I always said that the formula for a good superhero movie is to follow the source material. Deadpool was successful because it remained faithful to the character, the costume, the insanity, the fourth-walling and being a chatterbox as opposed to the abomination who fought Logan at the end of X-Men Origins: Wolverine. The latest Fantastic Four movie was a fantastic failure because the movie was not only unfaithful to the main characters, especially The Human Torch and Dr. Doom, but the story itself was an uninspired mess. The movie was made to please the studio and not the fans clamoring for Fox to have some sense and work with Marvel Studios like Sony now has. And man, the new Civil War movie trailer with Spider-Man has fans salivating. Perhaps it’s not all source material since Marvel Studios has taken liberty with their characters and stories too but in ways that they nail it while the other studios fail it. It’s more about being true to their characters, so they work in whatever setting they’re in. That’s how Fox got lucky with Deadpool.
Iron Man Came from Vietnam
So Marvel Studios got to mess around with the source material which of course are the comics from where their characters come from. For instance, Iron Man was created during the Vietnam War. The MCU story played out much the same except the setting was in Afghanistan when the US was at war with the Taliban, except here, the enemy is a terrorist group called The Ten Rings. In the Invincible Iron Man animated movie, the setting was in China. Again, Tony Stark was kidnapped, got his heart damaged, was implanted with a device to keep shrapnel off his heart by a man called Yinsen and escaped in a suit of armor. Basically, the story is the same, so yeah. There’s faithfulness to source material there with regards to the origin. But Marvel Studios took too much liberty with the source in the third installment and whitewashed Iron Man’s arch-nemesis The Mandarin—twice. The Mandarin is an Asian warlord that had the power of ten alien rings. Fans got a hint of him way back in Iron Man 1 from the aforementioned terrorist group. In Iron Man 3, the Mandarin was first some drug-addicted actor called Trevor Slattery and later an Extremis-powered white mad scientist Aldritch Killian. Iron Man 3 was the Iron Man film that got the most thumbs down from fans partly due to such a deviation. Then there was Disney’s annoying kid treatment. Movie still worked, it’s something I don’t mind watching through when it’s on.
Ultron’s Dad Was Ant-Man
Next, we have Avengers, Age of Ultron. In the comics, Ultron was created by Avenger Ant-Man/Hank Pym. Yes, Hank Pym, not Scott Lang. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, however, Ultron was created by Tony Stark. Ultron is one of the Avengers’ most formidable villains, and it made sense that he be in the next installment. But Ant-Man’s entry into the MCU was running a bit late, so Tony Stark had to take over daddy duty for Hank Pym. It worked. A good story can make things work. The idea that Tony Stark helped in creating Ultron was told in comics and cartoons.
Hank Pym is the Real Ant-Man
Then there’s Ant-Man. Despite the fact that Hank Pym was an old man, and Scott Lang wore the mantle instead of Hand, the film turned out great. What we got here was the origin of the Scott Lang Ant-Man and not Hank Pym’s. They nailed the story through. Scott was a desperate father looking for money to help his sick daughter Cassie (Wait, that’s Flint Marko in Spider-Man 3). Except here, Cassie wasn’t really sick. Scott was desperate to be with his daughter, and he needed money to be worthy enough to see her. Scott stole the Ant-Man suit and became Ant-Man. What about Avengers comics founding member The Wasp aka Janet Van Dyne? She’s presumed dead in the MCU, and The Wasp mantle will be taken over by her daughter Hope Van Dyne. That’s pretty far from source as it gets but the film still worked.
Nick Fury was White
How about Nick Fury, played by Samuel L. Jackson? In the mainstream Marvel comics universe, Nick Fury is white, with a head full of hair, also has an eye patch and often had a cigar in his mouth. There was a Nick Fury movie made in the 90s played by David Hasselhoff though it’s unlikely the MCU would have worked with him as Nick Fury. But Marvel did stick to source material here. In the Marvel Comics Ultimate Universe, Nick Fury was indeed black and was even modeled after Samuel L. Jackson. Now Samuel playing as Nick Fury in any Marvel film was inevitable, as he made a condition with Marvel that he should star in any Marvel film featuring the character in exchange for continued use of his likeness.
Bucky Wasn’t Cap’s Best Friend
So, what else is there? Captain America did fight in WWII but more against the Nazis instead of HYDRA. HYDRA was first a criminal organization in the comics much like COBRA in the GI Joe animated series. HYDRA was later ret-conned as the Nazi party science division. Also, Bucky Barnes wasn’t Steve Rogers’ neighborhood buddy nor was he taller and stockier as in the film. In the comics, Bucky was a young cadet who witnessed Steve Roger changing into Captain America. So instead of the army killing the nosy teenager, they trained him to be Captain America’s sidekick. Also, Bucky didn’t fall off a train as it was in the comics. Cap and Bucky were trying to stop a missile fired by Baron Zemo but unfortunately, Bucky got stuck on it when it was about to blow up. Bucky was presumed dead; Cap got stuck in the ice , nd the rest is history. But it all worked out well in Captain America: The First Avenger and worked out great in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Baron Zemo is slated to appear along with Crossbones in Captain America: Civil War.
So there it is. Marvel Studios manage to pull off blockbuster after blockbuster by pleasing the fan base as much as they could. Situations call for changes but as long as key elements remain that fans and even non-fans can relate to, strictly following source material isn’t necessary. But costumes? Be faithful and realistic as possible. Fans do come to theaters to see their favorite heroes come to life and not see something unrecognizable and leave the theater wondering what they just saw.