Marvel Comics’ famed innovation in the 1960s was introducing characters who were “human” with “relatable flaws” as opposed to the super-icons of rivals DC. These relatable flaws gave each Marvel character a core storytelling drive which has sustained them for decades. In the spirit of Mark’s in-depth analysis of the Marvel Cinematic Universe cast, here is a look at the central premises of Marvel’s silver age heroes, which together span the entire range of human experience.
Spider-Man: Everyone thinks I’m a dick.
The Hulk: I turn into a total dick.
Fantastic Four: My colleagues are such dicks.
X-Men: People say we were born dicks.
Iron Man: I am a dick, but I try not to be.
Thor: My old man is a dick (and as for my brother…)
Doctor Strange: I can’t do this dick job.
Captain America: Am I a dick?
The Avengers: Let’s be dicks together.
Daredevil: I can’t see dick.
Nick Fury: I can’t trust any of you dicks.
Silver Surfer: What is this thing called “dick”?
(Detailed character notes: The Fantastic Four is often conceptualised in terms of family – this is a later idea, in the early stories it’s more a family firm with office bickering. Also, “strong family” isn’t some terrible flaw. Captain America’s soul-searching phase runs from the 70s to the 00s but I cheated. The Avengers have a brief spell (Cap’s Kooky Quartet) of Why won’t anyone believe we’re not dicks? but are mostly premise-free in the 60s. Daredevil really doesn’t seem to have much of a ‘flaw’ beyond ‘he’s blind’, which is probably why he was the Marvel character to get such intricate development in the 70s and beyond. I left out Ant-Man because the shrinking joke was too obvious even for this post.)
Picture by Steve Ditko and Stan Lee, copyright Marvel Comics