Ever think you caught a plothole in a Marvel film, or felt like there was more to the story? If so, it was probably resolved in one of the MCU prelude comics.
Comics are important to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and this importance goes far beyond comics being the birthplace of Marvel’s most beloved characters.
Aside from the main Marvel comics universe, we now have a collection of comics that are set within, or are inspired by, the MCU.
Sometimes, these MCU prelude comics simply adapt the story of an earlier film. But just as often, they tell a story not seen on screen. Stories that set up the events of an upcoming film, or fill a gap in the characters’ lives. Stories you won’t know unless you read the MCU prelude comics for yourself.
Prepare to get reading, MCU fans, as we take you through some of the most interesting stories from these comics.
1. Nick Fury faced the events of Iron Man 2, The Incredible Hulk, and Thor in one week, with limited resources.
Among Marvel fans, it is fairly common knowledge that the events of Iron Man 2, The Incredible Hulk, and Thor occur within a single week.
Sound chaotic? Well, you probably don’t know the half of it.
The MCU prelude comic ‘Fury’s Big Week’, a prequel to The Avengers, shows these events in great detail, from S.H.I.E.L.D’s point of view.
We open on Nick Fury about to make a breakthrough in the search for Steve Rogers, before he receives a call from the World Security Council. You know, the mysterious shadowy figures he talks to throughout The Avengers. Fury is informed that his search for Rogers, as well as his surveillance on Tony Stark and Bruce Banner is being shutdown. All of S.H.I.E.L.D’s remaining funding is to be diverted towards activating the Tesseract.
Fury disagrees, but cannot change their minds.
Of course, as soon as Fury’s funding is taken, what happens? Superhero hijinks ensue all over the country. Fury is left to bring them all under control with only Agent Coulson, Black Widow, and Hawkeye by his side.
‘Fury’s Big Week’ is notable for revealing that Natasha Romanoff was present during the climactic battle of The Incredible Hulk. She saw The Hulk in action, but never got close enough to actually witness the events.
This could explain why she was chosen to fetch Bruce Banner in The Avengers. She knew exactly what she was dealing with.
2. ‘Black Widow’ is a legacy mantle, not just a code-name.
Another prelude to The Avengers, ‘Black Widow Strikes’ was written to give Natasha Romanoff a spotlight story before her appearance in the new film. It was hoped the comic would give new fans a chance to know the character better, as she was the most mysterious member of the team.
After her cover is blown on a mission, Natasha Romanoff comes face to face with the mysterious ‘Sofia’. Sofia claims to be a fan of Natasha’s work before she defected to S.H.I.E.L.D.
Both women are on the trail of stolen Stark technology. Sofia issues Natasha a challenge: Whoever claims the tech first, also takes the title of ‘Black Widow’ for their own.
The idea of ‘Black Widow’ having become an earned legacy title was further explored in Agent Carter when Peggy faces off against Dottie Underwood, an early graduate of the Red Room program.
The events of Black Widow Strikes’ have recently become much more interesting, as they may give us an idea of what to expect from a Black Widow solo film.
3. The price of Dark Energy
The Bifrost was destroyed in Thor, so how did Thor reach Earth in The Avengers?
It is handwaved in the film as ‘Odin sent him’, but the MCU prelude comic for Thor: The Dark World delves slightly deeper into how he accomplished this task. Like many things in the Marvel Universe, it was not quite as simple as it appeared onscreen.
After Loki’s reign of terror begins, Odin reveals that he can send Thor to Earth by tapping into Dark Energy. However, to do so is dangerous, for both traveller and sender. Odin is rushed into the care of Asgard’s healers, and an uncomfortably long stretch of time passes before Heimdall is able to confirm that Thor survived the trip.
The events of this MCU prelude comic become very important in Avengers: Infinity War, for a couple of reasons. Heimdall uses Dark Energy to open the Bifrost in his final moments, which explains why he sent Hulk to Earth rather than Thor. Thor was too weak to survive at the time.
The comic also briefly introduces Nidavellir, where Thor goes to forge his new weapon, Stormbreaker.
4. Hank Pym once saved a man from a HYDRA mind wipe.
While the MCU uses Scott Lang as its main Ant-Man, we are made aware that Hank Pym carried the mantle in the past.
In the first of two MCU prelude comics for the first Ant-Man film, we get to see Pym in action. Similar to the opening of the film, we see Howard Stark request the use of Hank’s Pym particles for a mission. Hank refuses, but with support from Peggy Carter, decides to take on the mission himself.
Hank successfully infiltrates a HYDRA base, and ends up rescuing a young man from a forced mind-wipe. This is, of course, the same mind-wipe HYDRA uses to keep control over Bucky Barnes.
Peggy’s friendship with Hank Pym in this comic explains Pym’s look of betrayal when Peggy later supports Howard Stark’s attempt to replicate the Pym Particle.
5. The Scarlet Witch hesitated before the experiment which gave her her powers.
In ‘This Sceptre’d Isle’, the MCU prelude comic for Avengers: Age of Ultron, fans get a glimpse of how the Maximoff twins received their powers.
Early in the film we are lead to believe that the twins were eager participants in Baron Strucker’s experiments. The comic reveals that this was not entirely true.
Wanda Maximoff hesitates before the experiment begins. Pietro encourages her to go through with it, so they can fight for Sokovia.
Wanda’s hesitation reveals a lot about her character, and the story arc she was about to embark upon.
Firstly, it explains her brief emotional breakdown early in Age Of Ultron’s final battle. Wanda was led to believe that her powers would help her country. She is understandably distraught to realise that her actions with said powers went a good way towards dooming Sokovia instead.
The events of ‘This Sceptre’d Isle’ also provide an extra reason for Wanda’s continued uncertainty regarding her powers in Captain America: Civil War. It is hard to find confidence in abilities you never really wanted.
6. T’Challa became Black Panther before Tony Stark’s debut as Iron Man.
Upon the release of Black Panther, some fans were left confused. In the film, it is implied that the titles of both King of Wakanda and the Black Panther are passed on after the death of the previous ruler.
But… the King T’Chaka we see in Civil War is far too old to still be running around as a costumed hero, right?
Enter the Black Panther prelude comic to explain everything.
The comic reveals that T’Chaka broke with tradition, passing on the mantle of Black Panther to T’Challa when he could no longer meet the physical demands of the role. This occurs around eight years before the events of Civil War. And what else happened eight years before Civil War?
T’Challa returns from his first mission as the Black Panther hours after Tony Stark has revealed himself as Iron Man. T’Chaka then uses Tony as an example of exactly what T’Challa must not do in his new role as Black Panther. To keep Wakanda safe, he must remain anonymous.
7. The Vulture could have been stopped much sooner if Tony and Steve buried the hatchet.
The Avengers: Infinity War prelude is packed full of throwbacks and Easter eggs for long time MCU fans. However, it is one of the smallest moments from the comic that has the most interesting implications.
After returning Clint and Scott to their families and dropping off Wanda for a romantic rendezvous with Vision – Cap, Falcon, and Black Widow embark on a string of covert missions to keep the world safe.
On one of these missions, the trio recover a shipment of Chitauri weapons from a terrorist cell. Natasha encourages Steve to inform Tony of the discovery, but he refuses.
We can easily guess that the Chitauri weapons came courtesy of the Vulture, the main villain of Spider-Man: Homecoming.
If Cap had informed Iron Man of what he’d found, Peter Parker may not have become buried in the situation anywhere near as deep as he did.
More To Discover
The stories listed above are only a snippet of what the MCU prelude comics have to offer.
‘Scott Lang: Small Time’ is a fun romp for lovers of Ant-Man, and Agent Carter fans can catch a quick glimpse of an older Edwin Jarvis in ‘Iron Man 2: Public Identity’.
Most of the comics are easy to find, and a great way to pass the time while we wait for Avengers 4 to be released in 2019.
Get reading, Marvel fans!