Top 5 Heroes Who Became Villains

No More Mr. Nice Guy

Jack:I learned young that killing your enemies felt good. Really good. In America, my friends, my family, helped me forget the devil inside, but who am I kidding? I was born to kill! That bit about my sword, the “means of justice” stuff? I guess I needed something to keep The Ripper in check when I was knee deep in bodies.

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance

Superheroes live hard lives. Their enemies often return, more dangerous than ever. Reality can shift at the drop of a hat. Failures and dead friends pile up. What happens when the responsibility is too much to bear, even with great power? Some will break, others will double down, but a few choose an easy option and turn evil.

Heroes become villains for many reasons. They go mad or are blackmailed. Mind control is sometimes to blame, but perhaps they were already hiding a dark side. The hero’s time as a villain rarely lasts long because creators don’t like alienating fans. So who are the Top 5 Heroes Who Became Villains? Let’s find out!

#5 The Invisible Girl

Played by: Jessica Alba and Kate Mara

Malice:Susan Richards is dead! Long live Malice!

Fantastic Four #369

Many writers prefer to bury a villain phase once it’s over. It may be referenced in later stories, but is otherwise ignored. That’s not the case with this hero turned villain.

Susan Richards was in a bad headspace. Building stress was worsened by a miscarriage. A villain called Psycho-Man learned of her troubles and manipulated her rage to create an evil alternate personality called Malice, who took control of the Invisible Girl’s body. 

Malice attacked the Fantastic Four and used her powers in ways the Invisible Girl never had. Mr. Fantastic realized the only way to break through to his wife Sue was to make her hate him more than Malice did. He succeeded by dismissing her emotions, belittling her skills, and slapping her in the face. Our hero, ladies and germs!

Sue was traumatized by her villain phase, directly comparing what Psycho-Man had done to rape. She took time off from the Fantastic Four to cope. Trauma aside, the Malice incident had a few upsides. Sue realized that her powers were much stronger than she knew. She also became more assertive and mature, abandoning the Invisible Girl identity to become The Invisible Woman.

#4 Batgirl

Played by: Ella Jay Basco

Batgirl: [to Robin] “I turned the world against you to show you how easily everything you thought you could count on could be taken away. How there is really no justice. I took over the League so we could start bringing some justice, our way! Killing those who really deserve it. You and me, together.”

Robin #150

It can be difficult to remember that many people write the same superhero. Writers don’t always get time to research the characters and have to roll with what little they do know. That and meddling executives resulted in the next hero turned villain.

Robin was framed for murder. He followed the clues back to The League of Assassins and learned that it had been taken over by Cassandra Cain, the new Batgirl. The normally taciturn hero raved about discovering several siblings who had been raised as assassins, just like her. Batgirl killed them to get back at her abusive father and pinned the kills on Robin to make him join her.

They fought when Robin refused to join Batgirl. Readers were confused about Batgirl turning evil when she nearly killed Robin and escaped. Why had Batgirl suddenly turned evil? Why did the siblings enrage her when she had already learned about and accepted them in previous stories? How was Batgirl, who had many speech problems, giving grandiloquent rants? To answer that, we need to pop into the real world.

DC’s executives assigned author Adam Beechen to write Robin and Batgirl. He was given a sparse description of her backstory and a deadline, leaving him to write based on what he had been told. Beechen got a lot of crap from Batgirl’s fans for “ruining” the character, including some real-life supervillains sending death threats. Not cool.

Beechen later got a second chance with the miniseries Batgirl: Redemption. Readers learned that Deathstroke was drugging Batgirl to make her loyal to him. Insanity was a side effect. Her sudden verbosity was the result of extensive speech therapy from Alfred before she was abducted. Robin and the Teen Titans nullified the drugs and helped Batgirl cope with the incident.

#3 Hero Turned Villain: Monarch

Played by: Fred Savage and Alan Ritchson

Monarch:Crazy? Not me. I’ve never been less crazy. It’s the world that’s bonkers. Screwed-up planet full of screwed-up people hurting each other. Hurt themselves. And why? Because no one stops them.

Armageddon 2001 

DC Comics had a brilliant idea in 1991. They released a series called Armageddon 2001, with the premise that an established hero would become a villain called Monarch and kill other heroes. So who is our next hero turned villain?

Monarch rules the dystopian 2030s. He banned anything involving heroics and executed criminals and dissidents. A hero-worshiping scientist named Mathew Ryder discovered a time machine and traveled into the past. Temporal energy transformed him into a precognitive hero called Waverider. He peered into heroes’ futures to discover who would become Monarch and stop them.

DC ran into a problem near the ending. The big reveal leaked, and readers learned that Captain Atom became Monarch. The writers scrapped that twist and scrambled to find a new patsy to be the Big Bad. No idea why they didn’t do the simple thing and make Waverider become Monarch via a predestination paradox. Instead, the writers settled on the one character they previously claimed could never become Monarch.

Monarch pursued Waverider to the present day and attacked the superheroes Hawk and Dove. He murdered Dove and was himself beaten to death by Hawk. Monarch used his last breaths to reveal that he was Hawk and had fulfilled a predestination paradox.

Hawk went mad and became Monarch, fighting Waverider and the Justice League before escaping. Hawk recovered and Dove was resurrected as DC tried to bury the whole fiasco.

#2 Superboy Prime

Played by: N/A

Superboy Prime:Stop hitting me!
S.T.R.I.P.E.You’re the one breakin’ bones in a mindless rage!
Superboy Prime:I just wanted to talk to Superboy! You started this!
Pantha:You started this? He’s just a stupid kid.
Superboy Prime:SHUT UP! I’m not stupid! [punches her head off] I… oh no. I didn’t mean to do that.

Infinite Crisis 

Becoming a villain should be serious. It could be something that’s built up over time or a snap caused by one really bad incident. Consequences from a walk on the wild side linger long after redemption. It’s a shame this hero turned villain became a mean-spirited joke.

Superboy Prime was a version of Clark Kent from Earth Prime, our Earth in the DC Universe. He was introduced shortly before the Crisis on Infinite Earths and fought in its last battle. Prime, Earth-2 Superman, and Alexander Luthor killed the all-powerful Anti-Monitor, but were trapped in a collapsing universe. Luthor saved them and Earth-2 Lois Lane by transporting them into a pocket dimension paradise. They all lived happily ever after… for a while.

The survivors watched over the new DC universe. They saw many atrocities that would never have happened in their universe. Luthor manipulated the homesick and mentally unstable Superboy Prime into starting their own Crisis so they could destroy the corrupt universe and bring back theirs.

Prime went off script and tried to take Superboy’s place, getting into a fight when Superboy wouldn’t give the title to him. Several superhero teams dogpiled Superboy Prime, who accidentally killed a hero. Prime panicked, and killed several more heroes, ranting about how they were ruining him, before Kid Flash sealed him in the Speed Force.

Superboy Prime escaped and went on several rampages, insulting newer heroes for not being the ones he grew up with and ranting about how old ones had changed. The writers used him to mock fans that disagreed with their choices. Superboy Prime recently died in Dark Nights: Death Metal, where he sacrificed himself to help stop The Darkest Knight. He was rewarded with resurrection on Earth Prime and a second chance at being a hero.

#1 Hero Turned Villain: Green Lantern

Played by: Nathan Fillion, Josh Keaton, Ryan Reynolds

Parallax:  “It’s all gone so wrong. All those people… Coast City… The universe needs a protector. A real guardian to right these wrongs. The universe needs me. Time for a new start. Clean slate. A re-made universe. My universe. Who knows? Maybe one universe… one world… won’t be enough.” 

Zero Hour: Crisis in Time

Most turns to the dark side are minor events. They can be dealt with by individual heroes or small teams. Their consequences won’t matter for long. Our final hero turned villain started a saga that continues to this day.

An alien named Mongul invaded and destroyed Green Lantern’s hometown, Coast City. Hal Jordan suffered from survivor’s guilt and created constructs of the city with his ring. The Guardians disciplined Hal for selfishly wasting his ring’s power and neglecting his duties. Their accusations caused him to snap and kill the other Green Lanterns to gain more power.

Hal took the name Parallax after wiping out the Green Lantern Corps. He planned to use his powers to create new universes where he and his friends never suffered, at the cost of destroying the current universe.  The Justice League defeated Parallax, who went into hiding.

Green Lantern’s redemption began in Final Night, when he sacrificed his life to reignite the sun. His soul was bound to The Spectre and he served as God’s Angel of Vengeance for a while. He was eventually brought back to life in Green Lantern: Rebirth

Readers also learned that Parallax was an embodiment of fear tied into the Green Lantern series’ Emotional Spectrum. It had possessed Hal, meaning that none of the crimes were his fault. Despite that, Green Lantern made sure to accept responsibility and make amends.

Who is your favorite hero turned villain? Is there one better than these five? Tell us in the comments.

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