Comic books have the reputation of being unchanging. Batman is always a sad loner in the dark, Spider-Man is always a poor New Yorker, and no one ever stays dead except for Uncle Ben. But that's not exactly true. Sometimes comics decide to shake things up a bit, and by a bit, we mean this:
By his very nature, Cap is supposed to respresent America, and right now the country is arguably -- just arguably, mind you -- face down in the gutter with blood all over its face. It's (arguably) a tough time for America, so that's why our Captain needs to keep calm, stay strong and uh... Hail Hydra?
That headline isn't an exaggeration. Captain America is a Nazi now. Technically he's the Supreme Leader of Hydra, but that's basically another term for Grand Dragon of Fascist Racists. Hydra is and always has been a stand-in for Nazis (their leader, the Red Skull, is often seen wearing swastikas), despite what Marvel's latest PR lines might suggest.
and has recently taken over all of America and is currently working towards using a Cosmic Cube (which you might know as the Tesseract from the first Avengers movie) to change history so that the Axis won World War II... because, according to the comics, the Axis Powers originally did win World War II. Captain America, as it turns out, was always a Nazi It was only when the Allies used the Cosmic Cube to turn him good and rewrite history and... look, it's all incredibly confusing and doesn't make anything near a lick of sense, but here's the important things that you need to know:
Right now, Captain America has trapped superheroes in the cold vacuum of space, in a dark dimension and in Nevada. What could be worse, right?
Okay, painting the Hydra symbol on your chest and kneeling to Red Skull would be worse.
Then there's the part where Cap also just blew up Las Vegas, had his old best friend executed and has set up concentration camps for mutants and Inhumans (who are basically like mutants, except Fox doesn't own the film rights). And yeah, he's also fighting for the Nazis.
Because why wouldn't a character created by two Jewish men as a statement against Nazis be revealed as a Secret Lifetime Nazi??
If you've been following some of the more recent Marvel Comics, you might have heard that Sam Wilson (aka the Falcon) has been calling himself Captain America lately. Long story short, Steve Rogers became super old, Sam took up the shield and then Steve got better again. Recently, Sam gave up the Cap mantle after a friend of his got unjustly locked in jail and later murdered. So that leaves Steve Rogers as the only Captain America left, loyal to nothing but Hydra. He even gives Red Skull the boot when he no longer has use for him.
If none of that makes sense to you, we're very sorry. We swear this is all actually happening.
A short while ago, the Marvel Universe ended, was merged into another universe, and then rebooted because comic books have never made sense and never will. Shortly before the Universe ended, Wolverine finally died. Which is weird because his two main powers are "knives but in my hands" and "can't die." After his demise, a bunch of his proteges and enemies got together, cried, and then fought over who should be the new Wolverine, because apparently there is no such thing as reality television in the Marvel Universe. All the while, Wolvie's Adamantium-covered corpse just sits there like the mutant equivalent of Han Solo in Carbonite.
Logan had a clear choice for a successor (more on her in a minute), but the universe ended before he could get his affairs in order. But now a newer, crustier Wolverine has snuck onto the scene. You might recognize him from the movie "Logan." This wizened Wolvie comes from a reality where villains banded together and wiped out superhumanity.
Escaping into the newly-born universe, Old Man Logan decided to stop the villains from killing everyone and remaking his old reality anew. Evidently he got bored of that eventually, and now he hangs out with the rest of the X-Men (including young versions of Cyclops, Jean Grey and Iceman, ripped from their past -- long story).
On top of all that the son of a Wolverine from yet another dimension recently showed up. Meet James Hudson Jr:
If three Wolverines is too much for you, well, we have bad news.
While Logan is off being old and grumpy, and his son is off being... young and grumpy... there's someone who has taken over the official Wolverine mantle. The new colorful claw-bearer is X-23, though movie fans might recognize her better as Laura Kinney.
Yeah, Laura -- the little girl from Logan -- is the new Wolverine. She even has a cool yellow suit (that she replaced with a grey one because, c'mon, Wolverine's edgy). Aside from being a literal clone of Wolverine (which is what she is in the comics) she's like her dad in a bunch of other ways. This includes having her own younger, clone protege.
If making clones of clones sounds like a dicey proposition, you'd be right. Due to dodgy healing factors, all of X-23's clones died off -- well, except one. Like her progenitor, Gabby is an unstoppable killing machine. Thankfully she's teamed up with X-23, living in her apartment, eating pizza, and even donning her own suit. Gabby fights against the forces of evil with her... big sister? Mom? DNA donor? Whatever the case, they aren't alone. They've got a wolverine. As in, the furry woodland creature.
Because the one thing Wolverine has always needed was a pet sidekick.
So yes, occasionally they wear sunglasses and hang out with a Gwen Stacy version of Spider-Man. Maybe comic books aren't all bad.
Right now, Thor -- as in the wise-cracking blonde deity portrayed by one of Hollywood's many prominent men named Chris (Hemsworth? Pine? O'Donnell?) in the MCU -- is no more. That's not to say he's dead exactly, but he lost his namesake. It all started when Nick Fury whispered a dreadful truth in his ear, and from that moment on, Thor became "unworthy" of his hammer Mjolnir.
Don't worry though! Jane Foster (who you might remember as Natalie Portman in the first two Thor movies) picked up the hammer and ran with it. She lives a double-life as both a badass blonde Thor and a cancer-ridden human cancer patient. Thor, the dude one, even gave her his name, and is now going by the Odinson (or, occasionally, the Unworthy Thor).
So Thor -- sorry, the Odinson -- dropped his hammer and the rest is history, right? Except this story is still going on as of this writing. Remember that universe-ending event we mentioned earlier? Part of it involved a whole corps of Thors who banded together and worked as police officers. It was basically Law and Order: Asgard.
Towards the end of that storyline, one of the Thors throws his hammer hard enough to break the universal boundaries, ending up in the main Marvel Universe. That's where the Odinson found it.
...and that's where the Odinson left it. He decided that if he was going to swing a hammer again, it would be his own hammer. Which is just ridiculous because this new hammer has a sick axe on the back. Of course, a mystical hammer isn't going to be content just sitting around, doing nothing, so it attracted the attention of another party. This person picked up the axe-hammer and became the War Thor.
For those of you counting at home, that's three entirely different Thors running around the Marvel Universe. And none of them are clones! We think.
Peter Parker has always been the down on his luck kid without a dime to spare. His Spidey duties keep him busy 24/7 and the only bit of change he can scrape together comes from selling pictures of himself to an old man who gets way too excited at the thought of him in handcuffs. But all of that has changed -- now, ole Petey is a full-on billionare. Yep, with a B.
Remember the time that Doctor Octopus turned himself into Peter Parker through the use of little tiny weird robots that switched their brains? No, well, it happened.
Ock pretended to be Parker and fought crime, but not exactly in a friendly neighborhood way. When Peter got his body back, he found out that Doc Ock had created a massive corporation while he was away. Moving forward, Peter turned the corporation global and it skyrocketed him to incredibly great heights of wealth.
There's still a street-level Spider-Man, he's just younger and from a different reality. You might have heard of Miles Morales -- he comes from the Ultimate Universe, the same place that Thor's otherworldly axe-hammer came from. When his reality ended, he was brought into main Marvel continuity because he offered god a hamburger. No, that is not a joke. No, there isn't really more context to it than that. His mom got brought back to life because of the hamburger too.
You know who else is alive and well? Doc Ock.
Octavius used a robot to copy his brain and then put it in a perfect clone body of Peter Parker -- which was itself made by an imperfect clone of Peter Parker -- and is now working with Hydra as the Superior Doctor Octopus. Because of course that's what happened.
Iron Man has been a fan favorite since Robert Downey Jr made the mecha-capitalist likeable. Unfortunately, the comics version of Tony Stark isn't as beloved. Shortly after discovering his parents weren't who he thought they were, Tony got involved in the second Marvel Superhero Civil War, during which he was punched so hard he almost died and had to give up A) walking around; and B) being Iron Man.
These days, Tony now exists as a holographic AI while his body heals; but this has left an Iron Man-shaped hole in the Marvel Universe, which has been filled by not one but two separate people.
The teenaged Riri Williams is working personally with Stark's AI. She goes by Ironheart, but she's basically "If Spider-Man was Iron Man." Her story unfolds in the Invincible Iron Man series... but simultaneously, we also have the Infamous Iron Man.
Before Stark went down, he had been working alongside super genius and semi-reformed villain, Victor Von Doom.
Doctor Doom has long been the antagonist of the entire Marvel Universe. Heck, recently he got the power of God and took over all of existence. After his stint as God, Doom decided to take over as Iron Man, even working with the Avengers. Because even though he's tried to destroy the world, the universe and the multiverse, the good guys can't help but give Doom another chance. He's got a real Vegeta thing going on.
Marvel might overcomplicate things with endless universes and multiple heroes with the same name, but at least they know how to make a cool costume.