It seems like every new superhero movie franchise starts with an origin story. I think that’s helpful for some people because they get to learn what makes these people so special, but for avid comic book readers (and general superhero geeks) it’s annoying. If I have to see one more Spider-Man origin story I’m going to smash my TV screen. And you know what’s worse? When the writers/directors of the movies decide to change the origin story for no good reason. This article is about cases like this.
Here are 10 comic book origin stories that were very different from the movies.
We’ll start of slow, with a twist on an origin story that makes a lot of sense for a movie franchise. Let’s talk about Jarvis, Tony Stark’s artificial intelligence butler (as most of you will know him). See, in the original comic books, Jarvis was an actual meat-and-bones, real human butler. But Iron Man already gets compared to Batman a lot, so how would it look if the very first Marvel movie featured an Alfred-like butler of the main character? It would look like Marvel is trying too hard to be DC. So, they did the smart thing and made Jarvis an AI assistant instead of a human butler.
Moving on in the vein of “studios working around limitations”, let’s talk about Venom.
In the comics, Venom is an alien parasite that bonds to a human and feeds on them (while also giving them superpowers). Originally, this parasite boded to Peter Parker and created the Venom version of Spider-Man. However, just as the movie was coming out, Spider-Man was very busy being part of the Disney-owned Marvel Cinematic Universe, so the studio had to change the origin story and make Venom bond directly with Eddie Brock.
How they’re going to merge the stories of Venom and Spider-Man in Venom 2 is a mystery, but the end-result should be fun.
Fantastic Four & Doctor Doom
Now let’s move into origin stories that were modified because films can’t be 5-hours long (unless they’re the director’s cut version of LOTR).
In the comic books the origin stories of Doom and the Fantastic Four are two separate stories. The Fantastic Four got their powers just how you remember from the movie — because of an accident during one of Dr. Fantastic’s experiments. However, Doom’s origin story was completely separate, and contributed a lot to explaining his motivations as a villain.
What we got in the movies was the fact that Doom was the one who inadvertently caused the accident, thereby giving powers both to the Four and to himself. It turned two origin stories into one and cut about 2 hours of exposition and origin stories, but the end result is that the world of the Fantastic Four is very crowded, and it’s a little more difficult to explain why they couldn’t just get along.
The Joker (Jack Nicholson)
A similar thing happened with the origin story of Jack Nicholson’s Joker. In the original Batman comics, the Joker is… Well… He’s just The Joker. He’s a person who had a very, very bad day, and it completely changed him.
However, in the 1989 Batman movie, the Joker is actually the gangster that kills Bruce Wayne’s parents, thereby contributing to the creation of the Batman. The rest of the Joker’s story sticks to the original (an accident with a vat full of acid, a purple costume, terrorizing Gotham), but that one detail from the beginning of the film still makes the world of Gotham seem too small and the stories of the Joker and Batman being way too connected to each other.