Have you watched a superhero movie or tv series and wondered if it was better somewhere else? Did you go in knowing what went down in the source material or was the adaptation the gateway that got you into the comics? Do you like to see how different versions of the same thing were handled? Well, you’ve come to the right place! If you’re new to comics or know little about these particular storylines from the page, hopefully, this will pique your interest. If you are well-versed with these tales, hopefully, you agree with my takes. The most important thing is that you know I’m just a fan and a person just like you, my opinion is subjective and I’m coming from my own place in comics culture.
Previously I discussed some DC Comics storylines I felt were better than their adaptations, in two parts. I also went over some other Marvel storylines as well, Once again we dive into some more Marvel storylines that some felt were much better realized on the page. Do you agree? Take a look…
This storyline shows us what happens when one side of the superhero world thinks they should work for the government with secret identities revealed, the other half says hell no. Iron Man represents the pro-government side, and Captain America the pro-vigilante side. The movie adaptation as a film is not bad. The issue with it is that it lacks the impact of the original. This was inevitable of course. Without the X-Men established, there was no Mutant Registration Act that was the basis for a Superhuman Registration Act. Spider-Man shows up for the first time in the MCU in this adaptation. He is fresh-faced and backed by Iron Man instead of being his own hero with an established history.
The inciting incident is caused by Crossbones and the Avengers (namely Wanda Maximoff) instead of Nitro and the New Warriors. We know that a bus full of schoolchildren exploding would have been too much for many audiences. But the MCU likes to pretend children are never caught up in these catastrophes and often downplays the consequences. While the climax to the Cap vs. Tony tension was excellent, it just didn’t stack up to the original without all the key players. Also gone was that shocking ending involving those court steps.
Check out Marvel’s Civil War by Mark Millar.
Like many storylines on these lists, this comic is iconic. Frank Miller revolutionized the Daredevil character and created the iconic character of Elektra Natchios. Originally only meant to make a single appearance or so, she became an iconic figure in all comics. We see how Matt and Elektra met and fell in love. Plus how she returns, an assassin in the employ of Daredevil’s bitter enemy the Kingpin. Also, we see the iconic death resulting from a battle between Elektra and Bullseye. Side note, in the comic, when she is mortally wounded, Daredevil is nowhere around (not even in costume) and she holds off death itself long enough to get to Matt’s home to see him before she dies. No adaptation thus far has shown this and makes her death more badass in the comic. This collection put together Miller’s greatest hits for Daredevil, and this volume gave us Elektra.
Unfortunately, even still, this was yet another case of fridging, like other examples of these lists. But it ultimately didn’t stick with Elektra. She would return to life and carry on several adventures by herself, and not entirely depending on Matt. But her story starts here. It was better here than in the film adaptation as well as the Netflix series. The film, costume aside, was more faithful to the comic. The series made significant changes, including Elektra being an orphan. Plus her actions were now influenced by the horrendous “Black Sky” storyline they made up there. It felt like the Black Sky removed a lot of the character’s agency and stripped what made her so tragic and interesting in the first place.
Definitely check out this comic for yourselves.
Are you an X-Men stan like me? Do you know what the very original lineup was? X-Men Marvel Masterworks is a great place to start if you like older comics from the sixties. A lot of it is kooky fun, but fascinating nonetheless. X-Men: First Class was originally a comic reimagining of the original team and their adventures. Eventually, that title was used for a soft reboot of the X-Men film franchise at FOX. The film, while technically a decent movie in its own right, was a disaster of an adaptation. It was much more of a ‘Xavier and Magneto’ film than anything else. While many of the performances were excellent, others were lacking.
The unnecessary changes to various characters: most egregiously Mystique, Emma Frost, Sebastian Shaw, Darwin (good GOD), Angel Salvadore, and others was infuriating to longtime X-Men fans. Magneto should have had white/silver hair even as a young man because it’s an inherited trait he passed to his son Quicksilver in the comics. Mystique should never be a hero, not unless she’s faking it to get close to and/or kill or betray someone. Darwin’s only mutant power was to survive and while it’s great they cast a visibly Black actor to play him, they still managed to kill him off needlessly. Emma was a shell (no pun intended) of her iconic self (played better in the TV movie Generation X btw) and acted more like Tessa (aka Sage) when she was masquerading as Sebastian Shaw’s personal aide in the comics.
Check out X-Men Marvel Masterworks Vol. 1 which collects the very start of the X-Men by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.
Like X-Men: First Class before it, this film was a good film technically but was an abysmal adaptation. While I have issues with the Kitty Pryde character (for her many uses of the n-word), making Wolverine the focal point was a mistake. Wolverine is overexposed. That goes extra for the original film trilogy that decided to make him the star instead of making the X-Men the ensemble they always should be. With the handwaving of his mind “being able to snap back” from psychic stress Charles was dumb. A healing factor affects the physical body, not the mind. Kitty manifesting this weird secondary mutation (they couldn’t use Rachel Summers because they killed off both Scott Summers and Jean Grey beforehand), was contrived.
Once again, even misguided, Mystique is still heroic, which boggles the mind. Her actions here, especially by the end would lead to the horrendous decision to have Storm of all people hero-worshipping Mystique by the next movie. I’m sorry y’all, stop the presses. If they aren’t fighting, I don’t want it.
There was too much whiteness here. Storm and Bishop were quickly dispatched in the future. Like Darwin before him, Bishop was killed in a way that contradicted his own mutant power. And yes, he’s been overloaded with too much energy before, but I don’t believe it ever killed him either. Angel Salvadore was also killed off between films. Rogue being absent was also a sore spot. The films never got her right. The problem with Rogue was never Paquin. The problem was Bryan Singer and these people who didn’t know or love these characters as much as the fans do.
This movie adaptation failed in so many, frankly expected, ways. The first and most important issue was the whitewashing and colorism with three characters. Roberto DaCosta was Afro-Brazilian in the comics. In his very first appearance, ever, he was expressly bullied not even for being a mutant, but for being Black. It was in this struggle that he discovered his mutant power. Side note, the character also appeared in the future segments of X-Men: Days of Future Past where he was similarly whitewashed and his superpowered form was fiery instead of all-black… you know… like a sunspot.
Dr. Cecelia Reyes was included in the film, played by a white Brazilian actress. The comics’ character is an Afro-Puerto Rican from the Bronx. Reyes is so visibly Black, that many readers didn’t even realize she was actually also Latina, despite her surname. Antiblackness means that many apologists were happy with the casting, despite the fact that the actress and character weren’t even the same kind of Latina. As long as she wasn’t Black though, right?
The colorism of central character Danielle “Dani” Moonstar, who is much lighter in the movie than in the comics when she first appeared, was also an issue. Dani also being lighter means that no one in the entire film is visibly Black or even medium-toned, let alone dark-skinned. Not good.
The movie also decided to add blatant racism to Illyana’s character. Mind you, the character is somewhat demonic and has killed and corrupted. But blatant racism and racial jokes were never a part of her characterization. Whoo chile! Whitewashing, colorism, and now blatant racism! It’s almost as if Josh Boone has an issue with ethnic people… He also left out founding member Karma, a historically lesbian Vietnamese mutant.
It’s been fun giving my take on adaptations that I felt failed to live up to the original. I never go into watching adaptations wanting to expect to hate or critique them, but as an analytical person, I can’t ignore issues. It is also important to note that source comics are also not perfect and contain issues (no pun intended) of their own, especially if published in earlier time periods. However, many of these adaptations have come in the future where many of us ought to know better. Kitty Pryde, a white Jew, used to say the n-word way too much, while adaptations don’t show that, they can and have whitewashed, straight-washed, etc.
We need to demand better for our content across the board, but also for our comic-related and inspired content specifically. Many of us get a lot of love and joy out of experiencing these stories, no matter which medium we prefer. And while art imitates life, we should demand that our art, just like our reality, be better. We deserve more and we deserve better, and our superhero content is no exception.