Even people who don't read comic books often have a favorite comic book character. Whether they are in love with a classic like Superman or Spider-Man, or their heart belongs to a more obscure character like Swamp Thing or Fin Fang Foom, everyone has one. But what most don't realize is that often times a character's original design was entirely different from what we now have. Or at some point in time, a new writer completely changed the character for a brief period. So this list goes out to the strangest and most mind boggling alterations of popular comic book characters.
10. The Silly Batman
There are no artist's renditions for how this Batman might have turned out, but we can certainly imagine it. Bob Kane actually thought Batman should run around in bright red tights, not wear gloves or gauntlets, have a domino mask instead of full on cowl, and a giant pair of bat wings (much like Leonardo Da Vinci's flying machine) instead of a cape. Pretty weird right? Not to mention, the wings would totally ruin Batman's sense of stealth. Luckily, Bill Finger stepped in and gave some suggestions that would make Batman look more like what we are all familiar with.
9. The Commie Fighting Captain America
One of the central concepts of Captain America is that he is a man out of his element. According to The Avengers issue number five, good ol' Cap got frozen some time during World War 2 and was never seen again until he was found floating in the ocean by the titular team. However, the original run of the Star Spangled Avenger told a very different tale. After the war, the writers couldn't have Cap sock Hitler on the jaw anymore so who else to replace him with but Stalin! As you can probably tell this didn't last long and shortly thereafter, Captain America comics got cancelled. But just imagine what if this idea kept going? What if Cap never got frozen in the stories? Would he be the same character we know or would he be totally different? Who knows? Next!
8. Groot: Conqueror of the Earth
Most people know Groot as the Guardians of the Galaxy's gentle giant (try saying that five times fast). But he actually didn't start off as a superhero. Before the Fantastic Four, Stan Lee wrote hundreds and hundreds of monster stories that didn't fair too well. And of course, Groot was in one of them.
He came off more like a 1950s sci-fi movie monster than a big huggable talking stump like he is in the movie and the 2005 Guardians of the Galaxy comics.
7. Kung-Fu Wonder Woman
Yeah, I thought this was a joke at first too. But sadly in the 1970s, someone thought stripping Wonder Woman of her super powers, making her learn martial arts, travel around the world not in her famous red, white and blue jammies, but in civilian clothing, and fighting off secret agents was a good idea. Basically, they made her into the fourth Charlie's Angel. I could go on for a while about how this is a disgrace to the character's legacy and purpose but I think this face sums up how I feel about the whole ordeal.
6. The Human Torch: A Modern Day Frankenstein
Whenever the Human Torch is brought up we think of a blond haired hot shot who likes fast cars and faster women (unless you are the producer of the Fantastic Four movie in which case you think of the dude from That Awkward Moment).
But in 1939, writer/artist Carl Burgos created a character named the Human Torch who was actually an android that burst into flames once he was exposed to oxygen. He ran around trying to conceal the fire but instead accidentally started reeking havoc upon the city. Once the character proved popular, he was changed into a superhero who eventually got control over his fire powers and even got a little sidekick called Toro.
5. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Volume 3
1996 was a difficult year for everyone's favorite heroes in a half shell. Their cartoon just got cancelled, other properties like Power Rangers were on the rise, and sadly Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation would be coming out soon and be considered one of the lowest points for the franchise.
Despite all that, the original comics still were running during this time under Image-the third largest comic publisher. They were given many new alterations including Leo losing a hand, Raph losing an eye, Donatello becoming a cyborg, and Raph even becoming the new Shredder for a time. The weirdest addition was the fact that they were inserted into the rest of the Image universe so casually that other characters like the Savage Dragon could just waltz into their world no problem. To put it in perspective, imagine if Ghost Rider just showed up in a Star Wars movie with no explanation as to how he got there. It would be pretty weird. Also Splinter was a bat for a time.
The late '90s were not kind to Eastman and Laird's creations.
4. Lady Venom
Venom is one of Spider-Man's most popular villains but would you have taken the character more seriously if he was actually a she? The writers didn't think so. Originally, Venom was going to be a woman who suffered great loss. She was going into labor pains when her husband tried to flag down a taxi. At the same time, Spider-Man was facing off against a villain which distracted the cab driver and the husband got run over and died. The woman gave birth right there on the sidewalk to her child but the baby died as well. She would have held Spider-Man responsible for what happened to her and would eventually come across the alien symbiote that would transform her into Venom. Instead, we got Eddie Brock.
Someone actually thought that a woman would not be a believable threat to Spider-Man. I am not a very PC person but even I think that's pretty sexist. Plus Spider-Man has a lack of female villains on his roster so why not make Venom a woman? Just saying.
3. Stan Lee's Just Imagine
One alteration of a character could change a lot about the world they live in. But just imagine if an entire universe was re-imagined?
In 2001, a series of thirteen comic books written by Stan "The Man" Lee were published and they depict a very different DC universe. Superman is a Kryptonian cop transported to Earth and fights off crime so that the Earthlings can focus on advancing technology in order to get him home; Batman is an African American wrestler who gained fame and fortune through his many fights and now battles street level crime; Wonder Woman in an activist who gains supernatural powers from the Incan Sun god; Green lantern is a professor that is killed by a secret cult but is brought back to life by a mystical tree as it's human servant; The Flash is a woman injected with the DNA of a hummingbird; and Aquaman is a being made out of living water. You can check out more details about these stories with this link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Just_Imagine...
2. Jack Kirby's Spider Man
Spider-Man is arguably Stan Lee's greatest creation, but what most would be surprised to hear is that Jack Kirby-Stan's pal and frequent collaborator-came up with a character with the same name. Jack described him as "Captain America with Cob Webs" (Jack had a thing for Cap) and he would possess a web gun and great strength. Not much is known about this character beyond that brief description and that he would be a middle aged man instead of a teenager. Most would say Stan ripped off the idea from Jack but really this Spider-Man is too different to be called the original Spider-Man. That's not the case though for our number one pick.
1. The Original Superman
In 1933, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster imagined Superman more as a villain than the symbol for truth, justice, and the American way that we all know now. Superman used to be Bill Dunn, a vagrant picked out randomly by a mad scientist to be part of an experiment in exchange for food and clothes. He drank a potion that gave him great telepathic powers and was bent on taking over the world.
Bill soon found out that the formula's effects were temporary and once again became another forgotten face in the crowd. This drastic alteration eventually gave way to the Man of Steel but what would have happened if Jerry & Joe stuck with their original idea? Would Superman have been some sort of crazed villain like a super powered Lex Luthor? How would this impact us culturally?
Once again this is all just speculation as to how our perceptions might have changed if these different decisions were taken. But let's just enjoy the fact that these characters turned out the way they should have and be glad for it.