How Matt Fraction Redefined Marvel’s Greatest Heroes

As a medium, comic books have come a long way from simply being called the “funny papers.” What used to be considered disposable entertainment in the early 1900s has since evolved into a real and tangible medium for literary significance. Whether it’s deconstructive like Watchmen (by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons) or celebratory like All-Star Superman (by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely), comic books have shown that the medium of superheroes is one that can convey powerful stories. But as the tales are released, it’s much harder for creators to leave a long-lasting impact. But there are few that have broken the mold and proven themselves, whether in the written or drawn form.


Matt Fraction is a comic writer that has worked on countless comic stories and characters. While he’s most recently known for his work on the comic series Sex Criminals, which he tackled with Chip Zdarsky, he’s also ventured into the worlds of DC and Marvel Comics. But his most outstanding work on Marvel changed multiple characters for the better. That said, what truly made these characters stand out had nothing to do with epic battles or moments but everything to do with Fraction’s unique writing style. But in bringing his brand of writing to Marvel, he also redefined how stories in the universe were told.

Matt Fraction’s Style Grounds Its Characters

Matt Fraction came onto the scene at Marvel, penning X-Men stories that helped to establish himself as a writer. But he truly let his style shine in the Immortal Iron Fist series, where he worked with Ed Brubaker and artist David Aja. From there, he began to make massive strides working on Iron Man, Thor, Fantastic Four, and his most prominent series, Hawkeye. It was actually with the characters Iron Fist, Hawkeye, and Iron Man that Fraction’s effects on the Marvel Universe were most evident. Where many writers have made their mark in world-building or high-stakes battles, Fraction used its most unlikely heroes to create grounded personalities that made them more relatable than ever.

Even though Iron Fist was street-level, he was either a kung-fu master or a laid-back hero to readers. But Fraction proved that there didn’t need to be a separation. The conflict in a man who lives such an adventurous life became a major focus of his characterization and brought a new vulnerability to the character. On the other hand, Iron Man has always been a larger-than-life hero that few could relate to personally. But with his run on Invincible Iron Man (by Matt Fraction and Salvador Larroca), audiences were treated to a version of Tony that embraced his mistakes and flaws. That said, it wasn’t until Hawkeye (by Fraction and David Aja) that Fraction proved how his style could work, as it wasn’t a tale with high stakes but a slice-of-life story that focused on an Avenger that never got the attention he deserved. It brought a level of humanity to the character that helped make him more beloved than ever.

Matt Fraction’s Style Redefined Marvel Superheroes

It’s been some time since Matt Fraction has written for Marvel, but his impact has remained and served as a foundation for other great writers to be inspired by. What has made his work such a standout in the genre has been that he showcases the grounded side of some of Marvel’s largest and smallest heroes. Whether it’s Hawkeye or Iron Man, these private moments that older stories wouldn’t have focused on showed that these heroes aren’t as different from one another as they may think. For example, in Hawkeye, Clint is often shown using amazing marksmanship but returns home to relax before more problems come to face him. In many ways, it mirrors real life and the few moments people have to relax.

By embracing this grounded approach to storytelling, writers have allowed fans to get more into the head of their favorite characters and understand their routines. But what has made this direction work with other characters and how Fraction showed a new side to its characters without sacrificing the action or habits that make these heroes great. In essence, Iron Fist can still be an adventurer and Iron Man a jet-setting superhero, but now readers know that they also wonder about if they’ll get a callback or left the oven on. It’s a disarming approach but one that has redefined Marvel Comics for years to come.

User Input