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The Circle of Life: Comics influencing movies influencing comics

By Staff | Apr 25, 2018

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is based on more than 75 years of comic book stories, but the movies are now influencing their own source material.

Here’s 10 ways how:

10. Phil Coulson

A year before beloved S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Coulson was brought back after his on-screen demise in “Avengers” to headline the “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” TV series, he was introduced in the comics in the limited series “Battle Scars” and has hung around in various series.

9. Scott Lang

The second Ant-Man eventually joined the Avengers before being killed off in “Avengers Disassembled.” Rogue S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Eric O’Grady became the Irredeemable Ant-Man for a while, but Lang returned and, thanks to the 2015 movie, is now more popular than ever.

8. The Defenders

I don’t know why the name Defenders was chosen for the Netflix team-up show over the more obvious Marvel Knights, but the comic book version eventually shifted from the loose conglomerate centered around Doctor Strange, the Hulk, Silver Surfer and Sub-Mariner to a street-level roster matching the Stream Team.

7. Thanos

The 1991 “Infinity Gauntlet” crossover cemented Thanos as one of Marvel’s greatest villains, but his surprise appearance at the end of “Avengers” returned him to the forefront in a big way. He’s since headlined multiple limited and ongoing series and been part of several Marvel events.

6. Nick Fury

The Samuel L. Jackson version of Nick Fury was established in the Ultimate comics line well before his big-screen cameo in “Iron Man.” As the movies gained steam, Marvel introduced an African American Fury as the secret son of the original. The younger version has soared up the S.H.I.E.L.D. ranks and pops up everywhere, even if he hasn’t reached the same level of authority as his dad or his cinematic counterpart.

5. Hulk back in the Avengers

The Hulk’s status as a founding Avenger was nothing more than a bit of trivia over the years, since he left the group in the series second issue in 1963. But with the Jade Giant on the movie squad, he officially rejoined the team toward the end of the “Avengers vs. X-Men” event and remained affiliated until “Civil War II.”

4. Mutants no more

With the X-Men movie rights held by Fox, mutants aren’t a part of Marvel’s cinematic sandbox. But mutant duo Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch have always been more closely associated with the Avengers than the X-teams and were usable by both franchises. The twins were introduced as enhanced humans in “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” That same year, in the pages of “Uncanny Avengers,” it was revealed the twins weren’t mutants in the comics, or Magneto’s kids.

3. Inhumans

While Inhumans sort of filled in for mutants on “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” their comic book counterparts got unprecedented exposure, with multiple series and major storylines. So far though, the new Ms. Marvel seems to be the only Inhuman with much staying power.

2. Guardians of the Galaxy

The Guardians of the Galaxy were a team of heroes from the 30th century, who had popped up in a few memorable stories over the years and were brought back in the 1990s for a while. A present-day version of the team was introduced before James Gunn’s 2014 movie, but that lineup has been pared down to match his. Plus Drax has become more like the movie version, and when Baby Groot arrived in the Vol. 2 trailer, a diminuitive comic version was not far behind.

1. Iron Man

Robert Downey Jr. took the established traits of Tony Stark – genius, billionaire, playboy, egomaniac – and transformed them into a character all his own and the cornerstone of the MCU. Iron Man is a long-running Marvel character but he was never this popular before the 2008 film. Each comic portrayal of Stark now speaks in RDJ’s distinctive voice.

Evan Bevins is the writer of the webcomic Support Group and has been heavily influenced by Marvel Comics.