Marvel has created a seemingly infinite supply of original superheroes. The publisher didn’t just fall back on the tried and true origins that superhero comics have made rather commonplace, like alien protectors of Earth or the billionaires who fight evil. No, Marvel created many of its own ways of making characters into superheroes, making their heroes unique and allowing them to stand out next to their distinguished competition.
However, Marvel does sometimes copy itself. Some Marvel heroes look like blatant rip-offs of their fellow Marvel champions. Others are a little more subtle, but a closer look reveals their origins. What’s important, though, is the way these characters grow over time.
10/10 Daredevil Was Originally A Spider-Man Clone
Daredevil is Marvel’s most powerful lawyer and the publisher’s premiere vigilante. He’s known for his gritty crime stories, but that’s a trait that developed over the last forty years. At first, Daredevil came across as a blind Spider-Man. He was a high-flying, wisecracking hero who got his powers from radioactivity and dated a blond woman.
Old Daredevil comics are entirely different from today’s gritty crime stories. Reading these older stories about the Man Without Fear shows off just how much of Spider-Man is in Daredevil’s DNA. Several creators have done runs that played this up, including Karl Kesel in the ’90s and Mark Waid in the ’10s, but most readers like him best when he’s the grim protector of Hell’s Kitchen.
9/10 Doctor Druid And Doctor Strange Have An Interesting Relationship
At first glance, Doctor Druid looks like a copy/paste of Doctor Strange. They’re both magic-using doctors, with similarly ornate costumes and cloaks. This is a true statement, but it’s also completely wrong. Technically, Doctor Strange is the copy of Doctor Druid, as Druid appeared first as Dr. Droom, the prototype for Doctor Strange that Stan Lee and Steve Ditko co-created.
Droom was a failure as a character and the two creators repackaged their ideas for Doctor Strange. However, when Droom was repackaged as Druid in the ’80s, he was based on Strange. Younger fans at the time had no idea about their complicated history.
8/10 She-Hulk Is Just A Gender Swapped Hulk
Nowadays, fans like to throw out the term “gender-swapped” as an insult but switching from male to female is a venerable tradition in genre fiction as a way to create a new character. It allows readers to get stories that are familiar to them but from a new viewpoint. She-Hulk is a perfect example of this, as she was created to be the female version of the Hulk.
Of course, over the years, She-Hulk grew into a unique character. Unlike her often monosyllabic cousin, she became known for hilarious, fourth-wall-breaking stories. She took her simple origins as a female Hulk and became something entirely her own, demonstrating why gender-swapped characters can be great.
7/10 Iron Fist Is The White Shang-Chi
Marvel has some great mercenaries and Luke Cage and Iron Fist are both legendary. Intestestingly, both characters were inspired by popular movies of the ’70s. Cage was a child of the Blaxploitation genre and Iron Fist was born out of kung fu movies. Iron Fist wasn’t the first Marvel hero inspired by the Hong Kong action genre, though. That was Shang-Chi.
Shang-Chi and Iron Fist have some differences, but both of them are basically characters who elevate martial arts mastery until it’s a superpower. They’d take different paths, but initially, Iron Fist was just the white version of Shang-Chi.
6/10 Human Torch Is The Second Of His Name
Human Torch is a tough cookie, his fire powers making him a clutch member of the Fantastic Four. He’s also Marvel’s first legacy hero, although the publisher never really positioned him as such. The original Human Torch appeared back in 1939’s Marvel Comics #1. He was the publisher’s first superhero.
Of course, the Golden Age Torch and the FF’s more popular Human Torch are quite different. The original was a weirdly flammable android and Johnny Storm got his powers from cosmic radiation. However, it’s apparent that Lee and Kirby were paying homage to Marvel’s first superhero when they put a new Human Torch into Fantastic Four #1, the beginning of Marvel’s Silver Age superhero dynasty.
5/10 Gambit Used A Lot Of Wolverine’s Tropes
The X-Men have some very popular rebels, to the extent that it’s one of the team’s central tropes. This role was pioneered by Wolverine. He was the team’s bad boy with a mysterious past, just as liable to sass a team member as to help them in battle. He had a connection to a mysterious organization, Weapon X, and an X-Men villain, Sabretooth. As time went on, he became a team player, deeply committed to his found family.
So, Gambit was created to take his place. He was the new bad boy with a mysterious past, just as liable to sass his teammates as he was to help them. He had connections to a mysterious organization, the Thieves Guild, and to one of the X-Men’s villains, Mister Sinister. He rode this to stardom, just like Wolverine before him.
4/10 Scarlet Spider Is The More Literal Spider-Man Clone
Ben Reilly got his chance to be Spider-Man, taking Peter Parker’s place during the Clone Saga, a role he was literally created for. Reilly first appeared as the Spider-Clone in The Amazing Spider-Man #149 but was believed dead at the end of the issue. However, Reilly was brought back to life in the ’90s’ Clone Saga.
Reilly is a complete copy of Spider-Man down to his genetic structure. The character has reappeared several times since the Clone Saga, getting his own book on a few occasions, and headlining The Amazing Spider-Man in the “Spider-Man Beyond” story, before becoming the villainous Chasm.
3/10 Warpath And His Brother Thunderbird Are Almost Interchangeable
Thunderbird joined the X-Men in Giant-Size X-Men #1 but wasn’t with the team for long, killed in battle against Count Nefaria. His brother James had the same mutant powers as him – super strength, speed, and durability, as well as super senses – and was later recruited by the Hellions. Eventually, he’d join the New Mutants wearing his dead older brother’s costume.
Warpath went on to join X-Force and the X-Men, often wearing his brother’s original outfit. Warpath slid seamlessly into his brother’s place with the X-Men, as he even had the same hot-headed personality.
2/10 Johnny Walker Became USAgent After Failing As Captain America
Johnny Walker took over as Captain America after Steve Rogers gave up the mantle for a time. Completely unsuited to Captain America’s role, he’d eventually patch things up with Rogers. Cap gave Johnny the costume he wore while he was known as the Captain and Walker became USAgent.
As USAgent, Walker was basically just the super strong right-wing version of Captain America for the Avengers West Coast. He had a nearly identical shield and a very similar fighting style, although he didn’t have the original’s tactical brilliance. His costume was changed several times over the years, but most still see him as a second-rate Captain America knock-off, including his former teammates. That said, a strong debut in the MCU helped elevate the character and he’s shown a lot of potential in recent years.
1/10 Laura Kinney Is Definitely Her Father’s Daughter
Laura Kinney’s Wolverine turn made her into an even bigger character than before, and she was already spectacularly popular. Laura is definitely a copy of Wolverine, as she was genetically created by Weapon X as a replacement for Logan. As a character, she even went through many of the same story arcs as he did, working to find her place in the world and prove she was more than a killing machine.
As Wolverine, Laura joined the X-Men, first the Red team led by Jean Grey and then the Krakoan Era team. While she doesn’t have the same success with the team her father does, she’s still followed in his narrative footsteps throughout most of her existence.
NEXT: 5 Marvel Heroes Better Than Their Original Inspirations