Every iconic superhero has a harrowing, if not tragic, backstory that shapes who they are as a character, what their moral compass is like, and how they come to be as a hero. Most of these origins vary greatly, and some of the origins give an inside look into the psyche of a comic book character.
Bruce Wayne’s parents are killed in front of him as a child by a mugger toting a gun. Because of this, Bruce grows up to fight crime and has a strong resistance to using guns and using any kind of lethal force. Spider-Man’s Uncle Ben was killed by a robber he let slip away, and his brand of justice can be defined by Ben’s most famous quote, “With great power comes great responsibility.”
Then, there are some superheroes whose origins are muddled, copied straight from other superheroes, or they just don’t make any sense whatsoever. Most of the writers for these characters were trying to set them apart from everyone else, but ended up looking like total doofuses for their efforts. Not every hero’s home planet can be destroyed, and not every hero’s family member can give them bits of wisdom. Sometimes their origins are just plain dumb.
These are the 15 Dumbest Superhero Origins, Ranked.
15 Black Condor
If you were to hear the name, “Black Condor,” you might think that this would be a pretty significant and badass superhero. Black is the obvious color for anything remotely cool and rebellious, and condors are fearsome birds of prey.
In the instance of Richard Grey Jr., however, the thing that hold him back from being a top-flight vigilante is his origin.
Grey Jr. was abandoned as an infant and raised by an actual condor. He learned how to fly by simply flapping his arms, mimicking his caretakers. He failed several times until one day he was able to fly.
Aside from being physically impossible, this origins means that literally anyone could acquire this power. He didn’t have special genes, or a magic spell placed on him, he just flapped his arms until he could fly.
14 The Whizzer
First off, terrible name. Let’s just get that out of the way.
But Robert Frank isn’t just hampered by his terrible superhero name, he has a terrible and nonsensical origin story to boot!
Frank was a child when he was traveling with his father. Along the way, he was bitten by a poisonous cobra. His father deduced that he could use mongoose blood as an anti-venom for the bite (nonsense), and once the anti-venom was applied, Robert Frank was able to run at superhuman speeds.
Sorry, what? It’s not like the mongoose is particularly known for its speed. The max speed of these animals is around 20/mph, around the same speed as a human. So why the hell did Frank gain these powers, and why didn’t everyone just inject mongoose blood into their bodies when they found out about this?
13 Bouncing Boy
Before we begin, Bouncing Boy is known as one of the worst superheroes ever imagined. His powers are beyond useless and his aesthetic leaves much to be desired. Plus, he has “Boy” in his name, and that’s never the sign of a great superhero.
But his origin is just as dumb. Chuck Taine was born a normal human boy, did everything normal human boys did, including drinking lots of soda. One day he grabbed a liquid that he thought was a refreshing soda, but was actually a super-plastic formula. From that point on, he was able to inflate himself up and bounce around like no other superhero before him.
...Mainly because no superhero would ever want that power, which isn’t useful in the slightest.
There you have it kids, drinking diabetes-inducing soda can give you superpowers. So, drink away!
12 Elongated Man
Speaking of drinking soda and it giving you superpowers…
Ralph Dibny was just your ordinary guy who was obsessed with circus performers. He was particularly fond of contortionists and aerobic performers, so he asked them what was the secret to their seemingly stretchy limbs. The performers told him they all drink a soda called “Gingold” and it helps them remain in tip-top stretchy shape.
So Dibny bought up all the Gingold he could find and drank the crap out of it. He drank so much that it gave him the amazing stretchy powers similar to Mr. Fantastic, as he was able to now stretch his limbs further than anyone and manipulate their shape.
But again, wouldn’t this mean that anyone could go to the store and buy this soda and become a superhero as well? Who knew soda had such a positive impact on the superheroes of yesteryear?
One of Batman’s most famous adversaries, and sometimes love interest, you wouldn’t think that Catwoman would have such a lame origin, but she does. It’s hard to believe she became such an integral part in so many Batman storylines with an origin as lame as this.
Originally, Catwoman worked as a flight attendant and during a trip, the plane she was on crashed to the ground. Selina Kyle suffered amnesia from the crash, and when she woke, she decided that the life of crime was for her.
You may be asking yourself, “So...why cats?” Good question! You may be disappointed to find out there were no cats on the flight, and cats didn’t save her, and the first thing she saw when she recovered from the crash wasn’t a cat. She simply chose the feline alias because her dad owned a pet store.
This lame origin was retconned back in the '80s, and with good reason.
10 Jason Todd
When Dick Grayson gave up the mantle of Robin, Batman went looking for a replacement. Luckily for him, he came across Jason Todd, whose original origin is literally the exact same as Dick Grayson’s.
Parents were acrobats? Check. Family was killed by criminals? Check. The only real difference between the two Robins was the fact that Jason Todd originally had red hair, which he then dyed black to look exactly like Grayson.
After this origin was scrapped, the newer origin wasn’t much better. Batman caught Todd trying to steal the wheels off the Batmobile, and this inspired him to make him the second Robin. Batman has some questionable choices.
Luckily for Todd, he would reinvent himself as The Red Hood, who is a pretty amazing character, but it’s no thanks to his crappy origin.
The Bat-family doesn’t have a good record of origins, does it? Batgirl’s origins are quite dubious and silly. So much so that she’s been retconned several times and replaced even more.
One of the original origins for the female caped crusader was that she was wearing a Batman-like suit to a costume party. While she was dressed up for the party, she comes across the villain, Killer Moth, attempting to kidnap Bruce Wayne. She apprehends the bad guy and decides to continue fighting crime as a costumed vigilante.
Barbra Gordon would go on to become an ally to Batman known as Oracle, and hopefully she forgot her silly origins. Also hopefully she forgot the fact that Batman insisted on her giving up the crime-fighting life because she was a woman. Holy sexism, Batman!
8 Shanna The She-Devil
Aside from being one of the more overly sexualized characters in comic book history, Shanna the She-Devil has a pretty ridiculous start to her career as a hero.
After witnessing the accidental death of her mother at the hands of her father, who was a big game hunter in Africa, Shanna O’Hara moved to the States to become a highly successful Olympic athlete, specializing in swimming and track and field. She also became a respected veterinarian, and raised several leopard cubs.
After a zoo guard shoots one of the cubs she was raising, she moved back to Africa to get more in touch with nature, and to protect the wildlife from poachers. Locals began calling her “The White Jungle God,” which seems racist, so she went with “The She-Devil” instead, noticeably not calling attention to her race.
So she’s just an Olympian who lived in the jungle. Yawn.
7 Squirrel Girl
Everyone’s favorite nutty (pun intended) superhero is Squirrel Girl. She’s become more and more popular over the last few years since her powers have become the stuff of legend, and she even single-handedly defeated Thanos and Galactus.
But her origins are really stupid. She was born with a tail, and doctors determined that she isn’t a mutant, but is just weirdly in touch with squirrels. It really doesn’t get any deeper than that, which is a real shame because such a beloved character should really have something more in-depth and interesting than this, but alas.
The girl who can take down the might of Doctor Doom was simply a girl born with a tail and has an affinity for squirrels. How much of a chump is Doctor Doom then?
Talk about a lucky guy who just stumbled his way into becoming a superhero.
Once a regular guy working a regular construction job, Gabriel Carlos Dantes Sepulveda happened upon a strange entryway into catacombs while working on a job in his homeland of Argentina. He snuck into the site at night and explored the hidden land he unearthed. While poking around, he discovered a vibranium suit that was in the style of the Spanish conquistadores of the Fourteenth Century. He decided to put it on and become a superhero.
It’s amazing that a normal construction worker became an ally of Captain America, Wolverine, and Daredevil just because he was wandering around and found a suit of armor, but here we are. He has no other powers. Just the suit.
It’s no wonder The Everyman killed him later on in the comics.
Here is an example of someone who definitely shouldn’t have been gifted with amazing superpowers.
Danette Reilly was just your ordinary, run-of-the-mill volcano researchers when suddenly, while examining a volcano, she was struck by lightning and fell into the lava pit. Fortunately for her, this searing-hot lava didn’t kill her, but it gave her mystical fire powers instead. Why didn’t the lava kill her? Uh... because it was “mystical lava,” duh!
Add in the fact that Firebrand was originally very racist, and hated Japanese people in particular because her brother, the original Firebrand, was attacked during Pearl Harbor. Sure, she righted her wrongs and turned over a new leaf later on, but it’s crazy that this was even allowed on the pages of a comic book.
4 Doctor Droom
No, not Doctor Doom, who is a totally awesome villain, but Doctor Droom, a complete dummy with an origin that will have you scratching your head.
Doctor Droom was the original Doctor Strange before he was a thing, Anthony Ludgate Druid was a psychiatrist and explorer as well as a minor telepath and magician, specializing mostly in hypnosis and other feats of mesmerism. He soon traveled to Tibet to hone his skills under The Ancient One. Once he gained his magical abilities, he transformed into... an Asian man.
That’s right, Anthony Druid was originally a white guy who started studying magic, and once he got magical powers, it turned him Asian. How the hell does that work? Why didn’t anyone else become Asian? How does this make any sense at all?
3 Wally West / Kid Flash
How do you create another version of The Flash? Just make sure the exact same “accident” happens again. That’s what the writers decided.
While exploring Barry Allen’s research lab, Wally West was unfortunately involved in a freak accident that saw lightning strike a bunch of chemicals, giving him the same powers as the original Flash. He even started dressing like The Flash, but the writers decided it was too hard to distinguish between the two, so they made his suit yellow to quell any confusion. Gee, thanks. How about you just write an original character?
Yep, when writers don’t have any original idea, they just simply repeat the exact same events that worked before. It’s hard to believe these creative geniuses were sometimes so lazy with their writing. Literally the exact same thing happened. What are the odds? Slim to none.
2 Jay Garrick
Another iteration of The Flash makes an appearance here because Jay Garrick’s origin story is just plain silly when you really think about.
Going the “freak science accident” route, Garrick was researching a special type of water that was created. While taking a smoke break (this was the 1940s after all), Garrick leaned back in his chair, spilling the content of this water on the ground, which created a giant plume of vapor that got into Garrick’s body, giving him super-speed abilities.
The only problem with this story is the fact that the mystical, magical water than Garrick was studying was what we know today as mineral water. Nothing more. We are literally drinking this stuff every day and none of us have gained this power at all. What a rip-off!
Norbert Sykes was a Vietnam War veteran who suffered from multiple personality disorder. One of the personalities that inhibited his body was a character named “The Badger” who could talk to animals. Sounds harmless enough, but one of the reasons he took on this persona is because he believed he saw God appear to him as a badger.
Once Sykes escapes the mental institution he was residing in, he began to take vigilantism seriously, fighting crime, and trying to stop evil-doers.
Not only is this character completely bizarre, but his other personalities are unaware of the fact that The Badger exists in the same vessel. And his other personalities are just ridiculous. There is Emily: a 9-year-old girl, Pierre: a homicidal Frenchman, Leroy: a dog, Gastineau Grover Depaul: an inner-city African American, and Max Swell: a playboy architect.
What the hell?
Which superhero's origin do you think is the dumbest? Let us know in the comments!