All of our favorite comic book movies have strong ties with the publications that spawned them. While not exactly the same, story elements and characters are taken repeatedly from the comics for the movies and given a slight, if not extreme, twist. Rarely will you see completely original characters and/or storylines created for these, with some rare exceptions (Agent Coulson of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D and Avengers fame being a prime example). A number of comic book movies are coming down the pike and we’ve put together a primer to fill you in on the origins of the characters and storylines you’ll be seeing in Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and The Avengers: Age of Ultron. Hit the jump for a breakdown.
Malekith the Dark Elf
The antagonist of the upcoming, much anticipated sequel, Malekith was created by famed Thor writer/artist, Walter Simonson, as an evil elf with a desire to obtain a weapon known as the Casket of Ancient Winters. Aside from having one of the most “metal” names ever created, the Casket, when opened, blankets the world with a never ending winter and grants the user powers beyond their wildest dreams. Malekith is a trickster very similar to Loki, disguising himself in order to fool his enemies and generally cracking wise as he torments his enemies. While the footage released for Dark World has been tight lipped with Malekith’s character and motivations, tending to focus more on Loki and smartly so as he’s becoming more of a selling point overall, we can expect the elf, played by Christopher Eccleston of Doctor Who fame, to be just as much of a threat as he was in the comics.
While all of the details for the story of Dark World have not been released, there are a few elements that we can expect to see. First off, Thor teaming up with Loki to fight a bigger threat. This often happens more in the comics then you would expect, as typically, Loki would create a problem for Thor to deal with that would backfire that he would then need the assistance of his God of Thunder brother to deal with. The two along with Jane Foster, played by Natalie Portman, will travel across the Nine Realms to battle against Malekith’s plans. The Nine Realms, which include Earth and Asgard, are, and stay with me on this one: Musphelheim (Fire Demons), Alfheim (Elves), Asgard, Midgard (Earth), Jotunheim (Frost Giants), Vanaheim (Sorcerers), Nidavellir (Dwarves), Svartalfheim (Dark Elves), and Nifleheim (Home of the Dead). Trying saying all of them three times fast.
The Winter Soldier
Regarded by many to be one of the greatest Captain America stories ever created, the Winter Soldier is the name of the mysterious antagonist that befuddles Cap as he struggles to find his place in post World War 2 America. The storyline, written by Ed Brubaker and illustrated by Steve Epting, introduces the Winter Soldier as an assassin who is periodically woken up from deep freeze by a rogue KGB agent for the sole purpose of taking out targets. He also happens to have many ties to Captain America’s past and the mystery of his identity will be a selling point of the movie. If you want to go onto Google and find out who WS is, feel free as his identity has long been known in the comic book world, with Winter Soldier even recently having his own series but we’ll keep that secret tight to our chest in case readers want to be surprised.
The Falcon is a winged superhero who has long been a partner to Captain America in the comics. Sam Wilson was originally a social worker who has the ability to communicate with birds and donned his alter ego to help Cap fight the Red Skull. Falcon’s costume has been radically altered for the movie, with a more modern take akin to the S.H.I.E.L.D uniforms we’ve seen so far. Also, don’t expect Falcon, played by Anthony Mackie in the film, to be communicating with birds at any point during the film as, in the comics, this is actually a mutant power and considering Fox Studios and the X-Men franchise has a tight grasp on mutants, I wouldn’t expect Sam to be talking to his bird, Red Wing, any time soon.
I love Crossbones. Aside from the Red Skull, Crossbones, whose secret identity is Brock Rumlow, is one of the most striking and popular villains in Captain America’s rogues gallery. A mercenary who grew up on the meaner streets of New York, Crossbones has long worked for the Red Skull and continues to torment our hero in the comics, even recently joining up with the super group the Thunderbolts. Played by Frank Grillo in the sequel, we haven’t actually seen any photos of what Crossbones will look like in the Winter Soldier or if he’ll be wearing something close to his skull mask, but expect him to be a worthwhile threat to Cap throughout the movie.
The Age of Ultron was actually a recent Marvel comics storyline, written by Brian Michael Bendis, released this year, documenting Avengers’ villain, Ultron, taking over the world and the Avengers having to fight back. Fighting back included sending Wolverine into the past to kill Hank Pym’s past self before he actually built Ulton and…well it can get a little complicated. Joss Whedon has gone on record stating that the movie won’t follow the time traveling story arc, but will rather explore Ultron’s origin, while simultaneously bolstering the Avengers’ roster.
Considered by many to be the biggest foe of the Avengers, Ultron is a sentient machine bent on destroying humanity and replacing it with robots (think Skynet in an Iron Man suit with Daddy issues). Ultron, in the comics, was originally created by Hank Pym, aka Ant Man, who has yet to appear in any of the Marvel movies, though director Edgar Wright will be bringing him to the big screen in 2015’s Ant Man feature. He’s had a long struggle with the Avengers, which has resulted in some of the team’s best stories, so expect the sequel to be epic in scale. As for Ultron’s origins in the movie, there’s speculation that Tony Stark will have a hand in creating the robotic nemesis since Hank Pym will not be appearing before this is released.
Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch
The two latest additions to the Avengers roster, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, are brother and sister who, in the comics, started their careers as villains but eventually came to join the Avengers, having been superheroes ever since (minus one or two slip ups back into being villains, but such is comic books). Here’s where things get a little tricky in the movie-verse as the two siblings are actually mutants who happen to be the children of X-Men villain, Magneto. In fact, Quicksilver is confirmed to appear in Bryan Singer’s X-Men: Days of the Future Past, the director’s long awaited return to the franchise. The character will be played by a different actor than in Avengers and it’s highly doubtful either movie will have anything to do with one another. Quicksilver has the ability of super speed, while Scarlet Witch’s powers include being able to alter reality, which should be interesting to see displayed on screen. While not officially confirmed by the studio, the roles have been highly rumored to be filled by actor Aaron-Taylor Johnson, of Kick-Ass fame, and Elizabeth Olson, Martha Marcy May Marlene.