You might be asking yourself "What does that tittle even mean?" How can there be comic book characters that didn't start in comic books? Believe it or not, some of your favorite comic book characters are more accurately TV characters or movie characters who were transformed into comic book characters. Some of the most iconic comic book characters out there started their careers in television, on the radio, in movies, or some other type of media. However, these characters have become so synonymous with their comic book properties, that many of us don't even know they started anywhere else!
6. The Green Hornet
Although normally regarded as a classic comic book hero, The Green Hornet didn't actually start his career as a comic book character. Prior to appearing in any comics, The Green Hornet had a successful radio show in the 1930's. During the 1940's the Green Hornet started to star in a successful comic series and a film series, after which he got a long running TV show in the 1960's. Most recently the Green Hornet starred in his own feature film in 2011, however, it wasn't very well received garnering only a 43% on Rotten Tomatoes.
This iconic super heroine shares many similar characteristics as fellow X-Man Wolverine. She is actually a clone of Wolverine created from his own DNA and in such, has many of the same powers and abilities. X-23 has a healing factor, retractable claws, and is even able to reattach body parts. What you might not have known is X-23 made her first debut in the animated television series X-Men: Evolution created by Craig Kyle. Years later Kyle revisted the character in her own two 6-issue miniseries.
Alright, perhaps I was a bit misleading. I'm not talking about the Batman Bruce Wayne, rather I'm referring to the Batman Beyond star Terry McGinnis. Although he's a mainstay in the DC comic universe, Terry got his star on the animated show Batman Beyond. The show takes place in the future after Bruce Wayne has retired but the world still needs the Dark Knight so Terry takes up the mantle. In the DC Animated Universe Terry is also the biological son of Bruce Wayne, making him one of two canonical children of Bruce (the other being the Damian Wayne Robin.)
3. Agent Phil Coulson
Agent Coulson is the break out star of the MCU. Coulson first appeared in the Marvel Cinematic Universe before every being mentioned in the comic books. One can only imagine how excited Clark Gregg (the actor who plays Agent Coulson), was when he learned he would forever be immortalized in the pages of a comic book. When Coulson made his way into the comic books after becoming a successful fan favorite movie character, the artists decided to utilize Gregg's likeness in creating the character. It may be surprising to know that the star of Agents of SHIELD wasn't always a comic book character.
2. Jimmy Olsen
Jimmy Olsen is so intergrated into the Superman mythos nowadays that it's surprising to learn that he didn't start out in comic books. Jimmy made his first debut as a character in the radio show The Adventures of Superman in 1940, after which point he became a mainstay within the comic universe. Olsen has appeared in hundreds of comic books since he was created and has appeared in several Superman movies.
1. Harley Quinn
Harley Quinn is an instantly recognizable comic book character and Batman adversary. However, she's only been around since the early 90's and was actually created for the TV program Batman: The Animated Series. Her signature speech pattern and pronounced New York accent are all thanks to the voice work of Arleen Sorkin. When talking about classic duos, Joker and Harley Quinn seem like they've been around forever, yet the love story is only as old as Beauty and The Beast, whereas Batman has been taking names since the mid 20th Century. Harley Quinn is a popular choice among cosplayers, a fan favorite character, and she's set to star in the 2016 movie Suicide Squad. All the way back in 2009 Harley Quinn even made IGN's list of the Top 100 Comic Book Villains of All Time ranking in at spot #45, quite an impressive feat for a character that didn't even start her villainous career in comics.
Comic books are becoming increasingly popular day by day. Perhaps that success is tied to the numerous movies being made based on comic books, but nonetheless it's a fantastic time to be a fan. Many of the characters above have either made their way onto the big screen already, are set to make their debut in the next few years, or should seriously be considered for the movie treatment (I would love a Batman Beyond movie). Whatever the case, it's hard to believe that these iconic comic characters weren't always in the comics! I for one am glad they made the jump from the screen (or airwaves) onto the pages!