When we think of superheroes, we picture strong, courageous beings who are larger than life. They fight for truth and justice, and charge selflessly into combat. In essence, these heroic do-gooders embody the highest qualities mere mortals can only hope to attain. However, occasionally, the good guys make a wrong turn on the path of righteousness and find themselves squarely in the camp of the villains. Whether by tragic circumstances or willful choice, these powerful heroes turned from their morals to a darker path. Let’s take a look through comics history at Powerful Superheroes Who Turned Evil!
Hawk (Hank Hall)
Given powers by the Lords of Chaos and Order, Hawk fought crime alongside his teammate, Dove. However, Hank Hall’s volatile temper made him dangerous and unpredictable as a superhero, and when Dove died at the hands of a time-traveling tyrant called Monarch, it drove Hawk over the edge. He killed Monarch then unmasked the villain to reveal a future-version of himself! Hawk donned the armor of Monarch and teamed up with the renegade Green Lantern, Parallax, to wage a time-altering campaign against the heroes of earth.
Daredevil is one of few superheroes who’s suffered numerous trials–the death of his true love, betrayals of loyal friends, and threats to his loved ones from his nemesis the Kingpin. When the Man Without Fear became the leader of the mystical ninja organization, the Hand, he became possessed by a demon known as the Beast. Erecting a large fortress in Hell’s Kitchen as a headquarters for the Hand, Daredevil began a systematic war against crime in his city. He confronted his archenemy Bullseye and killed him in cold-blood then waged an all-out war against friends and foes in the Shadowland miniseries.
Jason Todd (Red Hood)
When Dick Grayson abandoned his role as Robin, Batman recruited a troubled youth named Jason Todd. The new protege to the Dark Knight had an impulsive streak and decided to track down the Joker on his own. Unfortunately, Todd fell into a trap set by the Joker and suffered an agonizing death which haunted Batman for years.
After Superboy-Prime escaped a paradise dimension and altered reality, Jason Todd was inadvertently restored to life and cared for by Talia al Ghul. An amnesiac with impaired cognitive abilities, Todd was a shell of his former self until Talia submerged him into a Lazarus Pit. Jason Todd emerged with his abilities intact, but his personality took on a darker tone. He donned the persona of Red Hood and vowed vengeance against Batman.
Wanda Maximoff grew up on the wrong side of the law, joining the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants with her brother Quicksilver. Years later she reformed and joined the Avengers as a loyal member. But after facing tragedy when she lost her twin sons, Wanda suffered a mental breakdown that caused her to lash out against her teammates. Using her reality-altering chaos magic, Scarlet Witch brought calamity on the Avengers and even caused the death of Hawkeye.
Professor Xavier sought to help the wayward Avenger, but concluded that she could not be trusted with so much power and advocated for euthanasia. Unable to accept this result, Quicksilver convinced his sister to alter reality once more. Scarlet Witch created a dystopian world where mutants ruled over mankind. In the end, Wanda committed mass genocide by eliminating a majority of the mutant population when she uttered the words, “no more mutants.”
Mary Batson underwent a dark chapter in her superhero career when the anti-hero, Black Adam, granter her all of his powers after she’d lost her own. Under the morally ambiguous influence of her former enemy, Mary begins a campaign of twisted justice, punishing her enemies in an excessive manner. Her cruel actions gained the attention of villainess, Eclipso, who agrees to mentor the wayward heroine. Later on, she is corrupted further by Darkseid who recruits her as a Female Fury in the events of Final Crisis, where she helps spread the Anti-Life Equation worldwide.
Bucky Barnes (Winter Soldier)
At the close of World War II, Bucky Barnes is believed to have died in a plane explosion over the Atlantic Ocean. But Captain America’s former sidekick survives the explosion and is found by a Russian submarine then revived in Moscow. With a new bionic arm and Soviet programming, Bucky Barnes adopts the persona of the Winter Soldier, an enhanced soldier who engages in high-profile assassinations for the Russian government. He kills Wolverine’s wife in the 1970s and in the present day, launches a terrorist attack in Philadelphia.
Green Lantern (Hal Jordan)
After the destruction of his beloved Coast City by Mongul, Hal Jordan fell into a downward spiral of grief and self-doubt. During this time, a parasitic entity known as Parallax preyed on the Green Lantern’s vulnerable psychological state. Known as the embodiment of fear, Parallax manipulated Jordan into thinking he’d murdered his arch-nemesis Sinestro when in fact the two villains had used a construct to dupe the superhero. This deception coupled with the destruction of Coast City drove Green Lantern over the edge and he laid waste to Oa, the home planet of the Green Lantern Corps.
Easily one of the most powerful beings in the Marvel universe, Sentry is heralded as having the power of a million exploding suns. Fighting alongside the Avengers, he proved to be a valuable asset against the most fearsome threats to mankind. But Robert Reynolds always suffered a fractured mental state. A malicious entity known as the Void has often sought control of Sentry’s mind and in the limited series, Siege, finally did so. In a full-scale siege of Asgard, the Avengers fight back against Norman Osborn and his team of “dark” Avengers which includes the Void-possessed Sentry. Sentry single-handedly reduces Asgard to ruins and kills both Loki and Ares before Thor deals a killing blow to the maddened superhero.
Sometimes the most heroic and patriotic superheroes can fall from grace. Such is the case with Steve Rogers in a recent comic storyline where the first Avenger fell victim to the evil plans of his nemesis, Red Skull. After having the super-soldier serum sucked from his body by another villain, Steve Rogers lost his powers and rapidly aged into a 90-year old man. However, his powerless state would be short-lived when Kobik, a girl with reality-altering powers, restores Captain America to his former superhero glory. Unbeknownst to Cap, the girl was brainwashed by the Red Skull and her powers alter the Avenger’s memories. Captain America unwittingly becomes a sleeper agent for Hydra and enacts a plan to overthrow the American government.
Born in an alternate dimension called Earth-Prime, Kal-El was a teenage Kryptonian destined for the mantle of Superman, but his home world was decimated by the evil Anti-Monitor during the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths. Teaming up with the Superman of Earth-Two, Alexander Luthor, Jr. of Earth-Three, and numerous heroes of alternate worlds, he defeats the Anti-Monitor, but is forced to live in a paradise dimension where his angst and resentment grow. Prodded by his friend, Alexander Luthor, Superboy-Prime decides to escape the paradise dimension and alters the multiverse by doing so. He kills several heroes in the primary dimension and attacks the current Superboy because he considers them all inferior to the world he lost.