ByKit Simpson Browne, writer at
Writer-at-large. Bad jokes aplenty. Can be gently prodded on Twitter at @kitsb1
Kit Simpson Browne

(Warning - major SPOILERS for multiple Marvel comic books lie below, including a few fairly recent ones. Tread softly, if you're of a SPOILER-averse persuasion...)

Now, if there's one truth that springs eternal in the Marvel universe, it's that when it comes down to it, the world's greatest superheroes will do the right thing. After all, that's what makes them heroes in the first place, right? In the face of tough decisions, the likes of Captain America, Iron Man and the X-Men will always do what's right, rather than what's easy.

The only problem with that?

Sometimes, Marvel Superheroes Can Be Just as Bad as the Villains They Fight

I'm looking at you, Wolverine...
I'm looking at you, Wolverine...

Now, in some cases, that makes a whole lot of sense. Nobody, for instance, expects The Punisher to stop killing people outside of the law - it's just what he does. Similarly, when The Hulk destroys a city, we understand, since it's just what he does.

What I'm talking about are those instances when beloved superheroes haven't just killed someone as part of a mission - ethically murky, but pretty standard nowadays - but have done something so terrible that it's actually kind of surprising that anyone in the Marvel universe has ever forgiven them.

Here are 10 of the most notable:

10. Ultimate Captain America Is Kind of an Asshole

Now, anyone used to the regular, mainstream comic book Captain America - or, for that matter, the movie version - knows that if there's one character who could never bring himself to be in the slightest bit villainous (often even when being mind-controlled) it's Cap. After all, he's basically the living symbol of all that is great about America.

Except in Marvel's Ultimate Universe, of course, where he's a massive tool.

Not only is the 'Ultimate' Cap arrogant, pompous and judgmental - and an insanely jealous boyfriend - he's also a blood-thirsty, war-mongering xenophobe.

His most famous line, after being told to surrender?

"Do you think this letter on my head stands for France?"

Meanwhile, the mainstream Cap was saying things like this:

That being said, though:

9. He's Nowhere Near as Bad as Every Other Ultimate Superhero

After all, the entire Ultimate Universe (Ultimate Spider-Man-excluded) is basically just a giant pile of Marvel heroes who can't stop being incredibly unpleasant to one another. Wolverine tries to kill Cyclops, Betty Ross repeatedly screws over Bruce Banner, Tony Stark is perfectly happy being an arms dealer, and Black Widow betrays everyone.

It's...not a fun place to be anywhere near a superhero, is the point - because they will do something horrible to you.

That being said - as bad as they are:

8. ...No-One's as Bad as Ant-Man

Remember how in the mainstream Marvel universe, Hank 'Ant-Man' Pym ended up inventing Ultron, almost destroying the world, while simultaneously being an endlessly disappointing scientist and a wife-beater?

Well, as much of a terrible person as the mainstream Hank Pym is, the Ultimate one is worse. Y'see, whereas the regular Pym has spent decades trying to make up for what he's done, the Ultimate Pym just went and betrayed the entire United States...because he was shunned for horrifically beating up his wife:

And then, when he essentially got away with all of that, he then ended up creating Ultron, and almost killing all of his allies.

All of which is basically just doubling down on being a terrible person.

The thing is, though - all of that happened in the Ultimate Universe, which is a pretty dark and crappy place to live at the best of times. What about in the main Marvel comic book universe? Well:

7. Cyclops Is a Terrible Husband

Now, there are a whole lot of things Cyclops has done over the years which aren't exactly superheroic - including accidentally killing his mentor Charles Xavier, and then leading a terrorist cell in a revolution against the US government - but his most consistently pulled asshole move?

He's constantly leaving his partners for other women.

First, he ditched his first wife, Madelyne Pryor (and their new-born son) in order to go and hang out with his ex-girlfriend Jean Grey and form a new superhero team - and then, years later, he ended up cheating on Jean with Emma-freaking-Frost.

So, sure, in the greater scheme of things the mentor-killing is probably worse, but at least then he had the get-out of being mind-controlled at the time...

And, on the plus side, there's always someone worse. For instance:

6. Quicksilver Has Repeatedly Betrayed The Avengers many times. If he isn't attacking the West Coast Avengers because his sister married an android, he's rejoining his super-villainous father Magneto for some dastardly scheme or another.

Which would all be fine if he were an actual super-villain - but instead, he's generally considered to be 'just kind of a jerk,' and allowed to go right back to super-heroism, right after betraying each and every one of his friends.

Or, y'know, framing them for treason...

...or just plain old trying to kill them again...

The only plausible explanation? He's got the same 'turning back time by going around the Earth super-fast' powers as Superman, and keeps turning back the clock so that his friends forget what a tool he is.

Which may not help Iron Man so much this time...

5. Iron Man Screwed Over the Whole of San Francisco

Now, much like Quicksilver, Iron Man has a long history of being kind of a dick to his friends - including one time where it turned out he'd been actively betraying the Avengers for years. But that was due to a whole bunch of mind-control, so he kind of gets a pass.

More recently, as part of the Axis crossover event, Tony ended up being turned into the 'bad guy' version of himself - and when it came time to be turned back to a hero, found a way to stay 'evil'...

...And then proceeded to completely screw over the whole of San Francisco by dumping a dangerous, body-altering chemical into the water supply - and then charging everyone $99.99 a day to maintain its beneficial effects.

Oh, and he intentionally gave Daredevil brain damage, which is always a dick-move.

At least that'll all come off in the wash, though - whereas some heroes are always that much of a pain in the butt. For instance:

4. Mr. Fantastic Is a Deeply Irresponsible Jerk

Now, if you head back to the 1960s, you can find examples of more-or-less any superhero you like being a misogynist asshole - with the whole comic-book era basically just being Mad Men, only with sillier costumes.

Some heroes kept up that general attitude of superiority and smugness for a lifetime, though - including The FF's Reed Richards, a.k.a. Mr. Fantastic.

Not only does Reed still spend much of his time failing to listen to his insanely capable wife Sue, he tends to use the rest of it designing inventions that might inadvertently destroy the world, and messing with the entire world's business as part of the un-elected body known as the Illuminati - which is essentially a club for smart superheroes who think they know better than everyone else.

Which is presumably why Reed fits into it so well...


3. Prince Namor Is Constantly Invading the Surface World

Another hero who's arguably far more of a villain, you're just as likely to find Namor trying to destroy New York with a giant tidal wave as you are saving it from evil.

It's not that he's a bad guy, mind you - he's just...kind of an arrogant, swaggering and authoritarian jerk.

But once you're a jerk who keeps trying to kidnap the Invisible Woman and destroy the surface world, you might as well just start calling yourself Doctor Doom or Mole-Man, and really commit to the bit...

2. Professor X Is a Manipulative Asshole

As Kitty Pryde so wisely told us years ago, Professor X is, in actual fact, a jerk.

That said, I don't mean that he's an arrogant, difficult control-freak - although he very much is, and that was more what Kitty was on about up above.

I mean that he's one of the most dangerously manipulative people in the entire Marvel universe - one who uses his incredible mind-powers to force others to do whatever he chooses.

And, of course, his actions have a tendency to backfire, almost destroying the whole world.

But since he 'doesn't do it lightly,' that's presumably OK, right?

Our final entry is perhaps the worst, though, for one simple reason:

1. Wolverine Killed His Own Children

Yup - that's right. Though he's not the only terrible parent in the Marvel Universe, Wolverine's arguably the worst.

Not because he accidentally killed all of his abandoned children once they were all grown up - though he totally did do that, mind you. After all, he didn't know they existed, and was tricked into doing it.

No, the reason Logan is arguably one of the most irredeemable heroes in all of Marvel-dom? He once drowned his son in a puddle.

Yup. That's right. He literally drowned him, with his bare hands. Now, in his defense, his son was a homicidal maniac who'd pointed out that if Wolverine didn't kill him, he'd personally kill all of the students at the X-Men's school - but even so, that's a pretty fundamentally terrible thing to do. I'm fundamentally sad.

What do you think, though?


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