There is no denying that since his creation in the 1930s, Superman has become one of the biggest superheroes and comic book characters of all time. So much so that The Man of Steel has transcended the pages of the comic books to become a cultural icon. Standing for truth, justice, and all things good in the world, Superman never has a lust for power, fame, or riches and he always stays on the side of good to make the world a better place, even though he does have the power of a god.
Over the years, many comic books have tried to replicate Superman’s success and have come up with characters that are very similar to, and even ones that were “inspired” by, The Man of Steel. Whether it’s his personality, origin story, or his vast powers, Superman has been the subject of a lot of copycats over the years. Some have been subtle, some have been homages to the great hero, and some are just blatant rip-offs. So, for this list we are looking at 15 times comic books have ripped off Superman.
We start our list with a fairly new character in the world of comic books. Sentry came into Marvel as late as 2000, although his backstory was soon retconned. In fact, the character had been prominent in the Marvel universe from the beginning, although every character seemed to forget this, including Sentry.
Although Sentry has gone on to be a very prominent character within the Marvel universe, as well as one of the most powerful, there is no denying that Sentry started life out as a bit of a Superman clone. Not only was his costume similar, and quite often sporting a giant S on his chest, but his powers were similar to that of Superman as well: superhuman strength, speed, invulnerability, and flight.
Our next entry turns to a hero that is produced by Marvel imprint Icon comics. Coming from the minds of comic book greats Max Millar and Leinil Francis Yu, Superior tells the story of a young boy with some serious anger, as well as mental, issues. The boy idolizes heroes and soon gets his wish granted, by an alien monkey, and is given the powers of superhero Superior.
Superior is actually an intentionally Superman analogy, as well as being a nod to Shazam, which is also a Superman rip-off, but more on him later. The parallels between superior and Superman are pretty obvious; there’s the costume, which are pretty much identical, and the powers, strength, speed, agility, freeze breath, and invulnerability. Also, a lot of the stories and incidents that happen to Superior are also apparent in Superman’s adventures.
Our next entry comes from the Dark Horse Comic creation The End League. In The End League, the superheroes have lost the war against evil and the supervillains rule the planet and have enslaved everyone that is left. The remaining superheroes band together in order to change the world. These heroes are led by Astonishman.
Astonishman’s character is a little different to Superman’s; it was Astonishman’s fault that the Earth was doomed as he was tricked by a villain into attacking a nuclear warhead that devastated the Earth. Although he has some differences, there is no denying the similarities between him and Superman, namely his powers. Astonishman possesses super strength, speed, flight, super hearing, and invulnerability. Astonishman’s end came after injuries he suffered at the hands of Thor.
12. Blue Marvel
The tale of our next entry and this lesser known hero is quite an interesting one. Blue Marvel is not only an obvious Superman rip-off but it was also Marvel’s attempt to confront many issues that comic books often get called out for, namely race and ethnicity. In a world in which superheroes are worshiped and held up as god-like figures who you can always rely on to save the day, what would happen in that world if the hero, who wears a complete body costume, takes off his costume and turns out to be black? Would the world, government, and fellow heroes act any differently towards him? The idea was supposed to show a different era in the world, but unfortunately these issues are still with us today.
Ok, so our next entry is possible the biggest and most obvious Superman clone, and that’s intentional. Within the DC universe, there are many many different Earths and quite often major storylines involve parallel worlds and different counterparts to our favorite DC heroes. Although many characters have used the name Ultraman in the DC universe, we are focusing on the evil Ultraman and Superman parallel from DC’s Earth 3.
In this universe, Ultraman is the leader of the Crime Syndicate, an evil version of The Justice League. Ultraman has all the powers and traits of Superman, as well as a few more as he has managed to enhance his powers through constant exposure to Kryptonite. Ultraman started out as a version of Superman that used his power for evil and if anyone could stop him, which is a constant topic in the DC universe.
It doesn’t take a genius to work out why our next entry is a Superman rip-off, after all, he looks just like him, only with a moustache. Omni-Man comes from the Invincible universe created by Image Comics. Omni-Man is a member of the Viltrumite race of beings that was actually sent to earth to conquer it. However, once here, he met a woman and had a baby, Mark Greyson, who would grow up to be the superhero Invincible. Omni-Man has both been a villain and a hero in this comic book universe and therefore often came up against his own son.
As well as the obvious look of Omni-Man, and being an alien, Omni-Man also possesses pretty much the same powers as The Man of Steel such as flight, superhuman strength, speed, stamina, invulnerability, and a slow aging process.
The next entry on our list is a character that has had a few makeovers and reboots over the years. Coming from Imprint comics, Supreme started life out as a violent and less tolerant version of Superman, as he was given all of Superman’s powers but none of his moral code and incredible steel willed traits. However, that version of Supreme didn’t do very well and it was taken over by Alan Moore.
Moore turned the comic book around and purposely used inspiration from early Superman stories to rebrand Supreme. Not only were the look, powers, and storylines an homage to and inspired by Superman, but Moore also introduced characters that have become synonymous with The Man of Steel such as Supreme’s sister Suprema, an homage to Supergirl, and Radar the Hound Supreme, a homage to Krypto the Dog.
8. Captain Universe
So the next entry on our list isn’t an obvious Superman rip-off when you first look at him. Captain Universe isn’t even in fact a superhero at all, he is actually a hero idea and entity that can only exist by possessing other life forms. It can do this with the Uni-Power which it gets from the Enigma Force. Over the years, Captain Universe has possessed many people, including The Hulk, Spider-Man, Daredevil, and Doctor Strange.
While in possession, the characters get access to superpowers which are pretty much the same as Superman’s; Flight, superhuman strength, speed, agility, invulnerability, and enhanced senses. It must also be said that Captain Universe’s most famous possession, a Chicago cop named Ted Simmons, is pretty much a Clark Kent rip-off.
7. The Plutonian
As we’ve already mentioned on this list, since Superman’s creation, there has always been one question that everyone has asked (whether that’s inside the DC universe or in the real world): What would happen if Superman ever turned evil? For the answer to this question we step outside the mainstream comic book world and enter Boom! Studios’ Irredeemable comic book. In this comic book, the main hero, Plutonian, was once the greatest and most powerful hero in the world. After a mistake by Plutonian which claimed the lives of many children, he snaps and takes out his vengeance on the world by destroying cities and killing millions of people.
The idea of the comic book, as you can tell from the title, is can such a character that started out with such high morals, be saved after he does something bad and can his character be redeemed? The Plutonian himself shares very similar powers and personality traits with the Main of Steel in the beginning, so it’s an interesting take on the Superman character.
6. Mister Majestic
Turning to the Wildstorm, or WildC.A.T.s as it was once known, universe with our next entry, this DC imprint features Mister Majestic, the most powerful hero and being in the Wildstorm universe, who at first was a warlord and commander for the alien race Kherubim. Majestic soon becomes stranded on Earth and his military personality and warlord tendencies give way and he becomes a champion of Earth and fights off the evil that tries to destroy humanity.
The similarities between Mister Majestic and Superman are pretty obvious from the start; they’re both aliens that come to Earth to protect it. Their powers are pretty much the same: flight, super strength, speed, laser eyebeams, ice breath, invulnerability, and extended life span. Mister Majestic also founded a superhero team known as The Wildcats, which is a pretty close mirror to DC’s Justice League.
5. Captain Marvel/ Shazam
Next we come to a character that was actually taken out of circulation in the comic book world for quite a few years because many people thought it was such a Superman rip-off. It’s pretty clear that Shazam, or Captain Marvel as he was first called, is pretty close to Superman. They share all the same basic powers: superhuman strength, speed, flight invulnerabilit, and so on. The only difference between the two is that Shazam’s alter ego is a young boy and he only gets access to these great powers when he says the magic word “Shazam.”
When Superman first came out, he proved very popular with fans. So popular, in fact, that that a few years later Fawcett Comics came up with their own version of Superman, Captain Marvel. Captain Marvel actually sold better than Superman over the next few years and became the most popular comic book around. However, by the 1950s, Fawcett Comics had to stop publishing Captain Marvel comic books as their character infringed copyrights on Superman. In the end DC bought all the rights to Captain Marvel, renamed him Shazam and fitted him alongside The Man of Steel.
When the comic book giants that are Marvel decided to unite their comic book world and bring all their heroes together under one name, they wanted a Superman of their own and came up with Hyperion. Over the years, there have been many characters that have used the name Hyperion and pretty much all of them have been Superman clones.
The most famous is the supervillain version of Hyperion that was a member of the Squadron Sinister, a group of equally evil superpowered beings that want to rule the world. Most versions of Hyperion are villains, evil villains that want to enslave whichever planet they are on! Evilness aside, everything else about the character just screams Superman. From the look of the character, the same powers and in some versions, even a similar origin story.
3. Wonder Man
The next entry on our list is another Marvel hero and character that DC have tried to sue and get taken out of publication. According to comic book legend Stan Lee, DC felt Wonder Man not only infringed on Superman but Wonder Woman as well and wanted Marvel to stop using the character and the name, which Stan Lee did, or at least for a little while anyway.
The character of Wonder Man itself is a pretty blatant rip-off, or maybe homage, to both DC’s Man of Steel and Wonder Woman. On powers alone, Wonder Man can fly, he has superhuman strength, speed, reflexes, he’s invulnerable, he also has enhanced sight and hearing as well as an extended lifespan. The only real difference between Superman and Wonder Man is his back story. Whereas Superman was always destined for greatness and to be the world’s hero, Wonder Man was actually created by Baron Zemo as a weapon to take down The Avengers. However, Wonder Man’s moral compass got the better of him and he actually saved The Avengers and then later joined them.
2. Captain America
The next entry on our list may seem like a bit of a strange one at first glance, but when you look deeper into it, you can see the similarities between Marvel’s golden boy, Captain America, and DC’s boy scout, Superman. Obviously the two heroes don’t share any of the same powers, costumes, or back story. After all, Captain America is just a human. He may have enhanced abilities due to the super serum, but he’s still just a man.
The similarities actually come from what the characters mean to their respective universe. When Superman first appeared, he stood for truth, justice, and the American dream. He never crossed the line, he never killed anyone, he couldn’t be bribed, tricked or seduced with power or money. He only wanted to help people, save the world, and make sure justice won the day, all the while doing it with pride and patriotism for his country. Sound familiar?
We couldn’t have a list of Superman rip offs, homages and characters that were inspired by The Man of Steel and not talk about Goku. The Super Saiyan god and most powerful, and most popular, hero in the Dragon Ball universe has possibly become even more popular than Superman, the hero that inspired his creation.
The similarities between the two are pretty close. They are both aliens who come to Earth, and both in fact have an alien name and an Earth name; Superman is Clark Kent and Kal -El and Goku is also known as Kakarrot. Their powers are pretty similar – ok, Goka displays different powers but they are both based on the same format. They even have the same moral code and the same pure heart that they are always on the side of good and never sway to the evil side. The creator of the Dragon Ball universe himself has stated that when he was creating Goku he wanted a Superman like character to be at the heart of his universe, and he certainly did that.