As a general rule, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has got its characters right. The likes of Iron Man, Loki, Captain America, Black Widow and Star-Lord have all been resounding successes – and that’s a notion that extends to an abundance of other characters in the franchise (the recently introduced Scott Lang AKA Ant-Man is fantastic, for instance).
That’s all thanks largely to brilliant performances by the actors portraying them and the fact Marvel have kept faith with the majority of the traits of those characters from the comic books. However, the latter isn’t always the case, as Marvel Studios have experimented in a number of cases by making the live action depictions very different to the versions in the source material (and, in rare cases, the actors in the role just aren’t capable of capturing the essence of the character they are depicting).
The actors can’t be blamed when Marvel tinker with the characters, so the entries on this list aren’t necessarily bad performances, but what all of them do have in common is that they were nothing like the comic book versions.
In some instances, that can actually be a good thing (take Loki for example – he’s far less “mischievous” and “cartoonish” than the comic book version – and even Skye has become a lot more important and likeable than the first impressions of the character would have suggested, in spite of her bearing little resemblance to the Daisy Johnson character she is based on from the comics).
Characters can, of course, grow – so, in some of these cases, the characters could develop into versions more closely recognisable to the ones they are based on but, for the time being, none of them are great.
Here are the ten most disappointing character depictions in the Marvel Cinematic Universe…
In the comics, Korath-Thak – or Korath the Pursuer – is a cybernetically-enhanced Kree warrior with superhuman physical attributes. However, his most prominent feature – hence his full title – is the ability to pursue his targets by psionically tracking their brain patterns.
That particular power was completely lacking in an adaptation of the character that was barely given any screen-time at all in Guardians of the Galaxy – something that was very disappointing, given that the character is far more prominent and relevant in the comic books.
However, what was most disappointing about the character was that his limited appearance was a complete waste of the brilliant talents of two-time Academy Award-nominated actor Djimon Hounsou. He was an underling to Ronan who, in turn, was an underling to Thanos and, as a result, he just ran around following orders.
Korath was killed at the hands of Dave Batista’s Drax, meaning there will probably be no future opportunities for him to develop (although you should never say never when it comes to comic book movie characters).
The lead villains in the Marvel Cinematic Universe have been heavily criticised in general – and Ronan is a prime example of why.
Lee Pace was by no means awful in the role – at least as far as the limited things he actually had to do were concerned – but the fact is that the character was massively underdeveloped and bore very little resemblance to his comic book counterpart.
For starters, his origins were totally skipped over, giving him no back-story with any substance and not allowing audiences members to either relate to him or truly hate him. Moreover, his powers were decidedly less versatile than the version in the comics and, in particular, his war-hammer – known as the Universal Weapon in the comics and capable of all kinds of interesting feats – was literally just something he could hit people with (until he possessed the Orb, at least).
His alignment is also far more ambiguous in the comics – he has proven himself capable of heroic acts – whereas he was an outright evil sadist in the MCU. Very disappointing indeed – especially given that he was in an otherwise great movie.
He died at the hands of the titular team, but he may reappear in the future, given the nature of his death (an Infinity Stone blast).
Some leeway has to be given when it comes to Marvel Cinematic Universe character depictions on television shows, as budgetary constraints don’t necessarily allow for particularly great depictions of certain characters – but what Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. did (or at least have done so far) with Graviton is unforgivable.
Giving minor villains like Blackout a one-episode arc is fine, but Graviton is a major Avengers villain with great powers in the comics – and all we’ve seen of him so far is the feeble scientist side. Franklin Hall appeared in the season one episode The Asset – played by Ian Hart – and subsequently disappeared from television completely after that.
He had used the element Gravitonium to experiment with gravity, before being sucked into it and apparently perishing. However, his face appeared in the element at the end of the episode, suggesting he might still be alive within it.
He seems to have been forgotten, however, making his episode one of the many sub-plots that has been scrapped. Hopefully he will return in the future with a chip on his shoulder and with the power fans know he possesses in the comics – the ability to alter gravitational forces.
Daredevil is a great series and has been one of the surprise Netflix successes of recent times – it’s dark, it’s gritty and it even makes up for the horrible Ben Affleck movie of 2003 (which is really saying something).
Most of the characterisation is great; Charlie Cox in the titular role, Vincent D’Onofrio as Wilson Fisk and Deborah Ann Woll as Karen Page, for example. However, one actor doesn’t quite channel the essence of his likeable comic book counterpart.
Elden Henson as Franklin “Foggy” Nelson isn’t a terrible character, as such, it’s just that he’s far more annoying than the pleasant version in the source material. Henson came into the series with some serious nerd points already – he was Fulton Reed in The Mighty Ducks, for heaven’s sake – but unless he starts making viewers like his lawyer character, he’s going to start having some of those points deducted.
Again, it’s not that his performance is bad, it’s just that it isn’t as good as the other main cast members in what is an extremely strong series – and it really is a far cry from the character he is supposed to be portraying.
Yawn. Is there a more boring character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe than Jane Foster?
Foster is the first character in the list who has not only been depicted badly by the writers in the films she has been in, but she’s also been very lazily portrayed by the actress playing her – Natalie Portman.
Having appeared in the Thor movies – and having been notably absent from the Avengers: Age of Ultron – Portman has spoken out about how she doesn’t like working for Marvel and it shows in her performances. She looks disinterested and as if she thinks she is above the role – when, quite frankly, she’s actually not.
The comic book version is far more interesting, passionate, courageous and caring and after having been diagnosed with breast cancer, actually replaced Thor as the powerful wielder of Molnir. Could you honestly ever see that happening with the Natalie Portman version of the character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe? No? We thought not.
Okay, granted, this isn’t really a character as such, but the Destroyer armour is something that is capable of taking on a life of its own when imbued with the life-force of another living being and, therefore, it’s included on this list (it can actually also function independently for short periods of time).
The reason its depiction in the Marvel Cinematic Universe was so poor is simple – it was weak as hell. Thor defeated it within moments of regaining his powers (after initially having been easily defeated by it in his mortal form) – and that’s something he would have much more trouble doing in the comic books.
It’s nigh-indestructible in the comics and would never have been defeated by a mere tornado. It is more durable than adamantium, has been imbued with a portion of the power of all of the Skyfathers and its energy blasts have cracked whole planets and have proven capable to reduce any known substance to dust – a far cry from the blasts that barely destroyed cars in the MCU.
The armour also possesses more complex powers like transmutation, whereas the MCU version was very crude. It really should have been a lot more powerful and capable of defeating Thor with relative ease – or, at the very least, Thor should have had to do more than just create a tornado to defeat it.
In the comic books, Baron Wolfgang von Strucker is a key enemy of the likes of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Avengers. A figurehead of the evil organisation known as HYDRA, he is a ruthless military strategist and master of disguise. He also possesses immortality and wears a gauntlet known as the Satan Claw, which can fire powerful energy blasts.
But we saw none of that in his limited appearances in the Marvel Cinematic Universe – and that’s what’s so disappointing about this depiction.
Thomas Kretschmann played the character and did very little wrong in the role – it’s just that he had very little to do. He was teased in the mid-credits scene of Captain America: The Winter Soldier and it seemed as though he was going to become a major villain in the franchise.
However, he was killed off almost immediately in his first appearance in the main body of a movie – in Avengers: Age of Ultron – when Ultron got his hands on him after the Avengers had captured him in the HYDRA base he was overseeing and subsequently handed him over to NATO.
Could his immortality serum see him return? Potentially – but the likelihood is that he won’t and that’s a shame.
Mickey Rourke portrayed Whiplash AKA Ivan Vanko in Iron Man 2. The character was a needless amalgamation of both the Ivan Vanko version of Whiplash from the comics (there are several versions) and another Iron Man villain known as the Crimson Dynamo (of which there are many versions, one of whom is called Anton Vanko – the name of Ivan’s deceased father in the movie).
Like so many villains in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Whiplash was quite hideously underdeveloped. He was one-dimensional, clichÃ©d and boring.
Rourke can’t really be blamed for that, as he requested to add more colour and layers to his character – and Jon Favreau and Justin Theroux allowed him to do that. However, Marvel Studios wanted a less complex villain and a lot of Rourke’s performance ended up on the cutting room floor.
Iron Man 2 was one of the MCU’s weaker offerings as a result and Vanko won’t have the opportunity to develop further, given that he died in the movie’s climatic battle – not that Rourke will care, as he didn’t enjoy his Marvel experience one bit.
Another Marvel Cinematic Universe villain who was terribly underdeveloped, Malekith AKA Malekith the Accursed appeared in Thor: The Dark World.
Played by Christopher Eccleston, he was an ancient Dark Elf who sought to plunge the universe into darkness, exploiting a cosmic event known as the Convergence and utilising the Infinity Stone known as the Aether.
He had such great potential – due to his interesting back-story and the fact he was being portrayed by such a talented actor – but Marvel Studios again wasted him.
In the comic books, Malekith is an extremely powerful sorcerer – he can use magic for a variety of effects including illusions, teleportation, flight/levitation and shape-shifting – with superhuman physical attributes. In Thor: The Dark World, he was barely a match for Thor even when he was wielding the Aether.
His uninteresting characterisation was only matched in tedium by his boring power-set and the fact that he was killed under the weight of his own massive spacecraft was no bad thing.
Seriously? What the hell was this all about and what were Marvel Studios thinking?
The Mandarin is to Iron Man what The Joker is to Batman or what Lex Luthor is to Superman – he’s his iconic arch-nemesis – so for Marvel to completely butcher his adaptation in Iron Man 3 was absolutely criminal.
He was presented as a bearded terrorist who would speak on camera about the atrocities he was going to commit, but was never otherwise seen. Meanwhile, Aldrich Killian – played by Guy Pearce – went about his evil business with his new-found Extremis powers.
As it turned out, the bearded terrorist was nothing more than an actor – played brilliantly, may we add, by Ben Kingsley – called Trevor Slattery and the “real” Mandarin was revealed to be Killian, who had a vendetta against Tony Stark.
Both Pearce and Kingsley did nothing wrong, but the fact is that this wasn’t the Mandarin from the comics – it was an abomination and a tragic portrayal of the character.
Thankfully, however, Marvel have acknowledged this through the One-Shot called All Hail the King, which confirmed that the real Mandarin is actually out there in the Marvel Cinematic Universe – and he’s not happy that someone else had used his name.
What do you think? Do you agree that these were terrible depictions? Which other MCU characters weren’t great? Have your say below.