In the world of comic books, superheroes are often defined by their heroic deeds and unwavering moral code. However, what happens when those same heroes are pushed to their limits and become villains themselves? Throughout the history of comics, many beloved heroes have turned to the dark side, becoming some of the most notorious and fearsome supervillains in their respective universes. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the top 10 most famous superheroes to become supervillains, ranked in order of their impact on the comic book world.
Terra, if known for nothing else, should be known for helping Deathstroke bring down the Teen Titans. In arguably the greatest Teen Titans story, The Judas Contract, Terra was placed inside the team by Deathstroke. As a member, she gained their trust, loyalty, and compassion while relaying valuable information to Deathstroke.
With the information, Deathstroke captured all the Titans, save for Dick Grayson. Dick and Jericho managed to defeat Deathstroke, but the damage had been done. Before the story’s conclusion, Terra revealed herself as a villain and nearly killed everyone around her, Deathstroke included.
Granted, Daredevil has teetered on the edge of good and evil for most of his existence. So when I tell you that he once became a villain, it’s probably pretty easy to believe. During the much-maligned Shadowland story, Daredevil took control of The Hand. With the ninjas under his control, he tried to force good on the world around him.
What he didn’t foresee, however, was that he was slowly being taken control of by The Beast of the Hand. Under the control of the Beast of the Hand, Daredevil’s tactics become increasingly violent and unpredictable. With his friends’ help, he could remove the control the Beast had over him but not without cost. From this point forward, how that was perceived and respected had forever changed.
As an original member of the X-Men, Warren Worthington III was always considered one of the more useless characters. Outside of his flight (which most heroes have), he really couldn’t contribute to the team. So when he was captured by Apocalypse and tortured, nobody really cared. Oh, how we should’ve cared.
After the torture, Angel was reborn Archangel, Apocalypse’s Harbinger of Death. In place of his bird-like wings stood metal wings that could project deadly metallic feathers at his enemies. More than that, Angel was reborn with an insatiable thirst for violence and death.
Sinestro was considered the best of all the Green Lanterns for a time. He was the model by which all Green Lanterns were molded. He kept peace, order, and law in his Sector in a way that no other Lantern could. However, nobody foresaw that he did so through fear, violence, and brutality.
When outed from the Green Lanterns and beaten by Hal Jordan, Sinestro created his own Lantern Corps. Unlike the Green Lanterns, the Yellow Lanterns used fear as the mechanism of power. Through them, Sinestro rose to become one of themost feared Green Lantern enemies in existence. And that’s only half of what makes him dangerous. The other half is that, as a former Green Lantern, Sinestro knows everything there is to know about his enemies.
6. Jean Grey
Some consider the Dark Phoenix Saga one of the best X-Men stories ever. Some, like myself, consider it average at best. Regardless of your thoughts, it’s tough to argue that Jean Grey’s transformation into the Dark Phoenix wasn’t shocking.
As the Dark Phoenix, Jean Grey possessed immeasurable power. With that sort of power, she could obliterate entire galaxies…and she did. The Jean Grey transformation was so impactful that it’s still, to this day, one of the most talked about moments in comics.
5. Jason Todd
From the get-go Jason Todd had a tough go in life. Not only was he an orphan, but he was also responsible for filling the shoes of the greatest Robin in history, Dick Grayson. Jason Todd’s demise came during the much-respected “A Death In The Family” story. The story saw Jason Todd reunite with his mother only to have her betray him and hand him over to the Joker. Once caught, the Joker beat him to within an inch of his life and blew up a building on top of him.
After “A Death In The Family,” Todd is brought back to life by Ra’s al Ghul and his Lazarus Pit. His resurrection wasn’t without consequences, however. The Lazarus Pit and bringing him back to life caused Jason to become mentally unstable. Once back in Gotham, he took the mantle of the Red Hood and waged a personal war on all those who wronged him.
Since his debut, Cyclops has been the consummate do-gooder. He’s done whatever has been asked of him, rarely questioning who’s asking. He was the leader of the X-Men and the prized pupil of Charles Xavier. Thankfully, this didn’t last, and he began walking the path of extremism.
Cyclops started to see Mutants as the superior race. As such, he formed a Black Ops squad of mutants designed to carry out deeds that the regular X-Men couldn’t. Worse yet, he ousted his mentor, Xavier, from the X-Men and merged with the Phoenix Force. Once merged, he murdered Xavier, was arrested, escaped from prison, and took an “any means necessary” approach to ensuring mutant survival worldwide.
3. Bucky Barnes
Due to the widespread success of the MCU, the story of Bucky Barnes is very well-known. Bucky grew up and fought alongside Captain America during World War 2. At its conclusion, he boarded a plane, and that plane exploded, sending him into the icy waters below.
While most thought the once-hero was dead, he was found and programmed to become the perfect Soviet Assassin. As their assassin, The Winter Soldier, he spent half a half–century killing when called upon. That’s right. The once sidekick to Captain America, Bucky Barnes became a force of evil for the Russian Empire.
Of all the superheroes to become supervillains, Ozymandias may be the most famous. The Watchmen followed a group of retired heroes as they tried to cope with the fact that they weren’t needed anymore. If that sounds boring, understand that it quickly becomes interesting when one of their own, The Comedian, is mercilessly killed. By the story’s end, Ozymandias, who had long been considered the greatest hero in existence, had revealed himself to be the mastermind of everything bad happening in the city, including dropping a squid on it.
And why? Why would he drop a squid on it? He claimed that he could stop the war by forcing warring nations to come together for the greater good. This, of course, is stupid as it would kill many in the process. No matter. Ozymandias and The Watchmen thankfully helped usher in a darker age of comics that is still being felt today.
1. Hal Jordan
There are very few characters turns as shocking as Hal Jordan’s. After Emerald Twilight, Hal Jordan’s mind is drawn into a place where it should never have gone two. The event saw his city, Coast City, decimated and all that he knew with it. Unable to handle the grief, Hal set out with his Power Ring to recreate the entire city and all those who died.
Requiring more energy, he then ventured to Oa to drain its power. With Oa drained, he became the villain Parallax. As Parallax, Hal aligned himself with Extant and began to create a new universe. Of course, he was eventually stopped, but that’s not the point.