Marvel Comics has a much older legacy than the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With time, Marvel Comics, its storylines, and characters underwent many iterations and changes. Some became fan favorites, some not so much. The Marvel storylines in the comics are rich in lore and legacy. Comic panels have the freedom to encompass even the most absurd of ideas. It has the liberty to be cheesy, geeky, and very nerdy at times. However, that cannot be the case with a medium like movies and tv series.
Marvel Studios, under the leadership of Kevin Feige, understood this problem and came up with the idea of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (or, MCU). The entire Marvel team has been vocal about how they just took inspiration from comics for their projects and did not adopt them as they were. They have tried to not make the universe too convoluted and confusing while still being true to their core. This ensures that Marvel’s movies and shows are loved by comic and non-comic fans alike.
Let’s try to list some of how MCU took noticeable deviations from Marvel Comics.
One of the most noticeable change is the way some of Marvel’s character does not resemble their comics counterparts. Even after excluding non-cannon projects like Fox’s X-Men movies, some characters in the present Marvel Cinematic Universe look significantly different. The most noticeable out of all is – Hawkeye. He has a sillier costume in comics – purple and blue. In live-action, it might have looked ridiculous. The makers hence went with a more practical suit. Similar are the cases with others like Falcon, Groot, Yondu, Scarlet Witch, and many more.
Several characters have very different origin stories in their live-action adaptation. In the comics, Hank Pym was the original Ant-Man who fought alongside the Avengers in their various missions. His wife, Janet, accompanies him as The Wasp. He created Ultron, became the Yellow Jacket, and was one of the founding members of SHIELD. However, in the movies, the mantle is carried by Scott Lang who receives the Pym technology and the Ant-Man suit from Hank Pym. Although, in the flashback of Ant-Man, it was shown that Hank Pym did adorn the suit during the cold war along with her wife Janet- a slight nod to the comics.
Similarly, Thor has an alter ego named Donald Blake in the comics but in the MCU he doesn’t. Scarlet Witch and QuickSilver are mutant twins and children of Magneto in the comics. But, in the movies, they get their power through HYDRA’s experiments on them, and there is no Magneto.
Gamora is Thanos’ adopted daughter and Nebula is Thanos’ granddaughter, they’re not sisters, and unlike comics, the MCU Hulk doesn’t have ‘the madder he gets, the stronger he gets’ ability nor does he have regenerative healing.
The characters and the motivations for their actions also differ a lot in MCU and Marvel comics. In comics, Drax was a human named Arthur Douglas, whose family was killed by Thanos. Later his consciousness was transferred to a humanoid. While in live-action, he is from an alien planet whose family was killed by Ronan, the Accuser at the behest of Thanos.
A more welcome change is that of Thanos. In the comics, Thanos is an egotistical maniac from the planet ‘Titan’ who takes pleasure in murdering and torturing people. He does all this to impress his love interest – Lady Death. When she asks for more, he decides to collect all the Infinity Stones and eradicate half of the universe’s life, leading to the events of the Infinity War. Thanos of movies, however, has arguably good intentions behind his genocidal actions. He believes that by doing so, he will ‘balance the universe’.
Infinity War, in the comics, is ridiculously different. Thanos, in his quest to impress Death, eradicates half of the universe using the six Infinity Stones. Adam Warlock leads the remaining Avengers against him. He kills a lot of heroes in the war that follows. After the Infinity Gauntlet is stolen by Thanos’ villainous granddaughter Nebula, Thanos aids the remaining heroes in defeating her. Warlock ultimately obtains the Infinity Gauntlet and uses its power to undo all it had wrought. In the movie, the event plays out a lot differently and there is no involvement of Adam Warlock at all.
Although core concepts are the same, Civil War in the comics is much more massive. The comics involve contempt, betrayal, and even a cyborg-clone Thor. There is Superhero Registration Act which leads the Avengers to separate and go head against each other. But the movies, take a more personal route. The Avengers separate because of the Sokovia Accords (same as SRA), leading to a Civil War among the team involving a more personal story of Tony Stark and Steve Rogers. Noticeably, in the comics, Peter Parker aka Spider-Man sided with Captain America, while in the movie, he fought alongside Iron Man.
In the comics Ragnarok, each of the “Nine Realms” is destroyed except Midgard, aka Earth. All of the Asgardians die, even Loki, Heimdall, Odin, and Thor. It was the God of Mischief who caused the intense and violent war that lead to Ragnarok. Also, the cyborg clone of Thor once used the alias Ragnarok for itself. However, both the comics and movie resulted in the destruction of Asgard by Surtur. Surprisingly, Hela is Loki’s daughter in the comics, not his sister.