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YMMV / The Ultimates

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  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • Is Red Skull lying about wanting a better life? Is he just trying to screw with Fury? Is he deluding himself? Is he just trying to justify his actions?
    • Given that this version of Captain America has the same origin as his 616 counterpartnote , one has to wonder if his abrasive personality and Jerkass tendencies is a case of the bullied becoming The Bully. Especially with his treatment of Abdul al-Rahman, who went on to be the Colonel, Iran's answer to Captain America.
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  • And You Thought It Would Fail: To say that Marvel had absolutely no faith in an Ultimate Universe reimagining of the Avengers is an understatement, as they wouldn't even allow Mark Millar to actually call the team "Avengers", and only green-lit the comic because Millar was that adamant about writing it (Marvel would have preferred a spin-off of Ultimate X-Men centered on Wolverine, but Millar prevailed). Ultimates was a smash hit, and this, followed by Bendis' relaunch of the Avengers and the Civil War Crisis Crossover (with the Avengers as lead characters), greatly boosted the team's popularity after decades of playing second fiddle to Spider-Man and the X-Men. And then the Marvel Cinematic Universe (which took a lot of inspiration from The Ultimates) catapulted the Avengers into even higher levels of popular recognition beyond the comic book niche market.
  • Ass Pull
    • Tony's brain tumor was actually an Infinity Gem. How that makes sense is anyone's guess.
    • Pym attacked Jan with ants, almost killed her, and ran away. Next issue, paramedics take her to the hospital and Captain America decides to avenge her. But how do we know that it was Pym? Oh, the neighbors can hear them discussing at home. How could the paramedics grow her back to regular size? They didn't need to: she was in a coma, but she managed to grow up when they arrived (and let's not think about that big desk she had inside). And what were the paramedics doing in there to begin with? Called by the neighbors, perhaps?
  • Author's Saving Throw: When first introduced by Millar, Thor speaks with normal English. The reviled Ultimates 3 had him speaking in Flowery Elizabethan English, like the mainstream version of the character. In a later point, Tony promises him that he would donate a huge sum of money to some charity if he goes back to speaking like a normal person, as he knows he can do.
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  • Awesome Art: Bryan Hitch's knack for realism and talent for "widescreen" panels make the reader feel like they're watching a big budget action movie on in a comic book. Coupled with Mark Millar's gritty and cynical deconstruction style of writing, is it any wonder the first two volumes are so fondly remembered?
  • Base-Breaking Character: Ultimate Captain America. Is he a more realistic portrayal of what would happen if someone like him woke up several decades into the future to a technologically advanced but far more crass and vulgar society, or an overly jingoistic joke of a beloved character? His infamous "You think this letter on my head stands for France!?" line he gives to Herr Kleiser certainly didn't help matters.
  • Captain Obvious Reveal: Black Panther was actually Cap the whole time? It'd probably be a bit more shocking if it hadn't been so blatantly telegraphed from the outset.
  • Catharsis Factor
    • After all the destruction that Banner unleashes in New York by turning himself into Hulk, it's a relief to see that Captain America, who seemed to be about to have him be Easily Forgiven, was just getting close to give him a well deserved kick in the face.
    • Also, after all he did to poor Jan, it was another relief to see Captain America beat the crap out of Pym (even regardless of his giant size).
  • Character Rerailment: Ultimates 3 changed Hawkeye's suit and turned him into a Death Seeker. He was reverted to the original design and characterization in Ultimate Hawkeye.
  • Complete Monster:
    • 2002 (original) series: The Chitauri general known as "Herr Kleiser" is an alien who seeks the enslavement or destruction of humankind. Having worked with the Nazis during World War II, fully endorsing their concentration camps and war crimes and even trying to work with them in bombing London to oblivion, Kleiser goes into hiding only to return decades later, wiping out tens of thousands of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents to eliminate opposition. After attempting to poison the water supplies of the world and dumb down humanity, Kleiser is given the order by his Chitauri superiors to destroy Earth, and happily prepares to activate a bomb to wipe out the entire solar system Earth resides in, remarking it's only a shame because he wanted time to molest and murder Janet van Dyne. Though only one member of the Chitauri, Kleiser is shown to be the absolute worst his race has to offer.
    • Second Annual: Armin Zola is just as twisted as his Earth-616 counterpart. A scientist working for the Nazis in World War II, Zola experiments on concentration camp inmates, in order to create Super Soldiers for the Third Reich. Zola's experiments usually result in death, with the grounds of his castle littered with mutilated corpses, some corpses even stuck on pikes, and the castle acts as a de facto camp with more inmates imprisoned so Zola can experiment on them later. Captain America confronts Zola and defeats him, with Captain America thinking him dead; the US government saves Zola's life, so he can make weapons for them. Zola eventually dies, but the US government uses his brainwaves to create an AI so that Zola can continue to make weapons for them. One day a white supremacist named Thomas Jenks, leader of a gang called the Marauders, attacks the facility holding the Zola AI, freeing it, thinking Zola will help his cause. Zola repays Jenks by turning him into a 12-foot mindless hulking monster called ''SeigSoldat-X'' and using his body to host Zola's AI program. Zola has the Marauders kidnap minorities across the US, so he can experiment on them, resulting in several more gruesome murders.
  • Designated Hero: This is the main reason why many don't like the Ultimates. Most of their conflicts (with the exception of the Chitauri) in the Ultimate Comics are basically internecine civil wars, glorified bar brawls, Fury's byzantine scheming, where they more or less fight villains they made themselves none of which adds to any sense of them being heroes:
    • For instance, the Ultimates' first adventure is when they fight the Hulk, one of their own initial recruits after he goes Yandere on his girlfriend and massacres hundreds of civilians, an incident hastened by the belittling and insults directed at him by his own team-mates. This incident is covered up by SHIELD with Fury and others playing this off as the Ultimates first major triumph, while they more or less hide the Hulk out of public eye and treat him like a secret WMD.
    • The Liberators arc is triggered by the Ultimates openly fighting American wars overseas starting a superhuman arms race with many of their enemies from other countries victims of their aggression, and one of the Liberators is Hank Pym, a mentally unstable "hero" turned American traitor whose defection was inspired in part by the abuse and insults given to him by his Jerkass teammates (of course, being a Jerkass himself doesn't make him entirely squeaky clean here).
  • Dork Age: Ultimates 3 was widely derided for its inconsistent characterization and convoluted plot. And being a miniseries that sets up the unliked Ultimatum does not help.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Fans and critics alike praised Reed Richards' descent into villainy, when he became The Maker, to the point that he became a Canon Immigrant to the 616 earth after Secret Wars (2015).
  • Even Better Sequel: The first series is generally considered great, but Ultimates II is considered better by many for its more complex story, stronger action scenes, and more charismatic villains.
  • Everyone Is Satan in Hell
    • When Captain America wakes up in the hospital, general Nick Fury told him that he had been out for 57 years. He goes mad and starts attacking everyone, thinking that he's still in WWII and he's inside a nazi trap trying to manipulate him. He told Fury "Sorry, Fritz. The accent's flawless, but you really should have done your homework. The highest-ranking black man in the US army is a Brooklyn-born Captain I grew up with". This is sometimes cited as a proof of Ultimate Captain America being racist. Actually, that's just a superficial reading. He is correct that in the 1940s US there was a higher discrimination against black people, and the idea of a black general leading an organization such as SHIELD, mundane in 2001, would have been unconceivable back in the day (the civil rights movements that led to their current public acceptance wouldn't take place until a pair of decades later). Cap is clearly not actively endorsing that racism, but just mentioning it as proof that he found "A Glitch in the Matrix" in the nazi deception that he thought he was caught. It is worth noting that he worked for years under Fury since things were clarified a pair of scenes later, and never voiced any racist comment towards him.
    • When Herr Kleiser suggested Captain America to surrender and ask for a Mercy Kill, he got an Heroic Second Wind and asked "You think this letter on my head stands for France?". Some people found it out of character for Captain America, as there was a French resistance to the Nazi occupation (even the trope namers of La Résistance), and someone like Captain America would have likely fought alongside them. However, not all of France was in the resistance. There was a Vichy France as well, with people that embraced the Nazi occupation (even the trope namers of Les Collaborateurs), and someone like Captain America would have likely fought against them. And the mention to the French "surrender" is not wrong: the French Third Republic surrendered to Nazi Germany in a formal ceremony on June 22, 1940 at Compiegne. Lacking further information about Ultimate Captain America's history with the French (which was never explored in further detail), the idea of him resenting them is as plausible as the one of him praising them.
  • Franchise Original Sin: Jeph Loeb's run started the downfall of the Ultimate line, but even the early stuff by Mark Millar has started to be criticized for the same reasons the later stuff has been, including making the protagonists into very dark antiheroes, and his characterizations of the Hulk being a cannibal and Hank Pym an unrepentant abusive husband.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: After the third volume, Quicksilver questioning Wanda if she was flirting with one of Hank Pym's robots turned from just a little Mythology Gag regarding her relationship with Vision into this for two reasons: the first being that the robot fell in love with her, resulting in it becoming Ultimate Ultron and murdering her, alongside the realization that that comment might have been Quicksilver being jealous.
  • Genius Bonus: The "Son of Star Wars" that Nick Fury mentioned in the first miniseries is a missile defense program, proposed during the presidency of Ronald Reagan, for space-based weapons to shoot down intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). It has no relation to the Star Wars franchise, other than the popular name it got.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • In The Ultimates 3, the Blob says to Wasp "[He's] going to eat [her] up." Come Ultimatum, he makes good on this.
    • In the first series, we find out that Hawkeye calls his wife and kids before every mission, just in case it's his last one. He thinks that, with his line of work, he may die any day. But in the second miniseries, it is them who are killed.
  • Heartwarming in Hindsight: During the funeral for the people killed by Hulk, we can see an elder woman being hugged by a blonde teenager. This was from before Gwen Stacy moved to live with the Parkers in Ultimate Spider-Man and became close with Aunt May (specially after Peter's death, that left them alone). If this story was made a bit later in the setting's history, those two could have been them.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Nick Fury gives us this little gem: "This nose has been smashed more often than Robert Downey Jr."
    • While on the subject, when the Ultimates and Fury are sitting around discussing who would play them in a potential movie adaptation of their exploits, Nick Fury is quick to say that he would want to have none other than Samuel L. Jackson cast as him and only him with no exceptions. Six years later, who else but the most famous most baddest of mofos would approach Tony Stark (played by RDJ) to discuss the Avenger Initiative? Though of course, Fury was already drawn to resemble Jackson on the condition that he could play Fury in movies.
    • Ultimate Hawkeye is a violent sociopath with the ability to turn any thrown object into a deadly weapon, making him an Expy of Daredevil antagonist Bullseye. Years later during Dark Reign, Norman Osborn has several villains take on the identities of the Avengers; guess who Bullseye disguises himself as?
    • A minor example, but the introduction for the hardcover collection of the first series happens to be written by Joss Whedon.
    • According to Mark Millar, Marvel considered the Avengers so much of a Franchise Zombie that they did not want to have an Ultimate version of it, and when they finally accepted, they asked that the team was renamed. Yes, the same Avengers that became a worldwide film juggernaut by, partially, adapting Millar's take on them. However, other accounts suggest the renaming was to placate Kurt Busiek, who was writing for The Avengers at the time.
    • The Ultimates fight a highly destructive battle against Hulk in the city. The SHIELD tapes of the battle are sold to the public and became a real hit, more than fifteen million copies of the DVD. Some years later, a film based on the Ultimates, The Avengers (2012) becomes a real-world hit. And, according to disaster experts, the disaster seen in the climax would have costed $160 billion to fix if it took place in real life (topping even 9/11, Hurricane Katrina and the Japanese tsunami). And both works destroy Grand Central Station: in the Ultimates Iron Man smashes Hulk into it, in the Avengers a starship crashes on it.
  • Jerkass Woobie: A lot in this series since even the heroes are hardly the nicest people.
    • Captain America has a big chip on his shoulder and very dated views but we're frequently shown that deep down, he is a good guy lost in a world that doesn't make sense to him. Immediately after being unfrozen, he learns his girlfriend moved on, he has outlived at least one of his brother's children, and almost everyone he knew from before is dead.
    • Iron Man is even more arrogant and sleazy than his mainstream counterpart. He's fallen into alcoholism due to the constant pain of an inoperable tumor.
    • Bruce Banner after becoming a villain. It comes after a lot of getting pushed around.
    • Hawkeye's a Psycho for Hire and a Jerkass but he was a genuinely loving family man. After their deaths, he's not so secretly suicidal.
    • Quicksilver is an incestuous murderer and an unapologetic terrorist but considering he was abandoned by his mother at a young age and left to be raised by an abusive monster of a father, it's almost lucky he isn't worse.
    • The Colonel was once like Steve Rogers—an ordinary if scrawny teenager from an impoverished background. Then his home country gets invaded by super soldiers working for a foreign power, and he's talked into joining his country's own super-soldier program. While he leads an invasion of America, he is the least evil of the Liberators, and out of all of them, is treated the most sympathetically when he dies.
    • Red Wasp is a former terrorist, who has some truly horrific baggage, and it's all but outright stated she's being forced into performing wet-work for the U.S. government when she first appears.
    • Red Skull of all people is revealed to be one. In this series, he's not just a Monster, he's the ultimate walking talking Moral Event Horizon. But what was his goal? He wanted to go back in time and save his father from being frozen so that he could marry his mother and they could all be a family because he utterly hated his life as a Tyke Bomb. It doesn't help that his final scene is saying goodbye to his mother before reflecting on his complete mess of a life and how all he wanted was a happy ending to it all before being executed by Red Wasp. But then again, despite having his goal in hand, he still decided to use it to be a sadistic dick to the Avengers some more instead of immediately using it to make it so his actions never happened.
  • Misaimed Fandom: Millar used the story to advance his anti-war ideas, but some people simply took note that Captain America as a conservative "Good Is Not Soft" hero was so cool... Millar explains it best: "People would say, "I joined the army after reading The Ultimates because I wanted to make a difference in the Middle East," and I was like, "Well, I kinda meant the opposite of that! And I kinda like that, though, because I do quite like it being open to interpretation."
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • Black Widow arranging for the deaths of Hawkeye's family.
    • For Hank Pym, there his attempt to kill the Wasp after the two have an argument, including spraying her with bug spray and siccing ants on her after she shrunk.
    • For Ultimate Reed Richards, if orchestrating the city consuming Germany was not be enough, then assassinating the president by blowing up Washington D.C. definitely counts.
    • The Red Skull, like his mainstream counterpart has plenty, but one of his worst is threatening to kill the child of the woman who's become Swarm/Red Wasp if she didn't kill her husband—only to kill the baby, anyway, and have have her gang-raped.
  • Narm:
    • From Ultimate Avengers: "I voted for the hot Alaskan chick." As a Bond One-Liner.
    • Vol. 3 gets special accolades for the worst Bond One-Liner imaginable:
    Ant-Man: "If she's the mother... I'm the mother-fucker!"
    • Thor's dialogue in 3, thanks in no part to Ye Crappy Faux-Shakespearian English. And worse, Valkyrie's imitation Faux-Shakespearian English.
    • You never thought you'd see the day Ultron call himself and other robots vibrators in a villain monologue, did you?
    • From Vol 1 The Hulk gives us this immortal line:
    • In fact a majority of Hulk's lines fall directly into Narm territory. Especially the time he creepily told Thor that being pummeled by Thor's hammer "only makes Hulk hornier".
    • The reason Black Widow II and Nick Fury got divorced? Over a period of few months, he somehow cheated on her with every single female relative and friend she had.
    • Ultimates 3 and its plot (if it even can be called that) is so random and nonsensical that it's hard to take anything that happens in it seriously.
    • From Ultimate: Avengers, the story of Red Skull's origin describes how he managed to kill an entire base of soldiers, but the art ruins it by showing a small swarm of GIs charging an unarmed teenager and getting slaughtered en-masse, rather than, say, using their guns to shoot him, making it look like they were just Too Dumb to Live. (Never mind the logic of how a teenager managed to kill an entire base of soldiers by himself, even as a Super Soldier.)
  • Never Live It Down:
    • The 616 version of Hank Pym hit Janet once while going through a severe mental breakdown and that incident became one of the best known examples of this trope in comic book history. Ultimate Hank on the other hand is a straight up Domestic Abuser who has beaten Janet several times in the past, with the one scene shown on panel even nearly killing her. And since this series was incredibly popular, this has only made the Never Live It Down even worse for 616 Hank.
    • Captain America's infamous "You think this letter on my head stands for France?" line is something that is often brought up by his detractors to this day, albeit it's overshadowed by Secret Empire these days.
  • Only the Creator Does It Right: There's a reason why after Ultimates 3 and Ultimatum bombed, Mark Millar's return provided some relief to fans.
  • Rooting for the Empire: The Ultimates are not pure good guys, they are a military unit used by the United States to pursue its expansionist agenda. The Liberators, on the other hand, are villains from several oppressed countries, who organize a terrorist attack that seeks to stop American imperialism. Given the Gray-and-Gray Morality of the series, along with Mark Millar's own political beliefs, it's possible that he intended to invoke this trope.
  • Spoiled by the Format: The Ultimates 2 had delays, and the second annual was eventually published before it ended. It is set after the ending of the arc, and although it does not go into great detail, it spoils that there is a huge battle and New York is devastated.
  • Strangled by the Red String: In 3, Thor and Valkyrie (who has suddenly joined the team out of nowhere) are in a relationship. No build-up, nothing in any previous comics about this, but suddenly Thor is waxing about her as being the woman he loves, complete with ludicrously over-the-top kiss scenes, and no indication as to why Thor cares so much about her.
  • Squick:
    • After Mark Millar just implied (albeit not with that much subtlety) it through Ultimates and Ultimates 2, Jeph Loeb confirmed that Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch had Brother–Sister Incest. And portraits Captain America as an old-fashion dinosaur for being the only one weirded out by this, with Wasp defending it.
    • In a related note, Wolverine's flashback to how this got started has him spying on the two, as teenagers, when they started doing it. Even for Ultimate Wolverine, that's just plain creepy.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!: The idea to make Ultimate Captain America display Deliberate Values Dissonance attracted a lot of controversy even before they famously took it into ham-handed directions, since his mainstream counterpart is famously portrayed as being forward-thinking, idealistic and enlightened for whatever era he's in. Fans rubbish the idea that Millar is somehow realistic since they point out that Captain America was created and printed before America entered World War II against the tide of strong isolationist sentiments, so it's not unreasonable that the character would be more progressive than people expect for someone from the late-30s and The '40s.
  • Too Bleak, Stopped Caring: Ultimates 3 completely abandoned the superhero deconstruction of the first two miniseries and featured instead a standard story of robot duplicates and a conflict with Magneto. And the awesome cinematic scenes of the first miniseries were replaced by shocking arts taken straight from the worst moments of The Dark Age of Comic Books. As a result, many readers gave up on the series at this point.
  • Tough Act to Follow: The first two volumes, by Millar and Hitch, set an insanely high bar for whoever would come after them. You'd think that there's just no way that Loeb and Madureira could get even close to the quality of the original. You'd be right.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic: Valkyrie in New Ultimates is apparently supposed to be some kind of tragic figure, but given she's been shoehorned into a romanctic relationship with Thor, and a Spotlight-Stealing Squad and one issue shows her lying and cajoling her way through life, even before it turns out she made a Deal with the Devil with freaking Loki, it's hard to give much of a rat's ass about her.
  • What an Idiot!: Giant Man, having the element of surprise, managed to get the Hulk problem well in hand.
    You'd expect: That he would keep him that way until Iron Man and Captain America arrive to the area, and help to subdue him.\\
    Instead: He opens his hand, expecting to find Hulk all nice and relaxed. It's a miracle that he didn't lose his head right there.
  • What the Hell, Costuming Department?: Hank’s Giant Man costume is not Bryan Hitch's best creation. Even in-universe, the characters rag on it, with Jan telling him it makes him look like a serial killer.
  • Win Back the Crowd: The Avengers may have been important some decades before, but by the early 2000s, they were basically a Franchise Zombie, with Spider-Man and the X-Men being Marvel's main cash cows and most well-known characters. While Kurt Busiek and George Perez's run from 1996 was relatively popular, it was still mostly a Cult Classic. Indeed, when the Ultimate Marvel line was being conceived, the higher-ups at Marvel had no faith in a reimagining of the Avengers and Mark Millar had to fight tooth and nail to get them to green-light the project, and even then, they mandated that he change the team's name. The success of this series propelled the Avengers back into the A-List among comic book fans, with elements of The Ultimates being integrated into the MCU, which pushed the Avengers to mainstream recognition.


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