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Top Super Villains Turned Superheroes 

Super villains turned superheroes are one of the most exciting devices used in comics.

By Stephen HamiltonPublished 8 years ago 6 min read

Everyone knows that for every superhero there is a super villain. But what of the super villains turned superheroes?

The super villain turned superhero is one of the most exciting devices used in comics. It can add to the depth of the character, and it can allow for dark things of the past to return to bite them. No one is pure hero or pure villain. So the super villain turned superhero is where we all truly see ourselves.


The first African-American character in a mainstream comic book actually started his journey to being a superhero as a villain working for Red Skull. After the death of his father and mother due to violence in Harlem, Samuel Wilson moved to LA and became "Snap" Wilson, a professional criminal and gang member. While on a flight back to LA, his plane crashes on Exile Island where his memory is erased by Red Skull and replaced with the fiction that he was a happy social worker in Harlem who was lured out to the island to help the natives fight for their freedom. Red Skull also gives him a strong mental link to the bird Redwing that Wilson had befriended. Over time this gives him power over all birds. While there, he meets Steve Rogers (Captain America) who convinces him to train with him and become the Falcon. The two team up to defeat the Exiles and Red Skull and free the natives. Eventually Wilson would learn the truth about his past, but even so he decides to continue as a hero, often teaming up with Captain America and even donning the star and stripes himself when it's believed that Steve Rogers is dead. While not a supervillain per se, Wilson certainly has a dark past and things could have gone very differently had he not been influenced by Steve Rogers into becoming the superhero we have today.


Pietro Maximoff and his twin sister Wanda are the children of Magneto. Pietro can move at superhuman speeds and has lightning fast reflexes. While at first he and his sister follow their father Magneto, after he is captured by the Stranger, they travel back to Europe and are recruited by Iron Man to join the Avengers. He has changed sides a few times throughout his run in the comic book world. But more often than not, he is found on the side of good.


Gambit's beginnings are really quite tragic. He was abandoned as a baby because of his red-on-black eyes. His superstitious father believed this meant the child was from satantic origins. He was then stolen by the Thieves' Guild and given the name Remy LeBeau. They also gave him the title "Le Diable Blanc." or "White Devil," as they believed he was part of a prophesy that he would one day unite the Thieves' Guild and the Assassins' Guild. He grew up a thief who would discover his powers to charge items with static electricity, but kept this discovery mostly to himself. It wasn't until he was exiled from New Orleans and rescued a de-aged and amnesiac Storm that he would join the X-Men and become a supervillain turned super hero.


Elektra was living in New York City, attending Columbia University, and finally putting the trauma of her childhood behind her, when she and her father were kidnapped by terrorists. The rescue attempt went wrong and her father was killed in the process. After this she quit Columbia, returned to China, and became an assassin with the group the Hand, a sect of mystical ninjas. After defeating Daredevil on her mission to assassinate Alarich Wallenquist, she was then subsequently saved by him after her mission failed. She would join him a few times in fighting the Hand, but would also work for criminals as it suited her. Even after being killed, she was resurrected a few times and has fought on both sides. Never being pinned down to either side, she is sometimes a super villain and at other times a superhero.


Technically, Venom is a symbiote from outer space who attached himself to Spider-Man for a time and nearly turned Spider-Man into a villain. Because of this, Venom has possessed many people and has been through several incarnations. But, for the purposes of this list, we'll go with one of the longest lasting hosts: Eddie Brock. Eddie was a reporter at the paper who was trying to make a name for himself reporting on the serial killer the Sin-Eater. After he writes an article revealing the Sin-Eater's true identity, it's found that Spider-Man has revealed the actual identity of the Sin-Eater and he is fired from the paper. Now jobless and about to be divorced, he blames Spider-Man for ruining his life and is taken over by the space symbiote, who is drawn to Brock's hatred of Spider-Man. The two would battle many times, and eventually Spider-Man would abandon Venom on an island after faking his own death to convince Venom to stay and not return to civilization. It isn't until Spider-Man goes up against the deadly serial killer Carnage that he forges an uneasy alliance with Venom in order to stop him. This would be the beginning of Venom/Brock acting as a hero and helping when a particularly strong villain was needed to be put down. Sometimes it takes a super villain turned superhero to put the worst villains in their place.


While now most commonly found in the company of Gambit and the other X-Men, when Rogue first discovered her powers to absorb the life force and psyche of others from skin to skin contact, she had been taken in by Mystique and her lover Destiny. They coaxed her into joining the Brotherhood of Mutants where she used her power to absorb the powers of other mutants and then use those powers to attack others. After several conflicts with the Avengers and the X-Men, she is eventually taken in my Professor X and later proves herself to the others by saving Wolverine's fiancee and the badly injured Colossus.

Black Widow

Natasha Romanova was raised in Soviet Russia to be a spy and an assassin. Adept at martial arts and armed with high-tech weaponry, she is considered one of their best. On her first trip to the US, she infiltrated Stark Industries in order to aid her partner, Boris Turgenov, in assassinating Professor Anton Vanko who had defected from the USSR. In doing so she confronts Iron Man, and when his life hangs in the balance, Vanko sacrifices himself to save Iron Man, killing Turgenov in the process. Black Widow then teams up with Hawkeye to try to kill Iron Man. But over time she begins to fall in love with Hawkeye and plans to defect herself. After she is injured, Hawkeye joins the Avengers. She is kidnapped and brainwashed again, but when she battles the Avengers, she finally breaks free of her brainwashing with the help of Hawkeye and is now found using her skills to fight on their side.


While the character has gone through many transformations over the years, for the most part, Selena Kyle is a cat burglar and thief of the Batman universe. While she is known for many crimes, she has also often been found in the company of Batman when he needs a hand or when she does. More often than not, they team up with a particular foe proves to be too much for just one. Their on-off romance with each other has been a subject of speculation for generations now. And while she is one to never be tied down, she is more often found on the side of good nowadays.


Last, but certainly not least, everyone's favorite merc with the mouth, Deadpool. Originally presented as mentally unstable mercenary who was a product of the Weapon X program, which gave him super healing powers and strength, his back story is up for debate depending on the writer and the reader. In his first appearance, he was hired by Tolliver to attack Cable and the New Mutants. He would pop up again and again through various story lines of the mutants until he got his own series. Often breaking the fourth wall and always unpredictable, he is the ultimate anti-hero. While he is often on the side of good, his methods are often brutal and his morality is often subject to his whims. But in a world of super villains turned superheroes, he is the best.

Superheroes are the characters dreams are made of. And super villains are from our deepest nightmares. But no person is either completely good or evil. And it's in the super villains turned superheroes that we find ourselves. We make mistakes, we do things we wish that we hadn't, and some of us try to find ways to redeem ourselves. Just like these guys.


About the Creator

Stephen Hamilton

Definitive movie buff. Quickly realized that it was more financially prudent to write about film than trying to beg for millions of dollars to make his own.

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    Stephen HamiltonWritten by Stephen Hamilton

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