Top 6 Superhero Rip-Offs

These superhero rip-offs are original characters. Do not steal!

[watching a superhero fight]
Clark Kent and Peter Parker: [thinking to themselves] “Have to change to my costume. If only I can ditch this guy without his getting suspicious…”

DC vs Marvel Comics

Imitation is the sincerest form of character theft. There’s no better way to cash in on something popular than making your own version. Superheroes are no different, whether it’s the similarity of Doom Patrol to The X-Men, loosely inspired by competitors like Nick Fury and Sgt. Rock, or outright theft-marked-as-artistic-liberty like Captain Marvel and Superman.

There are countless characters from both sides of the fence, so let’s rank the top 6 superhero rip-offs.

#6 The Cluster-Rip known as The Elite

Manchester Black: “There are the good guys, namely us, and the bad guys, namely anyone who treats anyone else like trash to further their petty aims. We turn bad guys into memories. So mind your manners, lads and lasses, or we’ll blow your house down. We’re The Elite. You asked for us, world. Now you got us.”

Superman vs The Elite (2012)

The Original: In 1999, Wildstorm published The Authority, a gritty deconstruction of superhero comics. The Authority’s members were Justice League and X-Men clones. The so-called heroes slaughtered villains by the dozens and eventually pulled a coup d’etat against America.

The Rip-off: The Elite were created for the classic Superman story What’s so Funny about Truth, Justice, and the American Way? And yes, that title is a reference to What’s So Funny about Peace, Love, and Understanding by Elvis Costello.

Like The Authority before them, The Elite were gritty anti-heroes who killed supervillains. The public’s reverence for The Elite caused Superman to wonder if humans still believed in truth, justice, and mercy.

When The Elite try conquering Earth, Superman seemingly accepts their methods, kills most of them, and leaves the leader begging for his life. Superman then reveals his rampage was faked and The Elite are still alive. The deconstructed Elite are arrested. The writers who stole The Authority remain at large.

Who Won: The Authority won the battle, but The Elite won the war by starring into one of Superman’s best stories.

#5 Superhero Ripoff: Aquaman and Namor, the Sub-Mariner

Namor: “Stay still, fool, so I can end this quickly and spare you serious harm!”
Aquaman: “I would love to… but you’re so musclebound and slow that I can’t help dodging!”
Namor: “How lost you the hand, pray tell? Did it snap off from your having patted yourself on the back so often?”

DC vs Marvel Comics

The Original: The Sub-Mariner was Marvel’s first superhero. Yes, really. Debuting in Marvel Comics #1, Namor is the mutant son of a human sailor and the princess of Atlantis. The arrogant prince has been a hero and a villain, occasionally attacking surface dwellers for transgressions against Atlantis. He has also been a member of the Avengers, the Invaders, and the X-Men.

The Rip-off: Aquaman made his debut in More Fun Comics #73. He is the son of a lighthouse keeper and the Queen of Atlantis. Aquaman is more jovial than the Sub-Mariner and can talk to fish. That said, he lacks Namor’s ability to fly.

Who Won: Nearly everyone who read this thought that superhero rip-off Aquaman was the original. That means he wins.

#4 Black Cat and Catwoman

Black Cat: [driving a jet ski] “Almost there, hold on tight!
Spider-Man: “Don’t worry, I don’t slip.
Black Cat: “Not why I said that.

The Original: Catwoman debuted in Batman #1 in 1940. She is a cat burglar with a whip and a bad habit of flirting with Batman. This wily character wavers between villainy and vigilantism, always with an eye toward getting closer to Bats. Catwoman trails only The Joker in popularity among Batman’s villains and has been played by several award-winning actresses.

The Rip-off: Black Cat debuted in Spider-Man #194 in 1979. She is also a cat burglar and has the power to cause bad luck. Her shtick is flirting with Spider-Man, and like the other kitty, she will try the anti-hero gig to get closer to him. Creator Marv Wolfman claims Black Cat was inspired by a Tex Avery cartoon called Bad Luck Blackie, not Catwoman. I don’t believe him. You shouldn’t either.

Who Won: Catwoman was played by Oscar winners Anne Hathaway and Halle Berry. She’s also been played by three-time nominee Michelle Pfeiffer and three-time Emmy winner Eartha Kitt. I had to research Black Cat. Score one for the original.

#3 Superhero Rip-off: Thanos and Darkseid

Thanos: “A Disciple of Death versus a Lord of Destruction. Tell me then, Darkseid… Would you care to make a wager on the outcome?”
Darkseid: “I wager, you pale imitation of me… that you will lose.

DC vs Marvel Comics

The Original: Darkseid debuted in Forever People #1 in 1971. He is the tyrannical god-king of the planet Apokolips and probably the most powerful DC villain. Darkseid defeated multiple Kryptonians at once. He also possesses the Anti-Life Equation, mathematical proof that life is meaningless, which means we can also credit him with inventing emo teenagers.

The Rip-off: Thanos debuted in Iron Man #55 in 1973. He is a psychotic warlord who is literally in love with Death. Creator Jim Starlin admitted that Thanos was originally a rip-off of DC’s Metron, but he was told to copy Darkseid instead. Thanos is immensely powerful and wields the Infinity Gauntlet, which makes him nearly invincible.

Who Won: Thanos is the Big Bad of the MCU’s third phase. There was an off-hand mention of Darkseid in The Justice League. The superhero rip-off wins.

#2 Deadpool and Deathstroke

Not-Deadpool: [impaled] “Hold the phone and the mayo! You’re me, without the lacerations and foreign objects!
Deathstroke: “Will you please just die!
Not-Deadpool: “Why do you hate yourself so much?

Superman/Batman Annual #1

The Original: Deathstroke made his debut in New Teen Titans #2 in 1980. Deathstroke is a super-soldier turned mercenary and the deadliest assassin in DC Comics. He has a winning record against Batman and defeated the Justice League solo. Do not laugh at his name.

The Ripoff: Deadpool made his debut in The New Mutants #98 in 1991. He was officially created by Rob Liefeld, but co-creator Fabian Nicieza deserves credit for Deadpool’s personality and fourth-wall-breaking. Nicieza named Deadpool Wade Wilson in reference to Deathstroke’s real name, Slade Wilson.

Who Won:  The first Deadpool movie grossed $783 million worldwide. Deathstroke is still working a minion. Ripoff wins

#1 Superhero Rip-Off: Batman and Zorro

TV Announcer: “Tonight’s presentation of Hollywood’s Finest… Tyrone Power in “The Mark of Zorro!
Bruce Wayne: “Zorro… I should have checked the listings. I should turn it off– right this second. … Just a movie. That’s all it is. No harm in watching a movie.
[flashback of the Waynes leaving a movie theater]
Batman: “You loved it so much. You jumped and danced like a fool. You remember… You remember that night…

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns

Yes, DC’s biggest cash cow is a superhero rip-off of Johnston McCulley’s swashbuckler par excellence.

The Original: Zorro first appeared in All-Star Weekly in 1919. Don Diego de la Vega returned to his home in California to find a dictator oppressing the citizens. He created a dual identity, acting as a cowardly fool while with most people. At night, he would fight the dictator’s thugs as the vigilante Zorro.

The Rip-off: You’ve heard of Batman. His creators, Bob Kane and Bill Finger, had heard of Zorro. The rest is history. But it’s no coincidence that The Dark Knight Returns official soundtrack includes a number called “The Mark of Zorro”.

Who Won: Batman is second only to Superman as the most famous superhero. Zorro is great, but even he can’t compete with the Bat’s reputation.

So who is your favorite superhero rip-off? Leave a comment.

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