Marvel Comics has created a worth decades of comics with some of the most iconic superheroes, and supervillains they face. Not to mention their range of troubled anti-heroes that walk the line between good and evil. Over this history, the heroes have changed names, roles, and more than a few have had stints looking and acting like villains.
Marvel has brought out their heroes' dark sides in stories like the Secret Invasion, where many heroes turned out to be skrull replacements. We've seen many heroes Venomized, with the symbiote driving them towards evil. We've even seen mind control and changes to reality turn some of the greatest heroes into pawns of the worst supervillains. Then there's the What If series, which has given artists license to explore all kinds of crazy possibilities.
Nothing in the What If series can keep up with the inventiveness of fan artists, who never shy away from trying something crazy. There are many different ideas of what superheroes could be like, if they became anti-heroes or supervillains. What is quite impressive is how often the artists predict twists and turns that have played out in the comics. Sometimes these artists draw their inspiration from their comics rogues gallery, while other are wholly original ideas.
Here's 16 Supeheroes Reimaguned As Supervillians
16 TONY STARK FUSED WITH A SYMBIOTE
This is a fantastic example of fan art preceding comics ideas. Here Ijul has created a truly unsettling Iron Man given over to the wrath of a symbiote like Carnage. Symbiotes are are popular choice for seeing how a superhero could turn evil for both the comics and fan artists.
What makes this image so interesting is that something similar has been a major part of the Superior Iron Man's lore. Fusing his tech with the symbiote biology, Tony Stark has created the Extremis Armor. This is a suit that feels alive and, like the symbiotes, connects to their wearer on a psychic level. It also coincides with a more sinister turn for the hero.
While it's nothing as scary or destructive as Ijul's version, it certainly shows the idea has some mad genius.
The detail work in this picture is what really sells it. It looks like not even Thor, Captain America or Wolverine were up to the task of taking down this version of Tony Stark. The suit is also a spiked mass of unsettling ripples with an eye for an arc reactor, a stark contrast with the cool silver of his Extremis Armor in the comic books.
15 ROGUE AS MAGNETO
One of the most interesting powers in the X-Men has to be Rogue's ability to absorb the powers of anyone she touches. She has used this to take the powers of Carol Danvers, among many others. Not all of them have been fantastic choices, but they're always interesting. It's no wonder that a team of fan artists, Clayton Henry, Fendiin, and Blackmoonrose13, decided to imagine what the Southern belle would be like if she took the powers of the X-Men's longstanding foe Magneto. She has also adopted the supervillain's classic costume and helmet.
There's a lot going for this fan incarnation, beyond looking really cool. Rogue began her time in comics working with Mystique and the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, so she's no stranger to the supervillain side. In addition, Magneto and Rogue have been romantically involved, getting in the way of Rogue and Gambit's love story.
With Rogue taking on the Magneto mantle from Erik, we're aren't sure if she would take up his cruel crusade for mutantkind. But, it's anyone's guess. This is definitely a direction the comics could go in the future story lines, especially given the characters' histories.
14 DOCTOR STRANGE, SERVANT OF DORMAMMU
2016's Doctor Strange was a real feast for the eyes. Speaking of eyes, it made Kaecilius and his minions very easy to spot by giving them their eerie scars around theirs. The purple scar tissue seems to be a result of their dark magic and the brand on their foreheads is a mark of their service to Dormammu, the ruler of the dark dimension. It looks very unsettling and would certainly put other masters of the mystic arts off using dark rituals.
But, in this picture by Robin Hess we get a complete role reversal from the MCU's incarnation of Doctor Strange. Instead of rising to save the day from Kaecilius and Dormammu, Stephen Strange has apparently performed the dark ritual with Kaecilius. This picture also gives us a look at a completely different look for the Sorcerer Supreme, sporting the yellow costumes worn by his foes from the film.
The picture highlights how similar the two enemies are.
They both show immense skill at learning magic. Both are quite arrogant and proud, with a rebellious sense of self-worth. Both have also suffered losses before turning to the mystic arts. The line between superhero and supervillain is often a narrow one. For Doctor Strange and Kaecilius, it is definitely a fine distinction.
13 SPIDER-MERCENARY SUPERVILLAINS
Spider-man has always been known for his light-hearted and youthful sense of fun. Even in the comics, he has had many brushes with his dark side. From the Venom Symbiote to his regression into a spider-like monster, Peter Parker isn't always in control. This reimagining by Joma Cuerto, takes the character into a totally different world with Spider-Woman, Jessica Drew, and Eddie Brock, more commonly known as Venom.
Joma Cuerto imagines a world where Peter Parker joins up with some of the other spider-themed superpowered characters and for an gang of edgy mercenaries called Spiders for Hire. In the same, series we see Jessica Drew's Spider-Woman as a sniper. This look for the characters could work very well for a group of supervillains, or another morally-ambiguous squad of anti-heroes.
Eddie Brock is usually an anti-hero at best and a villain most commonly, so this reimagning is mostly interesting for the totally different take on his look. Jessica Drew, on the other hand, is a hero who has a darker past. She has been the brainwashed servant of Hydra and was a skilled assassin.
This version imagines what might be if Peter Parker and Jessica Drew were driven not by morality but money.
12 BLACK PANTHER OR PREDATOR?
King T'Challa is one of the few characters who seems almost always to fall on the side of right when he joins the fray. It's a good thing too, as he has frequently shown his tactical genius to be ruthlessly efficient. Like a Marvel comics Batman, he seems to have a plan for everyone, even his ex-wife Storm. If he were a supervillain, he would be a lethal one for a large part of the Marvel universe.
While that hasn't happened in the comics (yet), fan artist 133art gives us an idea of what it could look like. Channelling a bit of the Predator, this design makes Panther into a monstrous warrior. He has scars that might remind you of Killmonger. His hands and feet appear to be unsettlingly cat-like. Whether or not those are vibranium claws, they look beyond razor sharp.
This look would work for T'Challa as a supervillain or a lethal anti-hero.
It also raises the question of what Wakanda would be like under a supervillain's rule. It would be a power and source of evil to rival Marvel's other dictator, Doctor Doom. While we may never see a truly monstrous Black Panther, this picture gives us a taste of how terrifying it would be.
11 SCARLET PHOENIX
The Phoenix Force is another tool in the toolbox of Marvel's writers to explore what might happen when a hero is tainted with awful power. While the dark entity is most associated with Jean Grey, it has bonded with a number of characters. This was especially the case in the Avengers vs X-Men story arc, where the entity split into five shards. It possessed Namor, Magik, Emma Frost, Cyclops, and Colossus, turning them into the Phoenix Five.
We need not wonder what might have happened had the force possessed another incredibly powerful 'mutant', the Scarlet Witch. In this picture by Dima Ivanov, Scarlet Witch has embraced the power of the Phoenix Force to become what would probably be called Scarlet Phoenix. This is a pairing that would certainly not be out of place in the comics. The Scarlet Witch is among the most powerful characters in the Marvel Universe, with her power to warp reality with chaos magic. While she may or may not be a mutant, her close affiliation with the X-Men in the Marvel Universe would be a good fit.
In fact, the Scarlet Witch seems to have a strange affinity for the Phoenix Force, and in the Avengers vs X-Men story she seems able to cause pain to its hosts. Perhaps we will see more of her relationship to the cosmic force in the comics to come.
10 DAREDEVIL BECOMES THE PUNISHER
Daredevil is the morally conflicted "man without fear", a lawyer who steps outside the law for the sake of vigilante justice. In both the comics and onscreen in the second season of Daredevil on Netflix, he has come head to head against another vigilante. Frank Castle, also know as the Punisher, is a brutal and vengeful anti-hero. While both he and Matt Murdock deal with crime with a form of vigilantism, their methods are very different. This fantastic piece of art by Nikita Kaun suggests Matt Murdock has adopted the violent ways of the Punisher, branding his iconic red suit with the Punisher's skull.
The Punisher will resort to almost any tactic to get his prey, something that made the character stand out from the other street-level superheroes in comics at the time of his launch. He has battled both criminals and superheroes in his vendetta to avenge his family.
On the other hand, Daredevil is much more troubled by violence. This was the core drama in the first season of the TV series. Under some writers the character has even had some fairly lighthearted moments. However, he has fallen a few times, notably in the Shadowland story arc though this was due demonic possession.
9 SPIDER-MAN FROM OSCORP
Oscorp Industries is the source of a lot of Manhattan's woes and supervillains in many Spider-man stories. Norman Osborn, the first and most famous Green Goblin, is the company's creator. His son, Harry Osborn, has also been the Green Goblin. Osborn's partner Medel Stromm is another one of Spider-man's supervillains: first as Robot Master and later Gaunt. Kurt Conners, who became the Lizard, was an employee of the company. Max Dillon, an electrical engineer for Oscorp, was transformed into Electro. That's quite a host of supervillains to come from a single company.
Something that makes Spider-Man stand out is his mix of biological and technological powers.
Some of his abilities come from his own body and mind, while others like his web-slinging are technological. Tony Stark's addition to Peter Parker's technology, the Iron Spider Armour, has now made a big screen debut in Infinity War. Here we see a concept for an Oscorp Industries suit for Spider-Man, by ijul. It suggests an alternate story where Peter Parker works with the company owned by his nemesis. Instead of Tony Stark's technological gear, Spider-man would use Oscorp's tech and could work for their troubling agendas too.
While the core Marvel comics universe has Peter Parker gain his powers elsewhere, in the Ultimate Marvel universe Oscorp is responsible. The company developed both the Oz serum and the spiders that give Peter Parker and Miles Morales their powers.
8 NIGHTCRAWLER THE TRICKSTER GOD
Kurt Wagner, also known as Nightcrawler, is one of the most memorable X-men. His signature teleportation and its sound effect "Bamf!" are beloved by fans. Despite his devillish appearance, Nightcrawler is a practical joker and his sense of humor is an abiding part of his appeal as something of a trickster. He is also a compassionate character with a religious beliefs, as he is devout Catholic.
This mashup by Blueberrybamf really brings these elements together for an unexpected result. Nightcrawler as Asgard's very own god of mischief, Loki Laufeyson. Both characters definitely have a flair for the dramatic, and in different ways they are both outsiders. Nightcrawler's appearance leads him to be shunned by many humans, unless he disguises himself with his image inducer. Usually, he picks Errol Flynn as a disguise.
Loki is famous for his disguises as well. His true form as a frost giant would probably win him no friends in Asgard.
He's also known to use teleportation magic to keep his enemies on their toes and away from him.While the hero and villain's personalities are markedly different in the comics, the image is quite an interesting one. Tom Hiddleston's more human and relatable Loki from the Marvel Cinematic Universe doesn't feel as far off from Nightcrawler's comic persona.
7 VENOMIZED X-MEN
There's just something about the Venom symbiote that keeps us coming back. The unsettling toothy grin and oozy black suit just work with almost any hero. Even the Marvel writers and artists must think so, with Venomized variant covers and an entire Venomverse as proof. The black symbiote has his very own movie coming up too. While most people will think of Venom as Eddie Brock and the symbiote, there have been many heroes in the main Marvel continuity to carry the title.
In this fantastic image by John Tyler Christopher, we see what some of the X-men would look like bonded with the Venom symbiote and the result is suitably villainous. Domino, Jubilee, Warpath and Storm are all instantly recognizable in their Venomized forms. It is truly a fantastic version of the characters and it shows just why Venom is so popular.
In fact, the symbiotes are probably one of the most enduring ways for fans to put a spin on superheroes and turn them into supervillains. Fan art bonding Venom with any hero produces a great story. The symbiote's complex emotions are a great way to reflect the dark side of any hero, as the four in this picture show.
6 THE FEARSOME FOUR
Monstrous64 on DeviantArt brings us an unusual redesign of Marvel's first superhero squad, the Fantastic Four. While this version is not exactly villainous, their new color scheme and atmosphere certainly lends them a kind of anti-heroic stature. A stone-grey Thing and blue-tinted Human Torch are certainly a more threatening design than the comics.
The Fantastic Four have always been the core family of the Marvel comics. While they aren't always the most functional family, they're usually a loving one. Stan Lee once called them "heroes with hangups", and this version takes that idea and blows it wide open. Perhaps if the group were a little less led by their strong moral compasses they could have become more troubled anti-heroes.
In fact, the idea isn't that far out there, in the comics there is a team of supervillains called the Frightful Four.
They often faced off against their heroic counterparts. At one point, a disturbed Reed Richards from the alternate reality called Counter Earth joins up with the Frightful Four, giving readers a glimpse into the fine line between superhero family and unstable supervillain.
With the troubled reboot of the Fantastic Four in 2015, though, it begs the question of whether the team isn't at its best when they are bastions of good and fun rather than grim and brooding.
5 CAPTAIN HYDRA
This is one of those moments where fan art and fan fiction predict one of the big and controversial twists in Marvel's more recent history. In the opening of the massive Secret Empire event in 2017, Captain America revealed that he was always a secret Hydra Agent. As with many things in the comics, this turned out to be more complicated than that. Naturally the shocking reveal led many fans to react very strongly to the storyline. On the other hand many fans, like Kuroi Ketsurou in this picture, had already imagined this kind of twist. Perhaps it's because Steve Rogers has always stood out as a dependably good hero and his fight with Hydra and the Nazis has been such a core part of his mythology.
It is one of those insane yet interesting twists, which is why both fan artists and the writers of the Secret Empire story gravitated towards it. This wasn't the only time Marvel has pulled the rug out from under readers, as the Secret Invasion story revealed many trusted heroes were actually Skrull replacements. Marvel's executive editor Tom Brevort told Time regarding the reveal about Cap: "You should feel uneasy about the fact that everything you know and love about Steve Rogers can be upended. "
4 DOCTOR STRANGE AEONS
Doctor Strange contacts all manner of entities from the far flung parts of the multiverse. His entire role is to protect Earth from the kinds of cosmic threats and supervillains that other heroes only have nightmares about. From Dormammu in the Dark Dimension to demons like Mephisto and Nightmare, his rogues gallery is full of bizarre threats. His knowledge of the occult, beyond giving him the cool title Master of the Mystic Arts, prepares him to face these cosmic threats.
What would happen should his mind touch the insanity-inducing entities of H. P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu mythos? This reimagining by Henry Ponciano shows us the Sorcerer Supreme turned servant of Cthulhu or Shub-Niggurath (or any of the other tentacled horrors). Even a hero as robustly ready to face eldritch horror as Doctor Strange might be corrupted by their powers and become like Kaecilius, Baron Mordo or any other occult supervillain.
On the other hand, Doctor Strange has faced other tentacled abominations from beyond our world. He has fended off the Dweller-in-Darkness, who shares a lot with Lovecraftian entities, and Shuma Gorath, which comes from the original Conan stories by Lovecraft-contemporary Robert E. Howard. Perhaps he could withstand the madness induced by Cthulhu and the other Great Old Ones.
3 TOXIN IN HELL'S KITCHEN
While the Venom symbiote gets a lot of love from comic and fan artists alike, the other symbiotes are just as impressive. Carnage, with its shape-shifting biomass and psychotic temprament is another favorite. One that is much less common in fan mashups might be the most powerful symbiote of all: Toxin. Toxin is interesting as the symbiote is torn between the sadistic streak of its father, Carnage, and the moral compass of its first host, NYPD officer Patrick Mulligan.
Nic011 imagines what might happen if Daredevil joined with the Toxin symbiote. It makes for a very interesting thought. The Toxin symbiote reigns itself in and generally acts as a kind of anti-hero, but it is prone to violent outbursts.
Daredevil is also a conflicted character torn between being a vigilante and a lawyer.
They also share some interesting other features. All of the symbiotes are vulnerable to sonic attacks, and Toxin is no exception. Matt Murdock's heightened sense of hearing also leaves him vulnerable to this. Daredevil is a weapon master, which the Toxin symbiote could audment with the ability to form any weapon from its biomass.
This is definitely a route that would open up interesting options in a full story.
2 WASP, AGENT OF HYDRA
Marvel comics has done many stories where heroes turn out to be supervillains, betraying their teams and sometimes the readers too. Captain America becomes a Hydra Agent, Jean Grey becomes Dark Phoenix, Bucky Barnes becomes the Winter Soldier, Elektra and many others turn out to be skrull agents. It's a trope that lends itself to fan artists turning heroes into villains too.
This version of Janet van Dyne as Wasp, Agent of Hydra is just one example by Darkshadowartworks. They have also done Scarlet Witch, Spider-woman and genderwapped Captain America and Iron Man as hydra agents too. Again, after the Secret Empire story nobody is safe from Hydra's influence.
Janet van Dyne in some ways would be as big a betrayal as Cap turning Hydra agent. The Wasp is a long-time member and sometimes leader of the Avengers. She even gave the team its name. After Captain America, she is the longest-serving leader of the team and seems almost beyond corruption.
She would also make a dangerous Hydra agent. Not only do flight and the ability to shrink suit themselves to nefarious espionage, but Wasp has used her powers to take down many supervillains and heroes who seemed more powerful than her. If she turned Hydra agent, she could wreak havoc.
1 ASSASSIN SPIDER-MAN
Peter Parker is definitely one character fans love to turn on his head. Be it through his relationship to Deadpool or the symbiotes that share his look and powers. Spidey is one for fan art and remixes. This piece of fan art by Naratani gives us a look at an imposing version of Spider-man as an assassin. It's menacing enough to make J. Jonah Jameson the happiest editor alive.
This makes sense, if you consider Spider-Man's set of powers. He can scale any building, has superhuman reflexes, and a sense for danger. There's no place he can't get to in the city and he does it silently to boot. Had Peter Parker reacted vengefully after the loss of Uncle Ben, he could easily have joined the supervillains or antiheroes of New York City. Luckily, we got a friendly neighborhood Spider-Man instead.
This picture takes the sinister potential of a spider-themed hero to the full. In fact, Spidey here would also fit in well with another ninja assassin anti-hero: Elektra. He shares her color scheme with the menacing organization The Hand, whose red-clad ninjas endlessly try to overrun New York. In fact, Spider-Man has had a number of run-ins with the Hand and its supervillains like spider-themed villain Black Tarantula.
Which Marvel hero do you think would make a good villain? Tell us in the comments below!