From the Book to the Big Screen, the Dissonance of Comic Heroes


Whether it’s the X-Men, the Avengers, or the Justice League, comic books undergo heavy changes in order to suit the theaters, and the different audiences that come with them. During this transition, characters oftentimes have their costumes, motivations, and backstories changed, or they might be a completely different character entirely. And yet others still avoid much of these changes, holding true to their original forms, more or less.

We begin by looking at none other than Superman himself, who is easily one of the most renowned comic book characters of all time. With his signature blues, red accessories, and a huge logo emblazoned on the front, his costume is perhaps the most recognizable of them all. Superman - WikipediaTraditionally, when Superman is represented in movies, he tends to keep his classic costume.

There are some liberties taken to make the costume more appealing, such as with Henry Cavill’s costume when he took on the character, but he’s still wearing the signature blue and red attire, sticking pretty close to the source material.Box Office: The Problem With 'Superman' Movies Is Still Superman

In addition to his attire, he is similar to his comic book character in terms of backstory, though the movies don’t follow the mostly lighthearted tones of the comics. All in all, comic book Superman already has most of the things that make him digestible to movie audiences.

A character that really treads the line between staying true to his comic book origins and being completely changed in the movies is Iron Man. He is certainly made more digestible for viewers, with the movies upping both his morality and humor to a 10, as opposed to the grittier man the comics portray him as. A good example of this can be seen with Captain America: Civil War. Iron Man (1968) #126 | Comic Issues | MarvelIn the comics, Tony Stark still goes about trying to enact the legislation he sees as necessary, but in a completely different way. He is more brutal, he works with villains, imprisons dissenters in a veritable Guantanamo Bay in an antimatter universe, and even indirectly contributes to the killing of heroes who fail to get apprehended. On the other hand, he is still an eccentric billionaire engineering genius, and his suit looks mostly the same. In addition, even in the movies, 4 Iconic Captain America and Iron Man Moments | Marveldespite the changes in his personality from his comic book self, he is still the more pragmatic and cynical character, as compared to those around him.



A character that bridges the halfway point between staying true to the comics and being completely dissonant would be Spider-Man. He has been subject to three separate movie trilogies, all of which have somewhat different takes on him, and all of them are somewhat different from the comics that he originates in. For the most part, he’s goofy, he’s charismatic, and he has a heart of good. All of the various forms of media tend to follow this. On other aspects, not so much. All of the movies show him to be intelligent, some more than others, but all of them pale in comparison to the comics. In the comics, he is nothing short of an absolute genius. 

The villains of comic universes also tend to change dramatically from comic to movie, including one of Spider-Man’s primary antagonists, the Green Goblin. In Sam Raimi’s edition, he begins as a businessman scientist attempting to win a lucrative military contract. After injecting himself with serum, he goes insane, eventually turning into the villain himself and murdering the members of his own company’s board who voted to fire him. He asks Spider-Man to join him, which he refuses, causing his apathy for the young hero.

In the comics, their rivalry builds up over a far longer period of time. In addition, the Green Goblin becomes insane and gets his powers thanks to a mishap in a laboratory, not through purposeful means. He seems much more like a natural villain for Spider-Man, as opposed to a one-shot enemy, as he was turned into so as to fit in a movie format. It is important to note, however, that the Goblin dies in pretty much the exact same way, a nice touch no doubt.


1 thought on “From the Book to the Big Screen, the Dissonance of Comic Heroes

  1. I like seeing how these heroes and their stories are adapted or told on the big screen. It’s always intriguing to look at what they did to make them suitable for the movies that they’re in and see how that might have changed from the comics. This is especially interesting when looking at how trends in comics and the influence of the world at the time as a whole might have influenced the writing of a character, and how that original influence might not be relevant anymore, calling for some kind of overhaul or change to make them easier to connect with or understand for an audience of a different time.

Leave a Reply