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Times Rick And Morty Poked Fun At Marvel

Since it first aired on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim way back in 2013, Rick and Morty has become nothing short of a cultural phenomenon, thanks largely to its razor-sharp humor that refuses to pull any punches. Along the way, the show's writers have wielded that humor to skewer a slew of other entertainment properties such as Back to the Future, Jurassic Park, Breaking Bad, and even Look Who's Talking. But one franchise that's been the butt of Rick and Morty jokes time and time again has been Marvel.

So why all the Marvel hate? Could it be because Rick and Morty creators Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon truly dislike the comic book company and/or the movies it spawned? Or could it be a good-natured ribbing of a brand they love or perhaps Harmon's connection to the Russo brothers? Or could it simply be because there are so many movies in the MCU that it's impossible to avoid stepping on their toes from time to time when you throw out as many sarcastic jabs as the notoriously biting Rick Sanchez?

Whatever the reason, Rick and Morty has cast its share of side-eye toward the MCU. To that end, we're taking a look at all the times Rick and Morty poked fun at Marvel.

The Council of Ricks is a fantastic Marvel reference

In season one, episode ten, entitled "Close Encounters of the Rick Kind," Rick finds himself falsely accused of murder by the mysterious Council of Ricks. As a result, our titular heroes, Rick and Morty, end up hopping dimensions — as they so often do — in a hilarious attempt to prove Rick's innocence.

The Council of Ricks is in fact a nod to the Council of Reeds from Marvel's Fantastic Four. This superhero council is comprised of various versions of Reed Richards plucked from throughout the multiverse, each of whom wields the Infinity Gauntlet from their particular universe. While the Council of Reeds was formed to prevent galactic disasters, Rick's version of the council is decidedly more nefarious, as Ricks are wont to be. But like Rick, Reed Richards is widely considered to be one of the most brilliant minds in his universe. That, plus the Council of Reeds' possession of Infinity Gauntlets, gives them almost godlike power, much like Rick.

Rick and Morty presents "Hulk: The Musical"

In the season two episode called "Total Rickall," the Smith family finds themselves plagued by an interstellar parasite that has the ability to implant false memories into its hosts, with uproarious results. (We're looking at you, Photography Raptor.) In one such dubious memory, the family, along with their friend Mr. Poopybutthole, is seen leaving a musical play based on the life of the Hulk. They seem pretty excited about the play, and Jerry is even wearing a pair of fake Hulk hands.

This is actually a two-for-one reference that not only gives a nod to the big green guy but also seems to be an allusion to the real, disastrous Spider-Man Broadway musical that injured several stunt performers starting back in 2010. A number of these injuries were life-threatening, and the play experienced a range of other calamities. With a price tag of $75 million dollars, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark is the most expensive Broadway musical ever made, and even though it holds the Broadway box office record for single-week sales, taking in $2.9 million over a span of nine performances, it still lost nearly $60 million.

Meet Octopus-Man

In a show with as rabid a fanbase as Rick and Morty, its hard to deem any particular episode a "fan favorite," but two that stand out are the Interdimensional Cable anthologies. In the second installment, which came in episode eight of season two, we're briefly introduced to Octopus-Man as he somewhat nonsensically gets into a car with a mysterious driver bearing a scar across his face.

Claiming to be a marine biologist who was bitten by an octopus — which thereby turned him into a half-human, half-octopus — Octopus-Man is obviously a riff on Spider-Man. But while Spidey is a good guy, and while Octopus-Man claims to "save people," he also states that he's a "troublesome octopus person" before declaring that he's "gotta save me some trouble" and stabbing two random people to death. So maybe he's really more akin to Spider-Man's nemesis, Dr. Octopus? Or maybe in an episode as openly nutty this particular one, it's best not to dig too deep for logic.

Rick and Morty's Iron Man suits

When Rick and Morty find themselves on the Purge Planet in season two's "Look Who's Purging Now," a moment comes when it seems like they're cornered once and for all. Then Rick gets a message to Summer, telling her to trigger some cryptic box that shoots out an interstellar delivery that arrives just in the nick of time. Suddenly, Rick and Morty are decked out in a pair of battle suits that seem suspiciously similar to those worn by Iron Man and War Machine.

Not only do these suits come packed with a seemingly endless series of gadgets used for attacking an adversary in every way imaginable, and not only are their wearers practically invincible, but even the delivery method is strikingly similar to something Tony Stark would have designed. Speaking of Tony, the real kicker is the song that plays when the suits are first activated — "Feels Good" by the R&B group Tony! Toni! Toné! If that's not a sneaky Tony Stark reference, we don't know what is.

The Vindicators are basically the Avengers

In the show's third season, we're introduced to the Vindicators, a team of oddball superheroes that are about as obvious a knockoff of the Avengers as it gets. First of all, there's the name, as "vindicate" and "avenge" are basically synonyms. Then there are the two groups' symbols, because when you turn the Vindicators' symbol upside down, it looks suspiciously similar to that of the Avengers.

The story of the Vindicators is in itself extremely Avengery. We meet the team in "Vindicators 3: The Return of Worldender," in which its made clear that there was a first Vindicator team-up that included Rick and Morty, as well as a second one they skipped for reasons that remain vague. Could this be a reference to the second Avengers film, Age of Ultron, which many agree was one of the lesser MCU installments? At one point, Rick also explicitly refers to Morty's Vindicators "phase," and as we all know, the MCU releases are broken up into a series of phases.

Worldender shares a lot in common with Thanos

As the episode "Vindicators 3: The Return of Worldender" makes blatantly clear, said superhero group has assembled to do battle against a being called Worldender. Little is known about the villain, other than the fact that he possesses great power and a taste for genocide. "Worldender is back," Vindicator member Supernova explains, "and this time, he's out to end more than worlds."

Sound like anyone familiar? This is almost certainly a teasing rip-off of Thanos or Galactus or maybe even both. He's the cliché mega-villain who's supposedly unstoppable unless facing the combined might of the Aveng ... uh, we mean the Vindicators. His on-the-nose name also seems to point out how tired audiences are becoming of these over-the-top baddies.

If Worldender is supposed to be some kind of Thanos-style enemy who verges on invulnerability, Rick and Morty sticks its tongue out at this concept once again by revealing that Rick has effortlessly defeated him off-screen while blackout drunk.

Vance Maximus, Renegade Starsoldier, is kinda similar to Star-Lord

Among the most popular of the MCU's leading characters is Star-Lord, leader of the Guardians of the Galaxy. Played by one of the most beloved superstars in Hollywood, Chris Pratt, Star-Lord is known for his charm, good looks, humor, and bravery. His courage has been instrumental in saving the galaxy on multiple occasions, even if his lack of self-control did directly result in the Thanos snap, which erased half of all the life in the universe. But that's a different conversation.

In any case, Star-Lord got the Rick and Morty treatment in "Vindicators 3: The Return of Worldender" with the appearance of Vindicators member Vance Maximus, Renegade Starsoldier, voiced by the hilarious Christian Slater. Like Star-Lord, he flies around with a jetpack, wields some kind of ray gun, and seems to offer plenty of swagger and wit. He also "never forgets a kid," which has nothing to do with Star-Lord but is creepy enough to warrant a mention. However, unlike Star-Lord — who spends much of his screen-time acting in his own self interest before coming through as the hero in the end — Maximus does the opposite, selfishly attempting to save his own skin before getting brutally slain for his efforts.

One Million Ants is a nice little Marvel nod

The Vindicators seem to be the Rick and Morty writing crew's attempt to take a big swipe at Marvel because the ranks of this Avengers knockoff are filled with B-grade MCU imitations. If you need proof, just take a look at One Million Ants.

As a superhero comprised of a giant colony of ants in human form (and we're using the word "super" pretty loosely here), One Million Ants seems to be a pretty direct jab at Ant-Man, but it could also be a reference to the more obscure Marvel supervillain Swarm, an enemy of Spider-Man whose body is made up of a swarm of bees. Whatever the case, the value of having a sentient, human-shaped mass of ants on your side seems pretty questionable. His powers mostly seem to involve the ability to have the ant colony move to change the shape of his body, as well as regenerative capabilities due to the fact that when injured, the queen can simply produce more ants.

Rick and Morty rips off Doctor Strange

In the season four episode called "One Crew Over the Crewcoo's Morty," the Marvel allusions gets about as direct as can be when Rick literally comes right out and says, "Lab coat, rip off Dr. Strange." Said lab coat then flies off Rick and subdues an attacking security guard.

If it wasn't obvious enough, this is a blatant name-check of the Sorcerer Supreme himself, Stephen Strange. In the Doctor Strange movie — which was released as part of the MCU's Phase Three — the titular character dons a magical cape called the Cloak of Levitation, which not only has the ability to fly around, fight, and protect its wearer, but it also seems to possess some form of intelligence.

Interestingly, Rick and Morty co-creator Dan Harmon was actually brought in on the production of Doctor Strange to serve as a consultant. According to MCU overlord Kevin Feige, Harmon was tapped to provide an extra dose of humor and sci-fi. And if you give the movie another watch with this knowledge in mind, you might notice that there seems to be a healthy dollop of Rick and Morty weirdness layered in.