Most superheroes tend to be orphans. Really, trauma kind of goes with the territory. Stable individuals with happy lives are less likely to throw on a pair of tights and go looking for criminals, so it’s not entirely unexpected that so many superheroes have had to suffer from losing their parents at an early age, whether those parents were wiped away by an exploding planet, died in a plane crash, or shot by a mugger.
But some superheroes do get to know their parents — and sometimes, unfortunately, the relationship doesn’t end up being so nurturing. The heroes in this list have all, at one time or another, come to blows with their progenitors, sometimes even to the point where blood is drawn. Though evil siblings are one thing, and criminal uncles are another, there might be no battle more personal than going to war against one’s own parent.
So, without further ado, here are 15 Superheroes Who Had to Fight Their Parents.
Wolverine has one of the longest body counts of any major superhero. What makes it worse is that throughout his life, Wolverine has seen many of his own loved ones impaled on his claws, between multiple love interests, his son, and more. But the biggest kicker of them all is the fact that Wolverine’s very first murder — not to mention, the first manifestation of his iconic claws — happens when he kills his biological father, Thomas Logan.
In all fairness, Thomas Logan is a pretty nasty guy, and violently abuses his other son, Dog. In addition, during his childhood, the future Wolverine (at this time known merely as James Howlett) doesn’t even know that Logan is his father, since he’s been raised by the wealthy John and Elizabeth Howlett.
James’s life comes crashing down when Thomas Logan shoots John Howlett. James responds by popping his claws for the first time, and then slashing up Logan. Though he and his childhood friend Rose quickly flee afterward, hoping to get away from their past, this single event stands out as a defining event in Wolverine’s history, even though he spends an enormous chunk of his life unable to remember it.
If there’s one superhero who has emotional problems, it’s Bruce Banner. Even before gamma rays cause the angrier sides of his personality to physically manifest as a hulking green monster, Banner’s psyche is already fractured by his abusive childhood, where he suffers both physical and psychological torment at the hands of his father, Brian. This early trauma is what causes Bruce’s repressed emotions, later resulting in what becomes the innocent but furious persona of the Hulk. Brian finally ends up murdering Bruce’s mother, Rebecca, resulting in him being placed in a mental institution and Bruce being taken away from him. When he is later released, after Bruce is an adult, they get in a physical altercation and Bruce accidentally kills him by cracking his skull against Rebecca’s headstone.
In Ang Lee’s 2003 Hulk movie, of course, their battle goes even further, with Bruce’s father being directly responsible for meddling with Bruce’s genes, and later transforming into an “Absorbing Man,” capable of absorbing the properties of anything he touches, leading to a final battle where he attempts to absorb the energies of the Hulk himself.
In recent years, the comics have followed suit, resurrecting Brian Banner — not as the Absorbing Man, but instead as the “Devil Hulk,” a monster fueled by the Hulk’s anger, meaning that the angrier Bruce gets, the more powerful the Devil Hulk becomes. Bruce is finally able to defeat him by focusing on his positive emotions, instead of his negative ones.
13. Daimon Hellstrom, the Son of Satan
Brian Banner and Thomas Logan might be pretty horrendous fathers, but let’s face it, Daimon Hellstrom’s father tops the list: Daimon is commonly known as the “Son of Satan,” and for a reason.
The son of the biblical Lucifer and an Earthly woman named Victoria Wingate, Daimon is born in Massachusetts, and both he and his sister are trained by their demonic father in the dark arts. Though his sister openly embodies their satanic heritage, Daimon rebels, focusing instead on his human side. When their mother is put into a mental hospital, Daimon spends the rest of his childhood and adolescence in a Jesuit orphanage, eventually growing up to become a professor of anthropology, and then an occult investigator dedicated toward defending the human race from his father’s evil forces and influence.
12. The Runaways
Then, of course, we have the Runaways. A lesser known Marvel Comic — though it will soon be a TV series on Hulu, with filming set to begin next month — the Runaways are a group of teenagers who discover that their parents are not what they seem.
Nico, Karolina, Alex, Chase, Molly, and Gert are six seemingly regular kids, connected only by the fact that once every year, their parents all get together for a charity event. But one year, the kids decide to peek in and see what their parents are up to, only to discover them offering up a girl as a human sacrifice in some kind of occult ritual. It turns out that their parents make up “the Pride,” a criminal organization composed of mutants, evil wizards, mad scientists, and more.
Shocked, horrified, and wanting to do something, the kids steal the Pride’s equipment, and using it — in addition to the powers that they find they have naturally inherited — the new heroes are put on a collision course with their parents, and succeed in knocking them off their perch. After this, the team dedicates themselves to preventing other supervillains from taking over the Pride’s old territory.
11. The Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver
It’s tough having Magneto as a dad. His morals are pretty black and white, and there really isn’t much room for bonding if you don’t see eye-to-eye with him on the whole “mutant superiority” thing, as the X-Men can tell you. It’s even more difficult when he spends the majority of his life not even realizing that he has children, and definitely not realizing that his are a pair of hyper-powerful beings, only for the realization to come out many years later. Complicated stuff, for sure.
The twins are first introduced as newly-recruited members of Magneto’s Brotherhood, alongside such criminals as Toad and Mastermind. Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch soon leave Magneto’s ways behind and adopt new roles as members of the Avengers, that one team of superheroes that the world now knows so well. Needless to say, this changed alliance has led them into conflict with the master of magnetism many, many times. Quicksilver has had an especially rocky relationship with his father, since at one point, Magneto actually crushes him within the metal body of a Sentinel (though Wanda’s reality-warping powers lead to him being resurrected shortly afterward).
Now here’s where the whole parentage thing, at least as we understand parentage here on Earth, gets a little bit…bizarre. Because when asexual alien symbiotes start reproducing, it’s kind of a weird ride. Basically, it all starts with Venom. Everyone knows Venom, right? The merging of Spider-Man’s alien costume with Eddie Brock, who combined to create one of Spider-Man‘s worst enemies? Well, when the Venom symbiote reproduces, it gives birth to the Carnage symbiote, which then bonds to a mass murderer named Cletus Kasady and creates the most bloodthirsty, murderous comic book supervillain of all time.
Needless to say, it was only a matter of time before Carnage’s symbiote also gave birth. When it finally does, the result is Toxin. Though Carnage desperately tries to kill his child, both afraid of its potential power and uncomfortable with the idea of giving birth, the Toxin symbiote becomes bonded to an honest police officer named Patrick Mulligan, who has a pregnant wife at home. Despite the symbiote’s dark influence, Mulligan remains dedicated to doing the right thing, and is soon pulled into direct conflict with Carnage, who still seeks to destroy his more powerful offspring.
If you thought Carnage was a weird parent to have, well, try being Kon-El, better known as Superboy. Originally known as Experiment 13, Superboy is the result of genetic engineering by the Cadmus Corporation, aged from a stem cell to an adolescent in just a week. Originally believed to be a human clone of a man named Paul Westfield, with DNA modified to resemble Superman as much as possible, it is later shown that Kon-El’s origins are actually a bit more disturbing: an email to his fellow Teen Titan, Robin, reveals that Superboy is actually a genetic hybrid of the Kryptonian DNA of Superman, merged to the human DNA of, well…Lex Luthor.
So, on a genetic level, Kon-El is the son of Lex and Superman. The Joker must certainly be jealous.
Superboy, like most of the Teen Titans and the Justice League, already has hostile feelings towards Lex from years before this point, and the new revelations add an additional wrinkle of discomfort to things. At one point, Lex exploits their connection by offering to help Superboy reach his maximum potential, and then mind-controlling him to attack the other Teen Titans.
8. Shang-Chi, Master of Kung Fu
Back in the 1970s, Marvel sought out the rights for the popular TV series Kung Fu, only to be turned down by Warner Brothers. Still wanting a kung fu themed series, Marvel instead decided to get the rights to Sax Rohmer’s classic pulp villain Fu Manchu (yes, the one the mustache is named after). Once acquired, they made the protagonist of this new series Fu Manchu’s newly-created son: Shang-Chi, master of kung-fu.
Needless to say, the whole premise is loaded with massive stereotypes, Fu Manchu himself being one of the biggest offenders. Shang-Chi is introduced as the son of the Chinese criminal mastermind, who has been trained since childhood in martial arts by his father, but not having any knowledge of his dear old dad’s illegal activities. Upon discovering this fact, Shang-Chi turns away from his father, and they become enemies.
Since Fu Manchu’s death, the character of Shang-Chi has evolved quite a bit, becoming a pretty big player in the Marvel Universe. He may even be making his debut in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in the very near future.
Cyclops may often be inaccurately branded as the X-Men’s resident boy scout, but don’t let that branding fool you. Cyclops is a dude with issues, serious issues, enough issues to almost make Wolverine look sane by comparison. Cyclops’s daddy problems are just one piece of the confusing puzzle that is Scott Summers, but it’s a big piece.
First, of course, there is Scott’s relationship with his biological father, Major Christopher Summers. After a childhood plane crash, Scott spends years believing that his parents are dead… only to discover, as an adult, that his father is alive, and has spent all that time adventuring though the cosmos as a member of a space pirate gang called the Starjammers. Needless to say, Scott isn’t too happy about all this, or about his dad not even bothering to check up on him, but they later reconcile.
However, throughout most of his life, Scott has a different father: Professor Charles Xavier, the man he looks up to more than anyone else, and the man whose dream he dedicates his life to fulfilling. But in later years, Scott and Xavier’s philosophies on the future of mutantkind drift further and further apart, resulting in a massive rift forming. This personal battle between the X-Men’s two most iconic leaders finally culminates when Cyclops, empowered by the Phoenix Force, murders Xavier in cold blood, an action that many, including Juggernaut, have never forgiven him for.
Superboy isn’t the only Teen Titan with a villainous father. Raven, a dark and mysterious empath who grew up in the Azarath dimension, is the daughter of a female human, Arella, and a powerful demonic overlord known as Trigon, one of the most powerful beings in the DC Universe. Basically, if she and Daimon Hellstrom ever meet, they’ll relate to one another quite a bit.
Trigon is the personification of dark energies that have existed since his universe’s inception, and since taking physical form, his carnage has known no limits: at the moment of his birth, he slaughtered everyone around him, and by six years old, he had wiped out an entire planet. After raping Arella, their daughter Raven is raised to have tight control over her emotions, out of fear of the demonic energies passed down to her from Trigon.
Years later, when Raven comes to understand her father’s true nature, she allies with the Teen Titans in order to trap Trigon within an interdimensional prison. However, Trigon’s corrupting influence is still not wiped away from Raven’s psyche, and it’s not until he is finally killed (using her as a channel) by the souls of Azarath that she is finally freed from the dark presence of her father.
Batman and Robin are in many ways the ultimate father/son duo in comics. Though there have been a few Robins, the majority of them — such as Richard Grayson and Jason Todd — have been orphans, taken under Bruce Wayne’s wing. However, though Batman may be an admirable figure in many ways, he’s a difficult man to get close to, and a rather challenging father figure. So it’s not such a surprise that almost all of the Robins have, at one point or another, found themselves wanting to challenge the man that raised them.
Arguably, the Robin with the most personal struggles against Bruce has been Damian Wayne, his biological son.
Damian and Bruce’s relationship is messy, to say the least. As the son of Bruce and Talia al Ghul, Damian’s existence was kept a secret from his father for most of the boy’s life. He was raised by the League of Assassins, meaning Bruce was not there for Damian’s early formative years. The boy later develops a deep desire to prove himself as Batman’s son, fighting for the Robin role, but the boy’s violent tendencies — and willingness to cross the line of killing opponents, one of the Dark Knight’s big no no’s — as well as his disdain for the former Robins, has brought them into conflict on several occasions.
Yes, Nightcrawler and Mystique are both blue for a reason. While the X-Men films have consciously decided to forgo much of the convoluted family trees of the comics — wisely, in some cases — one of the most significant familial changes they’ve made is ignoring the fact that Mystique, one of the X-Men’s greatest enemies and now one of the most popular Marvel characters, is actually the mother of the X-Men’s resident Catholic teleporter.
As opposing members of the X-Men and the Brotherhood, Nightcrawler and Mystique have fought many times. Now, to be clear, Nightcrawler wasn’t raised by Mystique; when Kurt was born, and his demonic appearance was immediately revealed, the infant became the target of a mob in Germany. Mystique ran away, threw him down into a well, and left him behind. He was adopted by gypsies and grew up in a circus, where audience members assumed that his appearance was merely a costume.
The story of Nightcrawler’s parentage gets even less healthy when he finds out that his biological father is Azazel, the red-skinned teleporter that movie viewers will remember from X-Men: First Class. In many ways, it’s probably a lucky thing that Kurt wasn’t raised by either of his actual parents, since neither one would have instilled the strong morals that define him today.
3. Scarlet Spider
Who could ever forget the Clone Saga, the most bizarre Spider-Man story of all time? While many elements of the story have carried over into present day Spider-Man tales, many have also been left in the garbage heap following the Clone Saga’s incredibly negative reception. However, the one element that has remained the most popular, despite the sludge that surrounded it, is the character of Scarlet Spider, Peter Parker’s clone.
Though a few different characters have swung through skyscrapers under the name Scarlet Spider, the two most important ones have been Ben Reilly during the Clone Saga, and in recent years, Kaine. Both of these heroes, of course, are clones of the original web-head created by the villainous Dr. Miles Warren, AKA the Jackal. Considering the intention behind Jackal’s test tube creation of Ben Reilly was far from altruistic, since he was spawned for the sheer purpose of messing with Spider-Man, not to mention that both characters inherited Peter’s memories, it’s really no wonder that both Scarlet Spiders have considered the Jackal to be their mortal enemy.
Mark Grayson is the son of Omni-Man, the world’s foremost superhero, who waits until Mark is seven years old to reveal that he is a member of the Viltrumites, a peaceful alien race who sent Omni-Man to Earth in order to protect the planet from extraterrestrial threats. As he becomes an adolescent, Mark begins developing his father’s powers, and later becomes the superhero Invincible, seemingly continuing his father’s legacy.
But all is not what it seems.
In actuality, the Viltrumites are a race of conquerors who overtake planets and join them to their vast empire, and they’re planning to invade the Earth. Omni-Man, as it turns out, is an agent who was sent out early, in order to prepare the Earth for their revival. Though his father wants his superpowered son to join the cause, Mark refuses, drawing him into direct battle with Omni-Man, with the father beating his son to a pulp. Shocked and horrified, Omni-Man flies away from the planet.
1. The Orphans (Spider-Man and Batman)
Sometimes, even the orphans don’t get away from having to fight their parents. Sort of, anyway. Both Spider-Man and Batman have been the unfortunate recipients of enemies posing as their lost loved ones, leading to some highly personal battles.
In Spider-Man’s case, we can blame androids, the Chameleon, and Harry Osborn. Basically, Harry, as the Green Goblin, hires the Chameleon to create “life model decoys” of Peter’s parents, as yet another way of avenging his father Norman’s death. These “LMDs” were indistinguishable from the real Richard and Mary Parker, fooling Peter and even Aunt May. The LMDs are programmed to eventually attack Peter, but the “Mary” LMD possesses the same love for Peter as the real deal, and she saves him from the “Richard” android. Both LMDs are later destroyed.
Now, what about Batman? Well, he falls prey to the machinations of Dr. Simon Hurt, a villain seeking to completely restructure Batman’s psychology. One of his more sinister plans involves spreading rumors about Bruce Wayne’s father, Thomas Wayne, creating the impression that Thomas had not only survived his murder in Crime Alley, but actually arranged it in order to disappear into the shadows. Dr. Hurt then impersonates Thomas, leading to a showdown between him and Batman on the rooftop of Arkham Asylum.
Any other superheroes we missed? Who else has traded punches with their parents? Let us know in the comments!