Ever since superheroes first emerged in the comics in the late 1930s, they have fascinated and delighted readers of all ages. These costumed crime-fighters would battle injustice on a monthly and sometimes weekly basis and fans couldn’t get enough. Throughout the years writers have endeavored to keep their characters fresh and explored new avenues for their adventures and backstories.
This often meant revamping or even rebooting certain characters in hopes of bringing in new readers. In doing so, some original characteristics of our favorite heroes and heroines got lost in the shuffle. Some changes were made and we possibly forgot, after a period of time, what came before. In some cases, it was an ability that subtly changed over the course of years, or maybe an obscure fact that was brought up in one story line and then never addressed again. Yet these facts remain canon and, unless actively retconned, are still a key piece of history in the lives of many of our favorite comic characters.
Some of these facts were common knowledge for a time and you’ll probably shake your head and say, “I remember that!”, while others might take you aback. Nevertheless, I present you with fifteen incredible facts that many most likely never knew, or possibly forgot, about your favorite Marvel characters.
15. The Hulk Was Originally Grey, Not Green
The original Hulk, as envisioned by Stan Lee, was grey, and that is how he appeared in the first issue of his comic, The Incredible Hulk (1962). However, due to constant variations with the printed color’s appearance, a more dependable color was needed. Green was chosen as it was very consistent in print. Then as the printing process became more advanced, the writers returned to the grey version of the character on numerous occasions. They explained it by saying that the grey Hulk and the green Hulk were two different personas of Bruce Banner’s psyche. Since he was more powerful, the green Hulk would usually prevail.
14. The X-Men’s Psylocke Was Originally British, Not Japanese
Do you remember seeing early 1980s comics when the mutant Elizabeth “Betsy” Braddock AKA Psylocke was a blue-eyed, blonde British lass? No? Fast-forward to the present and she’s now a purple-eyed, purple-haired Japanese mutant telepath. She indeed wasn’t always that way. When she was a young member of the X-Men, she was abducted by the Japanese crime lord, Mats’uo Tsurayaba, who put her mind into the body of his dying girlfriend, Kwannon, a Japanese assassin. Their psyches were merged and, as they say, the rest is comic book history. Through it all, she remained a member of the X-Men.
13. Galactus Would’ve Died On Earth Had It Not Been For Reed Richards
So, remember when Galactus came to Earth? Yeah, I know, he’s been here a few times. However, one of the only planets Galactus has vowed to never devour is Earth. This is because Reed Richards saved his life with the help of the power of Thor’s uru hammer, Mjolnir. After some scheming from his double-crossing herald, Terrax, Galactus was led to Earth in hopes that the starving and weak world devourer would be destroyed by Earth’s mightiest heroes. After an epic battle, an exhausted Galactus lay dying. Reed Richards couldn’t let him just die so he utilized the power of Thor’s hammer to rejuvenate Galactus. In thanks, Galactus stripped Terrax of his power, accepted Frankie Raye, the Human Torch, as his new herald, and vowed to never again threaten our little planet.
12. Magneto Came Very Close To Killing The Unkillable Wolverine
If you’ve seen any of the X-Men films, you are well aware of Magneto, the master of magnetism, and the very dangerous Wolverine. What you might not know, unless you’ve kept up with your comics, is that Magneto very nearly killed Wolverine. In what can only be described as a “what took you so long to figure that out?” moment, Magneto once destabilized, at a molecular level, the adamantium metal that laced Wolverine’s skeleton and effectively “poured” it from his body. The experience would’ve killed the pint-sized hero had Jean Grey not telekinetically held him together long enough for his healing factor to kick in. Don’t believe me, read the “Fatal Attractions” storyline in X-Men #25 (Vol 2, October 1993).
11. Apocalypse’s Blood Can Heal Mutants, But It Is Poisonous To Humans
Apocalypse was born thousands of years ago in ancient Egypt, of the Clan Akkaba. Named En Sabah Nur, Arabic for “morning light,” or as Marvel uses it, “the first one,” he is believed to be the first human to possess the “x-gene,” making him the first mutant and an immortal. As such his blood has restorative properties when used by other mutants. However, its use can be fatal to humans. This was demonstrated when the mutant Chamber, whose body was composed of pure psionic energy, lost his powers, leaving his body devastated with parts of his face and chest destroyed. Dying, he awoke to find himself fully healed. It was revealed to him that he was a descendant of the Clan Akkaba and that Apocalypse used his blood to restore Chamber’s body.
10. The Mad Titan Thanos Actually Avoids Fighting The Hulk
Thanos was born a mutant eternal. The Eternals are an evolutionary offshoot of humanity, possessing abilities and lifespans far beyond those of the mainstream human race. A group of Eternals chose to leave Earth and instead live on the Saturn moon, Titan. Thanos was born a mutant Eternal, having vast powers greater than those of most Eternals. Despite his great power and the fact that Thanos has fought and defeated the Hulk numerous times, he is the one being with whom Thanos actively avoids conflict. As Thanos put it, “His strength seems to grow in direct proportion to his anger. In many ways I assume this is what it would be like battling the Terran behemoth, the Hulk. A conflict I’ve sought to avoid over the years.”
9. Tony Stark Always Knows Captain America’s Next Move In A Fight!
Tony Stark is one the most ingenious men in the Marvel Universe. His life revolves around technology and improving it. One neat little program he worked into his Iron Man suit’s computer is one where the suit constantly records the fighting technique of Captain America. He records every punch, every kick, every tactic used by the good Captain, so much so that the program can predict Captain America’s next move before he even does it. A nifty little bit of information to have in case Tony ever has to go against his brother-in-arms, which he happens to do in Mark Millar’s Civil War #3 (July 2006).
8. Toxin Is More Powerful Than His Parents, Venom And Carnage, Combined!
The young Toxin is the strongest symbiote yet, and will only grow stronger as he ages. Once Venom and Carnage realized that Toxin was easily as powerful as them, they formed a truce in hopes of joining forces to destroy their offspring. Spider-Man came upon them teaming up against Toxin and tried to intervene. The pair quickly over-powered Spider-Man and Toxin saved him by single-handedly defeating both elder symbiotes. Toxin, having bonded with New York Policeman Patrick Mulligan, has dedicated himself to curbing his baser symbiotic urges and instead using his power for good. Mulligan left the police force and embarked on his new symbiotic life as Toxin.
7. Peter Parker Is Able To Hack Tony Stark’s Technology
With an IQ just above 250, Peter Parker, the amazing Spider-Man, is one of the most intelligent men in the Marvel Universe. This is lofty praise when you’re associated with the likes of Reed Richards, Hank Pym and Tony Stark, who all acknowledge Parker’s genius. When Tony Stark gave Spider-Man his Iron Spider armor to fight alongside him during the Civil War, Stark included a built-in override that he didn’t tell Parker about. This was in case he had to neutralize Parker if he were to change allegiances. What Stark failed to realize is that Parker immediately found the override and hacked into the system, effectively deleting the program. Parker eventually abandoned the armor. It all happened in Amazing Spider-Man #535 (September 2006).
6. Iron Fist’s Chi Punch Is So Powerful, He Once Brought Down A Helicarrier!
Danny Rand, Iron Fist, is one the most skilled martial artists in the Marvel Universe. Having studied in the mystical land of K’un-Lun, he is imbued with mystic energies and can harness his chi by focusing it into his hand. By doing this he augments his physical punching power exponentially. In a most impressive display of this power, Iron Fist once threw a single punch to the bulkhead of a H.A.M.M.E.R. Helicarrier and brought it crashing down! He performed this daring feat during an attempt to rescue his good friend and partner, Luke Cage, who was being held captive aboard the helicarrier. It all happened in New Avengers #59 (November 2009).
5. Wolverine’s Healing Factor Allows Him To Regenerate From A Single Drop Of Blood
In the comics as well as in the movies, we’ve seen Wolverine miraculously heal from all sorts of fatal injuries. He’s been shot, stabbed, even ripped in two by the Hulk, but you just can’t keep this tough Canadian down, he keeps coming back. In one story, however Wolverine quite literally comes back from the dead. Way back in Uncanny X-Men Annual #11 (1987), Wolverine is fighting a powerful alien who fatally wounds him and then rips his heart out. A single drop of blood from the horrific act lands on a powerful alien crystal. Powered by that crystal, Wolverine’s body is regenerated from the genetic data found in that single drop of blood.
4. Cyclops’ Optic Blasts Are Not Lasers
If you’ve read the X-Men comics over the years you might have realized that occasionally the writers forget a key fact when dealing with the mutant power of Scott Summers, Cyclops. His optic blasts are not lasers. Those blasts are comprised of concussive force and give off no heat. This point is reinforced in one story where Scott and his father, Corsair, are camping. Corsair has just finished collecting some firewood and asks Scott to do his “eye thing.” Scott looks confused and Corsair points to his eyes and asks him to use his “heat vision” to start the fire. Scott then explains his mutant ability is concussive energy having nothing to do with heat or lasers.
3. Natasha Romanov, The Black Widow, Is Actually Almost 90 Years Old!
Born circa 1928 as Natalia Romanova and soon orphaned, she was drafted into Soviet intelligence while still a child. She began her training and was later subjected to a variation of the Super-Soldier Serum, which extended her lifespan by radically slowing her body’s aging process, allowing her to keep her youthful appearance and vitality. Her training continued under the feared Winter Soldier and she developed into one of the world’s greatest covert operatives, the legendary Black Widow. She later met Clint Barton, Hawkeye, while on a mission to the United States. Discovering she had feelings for Hawkeye, her loyalty to the Soviet Union wavered. She defected and was recruited by Nick Fury into S.H.I.E.L.D.
2. The One True Marvel God Is The One-Above-All
It is said the Living Tribunal is easily the most powerful cosmic entity in all the Marvel Multiverse. Yet even he defers to a being whose vast power outmatches his own: The One-Above-All. He exists beyond space and time and is responsible for all life in the Marvel Multiverse. Thor, once worshiped as the Norse God of Thunder, related how the Asgardian’s god-like abilities rate against “true” gods: “…and ‘tis said that a being, called the Living Tribunal – the final judge – hath the power to enforce his will ‘pon any cosmos he doth judge! And ‘tis said his power is supreme in all the Multiverse. Even I, son of one of the mightiest of all gods, find it impossible to conceive of such levels of power! And ‘tis a humbling thought to consider how much greater the Creator of all Universes must be than that of all of His creations combined!”
1. In The Marvel Universe, Santa Claus Is The World’s Most Powerful Known Mutant!
Mutants have popularly been categorized into a classification system based on power levels, with Omega-level mutants being the most powerful. However, one year, on Christmas Eve, Cerebro, the mutant-detecting computer used by the X-Men, detected a mutant whose power registered well above Omega-level. The X-Men sought to investigate in New York’s Rockefeller Center, where they encountered members of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants also seeking to locate the powerful mutant. The two groups fought and then the mysterious mutant appeared: Santa Claus. Quickly, he turned the evil mutants into toy action figures, teleported the X-Men away, and erasing the memories of all involved. Being in good cheer, Santa then gifted the city with a snowfall and went about his merry way.