Read These Comics To Prepare For The Next Five Years Of Marvel Movies

Read These Comics to Prepare for the Next Five Years of Marvel Movies

Marvel announced a lot of movies yesterday, revealing the characters who'll be joining their silver-screen universe over the next five years. Some of the new heroes, however, aren't as well-known as big-leaguers like Iron Man, Thor and the Hulk. If you don't know who Captain Marvel, Black Panther and the Inhumans are, we've got a reading list that will help you learn.

Marvel's Phase 3 movies will be introducing a crop of characters that won't be as recognisable as, say, Captain America was before his first movie. But they have still got decades of publishing history behind them. At this point, there's no way to know what comics storylines will be informing the next wave of Marvel movies. But the comics below should help impart — or re-kindle — a sense of what to expect from the upcoming films.

Read These Comics to Prepare for the Next Five Years of Marvel Movies

Black Panther

Fantastic Four #52

The introduction of the Black Panther sets down a great foundation for what, I think, are the best interpretations of the character. Costumed monarch T'Challa invites the Fantastic Four to his homeland of Wakanda and proceeds to defeat them in combat to test his own mettle. He's a ruler of a nation, one who as methods and motives that can be opaque and unavailable to other crime-fighters. He can either sneak around or make a speech at the UN to accomplish his goals.

Panther's Rage

A classic storyline from the 1970s that had T'Challa trying to thwart a takeover of Wakanda. It's a long, involved narrative that introduces lots of supporting characters, enemies and points of view. You get the sense that Wakanda is made up of people from all sorts of walks of life and that T'Challa's true struggle isn't just against would-be world conquerors. He also has to maintain the legacy laid down by the previous Black Panther kings who preceded him.

The Client

My favourite interpretation of the Black Panther starts here and builds off the idea that he's just a black guy who stood around in the back of Avengers group photos. Writer Christopher J. Priest revives the Panther who's a strategist with resources other heroes only dream of. His tenure also has some of the funniest dialogue ever done in superhero comics.

Enemy of the State

Enemy of the State II

Told years apart, these Panther story arcs are political thrillers set in the Marvel Universe, pitting T'Challa against his Avengers teammates and the US government. The Enemy of the State stories showcase the range of stories that the Black Panther can comfortably fit inside of.

Read These Comics to Prepare for the Next Five Years of Marvel Movies

Captain Marvel

Ms. Marvel #1

Carol Danvers' first turn as a superhero came after getting caught in the blast of an alien superweapon, while trying to help an extraterrestrial soldier named Mar-Vell. When she got her own book in the 1970s, female-led series were an extremely rare thing.

X-Men #184

This issue happens while the X-Men were in space fighting the Brood, creepy aliens who were implanting eggs inside of human hosts. Carol Danvers had lost her powers but wound up becoming imbued with cosmic energy during her time in space.

In Pursuit of Flight

The newest era of Carol Danvers' superhero career has been charted by Kelly Sue DeConnick, along with a bunch of highly talented artists. DeConnick takes Carol back in time in this storyline, first to World War II and then to her own origin story. Along the way, she gives the character just the right mix of determination, vulnerability and high-stakes drama. She's become a major player who bridges the gap between Earth and outer space, providing a relatable human viewpoint throughout.

Read These Comics to Prepare for the Next Five Years of Marvel Movies

Doctor Strange

Doctor Strange, Vol. 1: Marvel Masterworks

The earliest appearances of Stephen Strange introduce an arrogant surgeon who loses his ability to operate after a car accident. The search for a cure leads him into the realms of magic, and he soon becomes Earth's Sorcerer Supreme. The first stories featuring the character were amazingly imaginative psychedelic excursions drawn by comics legend Steve Ditko. It will be great if the movie channels some of the trippy energy in these stories.

In the Dark Dimension

For years, Dr Strange was a weird guy who wiggled his fingers through stories that either belonged more to other heroes or the villains he was fighting. But a great run of stories by Roger Stern and Paul Smith in the '80s made him feel more layered and human than ever before.

The Oath

A magical superhero is easy to portray as almost unbeatable, which is why the best part of this story is Dr Strange being mortally wounded. He's trying to save his friend/manservant from a deadly disease but is near death's door himself. Like Stern and Smith before them, Brian K. Vaughan and Marcos Martin infuse their version of Stephen Strange's world with more humour and genuine human connection than the typically-aloof character usually enjoys.

The Defenders

Marvel's had a non-team of heroes called The Defenders for a long time, with Dr Strange almost always at the centre of the loose conglomeration's core. The iteration of the group from a few years back delivered an excellent mix of personality-conflict tension and weird alternate reality scenarios for a quirkier-than-normal look at the Marvel Universe.

Infinity Gauntlet

The two movies that share the Avengers: Infinity War moniker are probably going to revolve around Thanos, a cosmic conqueror obsessed with death. In the crossover story from the '90s, he gets his hands on six cosmic gems that let him manipulate reality. It takes hundreds of heroes teaming up to try and stop him and even then they barely win. This might be why Marvel's bulking up their roster of characters, so as to recreate the spectacle of this story on the big screen.

Read These Comics to Prepare for the Next Five Years of Marvel Movies

Thor by Walter Simonson Omnibus

It seems very likely that the third Thor movie will be adapting the epic 1980s run of stories written and drawn by Walter Simonson. Collected here, the arc unspools a massive celestial war that destroys and scars nearly everything Thor cares about. Simonson's masterful work gives a panoramic scope to the gods and realms of Asgard and beyond but still makes the melodrama feel grounded and resonant.

The Inhumans

Fantastic Four #36, #44-45

Like the Black Panther, these characters got their start in modern Marvel's first superhero comic. These issues frame the Inhumans as exotic outsiders, hinting at a society with customs and a caste system that's alien and eerily familiar at the same time.

Fantastic Four and FF by Jonathan Hickman

The versions of this genetic offshoot community written by current Marvel A-lister Jonathan Hickman put the FF in the middle of a long-brewing cosmic plot. The Inhumans work best when they're portrayed as only slightly related to mankind, being pulled towards the intergalactic drama that resulted in their altered DNA.

Have comics recommendations of your own about these characters? Add them below. And if you're happy to read comics digitally, look for many of the above comics on Comixology (which displays comics on computers and mobile devices) or through Marvel's own digital comics service.


    This might be why Marvel’s bulking up their roster of characters, so as to recreate the spectacle of this story on the big screen.

    I'm trying not to get my hopes up but that'd be amazing. I'd love to see them pull off one of those big brawls normally only possible in comics where everyone you can think of is there as well as a bunch of people you'd forgotten. The sort of scene where you're like 'oh, I didn't even know that guy was in this continuity, but there he is cracking skulls with Ben Grimm'.

      I really... really... really hope that's why Howard the Duck was in Guardians of the Galaxy.

    As someone who hasn't read the comics, So Black Panther is basically Marvel's Batman?

      Kiiiinda. Like, he's super smart and president of a country for awhile and has a lot of resources. He's not a rich orphan or anything but... oh, are you referring to his costume? Because, he's the BatmanCatwoman hybrid, yes :p

        Black Panther is a title passed along the kings of Wakanda... so not really an orphan in the same way but to get his title....

      Marvel's Batman is Daredevil.

        Not really... Matt isn't exactly "rolling in the cash" nor does he really use any "special gear" outside his billy club =P

        If anything it's technically Ironman who's closest ie. rich guy w/ lots of tech. They just have 2 very different approaches on their costumes xD

      Moon Knight would probably be quite close.

    I still cannot believe that Kelly Sue DeConnick is not involved with writing the Captain Marvel movie. It's her writing that revived Captain Marvel and made her so inspiring to readers in the last few years!

      Judging by the overall quality of the Marvel movies that weren't penned by comic writers, I think that they will be fine :P Even the first Thor movie wasn't that bad, and Iron Man 2 just had a problem with pacing.

    or if you want to enjoy the movies, don't read the comics...
    because there much much better and the movies have already been screwed out of some of the best stories by stupid hollywood mistakes.

    I'm a huge Marvel comics fan. Here's a brief guide that might help some of you:

    The comics, games, cartoons, and movies are all different depending on the creators. You don't really need any background reading when you watch a movie... because the movie should tell you their version/take of the story... and sometimes it's awesome, and sometimes it's a lie or misrepresentation. For example... Spider-Man wasn't always in love with MJ, and Oscorp wasn't behind everything, and Dr Doom didn't get his powers from cosmic rays and is actually more like an "evil" Iron Man, and Thor is not part of the Star Wars universe, and you can pick up any of the infinity stones and not be disintegrated. Usually the comics do it the best, but sometimes you'll get an awesome definitive scene like this one with Captain America vs the Super Skrull( ) that trumps it. You can kind of get a gist of why Captain America is so alpha/patriotic/badass here and leads the Avengers, vs the Avengers movie where Tony had to basically pass the reins to Steve because RDJR was so charismatic. Pretty close though, my main gripe was actually Hawkeye. Anyway.

    In terms of what to read/watch/play: For comic books in general, any/all of the Essential trade paperbacks are awesome. The Essential lines are basically the original stories reprinted in black and white, and most were written by Stan Lee. After that in general, the main appeal is comic book arcs. Things like Secret Wars1&2, Infinity War/Gem/Gauntlet, Onslaught, Civil War and Planet Hulk. Leave out Secret Wars&Onslaught if you want to just stick to the movies, but they're highly recommended. Most of the cartoons are pretty good... I like Thor's portrayal in the Avengers cartoon more than the movie. For games, I recommend maybe Marvel Super Heroes and definitely Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3. In MSH, the storyline is based on the Infinity Gems with Thanos as the last boss, and depending who you are when you activate a specific gem, you get a special powerup. For example you can get a magnetic shield bubble as Magneto, or a mirror clone with Spider-Man. MvC2 and UMvC3 are much funner games, but the infinity gem thing is in MSH as it's an older storyline.

    Character specific stuff: Black Panther(T'Challa) is like Black Batman. Wakanda(his country) is rich in Vibranium(a rare sound-absorbing and metal-liquifying metal that only really exists naturally there and in the Savage Land(prehistoric land in Antarctica) and it hasn't been conquered in history(I think it may have been recently? Not sure). His lineage has ruled for a really long time, and they ingest a heart-shaped herb to boost their physiology somehow which is allegedly toxic to anyone else. Combat can determine who runs Wakanda I think... the cartoon depicted it fairly well. T'Challa also went to America ages ago and lived as a civilian... a lot like the movie "Coming to America". Captain Marvel isn't the first Captain Marvel. CM1 had curly hair like a spandex version of He-Man sort of... but I think a lot of power came from his Nega Band bracelets? The gimmick was that Rick Jones(who was the musician that Bruce Banner saved from the Gamma Bomb test site which turned him into the Hulk) would clash his bracelets together to exchange places with CM1. CM1 got cancer from a nerve toxin during a fight with Nitro I think(same guy that blew up the school in Civil War) and subsequently died. Ms Marvel/Captain Marvel(2?) was a fighter pilot Carol Danvers who has half Kree physiology somehow... the Kree are the blue aliens(also in Agents of SHIELD) who fought the Skrulls(shapeshifter aliens) a lot. Ms Marvel can absorb/manipulate energy among other things like flight and super strength and X-Men Rogue(when she debuted as a villain) permanently absorbed a lot of her power/psyche when she drained her for too long. So yeah a bit disappointing seeing Rogue in the movies just walking around and stuff when she is more like a weaker Super-Man in the comics. The Inhumans are another race that have populated the Earth for a really long time, and they mainly get their powers(pretty much the same as mutants like the X-Men where it could be anything) during an initiation where they are exposed to a Terrigen Mist. They're not very good with pollution so have lived in the Himalayas and on the Moon. Dr Strange was a surgeon that destroyed his hands after a drink-driving accident and was taught magic in the mountains by his mentor the Ancient One to become Earth's/the Universe's mystic protector the Sorcerer Supreme. Lives his his bald asian servant Wong in a house with a weird symbol on the roof. Sort of extra annoying now when you consider Thor, because you NEED magic for this, and so all the science origin/Star Wars rubbish should have never been done. Again I recommend UMvC3... because he's in it as well as two of his villains; Shuma Gorath and Dormammu.

      Don't forget The House of M / Messiah Wars / Second Coming Arcs.. and to a lesser extent, XMen vs Avengers..

        Oh yeah House of M! The other ones mentioned were okay... but it's a slippery slope with mentioning must-read comics. Like I also didn't mention the Dark Phoenix saga and Days of Future Past, which I think are better than those. And the Skrull invasion was kind of okay, but again not really relevant unless it's to specifically point out the Patriot Armour to someone.

    Oh man I remember the Infinity Gauntlet storyline. To say they barely won is a huge overstatement. The whole marvel universe basically got screwed during that mini-series... then Thanos got greedy =P

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