The Geek Beat: Who's That Marvel Movie Character?

The Geek Beat: Who's That Marvel Movie Character?

May 03, 2017

We're on the verge of hitting the midway point in “phase three” of Marvel's cinematic universe, so it makes sense that quite a few of the characters being introduced into the studio's live-action movie-verse are inspiring some puzzled looks from fans.

The Grandmaster? Okay, you might have heard of that guy.

But what about Mainframe? Or Hela? We didn't think so.

Given that we have three Marvel movies hitting theaters over the next few months (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Spider-Man: Homecoming, and Thor: Ragnarok) and each of them features at least one or two characters that aren't exactly in the publisher's A-list of heroes and villains, a bit of the ol' “who's who” might be in order. So, with that in mind, here are some of the less-famous characters taking a bow on Marvel Studios' live-action stage this year.


Mantis (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2)

A character who has appeared in three different publishers' adventures (including a DC Comics story), Mantis has a fantastically complicated, convoluted history that almost certainly won't – and can't – be adapted as it stands for the screen with actress Pom Klementieff.

A human girl destined to become the mother of the Celestial Messiah, Mantis was introduced in a 1973 issue of The Avengers and went on to play a supporting role on various teams over the years – including a recent period as a member of the comic-book iteration of the Guardians of the Galaxy. While she's been shown to have a pretty wide array of abilities, the common themes tend to be her telepathic sensitivity and tremendous martial arts skills. At various points, she's even fought Captain America and Thor to a standoff.

Still, her crazy past has been edited and revised countless times over the years. Giving her a back story that involves time-traveling children, having her personality fragmented across the space-time continuum (and then merged again later), and being impregnated by an alien inhabiting the body of one of her former Avengers allies.

So, yeah … Who knows what Mantis we'll get on the big screen?


Ego (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2)

When Kurt Russell was revealed to be playing Ego, the Living Planet, anyone familiar with the character was initially confused by the announcement. How would Russell play a massive, sentient planet and have it not be completely ridiculous?

Well, we got our answer when Russell's look for the film was revealed, and it appears that Ego has taken human form for his reunion with his son, Chris Pratt's Star-Lord.

Typically portrayed as a bearded, villainous planet that causes all kinds of cosmic trouble, Ego first appeared in a 1966 issue of Thor and was created by comic icons Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. A living planet with a superiority complex, Ego frequently found itself at odds with Galactus – because he eats planets, of course – during early stories. Although Ego has shown the ability to absorb objects on its surface to provide itself with energy, it's a bit of a new move for it to turn into a humanoid creature, so we'll have to see how that plays out when the movie hits theaters.


Vulture (Spider-Man: Homecoming)

Played by Michael Keaton in the upcoming Spider-Man movie that brings the famous webslinger into Marvel's cinematic universe, Adrian Toomes was initially portrayed in Marvel's comics as a former electronics engineer who invented a powerful flight harness that also gave him superhuman strength. He was another creation of Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, and Ditko's illustrations depicted him as an aging criminal, despite his ability to stand toe-to-toe with Spider-Man.

Over the course of his Marvel Comics history, the Vulture not only experienced several periods when he was made younger or older by virtue of one plot device or another, but he was also replaced in the role by other versions of The Vulture. Keaton's version of the character is reportedly a small-time criminal who takes his operation to a bigger stage when he's able to create a powerful flight suit and weapons.


The Grandmaster (Thor: Ragnarok)

Jeff Goldblum is set to play this gaming-obsessed “Elder of the Universe” in the third installment of Thor's solo franchise, and it will be interesting to see which elements of his Marvel Comics back story will be lifted from page to screen.

Created by the legendary Marvel Comics team of writer Roy Thomas and artist Sal Buscema, The Grandmaster is one of the oldest living beings in the universe, and one of the last of his ancient race. His real name (in the comics, at least) is En Dwi Gast, and he has a fascination with games of skill and chance that frequently puts him at the center of cosmic conflicts that he's orchestrated as part of a wager with some other entity. At various points, he's pitted The Avengers against other superhero and supervillain teams, and even found a way to stage a clash between The Avengers and DC Comics' Justice League.

An ageless immortal who once possessed one of the Infinity Stones before losing it to Thanos, the Grandmaster is certainly an interesting addition to Marvel's cinematic universe.


Hela (Thor: Ragnarok)

The Asgardian goddess of death, Hela is played by Cate Blanchett in the upcoming Thor: Ragnarok and her live-action role appears to hew close to its comics counterpart.

Yet another creation of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Hela is based on the Norse goddess Hel, who rules the underworld. Since her debut in a 1964 issue of Journey into Mystery, Hela has been a frequent foe of Thor and the rest of the Asgardians as she attempts to expand her rule beyond the land of the dead and into Asgard itself. In comics lore, she's also the daughter of an earlier iteration of Loki, before all of the Asgardians were wiped out in the last big, apocalyptic event.

From the look of things in the first trailer for Thor: Ragnarok, Blanchett's version of Hela appears to have some serious fighting skills – and a pretty stout defense against Thor's magic hammer, Mjolnir.


Skurge (Thor: Ragnarok)

First introduced in a 1964 issue of Journey into Mystery, Skurge the Executioner is an Asgardian warrior whose affection for the diabolical sorceress known as The Enchantress has led him to the wrong side of battles with Thor, Odin, and the rest of Marvel's Asgardian heroes on countless occasions. Although he was initially known for wielding a massive, magical, double-bladed battle axe, he eventually adopted more modern weaponry, and began wielding a pair of magical M-16 assault rifles.

In Marvel Comics lore, Skurge famously redeemed a life of evil deeds by holding off an evil horde bent on destroying Asgard, and earned a place in Valhalla among the honored warriors who died in battle.

Karl Urban portrays Skurge in Thor: Ragnarok, and the brief glimpse of him that we've had suggests that he's certainly taking visual cues – including the dual guns – from the source material.


This week's question: Are there any other new, supporting characters being introduced in the upcoming Marvel movies that you're unfamiliar with?

Rick Marshall is an award-winning writer and editor whose work can be found at, as well as MTV News, Fandango, Digital Trends, and various other online, print, and on-air news outlets. He's been called a “Professional Geek” by ABC News and Spike TV. You can find him on Twitter as @RickMarshall.

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