(Warning: If you haven't yet seen Avengers: Age of Ultron, then mild SPOILERS lie below. Go ahead, though - hit the theater. We'll wait.)
So. By now, you've most likely already seen Avengers: Age of Ultron (at least once), and are probably beginning to make up your mind about whether or not it's better than 2012's The Avengers, last year's Guardians of the Galaxy, and the other assorted moments of brilliance that Marvel has come out with over the past seven years.
Whatever your opinion, though, there's one thing that's for certain - these Avengers are rapidly becoming less and less alike to their comic-book counterparts - not least because in the comics, Thor is currently a woman, Iron Man is secretly evil, and Captain America is...The Falcon (it's been a weird few years).
And yet, for anyone who grew up reading the heroes' adventures in comic-book form, the core of the Avengers' characters still seems very much present and correct - with a whole lot of what makes them them still intact.
So, it seems like as good a time as any to take a closer look, and ask:
Just How Faithful Are Age of Ultron's Avengers to the Comics?
So - First up:
Now, sure, Thor may currently be a woman in the comics - the original God of Thunder proved himself to be unworthy of the role, and Mjolnir - but over the course of 53 years of comic-book existence, Thor has largely been...pretty much who we've seen on screen.
Large, noble, handsome and slightly confused about the way that the real world works down in Midgard - that's both the classic and modern comic-book Thor, as well as Chris Hemsworth's movie version. Though, in fairness, there was that whole period of time where he had a secret identity as a surgeon. And that little while where he lost his place as Thor to an alien named Beta Ray Bill. And that one time he moved the whole of Asgard to Oklahoma.
Thor: Ragnarok, anyone?
What about the other two members of the Marvel Cinematic Universe's holy trinity, though?
Captain America and Iron Man
Well, first up, Cap is...just Cap. There's really not a whole lot you can change about him without him rapidly ceasing to be recognizable as Captain America. The movie version's certainly closest to the Cap who emerged in the late '70s, struggling with his faith in the US government, but he's still very much the same ol' Cap wherever you see him.
The MCU's Tony Stark, on the other hand, is arguably as much Robert Downey Jr. as he is the comic-book Iron Man - with the on-the-page Stark's constant personality shifts and romantic entanglements having been whittled down to a perfectly formed, RDJ-shaped core. It's not necessarily the Iron Man we all grew up with - he's consistently funnier, for one thing - but the MCU's Stark is arguably a more finely distilled version of him than we've seen in the comics.
Except, of course, for the fact that most comic-book creators now write and draw him as though he's RDJ...
Meanwhile, in Gamma-irradiated-rage-monster Town...
Now, the Hulk's a tricky one, as - over the years - he's arguably had a larger number of different personalities and portrayals than any other superhero. Depending on the comic-book run, Hulk can be very much like his MCU portrayal (which largely harks back to his early years), super-smart and super-strong, a grey-skinned, morally-suspect Hulk, or virtually any combination of the above.
Also, that one time, he ended up ruling a planet and then invading the Earth. Which, unless I missed a post-credits scene somewhere, hasn't come close to happening in the MCU yet.
What about the other two original cinematic Avengers, though?
Hawkeye and Black Widow
Now, in many ways, Hawkeye and Black Widow are strikingly similar to their comic-book counterparts - even if Hawkeye is usually more of a screw-up on the page, and Black Widow doesn't tend to be as funny. Either way, they're both bad-asses who've long since earned their keep at the highest level of heroism, despite not having any actual powers to speak of.
The big difference between the page and the screen, then? Their relationship to each other, and the rest of the team. Y'see, in the comics, they were both originally villains (briefly, in Hawkeye's case), who later reformed and joined the Avengers. There was also that whole awkward period where Hawkeye was in love with Natasha - which Age of Ultron seems to have pretty solidly washed away the possibility of us seeing on screen...
What about our new Avengers, though?
Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver
Now, this is where the MCU takes more of a turn away from the comics - with the on-page Wanda and Pietro being the mutant children (and sidekicks) of the super-villain Magneto, who eventually reformed and joined the Avengers. Now, the finer details of that have been gradually ret-conned over recent years, but the main gist of it? They're once evil mutants, who now aren't.
Which, in a real world in which Fox owns the exclusive rights to use the term 'mutants' in a Marvel-context, doesn't exactly play out in the MCU. Sure, the twins are ex-bad guys who turn good, but pretty much everything else about their origin is gone.
On the plus side, though, Wanda is almost (though, hopefully, not quite) as unhinged as she is in the comics, and Pietro is very much the same swaggering, arrogant speed-freak. Which is the most important thing, really...
Now, The Vision's origin in the comics varies from Age of Ultron's in several key (minor) details, but the overarching basics remain more less the same - he's a sort of human-ish android (usually referred to as a synthezoid in the comics), with awesome, often loosely-defined powers. Who ends up marrying The Scarlet Witch (hello, 2024).
The big difference between the page and the screen, though? He's not usually as funny as Paul Bettany makes him...
The main conclusion, then, about Age of Ultron, and the MCU as a whole? For all that the details of the Avengers may change from the comics, it's actually pretty striking how much of the original characterizations have made their way onto the screen. Also, Hawkeye's awesome again, so all is good in the (MCU) world...