10 Things What If Changed About Marvel Zombies | CBR – CBR – Comic Book Resources

Marvel Zombies has gone down as one of the best superhero zombie stories and it made for a good, yet formulaic episode of What If…?
What If…? showed MCU fans different glimpses of their favorite heroes and one of those was quite familiar to comics fans, the world of Marvel Zombies. One of Marvel’s most terrifying alternate realities, Marvel Zombies was a glimpse of a very different Marvel Universe, one that took familiar heroes and made them into monsters. Marvel Zombies has gone down as one of the best superhero zombie stories and it made for a good, yet formulaic episode of What If…?
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Just like every other time the MCU adapts a comic, massive changes were made to it, with the What If…? episode basically being entirely different than the comic.
In the Marvel Zombies comic, Wolverine was the only survivor of the X-Men, fitting for the most dangerous mutant on the planet. Much like the other heroes, he was a zombie but didn’t have as much of a problem with it as some of the other heroes. Wolverine was always a killer and took his zombification in stride.
The MCU has yet to introduce any mutants, and so Wolverine didn’t make it into the story. Of course, that didn’t make much difference, since the story’s structure was completely different than the comic.
In Marvel Zombies, Magneto was the first kill that readers got to see. One of the most powerful mutants in the world, Magneto got cornered by the titular Marvel Zombies and put up a hellacious fight, which went just as well as one would believe. Later in the stories, his Acolytes come to Earth to find him and retrieve a highly injured Black Panther and a zombified Wasp.
This is mostly an example of the MCU not having mutants yet. Magneto and the Acolytes were basically the only non-zombie characters readers were exposed to and they were replaced by more familiar characters to MCU fans.
Sharon Carter is one of the survivors in the What If…? episode, helping figure out how to stop the whole thing and fight against the zombie hordes. This is a huge change from the comic, as Sharon Carter pretty much did nothing in the comic. She’s not even referenced in the original story, playing no part in the events that readers witness.
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Sharon was put into the What If…? episode because she was a familiar character and Emily VanCamp probably recorded her lines when she was doing The Falcon And The Winter Soldier. It worked for the story the show was telling.
When people saw floating head Scott Lang in What If…?, it was a great moment, mostly because Paul Rudd can make anything work. This plot point has precedence in the comic, but it was very different. To begin with, Scott Lang wasn’t in the comic, with Hank Pym serving the role of the Pym-powered superhero, along with the Wasp.
In the comic, Wasp found out about Pym holding Black Panther as someone to eat so he could stay lucid and try to cure the zombies, and the two fought, with him ripping her head off. Later, the Acolytes would take her prisoner when rescuing T’Challa, and the next time fans saw her, she was a floating head.
In What If…?, the zombie outbreak was brought to the Earth by Hank Pym. It’s just kind of a weird detail since it’s never really explained how Janet Van Dyne became a zombie, so the whole thing is a bit nonsensical. In the comic, this isn’t what happened at all, as a zombified Sentry was sent to that Earth by the Watcher of another universe to zombify it.
One can see why the MCU didn’t adapt this plot point. There’s no Sentry and they were playing up the Watcher as a one-in-the-multiverse being, not a one-in-every-universe being. The show ignored most of the comic storylines and this one made sense, even if the source of the zombie virus is handwaved away.
Marvel Zombies followed the zombified heroes as they searched for more humans to eat. There was the Hank Pym subplot, the Acolytes subplot, and a battle between the zombified heroes and villains. It all ended with Galactus showing up, which showed just how dangerous the Marvel Zombies were. It ended on a hopeful note, as the Zombies had left the planet.
This is completely different than the show. The Marvel Zombies story went a lot of places in its sequels and the show didn’t go in any of those directions. It was a vast oversimplification, more of a generic zombie story than the comic.
One of the great things about Marvel Zombies was its focus on the zombies themselves. Instead of brainless hordes, the Marvel Zombies are still basically the heroes readers know, except for their unholy hunger for flesh. This opened the story up to a lot of pathos, as the heroes had to deal with the fact that they devoured the innocent people that they used to save.
It gave the comic some amazingly sad moments and even with the humor throughout the story, there was still an undercurrent of sorrow. The What If…? episode didn’t really have much of that. It was a cliché zombie story, so its sadness was the same as any zombie story, much different from the comic.
One of the great things about Marvel Zombies was the fact that there were so few survivors. The greatest Marvel heroes had fallen to the zombie plague; the only survivors that readers saw in the first story were Magneto, the Acolytes, and Black Panther. As the story went on and more sequels came out, that number went up, but nearly every Marvel hero fell.
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The MCU was not going to go in this direction at all, as it definitely wasn’t going to focus on the zombies and wanted fans to get a story with familiar characters in the story. This led to different survivors, which was another change to the story.
Marvel Zombies was a pretty gory comic. There was blood, ripped-out entrails, and a lot of zombies eating people. It didn’t skimp on the violence, and while it wasn’t exactly R-rated at all times, it got pretty close. This is very different from the episode of What If…?. While there was the same MCU violence that people come to expect, it didn’t go to the lengths of the comic.
This was almost certainly going to be the case. The MCU’s audience is quite broad and Disney wasn’t going to allow something as gory as the comic on Disney+.
The biggest difference between the comic and the What If…? episode was the different focus. The What If…? episode focused on survivors trying to figure out how to stop the whole thing. This made the story exactly like a score of other zombies stories. The comic went a totally different direction, actually focusing on the zombies, which is different than just about any zombie story ever.
Disney and Marvel Studios were almost certainly never going to allow a story that had versions of their popular heroes eating everyone and being the main characters of a story. It certainly would have made for a more interesting story instead of the cliché that fans got.
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David Harth has been reading comics for close to 30 years. He writes for several websites, makes killer pizza, goes to Disney World more than his budget allows, and has the cutest daughter in the world. He can prove it. Follow him on Twitter- https://www.twitter.com/harth_david.

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