Top 10 Marvel Comics to read before watching the MCU movies
Marvel comics are one of the best sources of entertainment and inspiration for millions of fans around the world. They feature a diverse and dynamic range of characters, stories, and themes that appeal to different tastes and preferences. They also showcase the creativity and talent of some of the most acclaimed writers and artists in the industry.
It was in 2010 that the MCU brought to life some of the most iconic characters from the pages of Marvel Comics. Whether you are interested in the origins of the Avengers, the cosmic adventures of the Guardians of the Galaxy, or the dark and gritty world of Daredevil, there is a comic book for you.
If you are a fan of the MCU movies and want to dive deeper into the source material, or if you are new to the Marvel universe and want to get familiar with the characters and stories before watching the films, we have compiled a list of 10 of the best Marvel comics to read before watching the MCU movies, covering different genres, eras, and themes.
Marvel Comics Unveiled: 10 essential reads for MCU movie fans
1) Iron Man: Extremis by Warren Ellis and Adi Granov
Iron Man: Extremis, written by Warren Ellis and illustrated by Adi Granov, is undoubtedly one of the best Marvel Comics to delve into before watching the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) movies. This critically acclaimed storyline reinvigorated the character of Iron Man and set the tone for Tony Stark's on-screen portrayal.
Ellis' gripping narrative takes readers on a thrilling journey as Tony confronts the power of the Extremis virus, a formidable technological advancement that could change the world. The synergy between Ellis' writing and Granov's breathtaking artwork creates a visually stunning and emotionally charged experience, making it a must-read for any fan of Iron Man.
Iron Man: Extremis captures the essence of the MCU's interconnected universe. The comic introduces key elements and characters that have significant relevance in the films. The concept of Extremis itself reappears in the third Iron Man movie and plays a crucial role in the plotline. Reading Extremis allows you to appreciate the intricate web of storytelling that Marvel weaves between its comics and films.
2) The Amazing Spider-Man: Ultimate Collection by Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley
The Amazing Spider-Man: Ultimate Collection, written by Brian Michael Bendis and illustrated by Mark Bagley, stands out as one of the finest Marvel Comics to dive into prior to watching the MCU movies. This seminal collection compiles the early issues of the Ultimate Spider-Man series, which reimagines Peter Parker's superheroic exploits in a contemporary setting.
Bendis' exceptional storytelling skills and Bagley's dynamic artwork breathe new life into the beloved character, providing readers with a fresh perspective on Spider-Man's origins and adventures.
One of the primary reasons to read Marvel Comics' The Amazing Spider-Man: Ultimate Collection is its ability to capture the essence of Peter Parker's character. Bendis skillfully crafts a relatable and endearing teenage protagonist, navigating the trials and tribulations of high school while simultaneously grappling with newfound superhuman abilities.
This portrayal heavily influenced the depiction of Spider-Man in the MCU, where Tom Holland's portrayal embodies the youthful exuberance and relatability that made the character so beloved in the comics.
3) Captain America: The Winter Soldier by Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting
Captain America: The Winter Soldier, written by Ed Brubaker and illustrated by Steve Epting, is undoubtedly one of the top Marvel Comics to delve into before watching the corresponding MCU movie. This iconic storyline revitalized Captain America and played a significant role in shaping the Marvel Cinematic Universe's portrayal of the character.
Brubaker's gripping narrative and Epting's atmospheric artwork combine to deliver a compelling espionage thriller that delves into Captain America's past and introduces one of his most formidable adversaries.
What sets Captain America: The Winter Soldier apart is its immense influence on the MCU. The comic storyline served as the primary inspiration for the critically acclaimed film of the same name, directed by the Russo brothers. The Winter Soldier arc delves into the deep-rooted themes of loyalty, betrayal, and the cost of war, presenting a complex and emotionally charged narrative.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier introduces the titular character, the Winter Soldier, a mysterious and deadly figure from Captain America's past. The comic delves into the history between Captain America and Bucky Barnes, exploring their friendship and the tragic circumstances that transformed Bucky into the Winter Soldier.
4) Thor: God of Thunder by Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic
Thor: God of Thunder, crafted by writer Jason Aaron and artist Esad Ribic, stands out as one of the finest Marvel Comics to explore before watching the MCU movies. This epic storyline delves into the grandeur and mythology surrounding Thor, immersing readers in a cosmic odyssey that spans across time and showcases the true power and depth of the character.
One of the key reasons to read Thor: God of Thunder before delving into the MCU movies is its exploration of Thor's mythology and the immense scope of his powers. Aaron delves into the rich tapestry of Asgardian lore, presenting readers with awe-inspiring tales of gods, monsters, and realms beyond imagination.
Thor: God of Thunder introduces significant adversaries that have made their way into the MCU. The comic prominently features the formidable villain Gorr the God Butcher, who poses a great threat to Thor and challenges his beliefs and purpose. Gorr's introduction and the epic battles that ensue serve as a foundation for the portrayal of Thor's conflicts and his journey toward becoming a true god of thunder in the films.
5) The Avengers: The New Avengers by Brian Michael Bendis and John Romita Jr.
The Avengers: The New Avengers, written by Brian Michael Bendis and illustrated by John Romita Jr., is an exceptional Marvel Comics series that should be explored before watching the MCU movies. This groundbreaking storyline reimagines the Avengers roster, introducing a fresh and diverse lineup of heroes facing unprecedented challenges.
One of the compelling reasons to read The Avengers: The New Avengers before diving into the MCU movies is its exploration of the dynamics and relationships among the team members. Bendis skillfully delves into the complexities of assembling a group of powerful individuals with distinct personalities, abilities, and motivations.
The comic showcases the struggles the New Avengers face as they navigate both internal conflicts and external threats. By immersing yourself in this series, you gain a deeper understanding of the nuanced interactions between these iconic characters, which enhances the viewing experience of the Avengers movies.
6) Guardians of the Galaxy: The Thanos Imperative by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning
Guardians of the Galaxy: The Thanos Imperative, penned by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, stands as a must-read Marvel Comics series before immersing oneself in the MCU movies. This enthralling storyline takes readers on a cosmic journey alongside the Guardians of the Galaxy as they confront the return of the formidable cosmic villain, Thanos.
Exploring Guardians of the Galaxy: The Thanos Imperative provides readers with a deeper understanding of the Guardians themselves, their unique dynamics, and their struggle to protect the universe. The comic delves into the intricate relationships between Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, Rocket Raccoon, and Groot, allowing fans to connect with the characters on a more profound level.
The storyline delves into the cosmic mythology surrounding Thanos, offering insights into his motivations and his indomitable presence within the Marvel universe. Understanding these aspects enhances the viewing experience of the Guardians of the Galaxy films, as the characters and themes from the comics come alive on the big screen.
7) Inhumans: War of Kings by Brian Michael Bendis and Jonathan Hickman
Inhumans: War of Kings, written by Brian Michael Bendis and Jonathan Hickman, stands as an essential Marvel Comics series to explore before immersing oneself in the MCU movies. This captivating storyline delves into the epic conflict known as the War of Kings, where the Inhumans, a race of superhumans with diverse abilities, find themselves embroiled in a cosmic struggle.
Reading Inhumans: War of Kings provides readers with a deeper understanding of the Inhumans' culture, society, and the complexities of their characters. The comic introduces and develops key characters such as Black Bolt, Medusa, Karnak, and Maximus, each with their own motivations and internal conflicts.
By immersing oneself in this Marvel Comics, one gains a richer appreciation for the Inhumans' struggles and their significance within the Marvel universe.
8) Daredevil: Born Again by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli
Daredevil: Born Again, written by Frank Miller and illustrated by David Mazzucchelli, stands as a definitive Marvel Comics series to explore before watching the MCU movies.
The iconic storyline takes readers on a gripping journey through the darkest corners of Hell's Kitchen as Daredevil faces his ultimate test. Miller's exceptional storytelling and Mazzucchelli's evocative artwork combine to deliver a gritty and emotionally charged narrative that delves into themes of redemption, resilience, and the enduring spirit of the Man Without Fear.
The comic explores the psychological and physical toll on Matt Murdock's life as his personal and professional worlds crumble around him. Miller's exploration of Daredevil's resilience and unwavering determination showcases the inner strength of the character and provides readers with a deeper connection to his journey. This understanding enhances the viewing experience of the Daredevil series on Netflix, where the characters' complexities and struggles are brought to life.
9) X-Men: The Dark Phoenix Saga by Chris Claremont and John Byrne
X-Men: The Dark Phoenix Saga, written by Chris Claremont and illustrated by John Byrne, is a seminal Marvel Comics series that should be read before watching the X-Men movies in the MCU. This epic storyline delves into the internal struggles of Jean Grey, one of the X-Men, as she becomes consumed by the dark and destructive power of the Phoenix Force.
The comic delves into the personal and emotional journeys of characters such as Cyclops, Wolverine, Storm, and Professor X as they grapple with their loyalty to Jean Grey and the consequences of her transformation. Understanding these character arcs enhances the viewing experience of the X-Men movies in the MCU, where the relationships and conflicts among the X-Men are brought to life on the big screen.
X-Men: The Dark Phoenix Saga introduces key cosmic elements and themes that have reverberated throughout the Marvel universe. The saga delves into the vastness of the cosmic forces and the intricate mythology surrounding the Phoenix Force. This exploration of cosmic elements connects to the broader cosmic storytelling in the MCU, particularly in movies such as Guardians of the Galaxy and Captain Marvel.
10) Fantastic Four: The Galactus Saga by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby
Fantastic Four: The Galactus Saga, crafted by the legendary duo of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, is an indispensable Marvel Comics series to explore before watching the Fantastic Four movies in the MCU. This groundbreaking storyline takes readers on an awe-inspiring cosmic adventure as the Fantastic Four confront one of their greatest challenges: Galactus, the devourer of worlds.
The comic delves into the unique dynamics between Mr. Fantastic, the Invisible Woman, the Human Torch, and the Thing, showcasing their unwavering loyalty to one another in the face of overwhelming cosmic threats. This exploration of familial bonds and personal growth enhances the viewing experience of the Fantastic Four movies in the MCU.
Fantastic Four: The Galactus Saga introduces cosmic elements and iconic characters that have left a lasting impact on the Marvel universe. The saga not only showcases the awe-inspiring presence of Galactus but also introduces the enigmatic and powerful Silver Surfer. Understanding the origins and significance of these characters, as depicted in the comic, enhances appreciation for their appearances in the MCU.
Marvel comics are not only fun to read but also meaningful and impactful, as they reflect and comment on the issues and challenges of our society and culture.
Reading Marvel comics will not only enhance your enjoyment and appreciation of the MCU movies but also introduce you to some of the most talented writers and artists who have shaped the Marvel universe over the years. From Stan Lee and Jack Kirby to Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Ross, these creators have given us some of the most memorable and influential stories in comic book history.
Overall, Marvel comics are more than just comic books; they are a phenomenon that has shaped and influenced generations of readers and viewers.