Marvel set itself apart from its distinguished competition in the Silver Age and never looked back. The company’s heroes and villains were very different from any others out there, and they’ve proved to be massively popular. It’s no mistake that Marvel became the biggest name in pop culture when movie audiences got a chance to see what the Marvel Universe is all about.
Marvel has developed a number of tropes that have paid off well for the publisher over the years. Marvel can be a unique company because of them. However, some of their tropes have gone way too far, overstaying their welcome completely with negative impacts to their comic books.
10/10 Daredevil Beating Nearly Everyone Got Tired Years Ago
Daredevil is a very interesting character in Marvel history. When he debuted, he was basically just blind Spider-Man, but the 80s changed all of that. Daredevil became a brutal combatant enmeshed in a forever war with Kingpin. Since then, a rather strange trope has developed around the character: Daredevil wins nearly every fight against any hero.
With the marked exception of Punisher, Daredevil ends up winning nearly every hero vs. hero battle he fights. Daredevil has beaten Captain America, Wolverine, Beast, Spider-Man, and Hercules, all of whom are out of his league.
9/10 Aunt May Almost Dying Has Gotten Spider-Man Into A Lot Of Trouble
Aunt May is a huge part of the Spider-Man mythos. As Peter Parker’s surrogate mother, she raised him through the death of his parents and Uncle Ben. A common trope in Spider-Man stories over the years has been her almost dying. She’s survived multiple heart attacks and hospital stays. She was actually killed in The Amazing Spider-Man #400 by J.M. DeMatteis, Mark Bagley, Larry Mahistedt, Randy Emberlin and Bob Sharen, but Marvel walked that back at the Clone Saga.
Her most infamous almost death was the catalyst for One More Day, the most hated Spider-Man story ever. Aunt May is an important character, but the bull-headed insistence in keeping her alive has gotten out of hand. Luckily, the trope hasn’t hit in years, but the damage has already been done.
8/10 Ninjas Became The Most Common Cannon Fodder In Marvel Comics
Ninjas became extremely popular in American pop culture in the 1980s and Marvel was all over it. Creators like Frank Miller and Chris Claremont included them in Daredevil, Wolverine, and Uncanny X-Men and it was off to the races. Ninjas became common cannon fodder in the Marvel Universe, with heroes battling the Hand and various non-Hand affiliated ninjas.
Ninjas were everywhere in the Marvel Universe for a long time. It got to the point that any time a character went to Japan, there were ninjas. While they aren’t as big as they used to be, ninjas are still a big part of Marvel, especially among creators who grew up on 80s comics.
7/10 Marvel Keeps Making Its Smart Characters Amoral
Marvel is home to many super-scientists, but recent years have seen them taking many of the heroic ones in a strange direction. With the marked exception of characters like Spider-Man and Moon Girl, Marvel’s super-scientist superheroes have all shown an amoral streak bordering on villainy.
Hank Pym, Iron Man, Mister Fantastic, Black Panther, Beast and more have all at one time or another embraced an anything to win attitude, committing villainous acts to save the day. This is very different from the past, when the most intelligent heroes were lauded. It’s easily one of the more bizarre Marvel tropes.
6/10 The Worlds Of Marvel’s Multiverse Are All Based On The Same Tropes
Marvel has a multiverse of beloved alternate Earths, but often times their pretty much all the same. They’re usually dystopian in some way, whether it be because of villains winning, heroes switching sides, or humanity striking and destroying superhumanity. And those are just the ones that get repeat visits. Nearly every issue of What If… ended in disaster.
Marvel underutilizes its multiverse, creating cookie-cutter worlds that mostly aren’t interesting. Multiverses have become a huge deal in pop culture, so for Marvel to so egregiously misuse theirs is a mistake.
5/10 Marvel Spent Over A Decade Making The X-Men’s Lives Worse
The X-Men’s status quo has always been malleable, but Marvel took it in a dark direction from 2005 to 2019. Starting with 2005’s House of M, the publisher systematically dismantled any hope that was instilled in the line over years. From depowering the majority of the mutant race to killing off multiple mutants to the Inhumans push, Marvel found a thousand ways to hold the X-Men back.
It was an open secret that they did this because they didn’t hold the film rights to the team and their assorted characters. It got to the point that guessing Marvel was going to do something terrible to mutants was a no-brainer. Marvel editorial always found a way to make life harder on the X-Men and their allies.
4/10 Female Marvel Characters All Got Offensively Similar Stories For A Long Time
What do Jean Grey, Scarlet Witch, and Invisible Woman all have in common? They’ve all been given storylines that revolve around losing control of their powers because they couldn’t handle their emotions and become villains. Marvel isn’t known for writing women well, but it used to be worse. For years, most major Marvel women all went through the same plot line.
It hasn’t been seen in a long time, but it was extremely offensive. It played into the sexist trope about women being overly emotional. Thankfully, the publisher hasn’t used it in a long time, but that doesn’t mitigate the damage it did for years.
3/10 Most Marvel Futures Are Exactly The Same
Time travel in comics has been around forever. Often times, heroes and villains alike have gone to the future and they usually find the exact same thing. Marvel is known for leaning heavily into dystopian futures, stretching back over 40 years, when “Days Of Future Past” in Uncanny X-Men #141-142 popularized them.
At first, this was just an X-Men thing, but it gained popularity. Pretty soon, most long term futures of the Marvel Universe were dystopian wastelands. While the publisher didn’t use the same kind of dystopia every time, with the X-Men getting the robot apocalypse, the Wastelands seeing the world conquered by villains, and 2099 leaning into a cyberpunk dystopia, they all played on the same trope.
2/10 The Infamous Parker Luck Has Completely Derailed Spider-Man
Being a Spider-Man fan is hard, made all the worse by Marvel itself. For whatever reason, Marvel believes that the most popular era of Spider-Man was the 70s and early 80s, when the character was in a limbo of failed relationships, bad jobs, and a generally immature life. This ignores the meteoric rise in sales that came in the early to mid-90s and the drastic uptick in quality of the Straczynski years.
Marvel editorial has used the “Parker Luck” as a way of excusing why they’ve taken a character who used to be a functioning adult and making him into the manchild that they grew up idealizing. The vast majority of fans hate it. It often feels like Marvel editorial just enjoys antagonizing Spider-Man fans.
1/10 Marvel Versus Events Quickly Became Played Out
Marvel revolutionized the practice of hero vs. hero comics. Hero team-ups would often begin with a fight before the two of them and then put aside their differences to fit a greater threat. Then Civil War happened. It took Marvel’s proclivity to have heroes fight each other and kicked it into overdrive.
Soon, many Marvel events focused on heroes fighting each other and fans got more and more tired of it. The straw that broke the camel’s back was Inhumans vs. X-Men, an intensely disliked Marvel comic. Marvel took what was a fun little trope, rode it until the wheels fell off, and then rode it even further. Profit killed what was once a great story option for the publisher.
NEXT: 10 Comics The MCU Tried (& Failed) To Adapt Properly