10 Overused Marvel Origin Tropes

Marvel didn’t invent superheroes, but they helped refine the concept. Marvel’s Silver Age broke the mold for superheroes. The company did this by taking the familiar tropes of superheroes and tweaking them, even going so far as to create entirely new characters. Marvel pulled ahead by revolutionizing superheroes, but ideas only remain revolutionary for so long. In time, exciting ideas fizzle out, especially if the concept gets overused.

The Marvel Universe has created many exciting origin stories, from Spider-Man’s to Captain America’s. Sadly, several origin tropes have grown stale. This can happen to tropes of all kinds. After all, there’s only so many times creators can go back to the same well. Origin tropes involving things like radioactive science experiments and clones need to be put on the shelf, because they add nothing new to the Marvel Universe.

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10 Armored Characters

A collage of the Invincible Iron Man and Melter from Marvel Comics

Marvel has a lot of armored heroes and villains. This trope started back with Iron Man, where Tony Stark created his armor in order to escape captivity. He then used it to make up for all the death the weapons he had designed and sold caused. Iron Man would fight other armored villains, each having been given armor in order to go toe to toe with him. This origin trope would extend beyond Iron Man, infecting other parts of the Marvel Universe.

Characters who create or are given armor have been played out for a very long time. Even Iron Man himself went through a period of irrelevance and fallen sales because no one really cared about armored characters anymore. The trope wore out much quicker than anyone expected, and it needs a solid break if Marvel wants it to have an impact again.

9 The Man Or Woman Of Mystery

The virgin variant cover for Wolverine #37 by Greg Capullo.

A big reason why Wolverine became so popular was because he debuted fully formed. Readers didn’t get to see who Wolverine was before he became a superhero, and creators kept a tight lid on his origins. This drove readers into a frenzy for information about Wolverine. In time, creators started to outline his past, sometimes contradicting each other.

This type of mystery box storytelling has been a part of fiction for years, but it’s gotten old. The problem is that the actual origin reveals often feel lackluster at best. Sometimes, it feels like creators made up a backstory on the fly, rather than having on in mind when they first introduced the character. They hype readers up for the backstory for years, and by the time they give readers the backstory, it doesn’t stand up to the hype that the years of teases created.

8 Heroes And Villains From Alternate Universes

Marvel Comics' X-Man lunging forward using his powers

For a long time, Marvel wasn’t the first name anyone thought of when it came to multiverses. The Marvel Multiverse didn’t come together as well as DC’s did, but all of that changed with the X-Men books. Thanks to the X-Men’s comics, readers engaged with the multiverse on a more regular basis. A funny thing started happening with these jaunts, though. Denizens of these other universes started moving over to the mainline universe.

Prime examples of this came from The Age of Apocalypse, when X-Man, Dark Beast, Holocaust, and Sugar Man all came over to the main universe. This continued happening as time went on. Recent examples include Cosmic Ghost Rider and Rasputin IV. Alternate universe stories are always going to be a part of superhero comics, but that doesn’t mean each interesting character should be taken out of the universes they were created for.

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7 Time Travel

Rachel Summers in her Phoenix form

The X-Men have some brilliant time travel stories, but one stands above the rest. Days Of Future Past was highly influential on comics in general and Marvel in particular, creating a dystopian future that would become the basis for pretty much every dystopian future that came after it. That story brought one of its characters to the present: Rachel Summers, who would become the second Phoenix. Soon, other heroes and villains from across time would join her.

Time travel is always going to be around in one way or another in superhero comics, but using it to introduce new characters has gotten very old. Most of the time, it oisn’t even a new character who comes to the “present.” More often than not, the time traveller is a legacy character, an older version of an established character, or a character from the past. Either way, fans have seen the “Fish out of Water” trope far too many times.

6 Mining Mythology

Thor in Jonathan Hickman's Ultimate Universe #1.

Marvel is home to powerful gods, the vast majority of which come from mythology. Thor, Loki, and Hercules are the best-known examples, but they are by no means the only ones. The Norse, Greek, and Egyptian pantheons have all appeared in Marvel comics. Marvel has also used other aspects of mythology to introduce new characters. While this is partly a universal trope, Marvel taps into this source far more frequently.

People have been using mythology to tell stories for millennia, which is basically the point of myths. However, continually going back to the same well in the modern day feels lazy. It’s made even worse because superheroes already feel like modern day mythology. Going back to classic mythology shows a lack of faith in what they are doing right now.

5 Superhero Babies

Franklin and Valeria Richards playing a game

Marvel’s heroes have children, which is to be expected after so many years of the Marvel Universe existing. Many times, these children eventually follow in their parents’ footsteps or are teased to in the future or alternate universes. However, superhero babies have become a boring trope.

Legacy characters are always going to exist, but it’s more interesting when it’s not someone related to the original mantle holder. Superheroes having powerful children isn’t a bad thing, but it’s gotten to the point where it’s just used as a crutch to help new characters stay around. This trope should slow down some, or at least have the children just be regular people.

4 Clones

Ben Reilly Scarlet Spider, Spidercide, and spider man doppelganger

Marvel’s clones have caused quite a stir. The Jackal cloned Spider-Man and Gwen Stacy, giving birth to the genesis for the Clone Saga and the spin-off stories based on it. Laura Kinney started out as a clone of Wolverine, before it being revealed that she was creating from combining a scientist’s DNA with Wolverine’s. However, then she got her own clone, Gabby Kinney.

Clones are incredibly common in the Marvel Universe. While not every clone story is as hated as the Clone Saga, and Gabby Kinney’s time as Honey Badger and Scout have made her beloved, clones a bad reputation in the Marvel Universe. The clone trope has a tendency to be abused and that problem should warrant Marvel taking a break from it.

3 Inhuman Terrigenesis

Triton, Gorgon, Karnak, Black Bolt, Medusa, and Crystal together

The Inhumans were once a C-list Marvel concept that got much bigger than its britches. It was rather simple at first. The Inhumans were born, seemed like normal humans, and then they were exposed to the Terrigen Mists, which would cause them to become encased in cocoons. They would hatch out of these with new powers. The Inhumans were fairly small scale, but then Marvel decided that since they didn’t have access to the X-Men’s film rights, they would push the Inhumans, releasing the Terrigen Mists into the Earth’s atmosphere.

Random people would end up in cocoons when the clouds passed over them. The whole thing was weird since the main reason Inhumans always lived away from humanity before is that supposedly the pollution that human civilization made was too much for them. So, for a bunch of humans to suddenly have Inhumans genes — and enough that Terrigenesis would happen — was extremely farfetched. Beyond that, trying to use C-listers to replace the X-Men was doomed to failure because people just liked the X-Men more.

RELATED: 10 Marvel Heroes Who Have Somehow Never Had A Solo Ongoing Comic

2 Radioactivity

the hulk battling a monstrous wolverine clone turned wendigo in the forest

Marvel really hit its stride in the Silver Age of comics in the 1960s. The Cold War brought a lot of nuclear anxiety, and Marvel had been using radioactivity as a power source for some of the monster comics that came before their superhero comics resurgence. However, they kept radioactivity as a power source, and it became an important part of the lore for the Hulk, Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, and many more.

Marvel was able to get away with it in the Silver Age because most young people — the target audience — didn’t know the dangerous effects of radiation. That’s not a thing today. When the villain Feilong gain powers from cosmic radiation filtered through ruby quartz, many readers rolled their eyes. The Cold War is long over and nearly every reader knows that radiation in large doses is deadly.

1 Supersoldiers

The first Captain America backlit in Marvel Comics

Marvel has plenty of amazing super-soldiers. Marvel’s superheroes first appeared in the Golden Age, but their first truly popular superhero was Captain America, a super-soldier created by two Jewish creators to fight against the Nazis. Since then, Marvel has introduced many more super-soldiers, both heroes and villains, and they’ve become a huge part of the Marvel Universe.

It seems like there are a million organizations making super-soldiers in the Marvel Universe. So many scientists seem to have created super-soldier serums or adamantium bonding processes or ways to incorporate weapons into soldiers’ bodies. Given how expensive the process would be to begin with, it’s surprising how many organizations have created super-solders.

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