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Comic Book / The Ultimates

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Earth's Mightiest Heroes, only bigger jerks than usual.

"The idea behind The Avengers is that the Marvel Universe's biggest players all get together and fight all the biggest supervillains they can't defeat individually, whereas Ultimates 2 is an exploration of what happens when a bunch of ordinary people are turned into super-soldiers and being groomed to fight the real-life war on terror."

Marvel Comics' reimagining of The Avengers as part of their new Ultimate Marvel continuity, courtesy of Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch. As the above quote says, this series is not merely a retelling of the classic crossover superhero team, but goes the extra mile and reimagines the Avengers in this reality as a superhuman strike force team founded by S.H.I.E.L.D. as an attempt to curb the rising threat of super terrorism and other Persons of Mass Destruction. Originally launched in 2002, the first miniseries saw the iconic group go up against one of their own after Bruce Banner hulks out during a personal meltdown and later uncover an ancient alien conspiracy by a race called the Chituari, who have been plotting world domination as far back as World War II.

The Ultimates 2 deals with other countries taking issue with America using the Ultimates on their soil whether they ask for it or not, eventually culminating in a rival superpowered squad called "The Liberators" giving America a taste of their own medicine, as well as a mole personally orchestrating much of the events of the volume behind the scenes... with some help from a higher power.


The first two volumes of the Ultimates were well received and their take on classic characters and even storylines can be felt all over in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The Ultimates 3 was penned by Jeph Loeb and drawn by Joe Madureira. Due to Loeb not being familiar with the source material (leading to the Wasp being retconned to be white when she was previously established as being of Asian ethnicity, for example) and suffering personal problems at the time he wrote it, the 3rd volume of the Ultimates wasn't very well received and led to the universally reviled event known as Ultimatum. After that, the concept was rebooted into two series: Ultimate Avengers and New Ultimates. Ultimate Avengers, by Millar and various artists was told over the course of 3 six issue arcs, centering on the returned Ultimate Nick Fury, Hawkeye along with featuring new Ultimate versions of Marvel characters and original creations for the team of Black Ops super heroes. New Ultimates by Loeb and Frank Cho told the story of most of the remaining original Ultimate team, including Captain America as they faced off against another threat.


The two teams would clash later on in the Ultimate Avengers vs New Ultimates crossover, which tied into the Ultimate line event "The Death of Spider-Man" leading to a line reboot that had The Ultimates get another series titled Ultimate Comics: The Ultimates, as well as giving Ultimate Hawkeye his own mini-series by Jonathan Hickman, until after issue 12, where Sam Humphries took over as writer of the team. After issue 25, Joshua Hale Fialkov, writer of I, Vampire became the writer of the team for the remainder of the run.

Following Cataclysm, the title was relaunched as part of the Marvel NOW! initiative with a brand new cast and creative team. Written by Michel Fiffe and drawn by Amilcar Pinna, the book featured Spider-Man (Miles Morales), Cloak & Dagger, Kitty Pryde, Bombshell, and the newest Black Widow (Jessica Drew). The title ended in January 2015.

Following Secret Wars, The Ultimates were revived as part of the All-New, All-Different Marvel initiative in October 2015, though this iteration of the team didn't feature characters from Earth-1610, but rather: Black Panther, Blue Marvel, Captain Marvel, Monica Rambeau, and America Chavez. Their first enemy? Galactus. Both teams would meet in Ultimates 2 #100.

The comic's main series was made up of the following series:

  • The Ultimates (2002). 13 issues, from March, 2002 to April, 2004.
  • The Ultimates 2. 13 issues, from February, 2005 to February, 2007.
  • The Ultimates saga, one-shot in 2007.
  • The Ultimates 3. 5 issues, from February to November, 2008.
  • Ultimate Comics: Avengers. 18 issues (over 3 numbered mini series), August 2009 to January 2011.
  • New Ultimates. 5 issues, from March 2010 to February 2011.
  • Ultimate Comics: The Ultimates. 31 issues, from August 2011 to November 2013.
  • Cataclysm: The Ultimates. 3 issues, from November 2013 to January 2014.
  • All-New Ultimates. Ongoing series from April 2014 to January 2015.
  • The Ultimates. Ongoing series beginning October 2015. Serves as a complete reboot involving the Earth-616 version of the team.

Tropes in the Ultimates include:

  • 100% Adoration Rating: Tired of the protocols, Captain America wants to step down from the presidency of the US. Stark tries to talk him out of it, saying that he's "the most popular president since... well, ever".
  • Accidental Adultery: Bucky marries Captain America's fiancée during the latter's long stint as a Human Popsicle. Considering that Cap emerges still physically in his twenties to find Bucky and his former fiancée as senior citizens, a resumed romance was unlikely in any case.
  • Achilles in His Tent
    • Initially, Thor refuses to join the Ultimates. When Hulk starts his rampage, Thor says that he will help if Bush increases the foreign aid budget. They take it as a refusal, and start the fight without him. But part way through, there's thunder and Thor shows up to stomp the Hulk under his hammer. Seems Bush had just increased the budget for foreign aid.
    • Captain America after the events of Death of Spider-Man.
  • Adaptational Jerkass: See examples here
  • Adaptational Villainy: See examples here
  • Alas, Poor Villain:
    • The Red Skull, of all the people, gets this in his send-off. It turns out all he wanted was to use the Cosmic Cube to go back in time, prevent Cap from freezing, and then his parents (Steve and his then sweetheart, Gail) could marry and raise him themselves since he utterly loathed his life as a Tyke-Bomb. To his credit, he knew the evils he had committed, but by then, it was too late for him.
    • The Colonel too, but he wasn't really a villain.
  • America Saves the Day: Deconstructed. The team is American, but other countries start worrying about the Ultimates being used in their countries, whether they like it or not. There's also several European Super-Soldier initiatives including Thor, who is really a Norwegian nutjob who stole the prototype tech for his country's hero. Except in the end he really isn't. It comes to a head when it's revealed Gregory Stark has been using superhumans rebellions for overthrowing the countries of antagonistic governments to be replaced by American-friendly democratic ones, mimicking Real Life tactics employed by the US in certain areas.
  • Animated Adaptation: The Direct to DVD Ultimate Avengers was based off this series. It had a sequel that introduced Black Panther, but it was completely unlike the actual way Black Panther would be eventually used in the Ultimate universe.
  • Anti-Villain:
    • Frank Simpson (Known in the 616 as Nuke) has shades of this. Made as Captain America's replacement for The Vietnam War he was exposed to the less than glorious part of the war, with Agent Orange, killing children and women not just soldiers. He turned rogue for a reason.
    • The Colonel, who (despite being the leader of the villainous Liberators) is arguably one of the most sympathetic characters in the entire series. His death is surprisingly respectful and almost touching.
  • Arms Dealer: Ghost in Armor Wars.
  • Attack Drone: Crimson Dynamo employs these. Post-Ultimatum, Tony has them as well, named Wasps.
  • Back from the Dead:
    • Captain America because of Thor's sacrifice. Thor later as well. Subverted with Valkyrie who SEEMS like she's pulling this but instead has to fulfill the mythological version.
    • Tony Stark via Brain Uploading and then using the Infinity Gems to restore his body.
  • Bait-and-Switch: In Ultimate Comics: Avengers 3, a Giant Man named Scotty appears, making it seem like we've just been introduced to the Ultimate version of Scott Lang. However, the next issue reveals this is David Scotty and the real Scott Lang is named and properly introduced in the next story arc.
  • Big Bad: Herr Kleiser in The Ultimates; Loki in The Ultimates 2 and New Ultimates; The Maker in the 2011 series.
  • Big Damn Heroes: The climax of vol. 2. The Liberators have been defeated, so there's only Loki left, and he's way out of everyone's weight class, sneering at the heroes being unable to stop him. Then the Scarlet Witch steps up and declares "unless I stop you." Loki still sneers that she can't do anything. Unless, perhaps, she uses her powers to increase the chances of someone showing up to kick his ass. Cue Thor restored to all his godly powers.
  • Boxed Crook: The Spider-Man clone, who comes across like a Hannibal Lecter knock-off. Trading personal information that makes people uneasy for his assistance.
  • Break-Up/Make-Up Scenario: Henry Pym and Janet Van Dyne start as a couple, albeit pretty rocky, but she leaves him whhen he attacks her and starts a relationship with Captain America instead. Their relationship, however, proves to be so rocky that she eventually returns with Hank.
  • Brick Joke: Early on, Quicksilver claims to have saved Hawkeye and Black Widow multiple times during a mission, which no-one believes because it's Quicksilver. During Vol 2., it turns out Quicksilver moves so fast no-one ever notices what he's doing, and during a splash page in the final fight, he's seen doing exactly that.
  • Canon Character All Along: "Kang", that woman that aids the Maker, is a Sue Storm from the future
  • Canon Foreigner: The Ultimates: Tomorrow Men was a sequel to the first miniseries in literary form, and it introduced the "Tomorrow Men", time-travelers from the future. They were never referenced in the comic books, and the second miniseries resolves the ongoing plot lines in different ways from the book, wich thus became a Canon Discontinuity.
  • Canon Immigrant: See examples here.
  • The Chessmaster: Unsurprisingly the Devil easily toys with the humans who make deals with him, always exploiting their weakness and in Johnny Blaze's case heroism for his own benefit.
  • Comic-Book Fantasy Casting: As mentioned elsewhere on this page, Nick Fury was deliberately modeled after Samuel Jackson and Nick Fury says in comic that Hollywood would most likely cast Jackson to play him. Six years later, Jackson plays Nick Fury in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
  • Composite Character: See examples here
  • Crazy-Prepared
    • Nick Fury. As he states, he's got a black belt in thinking ahead. It's why he has Wasp on the team, because you never know when you'll need a mutant on-team. He makes it a point to get as much dirt on anyone as he can as leverage that he can use whenever he wishes. He also has "cameras in places you wouldn't believe", including several in Hawkeye's house he never told anyone else about.
    • Tony Stark, who can remotely control the nanites he gives Natasha, just in case.
  • Darker and Edgier: The Avengers are idealistic superheroes who fight the foes no single super hero could withstand, and they do it For Great Justice. The Ultimates, on the other hand, are ruthless superheroes groomed to fight the War on Terror.
  • Death of a Thousand Cuts: Quicksilver at one point uses an envelope to have Sue Storm pass out from pain. He equates it to the feeling you have when you lick an envelope and you get a paper cut.
  • Decompressed Comic
  • Decon-Recon Switch: The series starts off as a deconstruction of the Avengers operating in the 21st Century, how, as a team of assassins and scientists, they would naturally be in the employ of a government organization while also exaggerating some personality traits to emphasize how none of the members are actually Knight in Shining Armor superheroes. Then comes Ultimates 2, where the team discovers the disastrous consequences of being a government-sanctioned team of superhumans and decide to become independent from SHIELD. From then on, the Ultimates become independent superheroes...until Ultimatum left them in shambles, and the heroes went back to working for SHIELD in New Ultimates.
  • Divided States of America: Following the Sentinels rampaging in the Southwestern states, along with the destruction of Washington D.C. and most of the government, Texas and later other states start to declare independence from the union. Something that President Steve Rogers will not take lightly.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?
    • Fury's empowering in Ultimate Origins is eerily reminiscent of the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment.
    • The Chitauri, Shapeshifting reptiles clearly culled from popular conspiracy theories, especially those of David Icke — who was a key influence on Ultimate Thor.
  • Dramatic Unmask:
    • In 3, Black Panther turns out to be Captain America cosplaying as Black Panther when the Juggernaut manages to punch his cowl off.
    • Turns out, Kang is actually a future version of Sue Storm.
  • Dwindling Party: Between various deaths and defections (and the occasional defection then death), by the time Secret Wars rolls around of the original team the only ones left are Hawkeye and Iron Man.
  • Dysfunction Junction:
    • Who are the Ultimates? A soldier of WWII who suddenly found himself in a future world where nothing is like he remembers. A genius, billionaire, playboy, alcoholic philanthropist who is secretly dying of brain cancer. A new-age guru who claims to be a Norse god reincarnated (or is he?). A wifebeater with an inferiority complex. A closeted mutant who usually gets into toxic relations. A scientist broken down by his inability to crack the super soldier formula after so many years of study, and with a dominating girlfriend. Two master assassins. Two mutant siblings treated like dirtbags by everyone, including their own father. Unsurprisingly, loads of drama ensued.
    • The Avengers manage to be worse. They've got a sociopathic assassins with a death wish, a scientist-turned-terrorist with a nightmarish past, a disgruntled former friend of Tony Stark's, Tony's asshole older brother, a nerdy clone of the Hulk everyone picks on, the Punisher and Nick Fury's bad-tempered ex-wife.
  • Enemy Mine: Nick Fury tries to pull this with Xorn and Zorn on the City. It doesn't work, Xorn extends them an olive branch. Reed burns that bridge, and incurs the wrath of Zorn, who attacks him with a black hole.
  • Exact Words: The Red Skull has some fun with a stolen Cosmic Cube, telling A.I.M. to "eat themselves". As the Avengers find out when they reach him, that's exactly what they tried to do.
  • Executive Excess: Deconstructed by Tony Stark. He goes from a Work Hard, Play Hard highly functioning businessman to spending most of his time partying, drinking and sleeping with various women. However, he's discovered that he has an inoperable and terminal brain tumor, and the debauchery is his way of distracting himself from dealing with that fact.
  • Expanded Universe: The second film of Ultimate Avengers and the Novelization The Tomorrow Men take place after the first arc. The second volume and later events in the wider universe contradicted events, characters and reveals from those stories.
  • Face–Heel Turn:
    • Quicksilver started off as a baddie, but joined The Ultimates fairly quickly. This lasted until the death of his sister, the Scarlet Witch, at which point he went back to villainy, ending up a member of the Dark Ultimates.
    • Though never particularly heroic or stable, Hulk joined him as a member of the Dark Ultimates as well.
    • Reed Richards, first seen in the Ultimate Fantastic Four, became a villain as well after faking his own death. He became one of the Big Bads of the Ultimate Marvel universe, and was intent on forcibly remaking the world into a utopia. He was transferred to the main Marvel universe during Secret Wars (2015).
    • Nerd Hulk was bitten by vampires, and joined them as a result.
    • Black Widow turned into The Mole for the Liberators, helping to disrupt the team from the inside. That, if she didn't join the Ultimates with that goal from the start...
    • Gregory Stark had a drive to be always better than his little brother Tony. He made more scientific inventions, he has a bigger fortune, everything. Sponsoring his own superhero team, the Ultimate Avengers, was just another step in his never-ending conflict with him. He took it a bit too far when he tried to take down SHIELD and promote superhuman revolutions at third-world countries.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Cap, Thor and Iron Man. This started in a private meeting that Stark organized to celebrate their first victory; it was meant for the whole team but Pym attacked Jan before leaving and Bruce was of course under lock and key. It got its climax when Cap stands against a Colony Drop, and Thor and Iron Man join him to stand against it together.
  • From Bad to Worse: In the 2011 Hickman series. Hoo, boy. Asgard has been destroyed by Reed Richards and the City, with all the souls of the gods now existing solely in Thor's head. The S.E.A.R. has been taken over by the superhuman Celestials and Eternals. Germany has been completely absorbed by the City. A nuclear crisis is brewing in South America. Nick Fury just cannot catch a break.
  • Gambit Pileup: Fury pretty much says flat out in the first Annual that that's the way his world is.
  • Genetic Engineering Is the New Nuke: The first arc is about Captain America, the first supersoldier, who "died" in WWII along with the mystery of his creation (as there were No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup), and how the US kept trying to recreate him since then. In the second arc the US has the Ultimates at their disposal, leading to a Fantasy Conflict Counterpart with the Cold War over the creation and use of superhumans.
  • Grand Romantic Gesture: Tony proposes to Black Widow by getting everyone in her hometown of St. Petersburg to line up in a field to spell out "marry me". Apparently it took a lot of money, and the occasional offer of coffee. She says "yes".
  • Hive Mind: The Chitauri worker caste (Officers have a bit more free will as a result of absorbing alien minds). Also, Ultimate Galactus.
  • Hope Spot: Bruce Banner has faced trial for the 852 people he killed as Hulk, and waits for the verdict. Fury shows up and says that he was acquitted, since the other Ultimates testified on his behalf about how he saved the world. Fury gives him champagne so they can celebrate. But then... Bruce blacks out from the drugged champagne, and they take him and put him on an abandoned aircraft carrier next to a one-megaton nuclear bomb. Of course, if Fury had given the news directly, he risked Banner turning into Hulk right then and there.
  • Human Weapon: Ultimates 2 has the rest of the world fearing that the US Government would start utilizing them in politically-motivated conflicts after Cap saved some hostages in the Middle East. Which is exactly what they do, crippling a nuclear program in Afghanistan.
  • Humiliation Conga: Vol 2 issue 6 has Hank Pym suffering through one. First, Nick Fury's stopped taking his calls, he's kicked off the Triskelion, and starts hanging out with a bunch of super-hero wannabes. Their first night out goes really badly, ending with Hank's naked ass getting caught on camera and splashed over the papers. Just to add insult to injury, his new would-be girlfriend asks if he could dress up as Captain America (who previously beat Hank to a pulp) for her. Though given it's Ultimate Hank Pym, he has it coming.
  • Hypothetical Casting: At one point, on a slow day they sit around talking about who would play them in the movie of their lives. Naturally, Nick Fury says Samuel L. Jackson (on whom Ultimate Nick Fury was based). Unfortunately, Bruce Banner walks in just as Hank Pym starts suggesting who'd play him in very unflattering terms (Steve Buscemi, just for the record), and this causes Bruce to have something of a breakdown.
  • I Have No Idea What I'm Doing: Scott Lang learns the hard way that the Ultimates and the Avengers are just making it up as they go along as their street brawl eventually spirals out of control into miscalculated attacks and serious injuries.
    Scott Lang: This is a disaster. You see them fighting on TV, it's like they're professionals. But they aren't. They just make this up as they go along. It's terrifying.
  • I Just Want to Be Special
    • The Ultimate version of The Defenders is made up of non-powered versions of Valkyrie, Luke Cage, Son Of Satan and Whiz-Kid, as well as Hellcat and Nighthawk who were Badass Normal in the main universe, but not here. They claim to be experienced crimefighters, but are shown to just be this trope, and are thrilled when Hank Pym wants to join despite his pathetic fall from grace, just for the sake of having a member with actual powers. They're eventually given powers by Loki to help him steal Mjolnir.
    • Bruce Banner had finally got rid of the Hulk problem, but injected the serum into himself, on purpose, fully knowing the consequences, because he wanted to be big again.
    • Freddie Prinze Jr. wants one of the Iron Man suits, or to be the test guy for Banner's supersoldier formula. Whatever, if he can be a super hero!
    • The "Mimic" who, inspired by Captain America's visit to his base, agreed to a super soldier program to be like him.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Hawkeye, as usual. Black Widow as well, thanks to her cybernetic implants.
  • Intangible Man: The Ghost, just like his 616 counterpart. Except he's got Iron Man armour.
  • In the Style of...: The Authority, another series that Millar and Hitch worked on.
  • Invaded States of America: The Liberators invade the U.S., level the Statue of Liberty, and plan to execute major government figures.
  • Island Base: The Triskelion.
  • Killed Off for Real: There are many examples here.
  • Killer Robot: Ultron in vol. 3.
  • Kill It with Fire: When the team goes to confront Thor, they bring flamethrowers. All it does it burn his hair.
  • Kneel Before Zod: Herr Kleiser has nearly defeated Captain America, and he wants him to say "I surrender, Herr Kleiser. Make it quick." Instead of that, it gives Cap the conviction to have an Heroic Second Wind, turn the tables on him, and gain the upper hand. He points to the "A" on his mask and asks: "Surrender? SURRENDER?!! YOU THINK THIS LETTER ON MY HEAD STANDS FOR 'FRANCE'?"
  • Knight Knave And Squire: Thor is an idealistic warrior; he's a messiah after all. Captain America is a pragmatic fighter and, as long as the cause is justified, doesn't fear getting his hands dirty. Iron Man is an inventor who relies in his powered armor and his genius, lacking the battle prowess of his peers.
  • Legacy Character: See examples here
  • Lensman Arms Race: This is a major plot point in The Ultimates, crossed with Genetic Engineering Is the New Nuke. After the public debut of the Ultimates, various foreign nations begin trying put together their own teams of superhumans, such as Alpha Flight, the EU program and the Liberators. The final arc by Mark Millar has the Ultimates racing to stop military dictatorships like North Korea from developing their own superhumans.
  • Let's You and Him Fight:
    • Thor versus everyone in Vol. 2, thanks in part to a little help from Loki.
    • The whole plot of Ultimates Versus Avengers.
  • Luke, You Are My Father: Captain America is fighting with Red Skull, who whispers something (that he's his son) to his ear. This surprises him enough to gain the upper hand.
  • Magic Pants
    • Subverted by Hulk. His pants often don't survive battle. Cue Scenery Censor. In volume 1 he steals the pants from a dead fat guy.
    • Henry Pym and the Wasp have clothes specially treated for the size changing, but will end up nude if they are wearing something else.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: The series began with an unclear origin for the powers of Thor. Is he a real God from Asgard, attacked by a rival god with reality-warping powers? Or just a madman with delusions of grandeur, who stole high-tech weapons produced in Europe? In the first two story arcs, both options seemed plausible to the reader. The final answer only came at the end of the second arc.
  • Monumental Damage: Some super powered soldiers push over the Statue of Liberty. Later, some superheroes pull it back up again. Averted in the same story where Ultimate Cap and The Colonel duke it out along The Wall (the Vietnam War Memorial) and it is not damaged.
  • Mugging the Monster: Early in vol. 2, a bunch of thugs try mugging Captain America, which'd be stupid enough even if they hadn't noticed he's built like a linebacker. Steve, for his part, seems more confused than anything else.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Nick Fury has a Full-Body Disguise that is identical to his standard Marvel Universe appearance. He seemingly later uses it under the guise of "Scorpio" to work for Hydra. The name Scorpio itself being a nod to the original Nick Fury's sometimes evil twin brother using that title several times.
    • The Enchantress put the female members of the team (Valkyrie, Zarda and Carol Danvers) under her spell, and makes them betray the male members. A similar premise was used by Roy Thomas in the 1970s, in the original "Lady Liberators" story, but fortunately this time the story does not end saying that women should Stay in the Kitchen.
  • Near-Villain Victory:
    • In the first arc, the Chitauri infiltrate the psi division of SHIELD, send them on a wild goose chase and detonate a bomb to kill the Ultimates. The Wasp is overpowered, and the Chitauri are ready to launch their program to destroy the human free will. But then, it turns out that Iron Man managed to shield the Ultimates and a portion of the SHIELD agents from the explosion, and the Chitauri main fleet shows up to order them to pack and leave, because of intergalactic reasons.
    • In the second arc, the Liberators capture and defeat the Ultimates, but then fall down one by one once they counter attack. Then Loki unleashed his godlike powers, and none of the Ultimates can stand against it... except Thor, who brings the armies of Asgard with him to defeat Loki.
  • Noodle Incident: At the end of Avengers 1, Nick Fury remarks that Gregory Stark "broke" Jim Rhodes. This is never elaborated upon.
  • Not Distracted by the Sexy: In the first issue of Avengers, Tony has wandered off from Ultimates duty to play "chess" with some ladies in a bondage club. However, Tony's in such a funk he's not paying attention to the game or the ladies.
  • Nuclear Option:
    • When Bruce Banner is sentenced for the deaths he caused as the Hulk, he is drugged, taken to a ship in the ocean, and they drop an atomic bomb on him. Nothing short of that can truly kill the Hulk.
    • Also, they send everything they've got against the city, a futuristic dome created by The Maker and which had already destroyed Berlin. But they resisted it, and the Maker blows up all of Washington DC as a counter attack.
  • Off-Model: For whatever reason, the Red Skull eventually loses his lips and returns to his signature rictus grin.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Monica Chang, aka Black Widow II, taking on a Giant-Man squad after getting pinned underneath one's hand, next time we see her she is standing on on of them before leaping into the battle with the remaining troops sent against her by SHIELD.
  • Older Than They Look: Nick Fury and Captain America are both from WWII. The super soldier serum kept them young well into the XXI century.
  • Physical, Mystical, Technological: Captain America is a Super Soldier with super strength. Thor hails from norse mythology, and Iron Man has a Powered Armor.
  • Pietà Plagiarism: Thor cradling his son
  • Piggybacking on Hitler: Herr Kleiser was Captain America's chief nemesis during the Second World War, but was actually an alien known as a Chitauri (aka a Skrull) that ate the real Kleiser and impersonated him, backing Hitler by giving the Nazis advanced weaponry. Really, this was just a scheme to soften the Earth up for a full-scale invasion.
  • Police Brutality: During Vol 2, some Italian police are breaking up a protest with extreme prejudice. Then Thor breaks them. Which doesn't help everyone's perception of him as a dangerous lunatic.
  • President Superhero: President Captain America, in Sam Humphries's run.
  • The Psycho Rangers
    • The Liberators from volume 2 are an Axis of Evil counterpart to the title team. The Colonel being the Iranian counterpart to Captain America, Abomination the Chinese Hulk, Crimson Dynamo the Chinese Iron Man, Perun the Russian Thor, Hurricane the North Korean Quicksilver, and Swarm the Syrian Wasp.
    • There were later the Dark Ultimates, the Ultimate counterpart of the above-mentioned Dark Avengers. Reed Richards acts as the team's leader and Iron Man parallel, while the Hulk acts their counterpart to Thor. The rest of the team however (Kang, the Human Torch, and Quicksilver) don't match up as exact analogues to the Ultimates.
  • Psycho Serum: Banner's Hulk Serum. Later, at the brink of despair, he takes it up another notch by combining it with the Super Soldier serum.
  • Race Lift: Among the Ultimates, Nick Fury is black, modeled after Samuel L. Jackson, and the Wasp is Asian. In the Liberators, Crimson Dynamo and Abomination are Chinese, Hurricane is Korean and Swarm is Syrian. And the third version of The Vision is black.
  • Real After All: Thor really IS the Norse God of Thunder.
  • Recap Episode: "The Ultimates saga" has Tony Stark hack into Nick Fury's files about the Ultimates. They provide a full recap of the events of The Ultimates one and two, before the release of Ultimates 3.
  • Reconstruction: The team was initially a deconstruction of the way the Avengers would be if they existed in the real world. The most notable thing about them is that they would be a military operation run by the US, not independent superheroes doing whatever they want. That, however, turned out to be their status at the end of the second arc.
  • Redemption Equals Death
    • Henry Pym dies in Ultimatum, saving the Triskelion from the Multiple Men.
    • Quicksilver is killed by Kang after he realizes how monstrous her plan really is and tries to stop her.
  • Redshirt Army:
    • 20,000 SHIELD elite troops go into the bag when the Chitauri nuke their own base in Micronesia. Also, most of the Ultimate Reserves are killed in the beginning of the Liberators attack.
    • The Liberators have a massive army of generic Flying Brick troops, with the explanation that the source of their powers means they're not long for this world anyhow.
  • Reed Richards Is Useless: Deconstructed. Plus points, that they did it with the Trope Namer itself. Because what happens, when you are the most brilliant mind in the planet, full of good intentions, and the world just would not change, if you play according to the rules? You will go nuts, that is what happens. You definitely go nuts, buddy!
  • Replacement Goldfish: After Jarvis gets shot, Tony replaces him with a new guy who's name he quickly forgets and calls Jarvis. Later still he's replaced (without noted reason) by an half-Asian woman. Whom he also names Jarvis.
  • Retcanon: Around the time of Iron Man 3, Tony started dressing up like Iron Patriot. The Iron Patriot armor was later destroyed, allowing him to return to the Iron Man identity.
  • Rewatch Bonus: Early in vol 2, Thor has a conversation with Volstagg (or does he?) in a restaraunt, as Volstagg warns him Loki's already up to something, messing with perceptions as they speak. In the background, a figure that looks like Neil Gaiman can be seen. Just a harmless little artistic joke? Several issues later, the Ultimates meet kindly European scientist Gunnar Golmen, who looks just like Neil Gaiman and is terribly worried about his schizophrenic brother Thor.
  • Robotic Reveal: The Ultron units in Volume 3 replaced the Ultimates.
  • Sequel Adaptation Iconic Villain: Canon Foreigner Herr Kleiser was the villain of the first Ultimates. Ultimates 2 pitted the team against Loki, the villain the Avengers formed to fight in the original Marvel Universe.
  • Series Continuity Error: In the first volume, Thor mentions fighting Loki. However, Volume 2 and Ultimate Comics: Thor show that Loki had long been imprisoned in the Room with No Doors and only just escaped in Ultimates 2. This implies that Thor was joking with Nick Fury.
  • Shoo Out the New Guy
    • Jeph Loeb's run managed to have no less than three of these: Black Panther, Ka-zar, and Shanna. All were introduced and removed in the same arc, without even doing anything significant to the plot, due to backlash from before the story was even published.
    • Jonathan Hickman's run had the same problem. He positioned Spider-Woman and the new Captain Britain as though they would be major characters, but they were promptly written out without any explanation.
    • Scott Lang joined the team at the end of Millar's Avengers vs. New Ultimates series, but was quickly forgotten about.
    • Sam Humphries later introduced the Ultimate version of Stature from the Young Avengers, and even wrote a scene where she was offered membership in the team. His run ended shortly after this, so she never got a chance to join the Ultimates.
  • Shout-Out: Clark Kent, Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen appear, unnamed, as part of a 60 Minutes interview staff.
    • Jarvis also hangs out with a butler's club in his spare time - and a guy named Alfred is mentioned to be amongst the members.
    • In Ultimate Armor Wars: one of the heads on the wall is of Nayland Smith, a main character in the Fu Manchu books.
    • Reed Richards has a Neon Genesis Evangelion poster on his bedroom wall.
  • Single-Stroke Battle: Nerd Hulk beats Whistler in an old Iron Man suit in one punch.
  • Slave to PR: The team itself. As a government supersoldier program with a tremendous budget they were constantly threatened by public scrutiny and for a while had to justify their budget in spite of the lack of an immediate threat. This lead to a major plot point that stretched through two volumes when Bruce Banner hulked out and the Ultimates stopped him, SHIELD covered up the connection between Banner and Hulk turning a story about the team cleaning up its own mess into their first public success.
  • Super Soldier: The basic premise of the series revolves around Captain America, the first and only super soldier, the US attempts to recreate him and the consequences of a world where a team of super soldiers is a reality.
  • Take That!:
    • During Avengers 3, Blade has a daydream about a might-as-well-not-be-veiled-at-all versions of Edward and Bella from Twilight talking before trying to murder Edward, making clear his opinion on the matter pretty dang clear.
    Blade: God, I hate you people. I've hated you since the first trailer.
    • During Ultimates Vs. Avengers, Millar has the characters criticize Loeb's writing of Thor by mentioning Tony paid serious money to charity in exchange for Thor not using Ye Olde English ever again.
    • Also during Ultimates vs. Avengers, Nick Fury laughs while watching a cartoon inaccurately telling Iron Man's origin story as a humanoid brain with a Healing Factor.
  • There Are No Therapists: Nobody seems to do anything about Hawkeye's obvious PTSD.
  • The Tooth Hurts: At the end of Avengers 2, Hawkeye punches out one of Frank Castle's teeth... which, just by pure coincidence, just happens to be the one containing a tracking device, allowing Frank to escape SHIELD.
  • Tomorrowland: The Maker created The City in Europe, a dangerous version of one of these.
  • Turned Against Their Masters
    • Ultron, surprising absolutely no one — except, once again, Henry Pym.
    • Zorn and Xorn, twin super mutants who were created by the South East Asian Republic, S.E.A.R, as part of a project aimed at wiping out mutants and later took over the entire nation and turned it into a mutant haven for any that wish to join them.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Bruce was already well on his way to losing it, but it was overhearing his colleagues mocking him that drove him to re-inject himself with the serum that turned him into the Hulk.
  • Villain Bloodbath Origin: Red Skull's origin. Raised on a secret military base, he seemed like a bright, enthusiastic and well-adjusted young man... until he turned sixteen, massacred every man in the base, cut his face off and ran out to commit as much mayhem as possible for the giggles.
  • Western Terrorists: Hydra, initially introduced as a small Right-Wing Militia Fanatic group, after Modi's defeat they have since began stealing S.H.I.E.L.D. tech and apparently under the guise of a man called Scorpio.
  • Wham Shot: During Vol. 2, Black Widow pulling a gun on Tony, followed a moment later by proving it's not a bluff by shooting Jarvis through the head.
  • Who Shot JFK?: It was Red Skull.
  • Who Would Want to Watch Us?: The team discusses who would play them in a film adaptation.
  • Why Won't You Die?: Heroic example, Cap says it about Kleiser.
  • Year Inside, Hour Outside: The City that Reed Richards designs is one big ball of paradox, while it exists in the present, within its walls generations pass while Reed was expanding it with the outer edges closer to normal time. While inside its walls, time moved at an accelerated rate the closer one got to the Core, so as one moved within the City's limits the further into the future it traveled until the City stopped expanding. Which it wound up taking out Germany and a good chunk of Europe when they reach its current size.
  • Yin-Yang Clash: When the Liberators have been defeated, Loki reveals his true power as a Diabolus ex Machina, an Outside-Context Problem that the Ultimates are not powerful enough to deal with. But then Thor shows up with the Asgardian armies, a Deus ex Machina that makes swift work of Loki's armies.
  • You Are Who You Eat: This is how Chitauri shape shifting works.
  • Zerg Rush: The vampires attack on the Triskellion.


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