Amazing alternate costumes for superheroes are always entertaining, but what about alternate superhero characters? The topic of “legacy characters,” or replacement superheroes, has led to many heated debates in the world of comic book fandom. Publishers have attempted to add diversity and “fresh ideas” to their comic book universes by replacing their most popular heroes with younger and more diverse vigilantes. The results have been, at best, mixed.
Fan outrage is high anytime a popular character goes away – even the times when Marvel changes a character for no apparent reason aren’t met with as much resistance. Nothing is worse than seeing your favorite superhero feign death for awhile so that a precocious teenager can take up their mantle to spout internet slang and share crossovers with Spider-Man.
Now, this may be considered sacrilege in some corners of the fandom, but some legacy heroes turn out pretty cool. In fact, there’s a rare handful of second generation superheroes who are actually better than the originals. It’s not easy to replace a legendary hero, but as the following characters can attest to, it is doable. Check out the list below and vote up the coolest second generation heroes who you believe are an improvement from the original.
Scott Lang Is The Most Heroic Ant-Man
The first legacy hero to appear in the Marvel Cinematic Universe was Scott Lang, the second Ant-Man who actually beat his predecessor, Hank Pym, to the screen. In the Ant-Man movie, Pym is aged way up from the comics and is long retired from his Ant-Manning days, leaving Lang to be the one and only wearer of the mantle in the MCU. In the comic book, Pym was a founding Avenger and had a lengthy history before Lang was even invented.
However, Lang was chosen for Hollywood fame because his character was a bit deeper. Lang began his career by stealing the Ant-Man gear from Pym’s lab to help pay for his daughter’s necessary surgery, giving his character some goodhearted complexity. Pym, on the other hand, had a hot temper and a history of outbursts and non-heroic activity, like infamously slapping his wife, the Wasp. Scott Lang is definitely truer hero material.
Flash Thompson Made Venom Cool Again
Venom may not have been introduced until the late ‘80s, but he quickly became a fan favorite amongst Spider-Man’s rogue gallery. Fans were so attached to Venom that Marvel attempted to rebrand him as a hero or, in their words, a “lethal protector.” However, it never really felt right to be cheering for Eddie Brock, the hateful maniac who tormented Spider-Man and occasionally ate brains.
The Venom symbiote eventually bounced to a few different hosts, including the Scorpion, but it found a much more suitable home in Flash Thompson, Spidey’s old high school bully. Flash had done a lot of growing up, which included a stint in the armed forces that cost him his legs. Newly empowered by the symbiote, Flash regained his mobility and put the power of the suit toward purely good intentions for the first time. “Agent Venom” was a fun character that maintained all of the great qualities of Venom while giving the readers a real reason to root for him.
Johnny Storm Is An Actually Human Version Of The Human Torch
Those with only a tangential knowledge of comic book history probably assume that Johnny Storm of the Fantastic Four is the original Human Torch, being that his adventures began with the Marvel universe in 1961. However, the character name actually predates the existence of Marvel Comics and comes from the World War II era when Marvel was known as Timely.
The real original Human Torch was an android, which makes absolutely no sense (why not call him the Robo Torch?). The robot came to be known as Jim Hammond and used his fiery powers to help Captain America and the Invaders against their Nazi foes. Just for being human, Johnny Storm should be considered the superior Torch. Besides, Storm’s long history with the Fantastic Four beats out anything that Hammond ever did – while WWII was super important, the FF have saved the multiverse on a handful of occasions.
Wally West Was An Entire Generation’s Flash
For an entire generation, Wally West is The Flash. While Barry Allen has recently become the most famous individual to wear the costume, thanks to his popular television series, he spent over two decades of continuity dead, from 1986’s Crisis on Infinite Earths to 2008’s Final Crisis. For the majority of the interim, Wally West was the Flash, and nobody seemed to mind at all. In fact, during this time, things like the animated Justice League series boosted the Flash’s profile, which means that Wally is probably just as responsible for the character’s modern relevance as Barry is.
Dick Grayson Was A More Likeable Batman
Batman is quite possibly the most famous superhero ever created. Bruce Wayne has held the mantle for most of the character’s near century-long existence, so to claim anyone is a better Batman than Wayne is quite a statement. Nevertheless, when the original Dark Knight appeared dead in the wake of Final Crisis, former Robin Dick Grayson stepped into his boots.
Grayson had a lot going for him, with his status as a non-billionaire making him a bit more relatable to about 99% of comic book readers. Dick was also far more likable than Bruce Wayne ever was, especially since he could admit something that Wayne never could: being Batman is an awful lot of fun.
Kate Kane Redeemed The Mantle Of Batwoman
The original Batwoman was an almost insultingly derivative character. Inserted into Batman lore in the ‘50s to abate the ridiculous “controversy” that Batman and Robin were gay, Kathy Kane was Bruce Wayne’s love interest and carried a utility purse with weaponized lipstick. The character was thankfully phased out in the ‘60s and the name remained dormant until 2006, when a new version of Batwoman appeared.
This Batwoman was named Kate Kane, but was unrelated to Kathy Kane from the ’50s. Kate Kane is a socialite with a military background, who identifies as a lesbian. This broke new ground for DC Comics and Kane’s career was inspired, but not facilitated, by Batman’s. This Batwoman proved to be much more of a peer to the Dark Knight than the previous one, and she has stuck around ever since.
Carol Danvers Came Into Her Own As Captain Marvel
Shazam-types aside, the original Captain Marvel was an alien Kree warrior named Mar-Vell. Mar-Vell was a classic character, so much so that his death the basis of the first Marvel original graphic novel, The Death of Captain Marvel. Along the way, Mar-Vell was involved in the empowering Carol Danvers, a human who gained his powers and took on the name Ms. Marvel.
However, Danvers never really established herself as an A-list character until she took on the legacy of Captain Marvel several decades after the original’s death. As a captain, Carol was free to emphasize her military background and leadership abilities. She quickly rose through the ranks of influence in the Marvel universe, to the point where she is now considered a peer of Steve Rogers and Tony Stark.
Ted Kord Is The Blue Beetle Who Mattered
Ted Kord is definitely the Blue Beetle that most fans are familiar with, and he’s been around long enough to have his own legacy character, Jaime Reyes. You may be surprised to know that the original Blue Beetle was actually Dan Garrett. He was the property of Charlton Comics, a competitor of DC’s. Garrett would pass on his mantle to Ted Kord within the pages of Charlton Comics, before Kord jumped into the DC universe when DC absorbed the smaller company.
Since then, Kord has gone on to be a popular hero, beloved for his bromine with Booster Gold and his provision of comic relief on several Justice League rosters. His career simply eclipses that of Garrett’s in almost every conceivable way. Interestingly enough, DC eventually okayed the use of the Chartlon characters as the basis for Watchmen, and the two Blue Beetles inspired the two Night Owls in Alan Moore’s iconic tale.
Robbie Reyes Breathed New Life Into The Ghost Rider
The Ghost Rider is a hero with a tumultuous history. Although he had been around for awhile, the character hit his peak in the “extreme” era of comics, leaving many with the mistaken impression that he was a product of it. There have been several Ghost Riders, but the most notable is Johnny Blaze, who had his reputation severely tainted by two awful Nicolas Cage movies.
The character needed a serious injection of cool, and it was provided by Robbie Reyes, the All-New Ghost Rider. Reyes’ origin story was not a simple repeat of Blaze’s, and his unique set of morals gave his Rider more depth than previous iterations. It was Reyes, not Blaze, who was chosen for a role in the TV show, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
John Stewart Was A Better Man Than Hal Jordan
John Stewart, like Wally West, held his superhero title for an entire generation after stepping up in the absence of Hal Jordan. Jordan, the most notable Green Lantern, had broken bad in 1993 and eventually died, before he was reborn in 2005. Stewart was the de facto Green Lantern for much of this time, sharing the reins with Kyle Rayner and Guy Gardner, and proved more than fit to patrol the space sector. It was Stewart who starred in the Justice League animated series, but that’s not the only reason he’s superior to Hal.
For all his good qualities, Hal Jordan was kind of a jerk, whereas Stewart’s history in the military, along with his decision not to wear a mask, made him a real hero of the people. The fact that he was the only minority representation on the Justice League for awhile is an added bonus.
Kamala Khan Improves On The Ms. Marvel Concept In Every Way
The original Ms. Marvel, Carol Danvers, was a well-intentioned character that was ultimately mishandled. She was initially intended as a feminist icon, with the “Ms.” meant to represent her independence, but she wore an embarrassingly-designed skimpy outfit and didn’t get a chance to do much on her own. Even when the original Captain Marvel died, it took Carol decades to decide to take up his mantle and drop the Ms.
Thankfully, Kamala Khan came along to save the day and redeem the name of Ms. Marvel. Kamala’s identity as a young Muslim-American woman immediately made her a relevant character, but her personality and earnest love for superheroing are what really made her an instant classic. The fact that Kamala is a superhero fangirl who got to become a superhero makes her delightfully relatable.
Tim Drake Is The Ultimate Robin
Dick Grayson is the original Robin, and most would consider him to be the best. After all, he did go on to a successful career as Nightwing, leader of the Teen Titans, before briefly taking on the mantle of Batman and excelling in the role. But when it comes to being a Robin, Grayson’s second replacement, Tim Drake, probably tops him.
Drake wormed his way into the life of Bruce Wayne in truly Batman-like fashion by using his detective skills to figure out the Dark Knight’s true identity. Since then, Drake has proven himself to be every bit the crime-fighting genius that his mentor is, and he may be the only ally of Batman that is legitimately smarter than him. Most Robins just aid Batman’s war on crime, but Tim Drake innovates, troubleshoots, and coordinates it like a
Sam Wilson Is A More Socially Relevant Captain America
Captain America is the longest-standing Marvel superhero, so replacing him is no easy task. However, over his 75 plus years of publishing history, Steve Rogers has inevitably given up his mantle on a number of occasions. Most of the replacements, like John Walker or Bucky Barnes, didn’t work out. However, one that did was Sam Wilson, the former Falcon.
Wilson took on the role when Rogers was rapidly aged, and he did so at a time when actual issues of race and inequality were tearing apart the nation in the real world. Captain America was always supposed to be a political character, and as a black hero with the national flag as part of his costume, Sam Wilson fit that bill perfectly. Sam was able to represent a downtrodden and underrepresented segment of American society, and it helped that Wilson’s adventures often directly cribbed from current events.
Miles Morales Is A Better Outsider Than Peter Parker
When Spider-Man was first created, one of his major appeals was that he was not just a teenaged hero, but an unpopular teenager at that. Spidey’s outsider status made him incredibly popular, but over the years that naturally wore off as Peter Parker grew up and began to date supermodels.
Marvel attempted to regain Spidey’s youthful ways in the Ultimate Spider-Man reboot, but that character aged quickly, too, and still led a privileged life. Then came Miles Morales, Peter Parker’s replacement in the Ultimate universe. Miles gains his powers at a younger age than Peter, making his foibles more genuine, and he’s a minority, which allows him to experience the sort of “outsider” status that Peter Parker could never understand. Miles also has some neat power upgrades, like brief invisibility and a venom blast.
Otto Octavius Was The Superior Spider-Man
When Marvel decided to kill off Peter Parker in 2012, it was already bound to be a controversial decision. The fact that Parker was killed after having his body stolen by long-time enemy Doctor Octopus made the storyline exponentially more outrage-worthy. However, a last minute blast of memories from Parker’s mind put Doc Ock on a more heroic path, and he set out to become the Superior Spider-Man.
Surprisingly, Otto Octavius actually managed to prove himself superior to Parker. The Superior Spider-Man cleaned up crime in New York City, shutting down long-term threats like the Kingpin and Alistair Smythe for good. The Superior Spidey stumbled a few times along the way, but nothing compared to the outright tragedies that Peter Parker caused in his early career. In the end, Parker got his body back while Octavius secured his own spider-powered body, becoming the Superior Octopus!
Jane Foster Is A More Worthy Thor
Fans were initially outraged when Jane Foster, Thor’s former Midgardian girlfriend, became the new Thor. Most of all, fans were upset that she took the name “Thor,” since that’s not a nickname, but his actual first name, which is like the new Captain America calling themselves “Steve.” Aside from that, fans were distraught to see a founding Avenger lose their mantle to a seemingly less interesting character.
However, Jane has won over a majority of fans in her time as the God of Thunder, with her genuine humility and appreciation of her own power making her a more worthy god than Odinson ever was. Jane spent most of her life as a nurse, so unlike the hotheaded old Thor, her primary concern in all situations is helping people. Additionally, Jane’s time as Thor has allowed the original Odinson to undergo his own new story arc centered around regaining his worthiness, which has made the character more interesting than he has been in awhile.