepared for a Hulk that can defeat them at Jeopardy! And what about that strange affair with Black Widow? Avengers: Age of Ultron is a total waste of time.

The Black Panther

The visage of the Wakandan prince hasn't altered much throughout the years. It's always been some form of black bodysuit. It occasionally receives a hole for the mouth and chin, and it occasionally gets a cape, a necklace of teeth, or gilded accessories. The MCU Panther is similar, but wears a far more technological-looking outfit with patterns including vibranium protection. Pather, on the other hand, keeps things more streamlined and organic in the comics.

Marvel comic science can create a gadget that can immediately destroy the world, but it can never check on its neighbours, hence Wakanda remained unknown to the United States until it entrapped the Fantastic Four. By the time we meet Black Panther in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, his country has established diplomatic contacts with the rest of the world, and there is no evidence of the tribal strife that haunts Wakanda.

Pather's origin tale also omits the nefarious Klaw, who murders Black Panther's father in order to steal the country's vibranium—though we did see Klaw conduct similarly shady actions in Age of Ultron. On-screen, Black Panther's father is murdered by a dull explosion during a political function, which is staged by C-list villain Crossbones. And, alas, we'll never see Black Panther marry the X-Storm Men's since both film worlds are incompatible. On this one, we'll stick to the comics.


We've lost count of the number of big-screen Spider-Men we've seen, but this one is authentic. Spidey's comic-accurate suit has made fanboys and fangirls go crazy since his entrance in Civil War. There's no raised webbing here, and no logos that seem like they belong on an energy drink; simply pure Spider-Man. Nonetheless, MCU Spidey appears to be sporting an odd half-belt. What's the deal with that? While we enjoyed seeing him hop around in Spider-Man: Homecoming, we didn't go into the minutiae of his belt-related design choices. Alas.

Spidey, like most other comic book characters, has worn nearly a million different costumes since his debut appearance, but his current MCU suit is a perfectly reasonable mix of red and blues.

Iron Man

It's safe to argue that the Marvel Cinematic Universe's take of Iron Man is spot on. Despite the fact that Tony has changed armors more times than we can count, his cinematic armors are a very faithful reflection of how he appeared in the comics from the 1990s to the 2000s. And what's hidden underneath the armour? Robert Downey Jr. was born to play the part. The MCU bypasses several decades of previous, clunkier armors in favour of the ideal one for the big screen.

The Marvel cinematic universe would not have taken off if Iron Man had not stayed faithful to the comics. Still, the brash millionaire from the movies pales in comparison to comic book Tony Stark and the incredible technologies he's created. Tony was recently flying about in his Extremis Mark XXXII armour, which is creepily and conveniently stored in his own bones and linked to his neurological system. Iron Man 2's armour suitcase seems like a pile of elegant rubbish in comparison. It's unclear how the MCU would handle the comics' new "Iron Man," a super-genius 15-year-old girl called Riri Williams, or the publisher's planned plans to make Doctor Doom the "Infamous Iron Man."

Black Widow

There aren't many distinctions between the Black Widow's appearances in the comics and on the big screen. While her comic book dress has evolved slightly over the years, the fundamentals remain the same: red hair, black bodysuit, and wrist-mounted weapon thingies. In a nutshell, they're essentially similar in every manner that matters. No comic book enthusiast will look at Scarlett Johansson in an Avengers film and ask when Mary Jane turned badass.

Meanwhile, despite starring in five distinct films—beginning with Iron Man 2, two Captain America films, and both Avengers films—still there's a lot more we don't know about MCU Black Widow than what we do. Scarlet Witch-induced memories in Age of Ultron revealed the Widow's origins, detailing how the Soviet Union raised her to be a spy and assassin from an early age. She switched sides when Hawkeye saved her life and has been a SHIELD and Avenger agent ever since. Her comic book counterpart has many of the same broad strokes, including her Soviet training and defection to the United States of America. But I'm quite sure Natasha has never been Tony Stark's assistant in the comics. Interestingly, Mary Jane has.