Let’s be honest, if you’re a major superhero today, you’re taking your lumps from at least some corner of the internet. Nonetheless, there are some heroes who simply take the brunt of insults, and who comics fans truly revel in hating. We’re not really talking about actual hatred here (although sometimes it can certainly be difficult to tell the difference), but rather the most irksome, obnoxious, loathsome heroes in comic books. Some heroes welcome the jeers, like pro-wrestling heels with unbelievable power sets, while other heroes are just out there doing the right thing and getting mocked for their style. Either way, no size of public stature is safe from the ire of comic book fans, and admittedly sometimes it’s just fun to have a contrast to the heroes we unabashedly love.
Certain popular superheroes are hated on ad naseum and probably always will be, but many of these heroes are a step or two away from altering the cultural consciousness towards loving them again. Until then, they remain easy targets and frequent guest stars of exasperated rage. The world certainly doesn’t need more hate, but if it has to be pointed in some direction, these 15 heroes are a likely place to start.
15. JASON TODD
The disdain has diminished to some degree in recent years as Jason Todd has carved out a new role in the DC Universe as The Red Hood. The former second Robin will always have a legacy claim to fans who despised him, though. The brash, violent Jason was such a bust as Batman’s sidekick replacement to Dick Grayson that comics readers were given the option to call in and vote on whether Jason lived or died at the hands of Joker, a crowbar, and a whole lotta C4. If that weren’t bad enough, readers actually voted for Jason to die!
It took approximately 20 years for DC to consider bringing Jason Todd back to Batman comics, perhaps proving that absence makes the capital punishment giddy heart grow fonder.
14. EMMA FROST
To her undying credit, the once and future White Queen, Emma Frost, absolutely works for every ounce of seething outrage pointed her way. Honestly, she revels in it. Even after turning in her “I literally ran a competing school for mutant super villains” credentials, Emma’s turn on the X-Men (during Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s New X-Men series launch) essentially started with her having a telepathic love affair with Cyclops. I can guarantee you that Cyclops didn’t want Jean Grey to walk in on the nebulous cerebral-cheaters, but with Emma’s nefarious plotting, it’s likely she didn’t give two hoots.
Emma is pretentious, snide and insulting, and that’s on a good day at Xavier’s. Recent years have not been kind to Emma, following her descent from power in Avengers vs. X-Men through Inhumans vs. X-Men (it’s almost like Marvel likes certain event titles…), but there’s never any point in doubting a character this regal and confident will be back for more soon.
Quicksilver shares plenty of the same irritating factors as Emma Frost, with a sneering arrogance and a strangely high-bred snobbery for someone with the most confusing childhood this side of Haley Joel Osmont. Compound that with a duplicative power set (nice Flash imitation, bro), a jerky attitude towards the Vision, and a creepy obsession with his sister (taken to its logical gross conclusion in Mark Millar and Brian Hitch’s Ultimates), and it’s easy to see why fans find Quicksilver to be so annoyingly obnoxious.
Surprisingly, Quicksilver’s appearances in the X-Men cinematic universe have made him one of the most thrilling scene-stealers in X-cinema. That said, it will take a lot more than some slow-motion cinematography and a nostalgic ’80s soundtrack to make Pietro Maximoff truly likeable.
12. DAMIAN WAYNE
Turns out a child out-grumping Batman isn’t nearly as cute as that sounds. For the early parts of his introduction in Grant Morrison’s “Batman and Son,” Damian Wayne is the worst kid. You can forgive some of his social faux pas – after all, Damian was raised and trained by the league of assassins (hardly elementary school manners class) – but Damian is unbearably arrogant and unwilling to train with his father (who is actually the coolest!).
We’ll be honest – by the end of Morrison’s lengthy Batman run and through his appearances in DC’s New 52 and DC Rebirth, we’ve come to love Damian Wayne. That said, even we can admit he’s a terrible know-it-all with a soft side that needs to show itself a lot more to keep Damian from being outright unreadable.
11. BOOSTER GOLD
If you’re generally annoyed by reality TV stars, and transparent quests for fame, well, you probably love to hate Booster Gold. Booster’s the guy at a party who never stops taking selfies, is probably recording you even when you haven’t said that’s ok, and leaves for a cooler party after spilling a Mike’s Hard lemonade on your rug. Not to mention that guy at a party who’s always talking about how he’s from the future and super famous, and against all odds is actually telling the truth.
Of course, there’s a heroic core to Booster that shines through in his best moments and his relationship with Ted Kord, the Blue Beetle, in Justice League International is one of the more interesting in DC. It’s always a challenge to shake that overeager celebrity bluster, which leaves Booster Gold as one of the easiest heroes to hate.
10. IRON FIST
We’re not sure how easy it was to hate on Danny Rand before his original Netflix series (perhaps start with cultural appropriation and way too much exposed chest), but actor Finn Jones and the Netflix Iron Fist team have made it extremely easy now. We’ve never seen so many fans describe the ostensible hero of a comic book show as a naive, irritating imbecile.
Danny’s been getting absolutely crushed since his series bored most of us to tears, to the point that fandom was thrilled to see Jessica Jones think Danny’s just as much of a bonehead as the rest of us during the Defenders promos. Hopefully, Danny Rand the village idiot can be played for more comedy in The Defenders, or else he’ll continue to remain one of the top heroes we love to hate.
Nobody really likes Hawkman. There are several Hawkman fans in the world reading that and screaming bloody murder, but it’s true. If you can name a great Hawkman moment from the last 15 years that was universally loved, then you can absolutely go ahead and appoint yourself the head of his fan club. That’s not to say that he doesn’t have any great reads per se, so much as for whatever reason, Hawkman just hasn’t had any modern highlights that are well-received by his readers, likely peaking in Timothy Truman’s Hawkworld and the David Goyer and Geoff Johns run on JSA.
It’s unfortunate, because there’s always plenty of potential with Hawkman. Some of it was utilized to intriguing effect in DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, complete with the preposterously complex continuity of Hawkman and Hawkgirl. Unfortunately for Hawkman, he likely missed his window to stir goodwill during DC’s animated Justice League and Justice League Unlimited, as Hawkgirl was the team’s chosen Thanagarian representative.
Hawkeye (Clint Barton) is the Batman of the Avengers, except instead of being the coolest, most mysterious unpowered member of the team, with the determination and wit to take down every threat, Hawkeye carries around an archaic form of ancient weaponry and sometimes smells like a dumpster, making him the poor man’s Green Arrow instead of the Marvel’s Batman. There are more than enough reasons to actually love Hawkeye (Matt Fraction, David Aja, and Annie Wu’s Hawkeye solo series, the time with the Avengers when Hawkeye saved the entire team from the clutches of the Collector, etc.), but it’s admittedly a hard sell for Marvel Cinematic Universe fans.
When your competition is a man in a high-tech suit of armor, a living legend, an actual god, the best spy in the world, and a green rage monster, it’s not hard to understand why Hawkeye would get made fun of all the time. Even Avengers 2: Age of Ultron, which gave ample time to Clint Barton’s character, couldn’t lift Hawkeye above his station.
Nobody gets ragged on like the king of the deep. It’s hard to imagine that too many comic readers actually hate Aquaman, but that’s more a function of feeling harmless and inconsequential, which is insult enough as is. There have been all sorts of incarnations seeking to change Aquaman’s image, from Peter David’s ’90s hook-handed King Arthur, to Kurt Busiek’s sword-and-sorcery infused run in the 2000s. For all those efforts, few have been able to escape the Super Friends cartoon image of a blonde guy in a bright orange shirt talking to fish.
More recently, Geoff Johns has attempted to rejuvenate Arthur Curry’s image with assertions that he doesn’t actually talk to fish. Likewise, the DCEU promises the most *insert righteous guitar solo* badass Aquaman we’ve ever seen with Jason Mamoa in the role. Time will tell if this can actually help Aquaman escape the infamous YouTube clips of him giving PSAs about boating safety.
6. SQUIRREL GIRL
If you’ve read a Squirrel Girl comic in the last three years and don’t have a heart three sizes too small, then Doreen Green’s entry on the list will come as a surprise. Squirrel Girl has had an unprecedented run of popularity in recent years due to Ryan North and Erica Henderson’s outrageously funny, upbeat, positive take on The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. In fact, Squirrel Girl has gotten so popular that she earned her own Marvel original graphic novel (The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Beats Up The Marvel Universe) and will be appearing on TV’s New Warriors.
Nonetheless, Squirrel Girl was simply one of the most hated on and mocked characters in comics, and remains so to this day. The immutable Dorreen Green is still even compared to all-time comic book joke heroes like The Red Bee (who trains bees) or Arm-Fall-Off-Boy (we’ll let you guess what his powers are). It has taken over 25 years since her origin for Squirrel Girl to shake off some of the haters, and may take another 25 to truly be accepted for kicking butts and eating nuts.
5. GUY GARDNER
Hal Jordan gets his fair share of contemporary hate among comic book fans (the 2011 B-movie starring Deadpool didn’t help), but no Green Lantern revels in confrontational antagonism like Guy Gardner. You can just see Guy blaring Jay Z and Eminem’s “Renegade” and spitting along to Em’s declaration that “I’m a motherf****n spiteful, delightful eyeful, The new Ice Cube, motherf*****s hate to like you.” He’s cocksure, he’s brash, and by the Guardians of Oa, his ’90s haircut looked like it was straight out of Dumb and Dumber. It’s easy to dislike Guy.
With John Stewart and Kyle Rayner on either side of him, and Hal Jordan perpetually looming over all of them, Guy Gardner remains the odd lantern out. As such, it’s kind of understandable that Guy would act like such a grade-A jerk all the time just to get some damn attention. In fact, during the DC Rebirth relaunch of Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps, Guy’s stubbornness and dedication to the Corps (or to just never backing down from a fight) led him to one of the most inspiring moments in Green Lantern oathing this decade. So yeah, you love to hate Guy Gardner, but at least he’s doing it on his terms.
Not every hero on this list deserves the resentment they get. Gambit absolutely does. The Cajun mutant creepily flirts with anything with a pulse, sports a laughably exaggerated French-American accent in the comics, and was so overpowered in his debut that he took on the entire X-Men team. Oh, and it was revealed in the ’90s that Gambit was at least tangentially responsible for the “Mutant Massacre” event, when Mr. Sinister’s Marauders slaughtered innocent mutants in the Morlock tunnels. Gambit stinks!
Fortunately, we’re not alone in our assessment. Gambit’s persona is constantly teetering and tottering between fan-favorite and “ugh, Gambit” to the point that the character’s first feature film has Channing Tatum on board and can’t seem to find a release date. Ideally, the Gambit movie will remain in development until Tatum is filming “Magic Mike: Octogenarian.”
3. INHUMANS (ALL OF ‘EM)
Back when the Inhumans were content to huddle in their isolated corner of Fantastic Four cameos and surprisingly excellent War of Kings tie-ins, they had a generally positive Marvel Q-Rating. Then the Marvel Cinematic Universe took off, and it pretty quickly became apparent the Inhumans would try to take the role of mutants in an MCU devoid of X-Men movie rights. On the surface, this makes sense, but in reality, it has led to fans feeling Marvel is shoving the Inhumans down their throats and trying to replace the beloved X-Men.
The mass Inhumans push through the likes of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season two and Marvel Comics events “Infinity” and “Inhumanity” have been met with universal apathy, if not outright frustration. This became especially vocalized when Marvel revealed Inhuman terrigenesis clouds were roaming Earth and flat out exterminating mutants. If you come for the X-Men, you best not miss, and the Inhumans just haven’t been able to build anywhere near enough good will. The hate is so clear that an Inhumans MCU movie was even sent down to the minors for an ABC series!
When you’re the biggest game in town, you’re going to wind up with plenty of people looking to take their shots. That’s long been the case with Superman, simultaneously the most recognizable superhero for nearly 80 years and a victim of more “OVER-RATED” chants than anyone this side of the Golden State Warriors. Comics fans love to take Superman down a peg. For every reader calling Superman their favorite character, you’ll find at least two think pieces about why Superman is so boring.
Some of the backlash is certainly due to Superman’s modern struggles at the box office, with two feature reboots since 2000 and only Zack Snyder’s divisive “Man of Steel” successful enough to warrant a (somehow even more divisive) sequel. Kal-El still has plenty of deserved fans, but until Superman can prove success in comics and film to modern fans, he’s going to remain one of the most criticized heroes on his adopted planet.
There’s no more divisive X-Man than Cyclops. While Scott Summers is many reader’s favorite team leader, he’s also frequently ridiculed for being a milquetoast, whiny, boring character. Although Professor X is actually guilty of substantially greater crimes (child endangerment, being a creep flirting with teenage Jean Grey, being a jerk), Cyclops has long been the de facto recipient of X-Men backlash.
Several stories from the 2000’s have sought to undo the teacher’s pet image of Cyclops, from Joss Whedon and John Cassaday’s Astonishing X-Men through the 2012 Marvel event “Avengers vs. X-Men.” Scott has evolved into a genuinely fascinating, flawed leader of the mutant resistance in these comics, but don’t anyone tell fandom still hating on the haircut from the ’90s X-Men Animated Series or the early 2000’s X-Men films. The Brian Snyder films are particularly harsh on Cyclops, where James Marsden’s interpretation is nothing but the establishment suck up, an ’80s comedy villain just waiting for the much cooler Wolverine to steal his girl.
Which comic book superheroes do you love to hate the most? Let us know which ones in the comments!