We all love heroes like Batman, Superman or Wonder Woman, but what about the apprentices and successors that follow in their footsteps? Some of these characters can end up being just as good as —or even better than — their mentors, and I'm here to list the best of them. Just a fair warning — some of these characters listed will involve spoilers.
15. Impulse (Bart Allen)
Possibly the most powerful speedster in the DC Universe, Bart Allen is the grandson of Barry Allen from the 30th Century who is basically a 5-year-old in a 12-year-old's body. Fun-loving and possibly crazy, Bart is just an overall lovable guy who just so happens to have the capability to make his grandfather look like a chump.
14. Miss Martian (M'Gann Morzz)
The character that I expected to hate but ended up loving. The idea of Martian Manhunter's niece just never sounded good in my mind, but the moment she appeared in Young Justice, I couldn't get enough of her. From the fact that she outclasses her uncle to her crazy backstory and the fact that she's like a walking teddy bear you just want to hug, I was really happy to consider her one of the best heroes I ever came across
13. Winter Soldier (Bucky Barnes)
Once he was American soldier James Barnes who fought alongside Captain Steve Rogers during World War II, but now he is the Winter Soldier, the Soviet assassin turned antihero with a bionic arm. When this character was just Bucky Barnes (the Robin wannabe) he never really interested me, but when Marvel decided to twist things around in 2005, it ended up being the complete opposite. Sebastian Stan brought the character to life perfectly in Captain America: The Winter Soldier and in Captain America: Civil War. It's an antihero that I never expected and ended up loving.
12. Falcon (Sam Wilson)
Now THIS is how you do a Captain America sidekick. Sure, I do love the Winter Soldier but Sam Wilson a.k.a. Falcon has always been more interesting of a character. For one, I love when a character can be a smartass and still be likable (unlike a certain guy in armor who flies around in the same universe). While his comic book and movie counterparts have quite the different backstories, both versions keep the personality and loyal nature of Wilson perfectly, which is why I much preferred when Wilson took over as Captain America than Bucky.
11. Aqualad (Kaldur'Ahm)
Aquaman has had a bad reputation since Super Friends basically butchered the character, so not many are willing to even give his sidekicks a chance. There have been a couple Aqualads and Aquagirls, and while nothing is wrong with them, my personal favorite goes to Kaldur'Ahm. Young Justice did many things differently than one would expect, such as making Aqualad the leader of the team rather than forcing Robin to be the leader like usual (because Robin is more popular). I can always respect a good leader and that's what Kaldur is: wise, strong, and a complete badass in battle.
10. Ant-Man (Scott Lang)
Hank Pym was an amazing character; there is no way anyone can replace him as Ant-Man and actually be good, right? Well actually someone can, and that would be Scott Lang, who, in my opinion is a fantastic character in both comics and in media. I've always found the idea of a single father superhero to be very compelling. Combine that with him being a smarmy yet likable guy makes him to be just as good of Ant-Man in different ways than Hank Pym.
9. Nightwing (Dick Grayson)
While he was known for many years as the first Robin to ever be recruited by the Batman, he evolved and became his own man and defender of Blüdhaven City known as Nightwing. What I really enjoy about this character is what I said earlier: evolution. He didn't want to always be remembered as Batman's sidekick and he certainly had no need to ever wear the Batsuit, so he became his own, and I find that very compelling. Combine that with his falling out with Batman and you have a character who became more than a protege for Bruce.
8. Superboy (Conner Kent/Kon-El)
Half human, half Kryptonian. Interested? As a Superman fan, I was curious to see how they would pull off a teenage sidekick for the Man of Steel without just rehashing Supergirl's story and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed Conner as a character. Made from the DNA of Lex Luthor and Superman, Conner (or Kon-El) is technically the clone of Superman with less powers: no flight, less strength, and less speed. What he lacks in power, he makes up for in personality and a very interesting backstory. Personally, my favorite version of him comes in later versions when he wore the black t-shirt, though there was nothing wrong with the leather jacket clad version or the Tron-Suit Superboy.
7. She-Hulk (Jennifer Walters)
Very few proteges surpass the original hero; this is one of those few cases. Jennifer Walters, the shy and mild-mannered cousin of Bruce Banner was in need of a blood transfusion. Bruce transfused his own blood, thus resulting in Jennifer permanently transforming into the Jade Giantess known as She-Hulk. I've always found it interesting to see characters become so different in their superhero persona — as Jennifer Walters she was very shy, but as She-Hulk she became very confident, very flirty and not exactly subtle. Unlike her cousin, she doesn't become a brute who speaks very little, in fact she's the complete opposite, which I guess is why I enjoy the character so much. Her stories are always interesting, her persona change is fascinating, and she's just a majorly awesome fighter.
6. Supergirl (Kara Zor-El/Kara Kent)
I'll be honest, I had a lot of trouble choosing between Superboy and Supergirl, but if I am forced to pick one that's better, it has to be Kara Zor-El a.k.a. Supergirl. What makes Supergirl so compelling? Well for one, she was supposed to be one of Earth's heroes WAY before Clark was even walking. She is actually much older than her cousin, but rather than being the icon of hope and the poster child that Clark is, she's much more of a free spirit. She's also more uncomfortable on Earth since she grew up on Krypton, so that adds a different element to her character, whereas Clark's been here since he was a baby.
5. Kid Flash (Wally West)
While being the least powerful speedster, Wally manages to win me over by how much the character grows over time. He starts as just a cocky kid who rushes into fight ready to whup any villain into submission, but he slowly becomes a mature and responsible hero who's willing to sacrifice himself for the world. Combine that with his very compelling relationship with his uncle Barry and you have not only a great protege, but one of the best heroes ever created.
4. Arsenal (Roy Harper)
Remember what I said about single father superheroes being very compelling? That's definitely the main factor that goes into Roy Harper, who first started as Green Arrow's sidekick named Speedy then became either Red Arrow or Arsenal. I prefer the name Arsenal to Red Arrow since it makes him feel like an evolved character like Dick Grayson. When his daughter, Lian Harper, was introduced, it made the character even better since all he wants to do is make the world better for her. Which is why (and many other reasons) I continue to hate the book called Cry for Justice, which has Lian being brutally murdered. Though just like She-Hulk, Roy is one of the few proteges that surpass the original hero.
3. Robin (Tim Drake)
Dick is a fantastic character, but he was meant for Nightwing, Jason Todd was never meant for Robin with his blood lust, but Tim Drake was born for the Robin moniker. He has tremendous respect for the role, he has the detective skills, and he's mentally strong. Before a certain little hell spawn was introduced, Tim was the true son of Batman due to his strong will and loyalty to the man. I've said this before and I'll say it again, if anybody deserves to wear the cowl of Batman, it's Tim.
2. Blue Beetle (Jaime Reyes)
Dan Garrett is awesome, Ted Kord is even better, but those two don't even compare to Jaime Reyes as the third incarnation of the Blue Beetle. We can sure love characters who became heroes due to a tragic story like Batman or the ones that were chosen for greatness like Superman or Green Lantern, but who says we can't have a hero who is just a guy having fun? That's who Jaime Reyes is, just some random kid from El Paso, Texas who found and bonded with the Scarab and just decided to have a bunch of fun as a superhero. I love this character and I am so happy to see him get the popularity that he deserves.
1. Oracle/Batgirl (Barbara Gordon)
Barbara Gordon is not only a great protege, but she is one of the best characters that I've ever come across in fiction, period. Why did she become Batgirl? Because she just wanted to help make Gotham City a better place. The Joker paralyzes her from the waist down — does this stop her? Nope! She becomes the Bat-Family's tech wizard and intelligence provider named Oracle. Combine her pluckiness and her motherly-like personality with the rest of the team and she definitely earns her spot in every way. I cannot wait to read any Batgirl and/or Oracle Rebirth comics if they come along.
So those are my picks for the best proteges of our favorite heroes. Obviously with so many sidekicks and successors out there, my list is definitely not going to be the same as everybody so I'm curious what your picks are and if you agree with any of my choices! Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and I hope you enjoyed the list!