From Comics to Film With The Avengers

If you’re geeky enough to read Neatorama, then you undoubtedly already know that The Avengers comes out Friday and that it’s all slated to be the biggest film of the summer. Of course, depending on your individual geek levels, you could be thrilled to see it or irritated that they ruined yet another great comic franchise by failing to follow the actual plots Marvel has already written. Here’s a look at the comic and how the movie will differ from the original storyline.

Origins of the Comic

In 1960, the Justice League first appeared in DC’s The Brave and the Bold. The line up, featuring Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern, Aquaman and the Martian Manhunter, soon became quite a hit. Not to be left in the dust, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby quickly put together their own super-hero team and launched The Avengers in September of 1963.

The first line up featured Thor, Hulk, Ant-Man, the Wasp and Iron Man. Similar to the ending of Captain America: The First Avenger, at the end of Captain America’s last story line prior to meeting The Avengers, he is lost in the Atlantic Ocean. In the comic, The Avengers discover his body floating in a block of ice and then revive him in issue #4. He soon joins the team and is given “founding member” status in place of Hulk. Hawkeye is added to the team in issue #63. While he always intended to be a good guy, he fell victim to a misunderstanding during his first outing as a super hero.

After being chased by other heroes, he eventually runs into, and quickly falls in love with, the Black Widow, a spy for the U.S.S.R. Following her lead, he helps her steal technology from Tony Stark. Black Widow is injured during one of their escapades, but before Hawkeye can get her to the hospital, she disappears. After this, he pledges to be nothing but good from then on. Later on, he rescues Edwin Jarvis from a mugger, so Jarvis introduces him to The Avengers to help him clear his name. Iron Man sees that Hawkeye is sincere and sponsors his membership into the group.

Black Widow’s backstory is even more interesting as she is a spy for the Soviet Union who has been repeatedly brainwashed to ensure her loyalty. Despite this, she does try to defect to the U.S. after falling in love with Hawkeye and seeing that he has since joined The Avengers. Unfortunately, she is injured by an agent of the KGB and re-brainwashed. She then goes on to fight against the heroes until she recovers her past identity and then manages to successfully defect and join the team in issue #111, eight years after Hawkeye joined.

As time wears on, the group loses and gains a variety of members, including the Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver, Vision, Beast, Wonder Man, Falcon, Ms. Marvel, Wolverine, She-Hulk, Storm, Spider-Man, Luke Cage, and many, many more. The team also breaks up and reunites in a variety of story lines, occasionally resulting in more than one Avengers team operating at a time, most notably during the Marvel Civil War story line, where the U.S. requires all heroes to register with the government, an act many heroes fight against, while others happily oblige. The characters in the movie all have joined before the group begins splintering though.

Similarities and Differences from the Movies

Image via rwoan [Wikipedia]

In the first issue of The Avengers, the team goes up against Loki, who is seeking revenge against Thor. Unlike the movie though, the team hasn’t already been contacted by S.H.I.E.L.D. and their working together has nothing to do with the agency, but instead occurs when a radio call for help that happens to reach Thor, Ant-Man, the Wasp and Iron Man.

Perhaps one of the biggest differences between the comic and the movie is the fact that the characters in the movie are never assembled together (at least not until a new comic was released coinciding with, and based on, the movie). While Iron Man, Black Widow, Thor, Hulk and Hawkeye are all part of the team at one point or another, they never work together. In fact, Hulk leaves the group after the first issue because he knows the others fear his unstable personality.

Originally, Marvel intended to have Wasp be the female character on the team, which would have meant that Hawkeye would have been the movie’s only team member that wasn’t part of the comic’s founding team of Avengers. When Scarlett Johansen was cast in Iron Man 2 though, the decision was made to use her as Black Widow instead of Wasp, making the movie that much different from the comics.

There were no Hawkeye and Black Widow films to introduce the character’s origins, so we have to go by what we can gather in the films themselves. Black Widow (or at least her alter ego, Natasha Romanoff) was featured in Iron Man 2 as a S.H.I.E.L.D. spy. In the comics, she worked with The Avengers first, then started spying for S.H.I.E.L.D. While the characters are supposed to share some type of past in the movie, it can’t be the same as the one in the comics, as Tony Stark would recognize them as being thieves otherwise.

Without having seen the movie yet, we’ll just have to assume the build up a new backstory for the characters somewhere in the script. As for Nick Fury, he isn’t really a big part of the comic versions of The Avengers at all. While he’s a spy with S.H.I.E.L.D. and the agency does work alongside The Avengers on occasion, Fury isn’t a prominent character in The Avengers comics like he is in the movies.

Humorously, while the original Nick Fury was white, the character featured in the Ultimate Marvel comics is now drawn to resemble Samuel L. Jackson and even his behaviors are based on the actor’s portrayal of the character. In the movies though, he’s pretty important. Aside from recruiting characters during the last few films, it’s his agency that is responsible for releasing Loki from exile and letting him into our world.

A Few Trivia Bits:

  • Expect to see a lot more of Samuel L. Jackson in upcoming Marvel movies. Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger and The Avengers are only five of the nine films he’s been signed to star in as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

  • Jackson, or someone working with him, did screw up pretty badly before the movie was released. That’s because they left his copy of the script sitting in a copy machine, where it was stolen and leaked on the internet a full year before the film was even set to release.

  • Edward Norton was originally supposed to play the Hulk again, but negotiations broke down at some point, leaving Kevin Feige, president of Marvel Studios, to slam the actor by saying "We have made the decision to not bring Ed Norton back to portray the title role of Bruce Banner in The Avengers. Our decision is definitely not one based on monetary factors, but instead rooted in the need for an actor who embodies the creativity and collaborative spirit of our other talented cast members. The Avengers demands players who thrive working as part of an ensemble, as evidenced by Robert, Chris H, Chris E, Samuel, Scarlett, and all of our talented casts. We are looking to announce a name actor who fulfills these requirements." Unsurprisingly, Norton's agent Brian Swardstrom was not happy about the statement and called it "purposefully misleading" and an "inappropriate attempt to paint our client in a negative light."

  • So, instead of Edward Norton, Mark Ruffalo will be playing Bruce Banner and for the first time, the actor playing the Doctor will also be playing the Hulk. That’s because instead of just using CGI to create the character, the film has incorporated motion capture to allow a person to actually guide the animation. Of course, the Hulk’s voice should sound familiar to everyone: Lou Ferrigno will still be doing his voice overs.

  • Stan Lee will make a cameo in the film. He’s set to play a man interviewed on the news doubting the Avengers even exist, claiming they are all part of a hoax.

Do any of you already have your tickets for this weekend? Are any of you outraged at how the comic has been changed for the big screen? Also, for our non-U.S. readers, I know the film was already released in most other countries, have any of you already seen it? If so, is it worth the hype?

Sources: Wikipedia #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7

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Yes, it is worth the hype. My husband and I took the train from Seville to Fuengirola, Spain in order to watch "Los Vengadores" in V.O.S (ie. English) and it was totally worth it.

Also, Spanish chain movie theatres have much more awesome popcorn selections than US chain theatres, along with better prices - we only paid 6 euros for a Large Drink and Popcorn.
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I'm in the UK and I've seen it in 2D and 3D (I'm a big Whedon fan). I loved it, as did pretty much everyone I know who has seen it.

If I'd say one thing it's 2D is just fine, the 3D isn't bad but doesn't add much. After all witty and dramatic dialogue is the same in 2d or 3d.
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It looks like one thing got overlooked in the research for the article: The Ultimates ( The Ultimates was the reboot version of the Avengers Marvel did 10 years ago or so. In the comic it's the team we see in the movie except they also have Quicksilver & Scarlet Witch on board. It is also where the idea of an African-American Nick Fury came about (based on Jackson even), as all previous incarnations of him had been a middle aged white man. Furthermore the armor we see Thor wearing is his Ultimates model armor, rather than his more traditional garb.

From the few spoilers I've seen, they actually follow the Ultimates storyline fairly decently in the movie as well. So while the whole thing doesn't stack up to the classic Avengers story, it's a good take on the Ultimates version which was a good series in and of itself.
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Thanks, J Fohrman, for pointing that out. What I find funny is that in "The Ultimates" comic, Nick Fury even jokes that Samuel Jackson should play him in a movie.
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