Nowadays it is seemingly impossible to find anything original. While watching television and movies one can almost feel a sense of déjà vu in that some plot points and story lines are just too played out. One place that this issue can be justified is with original characters. Well developed, original characters can bring life to even the most exhausted story. Unfortunately, characters don’t always get the development they deserve due to the fact that a movie can only last so long and a show must contain a story in thirty minutes to an hour and work to develop characters over a series. That development can get cut short though if the show is cancelled.
One place characters can be well developed is a nice good book, more specifically a comic book. In a comic book the main focus is the development of a character. We get to follow the story of a major event that changes the life of a character and how they respond to these events. Will they overcome the adversity and make sacrifice in order to make the world a better place or will they give in to greed or anger and become a villain? Comic book characters must be original in order to keep storylines fresh and audiences engaged, right? Well, it turns out that all characters might not be as original as we would think. Here are sixteen times that DC ripped off Marvel characters.
16 Ghost Rider vs. Atomic Skull
Ghost Rider was a lesser known Marvel character but was made more famous in recent years when he appeared in his own blockbuster movie and portrayed by cinema’s favorite son Nicolas Cage. The original Ghost Rider was a motorcycle stuntman named Johnny Blaze who signs a contract with the devil (or a demon by the name of Mephisto) to save his father. Blaze then finds that when he is in the presence of evil he turns into the Ghost Rider with a signature flaming skull. The Rider has been an antihero since 1972.
Ghost Rider rides his motorcycle on the line of good and bad. Atomic Skull, on the other hand, is just bad. Albert Michaels was a scientist at a place called S.T.A.R. Labs, you may have heard of it, that suffered from chronic seizures due to a mental disorder. He signed a contract with a group a villains known as SKULL in order to get an implant to stop the seizures but from then on he was forced to do their bidding. His most notable feature is a radiating head. Atomic Skull started pestering Superman in 1976.
15 Captain America vs. Commander Steel
Anyone who hasn’t been living under a rock is familiar with Captain America. Steve Rogers was a scrawny kid who joined the military and was injected with a super soldier serum in order during World War II in 1941. The Cap has been the goody two shoes of Marvel ever since, most recently going head to head with Ironman in Captain America: Civil War.
Most audiences will probably be less familiar with Commander Steel. Commander Steel, aka Henry Heywood, was a service member in the United States Marine Corps during World War II (sound familiar?). Heywood suffered severe injuries when he was betrayed and had to undergo surgery. The surgery didn’t only fix his injuries though, it gave him super strength and speed along with other superhuman abilities. He donned a suit and mask to fight in the war under an alias of Commander Steel while Henry Heywood is stuck in a desk job. The Commander came onto the scene in 1978. But could Commander Steel take on Robert Downey Jr.?
14 Electro vs. Black Lightning
Spiderman fans may know Electro from The Amazing Spider-Man 2 as portrayed by Jamie Foxx. Spoiler Alert: The movie isn’t great. But Foxx’s portrayal of Maxwell Dillion is not the reason. The movie did, however, alter the character’s origin story. The original Maxwell did not work at Oscorp but was instead an electrical engineer who was struck by lightning while changing out a powerline which gave him the ability to harness and control electricity. Magneto asked him to be a part of the Brotherhood, which would have set him on a track to fight the X-Men for the rest of his life. He turned Magneto down and robbed J. Jonah Jameson setting himself up to fight Spiderman for the rest of his life. The OG Electro has been around since 1964.
Black lightning has a different backstory in that he was born with his powers. Jefferson Pierce grew up in a troubled neighborhood but a mentor taught him to bottle his powers so that he wouldn’t hurt anyone. He lived life as a normal human and pushed himself to become an Olympic gold medalist. It wasn’t until he returned to his home and saw the death of his father that he decided to use his electric powers for good. Jefferson’s powers are definitely similar to Electro's, but his backstory is more reminiscent of Luke Cage.
13 Banshee vs. Silver Banshee
Another character that fans have seen on the big screen in recent years is Banshee. Sean Cassidy was a character portrayed in 2011’s X-Men: First Class. Originally, Banshee was found by a supervillain named Changeling. Changeling tried and tried to get Banshee to join a crew of supervillains by the name of Factor Three. When he refused, Factor Three kidnapped Banshee and put explosives on his head and forced him to use his supersonic vocal cords to do their bidding (think reverse Suicide Squad). He was finally freed by the X-Men and became a hero.
Siobhan McDougal was the daughter and first child of a Celtic clan leader. When her father passed away she was passed over as the leader of the clan simply because she was female. McDougal took matters into her own hands and started the ritual to make herself the leader (which involved calling upon spirits to give her power) when her younger brother barged in to stop her. This caused her to lose concentration and the spirits dragged her to the netherworld. She was granted banshee powers and sent back to Earth to get a book on the occult. Whereas Banshee hit the pages for the first time in 1967, Silver Banshee didn’t come onto the scene until 1987.
12 Namor vs. Aquaman
Now this is one that may come as a surprise. Namor the Sub-Mariner made his first appearance in 1939 when his father, Leonard Mckenzie met his mother Fen and they fell in love. This love story ends how most do, his father being murdered by his mother’s family because he is a human and the mother’s family are Atlanteans. Namor resides in Atlantis as prince and their number one warrior. He also helps other Marvel heroes to protect threats to the entire world.
Two years after Namor appeared in Marvel Comics a man named Arthur Curry showed up in DC Comics, more widely known as Aquaman. The original backstory of Aquaman created in the Golden Age of comics states that his father was a world renowned undersea explorer. His name is never given but he found the lost city of Atlantis and after his wife passed away he made an air sealed home in which he studied ancient Atlantean texts. In his studies, he learns how to breathe underwater and speak to sea animals in their own languages. He passed this knowledge onto his son, Arthur, who became Aquaman.
11 Wasp vs. Bumblebee
Yet another character who has an altered backstory on screen, the original Wasp appeared in 1963 and was not Hank Pym’s daughter, instead she was the daughter of Vernon van Dyne which was one of Hank’s associates. Vernon has an experiment that accidentally unleashed an alien that killed him. In an attempt to get revenge for her father Janet van Dyne works with Hank Pym and his Pym particles in order to shrink and grow wings on command. She, alongside Pym, defeats the alien and the two become love interests.
Karen Beecher is a scientist who was the girlfriend of one of the Teen Titans. She originally appeared in 1976 when she decided to make her boyfriend look good in front of the rest of the Titans. She created a suit that allows her to shrink down to the size of a bee and fly. This act impressed the Titans enough for them to invite her to be a member.
10 Thor vs. Shazam
Thor dates way, way back to Norse mythology but for the purposes of this article we are going to go with his first appearance in Marvel Comics, which was 1962. The Marvel version of Thor was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby and is sent to earth by Odin. He takes on the identity of a Dr. Donald Blake but doubles as the Mighty Thor fully equipped with Mjolnir. Thor is a founding member of the Avengers but has several of his own adventures usually involving him chasing down his adopted brother. Thor is now most notable on the big screen as portrayed by Chris Hemsworth. Fun fact: Kirby wrote for DC Comics for a short time and took Thor with him.
Shazam is an ancient Egyptian wizard that knows his time is coming to an end. He bestows a portion of his power on a young boy named Billy Batson. He makes it so that when Billy yells, “SHAZAM!” he is struck by lightning and becomes Captain Marvel. Shazam is actually an acronym in that Billy receives the wisdom of Solomon, the strength of Hercules, the stamina of Atlas, the power of Zeus, the courage of Achilles, and the speed of Mercury. Shazam and Captain Marvel were beat by Marvel Comics not appearing until 1972. If you want to get technical Shazam dates back to Faecett Comics appearing in 1940, but Thor dates back to Norse Mythology so point still Thor.
9 Vision vs. Martian Manhunter
Vision is a synthezoid android that was created by another robot named Ultron. Ultron created Vision to fight against his own creator, the previously mentioned Hank Pym (not Tony Stark), Pym’s wife Janet van Dyne (aka Wasp), and the rest of the Avengers. The Vision turns against Ultron and joins the Avengers. The Vision was originally created in 1940 but gained much more fame when he made it to the silver screen in Avengers: Age of Ultron in 2015.
Martian Manhunter is a Martian that is pulled to Earth by an experimental teleportation beam manned by Dr. Saul Erdel. When Martian Manhunter is brought to Earth he immediately encounters Dr. Erdel who has a heart attack and dies at the sight of the alien. While stuck on Earth Martian Manhunter decides to fight crime and joins the Justice League. Martian Manhunter and Vision have similar personalities and troubles understanding humans. But Martian Manhunter has only been questioning humans since 1955.
8 Man Thing vs. Swamp Thing
This one is a close call. Man Thing came to the scene in May of 1971 when a young biochemist named Ted Sallis of Nebraska is working in the Everglades trying to recreate the super soldier serum from Captain America. He disobeys orders and brings his girlfriend who betrays him. While on the run he injects himself with a sample of the serum that he has been working on which has a bad reaction with the swamp. This causes him to become Man Thing.
Two months later in July of 1971 scientist Alec Holland was working to create a secret chemical in the marshlands. Holland was killed when a bomb went off in his lab, but a creature made of the vegetation absorbs Alec’s memories and personality. Swamp Thing has the ability to control plants, he has super strength, and can regrow his body. Both Man Thing and Swamp Thing work to protect humanity.
7 Longshot vs. Booster Gold
Longshot showed up in Marvel Comics as a humanoid robot created in another universe called the “Mojoverse” in 1985. He was created by a group of individuals called the Spineless Ones who are ruled by an individual named Mojo. The leader of the geneticists that created Longshot, named Arise, gave Longshot freewill and a conscience. When the slave robots rebelled they gained the power to create good luck for themselves. Longshot escapes to Earth and uses his good luck to fight crime.
Not much can give you more luck than knowing what is going to happen. This is the case for Booster Gold. Gold, whose real name is Michael Jon Carter, is born in the 25th Century and is a football star. His father convinces him to start throwing football games in order to win bets. Carter is caught and disgraced. He studies the 20th Century and travels back in time to be a superhero. He gets to Earth a year later than Longshot though, arriving in DC Comics in 1986
6 The Hulk vs. Doomsday
If there is a backstory that has been told to death it is probably Bruce Banner’s. The original backstory is that a teenager drives on a test field for Gamma radiation. Banner rushes onto the field and pushes the teen into a trench to keep him safe but he ends up getting hit with the radiation himself. He seems to be unharmed but later turns into a grey monster. A soldier describes the monster as a hulk giving the creature his name. Since then the Hulk has been a protagonist and an antagonist in the Marvel Universe since 1962 and has graced the pages of books, the small screen, as well as the silver screen with the astound ability to absorb attacks that make him more mad, which makes him stronger.
Originally known as “The Ultimate,” Doomsday was a monster from Krypton who first smashed into pages of DC Comics in 1992. He was created by a scientist who took a baby and released it on Krypton’s surface. When the baby died the scientist brought it back, cloned it, made it stronger, and sent it back out until it died again and repeated this process until the creature no longer died. This caused Doomsday to have the ability to absorb attacks and evolve immediately to adapt. Doomsday is most notable for killing Superman.
5 Wolverine vs. Lobo
The Hulk may have had his backstory retold more than any other comic book character, but few characters have appeared in more forms of media than Wolverine who appeared first in 1974. Wolverine’s backstory is interesting and rarely ever told in completion. Young James Howlett thinks he is the son of wealthy Canadian farmers John and Elizabeth Howlett but in reality he is the son of Elizabeth and a farmhand known as Thomas Logan. Thomas is fired and kicked off of the farm when his son, named Dog, attempts to rape someone. Thomas retaliates by killing John Howlett but is then himself killed by young James who has bone claws for hands. James then flees to live alone and adopts the name Logan, and the rest is history.
What Logan is most known for these days is riding a motorcycle, having attitude, and being tough. DC took this to the next level in 1983 when they created a character with all of these traits and simply made him a villain instead of an antihero. Lobo is an alien who has super strength, a healing factor, and a super-human arrogance much like the beloved Wolverine.
4 Iron Man vs. Steel
Now few people would even know who Iron Man was if it weren’t for Robert Downey Jr.’s amazing portrayal on the big screen. Iron Man, however, has been around since 1963. Born Anthony Edward Stark, Tony was the son of a brilliant inventor named Howard. Tony takes after his father in the intellect department and attends MIT at the age of 15 where he double majors in electrical engineering and physics. He prematurely gains control over his father’s company when both his father and mother are killed in a car crash, but Tony finds himself captured by a terrorist named Wong-Chu. Wong-Chu orders Stark to make weapons for him but instead Tony makes his first Iron Man suit and escapes.
Commander Steel was similar to Captain America, but Steel hit DC Comics in 1993 looking a lot like Iron Man. John Henry Irons was a weapons engineer for a company called AmerTek Industries but turned away when he saw what his weapons were capable of. He decided to fight crime at a lower level creating a metal suit and taking on street thugs. Although Downey Jr. plays Tony Stark effortlessly, the Shaquille O’Neal version of Steel left some things to be desired.
3 Captain America vs. General Glory
We have already looked at Captain America, but Commander Steel may not be the only one playing a little copycat. Cap took up his shield in 1941 but it wasn’t for another fifty years that General Glory showed up in DC in 1991. General Glory was a World War II soldier who was granted super human abilities by none other than the Statue of Liberty. He uttered, “Lady of Liberty, hear my plea. For the land of the brave and home of the free.” And apparently that is all you have to do to become a superhero. I bet Cap wishes he would have known about that shortcut.
Much like the promotional material in Captain America, General Glory had his own comic book within his comic book to spread the theory that he was a fictional person. He even had a run-in with other list member Booster Gold who called Glory unstable.
2 Galactus vs. Imperiex
Since 1966 there has been one individual in the Marvel Universe that strikes fear in the hearts of all as a world destroyer. Galactus was an explorer from the planet Taa who is caught in something known as the Big Crunch. He does not die, however, he is transformed into a giant and placed in a gestation period. When he emerges from this period he is starving and must consume entire planets in order to satisfy his hunger.
On the DC side there has been a destructive force known as Imperiex since 2000. Imperiex is the embodiment of entropy and is a being of pure energy that takes the shape of a humanoid. Imperiex destroys entire universes in order to use the remains to create a new universe. He is originally introduced when an individual named Mongul arrives on Earth letting the heroes know that Imperiex has destroyed his world and is now on his way to earth.
1 Spiderman vs. Black Spider
The Hulk may have the most reiterations of his origin story, but Spiderman is not far behind. Since 1962 the web slinger has been a crucial part of Marvel Comics. Peter Parker is bitten by a radioactive spider on a field trip to a science exhibit and gains super-human abilities. These abilities include super-human strength, speed, agility, the ability to cling to surfaces, precognitive senses, and the ability to shoot webs through web shooters on his wrists that he created himself.
The Black Spider hit the scene in 1976 as a crook named Eric Needham addicted to heroin. He did time in prison but do to being a minor was released after only three years. After he was released he robbed a liquor store and killed the owner. After it turned out that the owner was his father, Eric renounced his life of crime and dawns a spider costume to fight crime. Both spiders are driven due to the death of father figures, but luckily Peter didn’t kill Uncle Ben.
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