The critics like to complain that every superhero movie these days is an origin story. Well, sometimes critics need to shut their stupid donut holes.
Origin stories are great. Origin stories show us how ordinary people like us somehow become better, faster, and stronger, but to go deeper than that, they show us what truly motivates an ordinary person to become a hero. A great origin is much more than a bunch of things that happen to create a character that movie goers can project themselves into. The best origin stories answer the question of “how” and “why”. For a great example of the “why” from DC, look no further than Batman’s origin. Young Bruce Wayne’s parents are murdered in a dark alley right in front of him. He dedicates the rest of his life to preventing this from happening to anyone else. So simple, yet so compelling.
How a character became who they are is often the best part of their entire story arc.
Some are born great.
Some achieve greatness.
Some have greatness thrust upon them.
Plus, who doesn’t enjoy the part where characters get exposed to high levels of gamma radiation, get bitten by a radioactive spider, or if your character is Rocket Raccoon, they suddenly become sentient and are made to guard a mental hospital planet.
Often the movies do a very good job of this and other times, not so much (just look at what Sony did with Spider-Man in The Amazing Spider-Man movies). Whatever your feelings on the introduction of each character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, they are usually different from their comic book counterparts. With this in mind, we have put together a collection of our favourite Marvel character origins so you can see how they came to be in their original form.
What better way to start this off than with the first Avenger. Captain America’s comic book origins are actually pretty close to the one the MCU gave us. Steve Rogers was born July 4, 1920, to poor Irish immigrant parents, Sarah and Joseph Rogers. Rogers grew up frail and sickly during the Great Depression in America. His Irish immigrant upbringing instilled in him strong sense of duty, honour, and humility. Horrified by news footage of Nazis ransacking Europe and atrocities in Asia that the Empire of Japan committed in China and Korea, Rogers tried to enlist in the Army but was rejected because of his frailty and sickness.
Rogers was offered the opportunity to take part in a top-secret performance-enhancing experiment called Operation Rebirth. After weeks of tests, Rogers was at last administered a Super-Soldier Serum. A Nazi spy who observed the experiment murdered Dr. Erskine, who performed the procedure mere minutes after its conclusion. Dr. Erskine died without fully committing the super-soldier formula to paper, leaving Rogers the sole beneficiary of the serum.
Rogers was then subjected to an intensive training program that taught him gymnastics, hand-to-hand combat, and military strategy. Three months later, he was given his first assignment: to stop the Nazi agent called the Red Skull. To help him become a symbolic counterpart to the Red Skull, Rogers was given the red, white, and blue costume of Captain America.
Also, he would eventually punch Hitler in the face.
In the MCU,Vision is an android who possesses a vibranium body created by Ultron and Helen Cho, along with the Infinity Stone known as the Mind Stone. Originally conceived as the perfect form for Ultron, the body was stolen by the Avengers, after which it was repurposed by Tony Stark and Bruce Banner, who uploaded the remnants of Stark’s personal AI, J.A.R.V.I.S. into it.
Originally, the Vision was an inter-dimensional police officer published under Timely Comics, the company that would eventually evolve into to Marvel. When he was reintroduced to Marvel comics, he was the product of Ultron trying to create his own android from the remains of an android version of Human Torch. Ultron sent the Vision to infiltrate the Avengers, but Vision ultimately rebels against his creator and eventually joins the Avengers as an ally.
By the way, in the comics he’s very dead right now. Does this means he dies in Avengers: Infinity War? We’ll just have to wait and see.
Clint Barton was orphaned at an early age when his parents died in a car accident and was sent to a children’s home with his brother Bernard. He and his brother ran away to join the Carson Carnival of Traveling Wonders. While a member of the circus, Hawkeye was trained by the Swordsman and Trickshot. Clint’s life, however, would forever be changed after caught the Swordsman counting the money he had just robbed from the carnival. The Swordsman asked Clint to be his partner in crime, but Clint declined his mentor, sparking a fight that ended when the Swordsman left him for dead. Barney, too, abandoned him, in disbelief that Clint passed up this opportunity. Trickshot stepped up his role as Clint’s mentor, later asking him to join him in raiding a criminal named Marko. However, Clint severely injured one of Marko’s guards and discovered him to be his brother, Barney. Repelled by the consequences of his actions (and his mentor’s role in them), he abandoned Trickshot and parted on bad terms.
His natural archery abilities honed to an expert level, Clint wandered the country, working in various carnivals or otherwise making money out of the costume and persona of “Hawkeye”. One day, when witnessing Iron Man save the lives of some people at the carnival, he decided to become a costumed crime-fighter himself.
In the comics, when Thor’s father Odin realised his son had a serious ego problem and couldn’t deal with his antics anymore, he sent Thor all the way down to Earth without memories of his true identity. Thor’s consciousness is also put into the partially-disabled body of a med student named Donald Blake. When Thor is needed, Donald Blake transforms into the God of Thunder to fight evil. The two share Donald’s body like some strange dissociative personality disorder-type situation until it’s eventually revealed that Donald Blake was Thor all along. All readers knew was that Blake had Thor’s power. It wasn’t until later that they received the full origin and learned that Odin had banished Thor to teach him some humility.
The MCU actually follows the story fairly closely, with one major exception: Thor is placed on Earth with his memories intact. He’s lost his powers, but he still knows who he is.
While the MCU origin story for Iron Man is, for the most part, pretty faithful to the one in the comic books, there is also a secret origin story for Tony Stark in the comics. When Tony’s mother Maria Stark was pregnant the doctors said the child would not, an android known as Recorder 451 altered the child’s DNA, allowing him to live and giving him super intelligence. In an encounter with the android, Iron Man learns his true origins. However, after they join forces and Tony dons the God Killer suit to defeat an evil cosmic entity, 451 is mortally wounded and reveals that Tony is actually the adopted child of Howard and Maria Stark. The genetically altered child was in fact Tony’s brother Arno Stark. Arno Stark was very sickly and was hooked up to machines keeping him alive. Due to his vast intelligence Tony eventually teamed up with his brother in various stories.
Watch out for Part Two, where we give you the comic book origins of more of your favourite Marvel characters!