False facts about Marvel you always thought were true

At this point, Marvel is so popular and ever-present, most people think they know the universe inside and out. However, many things that we accept as true, even the stuff we swear we've known for decades, are downright false. Such as …

Wolverine's name is Logan

Thanks in part to Hugh Jackman's amazing performance, "X-Men" has become synonymous with Wolverine, the Canadian rage monster with a crazy healing factor, razor-sharp claws, and an unbreakable adamantium skeleton covering his bones. Because of how ubiquitous the character is, many people think they know his first name: Logan. It's how he's been addressed in every major X-Men movie, the hit 90's cartoon, and it's even the name of his upcoming solo movie.

It's also completely wrong.

Starting in 2001, Marvel published a six-issue series that delved into Wolverine's previously mysterious past, one caused by his brain being scrambled by Weapon X so many times that, like Joker, his past was basically a "multiple choice" selection of frazzled memories. The origin series, though, established that his true name is James Howlett. He was a frail child and the bastard son of the Howlett family groundskeeper Thomas Logan and Elizabeth Howlett. He's also ridiculously old, having been born sometime in the late-1800s (which, shockingly, has nothing to do with the memory loss).

Later, James is on the run from the law with a woman named Rose, and he assumes the name "Logan" to help keep his identity hidden. By the time he meets up with the X-Men many years later, he's had a variety of implanted memories that keep him from remembering his true identity, and he continues to go by his assumed name, just to make it easy on everyone, including himself.

The X-Men are an original idea

Speaking of mutants, the X-Men has been an endearing part of our pop culture for many decades. This is partly because of the powerful idea at the core of the series: that the X-Men fight for a world that fears and hates them. That central metaphor has applied to different groups as the decades go on, with the earliest stories often being read as meditations on race (despite the team starting as a very Caucasian occasion), and later being read as meditations on homosexuality, complete with a specific virus that served as a metaphor for AIDS.

Because of this enduring applicability of the idea at the heart of the X-Men, most people imagine that the idea of the X-Men is very original. Except, nope: the truth is that the earliest issues of Marvel's X-Men and DC's Doom Patrol bear some … uncomfortable similarities. Doom Patrol debuted three months before the mutant phenomenon, featuring a group of superpowered beings who protected a world that hated and feared them, and both teams were led by a guy in a wheelchair.

It's gets curiouser. Each team fights a "Brotherhood of Evil," and each team is advertised as "strange." Specifically, the Doom Patrol are "the world's strangest heroes" while the early X-Men are advertised as "the strangest superheroes of all." All of this is superficial, of course, as each comic eventually went in very different directions. Furthermore, you can easily cause a nerd fistfight if you suggest the two are the same. However, it's undeniable that Marvel's mightiest mutants were, at the very least, an unoriginal idea.

Black Widow is young

Thanks to her cameo in Iron Man 2 and her breakout role in The Avengers, Black Widow took the world by storm. She's known for her quick thinking, badass action moves, her tight black catsuit, and for being very, very young. After all, Scarlett Johansson was only around 25 when audiences were introduced to her character in the first Iron Man sequel. However, the original character is so old, she and Captain America had World War II adventures together!

The original character was trained as a Russian spy at a very young age. She was brainwashed and trained to fight (something actually explored in the Agent Carter television show), and she received a series of biological enhancements from the "Red Room" facility. These enhancements serve as the explanation for the character's extended lifespan, as she was able to team up with Captain America and Wolverine during the War, while palling around with Daredevil in the 70's and helping the Avengers for decades afterward. While the rest of those characters have had gentle, time-related adjustments made so they're not suddenly super-old, Black Widow remains the ageless secret agent at the heart of all of these stories.

Star-Lord's dad is a great mystery

When it comes to Marvel movies, Guardians of the Galaxy is the one that caught everyone most by surprise. On paper, the characters were bizarre and difficult to relate to, and the concept seemed like someone poured an entire pouch of kitsch into a big bowl labeled "Star Wars." However, the improbable notion turned into a wonderful movie full of engaging characters. At the heart of that is Chris Pratt's Star-Lord, who suffers more than slightly from Daddy Issues. The first movie leaves it deliberately unclear who his father is, implying that audiences will explore that mystery in further movies.

However, Papa-Star's identity is no mystery at all, if you read the comic books. His father is J'son of Spartax, an emperor of the Spartoi Empire. Generally speaking, the character is something of a heel, often manipulating situations behind the scenes, mostly to induce his son into joining him. Star-Lord eventually reveals that his father is a murdering prick and he loses official power permanently — this leads to him becoming a villain, albeit one with the single worst name in modern comics: Mister Knife. Under this terrible moniker, he runs a criminal empire, posts bounties on his son's head, and generally serves to antagonize the spacefaring heroes that audiences know and love.

Cyclops shoots laser beams

When it comes to the X-Men, Cyclops has never been known and loved for his sterling personality. Instead, everyone remembers the character for his powerful optic blasters, capable of destroying Sentinels and taking on wayward evil mutants. Given that they're red and destructive (not unlike the heat vision of a certain Man of Steel), most people assume that these are red-hot laser beams.

However, the truth is that you couldn't even heat a marshmallow off of those beams. So long as the writers remember it the right way, Cyclops actually has force beams, rather than laser beams. They ARE superstrong—along with cleaving off Sentinel heads, readers have seen Cyclops using those beams to pulverize steel, tunnel directly through the Earth, and shoot Mjolnir right out of Thor's hand. However, the beams don't cause any kind of heat or recoil. That means that, depending on the scope of the blast, being hit with an optic blast would be more akin to taking a really hard punch that can take your head off

Depending on who is writing, by the way, these beams also come out of a special dimension that only Cyclops' eyeballs can access. Weird writing like that is why the character is probably happy to be dead at the moment.

Peter Parker is poor

When it comes to storytelling, Spider-Man has received one of the ultimate double-edged swords. His background story is one of the most archetypal in all of comics history. Not just the death of his Uncle Ben and the motivation to serve the world, but even the image of Peter Parker as a starving reporter is locked into the public's mind. However, while it's flattering to be so well-known, it means that his comics have their core concept reset every time there's a new Spider-Man movie, erasing whatever story is there so audiences can have the archetypal (and poor) Peter Parker once again.

In-between those resets, though, Peter is doing alright for himself. At times, Peter has served as a science teacher at a local high school. This hardly made him rich, but represented a steady salary and benefits. He later went back to the Daily Bugle as a paparazzi, and then jumped ship to a different publication. Finally, at one point the wall-crawler landed at Horizon Labs, pulling down a hefty salary working for one of his scientific heroes, while working on some of the most advanced technology within the Marvel universe.

Peter also doesn't hesitate to double-dip, using lab resources to work on armor and equipment for Spider-Man. All of this is a far cry from the guy just trying to sell a photo so he can eat, but with a new Spider-Man movie on the horizon, Marvel is likely to hit the reset button once again, very soon. Enjoy the money while it lasts, Parker.

Hank Pym is a loving husband

Despite losing Edgar Wright as its director, the Ant-Man movie ended up being a surprise hit. It felt very much at odds with the Marvel Universe it inhabited, despite prominent cameos by Falcon and Howard Stark. Part of this odd feeling is that the movie was more about relationships than technology, patriotism, or any of those other high-minded concepts. The younger Ant-Man is motivated solely by the love of his daughter, while the elder Ant-Man, Hank Pym, is motivated by the love of his daughter, and haunted by the loss of his wife.

As far as audiences can tell from the conversations about Hank Pym's wife and the flashback sequence, they were a happy and loving couple. While this has been the case in some of the comics, others present a very disturbing relationship. The character gained notoriety during a plot in which he developed a robot that he could then beat to impress people (no, really). When The Wasp called him on it, he straight up backhanded her across the face.

This idea of Hank Pym as a spousal abuser is oddly multidimensional: in the Marvel Zombies Universe, a zombified Giant-Man (one of Ant-Man's many alternate identities) bites Zombie Wasp's head off. In the Ultimates Universe (from which much of the Marvel Cinematic Universe comes from), Hank beats Wasp until she shrinks down to size, at which point he sprays her with Raid and gets a bunch of ants to try to eat her! We're guessing that scene will make it into no movies, ever.

The comics are "real" depictions of that universe

This one represents a deep dive, so hold onto your funny books.

The central conceit that many readers have of Marvel comics, is that the events they portray are accurate representations of that universe. That is, while these are clearly fictional stories for readers in our real world, they represent an accurate account of what's happening to heroes and villains within that universe. However, there are a few people who upset this notion, including Stan Lee himself. Lee, and many of the early Marvel creative types, often appeared in their comics as themselves. That's right: the fine cinematic tradition of Stan Lee cameos in every Marvel movie started with his numerous appearances as himself in his own comics. So, readers see Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and others within these comics, as … writers of these comics. Holy fourth wall, Deadpool!

When not literally appearing as the writer of the comic readers are holding, Stan Lee has appeared as a storytelling ringmaster, a professor, a superhero historian, and other roles. If you think about it for a minute, this really disrupts notions of what is real and what is not, because it introduces an in-universe explanation that these comics may be the fictional works within the Marvel universe itself, the kind that a young Peter Parker grew up reading.

This idea is further enhanced in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, by Phil Coulson's obsession with collecting things like Captain America trading cards. It's entirely possible that these are the silly comic book representations of characters who are completely different from what audiences know, and that there is no real way of knowing what has actually happened in this universe, at all, ever. We apologize if your head hurts. If it's any consolation, so do ours.

Bucky was a normal soldier and sidekick

Despite audiences growing increasingly familiar with the traumatized and stoic Winter Soldier, many people still think of Bucky Barnes as the Robin to Captain America's Batman. That is, he was plainly designed as a plucky young sidekick, to help add levity to what might otherwise be grim adventures against Nazis, and he had obvious appeal to the young demographic that devoured early comic books.

However, the image of Bucky as a squeaky-clean sidekick was completely shattered by Ed Brubaker. In fact, most of what audiences now see in the cinematic Captain America can be attributed to Brubaker. He had a legendary run writing Captain America, and he introduced several key concepts, such as the return of Bucky as the deadly, brainwashed Winter Soldier.

Brubaker also took this opportunity to do some heavy retconning of certain characters and past events. Bucky was one such retcon: according to Brubaker, Bucky was actually hired as a special assassin and all-around wetworks guy, who could do things that both regular soldiers and Cap himself found too distasteful. This makes his later brainwashing as a covert assassin a bit of a dark mirror, as he was doing the same thing s he already was doing, but for the enemy now, instead of for his country. It serves as a stark reimagining of events, as you begin to imagine that for every brightly-colored cover of Captain America punching Red Skull or Hitler, Bucky was likely slicing somebody's throat in a darkened bunker.

Marvel religions mirror ours

This one is another deep dive that potentially has major repercussions on your understanding of the Marvel Universe. On the surface, it seems that this universe, and its religions, generally mirror the real world: readers have Jewish characters like Kitty Pryde, Islamic characters like Kamala Khan, Roman Catholic characters like Nightcrawler, and so on. So far, so good.

However, the Marvel Universe also has Apocalypse in it, a mutant who has been alive for millennia, and who has been worshiped as various gods in Aztec, Egyptian, Indian, and other cultures. The X-Men: Apocalypse movie takes this idea even further with this ominous line: "I have been called many things over many lifetimes – Ra, Krishna, Yahweh." This would very heavily imply that the underpinnings of various faiths were shaped significantly by Apocalypse.

This makes understanding religion in the Marvel universe very difficult, but also opens the door to some bizarre possibilities. For instance, Nightcrawler often laments the ability of humans to use religion to justify their hatred of the unknown, such as mutants. However, it seems borderline textual that this universe's version of Christianity was shaped, at least partially, by someone with a vested interest in the world tearing itself apart until only the strong survive. Forget megalomaniacal speeches and weird Horsemen of Death—there is a non-zero chance that Apocalypse is directly, or at least inadvertently, behind every bloody religious conflict and war in the entire world. Thanks a ton, big guy.