Comic book movies are the biggest part of cinema right now, but they wouldn’t be anything without comic books. Fans of the medium have been thrilled by Marvel and DC’s attempts to bring their printed work to the silver screen. However, not all attempts to translate the stories from comic books to live action have been successful.
Whether because of characters not having enough screen time or missing all together, or simply poor scriptwriting, many of Marvel’s best stories failed to make the transition from comic book to movie. Though the MCU has had plenty of hits, not every movie has managed to capture the greatness of the comics they are based on.
10/10 Captain America: Civil War Just Wasn’t Big Enough
Captain America: Civil War is widely regarded as one of the better MCU movies. Fans and critics alike enjoyed the emotion and action wrought by the division of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. While the movie is well-acted, well-directed, and philosophically interesting, it fails as an adaptation of the original Civil War event.
Barring 2015’s Secret Wars, Marvel’s Civil War crossover was probably the company’s most ambitious event in ages. The crossover saw the massive Marvel Universe of the mid-aughts split in half, pitting everyone from major heroes to once-forgotten villains in a conflict that promised to change all of these characters’ lives. Though the movie did a decent job, it simply couldn’t be as big as its inspiration.
9/10 Thor: The Dark World Could Not Match Walt Simonson’s Color
Walt Simonson’s time on Thor was a groundbreaking run for the character. The writer/artist used his time in the mid-80s to explore numerous facets of Norse mythology while also hearkening to the Kirby/Lee Asgard of yore. Simonson also introduced plenty of his own ideas, with one of the biggest hits being Malekith the Accursed.
2013’s Thor: The Dark World sought to adapt numerous elements from Simonson’s run, notably Malekith. However, Christopher Eccleston’s portrayal of the character failed to leave any lasting impression, a far cry from the devilish Dark Elf depicted in the instant classic “The Casket of Ancient Winters.”
8/10 Age of Ultron Is A Pale Version of “Ultron Unlimited”
Fans were excited for Avengers: Age of Ultron as it promised the first adventure of the team after their initial appearance. However, the follow-up film was an anticlimactic, confusing mess that made the Avengers’ greatest foe little more than an electronic Loki knock-off.
Notably, the film drew from the Kurt Busiek/George PerézAvengers classic “Ultron Unlimited.” Though the movie incorporated story elements like the destruction of Sokovia, it failed to capture the maniacal, relentless nature of the Avengers’ android enemy. A film that hoped the idea of an evil robot would be enough, Age of Ultron failed to seriously develop its central antagonist and spent too much time setting up future events.
7/10 WandaVision Forgot The Central Character From 2016’s Vision
Though the Vision has been one of the Avengers’ most stalwart members since his introduction, it was not until Tom King, Gabriel Garcia Walta, and Jordie Bellaire’s 2016 series that the synthezoid superhero had his own meaningful solo adventure. WandaVision incorporated elements of this story to mixed success.
While WandaVision did an excellent job exploring the aspects of family, reality, and creation central to Vision, it largely forgot one thing: the Vision. Paul Bettany did a good job playing the character as supporting character in Wanda’s life, but the script largely ignored his development in favor of using him as a prop.
6/10 Clint Barton Takes Himself Too Seriously In Hawkeye
2021’s Hawkeye miniseries was something of a sleeper hit. Inspired by Matt Fraction, David Aja, and Matt Hollingsworth’s 2012 run on Hawkeye, the series had Clint Barton and Kate Bishop chase down some of Barton’s old enemies in a Christmas-time caper. However, the TV show misses the point of the comic book.
Though he’s saved the world more times than he can count, Clint Barton remains a grounded character. In the comic, Hawkeye is presented as a blue-collar hero in a world of gods and aliens. The Barton of 2021’s Hawkeye is somewhat above it all, glancing through interactions with characters like Kate Bishop and Grills. Though the DisneyPlus series has its moments, it lacks the subtlety of its primary inspiration.
5/10 Thor: Love And Thunder Is Smaller Than God Of Thunder
Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic’s 25-issue Thor: God of Thunder is a modern masterpiece. Ribic’s lush pencils and Aaron’s imaginative story brought Thor through time and space as he sought to save the 616’s divinity from the bloody rage of Gorr the God-Butcher. 2022’s Thor: Love and Thunder also attempted this, with far more mixed results.
The Gorr of the comics was genuinely scary, with grand, universe-annihilating plans. Christian Bale’s Gorr also wanted to kill gods, but didn’t really get much opportunity to do so. Though the movie made the MCU seem bigger, it lacked the majesty and grandeur of Thor: God of Thunder, failing to spend the needed time to make Gorr feel like a truly dangerous foe.
4/10 Love And Thunder Also Missed With Mighty Thor
When Thor first lost his hammer in Jason Aaron and Mike Deodato’s Original Sin, it was a huge mystery as to who, if anyone, would be able to pick it up next. Fans were equal parts excited and delighted to learn that Mjolnir’s new wielder was Jane Foster. This mystery, as well as Foster’s cancer diagnosis, were central to The Mighty Thor.
Thor: Love and Thunder also used these ideas but with far less of an effect. The movie focused on Thor and his journey, leaving very little time for Jane Foster’s story to be told with the attention it deserved.
3/10 What If…? Made A Different Kind Of Marvel Zombie
When Marvel announced that the company would be adapting the beloved miniseries Marvel Zombies as a part of its TV show What If…?, fans were rightly excited. The Robert Kirkman-created story, with art by Sean Phillips, saw all of Marvel’s best and brightest (as well as its most dastardly) infected with a virus that turned them into intelligent zombies.
While the What If…? adaptation certainly was fun, it lacked the dark, vulgar humor of its inspiration. The zombies in the show were closer to classic Romero zombies than the snarky flesh-eaters of the comic. What If…?‘s episode featured Marvel characters as well as plenty of zombies, but it decidedly was not Marvel Zombies.
2/10 Falcon and the Winter Soldier Wasn’t Thoughtful With Mark Gruenwald’s Ideas
2021’s Falcon and the Winter Soldier drew heavily on Mark Gruenwald’s legendary Captain America run, including in its antagonists. Foes like John Walker and the agents of U.L.T.I.M.A.T.U.M. are excellent examples of the characters Gruenwald introduced as foils specific to the themes of Captain America.
While Falcon and the Winter Soldier played with these ideas, they executed them with far less grace than Gruenwald. While each was an action-oriented piece of media, Gruenwald’s Captain America had the time to explore ideas like why it was a dangerous idea for the US government to control Captain America while FatWS did not.
1/10 Iron Man 2 Features A Calmer Iron Man Than In Armor Wars
The much-maligned Iron Man 2 has a lot of faults. One of these was its attempt to incorporate Bob Layton and David Michelinie’s classic Armor Wars storyline. The 1980s tale saw a mentally unstable Tony Stark hunt down the costumed criminals whose armor matched stolen Stark Enterprises technology.
Iron Man 2 features some of the same villains, like Justin Hammer, but lacks the unhinged Iron Man of the original material. In the comic, Stark goes to the brink of what may be considered ethically right as he hunts heroes and villains alike. The movie sees none of this, focusing instead on the conflict between Stark, Hammer, and Anton Vanko.
NEXT: Iron Man: 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Armor Wars II