Why do people love superheroes? It’s an almost unanswerable question—not because there’s not an answer, but because there’s so many. Who can deny the childlike thrill of paging through a comic book, or sitting in a dark theater surrounded by other fans, waiting to be blown away by the best action that Hollywood has to offer? Through multiple generations, these characters have remained as popular as ever. Here are 44 super facts about DC and Marvel superheroes.
44. Unexpected Power
In Superman 2, Superman famously reacts to being charged at by a bad guy by revealing a bizarre power of his—ripping the letter S off his shirt, throwing it, and having it magically engulf and knock down his pursuer. The powers of Kryptonians just never end! This moment was so unique and memorable that it was once parodied by Family Guy.
When the Justice League comics were adapted for TV as Super Friends, a bunch of new characters were added who had never actually appeared in comics. The most memorable of these would have to be the Wonder Twins, an alien brother and sister who could transform into whatever animal or object they wanted to upon fist-bumping each other. They also had a monkey sidekick named Gleek. It’s safe to say that this superhero team pops into many people’s heads when they think of corny 1970s cartoon shows.
42. Radio Days
Shortly after Superman’s comic book life began, he became the star of what would help solidify his spot as a household name for decades to come—The Adventures of Superman radio series. This weekly program, mainly geared towards children and families, became a national sensation and gave birth to many of Superman’s most identifiable aspects which we still associate with him to this day—including the concept of Kryptonite.
41. Punctuation Problems
Spider-Man is spelled with a hyphen, while Superman, Batman, and most other hero names are not. In fact, Stan Lee specifically decided to spell it with a hyphen to distinguish Spidey from some of these already established heroes. You’ll upset a lot of fans if you ever get that wrong so watch out!
40. Catchy Tune
The ‘60s Spider-Man cartoon theme song, composed by Paul Francis Webster and Paul Harris, is one of the most popular superhero themes out there. It’s so popular that it was brought back and referenced in several of the more recent Spider-Man films.
39. A Competitive Field
Never fear, the DC Comics heroes have also had memorable music associated with them. Superman has had acclaimed soundtracks written for his movies by two of the most popular movie composers of all time, John Williams and Hans Zimmer. As for Batman, need I say more than “na-na-na-na-na-na?”
38. Bruce McWayne
Batman’s billionaire secret identity, Bruce Wayne, was inspired by and named after a famed Scottish king and an American Revolutionary hero, Robert Bruce and Anthony Wayne.
37. Speed Limit Reached
In the DC comics universe, The Flash is not just a really fast guy—he is the fastest person in the world.
36. Founding Fathers
The original members of the DC’s Justice League of America were Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Flash, Martian Manhunter, and Aquaman. The league has since expanded many times and their missions had them defend the world’s population against just about every kind of danger imaginable on earth—and beyond.
35. Roster Changes
Marvel’s answer to the Justice League was the Avengers, and the founding team may not be as familiar—at least until the MCU came along. The original lineup consisted of Ant-Man, the Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, and the Wasp. Noticeably absent were Thor and Captain America, two of the main stars of the recent films.
34. Team Effort
The Avengers are not Marvel’s only popular superhero team—the X-Men debuted in 1963 and have been an extremely popular franchise ever since, with an also consistently growing roster.
33. Original Six
The X-Men were also initially missing one of their future main stars, Wolverine. Their founding group consisted of Angel, Beast, Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Iceman, and Professor X.
32. Making History
Comic books played a big role in rallying public morale during World War II, and many a superhero was seen fighting Nazis on a pretty frequent basis in those years.
31. Patriotic Classic
Many new characters were created specifically for this World War II morale-boosting purpose, but none remained as successful after the war as Captain America—who first appeared punching Hitler in the face on the cover of Captain America #1 in 1941, long before Stan Lee and the Marvel characters we know and love were even on the scene.
30. Second Chance
The Hulk almost didn’t get a chance to become the popular character he is today—his initial comic series was canceled after just six issues back in 1963.
29. Fiction Versus Reality
Iron Man is best known for his insanely cool suit, which may be closer than we think to being a real thing. Lockheed Martin has come out with exoskeletons to help soldiers maintain speed while carrying heavy loads. They have been priced at up to $70,000.
28. Evolving Identity
Green Lantern has long been a popular hero on the DC circuit, despite actually being several different heroes. There have been seven individual characters to earn the title of “Green Lantern” over the years—Alan Scott, Hal Jordan, Guy Gardner, John Stewart, Kyle Rayner, and most recently, Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz.
27. The Force
In addition to the seven Green Lantern headliners mentioned above, there are considered to be hundreds of other “Green Lanterns” around the universe, as the Green Lantern character we know is just Earth’s representative of an intergalactic police force called the Green Lantern Corps.
DC’s Green Arrow once shot a moving drop of water from a faucet with his bow and arrow and hit it right on the nose. Yea, he’s that good.
25. Dry Land
Aquaman once took his authority over the sea to the United Nations, as the ambassador for Atlantis.
24. Help from Mars
One of the most underrated and cool superheroes of all time is DC’s Martian Manhunter, also known as J’onn J’onzz. He is the last surviving member of an extinct Martian race, has all kinds of cool powers as a result, and is a founding member of the Justice League.
Although Superman is famous as a symbol of “truth, justice, and the American way,” it turns out his hometown of Metropolis is actually based on Toronto, north of the border, where one of his creators had been born. Even the famous Daily Planet newspaper is based on the Toronto Daily Star.
22. Fantastic Four
Marvel seems to be very big on superhero teams, as X-Men and the Avengers are not the only examples. The Fantastic Four, made up of Mister Fantastic, the Invisible Woman, the Human Torch, and the Thing, have been a popular mainstay in the Marvel universe since 1961.
21. Epic Duel
If Marvel’s two bulky tough guys, the Hulk and the Thing, ever got into a fight, the Hulk would win. At least that’s the opinion offered by their creator, Stan Lee, putting any fan speculation otherwise to rest.
20. Always Around
Speaking of Stan Lee, you might be aware that Marvel has a tradition to give him a small cameo in every movie made about one of his characters. These appearances have most recently included Black Panther, Deadpool, Spider-Man: Homecoming, and of course, Avengers: Infinity War. And the 95-year-old Lee doesn’t plan on stopping any time soon!
19. Ups and Downs
One of the heroes with the most interesting rise to popularity is Marvel’s Daredevil. He started off as a seldom used character in the early 1960s, only to suddenly surge to popularity in the 1980s under new writers who transformed the character. Since then, Daredevil is right up there with the other Marvel characters as beloved icons.
18. Comrade Superman
Comic books love playing around with alternate histories, other dimensions, parallel universes, and other wild ideas. One great example of this is Mark Miller’s Superman: Red Son, in which the idea is explored of what Superman would have been like if his ship had landed in the Soviet Union instead of in America.
17. Female Touch
The most popular female superhero of all time is, by most measures, probably Wonder Woman. This superhero became a superstar almost overnight when her character was first introduced in 1941. She received her own book within a year of her first appearance, becoming only the third hero to be awarded the honor up to that point.
16. Hero or Villain?
Some questions just never go away, and whether Catwoman is a hero or villain is one of them. There is no question that her natural inclination is to be a villain and a thief, yet on so many occasions we find her in an alliance with Batman and helping the good guys. Not to mention her on-and-off romantic relationship with the aforementioned hero.
15. Even Catchier Than You Thought
Not only has that Spider-Man song been brought back by many Spider-Man films and adaptations, it was also covered by singer Michael Buble and parodied by Homer Simpson in The Simpsons Movie as “Spider-Pig.”
14. The Sidekick Life
Batman’s famous teenage sidekick, Robin, ultimately becomes an independent superhero of his own, by the name of Nightwing.
13. Many Identities
In Marvel comics, Hank Pym, AKA Ant-Man has gone by many different names over the years, including Giant-Man, Yellowjacket, Wasp, Goliath, and more. How does he keep track of it all?
12. K9 Companion
Superman was not the only survivor of the late planet Krypton, as Krypto the Superdog survived too. This pup has all the same powers as Superman, and even had his own TV series.
11. The Funny Side
Speaking of parodies, superheroes have been the subject of satire and parody for almost as long as they’ve been around. As far back as 1943, Bugs Bunny was starring in a cartoon called Super-Rabbit on this very subject.
10. Wardrobe Change
In very early Spider-Man comics, his suit originally contained two strands of webbing under his two arms. Needless to say, this seemingly unnecessary feature did not last.
9. Identity Crisis
When the Incredible Hulk became the star of his own 1978 TV series, the character’s name was inexplicably changed from Bruce Banner, as it appeared in the comics, to David Banner. But what’s in a name anyway, right?
8. Family Ties
X-Men leader Professor Xavier has an evil twin sister, by the name of Cassandra Nova, who was originally thought to be a stillborn baby. I guess you can’t pick your family!
Despite having the ability to constantly regenerate and repair injured limbs on his body, Wolverine is not immortal. The character can still die if he receives the wrong injury, so don’t get too comfortable, Wolverine fans!
Comic books have often changed aspects of their characters throughout the years, but few have been subject to as many fundamental changes and redos as DC’s Hawkman and Hawkgirl. At times they’ve been aliens, at times human, and at other times reincarnated ancient Egyptian royalty. The story of these winged heroes has changed so many times, even hardcore comic book devotees are confused by it.
5. Expanding Batcave
Little known fact for the casual Batman fan, but Bruce Wayne has a total of five children, including four adopted ones: Dick Grayson, Damian Wayne, Tim Drake, Jason Todd, and Cassandra Cain. No wonder the Batcave is so roomy—you gotta have a lot of room aboveground for five kids!
4. The Small Screen
The Flash had a short-lived TV series in the early 1990s, which unfortunately never quite rose to the TV icon status of other shows like Adam West’s 1960s Batman.
Despite the stated price of 10 cents on its 1938 cover, a copy of Action Comics #1, Superman’s first ever comic appearance, has sold for over $3 million. Now that would have been an epic long-term investment; you might even say…a heroic one!
2. Disgustingly Accurate.
Once, when Hawkeye was captured, he had to resort to a truly upsetting strategy to escape. The master marksman had all of his weapons taken away and was tied down, scarcely even able to move. Yet, before long, his captors started dying, one by one. He managed to kill them all by tearing out his own fingernails and flicking them at the guards with deadly accuracy. Hawkeye might not be the most exciting Avenger, but credit where credit’s due—that’s pretty insane.
1. Superman: Adult Film Star?
Once, Superman and another hero called Big Barda had their minds controlled by a villain aptly named “Sleez.” Why was he so well named? Let’s just say that his diabolical plan involved making the two heroes star in an… ahem… adult film. Though the comic doesn’t show the creation of the tape, the reader does get to see the horrified reaction of Big Barda’s husband when he’s handed a copy.