Marvel Comics Are Eating Themselves

Occasionally, revisiting a story with a fresh take on it has been known to be a good thing. For example, Marvel’s Ultimates were for the most part superior to the originals. They took the good ideas from the original books, and made them more serious, less corny, and more interesting.

lady-thorRecently, Marvel has begun doing something else: replacing existing characters with copies, new characters with the same powers as well known characters. While doing this can work (for example, Batman became the Alfred to a new Batman in DC comics, and that was handled nicely as a turning over of the mantel from one generation to the next), Marvel has been doing it wholesale. In many cases, they have killed off the original characters. Here’s a partial list:

Superhero Original Character New Character
Spiderman Peter Parker Miles Morales
Captain America Steve Rogers Sam Wilson (Falcon)
Hulk Bruce Banner Amadeus Cho
Thor Thor, son of Odin Jane Foster
Iron Man Tony Stark Riri Williams
Wolverine James “Logan” Howlett Laura Kinney (X-23)
Hawkeye Clint Barton Kate Bishop

This goes well beyond story telling. As the original characters are the heroes of the amazingly successful Marvel cinematic universe, killing them all off seems beyond reckless. At least Sam Wilson and Laura Kinney are existing characters who have some reason to assume the mantle of their heroes (Sam being Cap’s sidekick, and Laura the Wolverine’s daughter). As to whether any of the new stories are worth reading, positive reviews have not been forthcoming.

What is Marvel thinking? This reminds me of the many terrible reboots that Hollywood has been making: Ghostbusters, Total Recall, Conan, King Kong; the list goes on. But in most cases, these were not ongoing franchises that were beloved by their fans, so when the reboots tanked, little was lost. Not so Marvel. They seem intent on rebooting their crown jewels: Spiderman, Wolverine, and the Avengers.

At this point, it’s hard to see how the damage can be undone. With the old characters in many cases killed off, it would take a massive retcon to bring them back. It’s hard to say whether the fans would accept this. The old characters would have to have compelling new stories to bring them back. With Generations, Marvel is making a half-hearted attempt to do this, but I’ve yet to see any positive reviews of the event, and it seems to be a one time thing.

About jimbelton

I'm a software developer, and a writer of both fiction and non-fiction, and I blog about movies, books, and philosophy. My interest in religious philosophy and the search for the truth inspires much of my writing.
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