With the premier of Supergirl last year on CBS, DC gained yet another avenue to introduce hordes of its heroes and villains onto the small screen. Though the network passed on renewing the freshman show after just one season, The CW decided to take on the Girl of Steel and bring her fully into the fold of the Arrowverse. In the span of just 25 episodes, Supergirl has already vastly expanded the roster of DCTV, introducing a number of major and minor superheroes and supervillains from the pages of the comics.
Even with the majority of Season 2 of the series still on the horizon, we already know that it’s got some big plans. Not only will Kara Danvers be joining up with Arrow, Flash, and the Legends for a four-show crossover later this year, but Supergirl is already rolling out plans to introduce characters like Cyborg Superman and Guardian. The producers even have a Flash/Supergirl musical-crossover planned! Given the ever-growing cadre of comic characters coming to the young series, we thought now was the perfect time to take a look at How 15 Heroes And Villains On Supergirl Compare To The Comics.
15 Miss Martian
As one of the most recent comic book characters to appear on Supergirl, we don’t yet know the full story of Miss Martian. Despite a few small changes, however, her backstory seems to line up with her various other media appearances. First showing up in the Geoff Johns-penned Teen Titans #37 in 2006, M'gann M'orzz, aka Megan Morse, is presented as a Green Martian with abilities identical to Martian Manhunter. Due to their shared heritage of being the two last remaining children of Mars, M’gann shares a deep connection with J’onn J’onzz. But for anyone caught up on Supergirl or fans of Young Justice, Miss Martian and Martian Manhunter have one major difference.
On Mars, the Green Martians are an oppressed minority under the violent rule of the white Martians. Despite her appearance, M’gann is actually a renegade White Martian, who left Mars an unknown period of time ago due to her disagreeing with the rest of her species. Armed with the shape-shifting ability of all Martians, M’gann hides her true heritage for a time, but eventually comes clean and is accepted by J’onn and the rest of Earth’s heroes. While the J’onn of Supergirl has yet to learn her real identity, it’s likely that the plot will play out the same way once it’s milked it for the requisite CW drama.
Though not a typical origin story, as Kara Danvers already had superpowers when we first met her, the pilot of Supergirl still told the tale of how our protagonist finally decided to follow her cousin’s example and suit up in order to fight crime. Given the trajectory of most superhero origins, it only makes sense that Kara wouldn’t be able to complete her transformation until she defeated a foe with whom she was evenly matched. Enter Vartox, the first of many escapees from the Kryptonian prison Fort Rozz.
In the comics, Vartox has a host of abilities. The show, however, reduced them to super strength, flight, and invulnerability. By doing so, they provided an analogue to Supergirl, allowing her to conquer her foe and her fears. The most interesting variation on Vartox from his comic counterpart is that on the page he was a hero, not a villain. In fact, he had many adventures fighting alongside Superman himself. We’re unlikely to ever see the man from Valeron ever turn to the side of the angels, though, as he chose to commit seppuku after his defeat in the pilot.
Unlike many of the other characters on this list, Non was born on-screen. The Kryptonian first appeared in Superman: The Movie in 1978 during a scene where Superman’s father Jor-El sentences a group of criminals to the Phantom Zone. Non and fellow prisoners Ursa and General Zod would eventually come to Earth and serve as the primary antagonists in Superman II. While the character seemed to lack the ability to speak, he exhibited all of the traditional powers of a Kryptonian on Earth.
In the world of DC Comics, Non is actually rather new. It wasn’t until 2007 when Superman and original Superman II director Richard Donner joined forces with Geoff Johns on Action Comics #845 that the character finally made his comic debut. On the page, his story and characterization were fleshed out a bit, and we learned that he was once friends with his future judge Jor-El and harbors a fatherly love for Zod and Ursa’s son. Though the Supergirl version of Non retains his abilities and history of being imprisoned in the Phantom Zone, his ties to Superman are altered in favor of a connection to Kara and her family. Once Kara's aunt and his wife Astra die, he also steps up to lead the effort to conquer Earth, taking his place as Supergirl's version of his former boss General Zod.
With action TV veteran Kevin Tancharoen at the helm, Livewire made her debut in the eponymous fifth episode as a shock jock working for a CatCo subsidiary. After being demoted by Cat Grant, thanks to her continual hatred of Supergirl, Leslie Willis is forced to take to the skies in a helicopter and report on the weather. To add injury to insult, the helicopter is struck by lightning during a freak storm. Luckily, Supergirl saves the day, but not before a second strike sends lightning through her body and into Leslie’s.
This origin is incredibly similar to the comics, with the helicopter ride instead being a rock concert and Superman’s body taking the place of Kara’s as the lightning’s conduit. In both cases, Leslie gains the ability to not only control electricity, but turn into it. She uses her powers and her new sobriquet to take vengeance on those she blames for her lot, namely Cat and Supergirl in the show, and Superman in the comics.
11 Red Tornado
The Red Tornado of the comics has a bit of a convoluted history. It would take a while to dive into the zigzagging mythos involving a comical cook and a sentient alien cyclone, but the Red Tornado known to many originated during a JSA/JLA crossover from 1968 in Justice League of America #64. The basic story is that inventor T.O. Morrow creates the Red Tornado to infiltrate the Justice League in order to defeat them. Though he succeeds at first, Tornado eventually betrays Morrow and helps the JLA and JSA defeat him, granting him membership into the Justice Society.
In Supergirl, actor Iddo Goldberg pulls double duty, portraying both Morrow and the android Red Tornado. Shown first to be an Army weapon designed to fight superpowered aliens, Kara defeats Red Tornado in a combat simulation. The weapon’s failure causes Morrow to be fired, which fuels his desire for vengeance. He unleashes his creation, which is revealed to merely be a drone, but is ultimately thwarted when Alex Danvers kills him and Kara destroys Tornado. Hopefully, a more comic-faithful future still awaits the fan-favorite character.
10 T.O. Morrow
Red Tornado’s creator, T.O. Morrow, has himself played quite a large role in the DC Universe as a supervillain. A genius-level inventor, Morrow once created a device that allowed him to see into the future. Armed with advanced scientific and technological knowledge, DC’s most literal futurist has long used his insights to create all manner of mechanical marvels. First appearing in Flash #143 in 1964, Morrow has regularly been an antagonist to the Scarlet Speedster and the rest of his Justice League pals.
His most notable inventions are Red Tornado and his “siblings,” Red Torpedo, Red Inferno, and Red Volcano. In a number of incarnations, the Reds are all designed to pose as heroes, infiltrating the JSA and/or JLA to attack Morrow’s foes from within their own organizations. The advanced androids, however, often override their programming and decide to carry on as heroes, much to Morrow’s chagrin. With his role as a sort of evil Walt Disney meets Tony Stark, here’s hoping that Morrow isn’t gone for good from the Arrowverse.
To many, Toyman may seem to be a rather silly villain, especially considering he’s often fighting the all-powerful Superman. Though he originally served as more of a nuisance to the Man of Steel, the mad tinkerer has grown to be more unhinged and more dangerous over his many years of existence. Premiering in Action Comics #64 in 1943, Toyman is Winslow Schott, a mechanical genius who has a penchant for making toys and dolls. Choosing a life of crime, he uses his various oversized gizmos and gadgets to pester Superman. Much like his portrayal in the tenth episode of Supergirl, “Childish Things,” his actions slowly grow more sinister and malevolent.
Following DC’s reboot in Crisis On Infinite Earths, Schott is established a being a good deal more unstable, regularly taking instructions from a voice in his head called “Mother.” It’s during this darker turn that Toyman begins abducting children, leading one of his malfunctioning robot replicants to eventualy kill a number of them. One of these children just happens to be Cat Grant’s son Adam, an event that shapes the journalist for years to come.
For comic readers, the name Winslow Schott has always referred to Toyman, but Supergirl viewers have a slightly different connection to it. Introduced in the pilot as Kara’s friend, coworker, and would-be suitor, Winn Schott, Jr. designs Supergirl’s costume and assists her in crime fighting using his uncanny IT skills. Winn occasionally hints at his father’s nefarious nature, but it’s not until Toyman’s debut that we learn the full extent of Winn’s paternal shame.
It’s hard to imagine sweet, innocent Winn ever following in his father’s footsteps, but that’s just what he did in the comics. Known as Anton Schott, the son of Toyman eventually adopts the name Dollmaker and continues his father's penchant for abducting people and making creepy, killer toys. He even plays off of Winslow’s Cat Grant connection, kidnapping the reporter and trying to convince her to adopt him in the place of her deceased son. Cat, of course, is having none of it, and is able to defeat Dollmaker with the help of Supergirl.
When it was announced that former-Supergirl Laura Vandervoort was joining the cast of Supergirl, many Smallville fans were excited. That excitement waned, however, when her character Indigo appeared in “Solitude.” Appearing in what could only be described as a cheap Mystique Halloween costume, Indigo leaves a lot to be desired. While she retains some of her origin, namely a connection to fellow alien android Brainiac, she’s drastically changed from the comics.
In the show, she naturally possesses Mystique’s martial arts skills, and also the ability to molecularly rearrange her body and travel into and control technology. She does all of these things in an effort to help Non takeover the Earth, as they seem to have once shared an intimate relationship. In the comics, Indigo, also known as Braniac-8, is a hero who fights alongside the Outsiders and the Titans. If we see her again, hopefully the producers and writers of the show will use the interim to reboot her personality and appearance.
6 Maxwell Lord
On Supergirl, Maxwell Lord essentially functions as a version of Lex Luthor for Kara. Like Lex, he’s a scientist and billionaire who runs a leading tech company. He’s also no fan of aliens, which includes the two Kryptonians who call Earth home. Though he frequently serves as an antagonist, he also walks a line similar to Luthor in that he claims to be doing it all out of a genuine desire to protect humanity. Unfortunately, both men have a fascist streak, believing they alone can solve America's and the world’s problems.
First appearing in Justice League #1 in 1987, Lord is originally presented as a bit more altruistic than Luthor. While Lex uses his influence to assist metahuman villains, Lord slowly takes control of the Justice League, as the group is in disarray following the catastrophic events of Crisis On Infinite Earths. His villainous side eventually emerges, however, and he’s even revealed to be a metahuman when his latent mind control powers are released following the deployment of a gene bomb. He quickly becomes an antagonist to the League, with his actions eventually warranting Wonder Woman snapping his neck. Given how often massive accidents seem to unleash dormant meta powers in the Arrowverse, it’s likely we’ll see some similar developments in Peter Facinelli’s character.
Given the character’s name, it’s no surprise that Bizarro has an odd history. During the '50s, the character debuted three separate times across Superboy, Action Comics, and a Superman newspaper strip. The longest running of these Silver Age Bizarros first appeared in Action Comics #254 in 1959 as the result of a duplication ray that created a flawed copy of Superman (originally, it was Superboy who was copied). Post-Crisis, Bizarro came into existence as the result of Lex Luthor attempting to clone Superman. Each origin created a grotesque, Frankenstein-like version of Superman with all of his abilities (some tweaked, like freeze vision and heat breath) and a fraction of his intelligence. There's even a Bizarro World, packed full of broken clones of DC's finest, including a Bizarro copy of Supergirl, aptly named Bizarro-Girl.
Supergirl put a new spin on the Bizarro mythos by having Maxwell Lord experiment on a number of comatose girls who looked eerily similar to Kara. Injecting them with Supergirl’s DNA, Lord finally succeeds at creating a duplicate of the Girl of Steel. Unfortunately, she slowly breaks down, until she eventually resembles a distorted version of Kara. As it stands, the DEO has her in a coma until they and the writers can decide what to do with the Arrowverse’s Bizarro.
4 Black Mercy
“For the Man Who Has Everything” is one of the most well-known Superman stories, because of both its original 1985 appearance in Superman Annual #11 and the Justice League Unlimited episode of the same name from 2004. With a story by Watchmen creators Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, the tale revolves around Superman’s birthday and Batman, Robin, and Wonder Woman’s plans for it. When they arrive at the Fortress of Solitude, they find Superman comatose and ensnared by a mysterious alien plant. The supervillain Mongul appears and explains that the plant, known as the Black Mercy, is feeding Superman a hyper-realistic fantasy of his heart’s greatest desire. Weaving this reality in between pages of the present day action, we learn that Superman is living in a world where Krypton was never destroyed and he’s married with two children. Eventually, the heroes are able to remove the plant and defeat Mongul by attaching the parasite onto him before throwing the villain into a black hole, naturally.
In the aptly titled “For the Girl Who Has Everything”, Non infects Kara with the plant, which feeds her a similar dream of a surviving Krypton where her family is still alive. Eventually, her adopted sister Alex is able to enter the dream and pull her out with the help of her friends.
3 Silver Banshee
Debuting in Action Comics #595 in 1987, Silver Banshee is one of the most recognizable foes of both Superman and Supergirl. Born Siobhan McDougal (later changed to Siobhan Smythe in the New 52), she was a member of an ancient Gaelic clan who dabbled in an occult ritual as a rite of passage. Determined to be the first female leader of her clan after her father’s death, Siobhan begins the ancient ceremony only to be interrupted by her brother. The disruption causes her to be pulled into a supernatural netherrealm, where she’s granted super speed, strength, and a host of sonic abilities.
In the Lexi Alexander-directed “Truth, Justice, and the American Way,” Siobhan Smythe was introduced as a workplace rival to Kara at CatCo. With her distaste for Kara hardly concealed and her mysterious family history regularly hinted at, Siobhan finally unlocks her powers after nearly falling to her death while on a date with Winn three episodes later. Smythe soon teams up with Livewire and dons the familiar name and look of the Silver Banshee, and the two are only stopped once Supergirl teams up with a universe-hopping Flash during the “World’s Finest” crossover.
One of Superman’s deadliest foes, the Kryptonite-powered cyborg known as Metallo first appeared in Action Comics #252 in 1959. Though the version was slightly tweaked when John Byrne fleshed out his backstory in 1986 Man of Steel series, much of his origin has stayed the same. Originally a criminal named John Corben, the man who would be Metallo suffered a fatal accident. Luckily for him, and unluckily for Superman, Professor Emmet Vale came across the dying Corben and intervened to save his life. Believing Superman was part of the first wave of an eventual Kryptonian invasion, Vale transferred Corben’s brain into a cyborg body powered by a massive piece of Kryptonite. Though Corben chose to murder his savior, he also followed through with his mission: to try and kill Superman.
While the evil group of scientists known as Cadmus replaced Professor Vale in Metallo’s Supergirl origin, his appearance, powers, and drive to kill Kryptonians remained. Joining forces with Superman, Martian Manhunter, and Alex, Supergirl is eventually able to defeat Corben and a second Metallo. Both versions seem to still be alive, however, so we likely haven’t seen the last of them.
1 Martian Manhunter
Decades before Miss Martian came onto the scene, Martian Manhunter was Earth’s lone hero from the Red Planet. Created by Joseph Samachson and Joe Certa and first appearing in Detective Comics #225 in 1955, he is one of the seven founding members of the Justice League of America. Armed with just about every superpower there is, including flight, strength, density manipulation, and telekinesis, the Martian known as J’onn J’onzz is one of the most powerful heroes in DC Comics.
In modern tellings, J’onn is the last of his kind, his people having been wiped out by the Martian civil war between the Green and White species. After being pulled to Earth by an experimental teleportation beam, J’onn becomes stranded and decides to disguise himself as the human John Jones and fight crime.
Supergirl follows much of this story, as the show's version of Martian Manhunter is also the last of his kind and has spent many years on Earth. Originally fighting crime, he gives up the life and goes into hiding before DEO head Hank Henshaw tracks him down. During an attempt to kill J’onn, Hank is defeated by Kara and Alex’s father Jeremiah. J’onn takes Hank's identity and returns to the DEO, determined to protect Earth and the Danvers sisters from harm. There’s still a good bit of mystery to the early days of Martian Manhunter on Supergirl, which we’ll hopefully learn as season 2 progresses. In the meantime, the sight of J’onn J’onzz fighting alongside Supergirl continues to be a thrill for DC fans.
Any characters from the comics that you’re hoping to see on a future episode of Supergirl? Let us know in the comments.
Supergirl airs Mondays at 8 pm EST on The CW.