What a headache.

Nothing is sacred in the universe of Rick and Morty, which is exactly why Rick once got blackout drunk and pooped all over the Vindicators’ command center. Not even superheroes can stay heroes — or even live through an entire episode — which is why in Season 3, the show spent an entire episode making fun of superheroes in general, with a number of jabs specifically at Marvel’s gargantuan media franchise.

When you really think about it, every superhero kind of has a derivative origin story. Remember when Rick lashed out at poor Crocubot, saying, “So, your origin is what? Y-You fell into a vat of redundancy?” In Season 3, “Vindicators 3: The Return of Worldender” went all in on the superhero critique, but maybe it’s justly deserved?

Rest assured, “Vindicators 3” was far from the first time that Rick and Morty made fun of or at least satirized Marvel in some way (although it was for sure the most overt). Here are 10 times that Rick and Morty referenced the Marvel Universe in chronological order:


The Council of Ricks mirrors a similar council in Marvel comics.
The Council of Ricks mirrors a similar council in Marvel comics.

1. The Council of Ricks Mirrors the Council of Reeds

Episode: “Close Rick-counters of the Rick Kind”

You’ll never see the Marvel equivalent pop up in the MCU for too many contractual reasons to count, but the Council of Ricks is a nod to the Interdimensional Council of Reeds from Jonathan Hickman’s run of the Fantastic Four in which the Reed Richards from a multitude of universes created a council. In the Marvel Universe, Richards is widely regarded as one of — if not the — smartest individual in the universe. Sound like anybody else we know?

Broadway's latest SMASH hit!
Broadway's latest SMASH hit!

2. The Smith Family Went to a Hulk Musical with Mr. Poopybutthole

Episode: “Total Rickall”

The first memory seemingly planted in the minds of the Smith family was actually a real one. The whole family went to see some kind of Hulk music with Mr. Poopybutthole, a joke probably meant to reference the very real and very disastrous Spider-Man musical that debuted in 2010.

Of all the radioactive animals to get bitten by...
Of all the radioactive animals to get bitten by...

3. Octopus-Man Is a Nasty Spider-Man Variant

Episode: “Interdimensional Cable 2: Tempting Fate”

One of the many interdimensional cable bits shows a half-man, half-octopus person getting into a car on some television show. He claims he was bitten by a radioactive octopus, which caused him to mutate into a man-octopus hybrid mutation. It’s an obvious riff on the origin story of Spider-Man but with much more disturbing results. Kind of has a Doctor Strange hair thing going for him, too.

Morty gets a little too into the Purge.
Morty gets a little too into the Purge.

4. Rick and Morty Have Iron-Man Suits

Episode: “Look Who’s Purging Now”

The suits that Rick custom built for himself and Morty make Iron Man’s suits look tame by comparison. Who knows how far away the Purge Planet is from Earth, but Rick is able to have Summer trigger the delivery in a matter of minutes. Morty, Rick, and later Arthricia totally wreak havoc with the suits. When they’re first activated, they play “Feels Good” by Tony! Toni! Toné!

Tony? Really? That one had to be an intention reference to Tony Stark.

Rick refuses to answer a literal call to adventure.
Rick refuses to answer a literal call to adventure.

5. Rick Calls the Vindicators a “Phase”

Episode: “Vindicators 3: The Return of Worldender”

At this point, “phase” is basically a trigger word in the realm of superhero cinema, and in the opening moments to the Rick and Morty Season 3 superhero romp, Rick straight-up calls the Vindicators a “phase.” The episode itself is named “Vindicators 3” because it’s the third time the team’s been assembled.

Wait .... which is which?
Wait .... which is which?

## 6. The Vindicators Logo Looks Just Like the Avengers Logo

Episode: “Vindicators 3: The Return of Worldender”

In case you weren’t sure whether or not the Vindicators were a knock-off of the Avengers, the logo is practically identical when inverted.

"I never forget a kid!"
"I never forget a kid!"

7. Renegade Starsoldier Is a Creepy Star-Lord

Episode: “Vindicators 3: The Return of Worldender”

Vance Maximus, Renegade Starsoldier is a hero who “never forgets a kid” (what!?), but he also looks and acts with the same kind of reckless bravado befitting of Star-Lord, one of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy. Most accurately, he’s sort of a Star-Lord and Iron Man fusion that dresses like he’s Soldier: 76 from Overwatch. Weird.

Wait, which one is supposed to be Ant-Man again?
Wait, which one is supposed to be Ant-Man again?

8. Million Ants vs. Ant-Man

Rick and Morty could have done a million flies or fleas or even roaches, but they opted to create a man literally made of ants. He’d be Ant-Man if that name weren’t already taken, and this version is so awkward and lame that it’s hard not to love-hate him. Of all the Vindicators, he and Starsoldier are the only to that target Marvel — all the others twist different kinds of DC heroes.

Worldender's out to end more than just worlds this time around!
Worldender's out to end more than just worlds this time around!

9. Worldender Could Be Thanos’s Brother

Episode: “Vindicators 3: The Return of Worldender”

When Supernova says, “Worldender is back, and this time he’s out to end more than worlds!” we should all collectively groan. This archetypal word-destroying mega-villain is just another regurgitated version of Thanos, Galactus, or even Ultron to a lesser extent. Even his much-too obvious name is meant to reflect the tired nature of such a villain. He’s ugly, demonic, and just want to destroy everything. Will we ever get a different kind of mega-villain?

Oh no! It's Doomnomitron!
Oh no! It's Doomnomitron!

10. The Second Vindicators Team-Up Was Against an Ultron Knock-Off

Episode: “Vindicators 3: The Return of Worldender”

“Actually,” Starsoldier tells Morty during the team-up, “we assembled a second time last summer to fight Doomnomitron.” Of course the Vindicators team-up happened over the summer when most superhero blockbusters release.

Even though Doomnomitron was technically a shapeshifter where Ultron was a hivemind army of robots, the fact that his name ends in “-tron” seems like an obvious nod to the second Avengers movie.

The language used is also telling: “They did a whole Vindicators without us.” It’s shorthand for a team-up. The heroes that died in Vindicators 2 were Lady Katana, Diablo Verde, and Calypso. The first two sound literally like two characters in DC’s Suicide Squad, but Marvel actually has a Calypso in it.


Rick and Morty Vindicators 4 might never happen, but you can bet your schmeckles it would air during the summer.

If you liked this article, check out this video about an Evil Morty fan theory that seems very likely.

Photos via Adult Swim (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8), Adult Swim / Marvel