Superhero Origin Stories That Are Darker Than Batman’s
Geeks and Gaming
On 26th September 2017
We all love a good superhero origin story. They tell us personal histories, provide some information on what the superhero was like before being super, give us the character’s motivations, and they’re almost always tragic. Some origin stories have become incredibly well-known to pretty much everyone. Think Batman and Spider-Man, two of the best origin stories out there. Both of these are also dark. It’s the darkness we like today. Now, we’ve decided not to include either Batman or Spider-Man on this list. It’s true that a solid case could be made for both and that either of their origin stories could be considered the darkest, but they are just too familiar. We know the sad details off by heart. As a child, Batman watched his parents get murdered in cold blood right in front of his eyes. Spider-Man, after using his powers to earn a little cash, could have stopped a criminal but decided against it. He chose not to get involved. But then, that same crook ended up killing his uncle Ben (his surrogate father) shortly afterward.
When using a term like “dark,” we feel that it’s necessary to explain ourselves a bit. For this list, we’re looking at the superheroes that were created through awful tragedies and/or sometimes sadistic means. We’ve given a major preference to those who are super and those who are heroes. Some stories were just too dark to pass up. Hell, we might even throw in a villain or two if they’ve ever switched sides. With so many superheroes out there and so many origin stories, we’re bound to neglect someone deserving here or there. If you know of someone who definitely should be on the list, let us know; or don’t, and call us stupid. Whatever. Here are 15 Superhero Origin Stories That Are Darker Than Batman’s.
#1 Astro Boy
You may look at Astro Boy and see the smiling face and buggy eyes and think him a happy creature and with beautiful origins. The truth is the opposite. Astro Boy’s origin story, although it’s been retconned several times, is almost always depressing. The original story begins with the death of Tobio, the young son of robotics expert Dr. Tenma. To deal with his grief, Tenma creates Astro Boy, a sentient robot replica of his dead child. It doesn’t take long for Tenma to see that Astro Boy is incapable of replacing his son. Astro doesn’t age. He prefers geometric shapes over organic ones, and he’s a robot, albeit one with emotions. So, Tenma sells him to the circus. Astro’s new owner, Hamegg, is cold, cruel, and ruthless. He abuses Astro at every turn. Astro is forced to destroy other robots, some of them his friends. This is why he joins the robot liberation movement.
#2 Iron Fist
Even though the television show Iron Fist might have scared off a few too many generations from this superhero, the real Iron Fist has a pretty bada*s origin. In the original comic, Danny Rand’s father was well aware of the mystical K’un L’un. In fact, Wendell Rand was the adopted son of the leader. When the Rand family died (shown in the show as a plane accident), they were searching for K’un L’un. Harold Meechum, one of the antagonists in the show, was also present. In the comics, during the expedition to K’un L’un, there’s an accident and Meechum uses it to his advantage, killing Wendell. Danny and his mother escape but are attacked by wolves shortly after. Danny then watches as his mother sacrifices herself to save him. He looks on as his mom is torn apart by hungry wolves. That’s a lot more intense than the stupid mother in the TV show who didn’t put her seatbelt on.
Badger is a strange superhero with a dark backstory. As a child, Badger (Norbert Sykes) was abused in every way by his stepfather. When Norbert found an injured badger one day as a child, he rescued it and nursed it back to health. Sadly, as soon as it was healthy, Norbert’s stepfather killed it. The sicko would also abuse Norbert’s dog. Later, Norbert ran away and joined up with the Army. During the war, he was captured and held prisoner for two years, starved, and tortured the entire time. It was then and there that Badger learned the ability to speak with animals. He also learned to stay alive by eating bugs. It was not a glamorous lifestyle.
#4 Swamp Thing
Swamp Thing has been altered a few times by different authors, but the core of the character’s origins remained somewhat the same. Swamp Thing was originally a man named Alex Olsen. After an explosion in his lab, Olsen is enflamed and forced to jump into the swamp. When he arises, he is a monstrous creature, half man half swamp. At least, that’s what he thinks. Later, after Alan Moore got a hold of the story, it was revealed that Swamp Thing was not half Olsen as believed. In fact, Olsen died in the accident. The Swamp was just able to absorb the man’s memories, making it believe itself to be part-human. In a weird way, Olsen was then made aware that the human him was dead and gone, and he was now pure Thing, Swamp Thing.
#5 The Hulk
We all know how Bruce Banner became the big green guy. There was stuff with the gamma radiation and the accident and, boom, green and angry. But the Hulk’s origin story is much stickier than that. First of all, the accident wasn’t just some faulty equipment as the films suggest. Banner saved the life of a stupid teenager who wandered onto a field during a field test for a gamma bomb that Banner designed. While he saved the kid, Banner took all that bad stuff into his body. But, let’s go further back. Banner’s dad was a real piece of work. He was an alcoholic and a rage-oholic who hated Bruce and abused Bruce’s mother. Eventually, Banner’s father’s abuse got so violent that it killed the woman. Later, Bruce got in a fight with his father and killed him by accident (or not, depending on what you believe). The gamma radiation may have turned Banner green and strong, but he was the always-angry Hulk long before that.