In the world of wrestling, there’s a phrase for it: “Face Heel Turn.”  It describes the moment when a fan-favorite (face) character suddenly changes his or her alignment to become a villain (heel) character, often accompanied by a pronounced change in behavior or appearance like Hulk Hogan’s black fringe of beard from the 90s.  Though many superheroes were once villains, or at least antagonists for the heroes, it’s far more rare to find a hero who turns bad and stays that way (at least in Western cultures.)  Even with all the “Dark Whomever” storylines we’ve seen since the Bronze Age, Bishop’s current status as de facto bad guy in X-Men consitutes the only active example I can think of, but it’s easy to come up with a host of really BAD examples of how NOT to make the concept work.  (Dark Mary Marvel, for instance, was just flat out a bad idea, executed poorly and awkwardly.)  Still, it’s fun to play “What If,” and given my druthers, I’d love to see a full-on villainous heel turn played out in comics, with Ninja Turtle Raphael topping my list of potential candidates.  (I also have one front-line Avenger and a founding member of the JLA on my mental list of fascinating heel candidates…)

The MS-QOTD (pronounced, as always, “misquoted”) is cool but crude, but also, strangely, a party dude, asking:  What hero do you think has the makings of the best villain?

The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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  1. February 9, 2013 at 12:17 pm — Reply

    Reed Richards. We saw it in the Ultimate universe but I think the 616 version is inching towards being Ozymandias

  2. B.V.K.
    February 9, 2013 at 12:54 pm — Reply

    Batman, he already has plans on how to take out every one in the DC universe. If he snapped one day and just decided to take over everything himself because only he can run things correctly, it could be a great storyline. It would never happen in a million years though because good batman=mega $$$ for DC.

    • B.V.K.
      February 9, 2013 at 12:55 pm — Reply

      Also I could see Damien and Talia being totally on board for his power grab.

  3. February 9, 2013 at 1:01 pm — Reply

    I hate to say it, but Superman.

    When you look at Doctor Manhattan, and you remember “Superman” comes from the German “Ubermensch,” it’s not difficult to imagine Superman setting himself up as a benevolent dictator — which is, of course, an oxymoron. He would mean well. He would fight for the preservation of Earth, trying to keep the planet from making the same mistakes Krypton made, but he would be a dictator nonetheless.

    I would really hate it if they did that, but I don’t think it would be too hard to turn Superman into a Magneto.

    • Dan
      February 9, 2013 at 2:34 pm — Reply

      Actually, Dr. Manhattan would’ve easily be the best hero-turned-supervillain, if he hadn’t been so apathetic towards pretty much all of existence. He would’ve literally been the Angry, Vengeful God. He’s massively OP, able to manipulate, create or destroy anything and everything at his will, able to literally undoall of existence. Going up against Superman, Dr. Manhattan could’ve just molecularly re-configured Superman’s skin into Kryptonite, and forced him into a very short life of agonizing pain. Or he just could’ve exploded him with half a thought.

      It’s a good thing Dr. Manhattan had basically transcended all of time and space in Watchmen, or else earth would’ve been in for a pretty crappy surprise if his mood turned sour.

      • ArcticPhoenix
        February 10, 2013 at 4:12 am — Reply

        Dr Manhattan = Most powerful super-neutral

  4. Vorpal
    February 9, 2013 at 2:06 pm — Reply

    I think tony stark would make a great villain. For basically the same reasons as batman (thinking only he can run everything correctly) except I think he could really go well evil.

  5. February 9, 2013 at 4:35 pm — Reply

    Any Green Lantern, though that already happened (twice if you count Sinestro). In Marvel Cyclops would be a good “next” Magneato.

    • February 9, 2013 at 8:44 pm — Reply

      More than twice, actually, if you count single stories and smaller runs. There have been stories told of GLs that went rogue, GLs that somehow got the rings through some other means besides being worthy and other stories of alien GLs that were bad news.

      I can’t recall the guy’s name, but I remember in one of the old GL Quarterly books that told tales as if being told from the Book of Oa, there was some crime lord with a GL ring on some alien world that became a dictator.

      There was also Magann Van’n in “Green Lantern: The New Corps” mini series that Kyle gave a Corps ring to (after a time-travelling Hal gave him a copy of his Corps ring), not knowing that he was a warlord of his world.

      And while not true GLs, there was a crime gang based on GLs in the Legions time that Kyle had to help the Legion take down (although their rings were not true GL rings, but were futuristic replicas).

      There were many more, but those were some that had interesting stories that stuck out to me.

  6. Orry
    February 9, 2013 at 6:21 pm — Reply

    The Powerpuff Girls. They’re so cute, no one would see it coming.

    • February 9, 2013 at 8:40 pm — Reply

      I second that. But I dont think Bubbles would look good with an evil goatee.

      Scratch that… that might be awesome too.

  7. February 9, 2013 at 8:46 pm — Reply

    Hit Girl

    I know technically she’s kind of both good and bad, but try and imagine what would happen if she really went bat ____ crazy and started murdering everyone.

    I mean, the printers would run out of red ink long before they finish the first issue run.

  8. February 9, 2013 at 8:56 pm — Reply

    I always thought Michelangelo of the TMNT would be a great villain in a possible future. Raph and Donny may seem the most likely candidates (the angry one and the genius both seem like they could be swayed to evil by thinking they are doing the right thing), but I can see Mikey being hurt one too many times for being the kind, carefree soul he is. Maybe someone kills the rest of his brothers and he just full-on gives in to hate and becomes twisted by it.

    Similarly, I could see Ben 10 becoming evil and twisted via the Omnitrix. Sure, there is Eon that is kinda an alternate Ben, but in the same way Keven Levin was twisted by power when he became Kevin 11 (and Ultimate Kevin 11), I could see Ben’s mind being slowly warped to either becoming evil or a dictator doing what he thinks is best for everyone. He may have resisted it in the past, but time could always take it’s toll on him.

  9. February 9, 2013 at 11:23 pm — Reply

    As much as I’d hate to say it, I’d say Bruce Wayne. He could’ve gone on a vengeance-ridden spree and then just became a dexter figure that slowly evolved into two-face or the joker. In all seriousness, I believe batman could’ve become any one of his archenemies.

    • February 9, 2013 at 11:36 pm — Reply

      Honestly? I’m surprised there haven’t been more “Elseworlds” type stories exploring that sort of thing. Sure, he’s gone over the edge a few times and come back, but I think he’s definitely the sort that under just the right (or wrong) circumstances could be permanently turned into a villain.

  10. Ron
    February 10, 2013 at 12:02 am — Reply

    Moon Knight. He’s one persona away from a simple majority to being evil.

  11. AllenBT
    February 10, 2013 at 10:12 am — Reply

    The FF as a group. You have super genius Reed, who’s physical abilities are completely secondary to his tremendous intellect, Sue, who showed in the Malice storyline from way back when, just how powerful and versatile her powers could be if she applied herself, Johnny who has shown to be able to generate godlike levels of energy projection, and Ben, who’s nearly in Hulk’s class strength-wise, but a back street brawler from way back when. Oh, and their kid can alter reality when he gets bored…

  12. February 10, 2013 at 12:05 pm — Reply

    for a look at an evil Bruce Wayne, all you have to do is look at Owlman over on Earth 3

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