There are a few legacy villains in the Marvel universe who have reached higher than their predecessors, while some inspired by others have flourished.
The new Marvel villain named Chasm has grown quite a bit in the current Dark Web crossover event. Ben Reilly has become almost unrecognizable as the former Scarlet Spider, a heroic clone of Spider-Man. While some fans considered the character to be better than his original inspiration, things have changed recently as he fell to new depths in his villainous role of Chasm.
There are quite a few Marvel villains who achieved greatness after taking over the role of another villain. Others followed in the footsteps of their mentors or family to carry on the legacy in the modern day. Some were even inspired by villains from competing comic publishers and have stood out to become greater than the original.
5 Speed Demon
First Appearance: Avengers (Vol. 1) #69, by writer Roy Thomas, penciler Sal Buscema, inker Sam Grainger, and letterer Artie Simek
When James Sanders first gained super-speed, he joined the Grandmaster’s Squadron Sinister as the Whizzer. The Squadron Sinister based their identities on heroes from the Squadron Supreme, though there was another Whizzer in the Marvel continuity.
Robert Frank was one of Marvel’s fastest speedsters who fought during World War II as a hero. His costume and name weren’t exactly celebrated by modern fans, and Sanders quickly modified his criminal identity to move past his connection to either of the Whizzers. Speed Demon has proven his effectiveness and ruthlessness as a villain in ways that the Whizzer could never achieve.
First Appearance: X-Men (Vol. 1) #1, by writer Stan Lee, penciler Jack Kirby, inker Paul Reinman, and letterer Sam Rosen
The magnetic DC villain known as Doctor Polaris actually appeared in the comics a few months prior to the debut of Marvel’s master of magnetism, Magneto. However, Magneto has made a much larger impact on his respective comic universe than Dr. Polaris.
Magneto used his powerful omega-level mutant abilities as one of the X-Men’s worst enemies, though the character has evolved quite a bit. He has led his own villainous groups and reformed as a member of the X-Men. He co-founded the mutant Krakoan society and continues to guide mutantkind’s evolution on Mars/Arakko. DC’s Dr. Polaris could only dream of reaching these same levels.
3 Jack O’Lantern
First Appearance: Venom (Vol. 2) #1, by writer Rick Remender, penciler Tony Moore, inkers Crimelab Studios, Sandu Florea & Karl Kesel, colorist John Rauch, and letterer Joe Caramagna
A mercenary named Jason Macendale, Jr. created the Jack O’Lantern identity after he left the CIA’s covert operations. However, he quickly abandoned it in favor of the stolen Hobgoblin identity. He would operate as Hobgoblin for years until his death at the hands of the original, which saved him from certain death another way.
There were a few other villains who used the Jack O’Lantern identity after Macendale, though they were all murdered by the mysterious “Jack” when he took over. He worked for the Crime-Master and quickly became Agent Venom’s arch-enemy. He was violent, brutal, and murderous, and used his horror theme well until his eventual death and resurrection as a supernatural demon.
2 Baron Zemo
First Appearance: Captain America (Vol. 1) #168, by writers Roy Thomas & Tony Isabella, penciler Sal Buscema, inkers John Tartag & George Roussos, colorist Linda Lessmann, and letterers June Braverman & Charlotte Jetter
Baron Heinrich Zemo first rose to prominence during World War II as a twisted Nazi scientist. However, he continued his unique brand of evil in the modern day when he threatened his old enemy Captain America and his new friends the Avengers.
While Heinrich Zemo made an impact early with his creation of the Masters of Evil, his son Helmut furthered the legacy of Baron Zemo in the modern era. Some of Baron Zemo’s greatest victories almost ended in world domination. Heinrich was focused solely on his mission of revenge against Captain America which ultimately led to his death.
First Appearance: New Mutants (Vol. 1) #98, by writer Fabian Nicieza, writer/penciler/inker Rob Liefeld, colorist Steve Buccellato, and letterer Joe Rosen
Deadpool’s co-creator has vehemently denied any connection to Deathstroke. However, it’s hard for most fans not to see the similarities between Marvel’s Merc-with-a-Mouth and DC’s skilled assassin, Deathstroke the Terminator. The similarities obviously started with the civilian identities of Wade Wilson and Slade Wilson.
Deadpool and Deathstroke both have death-based codenames as well as similar tactical costumes and masks. Deathstroke has remained a popular and effective DC villain, but Deadpool’s popularity has continued to grow as he shifted from villain to one of Marvel’s best anti-heroes.
NEXT: 13 Marvel Villains Scarier Than Their MCU Counterparts
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