Marvel has been painting an amazing picture for their cinematic universe, so well, that the other studios are starting to do the same with THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2-4, and the expanding X-MEN and WOLVERINE franchises.
With every new announcement comes a new character, a new film, a reference to a continuation, or a series adjustment. While a good many of you will know who the general characters are, at least, from the mainstream context given (in some of the films we've seen). A large amount of you that are in a mainstream audience probably have no clue as to who some of these characters are, and from what comics they come from; and literally, may only have working knowledge from limited entries in some of the animated series & features we’ve gained over the years.
If you've read my Guardians of the Galaxy Guide for Noobs, then you have seen the massive amount of reading I laid out, with a growing character bio index; to help catch up mainstream comic book fans with those respective characters, whom are mostly obscure. I’ve been asked recently to start working on the same entries from a Marvel brand manager for their various wikia’s. I've also been asked here and through social media to continue adding these guides (or indexes, if that floats your boat for a description). These articles will piggy back my work on those community websites.
So let’s begin to take a deeper look at these characters and get some guidance to comic material that we can read; learning more about these characters as we go, along with the storylines coming into the next set of films.
NOTE: This article is long (dynamically updated) and in depth; if you are a TL;DR, you're getting permission here to go do something else, play candy crush, angry birds, read one of my other articles (and troll me there), go pound the ham a bit, whatever...Derp! There's no shame, you're young...attention spans are short, I get it.
EDIT: Yes Godzillafart, this note is for people like you that need something random and catchy to complain about...
Thor: The Dark World
We've all seen THOR (by now) and while I loved the film with, everyone's favorite Asgardian, I wanted more time in Asgard. I also wanted more super-villainy displayed outside of Midgard (Earth). While we were starved for (more) Asgard in the first film, the new film will see us well fed with the addition of Thor's old enemy, Malekith and a few other very important characters in Thor’s comic book history, specifically Algrim, who later becomes Kurse.
The First appearance of the Dark Elf, is in 1984, Thor #344, and you can get this issue and others that follow on Marvel's website, digitally. You don't have to (but it's nice to) scour a comic-shop for older print versions; the process of doing so is like cat-nip to me, but mainstream fans will have an easier time picking up any of these issues from $.99 cents to $1.99.
Here is the listing of the comics you will want to read through to give you a ton of insight without having to start from square one with Regard to Thor, Malekith, Algrim, and some of the prior relationships between him and Loki (even though we have a pretty clear idea where the MCU wants to take us with Loki).
Thor #485-487, 489
Thor Volume 2 #29-32
Balder the Brave #1-4
Incredible Hercules #134, 136
A large portion of these issues are in one compendium release from 2011, simply titled THOR by Walter Simonson in an awesome hardcover edition. However, this edition does not start from Malekith’s first appearance, and includes many of Thor's enemies that are all of great import; whom many may have any number of connections to future MCU films.
NOTE: In case you may be among the minority making a simple mistake, Algrim, the dark elf in the animated film THOR: TALES OF ASGARD, is not Malekith in the upcoming live action film.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
I love Cappy, he's one of my favorite characters (in all of Marvel), because he is actually inspired from a real person. No, I'm not saying we had a super-serum enhanced soldier in WWII. I'm saying we had the U.S. War Bond selling “Captain” (The Star Spangled Man) in WWI-II. We got to see a lot of what Comic fans already understood as his origin in the first film - grant it, variations of it, but the essence is there.
The first Cappy film properly sets up the origin spark for James “Bucky” Barnes, who we’re getting in the 2nd film as one of its “antagonist”. In terms of what I understand of Cappy, you'll want to read up on Winter Soldier carefully. This character is (more than likely) going to be pivotal in some of the story telling moving forward, at least with just Cappy in mind; not just the overall MCU. Much of Bucky’s description as a character may spoil a lot of what (potentially) is to come. Check out the comic series listed below carefully. Why is Bucky critical? Joss Whedon recently talked about the potential to kill off characters from the Avengers. Which means any number of comic book deaths may be in store for us in the near future. Especially with Whedon wanting Avengers 2 to become more personal, darker, more focused on the characters.
Captain America Volume 5 #1 "Out of Time" Series I-VI
There is a large list of Marvel Characters that are joining the cast for Winter Soldier. Most of them are not mutants or possess any special abilities, outside of being heavily trained military characters. Some however are very important additions.
James "Bucky" Barnes
Sam Wilson / Falcon
Brock Rumlow / Crossbones
Sharon Carter / Agent 13
Batroc the Leaper
We already met Zola in the first film, and he effectively remained with the early incarnation of SHIELD, so it will be awesome to see his exact incarnation in this film. If he finally dawns the cybernetic body we've come to know in the comics.
Falcon finally joins the MCU, played by Anthony Mackie, a character we've seen often in various incarnations in the comics and animated media. Sam Wilson is a character that was used as a pawn to kill Captain America by the Red Skull. In fact it was the Skull that used the Tesseract (Cosmic Cube) to give Falcon his telepathic abilities. Eventually becoming one of Steve Rogers most trusted partners. Cappy trained Falcon heavily in everything; from hand to hand combat, acrobatics, tactics, etc. He will be an interesting character to see interpreted for a live action film.
There’s a lot more I can point out for Captain America, I can go in depth on Red Skull, or point you in the direction of the Civil War series (among my favorites) but we have a perfect example of who Cappy is from the 1st film, along with Red Skull, and a few other characters.
The first film did Cappy's character nearly to perfection. Even if CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER was financially the weakest performing of the entire MCU ranking at #24 overall (of 118) as a comic book adaptation. Even if, the perfect Steve Rogers (in my mind), is a mid 1980's Chuck Norris with no beard; but hey, Chris Evans is pretty damn great in the role, and that random thought is just me thinking back to my childhood. Evans conveys the stubborn, struggling to understand (our world), enormous need to do good for his fellow brothers in arms, exceptionally well. We got him in a nutshell, but damn that was an awesome nutshell.
Guardians of the Galaxy
Click this image to go to the GOTG Guide for Noobs!
Avenger's 2: Age of Ultron
Being voice by James Spader
Ultron first appeared in Avenger's #54 1968. He was deceptively introduced as the Crimson Cowl; eventually being revealed that the Cowl was Jarvis under Ultron's control.
This year we saw the release of a 10 issue crossover event titled "Age of Ultron" - Do not be confused by this - Kevin Feige and Whedon have both stated this is simply borrowing the title, and that this comic is not at all what the film will be based on. The origins for Ultron will be completely unique to the MCU, as the characters origin were originally tied to Hank Pym; endowing the android with his own neural patterns, and the AI he created. Ultron became "self-aware" almost immediately. He hypnotized (I kind of want to say "glamoured"...derp) Pym and suggested he leave and forget the lab. This is where Ultron rebuilt himself, many times over, before working together with the Masters of Evil and striking at the Avengers.
More Info Coming Soon
Hank Pym...He's Giant-Man, Yellow Jacket, Goliath, and we see him in this film (from what we know so far) as the titular character. Originally able to pop a pill of "Pym" particles, he was able to shrink in size. By necessity; created a special helmet that allowed him to communicate with insects (so they wouldn't attack and eat him).
As more info becomes available for the film, I will update details about characters involved in the casting.
More Info Coming Soon
Stephen Strange / Dr. Strange
The Ancient One
More Info Coming Soon
This character originally was going to get a film on his own prior to the MCU setup. At that time, Ray Park had been attached to play the character. More than likely the rumors about Park being attached now are accredited to the original film that was planned, and consequently scrapped.
Much of the hype surrounding Iron Fist is also in reference to his long time "Heroes for Hire" crime-fighting partner, Luke Cage, giving rise to the rumors that the next film would be just that - "Heroes for Hire".
There is very little information available at the moment about this project, and I'd imagine he'd be just as difficult to bring to the screen true to form, similarly to Wolverine. However, it is classified as In Development
(Info Coming Soon)
T'Challa The Black Panther
Ororo Monroe / Storm
I will be doing a variety of updates to this guide; adding a larger comic index for the lesser known characters that are announced for each of these films, and various supplemental character bio articles for each as well.
Let me know what you think of these films, and what you're hoping for. Ask questions if you want more info on something; I'll do my best to get to all of the necessary details and update a massive amount of information.
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