Many DC fans were over the moon when they learned that the immortal supervillain Vandal Savage would not only be the main antagonist of the second Arrowverse crossover between The Flash and Arrow, but that he’d be battling the Legends Of Tomorrow throughout time as their primary foe. Unfortunately, his subsequent portrayal by Casper Crump left many underwhelmed, as he lacked much of the power, intellect, and physical presence of the comic book character he was meant to embody.
Whether the fault lies with the actor, writers, producers, or, more likely, a combination of all three, fans were justified in their feelings of betrayal. Savage has a rich and intriguing history in the pages of DC Comics that could have been ripe for many seasons worth of captivating stories. Assuming he’s gone for good from the Arrowverse and they won’t be exploring the character further, here are 15 Things You Never Knew About Vandal Savage.
15. His Story Begins A Long, Long Time Ago
Though Legends Of Tomorrow retold Vandal Savage’s origin as beginning with a meteorite strike in ancient Egypt, thus tying him to the Hawks, his true beginning takes place a bit further back. While Savage does gain his immortality from the radiation emitting out of a meteorite that landed on Earth, he actually dates back to 50,000 BC. Back then, he was a Cro-Magnon and leader of the vicious Blood Tribe.
The space rock not only grants him immortality, but also a healing factor and superhuman strength and agility– extra abilities he didn’t appear to possess in Legends. He wasn’t alone in gaining powers from the meteor, either. After Savage, then known as Vandar Adg, is blessed by the meteorite, an onlooker named Klarn from the rival Bear Tribe decides to fashion an amulet out of a piece from it. The stone grants him telekinesis and super strength, along with the ability to reincarnate himself. Using these powers, he becomes the Immortal Man, and Savage’s eternal rival.
14. Savage Has Been Many Of History’s Most Notorious Figures
Given his existence since the dawn of humanity, one of Savage’s greatest powers is actually the wealth of knowledge and skills he’s gained over his many thousands of lifetimes. As such, he’s considered one of the greatest tactical minds on the planet and is proficient in an untold number of fighting styles. He’s used these skills to conquer untold civilizations throughout the course of human history, using a number of familiar names. Like a murderous Forrest Gump, his deeds and destruction are woven throughout history.
Though his preferred name is well-known as one of DC’s greatest tyrants, he’s also terrorized the world as some of history’s greatest rulers, despots, and murderers. He’s conquered vast swathes of the world as Genghis Khan and Alexander the Great, struck fear in the hearts of innocents as Vlad the Impaler and Jack the Ripper, and shaped history as Julius Caesar and Cheops, the builder of the pyramids. While lives like these were hinted at in Legends, Savage has a legacy not easily summarized in a single season of television.
13. He’s Had A Prominent Role In DC Animation
If you’re interested in seeing Vandal Savage in all of his glory, the animated side of the DC Universe has a number of great examples. His most prominent role was as an antagonist in the Justice League series from the early 2000s. Said to be half the age of his comic counterpart, a measly 25,000 years old, he’s still a fairly perfect copy from the pages of DC. Throughout multiple episodes of the series, Savage wreaks untold havok across the timestream. Mirroring his escapades in Legends, he’s regularly thwarted by the Justice League. Unfortunately, even Superman can’t seem to stop the time-tyrant, as he later serves as the main villain for the animated film Justice League: Doom. In the film, Savage leads the Legion Of Doom against the League, using Batman’s own contingency plans in a multi-pronged attack against them.
Echoing his multi-leveled scheming from previous incarnations, the Vandal Savage we meet in Young Justice is the leader of a secret society of supervillains known as The Light. Teased over the course of several episodes, Savage is finally revealed to be the mysterious group’s leader toward the end of the first season. With his death in Legends, it appears that the similarly ageless Damien Darhk will be leading the Arrowverse’s Legion Of Doom in Savage’s absence.
12. Vandal Has A Daughter Named Scandal
With his over 50,000 years of existence on the planet Earth, it’s unsurprising to know that Vandal Savage has fathered a few children. His abilities don’t appear to transmit to his kin, thus leaving many of them to perish to time. One of his offspring, however, has become a prominent villain in her own right. Created by Gail Simone and Dan Eaglesham, Scandal Savage is the daughter of Vandal and a Brazilian woman. Though she doesn’t appear to have inherited her father’s immortality, his abilities seem to have manifested a form of super-resilience in her. Surviving nearly every wound inflicted upon her, Scandal wields a dual set of wrist-mounted blades that she uses to stab and slash her opponents.
As one of the few lesbian supervillains in DC comics, and a woman of color at that, it’s a shame that Scandal didn’t make her way into the Arrowverse. Instead, the writers and producers of Legends combined her with Vandal’s New 52 daughter, Kassandra, into the original character Cassandra Savage. While ditching Scandal’s overly-punny name was probably a good move, the loss of her signature weapons and viciousness was another Savage Family letdown.
11. He’s Said To Have Fathered The Monster Grendel
Speaking of Vandal Savage’s children, this one is a real doozy. In the world of comics, stories and myths are often taken as ancient reality. In this case, the epic poem Beowulf, AKA the Vandal Savage of literature, is non-fiction. Two of Beowulf’s primary foes in the story are the monster Grendel and his mother. Given his age and proclivity for meddling in history, it’s no surprise that Vandal Savage encountered these creatures during his life. What is shocking, however, is that Grendel claims to be the child of Savage.
In the pages of Secret Six #14, Grendel reveals that Savage mated with his monstrous mother, who then gave birth to him. It seems that after a few millennia of existence, Savage’s proclivities grew more adventurous. Knowing this bit of comic lore, it’s hard to decide whether it’s best that Legends avoided this particular story, or if it would have made for some amazing genre TV.
10. Savage Is Originally From Earth-2
Vandal Savage hasn’t always existed on the same plane of reality as the many of DC’s greatest heroes and villains. Long before Crisis On Infinite Earths rebooted the DC universe, Savage was a resident of the parallel Earth-2. First appearing as an antagonist to Alan Scott in Green Lantern #10 way back in 1943, Savage has fittingly had a long history in comics. During his time, he’s fought against or worked with nearly every character, from the Golden Age to the Bronze Age.
Just as they did with the original Green Lantern, Flash, and the rest of the Justice Society Of America, DC eventually established that Savage and many of his fellow supervillains actually existed on an alternate Earth. This world was home to all of the Golden Age characters from the comics, while Earth-1 housed the Silver Age characters created in the 60s just before the retcon was enacted.
9. He’s One Of The Justice Society’s Oldest Villains
Given their long, shared history, it’s not really surprising that Vandal Savage and the Justice Society of America have long been rivals. Beginning as a foe of the Golden Age Green Lantern, Savage has battled nearly every member of the JSA. Given their shared origins in the early 1940s, in fact, Savage may be the team’s oldest antagonist. Over the decades, Savage has orchestrated a number of plans in an attempt to kill members of both the JSA and the Justice League of America.
During his first Silver Age appearance in The Flash #137 in 1963, Savage crossed between Earths and forced the Jay Garrick and Barry Allen versions of the Flash to face off. When the heroes eventually triumphed, the JSA was revived and a long history of Earth-hopping adventures began. Savage later attempted to counter the combined might of Justice Society by forming the Injustice Society, composed of other villains like The Wizard, The Thinker, Brainwave, and Degaton.
8. Savage Helped Sink Atlantis
Atlantis may just be a myth in our world, but in the comics, it’s one of many fables that are actual history. Once a continent, Atlantis was first settled 65 million years ago by a group of aliens known as the Hunter/Gatherers. Over the millennia, many people settled it and civilizations would rise and fall. Around 45,000 BC, Vandal Savage came to the great city and formed a secret cabal with a magician named Garn Daanuth. The villainous brother to the High Mage of Atlantis, Daanuth and Savage created the Children Of The Light, better known as the first Illuminati.
While much of their actions are shrouded in secrecy, the entire continent of Atlantis would soon sink into the sea. The future king of Atlantis, Aquaman, would eventually learn that the regents of the city knew of a plan to sink it. Many believe that Savage and his Illuminati are actually the ones responsible for this feat, which, given his history, doesn’t seem farfetched.
7. He’s Worked Alongside Hitler and Napoleon
Vandal Savage is responsible for many of the planet’s greatest tragedies, which he often perpetrates personally. There have been just as many times, however, where Savage decided to step out of the spotlight and simply advise other tyrants and rulers. With a nearly limitless source of knowledge from which to draw, Savage has found himself advising many prominent military leaders throughout human history. If his claims can be believed, he’s stood alongside some of history’s greatest tacticians, from Erik the Red to William the Conqueror. He’s even believed to have assisted Napoleon Bonaparte in his campaigns of conquest, adopting the name Marshall Savage lest his deeds be completely ignored by history.
While many debate the merits of those men, there’s no denying that Savage sealed his villain status when he decided to aid Adolf Hitler in his genocidal war. Knowing this, it’s unsurprising that the tyrant would face off against the Justice Society of America, who were DC’s answer to Hitler’s evil.
6. Savage Was Briefly A Hero With The Demon Knights
The Crisis On Infinite Earths reboot brought Vandal Savage into the world of the Silver Age heroes. Likewise, the New 52 reboot attempted to flesh out his backstory and make him a bit more sympathetic. While the man who fought with Hitler would be a hard sell as a villain, the New 52 continuity was able to retool a number of characters and their backstories. In doing so, they tried to add some heroic shades to Savage. Released in 2011, Demon Knights told the tale of a Camelot beset by hordes of demons, and Lucifer himself. Savage bands together with other immortals, like Madame Xanadu and Etrigan the Demon, to thwart these forces of darkness and take back the city.
The group is ultimately triumphant and Camelot’s wizard Merlin dubs the group the initial incarnation of Stormwatch, a popular WildStorm team brought into the DC fold during the reboot. Thanks to some triple-crossing, Savage ends up on the side of the righteous heroes who save the world from shadowy, alien threats. His true allegiances, however, are left ambiguous, thus keeping the New 52 Savage in line with his previous incarnation.
5. He Once Peddled Velocity 9
The more you know about Vandal Savage, the more you realize how much of a shame it is that he’s no longer around on Legends. Despite your feelings on Casper Crump’s portrayal of the supervillain, it’s hard to deny that the comics are packed full of stories involving him that would be incredibly exciting to see realized in the Arrowverse. One of the arcs that has the most potential for a fun take on Savage is that time he was a Velocity 9 merchant.
A substance familiar to both comics and TV fans, Velocity 9 is a drug capable of granting superhuman speed to anyone who injects it. While a number of characters helped to craft its final incarnation on The Flash, Vandal Savage actually created the drug himself in the comics. Like a modern day cocaine, Savage pushed the drug on lawyers and stockbrokers in an attempt to get them to perform high-speed crimes for him in exchange for another dose. The formula, however, caused rapid-aging in the humans who took it, and eventually even robbed Flash of his speed. Here’s hoping that we eventually visit an alternate world on The Flash where this arc is a reality and Savage is an American Psycho-style madman pushing speed-drugs on yuppies.
4. He’s Got A Secret Hideout In The Sphinx
During a particularly inventive comic miniseries in 1998 titled DC One Million, writer Grant Morrison and artist Val Semeiks envisioned what the DC universe would look like in the 853rd Century. While this may seem like an arbitrary setting, it was actually chosen since it would be the time period when DC would publish their 1 millionth comic. In the story, the modern Justice League team up with a future supergroup known as Justice Legion Alpha. Given his immortality, Vandal Savage is the natural villain of the storyline.
While the heroes eventually triumph over Savage and the future Superman villain Solaris, another piece of lore is added to Vandal’s history. Namely, that he has a secret base hidden deep below the Sphinx statue in Egypt. Given how much of Savage’s origin was tied to ancient Egypt in Legends Of Tomorrow, it’s a shame that he wasn’t outfitted with a secret headquarters under the Sphinx. It could have made for a great scene to see him build up his fortress, only to then convince the pharaoh to commission the construction of the statue over it.
3. Savage Once Formed A Group Called Tartarus
Across various DC media, Savage has used his tactical skills and history of leadership to helm many supervillain groups, from the Legion of Doom to the Injustice Society. Long before he ever faced off against the teen heroes of the animated series Young Justice, Savage had a bone to pick with the Titans.
First appearing in Titans Secret Files #1 and named after the Greek deity/realm of the Underworld, Tartarus is Savage’s attempt to form an anti-Titans to take the team down. To accomplish his goal, he kidnaps the Titan Omen and forces her to use her abilities to help him form the perfect team. Luckily, when Omen pulls together Gorilla Grodd, Lady Vic, Cheshire, Siren, and Red Panzer, she does so knowing that they’re destined to implode. Eventually, they do just that, as Panzer is killed, Cheshire is sacrificed by Savage, and Siren switches sides in time to allow the Titans to defeat Tartarus once and for all.
2. Savage May Be The Biblical Cain
It’s almost difficult to name a reviled or notorious historical figures who Vandal Savage isn’t supposed to have been or have helped. With his long history and tendency to pop up in supposed fantasy stories, like those of Atlantis and Beowulf, it was inevitable that Savage would be revealed to be some sort of Biblical figure.
During the 2008-2009 miniseries Final Crisis: Revelations, a number of complex stories were brought to light by characters The Question, the Huntress, and the Spectre. During one tale, The Order of the Stone, a somewhat convoluted story interweaving the Spear Of Destiny, the story of Cain and Abel, and the meteorite that gave Vandal Savage his powers takes shape. In the end, Savage comes to believe that he is actually the Biblical Cain, better known as the first murderer in Judeo-Christian mythology. Whether or not it’s true, the idea that Savage may have influenced the parable about Cain has remained an enduring one in the pages of DC Comics.
1. A Version Of Vandal Savage Appeared On Smallville
To most, Vandal Savage’s appearance in the Arrowverse seemed his first foray into a live-action feature. If you were among those individuals, then Savage’s chosen name in the 50s-set Legends episode “Night Of The Hawk” likely meant nothing to you. For those who’ve been following DC TV for a while now, however, Savage’s alias of Dr. Curtis Knox was a great shoutout to the previous live-action incarnation of the character.
Played by former-Superman Dean Cain, Dr. Curtis Knox first appeared in Season 7 of Smallville. Named Vandal Savage in the initial script, the producers of the show were eventually told by DC and Warner Bros. that they couldn’t use the name. While they changed it to Knox, many of Savage’s attributes remained. Not only is he an immortal, but he’s said to have been Jack the Ripper and a member of the Nazi Party. And more than just assisting Napoleon, Knox claims he actually was the French military commander. While the live-action television versions of Savage have come and gone, the character has proven that he has staying power. Knowing his comic history along with DC’s proclivity for graduating Arrowverse villains to their films, it’s likely just a matter of time before a new version of Vandal Savage shows up on the big screen.
Any interesting facts about Vandal Savage that you think we missed? Do you hope he shows up again in the Arrowverse or debuts in the DCEU? Let us know in the comments.
Legends Of Tomorrow airs Thursdays @8 PM EST on the CW.