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June 24, 2015

Marvel's NOT "All-New All-Different" Approach

Marvel Comics is coming out of a series of event specials and will be restarting their comics universe again. This is not really news, as they have done both hard and soft reboots a number of times. What is frustrating is that their tag-line for this new universe is "All New, All Different" yet the evidence screams otherwise.

Secondly, Marvel Comics has been strong in denying that they are altering their comic landscape to be more in line with their cinematic universe. Again, the evidence seems to shout otherwise.

Here are links to the most recent posters released by Marvel Comics relating to this reboot. They show the characters in various levels of prominence. Now, we don't know which will have their own books and which will be a part of a team book, but the characters are pretty indicative of both a merging of the comics and cinematic universe and a less than new and different approach to characters.

Poster 1
Poster 2
By my count, excluding the repeat of Iron Man in the middle of poster 2, there are 27 characters displayed in the two posters. Of those 27 characters, 18 of them have been, are, or have been announced to be featured in a solo or group TV show or movie. Of the 27 characters, 8 of them (including the original) are, in essence, duplicates of an original character idea.

In Poster 1, you have the following movie or TV personalities:

Back row:
  • Doctor Spectrum. No TV or movie news.
  • Rocket Raccoon. Recently featured in the Guardians of the Galaxy movie with immediate plans for a sequel.
  • Hyperion. While the character has been shown on Marvel's Avengers Assemble cartoon, no movie or TV news has been announced as of today.
  • Daredevil. Displayed in a new costume that is closer to what the character wears at the end of the recent Netflix series featuring the character, rather than his usual all-red costume.
  • Dr. Strange. Recently announced as a movie starring Benedict Cumberbatch.
Front row:
  • Citizen V. No current TV or movie news.
  • The Thing. Will be in the upcoming Fantastic Four movie. Also note that the character in the poster has a GotG insignia on his uniform -- possible tie-in?
  • Karnak, Infernal, Medusa. Three Inhumans, which have been introduced as an over-all concept in the Agents of SHIELD TV show and are rumored to be getting their own movie.
  • X-23. No current TV or movie news.
  • Starlord. Recently featured in the Guardians of the Galaxy movie with immediate plans for a sequel.
  • Old Man Logan. Aka Wolverine. The character of Wolverine has been in just about every X-Men movie as well as featured in his own properties.
Center (on both posters):
  • Iron Man. His own movies, the Avengers movies, plus cameos in other movies. Note the prominence of the character in both posters. This is a character that, up until Robert Downey, Jr. made him extremely popular in the first Iron Man movie, was considered at best a second-string character in the Marvel comics universe. His prominence in the movies has made the character much more popular and he is now the most prominent figure in the two posters and has a much-raised presence in the comics universe as a result.
In Poster 2:

Back row:
  • Spider-Gwen. Introduced in the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon, but no current plans for a movie or TV show.
  • Spider-Man. Seen in his own movies. Recent changes now allow the character to be used in Marvel's cinematic universe, with plans for the character to appear in the next Captain America movie and then his own solo movies again.
  • Vision. Recently introduced in the second Avengers movie.
  • Spider-Man (alternate). Introduced in the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon; no current plans for a movie or TV show.
Front row:
  • Phil Coulson. Seen in many Marvel cinematic movies as well as on Agents of SHIELD TV show.
  • Spider-Woman. Introduced in the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon; no current plans for a movie or TV show.
  • Black Panther. Future plans to include the character in both solo and Avengers movies.
  • Captain America (Falcon). The character, as Falcon, was introduced in the second Captain America movie and had a cameo in the second Avengers movie. Future plans include more Captain America and Avengers movies.
  • Captain America (old Steve Rogers). Seen in his own movies as well as Avengers movies.
  • Ant-Man. Will be seen in a movie about to be released.
  • Thor (female). The male version of the character has been in his own movie as well as Avengers. There are talks of having the female take over after Chris Hemsworth's contract concludes.
  • Ms. Marvel. No current TV or movie plans. However, the character is an Inhuman, so she may show up in Agents of SHIELD or in the planned Inhumans movie in a cameo (or larger) role at some point.
  • Red Wolf. No current TV or movie plans.
That list serves two purposes: it shows how closely aligned the new comics' featured players will be to the cinematic universe, something that Marvel has either been coy about or has outright denied. Really? Fully two-thirds of the characters listed have been or are about to be in a TV show or movie! Some have been in cartoons on TV (although how closely aligned the cartoons are to the MCU is in question).

Secondly, did you notice how often versions of the same characters popped up? You have:
  • X-23 and Old Man Logan -- both are versions of the character Wolverine. One is the female clone of Wolverine, the other is an older version of the same character.
  • Spider-Gwen, Spider-Man (original), Spider-Man (alternate), Spider-Woman -- in essence, each is a version/variation on the original Spider-Man concept. One is a younger girl, one is the original, one is half-black, half-hispanic, and one is an older female version. Now, each has their own, somewhat unique origin story and version of their powers, but they are all just variations on a theme.
  • 2 Captains America -- one is the original character of Falcon put into the role of CA. The other is an older version of the original character (which, by itself, sounds like a cloning of the Old Man Logan idea!).
  • Thor -- this is a female version of the typically male character. As the original character still exists, just without the Thor power set, this can be argued as another clone/knock-off character.
So, as you can see, Marvel's "all new, all different" line-up, so far, is nothing close. Most of the characters are not new or different, with fully a third of them being, basically, cloned ideas that became popular with fans and which will have a larger role in the new Marvel comics universe going forward. Also, those protestations by Marvel that they are not aligning the comics universe more closely with the cinematic universe don't seem to bear fruit, either, do they?

This is not to say that I am upset by this. The new Iron Man comic looks promising. Some of what they are doing with the alternate Spider-Man (Miles Morales) is quite good. The new Ms. Marvel is telling some good stories. Thor's sales have been much higher since they made the main character female. I am just pointing out that the tag-line of "all new, all different" is completely misleading if not downright wrong.