Follow TV Tropes

Following

Common Knowledge / Comic Books

Go To

Click here to go back to the main page.

Works with their own pages:


    open/close all folders 

    Avengers 
  • The Avengers are commonly thought to have always been the most feared and respected superhero team in the Marvel Universe, and the Alternate Company Equivalent of DC's Justice League. This status-quo dates back to The Oughties but it wasn't the case for most of the team's history. It's actually the Fantastic Four who have historically been portrayed in-universe as the Marvel Universe's greatest superhero team, and (according to Word of God) they were conceived as a direct answer to the Justice League.note  Out-of-universe, the X-Men were consistently Marvel's most popular team from the early-'80s all the until the '00s, and Marvel even wanted them to be the backbone of the entire universe. In comparison, the Avengers never really became a flagship title until shortly before the movies made it big.
    • For most of its publication history, the general perception by just about everyone (writers, critics and fans) was that The Avengers was just a dumping ground for B/C/D-listers who weren't popular enough to have their own series anywhere else. Case in point: none of the five original Avengers (Iron Man, Thor, Ant-Man, the Wasp and the Hulk) had solo series when the first issue hit the stands, and only the Hulk had ever had his own series at that pointnote . Part of the appeal and charm the Avengers had in comics was its High Turnover Rate and constantly changing roster, and the fact that it was a half-way home for villains to find a Redemption Quest and turn heroes (examples include Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, Wonder Man, Hawkeye, Black Widow, heck even Spider-Man rogue the Sandman) which often made the team time ironic since rather than provide swift vengeance and retribution they actually provided second chances, compassion, and a leg up for the wayward super.
    • The Avengers in comics really could not have humbler origins; they started as literal filler material. They owe their debut to the fact that Bill Everett fell behind in completing the art for Daredevil #1. To take its spot in the printing schedule, Marvel slapped together the simplest possible substitute: All of Lee & Kirby's lower-selling heroes teaming up to fight Thor's already-established nemesis, Loki.
    • To give you idea of how far the Avengers have come, the reason why Ultimate Marvel's super team was called "The Ultimates" was not a stylistic choice to differentiate it from the Avengers. Rather, it was because editors wouldn't allow Mark Millar to use the name because they didn't think it was marketable. And this was back in 2002 or rather just ten years before the movie came out and changed everything. In the mainline comics, three events gave The Avengers a bigger push. All these storylines happened in The Oughties.
      • House of M, which ended with the mutant population reduced to low numbers and concomitantly had the X-Men and the mutants shuffled out of the spotlight.
      • New Avengers, which had the Avengers based in Stark Tower, a detail carried over for the first two films, and which had Wolverine and Spider-Man join the group, to give it the star power it had lacked until then.
      • Civil War, which totally changed the status-quo of the entire universe and placed the Avengers and its mythos at the heart of the Marvel Universe.
    • Thanks to the changes in perception as to how big the Avengers were compared to how they are now, there's a common misconception that the Avengers have always been the "core" of the Marvel Universe, and that the X-Men exist outside of it, which was often used as the justification for why Fox should hold the X-Men brand until Disney acquired them outright (as explained in further detail above). In reality, for the longest time, the Avengers had been second-stringers by very nature to the X-Men. Before their push in the '00s, the only Spin-Off titles the Avengers had were the West Coast Avengers and Great Lakes Avengers (the latter a joke). Compare this to the X-Men having the New Mutants, Alpha Flight, Excalibur, X-Factor, X-Force, the various sub-teams, limited series, one-shots, and that many X-characters held a solo series longer than many Avengers ever could if given the chance. That's why the X-Men had Bat Family Crossovers, or "X-Overs", with each other more often than not, because the Avengers weren't nearly as profitable or marketable, and whenever the Avengers were involved, they were second-stringers to the bigger, X-oriented storyline.
  • If you ask someone who the quintessential Avengers are, the answers will probably be Iron Man, Captain America, The Mighty Thor, and The Incredible Hulk. Black Widow and Hawkeye will also likely get a mention. This perception is largely thanks to the massively successful 2012 movie. The idea is wrong for several reasons:
    • Iron Man, Hulk, and Thor were indeed founding members. However, Captain America was not a founder at the time because he was still in ice to be thawed out in a later issue. Hulk's initial run on the team lasted a whole two issues before he left, and didn't rejoin for over forty years (the team he was most associated with before the MCU was the The Defenders, best known for the In Name Only Netflix series).
    • The two most consistent members of the team, and the two founders who got Adapted Out of the movie, were Ant-Man and The Wasp. The two did make their way in the MCU, but only years after the The Avengers, and the ones who appear as the main versions of those characters aren't even Hank Pym or Janet Van Dyne, but rather their successors Scott Lang and Hope Van Dyne.
    • As for Black Widow and Hawkeye, while they are often associated with the Avengers, they were not founders. After all, they weren't created until a year after the original comic. Many would be surprised to learn they were initially villains before undergoing a Heel–Face Turn.
  • To those who regularly followed comics, Hank Pym was notable for being an abusive spouse who would beat his wife, Janet van Dyne, based largely on The Ultimates which took this to Flanderization.
    • This is in reference to an extended Story Arc in The Avengers #211-230 where Hank in his Yellowjacket guise out of insecurity becomes subject to court-martial out of incompetence and as a way to beat the Avengers decides to create a robot to engineer an attack on the Avengers that only he conveniently can stop. When Janet found out she tried to stop him, leading Hank to strike her in rage in the middle of his fourth mental breakdown (which incidentally is the other thing he is known for, going nuts creating another alter-ego or an evil robot or two). The slap was an accident and not a regular incident but certainly in context, intended as a deplorable action which immediately leads to the end of their marriage. According to Jim Shooter, the artist who drew the scene emphasized it too strongly, and unlike the case of Spider-Man (who had a similar incident during The Clone Saga when he accidentally struck a pregnant Mary Jane an incident recreated in Spider-Man 3 during Emo Peter's montagenote ), Ant-Man wasn't a popular character like Spider-Man and the storyline in which he did this was a good story as opposed to the Dork Age that was the Clone Saga, and it became a defining part of Pym's history.
    • Hank Pym wasn't a famous and especially popular hero and being a crazy self-destructive and flawed guy who destroyed his life became one of the things that made him stand out in the eyes of writers, so this Domestic Abuse card stuck to him, overshadowing many of his original qualities (such as him and Janet being a Battle Couple who partnered on missions or being founding members of the Avengers). The other problem as noted by writers is that this moment is merely the opening part of an extended 20 Issue Storyline that many consider to be one of the best Avengers stories, showing the Character Development and maturity of Janet van Dyne who after divorcing Hank comes into her own as a confident leader of the Avengers, while Hank in a series of Trauma Conga Line eventually scores one of his biggest victories when he single-handedly defeats the Masters of Evil and finally takes responsibility for his actions and at the end, he and Janet become Amicable Exes. In other words, this moment, the breakdown of Hank Pym and the end of his marriage with Janet was a major part of both characters histories and the Avengers as a group and within the Marvel Universe was a public event documented by its media and fan magazines, making it hard to ignore and move past for later writers, and as such it makes it a popular storyline for later writers and storylines to refer to, only adding to the problem.
    • His reputation had gotten so bad and toxic that Hank had the unique fate of having his live-action film open with his Legacy Character Scott Lang (a little like if the Spider-Man part of the MCU was led by Ben Reilly) with Hank being made into a mentor figure and Demoted to Extra. Ironically, the success and popularity of the Ant-Man movie and its sequel, the fact that the MCU gave many of Hank's self-destructive Mad Scientist stuff to Iron Man, and the movies going back to the light-hearted roots of the character's very early years, means that for most mainstream audiences, this baggage has disappeared since the most widely known version of Hank is in the movies and not the comics.
  • Hawkeye is often held as that one guy with no powers who's largely useless, and is only kept out of tradition (with the joke often being "they're so sure they got it covered, they even let Hawkeye tag along!"). Not so. Many don't know that Hawkeye is a skilled leader, tactician, martial artist, acrobat, master of multiple weapons besides his signature bow, has access to a variety of gadgets including Trick Arrows and his own Flying Car (the Sky-Cycle) that help leverage his own lack of powers. There was a reason he's led multiple teams, most famously the West Coast Avengers and the Thunderbolts. "Having no powers" doesn't equate to "being utterly useless", as Hawkeye often proved. Much of this perception came from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, where not only is Hawkeye Out of Focus compared to the over Avengers, but his skills don't get nearly as emphasized as much when he is onscreen and he flat-out lacks much of his gadgets, other weapons, and Sky-Cycle; thus many just know him as the "arrow guy".
  • Ultimate Marvel Captain America is often thought of as a racist. While this version of Cap is written as a product of his time in many ways, he wasn't actually racist per se. The scene that gets cited as proof was when Cap woke up in S.H.I.E.L.D. custody, and couldn't believe that Nick Fury was a Colonel, and thought it was a German setup before forcing his way out to learn of the world he now lives in. That wasn't because he was racist though, but because he couldn't wrap his head around the idea that America wasn't racist — as in the '40s, the highest rank a black man achieved was Captain. The breaking point for him wasn't that Nick Fury was black, but because he was told that he had been out for 60 years.
  • Black Widow is seen nowadays as the quintessential female Avenger, thanks to the Marvel Cinematic Universe promoting her greatly in status. In actuality, she has had a long association with the Avengers, but wasn't a big name player for them in the same way she is in the movies. For many years such a title would be better held by The Waspnote , Scarlet Witchnote , Carol Danversnote , and even Mockingbirdnote . Much of her fame is Newer Than They Think, with a lot of it from the MCU promoting her to A-list status when beforehand she was firmly a C-lister on the fringe rather than a headliner.
Advertisement:

    Batman 
  • Once upon a time, this was uncommon knowledge, but nowadays, it's common knowledge that Batman, at the time of his creation in The Golden Age of Comic Books, was a much "darker" character than he became in the '50s and '60s. Which is true to a point, but it wasn't long at all before the character was made Lighter and Softer. As Eisner-nominated comics journalist and professional Batmanologist Chris Sims noted, "Sure, he might’ve fought vampires and carried a gun for like three issues, but by the end of that first year, it was pretty much all cat-wrestling and trips to Storybook Land."
    • However, this is sometimes taken to the other extreme, of claiming that Batman was having lots of fantasy/kiddie adventures in his Golden Age stories. The couple of Storybook Land stories mentioned by Sims are mostly an exception, and one of them was even revealed as All Just a Dream. Batman in the World War II period mostly fought gangsters and had plenty of Agatha Christie-style detective stories. Yes, he wasn't the grim and gritty vigilante some claim he was, and the stories had plenty of silly elements, but he hadn't yet evolved into the Silver Age version.note 
    • Related to this: while The Comics Code Authority and Frederic Wertham were responsible for certain Lighter and Softer additions to the Bat-mythos (like the introduction of Batwoman and the Bette Kane Bat-Girl), many others like Batman being an officially sanctioned police deputy and the Joker being more of a gimmicky thief who never (successfully) kills were instated during The Golden Age of Comic Books, long before Wertham came on the scene.
  • Batman is so badass he can beat Superman any time! Except not. Even the most oft-cited example, from the climax of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, isn't nearly as straightforward as many Batman fans seem to think it is. While Batman did undeniably hold his own against Superman in that story, many people seem to forget that he cut the fight short by faking his death, essentially making the battle a draw. Also, it happened after Superman was cut off from the sun's rays by a nuclear explosion, struck by lightning while in his weakened state, and shot with a Kryptonite arrow from Green Arrow...and even then, Batman was wearing enhanced armor. And needless to say, Superman didn't want to kill Batman, so he was holding back the entire fight. These are the only circumstances in which Batman was able to even hold his own against Superman. In most of their other fights, Batman can maybe force a draw if he's in full Crazy-Prepared mode and Superman's holding back, and the fights where Batman decisively wins on his own can more or less be counted on one hand.
  • It's often thrown around that during the Golden and Silver Ages, Batman and Robin shared a bed. This is used to tease them of being Ambiguously Gay. However, they didn't share a bed. The panels cited as "proof" are simply from the wrong angle. They had two beds with a night stand in the middle.
  • Barbara Gordon is often considered the quintessential Batgirl and a symbol of Action Girls everywhere. It might be surprising for some to learn however that in the New 52 relaunch in 2011, she hadn't actually been Batgirl since the '80s. After the Joker had paralyzed her, she could never resume the identity again (it should be noted she was already retired by that point, however). An entire generation who read the comics knew her as Oracle, the wheelchair-bound Voice with an Internet Connection who assisted Batman and others, and was a unique fixture in the comic world as she wasn't portrayed as Inspirationally Disadvantaged because of it, instead having PTSD from the whole incident. During this time, there were two different Batgirls: Cassandra Cain and Stephanie Brown. Part of the confusion stems from the fact that media adaptations would always use Barbara regardless of the comics. When she did return to Batgirl in 2011, many fans weren't pleased, citing it being poorly explained and contrived, that it would be like Dick Grayson returning to being Robin, and that DC (specifically Dan DiDio) actually tried to blacklist Cass and Steph from the entire DCU for being "toxic", specifically they were actually becoming more iconic to comic readers than their beloved Barbara. They have since gone back on that attempt, however.
  • Batgirl (and by "Batgirl", we mean "Barbara Gordon") having been Batman's and/or Nightwing's love interest since the '60s. The original Bat-Girl (with the hyphen) was intended to be a love interest for Robin, but he was uninterested in her and Bette Kane was Put On The Bus shortly after debuting (only to reappear a decade later and then get retconned as never having been Batgirl). The Barbara Gordon version of Batgirl was originally several years older than Robin and saw him as a younger brother if anything. They didn't become a couple until the 1990s, and by then Barbara had been aged down considerably. Barbara has been depicted as Batman's love interest in a few adaptations but in the main comics their relationship is consistently platonic.
  • Everybody knows that The Dark Knight Returns features Batman in a distinctive revamped costume that's black and grey all over, with an oblong bat emblem that stretches across his chest.note  Actually, he only wears that costume in the second half of the book, after his other costume is shredded to bits in a fight with the Mutant leader. In the first half, he wears a much more traditional costume with blue gloves, boots and cowl, and a bright yellow belt and chest emblem.
  • Everyone knows Jason Todd as the second Robin was The Scrappy for being a carbon copy of Dick Grayson, and DC's attempts to differentiate him Post-Crisis only made him more hated, until everyone collectively voted to kill him off in the 1988 storyline A Death in the Family. It wasn't until he came back to life in the 2000s and became the villainous/super anti-heroic and edgy Red Hood did he start to get liked by our modern standard. In actuality, Jason Todd was pretty well-liked even as a clone, and his popularity did drop when he was made into a "bad boy" that would make him the Ur-Example of the '90s Anti-Hero (despite missing the '90s entirely), he was at worst a Base-Breaking Character. The difference between votes to have him live or die? 72, out of over 10,000 cast. But furthermore, it was later revealed that one caller programmed a computer to submit a large number of votes to get him to die. How many? Over 300. Which means that, not counting the rigged votes, the majority actually voted to spare Todd and it was only through tampering from one person did he die. While it's true that Jason Todd wasn't exactly Mr. Popularity at the time of his death, saying he was The Scrappy is an exaggeration, and his death would shape DC and the comic universe for many years to come as a defining moment in comics history.note 

    Superman 
  • While everyone thinks of Clark Kent changing into his Superman clothes in a Phone Booth, the truth is that he's hardly ever done so in the actual comics. He does, however, do so in the Superman Theatrical Cartoons, which, incidentally, was also where Superman first truly "flew" — prior to that, he could simply jump really, really high note  or really, really far.
  • As for Lois Lane, everyone thinks she's a Damsel in Distress, can not figure out Clark's secret, prefers the powers to the man, and would not survive their wedding night... Except not: she's the poster girl for Damsel out of Distress, as she's actually mastered martial arts and has been able to handle herself since very early on. She's known Superman's secret identity since 1993 (after actually suspecting it for years), and in numerous instances settled down nevertheless with a depowered Clark. Lois not only survived their wedding night in 1996 (and all the following) but also their son's birth.
  • And as for Supergirl, everyone thinks she is a squeaky-clean, weaker Superman with skirt who never had a recurring villain and dated her horse... Except not: she has a different personality (more impulsive, more short-tempered, more flawed), has always been established to be as powerful as her cousin, has her own Rogue's Gallery and didn't date her horse. Comet was a centaur-turned-into-horse. For a short time he got his human shape back and romanced Supergirl, who ignored that handsome rodeo star was Comet.
  • Everybody knows that Darkseid is Superman's other nemesis alongside Lex Luthor, serving as the Greater-Scope Villain of the Superman mythos. While this might be true now, it's a fairly recent development, and it started in the adaptations rather than the original comics. For most of his early history, Darkseid was the Big Bad of the Fourth World family of comics (of which New Gods is the most famous), which largely existed in their own corner of the DC Universe, and hardly ever featured established DC superheroes. Their connection to Superman was pretty tenuous: the spinoff series Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen was part of the Fourth World epic, but it only featured Darkseid as The Man Behind the Man for Intergang, and only his agents Simyan and Mokkari actually battled Superman and Jimmy. note  Superfriends was the first DC adaptation that portrayed Darkseid and the Apokoliptians as adversaries of Superman and his comrades, paving the way for Superman: The Animated Series, Smallville, and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, which did the same. Before that, Darkseid was always far more likely to clash with his son Orion than anyone else. note 
  • During The Golden Age of Comic Books, Superman was nowhere near as powerful as his Silver Age Superpower Lottery levels, right? Well... like with Batman above, he started that way, but after a couple years, he was blowing out stars and flying through time without a care.
  • And by a similar token, it's commonly said of the Silver Age Superman that he had New Powers as the Plot Demands, and that all he had to do was add "super" onto a given word and that was something he could do, while his Post-Crisis incarnation removed all of that and codified his powers while removing a bunch of others. In point of fact, Superman's powerset was pretty much set in stone by the mid-50s, and the only powers he really "lost" after the Crisis were hypnosis, ventriloquism, and altering his facial structure (Super Breath and high intelligence were initially removed, but came back), all of which had been shown pretty consistently. Powers like "super-weaving" were just him being flowery about saying "I will use my super speed to weave very fast." The closest thing to New Powers as the Plot Demands he had was using Hollywood Science to apply his powers - for instance, using Super Speed to "break the time barrier" or spin or vibrate objects - or various gadgets he'd invented with the aforementioned intelligence. In point of fact, the Silver Age Superman was more of a Science Hero than anything, and usually defeated his opponents with his intellect. The main change the Post-Crisis series made was limiting the scope of his power, attempting to restrict him to city-scale battles rather than cosmic-scale ones and focusing more on the straightforward physical aspects of his abilities - and even then, being Strong as They Need to Be, he often fought on a cosmic scale anyway (albeit a noticeably lower one).
  • It's commonly stated by fans authoritatively that "Clark Kent is the 'real' identity, not Superman." In point of fact, this is probably one of the biggest points of Depending on the Writer in Superman comics, and even in stories that do utilize the idea, he's still shown affecting a personality and planning out specific mannerisms as Clark Kent to some degree or another. It's less a fact and more an Alternate Character Interpretation.

    Teen Titans 
  • Fans have this perception that comic book Starfire is so much more violent than her more well-known Teen Titans cartoon counterpart. While she is more violent, so is pretty much everyone else. The show tones nearly everyone down as it's aimed at a younger audience. This idea has made many think of the comic version of Starfire as being an aggressive alien Ms. Fanservice woman when she's normally sweet. Starfire comes from a species of Proud Warrior Race aliens, however she's also quite emotional and loving. The only thing the cartoon did was make her act more like a teenage Foreign Exchange Student.
  • A common misconception is that Beast Boy can't speak when transformed, because that's how he was portrayed as in the animated series. However, in the comics he can speak while in animal form without any issue. The DC Universe Animated Original Movies also had him capable of speech to be in line with the comics.
  • While Roy Harper is commonly considered a classic Titan, he was not a founder like some people may think. Rather, he replaced Aqualad when the writers thought the latter was useless. Teen Titans: Year One didn't help as it presents Roy (and Donna) as being in the team from the start.
  • Terra is well-known for being a Broken Bird and a Tragic Villain who was manipulated by Deathstroke (or "Slade") into joining the Titans and striking close with Beast Boy (Changling in the comics at the time) before betraying them, but ultimately regretted it and redeemed herself in the end when she was turned to stone in the final battle against Slade. Like many misconceptions regarding the Teen Titans, this is strictly a product of the show. In the actual comics, Terra was a monster. Plain and simple. To give you an idea of her evilness: even Deathstroke was afraid of how evil she was. Terra was portrayed as an unrepentant sociopath and a sadist who gladly infiltrated the Titans and sold them out, played with their emotions (most of all being Garfield's), and practically every moment after The Reveal was a Kick the Dog for her. She died in the comics, but it wasn't a Heroic Sacrifice. Rather it was a failed homicide when she thought Deathstroke betrayed her (he didn't — Jericho possessed him into attacking her), and she was crushed under a pile of debris. While both the versions play it as tragic, it was played differently in the comic versus the show. In the show, it was played as Terra's tragedy. In the comics, it was strictly Garfield's tragedy and not hers. This has become so misconceived that even the animated movie Teen Titans: The Judas Contract, a Truer to the Text version of the storyline, still gave her the Adaptational Heroism treatment.
  • Thanks to the 2003 animated series, it's commonly thought that the "classic" lineup of the Teen Titans is Robin, Starfire, Cyborg, Raven, and Beast Boy. In reality, this lineup has never existed outside the animated series and it's Gag Series sequel. The actual original Teen Titans is from the '60s, and consisted of Robin, Kid Flash, Aqualad, and Wonder Girl note . While all of the aforementioned five have been members together at one point, and to be fair it was the most acclaimed run which the animated series took inspiration from, the comics have never had the roster consist of just them. In fact, there have been quite a few more members than one would expect, and multiple runs have had the Titans without any of these members. It's telling when the 2003 revival meant to capitalize on the show still didn't portray the lineup this way note . The primary reason for why those five made up the roster in the show was due to Adaptation Distillation; to avoid having too much to work with. It makes perfect sense, as it's not strictly a team as much has it's a full-blown organization with many members similar to the Justice League — in fact, it's often considered the organization young heroes join before the Justice League. This lineup has become so ingrained into the minds of the younger audience that later installments, such as Teen Titans: The Judas Contract and Teen Titans (Rebirth), would closely recreate it to attract fans of the show, but even then it wasn't a total replica. Also tellingly, the Titans (Rebirth) comic portrayed the lineup as a grown-up reunion of the most classic members, and it's not who some people might think. It was Nightwing, Donna Troy, Tempest, Flash (Wally West), Arsenal, and Omen, who were later joined by Bumblebee.

    Other 
  • The Flash:
    • Barry Allen snapped Professor Zoom's neck during his wedding to Fiona Webb, his second wife, not Iris West, who had died several years earlier. The confusion is somewhat understandable, because Zoom also disrupted Barry's first wedding day, albeit unsuccessfully.
    • As far as non-comic readers are concerned, the Flash is just the "guy who runs really fast". While not wrong, that doesn't even come close to describing the full scope of his abilities. Through speed, he can time travel, travel between dimensions, become intangible (and make other people or things intangible), become invisible, cure himself of detrimental conditions, increase or decrease the speed of other people and objects (including turning someone into, effectively, a living statue), create whirlwinds strong enough to lift others aloft (sometimes just by spinning his arms), extinguish fires, melt large amounts of snow and ice, fly, and power large machinery, among other things. Oh, and the best one? Infinite Mass Punch, which is exactly as powerful as it sounds and can KO anyone with a physical form — yes, even Superman. It's been debated if "the guy who runs really fast" is actually the most powerful superhero in DC.
  • Wonder Woman didn't wear a skirt in her first story (All-Star Comics #8), she actually wore a pair of culottes—a style popular among athletic young women in the 1940s that resembles a skirt, but is actually a pair of loose-fitting shorts. And even those quickly evolved into tight shorts that lost the "skirt" look entirely. Nevertheless, whenever a modern artist wants to evoke a "Golden Age Wonder Woman" look, she's almost invariably drawn wearing a skirt.
    • Another common misconception is that Wonder Woman was the first superheroine to debut in American comics, or at least the first superheroine in what would eventually become the DC Universe. While she was the first solo one, Shiera Saunders debuted as Hawkman's partner/helper/love interest in January 1940 before becoming Hawkgirl in July 1941, while Wondy herself didn't appear until October 1941.
  • Watchmen:
    • Not only is there no superhero team called "The Watchmen", the story isn't about a team of superheroes at all. The six characters in the core cast were part of a proposed team called the Crimebusters that never actually formed (they disbanded after just one introductory meeting), but they spend the bulk of the story as independent and/or retired superheroes who just happen to have some close personal relationships with each other. Rorschach and Nite Owl are the only main characters who ever teamed up to fight crime. The title is a reference to Who watches the watchmen?, a real-life quotation which became an in-universe graffiti meme after citizens became disillusioned with superheroes. The confusion is furthered by the movie, where the proposed group is named "The Watchmen."
    • Everybody knows that Watchmen takes place in a completely realistic universe—barring the presence of Doctor Manhattan—where the superheroes are treated exactly like people in real life trying to be superheroes. In fact, the story features quite a few Speculative Fiction elements (even aside from Doctor Manhattan) like psychics, genetically engineered hybrid creatures, a Cool Airship that defies gravity, and even a superhero from the 1940s with a fully functioning flight suit. Charles Atlas Superpower is also fully in effect: multiple characters successfully fight off dozens of enemies at a time with nothing more than training and exercise, and one character can catch bullets. The story makes it pretty clear that a real person could become a superhero with the right gadgets and training, but it also deconstructs the Black and White Morality associated with superhero stories, implying that nobody would want to.
  • The first appearances of some comic characters can count as this. For example, ask a Venom fan what comic he first fully appeared in and they'll say "Amazing Spider-Man #300." Which is false. He actually fully appeared on the last page of #299 note . Likewise, all X-Men fans know Gambit first appeared in "Uncanny X-Men #266." Although chronologically this is correct, his true first appearance actually was in "Uncanny X-Men Annual 14," which, though taking place after the story from #266, was also released a month before said comic came out.
  • Green Lantern:
    • "Green Lantern" isn't the name of a singular superhero, but a superhero name shared by several different characters over the course of the franchise's history. Green Lantern is also the name of the law enforcement agency that these characters work for.
    • Over the years, many non-fans of the franchise have gotten a good laugh from pointing out the apparent stupidity of a superhero having a Weaksauce Weakness to the color yellow, believing that yellow is GL's Kryptonite Factor. Actually, none of the Green Lanterns have been harmed by the color yellow, their power rings were just originally said to be ineffective against yellow objects (the same way that Superman's x-ray vision can't see through lead) because of an impurity within the Corps' power battery. That was retconned as a deliberate flaw meant to keep Green Lanterns from getting too full of themselves. note  And even that part was retconned out: in the current comics, the power ring's ineffectiveness against yellow is said to be a rookie weakness that more experienced Lanterns can overcome.
  • Everybody "knows" that the Incredible Hulk is a childish green-skinned ragehead who wears ripped shorts and has a three-year-old's grasp of English. While not wrong, this is actually just one of the Hulk's many incarnations (Savage Hulk). Depending on the occasion, he's also a scheming grey-skinned mobster who wears fine suits (his "Joe Fixit" persona), a brilliant scientist in a full-body spandex suit (his merged form, or "Professor Hulk"), a cunning Barbarian Hero who wears armor into battle (his "Green Scar" persona), or a smirking monster who rises from the grave to torment the wicked (Immortal/"Devil" Hulk). One of his earlier incarnations was dumb, but not child-like, nor monosyllabic (and didn't even refer to himself in the third person), but was about on-par, intelligence-wise, as a drunk, angry stevedore. As Bruce Banner has Multiple Personality Disordernote , there is no singular "The Hulk"—they're all just aspects of his personality.
    • Also it's commonly said that The Hulk was originally gray, but a printing error made him be green in his first issue. While it's true that he was intended to be gray, and that there were printing issues, they didn't make him appear green. They actually made him appear wildly varying shades of gray due to it being a difficult color to print at the time, resulting in the Hulk being a different color in every panel. Stan Lee eventually decided on green for The Incredible Hulk #2 which was easier to print consistently note .
  • Iron Man's best friend is James Rhodes, and his love interest is Pepper Potts, right? Sort of true. When Iron Man first got a supporting cast (Tales of Suspense #45), Pepper was his love interest, whilst his best friend was his chauffeur/bodyguard, Happy Hogan. There was a love triangle between the three for years before Happy and Pepper eventually got married and moved away. By the time Rhodey entered the scene, Tony had dated many other women, notably Madame Masque and Bethany Cabe. Whilst Happy died during Civil War, and it is certainly true that Rhodey and Pepper are Tony's two most prominent supporting characters, Pepper still hasn't been a romantic interest of Tony's for years - in fact, a plot point in Kieron Gillen's run hinged on the fact that she got engaged. Like many examples here, this perception is largely due to the movies, which had Pepper as the primary love interest and Rhodey as Tony's best friend from the beginning, with Happy taking on a much smaller role.
  • A general misconception by the public is that any comic with a #1 on the cover is worth a lot of money. Whilst it's true for some issues - Action Comics #1, Fantastic Four #1 - the more important thing to collectors is which character(s) debuted in that issue, leading to things like Detective Comics #27 and Amazing Fantasy #15 being amongst some of the most valuable comics. This was a belief encouraged by comic companies in the 90's, where some comic collectors were making big money on classic issues. This resulted in everything having a "special limited edition" with Feelies thrown in or having various #1 issues proclaim them a "collector's item" to drive up demand (and thus the price) to a gullible public who believed that comics were the next gold rush. note  Most of them aren't even worth the cover price today.
    • One thing that is true about #1s is that they tend to be the highest-selling issue of a comic. Part of it is the above belief, while the other part is the simple idea that a #1 is where a new reader can get started. Because of this, stores tend to order the #1 issues the most, since any reader looking to pick up a run of comics or find a new series is obviously going to value the first issue over the twentieth. (Publishers have been known to try to exploit this by relaunching a book to give it more #1s - Captain Marvel received a total of four #1s over the course of about five years.)
  • Archie Comics:
    • Non-fans of Archie Comics often assume Betty and Veronica are enemies because they both love Archie. They've actually (usually) been very good friends for decades. They simply like the same boy.
    • Jughead being Ambiguously Gay due to his He-Man Woman Hater shtick. Jughead's disdain for woman was supposed to be a sign of his immaturity and was more in the vain of Girls Have Cooties than anything. It's also been watered down since the 1960s to the point where he usually doesn't even dislike girls anymore, but instead just is a Celibate Hero more interested in food than romance. Jughead has been depicted as being attracted to girls, but he's not than into dating. Jughead was later canonized as asexual in the Archie Comics (2015) reboot, but that only applies to that continuity thus far.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles:
    • Everybody knows that the turtles wear color-coded headbands so that the audience can tell them apart, with Leonardo wearing blue, Raphael wearing red, Donatello wearing purple, and Michelangelo wearing orange. While that might be true of the cartoons and the live-action films, it most definitely isn't the case in the original comic book that started it all. In that series, they all wore matching red headbands and wristbands, and only their differing signature weapons let the audience keep them separate from each other. And it would be pretty damn odd if the artists gave them color-coded accessories in that series, considering it was in black and white. As a reference to this, the IDW series had them originally wearing identical red headbands before being given individual colours by Splinter.
    • Everybody knows that Hamato Yoshi (Splinter) and Oroku Saki (The Shredder) are lifelong rivals and enemies continuing a blood feud from Japan on the streets of New York City. Once again: this is true in the movies and the cartoons, but not in the original comics. In the comics, Yoshi's rivalry was actually with Saki's older brother Oroku Nagi, who fell in love with Yoshi's beloved Tang Shen and tried to kill her when she chose Yoshi. Saki was only seven years old when Yoshi killed Nagi to protect Shen, and he didn't get a chance to avenge his brother until he was an adult; Yoshi had almost no interaction with him before that. For simplicity's sake, though, many adaptations combine Saki's role with that of his brother. To date, Nagi has never appeared outside of the Mirage comics.
    • Krang is often confused for being part of the Utrom race (the aliens responsible for the mutagen that turned the TMNT into what they are now) mainly because he bares a strong resemblance to them (he was inspired by them visually, which explains it). However, he has little else in common. Krang is an interdimensional being, not strictly an alien, and lost his original body rather than having it from the start. The Utrom race originated in the comics, while Krang wasn't made until the animated series. Because of this, for the sake of simplicity, Krang is made into a proper Utrom in various adaptations, but that is not the case in the comics. The IDW version splits the difference, being a Utrom and a resident of Dimension X.
  • A long standing Running Gag of the internet is reminding people that DC Comics once had a superhero called Arm-Fall-Off-Boy, who had the power to pop his arm out of its socket and wield it like a club, usually to either mock or wax nostalgically on how comics used to be silly stuff. Thing is, while the character existed, he was not actually a hero. He was an applicant for the Legion Of Superheroes, and needless to say they didn't hire him. He didn't even make the cut for the Substitute Legion, a sub-team made explicitely for characters with lame or unstable powers. He was already a Joke Character from the beginning. Oh, and he wasn't even from the Silver Age, either; he was from the Legion's first Post-Crisis reboot in 1989, where the writers were a lot more willing to do meta-humor like this (though if you really want to split hairs, he technically debuted as an in-joke among some Legion fanzines of the '70s, becoming an Ascended Meme about a decade later).
  • Many non-comic fans believe that comic books in general adhere strictly to Status Quo Is God, that any change will be reset instantly and nothing has any real impact. The reality is that things do change in the comics continuity, and while things reset they're aren't often as instant as one would think. Examples:
    • The Robin that everyone knows is Dick Grayson, who has been Nightwing since 1984 and unlike other examples of the Legacy Character, he has never returned to being Robin. This is why he is never considered the main Robin, just the first.
    • Batgirl is Barbara Gordon. Except she wasn't for 23 years after The Joker paralyzed her, and she became the non-combat support Oracle (a rare instance where she was not portrayed as being Inspirationally Disadvantaged because of it). In the meantime, there were two different Batgirls: Cassandra Cain and Stephanie Brown. It's only after the New 52 relaunch did Barbara reassume the title of Batgirl, but that wasn't until 2011.
    • The Flash that kicked off the Silver Age was Barry Allen, who made the Heroic Sacrifice in 1986's Crisis on Infinite Earths and stayed dead until 2009. During that time, his successor Wally West was the Flash that an entire comic book generation knew and grew up with.
    • On the Marvel side, the entire Ultimate Marvel universe was killed off (with the exception of Miles Morales and much of his supporting cast) in 2015.
    • People assume that Spider-Man is a Kid Hero who will never grow up or finish school. This hasn't been the case since the '60s, and he's gone through many arcs (the most notable being Gwen Stacy, who died and stayed dead) until this point. His last confirmed canonical age is 28, as of 2014.
  • The Runaways are commonly thought to be Marvel's premier young superhero team (alongside the Young Avengers, who fit the bill much more closely). In reality, they're not superheroes. At least they don't think of themselves nor are they treated this way. They're literally a group of teenage runaways who left once they learned their parents were an evil organization known as the Pride. Sure, they have unique powers, tech, and they fight crime, but they also eschew the tropes normally associated with superheroes. They don't have costumes, they don't use codenames (they did attempt to adopt them, but it didn't stick), they aren't considered a true superhero team by other characters in the Marvel Universe (in fact, the Runaways were actually neutral during the Civil War event despite the Young Avengers attempting to recruit them to the Anti-Reg side), and they fully mock the idea of being a superhero team. The closest any member has gotten to being a traditional superhero was Nico Minoru, who served in the (short-lived) Amazon Brigade Avengers sub-division A-Force when the team was disbanded for a time. Finally, they do not call themselves "the Runaways", and originally that wasn't their name at all (they had no name), but the name of the story. It eventually became their official team name, but they never actually call themselves that.
  • It's commonly assumed by the general non-comic audiences that anyone who has superpowers will become a superhero/villain in a superhero world. The reality is that we mostly see the ones who do, but there are plenty of superpowered characters in Marvel/DC who simply live normal lives, much like how not everyone in the real world becomes a cop or a soldier. An example of this that was explored was in Marvel's Civil War Crisis Crossover, where the congress passes a Super Registration Act that causes the titular event, and part of that act involves drafting superhumans to the government to become a civil servant, regardless if they want to or not. A specific example of this shown was when a mutate named Abigail Boylen, or Cloud 9, who has the ability to fly but had no desire to be a hero, and was stopped by War Machine for not registering. Though she later became a superhero during Avengers: The Initiative, after Iron Man won the civil war. Another example is that the vast majority of mutants at Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters don't become X-Men, they just go there to be in a safe place away from persecution.
  • The Civil War event is often believed to be about the titular war over the Super Registration Act forcing superheroes to reveal their secret identities to all the public. Unfortunately, this isn't quite true. The titular war was actually about the act forcing superheroes and superhumans, whether they want to or not, to be agents of the government. It essentially meant conscripting superhumans with no desire to put their lives at risk, including teenagers, to be soldiers, which was seen by Captain America and his companions as unconstitutional and was likened to slavery. The act also turned people who risked their lives on a regular basis into criminals just because they didn't want to subject themselves to a government official's agenda. The part about revealing their identities wasn't to the public, but to the government, and there was no obligation for them to be publicly known. The confusion likely stems from Spider-Man publicly revealing his identity to the world in this event (which spread all over the internet like wildfire at the time), but that wasn't because of the law; rather it was a gesture of support to Tony Stark (ie a publicity stunt).
  • Red Skull:
    • Johann Schmidt was not the original Red Skull—just the best-known. He was the second one; the original was a man named John Maxon, who barely anyone remembers. Even though the Red Skull is the archetypal Nazi supervillain, Maxon was—ironically enough—an evil American businessman with Nazi sympathies.
    • Even though he's always been Captain America's arch-nemesis, Johann Schmidt wasn't the one responsible for shooting Cap down over the Arctic Ocean and leaving him a Human Popsicle; that was Baron Zemo, who isn't quite as iconicnote . Because of this, many adaptations simply have Red Skull be responsible for Cap being frozen instead.
    • Finally, Red Skull was not the founder of HYDRA. That was Baron Strucker, who likewise is far more obscure than Schmidt. Because of this, Schmidt is portrayed as the founder in the Marvel Cinematic Universe for simplicity's sake.
  • Black Canary:
    • She's named after her superpower. Except, she's not. The original Black Canary was a Badass Normal without her daughter's supersonic scream for the first several decades of her existence. The scream didn't appear until over 30 years after the character debuted.
    • As a Ms. Fanservice superhero, she's often imagined as wearing Combat Stilettos to round out the set (even providing the trope picture!). While some alternate versions of her are portrayed with heels, she generally sticks to practical flat boots or shoes even when played at her most sexy, which is admittedly unusual for Ms. Fanservice superheroes but is true for her.
    • Black Canary is the "Blonde Bombshell" so many mistake her for a natural blonde. She actually has naturally black hair. Prior to the early 1990s, she wore a blonde wig while Clark Kenting. Afterwards, she dyed/bleached her hair blonde. There was a brief retcon in the New 52 that depicted her as a natural blonde, but that was later retconned itself when an issue showed her bleaching her roots.
  • Aquaman:
    • Everybody knows that Aquaman is the laughingstock of the DC Universe who's only kept around out of tradition, and that he's a useless wimp whose only powers are breathing underwater and "talking to fish". In reality, not so much. Even setting aside the fact that his powers are not as useless as they're often depictednote , his reputation as a "laughingstock" is a pretty recent phenomenon that likely owes itself to the internet age. In fact, Aquaman has consistently been one of DC's most popular superheroes for most of his history. Case in point: he was one of just a handful of characters to survive the decline in the popularity of superhero comics after World War II, and was one of the few who stayed consistently in publication from the Golden Age to the Silver Age without ever being drastically reimagined or cancelled outright. For perspective, other characters with that distinction include Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman. (Admittedly, this may have had more to do with him being primarily a backup character in Adventure Comics rather than holding down a book in his own right; he wasn't featured on a cover until 1960.)
    • Also, he does not "talk to fish"; He telepathically controls them using his mind, as fish on their own aren't intelligent enough to "talk". This has been pointed out in the comics many times.
  • Thanos is often described as an Expy/Captain Ersatz of Darkseid. This is only sort of true at best; Jim Starlin took some inspiration from Jack Kirby's design for Darkseid while designing Thanos’s look (at the suggestion of an editor no less), but that’s pretty much the extent of any similarities. They appeared in more or less the same timeframe (Darkseid in 1971, Thanos in 1973) and they’ve never really had much in common; their motives, personalities, and general roles are all wildly different. Even weirder are those who believe the inverse, that Darkseid is an Expy of Thanos, which is just bizarre given that Darkseid came first. Thanos was actually an Expy primarily of Metron in his early days (their outfits are a bit similar, they're Wild Cards, they're The Chessmaster, and they both fly around space in a techno-throne), which was exactly why said editor made the recommendation of "If you're going to rip off New Gods, at least rip off the really cool one."
  • On a similar note, Nova is often thought of as an Expy to Green Lantern. In reality, the only thing the two have in common is that they're both part of a Space Police organization, but otherwise their backstories, personalities, and powers are completely different; Green Lantern being an adult Ace Pilot who uses a special ring to construct whatever he needs, while Nova joined as an inexperienced teenager with a Flying Brick power set. In fact, Nova for a long time was a Butt-Monkey and used as the poster boy for brash, naive rookies trying to get in with the big leagues but often getting in the way and it wasn't until the Annihilation event in the '00s where he Took a Level in Badass, which is a far cry from Green Lantern's portrayal as a hotshot who nonetheless had the skill to justify his behavior.
  • It's commonly thought that America Chavez's Catch-Phrase is "Holy menstruation!". Cringeworthy as it is, America only ever said the phrase once, in the first issue of her widely-panned solo series that did a number on her character, making it a massive case of Never Live It Down. Though saying a phrase like that is certainly an example of bad writing, it was from a writer who had no prior experience with comics, and her only saying it once and never again doesn't exactly make it her catch phrase by any stretch.
  • Hellboy is often said to be the world's most popular superhero who isn't from Marvel Comics or DC Comics. In reality, this is pretty debatable. While his series is quite popular among superhero fans, Dark Horse Comics classifies the series as "Horror", and Hellboy doesn't consider himself a superhero. Officially, he's just a government agent who happens to be a demon. He doesn't wear a costume, and "Hellboy" isn't a codename—it's the only name that he has, and he got it when he was just a baby, since the soldiers who found him in the 1940s didn't know his real name. note 
  • Everybody knows that Jack Kirby exclusively wrote and drew for Marvel Comics until the 1970s, when his infamous falling-out with Stan Lee drove him to DC Comics. In fact, Kirby's association with DC went back many years, and was quite a bit Older Than They Think; he was working for the company as far back as the 1940s, and he drew several issues of The Sandman, Green Arrow, Boy Commandos, House of Secrets and House of Mystery long before his split with Marvel. Notably, he and Joe Simon also created the minor DC heroes Guardian and the Newsboy Legion shortly after they created Captain America; both of them still sporadically show up as supporting characters to this day.
  • Stan Lee:
    • There's a misconception that Stan only ever wrote for Marvel. Actually, like with just about any comic book writer, he's wrote for multiple companies — and that includes DC. Famously, we wrote the Just Imagine... Stan Lee Creating the DC Universe series, where he reinterpreted the DC heroes. But he also wrote the #1 issue of Detective Comics Presents: Superman in 2004. The most oddball thing he made was Heroman, a legit shonen manga that was made for Japanese audiences... and got an anime adaptation. Also, when looked at outside of comics, he wrote the adult animated comedy Stripperella, which is every bit as risque as it sounds.
    • Stan Lee also wasn't the one who founded Marvel. He was the most famous driving force, and is responsible for what Marvel would become today, but he didn't start the company — it was pulp writer Martin Goodman, who isn't nearly as well-known. Back then, it was actually founded under a different name, Timely Comics.
  • Loki is thought of as the ultimate Squishy Wizard villain, a trickster who prefers deception and magic over direct combat. The latter part is true, but he is not squishy and can very much fight if needed — Loki has a casual lifting strength of 50 tons, making him a great deal stronger than many of the heroes and villains of the Marvel Universe, and has proven that on multiple occasions. He once leveled a giant building with a single punch, for example. He just seems that way because he's the adopted brother of none other than The Mighty Thor.
  • Doctor Doom:
    • Thanks to Adaptation Decay, with the Four never properly being adapted in the first place, Doctor Doom in the movies is presented as someone who has superpowers, originating from the same accident that powered his nemesis team, the Fantastic Four for the sake of Adaptation Distillation and simplifying the story (following on from Ultimate Fantastic Four which was a movie-friendly distillation to start with). In actual fact, Doom's origins have little to do with the team — he did attend college with Reed Richards before his rise to dictator of Latveria, and that's where his hatred of Reed began, but much of Doom's story happened separately before menacing the family. Doom was born as an oppressed Romani peasant in the fictional Latveria, before toppling a corrupt dictator and becoming a dictator himself, albeit not a personally corrupt one but still quite tyrannical and authoritarian. As for his powers, Dr. Doom is not personally superhuman. He is primarily a brilliant scientist and genius, who is also a political, legal, military and criminal mastermind, a powerful sorcerer who blends magic with science through the use of Magitek, wearing armor that can stand up to Physical Gods and wielding enough power to take out some of Marvel's biggest heavy-hitters.
    • Dr. Doom is also seen as a Fantastic Four villain, in no small part to the fact that every movie had him as the antagonist. While he debuted as their nemesis and is still essentially an enemy of the Four, with Reed Richards remaining his Arch-Enemy (and their rivalry in comics often likened to that of Batman—Joker and Luthor—Superman), Doom is equally prominent and important as a general Marvel Universe Big Bad as a whole. His versatile skillset in magic/politics/science/military means that he's menaced the Avengers, Iron Man, the X-Men, Doctor Strange, Spider-Man and Black Panther (being a fellow tech-magnate ruler of a nation who also originated in the pages of Fantastic Four before spinning out, they actually have been known as "frenemies").
    • Dr. Doom is so multifaceted and unique as a character that a number of comics fans, and some comics-literate film-makers and actors (such as Nicolas Cage) have noted that Dr. Doom's origins could field a movie of its own, as well as many other stories centered around him that could easily be its own sub-franchise.
  • Black Panther: Shuri is almost always imagined as being a Gadgeteer Genius who invents her brother's tech, thanks to the massively successful Black Panther movie portraying it this way. In the comics, it's a bit different. T'Challa is The Chessmaster, and the Gadgeteer Genius himself, being a master inventor who creates his own gadgets, considered one of the eight smartest people in the world (the others being Reed Richards, Bruce Banner, Tony Stark, Hank Pym, Victor Von Doom, Hank McCoy and Amadeus Cho). He's essentially the smartest guy in the room in most cases, but isn't typically imagined that way by non-comic audiences. The movies made him into an Adaptational Dumbass, losing his inventor status while giving it to Shuri, and instead focusing on his political aspects, done to make the cast more well-rounded. Shuri in the comics is a genius, but is more into sorcery than technology. Because the heavy magic might've seemed a little too much to introduce in an already jam-packed movie, it was downplayed in favor of this. Also, Shuri as a whole is Newer Than They Think, as she didn't debut until 2005, a full 39 years after her brother. This makes what a lot of people imagine what they like about Shuri and Black Panther as being more a product of the movie, rather than the actual comics.
  • Everyone knows Power Pack is a kid-friendly, wacky and lighthearted series starring Kid Heroes who go on fun hijinx and like many superhero stories starring kids were basically harmless, as part of Marvel's attempt to appeal to the young demographic as they would with comics like Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur and Champions many years later... except, that's not true at all. While the heroes were kids, the comic played its superhero premise entirely straight, and included as many dark themes as fellow heroes Spider-Man, X-Men and Daredevil. They've taken part in crossovers like Secret Wars II, Fall of the Mutants, Inferno and the aforementioned Mutant Massacre, and none of them were kid-friendly. With such kiddie themes like child abuse, guns in school, bullying, and genocide, it was major Audience-Alienating Premise despite being well-received by just about all those who did read it, amounting to it being a Cult Classic to this day. Still, because it stars four children as protagonists, it's assumed it must be for kids, hence it's often suggested by those unfamiliar with it for Disney to adapt it into an animated series or movie similar to Big Hero 6 to appease young audiences as if it were the kid-friendly fare it gets mistaken for.
  • The Defenders is often thought to be an alliance between The Incredible Hulk, Doctor Strange, Silver Surfer and Namor the Sub-Mariner, and anyone's image of that team will be these four (at least, when it's not the In Name Only Netflix series). While not technically wrong, this iteration is actually much Briefer Than They Think. As in, every iteration featuring this lineup only lasts a few issues. For the most part, the two most consistent members were Strange and Hulk, while the team itself is more of a loose alliance of individuals fighting otherworldly threats, who more often can't stand each other and are only working together out of necessity. Also, the team has had a High Turnover Rate to rival The Avengers, with just about every hero and even some villains having held "membership" at some point.


Advertisement:
Top

Example of:

/

Feedback