Art reflects art: this is the case of DC which has honored the stories of the past. DC’s heroes are often referred to as modern versions of the Greek pantheon. So when it comes to darker, more gruesome characters, it’s no surprise that the creators take inspiration from famous monster movies.
In Marvel, DC, and even Dark Horse comics, there are a plethora of characters that pay homage to famous monsters from movies, urban legends, and even ancient mythology. Monsters are a source of fear but also intrigue because they can also be just as fascinating, if not more so, than standard superhero archetypes.
Intentional or not, Man-Bat is definitely a play on the classic trope of scientists mindlessly mixing human DNA with that of another being. This has been used in a myriad of horror films that warn viewers of the dangers of the genetic power of Fly at Splice.
Like many monsters of similar concepts, this usually occurs when a scientist has the best intentions but ends up with a gruesome monstrosity. With Man-Bat, it happened when Kirk Langstrom was trying to cure deafness but turned into a human-vampire bat hybrid.
A monster can be a bit exaggerated but depending on The Hollywood Reporterthe Joker is famously inspired by a 1928 silent film titled The man who Laughs. Their origins are nothing alike, with the titular character Gwynplaine falling victim to a group of gypsies who surgically give him a permanent smile, akin to Jack Nicholson’s famous depiction of Joker.
His pale white skin, permanent smile and hair were the main inspiration for the design of the Joker in 1940. However, Gwynplaine’s affliction leads to the torment of people around him throughout his life, which makes him slowly descend into madness. It’s no different from Arthur Fleck with his pseudobulbar condition in 2019 Joker.
Morbius, the Living Vampire
The story of Michael Morbius is quite similar to that of Man-Bat with a brilliant scientist mixing his DNA with that of a bat. Instead of a bat-like creature, however, he transforms into a genetically engineered vampire. This gives him the ability to fly, have super strength, a strong healing factor, and control animals, including bats.
Obviously, this is inspired by different stories of vampires from the past. The biggest inspiration, however, would be Dracula, with Morbius wearing red and being portrayed more as a tragic Spider-Man villain. Morbius’ bloodlust causes him to hurt those he loves, a staple of the vampire genre.
In Marvel Comics, Wendigo is one of the most famous Hulk villains. He is a monster that kills innocent people in the forests and frames the Hulk. The Wendigo is the result of a curse inflicted on Paul Cartier as a result of resorting to cannibalism to survive.
However, rather than the skeletal design of the Algonquin legend as seen in the film DrinkMarvel’s version of Wendigo is a large furry beast closer to the abominable snowman, aka a yeti.
The Brood are an ancient race of insectoids that spread across the stars, repopulating themselves until they dominated every planet they landed on. There’s not even an attempt to hide it: the Brood is Marvel’s Xenomorph version of the famous Extraterrestrial franchise.
It’s actually surprising that Marvel’s attempts to copy Xenomorphs haven’t resulted in a lawsuit. The drone-like Brood creatures serve even a greater matriarch of their hive known as the Empress. The biggest difference, however, is that the brood is more than wild beasts, showing more intelligence.
Swamp monsters have been a staple of fiction for years, and Swamp Thing is the highlight. In fact, Swamp Thing with its horror-centric stories with tragic romance is reminiscent of movies like The creature from the black lagoon from Universal Studios mixed with The Hunchback of Notre Dame and the famous Bigfoot sightings.
Marvel also introduced its own swamp monster, albeit a much darker creature known as the Man-Thing. However, it hasn’t had as much of an impact as Swamp Thing, which has entertained superhero and horror fans for decades, especially since Alan Moore’s iconic Swamp Thing redesign.
Many stories have used the Kraken dating back to ancient Greek mythology, hence its famous use in Clash of the Titans. With Aquaman being the ruler and protector of the seas, it was inevitable that he would encounter the DC version of the Kraken, which has seen multiple portrayals.
There’s the Karaqan, a massive crustacean that’s one of DC’s most famous kaiju, but there’s also Topo, an ally of Aquaman. The two were merged for DC Extended Universe to create the Karathen. A genuine Kraken tag was used in both Injustice comics and Deceased comic books.
It’s another no-brainer, werewolves being a famous monster in books, TV shows, and movies. It was inevitable that the comics would take advantage of the monster’s popularity after the likes of The werewolfwhich leads to many other famous werewolf movies.
night werewolf is the comic that introduced the main character, portraying a more anti-hero version. The original debut depicted a more humanoid werewolf similar to the Wolfman, while future redesigns would come closer to the likes of The howling Where An American werewolf in London.
It should be pretty obvious what Abraham Sapien is inspired by. Hellboy comics deal with all kinds of monsters, from mystics to Eldritch horrors to satanic ones. Abe Sapien, meanwhile, is his best friend, whom he values like a brother.
Abe Sapien is clearly based on the Gill-man of The creature from the black lagoon but with a more eloquent and dapper personality. He is intelligent with psychic abilities, a stark contrast to the wild monstrosity of the Gill-man.
Straight from creator Stan Lee himself, the inspiration for Marvel’s not-so-cheerful green giant is the combination of The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and Frankenstein. Bruce Banner portrays Dr. Jekyll, who conducts an experiment that unleashes the dark side of himself.
That darker side is Hulk, who is Mr. Hyde but no longer in the form of Frankenstein’s monster. He is a newly born being, a child in a monster’s body misunderstood by the world and punished for it. It’s a tragic tale that Marvel has fully explored with both sides of the character.
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