Summary

  • The MCU often fails to adequately adapt certain Marvel stories, leaving fans disappointed.
  • The franchise often shows loyalty to the source material, but sometimes falls short.
  • The MCU has missed opportunities to bring compelling stories, such as Hulk’s time on Sakaar or
    Secret Invasion
    , to life on the big screen.

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The Marvel Cinematic Universe has brought many Marvel stories to life on the big screen, though not all of them were done justice by the film franchise. The world of Marvel Comics plays host to countless stories, many of which helped to cement the popularity of the superhero genre in modern pop culture. The movies of the MCU were designed to bring some of these stories off the page, realizing them in live-action and adapting their narrative arcs within a larger shared universe made up of films and TV shows.

Though the MCU has proven itself a major success with consistently considerable box office performances, the franchise isn’t always infallible. In fact, on multiple occasions, the MCU’s movie timeline has actually failed to adequately adapt certain Marvel stories, leaving some people feeling disappointed in the end. Though faithfully adapting the comics can’t always be the MCU’s priority, the franchise certainly owes a degree of loyalty to the source material, and any time it fails to deliver upon an excellent story’s potential is noteworthy. Here are 10 great Marvel stories that were failed by the MCU.

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10 Incredible Marvel Storylines The MCU Cannot Use

Though the MCU takes its cues from key stories in the comics, there are some storylines that the franchise simply can’t adapt to the big screen.

10 Hulk’s Time On Sakaar

Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

Mark Ruffalo as Hulk on Sakaar in Thor: Ragnarok

Despite being the MCU’s third Thor movie, Ragnarok also continued the story of Hulk. The two heroes might not have ever been paired before, but after Thor finds himself stranded on Sakaar, he encounters his former Avengers teammate, who is heralded as the Grandmaster’s champion of the arena. This was in line with the comics’ Planet Hulk storyline, although Ragnarok then breezed past it and returned to Thor’s story with Hulk in a supporting role. In doing so, the MCU thoroughly failed to adapt the compelling Hulk story, further underutilizing his character in the process.

9 The MCU Quickly Wrote Off Tony Stark’s Alcoholism

Iron Man 2 (2010)

Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man in Iron Man 2 drunk at his birthday party

Much like in the MCU, Tony Stark’s history in the comics has been somewhat checkered, with the hero enduring a number of low points over his Marvel tenure. One such story is the Demon in a Bottle arc, which concerns Tony Stark’s issues with substance abuse and alcoholism. The storyline is a powerful statement on addiction, and the MCU began to address it in Iron Man 2. Unfortunately, it was a supplementary plot thread that went nowhere, and Stark was shown post-recovery, with the story only occasionally alluded to afterward, completely failing the compelling narrative.

8 The Inhumans Arc Has So Far Been Reduced To A Shocking Punchline

Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness (2022)

Black Bolt on the Illuminati in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

Inhumans might not have been the most successful Marvel TV show, but it certainly gained an audience. The show adapted the characters of the same name from the comics, with the race of Inhumans being led by a royal family who operate under the same name. The MCU brought Anson Mount’s Black Bolt into the MCU as part of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ cast, indicating a link to Inhumans’ story. However, the film swiftly killed Black Bolt, dashing any such chances of an MCU adaptation of their story in a matter of mere minutes.

7 The Extremis Story Was Much Better In The Comics

Iron Man 3 (2013)

Guy Pearce as Aldrich Killian using his Extremis powers in Iron Man 3

Though Iron Man 3 is far from one of the MCU’s weaker efforts, the film still fails to do proper justice to the comic book arc it adapts. The Extremis story in the comics follows a similar line to that of the film, albeit without the unnecessary inclusion of the Mandarin. The comic book more directly explores Stark’s journey of guilt and heroism and chronicles his growth as an individual, a scientist, and a hero. The film touches on the same ideas but with far less conviction, making it an underwhelming adaptation that fails the source material.

6 Love And Thunder Didn’t Do Gorr The God Butcher Justice

Thor: Love And Thunder (2022)

Gorr the God Butcher holding a sword in Thor Love and Thunder

The addition of Christian Bale to Thor: Love and Thunder’s cast as Gorr the God Butcher was widely celebrated, but ultimately, the franchise failed the character. In the comics, the villain is one of Thor’s most deadly adversaries, and his vendetta against the gods is as legendary as his bloodthirsty nature. In the movie, Gorr is a more sympathetic and humanized villain who, by the end of the film, has relented and entrusts his daughter to Thor’s care. Unfortunately, Love and Thunder is a failure of both the iconic villain and the comic book stories he features in.

In Marvel Comics, it takes three versions of Thor – a young Thor from before the Avengers, the current-day version, and an old King Thor – to take down Gorr.

5 Age Of Ultron Wasted Its Titular Villain

Avengers: Age Of Ultron (2015)

There are few MCU villains whose arcs were as underwhelming as Ultron’s simply because he deserved to be a much bigger threat. In the comics, Ultron is an ever-adapting AI intent on destroying humanity, and though the MCU followed the same line, it made the mistake of killing the villain after just one appearance. The whole point of Ultron as a character is his relentless, undying nature, and Age of Ultron misunderstanding this meant that it was only ever going to fail the villain’s comic book stories.

4 The End Of The Infinity Stones

Avengers: Endgame (2019)

Tony Stark holding the Infinity Stones in Avengers Endgame

The Infinity Stones were introduced to the MCU as some of the most powerful items in existence. In the comics, they’re thought of in much the same way, although the source material had a means of handling them much more carefully. Where the comics had the Infinity Watch – a team formed specifically to guard the Infinity Stones from future threats – the MCU simply had them all scattered back across the timeline off-screen. Not paying proper attention to the powerful artifacts meant that the MCU thoroughly failed to adapt an Infinity Watch story before it ever even tried.

3 The MCU’s House Of M Fell Victim To Rights Issues

Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness (2022)

Scarlet Witch attacking Kamar-Taj in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness-1

One of the most shocking Marvel Comics storylines was The House of M, which followed Wanda Maximoff as she removed almost all mutants from existence. Despite its legendary nature, the MCU completely failed at adapting the story, albeit through no fault of Marvel Studios. At the time of Wanda’s introduction, the rights to most mutant characters were elsewhere, preventing any such adaptation. Wanda’s death in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ ending made it seem that the MCU will never be able to adapt House of M, meaning the franchise failed the story for reasons well outside of its control.

2 The MCU’s Civil War Avoided The Crux Of The Story

Captain America: Civil War (2016)

The MCU’s adaptation of the comics’ Civil War story sadly missed the entire point of the arc. The Sokovia Accords were used as a stand-in for the Superhero Resigstration Act, with the Avengers torn in two by their disagreements over whether they should be regulated by any world government. The story is designed to be a moral examination of the responsibilities of heroes, but the MCU shoehorned in an out-and-out villain and wriggled out of any such exploration of deeper ideas. In doing so, the MCU missed the entire point, failing the excellent Civil War story in the process.

1 Secret Invasion Didn’t At All Match Up To The Source Material

Secret Invasion (2023)

Marvel Comics’ Secret Invasion isn’t a story that needs a beat-for-beat adaptation but rather one that recaptures the essence of the story. It’s a tense and paranoid tale of trust and deceit in the superhero community, but the Disney+ series of the same name failed to deliver any such story at every turn. The MCU’s Secret Invasion featured no existing heroes and instead told its story as a dry and unimaginative spy thriller with very little mystery at its core. Sadly, this makes Secret Invasion the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s biggest failure of a beloved Marvel Comics story.

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