This year will be remembered as the year of superhero squabbles — Batman and Superman, Captain America and Iron Man, Daredevil and The Punisher. But all of these altercations and disputes began in the comics, with famed story arcs such as The Dark Knight Returns and Civil War influencing their respective theatrical adaptations.
Sure, none of the aforementioned heroes (and anti-heroes) died during their respective confrontations, but that doesn’t mean things were the same in the comics. The fact is, while a great many heroes are averse to killing, there are those who would not only slay an enemy but also their ally if it meant saving the world.
Although it’s not a regular occurrence, heroes have been known to kill other heroes, especially if it’s for the greater good. With that in mind, here are 15 Times Superheroes Killed Other Superheroes.
15. Hawkeye — Hulk
A decade ago, comic book fans were treated to Mark Millar’s Civil War limited series, which saw the greatest heroes in the Marvel Universe oppose each other over the Superhuman Registration Act (the Sokovia Accords in the Marvel Cinematic Universe). With Anthony and Joe Russo’s Captain America: Civil War having released earlier this year, Marvel Comics figured it was time they revisited the concept with a sequel series, Civil War II.
While the Russo brothers opted not to kill any Avengers in Captain America: Civil War, Marvel Comics promised something entirely different. In the series’ first issue, Thanos killed both War Machine and She-Hulk. Then, in the series’ third issue, Hawkeye killed his fellow Avenger, Hulk, using an arrow designed by Bruce Banner himself that could successfully penetrate Hulk’s skull. Hawkeye made the harrowing decision to kill his friend after he had seen a vision of the future — produced and shared by the Inhuman, Ulysses — in which the Hulk killed everyone.
14. Doctor Manhattan — Rorschach
Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ seminal graphic novel Watchmen is considered one of the greatest comic book stories ever told. Its influence stems far and wide, in not only comics but also in general entertainment. But of all its influences, perhaps its most enduring contribution to comics is its birth of the age of superhero deconstructionism. And while the theatrical adaptation of the same name, by director Zack Snyder, contained various, ostensibly minor changes, one thing remained the same: Rorschach’s death.
At the climactic point in the story, when Adrian Veidt aka Ozymandias’ seemingly diabolical plan is put into motion, Nite-Owl and Rorschach attempt to stop him. But their efforts were futile, for Ozymandias had set his plan in motion long before they arrived at his headquarters. Despite the insanity of his methods, Doctor Manhattan sees the beauty in it — that it will lead to world peace, by framing Manhattan for the destruction of New York City. Unwilling to go along with the deception, Rorschach gives Manhattan no other choice but to kill him — which Manhattan does by vaporizing him.
13. Rogue — Scarlet Witch
By now, both casual comic book readers and moviegoers will recognize the character Wanda Maximoff aka Scarlet Witch, played by Elizabeth Olsen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In the movies, she began as an enemy of the Avengers in Joss Whedon’s Avengers: Age of Ultron before becoming an Avenger herself later on. While she’s had a distressing time thus far in the movies, things haven’t been that much better in the comics. But for the purposes of this list, we’ll focus on one specific occurrence.
Following the conclusion of the Avengers vs. X-Men war, Scarlet Witch was selected by Captain America to join the Avengers Unity Squad. In the Uncanny Avengers, the Apocalypse Twins made Wanda an offer to end the human and mutant war by teleporting the entire mutant race to a new world. She agreed to the plan, but unbeknownst to them, she planned on uniting the mutant race to defeat the Twins. However, before she could do so, she was killed by Rogue, who had absorbed Wolverine’s ability to protrude claws.
12. Shift — Indigo
Nowadays, it seems like many characters who were once supervillains are now becoming superheroes — Lex Luthor, Clayface, etc. However, there are some characters who’ve taken the opposite approach, such as Indigo. Fans of The CW’s (formerly CBS’) Supergirl TV series should recognize the character Indigo aka Brainiac 8, played by former Supergirl actress Laura Vandervoort. In the series, she’s portrayed as a supervillain. In the comics, she got her start as a superhero working with the Outsiders.
During her tenure with the Outsiders, Indigo met and fell in love with the superhero Shift aka Rex Mason — but their relationship would be short-lived. It was later revealed that Indigo was, in fact, the supervillain Brainiac 8, who was tasked with killing Donna Troy. After being defeated by the Titans and the Outsiders, Indigo regained control over her body and begged Shift to kill her before the Brainiac 8 personality returned. And so he did, sorrowfully.
11. Titans — Raven
In a universe filled with bizarre characters, Rachel Roth aka Raven is rather unique. Being the offspring of a human mother and a demon father, Raven is endowed with magical and psionic powers — soul manipulation, telepathy, teleportation, and prevision. Although she is an empath, if she loses control of her own emotions, her demonic father, Trigon, can possess her.
Fearing such an outcome, Raven once approached the Justice League for help in preventing her father’s arrival in their dimension but was turned away. She consequently reformed the Teen Titans into the New Teen Titans, and with her newfound comrades, they fended off Trigon and subsequently trapped him in an interdimensional prison.
However, it was short-lived. Trigon eventually managed to escape and take control of Raven. Using her inherent demonic powers, Trigon devastated Raven’s homeworld of Azarath and set his sights on Earth next. The only way to stop him was to kill Raven, which the Titans were manipulated to do. Fortunately, she was revived following Trigon’s defeat.
10. Sentry — Ares
Robert Reynolds aka Sentry is a rather peculiar character in the Marvel Universe; someone whose split-personalities inhabit both good and evil. The Sentry is the embodiment of good, whereas his archnemesis, the Void, is the embodiment of evil, and Reynolds lived his life fearing that one day the Void would return to wreak havoc. Weakened by the death of his wife, Reynolds succumbed to Norman Osborn’s control and subsequently joined the Dark Avengers outfit.
When he joined the Dark Avengers, the Sentry thought he was still doing good — but he was deceived. It turns out, Osborn hired Bullseye to kill the Sentry’s wife in order to gain control over him. Then when it came time to attack Asgard, Sentry did so without hesitation, believing that Asgard posed a great threat. Deducing that Osborn was behind the attack, Ares, the God of War, attempted to kill the supervillain when Sentry stopped him, and quite literally ripped him to shreds.
9. Wolverine — Jean Grey
People who have seen Brett Ratner’s X-Men: The Last Stand will remember Wolverine killing Jean Grey, at Alcatraz, to prevent the Phoenix from destroying everything and everyone. Wolverine came to this ultimate decision due to the culmination of various harrowing events, including the death of Professor X. While the movie obviously plays with the source material, Wolverine killing Jean Grey remains unchanged. However, how Wolverine stops the Phoenix is something that was curtailed for the theatrical adaptation.
In the miniseries X-Men: Phoenix — Endsong, the Shi’ar failed to destroy the Phoenix Force, and in order to survive, the Phoenix Force fled to Earth and bonded once again with Jean Grey. In her desperation to avoid turning into the Dark Phoenix again, Jean asked for Wolverine’s help; and in an attempt to expel the Phoenix, Wolverine repeatedly killed Jean Grey. Six times, to be exact. Each time, the Phoenix revived her, yet each time, the Force consequently grew weaker and weaker until Jean was ultimately able to regain control.
8. Scarlet Witch — Ant-Man, Vision, and Hawkeye
As previously mentioned, Scarlet Witch hasn’t had the easiest life, especially in comparison to other comic book characters. Whereas in the earlier entry she was killed by her friend and fellow teammate, Rogue, there have been plenty of other times in which she was controlled by a third-party and forced to do the killing herself. One such time was during the Avengers Disassembled story arc, which followed with the famed House of M storyline.
In Avengers Disassembled, Scarlet Witch finds out that she once had children but her memories of them were suppressed. Enraged, she led an assault on the Avengers Mansion, by zombifying Jack of Hearts, forcing him to walk into the mansion and explode, thereby seemingly killing Ant-Man. While under the influence of Doctor Doom, Scarlet Witch hexes She-Hulk, compelling her to tear Vision apart. And later, after she summoned an army of Kree soldiers, Hawkeye is consequently killed from his own arrows exploding.
7. Namor — Marrina Smallwood
Marrina Smallwood is a Plodex alien whose egg was discovered and hatched by the Smallwood family. However, since her egg was submerged in the Atlantic Ocean for thousands of years, when born, she developed aquatic powers and abilities. These abilities eventually led her to join the Canadian government’s superhero program, Beta Flight. After demonstrating incredible skill, she was moved into the Alpha Flight program. It was during this time that she met Namor the Sub-Mariner.
She soon left Alpha Flight to marry Namor and subsequently joined the superhero on his missions with the Avengers, a team for which she received honorary membership. However, when she became pregnant, her Plodex DNA responded adversely, thus causing her to turn barbaric and become a Leviathan. When Thor and Captain Marvel failed to stop Marrina, her husband, Namor, was forced to use the Black Knight’s enchanted Ebony Blade to kill her — though, of course, she is later resurrected and used as a weapon against Namor.
6. Supergirl — Superwoman
Comic book publishers have a history of gender-flipping superheroes, especially when it comes to iconic characters like Batman and Superman. Whereas Batwoman (a female counterpart to Batman) is strictly a superhero, Superwoman (a female counterpart to Superman) is an identity that has been used by villains as well. For the purposes of this list, however, we’ll focus only on the Lucy Lane incarnation.
Although she is not Kryptonian, Lois Lane’s younger sister, Lucy, once became Superman and gained superpowers similar to that of Superman by wearing a specialized containment suit. Unfortunately, her father, General Lane, forced her to kill Agent Liberty, who had been spying on him and Lex Luthor. This act landed Superwoman in the sights of Supergirl.
When Supergirl confronted Superwoman, she unmasked her to uncover her identity (which had been a mystery until that point). However, in doing so, she ruptured Superwoman’s containment suit, thus killing her. Unlike the rest of the instances on this list, though, in which one superhero killed another, this particular case was an accident. Supergirl never meant to kill Superwoman.
5. Miracleman — Kid Miracleman
Johnny Bates aka Kid Miracleman (formerly known as Kid Marvelman) represents a great many characters who started off as heroes and slowly became villains, or sometimes anti-heroes. Changing a comic book character’s identity happens more often than people realize. In this particular case, though, we’re counting Kid Miracleman a hero when he was killed by his former mentor, Miracleman.
After developing an unyielding hatred for Miracleman, Kid Miracleman attempted to kill his former mentor but mistakenly reverted to his human form. Bates was then institutionalized and spent a long time avoiding the temptation to transform into his superhuman self again — but when he does, Kid Miracleman goes on a murdering rampage in London. To prevent Kid Miracleman from going on another killing spree, Miracleman had no other choice but to kill his friend and former sidekick.
4. Hal Jordan — Green Lantern Corps
In perhaps one of the most beloved and controversial Green Lantern storylines, Emerald Twilight sees the Silver Age Lantern, Hal Jordan — who was once thought to be incorruptible — fall. During the Reign of the Supermen story arc, the supervillain Mongul and Cyborg Superman detonate a series of bombs that raze Jordan’s home town, Coast City, to the ground, killing everyone that lived there.
When Hal Jordan returned to Earth, he broke down at the sight of what was once Coast City, clutching a doll — the only remaining evidence of the city’s existence. In his suffering, Jordan used his Power Ring to recreate the entire city, down to the people that lived there. When confronted by the Guardians of the Universe, Jordan used what remaining power he could muster and traveled to the planet Oa.
It’s there that Hal Jordan attempted to absorb the energy from the Central Power Battery — the collective power of the Green Lantern Corps — and permanently recreate Coast City. In doing so, he was pitted against his fellow Lanterns, including Kilowog, whom he killed. At this point, Hal Jordan effectively destroyed the Green Lantern Corps.
3. Batman — Superman
When people think of Batman fighting Superman, moviegoers will think of Zack Snyder’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, whereas comic book readers will think of Frank Miller’s seminal work, The Dark Knight Returns. However, most people may not realize that The Dark Knight Returns wasn’t the only time the two legendary heroes fought each other.
In the Armageddon 2001 story arc in the 1991 Superman Annual series, Waverider views a future in which Superman becomes a despotic ruler after his wife, Lois Lane, is killed in a nuclear blast that detonated in Metropolis. Soon after, he marries Lana Lang. And then ten years later, he single-handedly disarms the world of all its nuclear weapons.
Ultimately leading to a showdown between Batman and Superman that heavily resembles that of The Dark Knight Returns, Batman equips himself in a high-tech armored suit, wears Lex Luthor’s Kryptonite ring, and consequently kills Superman. Although it has a different outcome, one must wonder if this story arc was the inspiration for the Injustice timeline.
2. Wolverine — X-Men
After seeing outstanding success with Tim Miller’s Deadpool, 20th Century Fox has generated enough confidence to move forward with James Mangold’s idea to make The Wolverine 3 R-rated. The movie, which may or may not be based on the iconic Old Man Logan story arc, will be Hugh Jackman’s final appearance as the legendary X-Men character.
Old Man Logan — the eight-issue miniseries written by Mark Millar and Steve McNiven, who described it as The Dark Knight Returns for Wolverine — depicts a potential dystopian future Wolverine. In the story arc, the United States had been overtaken and divided amongst various supervillains, with the Red Skull as president.
It’s revealed at one point in the story that Logan no longer maintains the Wolverine persona. The reason is horrifying: one day, the supervillain Mysterio tricked Wolverine into thinking that forty supervillains attacked the X-Mansion the night the villains took over the country. It’s not until Wolverine kills the final attacker that he realizes everyone he killed was, in fact, his fellow X-Men.
1. Miles Morales — Captain America
As previously mentioned, Marvel Comics promised more dire consequences for superheroes in the Civil War sequel series, meaning that Hulk wasn’t going to be the last hero to die at the hands of another. However, this particular entry (which inspired this list) is a bit different than when Hawkeye killed Hulk.
In Civil War II, the Inhuman college student Ulysses Cain gains the power of precognition when a Terrigen Mist cloud sweeps over his university. Using his newfound ability, Ulysses warns the Avengers of an incoming invasion by the Mad Titan, Thanos. In their attempt to stop Thanos, War Machine and She-Hulk were mortally wounded, thus convincing Iron Man that no one should use the power again.
Not long after Hawkeye kills Hulk, and is subsequently acquitted of murder, Iron Man discovers that Ulysses’ power is based on probabilities and does not guarantee a particular outcome. Despite that, when Ulysses and a handful of other heroes share a vision in which Miles Morales kills Captain America, Captain Marvel preemptively arrests a distraught Spider-Man.