The Marvel Cinematic Universe might not be perfect in many ways comic book fans expect it to be. However, the risk it doesn’t take with plotlines, it compensates through another way: introducing obscure comic-book characters on the big screen. Despite putting Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor on the front, the MCU has not been shy to massively boost the popularity of lesser-known characters. From Guardians of the Galaxy to Black Widow, a few characters definitely owe their popularity to the MCU. Here are 13 characters whose popularity sky-rocketed after the movies.
13. Guardians of the Galaxy
Before James Gunn released his widely acclaimed Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1, the space-pirates were hardly popular among the comic-book fans. Even more interestingly, the original Guardians of the Galaxy are vastly different from the team that made it to the big screen. However, the widespread popularity of the first installment was actually planned by comic-book legend Brian Michael Bendis when he was hired to revamp the failing series. The instant popularity of the movie led to multiple solo outings for Star-Lord and Rocket Racoon.
12. Black Widow
Since her first appearance in Iron Man 2, Black Widow has become one of the most recognizable superheroes of the franchise, owing to the global popularity of Scarlett Johansson. Though Black Widow is shown to be one of the founding members of the Avengers, in the comics she is hardly featured as a vital member of the team, let alone be a founding member. After her popularity soared due to the movies, Black Widow has had six solo series so far.
11. Ant-Man (Scott Lang)
When Ant-Man was first announced, fans naturally thought that Hank Pym would be donning the suit. As a founding member of the Avengers alongside his wife Janet Van Dyke aka The Wasp, it was the obvious choice. But then, Scott Lang was introduced as the present-day Ant-Man with Hank Pym sidelined to become more of a mentor. Played by Paul Rudd in the movies, the popularity of Scott Lang sky-rocketed as he soon replaced Hank Pym in the comics too.
10. Falcon (Sam Wilson)
Falcon was literally tied-in to the Avengers to complete the diversity requirement in the comics. Having always portrayed as the sidekick to Captain America, he finally took the mantle of America’s greatest soldier. The character’s popularity also witnessed a solid boost when he first appeared in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, played by Anthony Mackie. Since then, the character has become quite popular among fans, with his own series coming to Disney+ next year.
9. Hawkeye (Clint Barton)
As the sole member of the Avengers with no superpowers, Hawkeye has become the butt of many jokes over the years. Prior to the release of The Avengers (2012), Hawkeye’s comics were witnessing dwindling sales. But the movie worked wonders as Marvel hired critically acclaimed author Matt Fraction to helm the archer’s series, Hawkeye: My Life As a Weapon, which became one of the best-known comic-books of all time. Interestingly, the comic book is used as source material for the upcoming Hawkeye series starring Jeremy Renner and Hailee Steinfeld.
8. Nick Fury Jr.
The original Nick Fury from the comics was a white guy and a former CIA agent who eventually headed S.H.I.E.L.D. The 1988 live-action Nick Fury movie had David Hasselhoff play the role of the exemplary agent. However, when Samuel L. Jackson played the character in the MCU, the original character of Nick Fury was retired, and instead, his son Nick Fury Jr. was introduced.
7. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Though S.H.I.E.L.D. has always been an integral part of the Marvel universe, the agency never had the chance to shine in its own separate publication. But all that finally changed when S.H.I.E.L.D. made its first appearance in Iron Man (2008). The agency truly shone in The Avengers (2012) with its Helicarrier. Luckily, the agency found its own TV series headed by Phil Coulson and became massively popular among the fans. As a result, S.H.I.E.L.D. finally had multiple titles to its name.
6. Pepper Potts
Played by Gwyneth Paltrow, Pepper Potts rose to significant fame due to the Iron Man trilogy. Prior to the MCU, Pepper Potts had an on-off relationship with Tony Stark in the comics. Ultimately, she married Happy Hogan and was not seen for a few years in the comics. However, the character amassed quite a fan following when she became a true badass in Iron Man 3.
5. Jane Foster
In the early days of Thor, Jane Foster played a significant role as she aided Thor’s alter-ego, Dr. Donald Blake when he was banished to Earth to learn humility and become worthy to wield the Mjolnir. However, the character was soon discarded when Thor became worthy and left Midgard to pursue his adventures. In the MCU, Jane Foster is portrayed by Natalie Portman, which generally re-invigorated the popularity of the character. As a result, the character was brought back to become the Goddess of Thunder in Jason Aaron’s run.
4. Black Panther
Surely, Black Panther is a comic book icon since his first appearance. But sadly, the character’s comic book titles were not exactly impressive when it came to sales prior to the MCU. But all that changed when the late Chadwick Boseman was cast as King T’Challa in the MCU. The rest is history as Black Panther became a global phenomenon, all thanks to Boseman’s unforgettable performance.
Thanos is definitely an existential threat, even in the comic books. But then, the Mad Titan never really reached his true potential since he was a villain who appeared when the story demanded. First teased in The Avengers (2012), the Mad Titan wreaked havoc in Avengers: Infinity War, to the extent that he lifted the villain curse that the MCU was plagued with since the beginning. Naturally, his titles also rose in prominence among comic book fans.
The God of Mischief has always been a serious threat in the comics long before Tom Hiddleston’s memorable performance(s) in the MCU. However, Hiddleston’s anti-hero portrayal of the character inspired his comic-book counterpart. As a result, Loki was not just another Thor villain. The God of Mischief became interesting enough to have his own titles, where he saves or destroys the world according to his whims.
1. Doctor Strange
The Sorcerer Supreme enjoyed a comfortable run in the comics for quite some years. But unfortunately, the sales dwindled and Doctor Strange was sidelined to become a guest character in tie-in events. To prepare for MCU’s Doctor Strange, Marvel hired acclaimed writer Jason Aaron to write the fourth volume after 19 long years. Needless to say, the Sorcerer is now in good hands as Mark Waid is currently working on the next title.