There have been quite a bit of changes to the personnel of the Marvel Comics Universe. I’m not talking about the Cinematic Universe, but the actual comics that the films are derived from.
It started with Thor. Thor became Thor no longer. Wait, what!?
In a storyline of changes, Thor became not fit to wield Mjolnir, and a new Thor was found in Jane Foster, the once girlfriend of the thunder god. Though it came with a bit of controversy, the idea has taken root and become one of the most interesting in comics maybe ever. Foster was diagnosed with cancer before taking on the mantle of Thor. When she wields Mjolnir and is Thor, she is not taken over by the cancer effects. However, when she is just plain ol’ Jane Foster, it’s found that being the Norse god of thunder is increasing the cancer’s ill effects.
Then there’s Sam Wilson who is the new Captain America. He was the next change to the status quo of the Marvel Universe. Sam had been around a long time, and even somewhat of a sidekick to Steve Rogers’ Cap. When Rogers lost his super soldier serum, he looked to his friend to take over the mantle, complete with iconic shield. Both have become a bit estranged, as Wilson has his own take on the super hero guise. Not that it’s been bad, just a little different. He’s become his own flying version of the famous character. Though, I think, not as popular of a change as Foster’s Thor. It is, perhaps, one of the reasons Steve Rogers has his own Captain America comic, where he’s returned to true Cap form.
Another recent development is not in one character, but two groups of them. The X-Men and Inhumans. The X-Men have been around longer than the Inhumans, and even more popular. But, there’s been a tease of “Death of X,” and many think that has to do with the Inhumans’ terrigen mist being like a horrible virus for the mutants. Because of the transforming mist, mutants are sterile and if they come in contact they are immediately burned to the point of no healing. It seems like it’s spelling the end of the great group of outcast heroes.
Now, a big announcement was made in the form of Iron Man to be Riri Williams, a teenage girl. Tony Stark is passing the mantle onto this super genius. What?? Tony Stark will no longer be Iron Man?? Yes, it’s true. Though Stark will still be around as seen in several Marvel NOW images, he will not be in the armor.
So, why the changes? What is happening in the comics to warrant all of this? Marvel has always been about two things: fans and, yes, sales. Sales are not always a bad thing. This company needs money to keep producing its comics. The other element of fans might have a surprising effect, though. Fans want good stories. When you’ve tapped out on all the stories for a character possible, it may be time for that character to retire. Otherwise it could be delving into a more horrible storyline for the character that makes no sense. And, before you think that is happening to Steve Rogers, I think they are making a great story unfold for him being a Hydra agent right now.
It may seem like this is all about stories, I think there’s something else at stake: the Marvel Cinematic Universe. There hasn’t been a complete lack of stories with these main Marvel characters. So, is it possible the movies are playing a part? What I’m about to say is all speculation, so don’t take it as the way things are.
One problem is with the movies that Marvel Studios can’t actually produce. Fantastic Four and X-Men are still under other studios. Fantastic Four in the comics is no longer a thing. The X-Men seem on the verge of dying thanks to the Inhumans, which is a franchise Marvel Studios can run with. Could it be that Marvel is trying to eliminate stories for these studios to pull from in hopes of getting them back in house?
Another problem is comic book characters, real people age. Age means they’re not going to look like they always do as the characters, and not able to do a lot of the physical abilities the characters demand. It takes a few years for the movies to be made as well. So, it’s not like we see a new Iron Man movie next year. It’ll be 2-3 years down the way, which means Robert Downey Jr. ages that much more. So, what does that mean? The end of those characters’ films sooner than we think. Unless, there’s a way to keep the character going without them.
One option is to recast. But, to many many fans these actors have become synonymous to the characters. Recasting means there has to be someone equal, but really better than the previous incarnation. Yet, they won’t look the same. There will either have to be an explanation to the look difference, or that awkward ignorance of it. As we see when it happens in tv shows, it’s very rarely the best. It loses fans, and that means things are not as much of a hit as they once were.
So, what is another option? Change the character completely. Make a new but same one. In essence, what Marvel Comics is doing with many of its long time staples. That leads me to think Marvel Studios has some sway in the comics. The movies and comics should have synergy. There has been a rise in popularity of comics again thanks to the great super hero media genre that has emerged. It’s a great thing! We need the comics to fuel the films and tv shows. We need the tv shows and films to generate sales of comics. It’s a great relationship.
But, how much should one influence the other? Should the movies pull stories from the comics, but the comics be their own thing? What about people very familiar with the movies jumping into comics and finding the comics to be a completely different world? Should the comics cater to these fans? These are questions I’m beginning to ask about all this. It’s a new dawn of comics, but it has some problems that will need to be resolved. My thinking is that we will see changes in the movies to reflect these comic changes and thus making it more synergistic for people to jump back and forth. I do realize that these will still be somewhat independent of each other, but at some point there may be less and less difference.
What do you think? Are the comics and movies truly independent of each other? Or are we going to see these characters change to reflect the changes in the comics? And, is it something you like? Let us know in the comments!