Sometimes all it takes is Spider-Man or Thor punching you in the face to turn your life around. Let’s take a look at some characters that made the correct choice, but still probably should’ve had some jail time.
This first honorable mention is almost just a mention. Norman Osborn had everyone (even some readers) fooled for a few seconds into thinking that maybe, just maybe, he had turned over a new leaf around the time of the Skrull’s Secret Invasion. However, you know what they say about sociopathic psychopaths: they’re crazy. The flip was a ruse, and he was still really, really evil and really, really crazy.
A lot of people on the internet like to point to Deadpool as a badguy who became a good guy, but this doesn’t entirely work. The problem with that is, Deadpool isn’t really a good guy. Sometimes his intentions are good, but sometimes his intentions are to get money, and sometimes he doesn’t even know what his intentions are and he just shoots people. I’m not sure the word “antihero” even applies to Deadpool. He’s a mercenary sometimes with a heart-of-gold. He hasn’t really changed since he first showed up. Just to clear things up so I don’t have to write more honorable mentions, let’s go ahead and say that this all basically applies to The Punisher and Elektra, which is why they also only get honorable mentions.
This honorable mention was close to making the list. He started out as a member of Spidey’s rogue gallery, but eventually found his way into turning over a new leaf and joined up with the Avengers for bit. Sadly, his redemption stuck like dry sand, and he turned back to his life of crime, most recently teaming-up with Doctor Octopus in the Spider-Event “Ends of the Earth.” He was edged out of the list by the number ten candidate due to his reversion back to a life of crime.
Before you say and think what I know you’re wanting to say and think, just read this paragraph to understand why Doom is getting an honorable mention. First, we learned from the Doomwar series that his intentions are actually pure. He’s not trying to be a megalomaniacal despot because that’s what he wants to do; he’s doing it because he legitimately thinks it is the only way to save the human race. If that’s not enough of an argument for him to get a mention on this list, again, maybe he’s a demigod ruling over Battleworld, but he did it all to save reality. He knew the Beyonders were going to destroy everything and he was able to concoct a plan and at the last minute was actually able to save fragments of universes and pull them together and protected all of reality from vanishing for good. He saved the universe when no one else could. Do you want to still question his honorable mention? Didn’t think so.
#10 – Gamora
As a badguy: Strange Tales #180 (June, 1975)
As a goodguy: Avengers Annual #7 (November, 1977)
Adopted by Thanos and trained to become the most dangerous woman in the universe isn’t the best way to start out as a hero, but Gamora’s path seems more distracted and manipulated than purposefully evil. Even starting out, she and Thanos teamed up with Adam Warlock to stop Magus. She was with an evil guy, but she was already teaming up with a great hero. Eventually she and Pip the Troll tried to kill Thanos, which turned out bad for her. Luckily, given her past relationship with Adam, Pip and Gamora were saved by the soul gem where they lived a good life, later being resurrected into physical beings during the Infinity Gauntlet event. She joined the Infinity Watch led by Adam Warlock, and years later after the Annihilation Wave and the Phalanx invasion she joined the Guardians of the Galaxy. The most difficult part, and the reason she is at number ten, is that although she killed people and was with Thanos for a short time, she was never innately evil in the way you expect from true villainy which is similar to our number nine spot…
#9 – Jamie Madrox/Multiple Man
As a badguy: Giant Size Fantastic Four #4 (February, 1975)
As a goodguy: X-Factor #71 (October, 1991)
It could be said that Jamie’s first appearance as a villain is actually just a cry for help, which he gets from Mister Fantastic. His next few appearances also have him as a villain, but this is due to others controlling him (Proteus and The Shadow King). Eventually he realizes he has to do more instead of sitting on the side-lines and joins Havok’s X-Factor team, and much later starts his own more subdued heroic approach with X-Factor Investigations. He’s number nine on the list, because his stint as a villain (under his own control) was for a few pages in an annual, not unlike our next entry…
#8 – Rogue
As a badguy: Avengers Annual #10 (November, 1981)
As a goodguy: Uncanny X-Men #171 (July, 1983)
Rogue was never a necessarily evil bad guy for the one issue she showed up. It was obvious she was confused and manipulated by Mystique. During this period though she did completely absorb all of Carol Danvers’ powers and psyche (don’t worry, Carol got better), which is fairly villainous. Later, understanding the errors of her way she sought Professor X and the X-Men out for help. She hasn’t turned back since becoming a fundamental force in the X-Men.
#7 – Namor
As a badguy: Marvel Mystery Comics #9 (July, 1940) or Fantastic Four #4 (May, 1962)
As a goodguy: Avengers #263 (January, 1986)?
It’s a little difficult to pin down Namor. Some could say he has always been an antihero or maybe just an arrogant hero and never really a villain. But he’s done some villainous things, from flooding New York in a fight with the Original Human Torch (see Marvels #1) to more recently flooding Wakanda (see AvX #7). At the same time he’s been a huge heroic force. Look at his stint as the head of his own company in the 90’s when he tried to stop individuals and companies from harming the environment to more recently doing everything in his power to try to kill Thanos and his Cabal (it didn’t work out, but he tried).
#6 – Doctor Octopus
As a badguy: Amazing Spider-Man #3 (July, 1963)
As a goodguy: Superior Spider-Man #1 (January, 2013)
Otto Octavius was a nuclear scientist who went all nutty and became a super villain. Do you remember the time he caused the death of Captain Stacey? Do you remember the time he tried to marry Aunt May? Do you remember when he formed the Sinister Six? Do you remember when he killed Spider-Man? He’s done some bad stuff. When he “killed” Spider-Man by body switching their minds, something happened to the evil genius; he finally understood the motto “with great power comes great responsibility”. While he wasn’t a great superhero by any stretch of the imagination, for him it was a huge turn around. If you didn’t think those actions were heroic enough, he ended up sacrificing himself and realizing that Peter Parker was the true superior Spider-Man and gave him back his body (don’t entirely ask me how that happened, it was an emotional and confusing sequence). His dramatic change and ultimate heroic sacrifice earn him the number six spot on this list.
#5 – Scarlet Witch & Quicksilver
As badguys: X-Men #4 (March, 1964)
As goodguys: Avengers #16 (March, 1965)
This sibling duo is coming in together at spot five due to their somewhat surprisingly consistent history together. They both started out as villains together. They then joined the Avengers together, which seemed to stick for them for a long time until Bendis reverted both of them back to much more complicated characters (fill in your own opinion on his work here). With “Avengers Disassembled” and then “House of M” both characters became pariahs in the superhero community only recently earning enough redemption to be called Avenger or X-Man again (well, whatever you call a member of X-Factor).
#4 – Danger
As a badthing: Astonishing X-Men #9 (March, 2005)
As a goodthing: X-Men Legacy #224 (May, 2009)
This is the classic story of man uses alien technology to help train his students then discovers the sentient lifeform inside of said technology which he suppresses but eventually it break frees and seeks to kill the man and his students with the help of an alien with a weird nose brace but eventually that man helps the sentient lifeform come to terms and it joins up with the students but is generally still a jerk. How many times haven’t you heard that story, right?
#3 – Venom
As a badthing: Amazing Spider-Man #300 (May, 1988)
As a goodthing: Amazing Spider-Man #654 (February, 2011)
Everyone’s favorite symbiote has a colorful history full of ups and downs in terms of heroic vs villainous activity depending on who is writing him, the situation he is in, or who “he” even is. When Eddie Brock first took over the role, Venom’s favorite thing to do was to eat brains of people he didn’t like. The people he did like (or at least didn’t eat their brains) he called “innocent” and for the most part unless they had a heart condition they had a chance of surviving an encounter with him. Some considered him to be Spider-Man’s enemy but actually an antihero during the Eddie Brock period, especially given the events of “Maximum Carnage.” Later on, Mac Gargan took on the mantle for a short period of time and without a doubt Venom became a true villain. After a whole thing with Eddie Brock’s newest persona, Anti-Venom, Mac lost the symbiote and it was passed to wounded vet Flash Thompson. Flash became the persona known today as Agent Venom and has become an Avenger (a Secret Avenger, but still an Avenger) and is currently a member of the Guardians of the Galaxy.
#2 – Emma Frost
As a badguy: Uncanny X-Men #129 (January, 1980)
As a goodguy: X-Men #37 (October, 1994)
Emma had a rough start first as a member of the Hellfire Club then as the leader of the Hellions; rough in that her road to redemption seemed shocking when it first occurred during the “Phalanx Covenant” story-line. She was one of the worst of the worst in terms of X-Men villains for a while, and when she turned to become a teacher of Generation X, I’m sure I wasn’t the only X-Fan waiting for the axe to drop and her true villainous colors to shine back through. However, her conversion was true, and it was solidified in Grant Morrison’s New X-Men run where she became almost as synonymous with the X-Men as the original roster.
#1 – Magneto
As a badguy: X-Men #1 (September, 1963)
As a goodguy: Uncanny X-Men #200 (December, 1985) & Uncanny X-Men 522 (May, 2010)
Magneto has a confusing history as a villain and a hero, going back and forth to the point most recently of being basically an antihero.He’s had his truly heroic moments and his truly villainous ones as well. The large swing from attempting to destroy all of humanity to becoming an X-Man to then trying to destroy humanity again to eventually risking his life to save Kitty Pryde shows how conflicted of a character Magneto truly is, and possibly why he’s stayed popular for so long. It is hard to point out another villain as huge as Magneto who has eventually had such a dramatic shift to the heroic side which is why he is number one on this list.