3 awful Avengers storylines they won't use in the movies

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has been firmly established as the de facto powerhouse of modern superhero media, with DC having trouble putting out any movies that don’t just look like two cosplayers fighting in a closed-down Olive Garden location.

This happens every time they stop the Endless Pasta Bowls promotions.

While Marvel has been putting a lot of effort into turning some of their less flashy heroes into sweet, sweet premium cable money, by far their biggest money-makers have been the two Avengers movies, which were so comically profitable they’ve basically ruined expectations for all future superhero movies. So far, the movies have done a pretty good job of adapting stories from the comics for the big screen, like the team’s foundation, the Ultron and Thanos story arcs, and Civil War, which in an event so rare that you’d have a bigger chance winning the lottery before getting crushed by falling airplane luggage, actually exceeded the infamously disjointed original comic series (which basically just turned into a blood feud between liberal and conservative writers). That said, in its 40+ years of history, the Avengers title has had some less than stellar stories that Marvel probably isn’t in a rush to turn into scripts. At the very least, not until they need to recoup the losses of another terrible Spider-Man reboot.

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1. Captain Marvel Gives Birth to Her Own Rapist

Debuting as a supporting character to the original alien Captain Marvel (the character Marvel came up with to steal the trademark from DC), Carol Danvers was originally a U.S. Air Force officer who was injured when a Kree device exploded. She spent almost nine years on the bench before suddenly reappearing, because instead of just incinerating her, the cosmic energy of the device had given her all of Captain Marvel’s powers, making her a Kree-human hybrid. Yeah, “cosmic energy” was basically just a magic wand when Marvel didn’t feel like thinking up an origin story. Calling herself Ms. Marvel, Danvers would make a name for herself as a progressive female character, dealing with things like equal pay, which in 1977 was an even more radical notion than Reddit says it is now.

“Times were so much better when my paper was all pro-segregation editorials and ads for war bonds.”

It didn’t last. In 1980, Marvel published the universally reviled Avengers #200, which celebrated the title’s anniversary by reversing the past twenty years of progress in women’s liberation. In said story, Ms. Marvel is kidnapped by a man named Marcus, seemingly the son of the Avengers’ old enemy Immortus, who brings her to an alternate dimension where he proceeds to brainwash and rape her. By the time she arrives back on Earth, she turns out to be pregnant and proceeds to give birth to a child that rapidly grows into a terrestrial version of Marcus. Obviously, the Avengers were outraged by this unspeakably depraved act of sexual assault and proceeded to beat the shit out of him… oh wait, they’re just fine with Marcus taking her back with him to his interdimensional rape shack.

“I’m sure Ms. Marvel will find happiness with the sex offender we let her leave with.”

Understandably, this story was insanely unpopular with anyone who had even the slightest understanding of things like “consent” or “writing that doesn’t suck”, and the response makes today’s Tumblr wars look like polite discourse. Among others, comic historian Carol Strickland wrote a scathing article called “The Rape of Ms. Marvel”, and writer Chris Claremont retconned the entire thing as soon as he got the chance, with Ms. Marvel returning to Earth (Marcus having continued to magically age and die, breaking his hold on her) and ripping apart the slack-jawed morons she used to call teammates about having let her go off and play house with her rapist. While Hawkeye tries to put up a half-hearted defense about Marvel “leaving of her own free will,” no sane person would have considered anything about Ms. Marvel’s mindset at the time to resemble free will.

“It’s alright to cry. I know you miss the touch of your incestuous man-child husband.”

2. Hank Pym’s Mental Illness Showcase

Hank Pym has gotten kind of a raw deal in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Not only is he no longer one of the founding members of the Avengers like in the original comics, he’s not even the titular Ant-Man, that role having gone to Scott Lang, who was the second Ant-Man in the comics. Hell, he’s not even the creator of Ultron, having been replaced by Tony Stark and Bruce Banner, though that particular accomplishment is probably not something he’s going to put on his resume anyway.

“If I weren’t such a terrible scientist, this would probably be a red flag. Oh well.”

That said, we might have dodged a bullet here, as Pym’s history with the Avengers included a few low points that wouldn’t exactly make for a riveting cinematic experience, unless they hired Quentin Tarantino to direct it. Shit, actually, that would be pretty awesome, but I digress.

Hank Pym didn’t start out as a superhero; he was originally a one-shot character in a sci-fi story called “The Man in the Ant Hill” (which was basically just a shameless ripoff of The Incredible Shrinking Man; comics in those days were basically just a copyright infringement factory) published in one of Marvel’s “let’s throw random crap together and see what sticks” anthology comics. He was brought back several issues later as a costumed hero, and a year later became part of the first Avengers lineup. Then things started taking a turn for the worse, as Pym began jumping between costumed identities like an indecisive trick-or-treater, having no less than four different alter-egos over the course of 7 years, first because he felt overshadowed by being on the same team with someone like Thor when his own power was mostly just “talking to bugs”, and eventually because he developed schizophrenia from exposure to chemicals.

I don’t think schizophrenia works like this, but hey, I don’t have the expertise of a comic writer who needs to meet a deadline and knows most of the people reading are 12 years old.

Things didn’t improve from there. Pym became a kind of mentally unstable running gag in the Marvelverse, making increasingly poor decisions that eventually culminated in him building a robot (because learning from your idiotic mistakes is for chumps) to attack the Avengers, with the idea being that he’d rush in to defeat it at a crucial moment, thus wowing his teammates. When his wife Wasp protested against this totally rational act, he responded by backhanding her like a 1950s noir detective.

Not pictured: redemption.

At least this time (unlike with Ms. Marvel), the writers had a faint idea this behavior should be frowned upon, so Wasp dumped his ass and so did the Avengers. While the character eventually got better, the comics reveled in his misery for a while, to a frankly uncomfortable extent.

Suicide solves all your problems, kids! Go get dad’s gun today!

3. Hulk the Circus Clown

Thanks to the Avengers movies, everyone now associates the Hulk with the team, and that’s actually something they got right. Sure, Hulk, Iron Man, and Thor were three of the founding members (Captain America, Black Widow, and Hawkeye weren’t, but just roll with it), but what few know is that Hulk was only part of the group for about 5 minutes. Turns out, teaming up with a violently unstable manchild who smashes everything really isn’t a good idea. Just ask A-Rod’s old teammates.

Fun fact: the earliest days of the Avengers was 90% “Hulk Management” time.

Hulk was one of the five original members of the group, alongside Thor, Iron Man, Ant-Man, and the Wasp, who had all been brought together by random chance to interfere with one of Loki’s schemes (although, unlike the movie, it was a lot less ambitious; Loki was basically just planning to trick the Hulk into smashing the hell out of Thor. Considering the Hulk’s personality at the time, Loki could have just asked politely). And what was the unstoppable Hulk doing while Loki was cooking up his brilliant sitcom-esque plan? Masquerading as a circus clown. Oh, sorry, a robot clown.

If you’ve got a robot performer, it kind of seems like overkill if you also dress him up as a clown.

Imagine anyone rushing to make awful bootleg t-shirts of this trainwreck. Of course, you all know the story: Loki gets exposed and the characters decide to band together to fight evil and defend truth and justice. Which lasted all the way until the end of issue #2, when Hulk threw a huge fit over the team not immediately trusting him after he’d spent almost his entire existence smashing the shit out of anything that wandered too close. Hulk took off like a sulky, superstrong toddler. He’d spend the next few issues as a villain, including teaming up with Namor over their mutual misanthropy while constantly plotting to murder each other at the first opportunity. Seriously, early Hulk stories were basically a study in paranoid personality disorder, and not really the kind of theme you want for your obscenely profitable movie franchise.

“I hate humans, shoes, and shirts, in that order!” “Me, too! Let’s attack the Avengers together!”

For more non-MCU-worthy moments, check out 3 embarrassing Spider-Man moments you won’t see in the movies, and 3 insane Captain America moments Marvel won’t put in the movies!

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  • I’m sure billing yourself as the most powerful robot on Earth won’t draw the attention of the Army. Good disguise, Hulk.

  • GreenLuthor

    That whole “Hank Pym got schizophrenia from exposure to chemicals” is probably even worse than the summary would make it seem. (Not the least reason being that schizophrenia isn’t dissociative identity disorder.) So after getting exposed to chemicals, Hank takes on the new persona of Yellowjacket, claims to have killed Pym, fights with the Avengers, and then tries to get Wasp to marry him. Wasp, the only Avenger to realize who Yellowjacket really was, agrees to this! And when Pym gets returned to normal, the whole thing is brushed off with a “well, I guess we wanted to get married, and even if it was under false pretenses, we’re married now”! (Oddly, they’d actually stay married until the accidental spousal abuse incident.) (Gotta suck when your defining character moment is the result of the artist not drawing the panel the way the writer described it; it was supposed to be more of a not looking in her direction, trying to brush her off, and accidentally hitting her, not the full-on backhand to the face.)