Real Life Inspirations Behind Some of the Best Comic Book Villains

Published 3 months ago by , Updated April 30th, 2014 at 7:52 am,

Super Villain Inspirations DC Comics Super Villains 570x320 Real Life Inspirations Behind Some of the Best Comic Book Villains

Artists and writers find inspiration for their creations in a variety of things around them, from the mundane to the exceptional. People, places, things, even other works of art have inspired some of the greatest artists throughout history to create some very memorable pieces – comic book artists and writers are no exception.

Most of the greatest comic book villains of all time have been inspired by a number of interesting and fascinating real world ideas. Some villains  – such as The Blob and Apocalypse – just sprung forth from the minds of their creators, drawing from no real world inspiration. A few - such as Loki and Hercules – are easy to figure out, drawing directly from Norse and Greek mythology. Still, there are that others aren’t so obvious, and those are the ones we’re focusing on in this rundown.

We’ve researched all each of these entries for their validity and when we could find them, included quotes from the writers or artists involved with the creation of the character. We’ve mark those as “Verified” and the ones we couldn’t find a direct quote to associate with the creation – but are generally accepted as fact – we marked as “Alleged” and have listed them in order of their first appearance.

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1. The Joker – Verified

Conrad Veidt in The Man Who Laughs and The Joker 1941 570x320 Real Life Inspirations Behind Some of the Best Comic Book Villains

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First Appearance: April 1940

Inspiration: Gwynplaine in The Man Who Laughs

The credit for creating one of Batman’s oldest and deadliest foes has been argued for decades. Most people credit Bob Kane and Bill Finger with his introduction, but writer Jerry Robinson says his hat should be in the ring as well – in what amounts to a “he said, she said” debate.

Kane is on record saying:

Bill Finger and I created the Joker. Bill was the writer. Jerry Robinson came to me with a playing card of the Joker. [The Joker] looks like Conrad Veidt — you know, the actor in The Man Who Laughs, by Victor Hugo. Finger had a book with a photograph of Conrad Veidt and showed it to me and said, ‘Here’s the Joker.’ Jerry Robinson had absolutely nothing to do with it…he brought in a playing card, which we used for a couple of issues for him.

And here’s Robinson’s take on the issue:

In that first meeting when I showed them that sketch of the Joker. Bill said it reminded him of Conrad Veidt in The Man Who Laughs. That was the first mention of it…He can be credited and Bob himself, we all played a role in it. The concept was mine.

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2. Catwoman – Verified

Ruth Steel Jean Harlow and Catwoamn 1940 570x320 Real Life Inspirations Behind Some of the Best Comic Book Villains

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First Appearance: May 1940

Inspiration: Ruth Steel/Actress Jean Harlow

Catwoman (a.k.a. Selina Kyle) was co-created by Bill Finger and Bob Kane, but in his autobiography Batman and Me, Kane revealed that the feline femme fatale was partially inspired by his cousin Ruth Steel and received her sex appeal from buxom 1930s actress Jean Harlow. As for the inclusion of cats, Kane said:

I felt that women were feline creatures and men were more like dogs. While dogs are faithful and friendly, cats are cool, detached, and unreliable. I felt much warmer with dogs around me – cats are as hard to understand as women are.

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3. Red Skull – Verified

Hot Fudge Sundae with Cherry and Red Skull 1941 570x320 Real Life Inspirations Behind Some of the Best Comic Book Villains

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First Appearance: March 1941

Inspiration: Hot fudge sundae with a cherry on top

As far-fetched as it sounds, Captain America co-creator Joe Simon revealed in his autobiography My Life in Comics a cold confectionery treat was his off-the-wall inspiration for the red-faced mad man:

I was always thinking about heroes and villains, with all sorts of ideas swimming around in my head…I had a hot fudge sundae sitting in front of me, with the vanilla ice cream, and the hot fudge is running down the side. It was intriguing. The hot fudge looked like limbs—legs, feet, and hands—and I’m thinking to myself. Gee, this’d make an interesting villain, I mused. We’ll call him Hot Fudge … Just put a face on him, and have him ooze all over the place. But I looked again at the sundae, and I saw the big cherry on top. The cherry looked like a skull. “Wow,” I said to myself. “Red Skull … that sounds good.”

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4. The Penguin – Verified

Kools Penguin Ad Emperor Penguin and The Penguin 1941 570x320 Real Life Inspirations Behind Some of the Best Comic Book Villains

First Appearance: December 1941

Inspiration: Kool Cigarettes Ad/Emperor Penguins

Characters from the early years of Batman’s canon are steeped in “who-created-what” controversy, at least in the minds of Bob Kane and Bill Finger. And the “Gentleman of Crime” known as The Penguin is no exception. In Les Daniels’ 2004 book Batman – The Complete History: The Life and Times of the Dark Knight, Bill Finger is quoted saying:

[The Penguin] was inspired by emperor penguins, who reminded [me] or stuffy English gentlemen in tuxedos.

Of course, Bob Kane’s recollection of the situation is completely different, saying his inspiration came from:

…the little penguin who appeared in print to advertise Kool menthol cigarettes and also hawked them on the radio with his insistent falsetto slogan “Smoke Kooools!”

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5. Two-Face – Verified

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde The Black Bat and Two Face 1942 570x320 Real Life Inspirations Behind Some of the Best Comic Book Villains

First Appearance: August 1942

Inspiration: Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde/Pulp Character Black Bat

Though the credit for creating The Joker is shared between Bob Kane and Bill Finger, Kane is widely seen as the sole creator of the lawyer-turned-villain Two-Face. In his 1985 biography, Batman and Me, Kane says he drew inspiration from the 1931 movie version of Robert Louis Stevenson’s 19th century tale,  Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, when creating the iconic villain’s look. Meanwhile, his origin was influenced by the pulp magazine character Black Bat, who was also splashed in the face with acid.

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6. Fin Fang Foom – Verified

Chu Chin Chow 1934 and Fin Fang Foom 1961 570x320 Real Life Inspirations Behind Some of the Best Comic Book Villains

First Appearance: October 1961

Inspiration: 1934 movie Chu Chin Chow

In the early 1960s, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby wanted to create a enormous monster that could have the ability to lay waste to anything he wanted with very little opposition – and so the mighty alien dragon from Kakaranathara known as Fin Fang Foom came into existence. His origin and story arcs have been retconned multiple times during his half a century history, but he’s always been a big, green dragon. A giant creature was easy to create, especially for Kirby, but picking the right name for him was essential. Stan Lee talked about what inspired his name choice in a 2005 interview with Alter Ego:

When I was a kid, I loved going to the movies. And there was one movie I’d seen. I remember nothing about it except the name. It took place in China, I believe, and the name of the movie was ‘Chu Chin Chow.’ Now I have no idea what it meant — I don’t know if it was somebody’s name or a country or a city, but I never forgot that name. Those three words just stuck in my memory: ‘Chu Chin Chow.’ So when I was looking for the name of a monster, I remember ‘Chu Chin Chow’ … and that particular meter, that beat, somehow led to Fin Fang Foom.

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7. Doctor Doom – Verified

Death and Doctor Doom 570x320 Real Life Inspirations Behind Some of the Best Comic Book Villains

First Appearance: July 1962

Inspiration: Death Personified

The arrogant and vengeful Doctor Doom was the creation of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. Kirby once said about using Death as his influence:

It was the reason for the armor and the hood. Death is connected with armor and the inhuman-like steel. Death is something without mercy, and human flesh contains that mercy.

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8. Magneto – Verified

Malcolm X and Magento 570x320 Real Life Inspirations Behind Some of the Best Comic Book Villains

First Appearance: September 1963

Inspiration: Malcolm X

Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created the powerful mutant during the height of American civil rights movement and used famed civil rights leaders Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X as the inspiration behind the Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr. Both men openly fought against the oppression mutants experienced on a daily basis, but while Professor X chose a more peaceful and diplomatic approach, Magneto thought a more forceful and aggressive tone was needed. Said Stan Lee about Magento:

[I] did not think of Magneto as a bad guy. He was just trying to strike back at the people who were so bigoted and racist. He was trying to defend mutants, and because society was not treating them fairly, he decided to teach society a lesson. He was a danger of course, but I never thought of him as a villain.

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9. Kraven the Hunter – Alleged

The Most Dangerous Game and Kraven the Hunter 570x320 Real Life Inspirations Behind Some of the Best Comic Book Villains

First Appearance: August 1964

Inspiration: The Most Dangerous Game

When Stan Lee and Steve Ditko created Sergei Kravinoff – better known as Kraven the Hunter – he was the first villain to “hunt” Spider-Man for the sport of hunting a superhero and even managed to “kill” him at one point. Many sources claim that Lee and Ditko were inspired by Richard Connell’s 1924 short story The Most Dangerous Game (a natural assumption since its story involves man hunting man), but in our research, neither Lee or Ditko have confirmed this – though Lee does talk about Kraven’s introduction to the Marvel Universe in the 2012 book by Matthew K. Manning and Alan Cowsill’s 2012 book Spider-Man: Chronicle Celebrating 50 Years of Web-Slinging.

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10. Galactus – Verified

God and Galactus 570x320 Real Life Inspirations Behind Some of the Best Comic Book Villains

First Appearance: March 1966

Inspiration: God/The Bible

When Stan Lee and Jack Kirby needed to create a unique super villain, the likes of which the comic book universe had never seen, they decided to make someone that was beyond good and evil with almost God-like powers – enter Galactus. Stan Lee talks about his inspiration for the Devourer of Worlds in the introduction of the book Marvel Masterworks: The Fantastic Four Vol. 5:

Galactus was simply another in a long line of super-villains whom we loved creating. Having dreamed up [many] powerful baddies … we felt the only way to top ourselves was to come up with an evil-doer who had almost godlike powers. Therefore, the natural choice was sort of demi-god.

Jack Kirby added later in the video The Masters of Comic Book Art:

My inspirations were the fact that I had to make sales. And I had to come up with characters that were no longer stereotypes. For some reason, I went to the Bible and I came up with Galactus…and of course the Silver Surfer is the fallen angel. They were above mythic figures, and of course, they were the first gods.

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11. Poison Ivy – Alleged

Feminist Movement Rappaccinis Daughter Bettie Page and Poison Ivy 570x320 Real Life Inspirations Behind Some of the Best Comic Book Villains

First Appearance: June 1966

Inspiration: Feminist movement/”Rappacini’s Daughter”/Bettie Page

DC Comics has always tried its best to be relevant with current world trends, which explains why Robert Kanigher and Sheldon Moldoff supposedly used the growing feminist movement of the mid-’60s as a reason to create one of Batman’s more deadly (and beautiful) enemies. Though we couldn’t find the quote, Kanigher reportedly said in Les Daniels’ 2004 book Batman – The Complete History: The Life and Times of the Dark Knight that they modeled the character’s powers and personality from the 19th century writer Nathaniel Hawthorne’s story Rappacini’s Daughter and her looks were inspired by ’50s pinup model Bettie Page.

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12. Kingpin – Alleged

Sydney Greenstreet and Kingpin 570x320 Real Life Inspirations Behind Some of the Best Comic Book Villains

First Appearance: July 1967

Inspiration: Actor Sydney Greenstreet

The rotund and imposing crime boss called “Kingpin” – a.k.a. Wilson Fisk – was created by Stan Lee and John Romita. Sr. and though he was given no true “super powers,” they turned him into one of Spider-Man’s most cunning adversaries. According to Comic Vine, actor Sydney Greenstreet’s portrayal in movies like The Maltese Falcon and Casablanca are what inspired Lee and Romita when first creating Kingpin. We weren’t able to find the direct quote from them, but supposedly they talk about the process in the 2012 book Spider-Man: Chronicle Celebrating 50 Years of Web-Slinging by Matthew K. Manning and Alan Cowsill.

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13. Darkseid – Verified

Jack Palance Adolf Hitler and Darkseid 570x320 Real Life Inspirations Behind Some of the Best Comic Book Villains

First Appearance: November 1970

Inspiration: Actor Jack Palance/Adolf Hitler

The Supreme Ruler of the planet Apokolips (and a powerful foe of Superman) was created by Jack Kirby after he moved from Marvel to DC Comics. According to writer Mark Evanier, who wrote Kirby’s biography titled Kirby: King of Comics, he based Darkseid appearance on Jack Palance and his personality on Adolf Hilter, adding:

…the style and substance of this master antagonist were based on just about every power-mad tyrant Kirby had ever met or observed, with a special emphasis on Richard Milhous Nixon.

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14. Talia al Ghul – Verified

On Her Majestys Secret Service Fu Manchu Novel and Talia al Ghul 570x320 Real Life Inspirations Behind Some of the Best Comic Book Villains

First Appearance: May 1971

Inspiration: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service/Fu Manchu Fiction

Comic book writer Dennis O’Neil, artist Bob Brown and artist Dick Giordano collaborated in the creation of Batman’s on-again/off-again romantic interest, Talia al Ghul. Not only is she the daughter of the fearsome crime lord Ra’s al Ghul, but she’s also the mother of Bruce Wayne’s son Damien. All three creators have said in various interviews that – along with influences from early ’30s British Fu Manchu novels – the relationship between Bruce, Ra’s and Talia directly mimics that of James Bond, Draco and his daughter Tracy from the sixth Bond film.

Dennis O’Neil from Batman Unauthorized: Vigilantes, Jokers, and Heroes in Gotham City in 2008:

The mysterious Ra’s al Ghul was introduced…his daughter and Batman-love interest Talia and his Himalayan headquarters both directly inspired by the James Bond film ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.’

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15. Thanos – Verified

Metron Darkseid and Thanos 570x320 Real Life Inspirations Behind Some of the Best Comic Book Villains

First Appearance: February 1973

Inspiration: Metron/Darkseid

Famed comic book writer and artist Jim Starlin tried several times to get his artwork and creations into the pages of Marvel before hitting a homerun with Thanos (the god-like alien being with a bloodlust for power and control over the universe). In 2002, Starlin told Jon B. Cooke where he got his inspiration for Thanos as part of an interview in his popular series Comic Book Artist (#2):

Kirby had done the ‘New Gods’…over at DC at the time. I came up with some things that were inspired by that. You’d think that Thanos was [initially] inspired by Darkseid, but that was not the case. In my first Thanos drawings, if he looked like anybody, it was Metron. I had all these different gods and things I wanted to do, which became Thanos and the Titans. Roy took one look at the guy in the Metron-like chair and said : “Beef him up! If you’re going to steal one of the New Gods, at least rip off Darkseid, the really good one!”

In a 2003 interview (read it HERE) with Adelaide Comic Books’ Daniel Best, Starlin followed up with some thoughts on what inspired his “The Mad Titan”:

I went to college between doing U.S. military service and getting work in comics, and there was a psych class and I came up with Thanos. So I came [sic] up to Marvel and [editor] Roy [Thomas] asked if I wanted to do an issue of Iron Man. Thanos was a much thinner character and Roy suggested beefing him up, so he’s beefed up quite a bit from his original sketches and he continued to grow in size.

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16. Inner Circle of the Hellfire Club – Verified

Inner Circle of the Hellfire Club 570x320 Real Life Inspirations Behind Some of the Best Comic Book Villains

First Appearance: January 1980

Inspiration: The Avengers TV show episode “A Touch of Brimstone”

While Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created the original Mastermind (resembling a young Vincent Price) in 1964, it was Chris Claremont and John Byrne who crowned him the “Black King” of the Hellfire Club and made him an integral part of the “Dark Phoenix Saga.” Byrne talks about what inspired the look and names for the original members of the elitist British club of super-powered villains on his website:

I first encountered Peter Wyngarde, as an actor, on ‘The Avengers’ episode ‘A Touch of Brimstone,’ which dealt with Steed and Emma having an encounter with the Hellfire Club. Later he turned up on a British series called Department S, and its spin-off Jason King. When Chris decided he wanted to do a Hellfire club arc in ‘Uncanny X-Men’ as part of the “darkening” of Phoenix, I suggested the “in-joke” of having Mastermind, in his disguised form, resemble Peter Wyngarde and, mixing character and actor, that his name be Jason Wyngarde.

In the 1982 book X-Men Companion Volume II, all of the founding Hellfire Club members inspirations were identified as follows:

Mastermind (Jason Wyngarde) – British actor Peter Wyngarde in Jason King

Sebastian Shaw – British actor Robert Shaw

Donald Pierce – Canadian actor Donald Sutherland

Harry Leland – American actor Orson Welles

Emma Frost – Fictitious spy Emma Peel played by British Actress Diana Rigg

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17. Shredder – Verified

Cheese Grater and Shredder 570x320 Real Life Inspirations Behind Some of the Best Comic Book Villains

First Appearance: May 1984

Inspiration: Cheese Graters

After Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird came up with the idea of four wisecracking martial arts reptiles known as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, they needed a imposing villain for them to fight. In the 1991 video The Making of ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’: Behind the Shells (watch it HERE), Eastman describes his inspiration for Shredder like this:

It’s probably the silliest way we came up with a character. I was drawing this up, and I slid my hand and held on to the end. Could you imagine a character with weapons on his arms like this? The guy would be lethal. And we’re like “Shredder! What a name for a character.

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18. Ozymandias – Alleged

Thunderbolt Percy Bysshe Shelley and Ozymandias 570x320 Real Life Inspirations Behind Some of the Best Comic Book Villains

First Appearance: September 1986

Inspiration: Thunderbolt/Poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley

When DC Comics acquired Charlton Comics and their stable of classic comic characters in 1985, writer Alan Moore decided to use some of those long forgotten characters to create a murder-mystery story revolving around the death of a super hero – and thus Watchmen was born. One of those Charlton characters from 1966 was named Thunderbolt who had the power to use ninety percent of his brain. Moore gave those powers to the newly created Ozymandias (his name is taken from the poem of the same title by 18th century poet Percy Shelley about the momentary nature of power) and made him both a protagonist and antagonist in his epic five-series graphic novel.

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19. Venom – Verified

Venom 570x320 Real Life Inspirations Behind Some of the Best Comic Book Villains

First Appearance: April 1988

Inspiration: Reader suggestion

Imagine you’re a long time Marvel fan sending in a suggestion for a new costume design for Spider-Man. Now imagine that you receive a letter from then-Marvel editor Jim Shooter saying they not only like the idea, but want to purchase it for the “princely” sum of $220. Well, that’s exactly what happened to Randy Schueller in 1982. While Schueller’s new idea for Spidey’s suit would make its debut in 1984, the Venom the fans know today (designed by Mike Zeck and Todd McFarlane) wouldn’t make his appearance until 1988.

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20. Lucifer Morningstar – Verified

Paradise Lost David Bowie and Lucifer Morningstar 570x320 Real Life Inspirations Behind Some of the Best Comic Book Villains

First Appearance: April 1989

Inspiration: “Paradise Lost” by John Milton/ David Bowie

The original character Lucifer first appeared during a dream sequence in December 1962. It wouldn’t be until the late-’80s when acclaimed writer Neil Gaiman reimagined him that Lucifer Morningstar truly came to be into existence. While Gaiman has repeatedly spoken of the influence he drew from the epic poem Paradise Lost by 17th century poet John Milton when writing Sandman, artist Kelley Jones mentions what inspired the actual look of Lucifer in the 2004 book, Hanging Out With The Dream King: Conversations With Neil Gaiman And His Collaborators:

Neil was adamant that the Devil was David Bowie. He just said, “He is. You must draw David Bowie. Find David Bowie, or I’ll send you David Bowie. Because if it isn’t David Bowie, you’re going to have to redo it until it is David Bowie.” So I said, “Okay, it’s David Bowie.”

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21. Bane – Verified

Doc Savage Count of Monte Cristo and Bane 570x320 Real Life Inspirations Behind Some of the Best Comic Book Villains

First Appearance: January 1993

Inspiration: Doc Savage/Count of Monte Cristo

In the early ’90s, DC Comics decided it wanted to do something drastic to Batman without killing him (since that had just been done to Superman), so they decided to create a villain to break his back. Enter Bane. Knightfall co-creators Chuck Dixon, Doug Moench, and Graham Nolan got together and, using Shadow Comics’ character Doc Savage from 1933 and Alexandre Dumas’ 19th century tale The Count of Monte Cristo as a template, created one of Batman’s deadliest and darkest foes ever. It was Nolan’s idea to based Bane’s design on a Mexican luchador (wrestler). Todd Matthy has a great interview with Chuck Dixon about the creation of Bane, which you can read HERE.

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22. Harley Quinn – Verified

Arleen Sorkin and Harely Quinn 570x320 Real Life Inspirations Behind Some of the Best Comic Book Villains

First Appearance: September 1993

Inspiration: Arleen Sorkin from Days of Our Lives

Harley Quinn’s first appearance anywhere was in the September 1992 episode of Batman: The Animated Series as the devoted, slightly crazy, overly obsessed girlfriend of The Joker. However, her character became so popular that DC Comics decided to bring her to the pages of the Batman comics. Paul Dini and Bruce Timm teamed up to create Harley Quinn, but it was a dream sequence in the soap opera Days of Our Lives – starring actress Arleen Sorkin dressed as a court jester – that inspired Paul Dini to create her look and personality – which Dini discusses in his 1998 book, Batman Animated.

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23. Magog – Verified

Cable and Magog 570x320 Real Life Inspirations Behind Some of the Best Comic Book Villains

First Appearance: May 1996

Inspiration: The Bible/Cable (Marvel)

Though he didn’t start off as a villain (and in some ways, didn’t finish his career as a villain), Lance Corporal David Reid would very much act in a villainous way as Magog – the man imbued with powers by the demon god Gog – by killing The Joker and being partly responsible for the nuclear destruction of a large part of Kansas. When writer Mark Waid came up with the idea of introducing Magog in the comic Kingdom Come, he told artist Alex Ross to design him like so:

Mark originally told me, “Make him look like everything we hate in modern superhero design.” [Magog's] a character that Mark Waid invented that was really just put to me like come up with the most God awful Rob Liefeld (Cable) sort of design that you can. What I was stealing from was – really only two key designs of Rob’s – the design of Cable. I hated it. I felt like it looked like they just threw up everything on the character – the scars, the thing going on with his eye, the arm, and what’s with all the guns? But the thing is, when I put those elements together with the helmet of Shatterstar – well, the ram horns and the gold, suddenly it held together as one of the designs that I felt happiest with in the entire series.

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Conclusion

Super Villain Inspirations Marvel Comics Super Villains 570x320 Real Life Inspirations Behind Some of the Best Comic Book Villains

From poems to other artists’ work to actors and even dessert – it’s clear that artists and writers can draw inspiration from anywhere and anything when creating the next great comic book villain. These were only the 24 inspirations we discovered out of the 120 we researched, but there are most likely a whole lot more out there just as interesting.

What would you use as inspiration to create the next big comic book villain?

Follow me on Twitter – @MoviePaul.

TAGS: batman, captain america, fantastic four, guardians of the galaxy, iron man, man of steel, paradise lost, spider-man, teenage mutant ninja turtles, the avengers, venom, watchmen, x-men

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  1. #8 us apocryphal (meaning it’s crap. meaning it’s false).

    it’s an urban legend accepted by people who don’t know history and which Stan apparently embraced WELL after the fact.

    There were no politics underlying the X Men. Magneto was just one more Marvel villain and has, to this day, literally nothing in common with Malcolm X. The fact that this ridiculous urban legend persists says a lot more about how little attention some people pay to actual history (and dates) and how much they pay to comic books.

    sad.

    false and sad.

    • @g thorne – Or you know…Stan Lee is lying. I’m sure you know better though.

      Paul Young

      • @Paul Young

        He’s quite right. The X-Men were not an ‘oppressed’ minority until Neal Adams took over the book and expanded the concept of being an awkward teenager to something more Nationally relevant. If you read Stan Lee’s version, common folk had very little problem with mutants, and Magneto was basically a dime store Doctor Doom.

        • @Mike & @g thorne
          I’m no comic genius but I find looking this stuff up fun because I can be a bit of a nerd sometimes. While I don’t have these comics to read for myself, based on my research the X-men comics offered references to prejudice and racism, however subtle they may have been(these are comics who’s targets are kids that we’re talking about)since it’s beginning in the 60s. What those references were/may have been, or how many issues were released before they began is something I can’t be sure of.
          I think it’s safe to say that we can never know for sure whether or not Prof X and Magneto were created with MLK and Malcolm X in mind and they waited before sliding metaphors in, or if they were created first AND THEN some genius said, “Hey.. these guys really want the same thing, right? It’s kind of like the civil rights movement. Let’s explore that.”
          In fact, the Stan Lee quote doesn’t mention Malcolm X at all, so the latter is much more likely, however, you can’t deny the similarities between the four figures.
          Lastly, from what I’ve seen, Neal Adams is an artist (a great one to be sure) but the writer you’re probably referring to is Roy Thomas. They worked together on the X-men, taking over in ’69, 6 years after the X-men debuted.

          • no. we know. for sure.

            stan may just remember it in a way that he finds favorable or he may be consciously lying. i don’t know him. but knowing him isn’t necessary.

            in either case there is no way the Malcolm X /MLK metaphor ever worked for Magneto and Prof X. The only reason people think it does is because of basic ignorance of both men.

            Stan never floated the notion himself until the 1980s. It’s ludicrous. It stays alive because people are too ignorant to question it.

            • It sounds like you just don’t like the civil rights reference… since you know MLK and Malcolm X are “ignorant”.

              However you have failed to present an actual reason why the reference doesn’t work. All you have said is that it doesn’t work and that it’s sad. Now I may not know more than you, about X-Men but it seems highly unlikely you know more than Stan Lee… but for the sake of argument lets explore.

              Your first comment was about dates. I teach history both MLK and Malcom X were active well in to the 50s and The Xmen debut in 1963. Hell Malcom X died by 65 so he was active enough to inspire before 63.

              Additionally the actual references are too may to ignore. Lets start with the fact that Professor X wants to live in harmony with humans similar to how MLK wanted blacks and whites to live in harmony (see I Have a Dream Speech). They even sometimes call it “Charles Xavier’s Dream”.

              On the flip side Magneto believes Mutants to be superior to humans. He even leads and organization based on that belief, The Brotherhood of Mutants (1964) and he even says that it exists as an ideological counterpart to Professor X’s “DREAM” of Humans and Mutants living in harmony. This is a direct reference to the Nation of Islam which believed in the same ideals about black people and white people and was even often referred to as brotherhood.

              As far as individual traits that make Magneto similar to Malcom X… well for one he truly believes almost everything he does is “self-defense”. (look up self-defense in the context of civil rights)

              Additionally he even directly quotes Malcom X several times. Most recently he says “By any means necessary…” in both the first X-Men movie and other comics.

              Another way they a are similar is the fact that later in their lives they publicly regret their past actions and see how they were flawed in their method. Malcom X leaves the Nation of Islam and renounces their actions (reason he was killed probably) and Magneto publicly endorses and even aids Professor X in achieving his dream.

              Now no doubt SOME of these things were written in after Magneto’s debut and later in the cannon. That doesn’t make it “false” that he was inspired by Malcom X. That’s how comics work characters and plots EVOLVE.

              • That’s the point I was trying to make, but I can tell that g thorne is probably more interested in sounding as though he’s smarter than everyone else.
                But, in all fairness to him, he didn’t say MLK and Malcolm X are ignorant. He said that people who think there’s a relation btwn MLK/Malcolm X and Prof X/Magneto are ignorant and don’t understand the historical figures.
                I can understand his argument that he doesn’t believe they were created to be reflections of civil rights figures, and that’s fine if that’s his opinion, but arguing that there has NEVER been ANY sort of similarity in any way, shape, or form in the history of the X men… then idk. He’s buggin out. There’s nothing wrong with comics reflecting real life social issues.

              • Sorry. No.

                Malcolm X doesn’t work either as a proxy or inspiration for Magneto. The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants bears ZERO resemblance to the Nation of Islam either in ethos or in practice and Magneto is CLEARLY written as a b-grade villain with no “civl rights” agenda whatsoever. Zero. it’s not even close.

                Even more drastically false is any parallel between Professor X and MLK. Prof.X was, compared to MLK, a coward. He kept his people HIDDEN, taught them to conceal themselves for fear of persecution which is the PRECISE OPPOSITE of MLK’s activities. Prof. X was an FBI affiliate in the beginning whereas MLK was under Hoover’s surveillance and survived several smear campaigns from that body. Etc, etc, etc.

                Mutants, in themselves, were a clear proxy for TEENAGERS undergo in PUBERTY (bodies out of control, people not understanding them, ANYONE could be one, etc.) and, again, they did NOTHING to advance mutant civiil rights. And on more than one occasion stan has said he created mutants because he was burnt out thinking up origin stories.

                Magneto was out to take over the world over a nazi-esque sense of genetic superiority and the X Men were out to police his activities to protract themselves from further persecution. Again, NOTHING like the civil rights struggle in any way.

                Over the course of his evolution, Magneto graduated from simple Dr. Doom knockoff to mass murderer– something Malcolm X neither undertook nor espoused on his WORST day. So, while some foolish and ignorant writers in later years did float the idea that they were proxies for MLK and Malcolm X, they, too, had no clue what they were talking about nor about the individuals in question.

                It sounded good to people whose notions of the civil rights movement came from the few movies they may have seen or the odd tv documentary. Barely remembered, clearly, or they’d not have made and repeated the error.

                So, yes, Stan can SAY anything about this he likes (and often does) and we can give him the benefit of the doubt that he actually remembers ti that way but, no, the actual facts both of the real world persons and his own writing, prove it’s simply not so. never was. is not now.

                You can perpetuate this BS if you like, It’s a relatively free country. But it’s complete crap. And now you can’t say you weren’t told.

                • sorry about the typos. there’s no edit function.

                  civl = civil
                  undergo in = undergoing
                  protract = protect
                  ti = it

                  • Typos are forgiven, I’m not one of those “You missed a button while typing, your point is now invalid!” types.

                    However, I think your missing a very important point:
                    It is an action-adventure comic whose primary audience was boys in the age frame of somewhere between 8-14 years old.
                    There will almost always have to be the classic sense of good vs evil. Prof X and Magneto can’t star in a comic book about mutants with awesome powers but the whole time they just debate the most effective way to keep their people safe, free and happy, and then throw in a couple of scenes of police officers hosing them down and chasing them with dogs. And then afterward, they can look at the reader and do the “black power” fist.
                    Even if someone was bold enough to do that, it wouldn’t sell and it wouldn’t last.
                    Instead, you’d have to pit one against the other and, over time, raise the stakes of Magneto and Co.’s crimes against humanity[force of evil] to justify Prof X and his personal army of self policing mutants[the force of good].
                    There are plenty of differences between Magneto and Malcolm X, sure, but the point is that any similarities are intentional. The shallow B-level description of Magneto that you keep describing may have been back in the day, but he’s been developed as a complex character in the 50 years since his creation. Part of his animosity against mankind is a direct influence of having been a prisoner of the Nazis as a child. He’s suffered oppression before and refuses to let his people (mutants substituting for the Jewish people now) suffer oppression again. Whereas Prof X’s DREAM is all about unity. He dreams of a world in which “the sons of [mutants] and the sons of [mankind] will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.” Which is a quote from MLK’s “I Have A Dream” speech.
                    Sure, when they were created, good guys vs bad guys with powers, but at some point someone said, “Hey, let’s make this a little deeper.” and pulled SOME references from historical figures.
                    SORRY FOR THE SUPER LONG POST, but I’m just confused as to why you find the idea that MLK and Malcolm X may have had at least a little influence on the way Prof X and Magneto were/are portrayed completely ridiculous. Even if the writers had no idea that people were perceiving it that way until it came up from fans or whomever, is it impossible to imagine that writers didn’t start including a little something extra after that?

                    • I just re-read your comment to make sure I completely understand your viewpoint and I was struck by this line: “So, while some foolish and ignorant writers in later years did float the idea that they were proxies for MLK and Malcolm X, they, too, had no clue what they were talking about nor about the individuals in question.”
                      The writers? The writers who … write the comics?? How can they be ignorant of their own work? That doesn’t make sense.
                      And I’ll give you the Prof X/MLK allegory is weak; aside from the “dream” thing, not really a lot of similarity that I’m aware of, but the Magneto/Malcolm X allegory is overt
                      You: “Magneto was out to take over the world over a nazi-esque sense of genetic superiority… Again, NOTHING like the civil rights struggle in any way.”

                      Malcolm X: “…black people are the original people of the world”, “white people are devils”, “blacks are SUPERIOR to whites”, and “the demise of the white race is imminent.”

                      Magneto: Takes control of Genosha, an island in AFRICA where mutants were kept as slaves (they weren’t even trying to be subtle here) and promotes it as a mutant-only nation where they can be free. (Of course, in typical comic villain fashion, he eventually uses it to create an army and blah blah, but I’m talking about before that)

                      Malcolm X: While the civil rights movement fought against racial segregation, Malcolm X advocated the complete separation of African Americans from whites. He proposed that African Americans should return to AFRICA, and that a SEPARATE COUNTRY for black people in America should be created as an interim measure. He also rejected the civil rights movement’s strategy of nonviolence, expressing the opinion that black people should defend and advance themselves by any means necessary.

                      History: See Liberia

                      These are similarities, not literal reflections. The point is, that despite your passionate claim that there are no similarities and that anyone who believes otherwise is ignorant, there are quite a few. It has been 60 years, after all.

                    • i see that those writers tried to shoehorn it in. i see them having misunderstood, as you have here, pretty much everything about both men.

                      it’s not their own work of which they are ignorant but the material they claim was a source.

                      Quoting MLK (actually lifting and poorly paraphrasing him) doesn’t make one a proxy for or inspired by MLK.

                      The shoes just don’t fit.

                      The “by any means necessary” quote so favored by people who have no idea what they’re talking about, does not allude to violence (something Malcolm X never participated in nor incited) but rather his willingness to work with anyone who could foster the cause of equality and to use any tools available to him to promote equality. This might have included violence as self-defense but it was, by no means, a call to arms.

                      this is an article about Magneto’s conception, not his evolution. Even if we concede he evolved into a Malcolm proxy (which he did not) that isn’t the issue. How and why he was invented is the point and that point, made here, is false.

                      Mutants in general were conceived as “children of the the atom” meaning they were few and recent in the human population. There could be no hereditary mistreatment of them as a class because there weren’t enough of them to make a dent.

                      Xavier feared what might happen based on how people treated the less attractive mutants- Toad and, to some extent, Beast– but his mission was never about unity or civil rights. He was only about protecting his people and keeping them hidden.

                      Malcolm, while ALLOWING for violent response in true self defense against racist cops who were, at the time, enforcing illegal dispersal of groups of blacks with guns, clubs and dogs, never once mounted an attack nor fostered others who might attack either cops or random whites as a false “self defense.”

                      Magneto’s first act in comics was to take over a military base to get access to the nukes.

                      Magneto murdered, at minimum, scores of people over the course of his “evolution.” Malcolm X murdered zero.

                      Magneto, throughout his “evolution” sought to set himself as king of not only the mutants but all humans, mutant or not. All Malcolm wanted, ironically the same as MLK, was for the USA to stop kicking the crap out of its black population and he organized to try and get all the various groups of blacks to unify politically in order to effect that legal change of status.

                      Considering himself a realist he also espoused, as had Marcus Garvey before him, a “return” to Africa to escape the predation of a nation that clearly did not seem to want its black population. Magneto, by contrast, is delusional. There is no oppression of mutants at the time he was created because there weren’t enough publicly known mutants to oppress.

                      You can’t oppress something you don’t know exists.

                      It’s simply not possible that Stan meant to tie the concept to the Civil Rights struggles of the day. They were too much in the news, too stark and too obvious for him to have moved so afar off the beam of this was an analogy he actually meant to make.

                      It’s just not true.

                • Lol Just saying that it doesn’t work doesn’t mean it doesn’t work. I gave all these reasons how Magneto was similar and all you have said is that it doesn’t work. Well, your argument doesn’t work. The Burden of Proof is still on you.

                  The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, by your own admission is a Mutant supremacy group… the Nation of Islam, by their own admission, is a black supremacy group. BOEM thought they were superior to humans, the NOI literally teaches that white people are “devils” created by an evil scientist (Yakub). Case closed.

                  “protect themselves from further persecution.” … So by your own admission the Mutants were persecuted by the Humans and Professor X was trying to stop them through a “non violent” means. Case closed.
                  Professor X, was an FBI affiliate at one point, but he and every other known mutant was still under constant surveillance by the government and under threat of attack by Sentinels at any moment he and his crew were deemed a credible threat which because of the BOEM they often were. Hell there was even a Mutant Registration act at one point.

                  On the other-hand I agree with the teenager allegory. That doesn’t mean the civil rights comparison doesn’t work though. Remember we are talking about almost the entire Marvel Universe. There are multiple allegories and metaphors at play depending on the character. There is currently a large LGBT theme going on. There is the obvious NAZI symbolism and of course let’s not forget about the McCarthyism/Red Scare theme.

                  The fact that you find differences in the amount of atrocities committed by Magneto and Malcom X is of little consequence because comic book characters, in particular super villains and heroes are always exaggerated versions of their real world inspirations. He never killed anybody? So? He never picked up a 747 with his magnetic powers either. Senator Joseph McCarthy never attempted a Mutant genocide but you would have to be an idiot to think he wasn’t the inspiration behind X-Men’s senator Robert Kelly.

                  We give Stan Lee the benefit of the doubt BECAUSE HE WROTE THE STORY! Call me old fashioned I think that is a pretty damn good reason. I have already conceded that “Magneto X” may not have been in the initial draft of his character sketch but it is clearly in there now and has been there at minimum since the 70s.

                  It’s Occam’s razor… the simplest explanation is usually true. Now what is simpler? A 60s comic about social relations was affected by the largest social movement at the time or that Stan Lee and Jack Kirby just so happened to come up with two characters on opposite ends of a spectrum who resemble two historical figures in so many ways?

                  Now as I said earlier X-men has multiple meanings and comparisons so you are free to like one over the other… which you clearly do, But Stan Lee and I are partial to this one.

                  • The simplest explanation is Stan wrote it about teenagers and it went a different direction later. Stan ALWAYS wrote about teenagers. In X-Men, if you notice, in Stan’s version, Xavier wasn’t even an outcast and advised the military against mutants in several issues. If he was doing the social analogy, he was doing a piss poor job of it.

                    Plus Stan created a rousing one black superhero, and black superheroes didn’t sell back then. Making a socially conscious book about blacks back then would’ve been career suicide.

                    • @Mike
                      I can get behind that, it makes sense and I agree that it’s the most plausible explanation. I just kind of got wrapped up in understanding why thorne didn’t see ANY sort of connection EVER in the history of the whole comic.

                    • I acknowledged that was possible explanation. But to say it’s not part of his character from the 70s on up is just asinine.

                      By the way writing socially conscious fiction was not career suicide as long as you choose the right audience. IE: To Kill a Mockingbird and Uncle Tom’s Cabin (Both existed prior to Xmen)

            • “The only reason people think it does is because of basic ignorance of both men.”

              Elaborate please.

              • I’m pretty sure he wasn’t calling Malcolm X and MLK ignorant, but other people’s ignorance of them. Read it like:

                “The only reason people think it does is because of their basic ignorance of both MLK and Malcolm X.”

          • Yeah, it was Thomas. But the first major “racism” storyline was when he paired with Adams. I want to say you can catch passing references to it here and there, but it’s pretty hard to miss in the Adams story. Most people credit Claremont which is probably technically accurate since Days of the Future Past was one of the first really overt storylines, and showed Magneto taking over for Xavier in the future, so it blurred the lines a bit more. I seem to remember Magneto still being sort of Doctor Doomish throughout the Thomas run. So he probably didn’t go full Malcolm X to be sure until Claremont took over the book.

            • Either way Stan Lee got what he wanted. More attention to the characters as you jackoffs are arguing about it hahaha. Stan Lee 1 You Guys 0

    • Thanks! You beat me to it. Read any reprint of Magneto’s first several appearances and you’ll see that he was just a typical comic book villain but with mutant powers.

      Hell, if Magneto and the Brotherhood WERE based on Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam group like Stan has been claiming (with decades of hindsight and retcons distorting his memory)then it was a pretty racist depiction. The narrative dwells on how traitorous and manipulative Magneto is to his own fellow mutants, using and abusing them at will.

      Chris Claremont, after Magneto was “restored” from the infantile state Alpha the Ultimate Mutant left him in, was really the writer who brought in the Holocaust element to Magneto’s origin (and Claremont was also telling us Magneto’s real name was “Magnus” for years)

      • One of the ways you know Stan is fudging the truth by talking credit for X-Men’s eventually hard slant towards racism is that he originally envisioned Xavier and Magneto as brothers, and had planned to go that route until the story was changed (I think by Roy Thomas) prompting the creation of Juggernaut to fill in the Xavier-brother role.

        Stan’s a great writer but he does have a habit of playing hype-machine and acting like every great storyline somehow links back to his original plans. That’s probably not true.

    • LOL…it’s funny whenever i read an article, ANYWHERE, online mentioning THE FACT that X-Men is based on The Civil Rights Movement and it’s leaders, there is always a RACIST trying (feverishly) to disassociate the two. As if when people put 2=(MLK/Malcolm X) and 2=(Pro.X/Magneto) together they have to come in and protect some crazy notion of White Supremacy. In an article online titled ‘X-Men: First Class’ star: MLK and Malcolm X influenced our story’ Michael Fassbender is able to put 2 and 2 together saying “It came up early on in the rehearsal period and that was the path we took,” referring to The Civil Rights leaders being parallel to the mutant leaders. We’ve witnessed people like “g thorne” b4 during the release of The Hunger Games movie. The fans of the book went into a racist uproar when they saw that a character they loved was….dare i say it…BLACK!! I LOVE to tell you most of your famous White heroes are based on people of color. The word “hero” comes from the Egyptian concept, ma haru, meaning “the typical warrior” or the “true hero.” Superman is based on the Egyptian God Horus. 1. Heru’s powers emanate from the sun because he is an aspect of the sun (Ra), the Supreme God. Superman as a Kryptonian gets his power from the earth’s yellow sun.

      2. Heru comes from an advanced civilization of deities. As an infant, he came from Egypt to the earth with his mother Auset, to escape destruction. Superman, as an infant, comes from the advanced civilization of Krypton to escape destruction.

      3. Heru lost his father. Superman lost his parents.

      4. Heru possesses the divine strength, power, might, courage and endurance of a solar god. Superman possesses the superhuman strength, power, courage and stamina of a Kryptonian energized by the sun.

      5. Heru, the Golden Falcon/Solar Hawk-the Winged Solar Disc can fly anywhere at supernatural speeds. Superman can fly faster than the speed of light.

      6. Heru dies and was resurrected twice as Asar (Osiris) and as an infant. Superman died and was resurrected.

      7. Heru fights the never-ending battle for Maat, which is Truth, Justice and Righteousness. Maat is his mother Auset (Isis). Superman fights for Truth, Justice and the American Way.

      Some story lines are not as OBVIOUS as X-Men but the color is still there

      • No one disassociates the two. They question whether Stan truly created the characters for that purpose. Go read the original X-Men and pretend it’s the first time encountering them. You’ll find very little supporting the analogy.

    • Why not, Charles Xavier maybe was inspired in Martin Luther King with his peaceful fight… and Erik Lehnsherr maybe was inspired in Malcolm X with his fight more direct.

      I think that you miss mention on the inspiration of the New Gods by Jack Kirby in Star Wars… Like the exchange of children; the fight between good and evil; the death star very similar to the Apocalypse planet and that the inspiration of Darth Vader was Darkseid & Dr. Doom.

      John Carter + Ogon-Bat + Gladiator Novel + Hercules + Sic-Fi of the 30s. = Superman.

      Black Bat + Batwisper + Sherlock Holmes + The Shadow + Doc Savage + The Phamton + The Zorro = Batman.

    • I was going to say the same thing about the ‘Professor X and Magneto based on MLK and Malcolm X’ deduction.

      It is not true, because it was not there at the time of the characters’ introductions.

      I read a reprint of Xmen #1, in Son of Origins, forty years ago, when the book was almost ten years old. There was no indication of King or Malcolm X.

      In the beginning of the comic book, the conclusion was the mutant kids had an ‘X-tra’ ability, to the normal man and X was going to help them control it.

      Magneto was solely after world domination. Does that tie in with Malcolm X?

      And if Stan and Jack were using Malcolm for an inspiration for Magneto, what does that say about what they thought of the nation of Islam if Magneto called his group the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants?

      At DC, they were launching the Doom Patrol (who resembled both the Xmen and the FF) and their bad guys were the Brotherhood of Evil, no mutants.

      It’s debated which one came first, but it seems Monsieur Brain would look more like Malcolm X if this were even possibly the case.

      I’ve heard Stan talk about the Xmen reflecting discrimination (which I’ve also found bogus as the other poster said, with all the endless white mutants the books have had, and if any non-white character appeared, expect the heaviest of stereotypes), and I think he’s just trying to maintain some wishful thinking.

      I remember in the ’90s was when I first started boldly hearing Xavier reflected King and Magneto did the same with Malcolm. Only the writers and editors see that depiction. No one else ever has or will. It isn’t there!

      You might as well say Fred Flinstone mimics King and Barney Rubble is Malcolm X. They all came out the same time.

      An Avengers book in the ’80s or ’90s therein had Wasp and She-Hulk compare Quicksilver to Sean Penn and the Falcon to ‘that black guy on Hill Street Blues’ (so this must have been late ’80s, and I believe they meant Taurean Blaque, or it may have been Michael Warren).

      Comparing characters who had been around for a good ten or fifteen years later to someone else really shows how the characters have no depth, and the King-Malcolm comparison is just the opposite; nothing in the behavior of Chuck or Eric has ever been similar to Martin or Malcolm.

      The wish and anticipation the Xmen could reflect bigotry (which again, in a sense they do) came about later, but by then, all the heroes were showing that ‘discrimination’; Spiderman was hated by the police, we all feared the Hulk, hero groups had to disband, and check out the beginning of the Kree-Skrull war in the Avengers. They were hated then as well.

    • ..So if Magneto and Professor X were ideas by white males instead of black there would be no question. Out of all the characters listed the only ones you’re questioning happens to be the ONLY ones created from blacks. America at its finest

  2. It is racist of you to refer to black people as mutants in reference to the piece in magneto and Malcom X.

    • @Tapiwa – Um…yeah OK. Because THAT’S what I did.

      Paul Young

    • The metaphor of mutants in X-men is that a minority group is not accepted by the larger group (non-mutants). Using a metaphor is not racist unless the group the minority is being compared to is insulting–i.e., using obvious racist stereotypes and building on those associations in creating the characters, like making the group all resemble animals or criminals, etc.. The mutants in the X-men all have special powers and abilities that make them human but superior to non-mutants.

      • The initial concept half a century ago of the Xmen was not dealing with someone for being ostracized for being different. Granted, some aspect of that may have been in place forty years ago, but that wasn’t the inspiration for the team, and Xavier and Magneto certainly were NOT King and X.

        As for the Xmen evolving into a series to focus, . . . deal with . . . .discrimination, that is bogus as well with the majority white teens they have had.

        If anything, the Xmen in THAT regard are like Children of the Damned; pristine, beautiful little children with powers they cannot control.

        But emphasizing social an racial discrimination and bigotry? Forget I.

  3. Harley Quinn… http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harlequin_(comics)… She was NOT the first. The character of Harlequin actually has a long history in the Batman comics.

    • I remember the purple sexy one, but I’ll just throw out there that Harlequin and Harley Quinn are two completely different characters with different motivations and such, but they do for the most part have the same schtick.
      And Harlequin had a longer history in the Green Lantern comics, I honestly had no idea she was in Batman. That’s interesting, they should have them run into each other one day.. and make out.. I’d be okay with that.

  4. I got to thinking about Harley Quinn and looked up Tara Strong and found out that she didn’t start voicing her until 2011. It was Arleen Sorkin before that… Arleen Sorkin inspired a character and then voiced that character for almost twenty years. Cuh-raazzyyy.

  5. No objection to Watchmen being referred to as ‘Alan Moore’s epic five-series graphic novel’? I’m ashamed of you all.

  6. So this whole article is utterly.. Crap! I don’t know where the author came up with this nonsense. I have spent the past few weeks browsing all these who inspired, the real story and things you didn’t know articles on comic books and movies, and the only thing that is true is there all false! I can’t believe no one has put an end to this blasphemy! Zergnet, ScreenRant and all these others should be ashamed of printing this nonsense and I feel sorry for the new fans who fall in to believing this, and can’t believe more true fans aren’t stepping up to stop it. Come on people, I mean the author didn’t even edit and spellcheck his own writing, that says enough in itself!
    Magneto – Malcolm X… Really? That’s the most absurd misinterpretation ever!!

    • @Cdubs – Thanks for reading. Did all those quotes from books, writers and authors confuse you?

      Paul Young

    • List articles are usually pretty crappy because they try to oversimplify everything. I mean, yes, some of the stuff here like The Man Who Laughs being the visual template for the Joker…totally true. Actors being used as visual reference for characters has always been part of comics. Usually artists need something to work off of. Hal Jordan, for example, was based on Paul Newman. Tony Stark on Erol Flynn. Cyclops on “The man with X-Ray eyes”. Those all influenced designs.

      As for this sort of philosophical inspirations like Malcom X, that’s something someone pulled out of their a**. There’s no way anything like that is true because it’s always using the most current incarnations of those characters. Magneto once wanted to rule the world, now he doesn’t. Xavier once ran a school, now he’s a martyr for a cause. These list articles lump all this together like the character came fully formed on page 1. That’s clearly never been the case.

  7. what about Darth Vader? Isn’t he based on some type of insect??

  8. Anyone who read X-Men in the 1980′s definitely saw the Civil Rights connection. Better yet the emergence of a social consciousness that many artists, authors, screenwriters and novelists ran with. Most def. That’s what enticed the intelligent, free thinking, creative inclusive types who were to the right of the bell curve of average brainwashed, stereotype-fueled, blinkless, droll, mouth-breathing dullards. Many of you are too young or lack the long term memory to even remember that Marvel era. Also I believe what Stan Lee states about his original inspirations for Prof X and Magneto. In its infancy the characters had to be delivered in a palatable manner for the readers of that time. As the populace matured so did the the artistic renderings and writings. The Reagan and Neo-Con era resurrected fears amongst the fair minded humans of elitist, bigoted, narcissistic, selfish platitudes. Hence, the priceless X-Men and X-Factor comics enjoyed in that decade and the beginning of the 1990′s. Most folks laughed at comics and those who read them. If you were a racist, xenophobe or bigot you were very unlikely to vibe with Marvel Comics. If you want to claim that the Black Panther or Heroes for Hire (Power Man and Iron Fist) were just simple teenage novella, distraction rags then your comprehension and soul are extremely lacking. ALL of the Marvel titles tackled anti-bully subjects, sexism racism and all the bad “isms” with a relentless and growing vengeance, growing stronger all the way through the present day. Who of you needs a craniorectalectomy? Most? Nixon as the main inspiration for Kirby’s Darkseid is spot on, and telling. If you’re a conservative minded person and read Marvel comics, who knows what kind of interpretation such a dull life or political viewpoint might conjure from the experience? Liberal is a good word you know. Without liberal thinkers there would be no Founders or the U.S.A., forget learning about neutrinos in a 1987 Avengers comic or that the Capt. Marvel of that era who could manipulate her subatomic particles to become those rare penetrative particles, was a sister with a perfect afro! If ya’ don’t know, now ya’ know. ‘Nuff said!!!

  9. The first picture whom you said inspired the character Catwoman, isn’t Ruth Steel! It’s Hedy Lammar!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  10. What a bunch of cowards Stan Lee and Jack Kirby were in talking about the inspiration for Magneto was Malcolm X and the inspiration for Professor X was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and yet not having anyone black in their comic book early on. Big talk about inspiration, but taking no steps to show America at the time that you were taking a stand with the civil rights movement and the oppression of blacks in America. Fortunately, we as Americans overcame such stupidity in our treatment of our citizens.

    • I have a book on the early days of marvel… and stan lee talked about how he started putting black people in the crowd scenes at first to see if he would get a negative reaction. marvel was responsible for the first black super heroes and issues dealing with equality… hardly cowardess

  11. Why would you show a picture of Jesus for “God” when both Stan Lee and Jack Kirby are/were Jewish?

  12. The X-Men were created in the age of nuclear weapons and the threat of nuclear war, so if there are any parallels it was to the threat of war. Mutants were the result of people born after their parents were exposed to radiation. The prevailing theme of The X-Men was that “Do you know who your neighbor is?” that hailed back to the days of McCarthyism and fear of Soviet spies.

    Charles Xavier was never created to be some Martin Luther King analogy, and neither was Magneto was a Malcolm X proxy. The unfounded analogies to the civil rights leaders started in the 1980s. Moreover, it shows how uninformed people (mostly non-black people) are when it comes to Malcolm X.

  13. http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-lFfA_CcPUjE/T6KV1vtOK0I/AAAAAAAAFOA/2TQYScauSok/s1242/The-Most-Dangerous-Game-2.jpg

    The direct inspiration for KRAVEN the HUNTER from the film.
    As in the character from the book, Kraven is Russian.

  14. FU MANCHU is the inspiration for the MANDARIN, Ming the Merciless, Dr. No and Ras’ Alghul.

  15. I have learned moar about the civil rights movement by reading these comments than I did in school…SO THANKS! Oh n I might be the only one that thinks like this, but IDGAF WER EITHER CHARACTERS CAME FROM im just glad they came =)

    • Oh, definitely, the characters have been fun, but the attempt to put this spin on them as some sainted figures, no way. It wasn’t there in the beginning and there has truthfully never really been a significant moment that reflects them in the comic books.

      When King confronted those who wouldn’t let him pass, he peacefully turned and walked away. Imagine Xavier doing something like that? Got to hit them with a mind blast first!

  16. I would have little doubt that Darth Vader was a nock off of Doctor Doom.

  17. Hmmm funny that Harley’s inspiration is Arleen Sorken. Also fitting, seeing as how she also voiced the Clown Princess of Crime.

  18. Interesting fact about Spidey’s black outfit. I didn’t know that story.

    But “the Venom we know today”, in my opinion, is influenced by Jodorowsky and Moebius’ Darkness from The Incal.

  19. Guys it says, “said Stan Lee about Magento: …”

    You are all clearly debating over the wrong thing here.

  20. Since when was Hercules ever a Villain?

  21. The 1950s/early 1960s Superman villain Lex Lutho seemed to be inspired by Telly Savalas. ♣

  22. I found it ironic that Darkseid was inspired by A. Hitler. I would have sworn he looked a ton like the Golem.

    • DArkseid could have looked like a kitten, every megalomaniac conquerer of sorts back then was ‘inspired’ by Adolf Hitler or supposed to be based on him.

  23. Carnage’s inspiration is a combination of Venom and The Joker.

  24. Okay: While Emma Frost’s NAME mayhave been inspired by Emma Peel – Jean Grey’s look as the Black Queen was taken directly from Mrs Peel’s look in “A Touch of Brimstone” – except for softening the kinkiness a bit by substituting a satin choker with a rose for the wide leather collar with two-inch spikes Diana Rigg wore with the corset and boots (and snake).

    About Harley Quinn: Not only was her look inspired by Arleen Sorkin, but Sorkin was her original voice.

  25. Just FYU, the inspiration for #6 Fin Fang Foom is cited as being from the 1934 movie Chu Chin Chow but the movie poster shown is from the 1923 silent version.

  26. Venom was inspired by a Manga character called “Giver The Bio-Buster Armour”. one of the first of there Symbiotic stuper-heros. personally i think was inspired its self by a tapeworm infection. they went on to infect almost every comic book publisher. Marvel was so badly infected it ended up with at less 2. Venom and Carnage (not Carnagé who is a Disney Character).

    • Guyver: The Bio-booster Armor

      Never saw that connection though, aside from the symbiotic relationshiplp. Is there an official source on this or is this your conjecture?

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