Superheroes and villains have been a part of our culture for nearly 80 years now. The characters in the comic books have crossed over into nearly every other aspect of entertainment, reaching into video games, television and of course major movies. With the expansive shared universes being capitalized on in Hollywood, it makes sense that the characters in the comics are as popular as ever.
Both #DCComics and #Marvel have introduced their own comic book storylines, Rebirth and Civil War II respectively, that are reintroducing longtime readers with new plotlines while also introducing new readers to the beloved characters. Yet even some of the most established readers can sometimes be perplexed by the convoluted history of some of the most prominent characters.
So, let's take a quick look at some of the "facts" that many fans have believed over the years that are completely false.
Myth 1: Superheroes Don't Age, Retire or Die
Some new readers may question how big name characters like #Batman, #Superman or Captain America can stay so youthful and spry after countless years. Well, the truth is that in order for comic books to stay as popular as they are requires some careful 'twisting' of reality (at least in terms of the comics themselves).
Characters do in fact grow old, retire and yes, they die. But in order for the comic book studios to keep the material fresh, they introduce alternate realities or parallel universes to keep their characters at the top of their respective games. A few prime examples are:
- The Dark Knight Returns. Frank Miller's pivotal title is the perfect example of retirement never being the last of a character. In this story, Bruce Wayne finally retired from vigilantism returns for one night to defeat every villain in Gotham.
- Kingdom Come. Mark Waid introduces the story of elder #JusticeLeague members who come into conflict with the up-and-coming young vigilantes that replaced them.
- Crisis on Infinite Earths, Civil War & Batman: A Death in the Family. All of these titles introduced the aspect of a major character dying. Although they didn't stay dead in the long run, it went to prove the point that no hero is above the risk of death.
Myth 2: The Flash Is the Fastest Speedster. Period.
This statement is probably one of the most debated concepts in comic books next to 'Who is stronger: Superman or the #Hulk?' - And honestly, it will probably always be a highly contested topic. #Flash is without a doubt one of, if not the fastest, character in the comic books - at least if we're looking at this on an equal playing field.
This usually comes down to an argument between DC's The Flash and Marvel's #Quicksilver as the reigning speedsters of each universe. While on paper The Flash wins a straight sprint as evidenced in the late '90s crossover event, DC vs Marvel Comics. In one issue during this crossover The Flash speeds past Quicksilver winning their race by a mile.
Yet, simply a few years later in the JLA/Avengers crossover comic these two speedsters face off again and Quicksilver runs circles around The Flash because Wally West (The Flash) doesn't have access to the Speed Force in the Marvel Universe. The Speed Force being where all of the DC speedsters in the Flash family gain their immense speed and skill from.
The fact that The Flash requires the Speed Force to defeat Quicksilver makes the argument a moot point because Quicksilver doesn't require any additional source for his speed, it's just a part of his natural mutation.
Myth 3: Daredevil's Blindness Heightens His Other Senses
Now, superheroes with disabilities are not very common in either the DC or Marvel universes, but there have been a few prominent heroes to grace the comic book pages over the years. The first disabled hero crown goes to Dr. Charles McNider (a.k.a. Doctor Mid-Nite) who gained the power to see in total darkness but is completely blind in the daylight.
Doctor Mid-Nite gained his ability at the cost of his eyesight whereas #Daredevil who also is technically blind did not gain his abilities at the cost of his own sight.
Daredevil's superhuman senses were not enhanced because of his blindness, but rather because of the exposure to radioactive material - the same radioactive material that blinded him in the first place. Now that's not to say that Daredevil didn't work damn hard to hone his other sense, because that's part of it for sure. He focused on training the radioactively-augmented senses to compensate for his blindness.
Myth 4: Black Widow Is in Her Mid 20s/Early 30s
Now this is a very common believe that can be attributed to the popularity of the character thanks to #ScarlettJohansson's portrayal in the Marvel films. She first arrived as a cameo of sorts in Iron Man 2 only to quickly establish herself as one of the primary crossover characters between films. Scarlett introduced us to a mid-20s Black Widow and likely will even see her own spin-off movie. In the films she's known for her quick thinking, badass fighting ability and of course the iconic black catsuit.
Yet the truth is that #BlackWidow is anything but young as she appears in the films. Trained at a young age as a Russian spy, she was brainwashed and received several biological enhancements during her time in the Red Room facility.
Her biological enhancements served to explain her extended lifespan in the comics as she was able to partner with both Wolverine and Captain America during WWII, then in the '70s partnering (romantically and as vigilantes) with Daredevil. Black Widow continues to be the ageless secret spy of the Marvel Universe - but if she's been around since the '70s she's definitely not 25.
Myth 5: Wolverine's Real Name is Logan
This is actually a fairly well-held belief of many fans of the character. Yet, it's technically false. Most of this can be attributed to Hugh Jackman's amazing performance as the adamantium claw-wielding character in the X-Men film franchise. Wolverine's backstory has always been a fan-favorite. Because of how popular the character is, it's easy to see how it could be believed that his real name would be Logan, especially considering that that has been how he's been addressed in every major X-Men movie as well as his upcoming solo film, which is literally titled Logan.
However, in 2001 Marvel published a series that dove into Wolverine's mysterious past. His past was unraveled and fans discovered that his real name was actually James Howlett, the bastard child of Elizabeth Howlett and the family's groundskeeper, Thomas Logan.
When James grows older, he goes on the run with a woman named Rose, and he assumes the name 'Logan' to keep his true identity safe. By the time he meets the X-Men many years later, he has several implanted memories that keep him from knowing the truth about his original birth name.
Myth 6: Spider-Man's Web Comes from His Wrist
This is a common misconception, thanks in large part to Sam Raimi's Spider-Man films. In these films, many viewers began to believe that Peter Parker's web shooting came literally from his wrists as the movies made it appear.
However, if you look back through his history in the comic books and the remaining films in the franchise, his webs have been produced by a mechanical web-shooter of his own creation. (A notable exception being when he was bonded with his symbiote suit.) By using this web-shooter with various fluids he is able to produce various types of webbing, depending on what he deems necessary for each encounter.
Peter Parker was a genius-level intellectual long before he was bitten by the radioactive spider that would change his life completely. After being bitten, Peter developed superhuman reflexes, agility, strength as well as his beloved spider sense.
Yet, even though being bitten by a spider, he did not gain the ability to spin his own webs - the spider gave him abilities, but did not alter his genetic structure - he's still a human. Spider-Man's web-shooters are clearly evidenced in several stories as well as the most recent Marvel film, Captain America: Civil War.
Myth 7: Captain America Was Created by Marvel Comics
Speaking of Captain America, there is another common misconception that should be cleared up. Many Captain America fans believe that he was created by Marvel Comics when they hit the pages in 1961. Yet, the good Captain was actually created in the late '30s by Timely - the comic book division of Martin Goodman's pulp magazine publishing company.
The Captain was one of three characters introduced who would later assist in defining the superheroes of the time. the others being Namor the Sub-Mariner and the Human Torch (not to be confused with the Fantastic Four's Human Torch). Timely Comics later became Atlas Comics, and then years later spun out and became Marvel Comics.
Technically all three characters remained through the brand change, but the fact is that Marvel Comics as they are today did not create Captain America. And along the same lines, Stan Lee is often seen as the founder of Marvel, but he was actually the Editor-in-Chief prior to becoming president and publisher - but he did help cement Marvel Comics in the world and soon was able to surpass DC Comics in sales in the early '70s.
Myth 8: The X-Men Were Totally Original For Their Time
It's obvious that the X-Men have been a major portion of our pop culture for decades now, and it can partially be attributed to the core premise that the X-Men fight for a world that both fears and hates them. That powerful premise has been applied to countless other groups over the last few years.
The X-Men have endured years in the spotlight, and many people believed that the X-Men were a truly original idea that have withstood the test of time. Except, if you look back at the earliest issues of Marvel's X-Men and DC's Doom Patrol, there are some very uncomfortable similarities:
- The arch-enemies: The Doom Patrol's main adversary is the Brotherhood of Evil and the X-Men square off against the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.
- The leader: Both teams are led by an intellect in a wheelchair. Doom Patrol had The Chief, and the X-Men had Professor X.
- The team members: Both teams are comprised of several superpowered characters who sought to protect the world that feared them.
Now, I'm not saying that the X-Men are a total ripoff, but it begs the question as to where the character ideas came from.
Myth 9: Hulk Is the Strongest Character in the Marvel Universe
Just like the debate over whether The Flash or Quicksilver is the fastest comic book character, there has been a virtually endless debate about whether the Hulk is the strongest character in both DC and Marvel's respective universes. Superman has often been pitted against the green rage monster in a battle of "what if?"
Now, before you stop reading let me state that even the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe has stated that Hulk's brute strength is incalculable, and has nearly no upper limit. Most non-comic-fans would be inclined to believe that Hulk is the strongest character in the Marvel universe, simply because they've had no exposure to other superpowerful cosmic entities.
Yet, in this figurative approach, there are several other characters who also appear to have limitless strength, such as Silver Surfer, Blue Marvel and the Thunder God Thor. All three of these characters can go toe-to-toe with Hulk. Heck, even Iron Man, in his Hulkbuster armor, can give Hulk pause and match him in sheer power. So in terms of Hulk being the absolute strongest Marvel character, that is in fact false, and even Stan Lee himself doesn't think Hulk is the strongest - instead siding with Galactus as having that honor.
Did I miss anything? Comment below your favorite comic book myth that most people believe!