Marvel Comics has always had a tighter grip on its continuity than its competitor. While DC only figured out they wanted a connected universe gradually, everyone at Marvel knew from the beginning their world was connected. This led to stronger stories for a long period of time, and Marvel’s more relatable characters were easy to fall in love with.
However, Marvel’s also had to tell stories for several decades, and they haven’t all hit. Marvel’s had some terrible stories told with their characters, many of which reverberate with those characters today. While far too many of them seem to involve Spider-Man, Marvel hasn’t had an issue making sure other characters were stuck with awful writing decisions too.
10 Civil War II Ruined Carol Danvers
As successful as the original Civil War was, no one was asking for a sequel. The original posed legitimate questions about the necessity of superhero oversight. Civil War II though was just a worse Minority Report, starting with Carol Danvers discovering an Inhuman that could see the future.
She took advantage of this power to try and jail people before they even did anything wrong, which had such obvious implications even Tony Stark could see them. Despite the warnings though, Carol continued on until she nearly ripped the superhero community in half again, and heavily damaged Stark for attempting to stop her. It’s pretty hard to make it back from being on the wrong side of a Civil War, fortunately the story never had a larger effect once it ended.
9 Ultimate Avengers Are Unlikable
One of the worst things about the Ultimate Universe was how purely unlikable so many characters seemed to be in that world. The Ultimates in particular seemed designed to be as annoying as possible. Captain America is a jingoistic jerk from the 40s, Hank Pym isn’t just openly abusive he appears psychotic, and Hulk jumps around New York City threatening to sexually assault famous actors.
The appeal of the Ultimate Universe was to make heroes more realistic and modern, but somehow for the Ultimates that just meant making them into massive jerks. Of course, these days the Ultimate Universe isn’t even canon, seemingly an overcorrection.
8 Peter Parker Was A Clone
One thing Marvel is good at is fumbling the bag with Spider-Man. In the 90s, they came up with the initially fascinating idea that the Peter Parker fans had been reading about for decades was actually a clone. As fans got introduced to Ben Reilly, they believed they would eventually learn that Peter was of course not the clone and things would go back to normal.
Instead, the story dragged on for far longer than it needed to. Even though some fans would come to love Ben Reilly, with no real exit strategy and Peter really looking like the clone, fans got antsy. Even the ending was a mess, reviving Norman Osborn and killing off Ben Reilly, both completely unnecessary.
7 Magneto Is Not Quicksilver And Scarlet Witch’s Father
Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch’s most defining characteristics were: their powers, being protective of one another, and being Magneto’s children. Someone at Marvel decided it was a good idea to get rid of one of these three. When Disney and Fox both tried to use the two characters at the same time, Marvel “suddenly” decided to retcon Pietro and Wanda’s origins.
Transformed into experiments of the High Evolutionary, this retcon distanced both characters not only from Magneto, but from the mutant community. Worse, because this meant Wanda wasn’t a mutant, her actions during House of M felt more monstrous and unforgivable than ever.
6 The Marcus Immortus Origin
There’s not a single part of this story that sounded like a good idea. In Avengers #200 by Jim Shooter, George Pérez, Bob Layton, David Michelinie, and Dan Green, Carol Danvers gave birth to a child that aged in a matter of minutes to become an adult. Readers learned shortly afterward that the child was Marcus Immortus, who’d used his powers to bring Carol Danvers to limbo.
While she was there, he subtly manipulated her mind to make her fall in love with him. As if that isn’t bad enough, Immortus’ gross time travel shenanigans meant that Carol slept with her own son. This storyline was so gross the character was written out basically a year later, but the damage had already been done.
5 Civil War Turned Tony Stark Into A Fascist
Iron Man was never as beloved as Captain America, but it could never be argued he wasn’t a good man. Civil War for whatever reason decided to test that by making Tony Stark the face of the Pro-Registration movement.
Despite Stark not trusting S.H.I.E.L.D. and the government so much he eventually broke away from them entirely, Civil War undid decades of character development to turn Stark into a government stooge. Somehow, it got even worse as the story went on, with Stark keeping people trapped in the Negative Zone if they refused to register. If not for the MCU, Tony might still be the most hated hero in the Marvel Universe.
4 Norman Was The Father Of Gwen Stacy’s Kids
Spider-Man fans tend to love J. Michael Straczynski’s run on Amazing Spider-Man with one major exception: the storyline “Sins Past.” This storyline revealed that Gwen Stacy, for some reason, met and slept with Norman Osborn, getting pregnant with twins. When Gwen decided she no longer wanted Norman in her life, she resigned to return home and raise the children alongside Peter Parker.
Aside from the gross age gap involved, no Spider-Man fan was asking for a retcon to Gwen Stacy’s history where it’s explained Norman killed her because he wanted access to his own heirs. While this story was retconned years later, it shouldn’t have been told to begin with.
3 Iron Man As A Traitor
Making well-known heroes into villains is pretty much always a terrible idea. After years of having one of the most consistent comic books on the stands, Iron Man was completely ruined by Marvel with The Crossing. With almost zero lead-in, The Crossing turned Iron Man into a murderer, as he killed multiple Avengers before being revealed as an agent of Kang the Conqueror.
Worse, the character had always been under Kang’s control, meaning he’d been a villain for roughly thirty years without anyone knowing. Because fans love to learn everything they loved about their favorite character was a lie. They eventually replaced Tony with a teenage version of himself from an alternate timeline, but this was poorly received as well, resulting in his ongoing being canceled a few short issues later.
2 Peter And Mary Jane Sacrifice Their Marriage
Marvel will continue arguing with fans over whether One More Day’s goal was a good idea or not. Does Peter Parker need to be single to be the relatable character that fans love? That might be a worthwhile debate to have. What isn’t a worthwhile debate is how it happened. Instead of letting Peter and MJ get divorced like normal people, they came up with One More Day.
As a result of Peter revealing his identity to be Pro-Registration, he nearly lost his Aunt May in an attack. With her hanging on by a thread, Peter proves he’s willing to try anything if it means saving Aunt May. In the end, Mary Jane realizes Peter wouldn’t be the same without his aunt, and the two of them sacrifice their marriage to Mephisto to bring May back. However, this doesn’t just sacrifice their marriage, but the existence of their future child. Somehow this madness got past Marvel editors without being hated by everyone.
1 Captain America Is A HYDRA Member
There’s a contingent of fans who think making Captain America into a member of HYDRA was a smart idea. But it’s a slap in the face to everything the creators intended when they made the character up. Captain America from the beginning was visually designed to look like the ultimate Nazi, only to be the type of person who was disgusted by fascist ideals.
Reversing that via a Cosmic Cube to make Captain America a tool of HYDRA not only breaks the character, but it makes superhero comics themselves feel pointless to a degree.
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