Balancing work and family is never easy, especially if you’re a crime-fighting superhero. Comics have long taught us that mixing parenting with superheroics doesn’t usually end well, and it makes some of our favorite superheroes seem like bad parents. Strangely enough, it seems like supervillains have the opposite problem. When you compare the parenting skills of superheroes, they tend to pale in comparison to that of supervillains. We’re not sure exactly why this is the case, but there’s definitely a pattern. Maybe it’s because the contrast of an evil character being a good family is a great twist in superhero storytelling, but who knows.
So, who are the best and worst parents in the world of superheroes? Well, you can argue that every superhero is both terrible and great at parenting, and the same goes for supervillains. That said, there are a few who are definitely in one camp or the other. We’re looking at parents that, by situation-specific standards, are either terrible or fantastic, gathering from more than just comic books to come up with seven villains and eight heroes. With that, here’s CBR’s take on eight superheroes who are terrible parents, and seven supervillains who are great ones.
15. BAD: BATMAN
We’d like to start by saying that thee heroes on this list aren’t always bad parents, just that they sort of make insane choices that greatly affect their kids. With Batman, he’s kind of a mixed bag. Batman has adopted three different Robins and the fourth was his biological son. Suffice to say he’s got a lot of kids, but how good of a dad was he to them? No matter what iteration of the DC universe you’re looking at, he’s not the greatest.
Batman is essentially the originator of child endangerment in comic books, a fact made worse knowing that he’s done it with all of his kids. Nothing says bad parenting like making your kid face off against dangerous psychopaths. To top it all off, Batman doesn’t even give the Robins a stealthy or protective suit, he didn’t even give them pants in the early days!
14. GOOD: MAGNETO
Okay, Magneto wasn’t a great father to Scarlet Witch or Quicksilver, and it was revealed he was never really their father at all. But to Polaris, Magneto did a lot better, well, for Magneto at least. Lorna Dane was born out of an affair her mother had with Magneto. Later, Lorna’s magnetic mutant powers manifested on a plane trip, leading to a crash and her parents’ deaths.
Lorna was found by her true father, Magneto, who wanted to spare his daughter the emotional trauma of causing the plane crash that killed her parents. Magneto enlisted the help of Mastermind to rewrite Lorna’s memories. Mastermind made Lorna forget the plane crash and Magneto placed her in the care of her aunt and uncle, thinking them to be her real parents. Lorna eventually found out, but Magneto’s heart was in the right place when making the parental decision.
13. BAD: SUPERMAN (YOUNG JUSTICE)
In the current DC comics canon, Superman has been shown to be a pretty great dad, especially in the pages of Super Sons. However, in the first season of Young Justice, Superman was, to but it bluntly, a douche of a dad. After learning that Superboy was cloned from his DNA, Superman just straight up ignores his pseudo-son for absolutely no reason. Seriously, what reason would Superman, literally the nicest person in the world, have to ignore someone who has no home, no parents, and no place to stay?
It makes no sense and throughout the entire first season, Superman uses every excuse in the book to get out of guiding Superboy, despite the fact that he looked up to him. Sure, in season two, Superman and Superboy have a better relationship, but even then, he treats him like a brother, once again weaseling out of being a father.
12. GOOD: DEADPOOL
Deadpool isn’t exactly a supervillain anymore, but he’s still not exactly a superhero either. Sure, he leans towards helping others and has a good heart, but let’s not sugarcoat things, he’s done some bad things for some bad people. That said, he’s an amazing father. A few years back, Deadpool learned he had a daughter named Eleanor, and after her mother’s death, Deadpool fought to create a new home for her.
Deadpool placed Emily in the care S.H.I.E.L.D Agent Emily Preston and her family, giving her a stable family life he could not provide himself. Deadpool, knowing his life is dangerous, strange and violent, chooses to mostly take care of Emily from a distance. Though he didn’t know about her for the beginning of her life, Deadpool shows how dedicated he his to Eleanor through meaningful gestures and visits.
11. BAD: WOLVERINE
A lot of the time, superheroes don’t even know they have kids, and when they find out, they’re kind of jerks about it. Wolverine is one of these cases, with pretty much all of his kids. Wolverine has over 10 kids including all the various clones and clones of clones that have been made from his DNA. Some of the main ones are X-23, Daken and the Mongrels.
Wolverine didn’t know about Daken until he showed up in his life and slashed him across the stomach. Daken was furious because of how Wolverine abandoned him and his mother (whom he thought wolverine killed) and it wouldn’t be the first time one of Wolverine’s kids tried to kill him. In fact, there was a whole team dedicated to killing Wolverine, made up entirely of kids he didn’t know he had. Come on, Logan, start using protection.
10. GOOD: DEADSHOT
In both the Suicide Squad film and the original comics, Deadshot is shown to be a pretty good dad. In the film, Deadshot has a daughter, one he clearly wants the best for. He tells her he wants her to live with him, despite his “career,” and away from her mother, who cannot take care of herself. Even greater, Deadshot turns himself in when Batman attempts to capture him in front of his daughter.
In the comics, Deadshot has two kids, a son and a daughter. His son was killed, and in response to his death, Floyd aimed to do right by the daughter he learned he had in Star City. He cleared the crime in the area she lived in with the help of Green Arrow and secured a scholarship for her. We also see this daughter in Arrow, in which Deadshot provides a blind trust for her.
9. BAD: PROFESSOR X
Like Wolverine, Professor X didn’t know about his son until later in his life. Charles Xavier’s son is David Haller, otherwise known as Legion. Charles didn’t know of his son until Dr. Moira McTaggert asked for Charles’ help in dealing with a powerful mutant. The mutant had the ability to absorb the personality and powers of others, and Moira needed Charles to explore his mind.
Even though Charles learned that David was his son, aside from a few team ups here and there, Charles just sort of ignores David. He doesn’t seem to make any attempt to make amends for missing half of his son’s life. Charles Xavier has pulled a lot of crap on the X-Men, continuing to shirk responsibility when it comes to his own son as well.
8. GOOD: THE RED DEATH
No, that’s not Red Skull, but it’s close. His name is Red Death, a supervillain from the adult swim series, The Venture Bros. For those who haven’t seen the show, villainy in this world is a bit bureaucratic, requiring a license through the Guild of Calamitous Intent, an organization that sets up villains and heroes for “arching.” Arching is exactly what is sounds like, when a villain serves as the arch-nemesis to a superhero, super scientist or some variation of the two.
Red Death is one of the few rank-10 supervillains in the guild, one who is only active one night a year. The rest of the year, Red Death is an attentive, caring father who goes through insane lengths to ensure the safety of his family. He might have a bloodlust that must be fed every year, but he keeps his “work” and home lives separate.
7. BAD: SPIDER-WOMAN
Now, to be fair, Jessica Drew is an excellent, loving mother, one who gave up being a superhero to take care of her son full time. However, prior to the birth of her son, Jessica Drew was still out and active while pregnant. This isn’t to say she wasn’t fully capable while pregnant, but we can all agree this might not have been the smartest move.
Again, in all fairness, she enlisted the help of other superheroes to assist her when she couldn’t do something else. But still, why wouldn’t she have just retired when she was pregnant? The life of a superhero is dangerous, and Spider-Woman should have stopped her private detective career way earlier than she did. Luckily, her unborn son was never hurt.
6. GOOD: DARKSEID
We know what you’re thinking, “wait what?” but hear us out on this one. On Apokolips, there are different standards and expectations. The warriors and people of the evil planet value ruthlessness and power above all else. Darkseid and Highfather exchanged sons as part of a peace treaty between Apokolips and New Genesis. Orion was given to Highfather, and Scott Free was given to Darkseid.
Scott Free eventually escaped Apokolips and started to fight for good. So, how does all this make Darkseid a great father? Well, for one thing, he put Scott in the care of Granny Goodness to hone him as a ruthless warrior, molding him into what would be considered a model inhabitant of Apokolips. Sure, by our standards, he was turning his son into a psychopath, but in his culture, he was doing a good job.
5. BAD: CYCLOPS AND JEAN GREY
Jean Grey dies a lot, Cylops sleeps with everyone, between the two of them there are a few different versions of their kids running around various timelines and universes. Now, to be fair, it’s not like they can be perfect parents when most of their offspring are from alternate realities, but these two should seriously never have kids.
Seriously, if these alternate realities are any indication, things don’t turn out well when Scott Summers and Jean Grey procreate. We’ve never actually seen the two of them raise any of their children, since their either from another timeline or were sent to the future. Maybe we can’t blame Jean and Scott for this, but the fact that they have so many alternate realities kids running around has contributed to the many confusing elements of the Marvel multiverse.
4. GOOD: SANDMAN
Flint Marko, AKA Sandman, has had a bit of a rough go at life. His father left when he was young, his mother was an alcoholic and he soon fell into a life of crime after his football career went down the drain. While in prison, Sandman started a relationship with Alma Alvarado, becoming close with her daughter, Keemia. Not knowing her real father, Keemia began to consider Flint her father.
When Alma ended her relationship with Flint, he still wanted to visit Keemia. Unable to have kids because of his sand body/powers, Flint had formed a parental bond with Keemia, wanting to do all he could for her. He wanted to treat her like a princess, which is what he did when he brought her to an island and made her a giant sand castle using his powers.
3. BAD: GOKU
Goku might not wear a cape or have a secret identity, but he can easily be considered a superhero. That said, he can also easily be considered a terrible father, at least on the surface. Goku respects fighting and lives to get stronger, so the way he’s raised Gohan and Goten sort of makes sense with his frame of mind. However, by most standards he’s a pretty wishy-washy parent (at best).
With Gohan, Goku was dead for most of his life, and the only time he was around was to train him for a fight against a maniacal android. Speaking of the Cell fight, he just stopped fighting because he wanted to see if Gohan was strong enough to defeat the villain. As for Goten, he was also dead for most of his life, spending little time with him after.
2. GOOD: VEGETA
If Goku is a bad parent, then Vegeta is an amazing one by comparison. Sure, he might not be a villain anymore, but even when he fell back on his dark ways and became Majin Vegeta, he still managed to give a heartfelt goodbye to his son before sacrificing himself. After the Cell saga, Vegeta might have been a harsh father, but he still grew to love Trunks just the same.
With Trunks, Vegeta trains him hard, but also shows a lot of affection towards him, spending a good amount of time with his son. As for his newborn daughter, seen in Dragon Ball Super, he is a very attentive, protective father. He knows how to change her, and quickly at that, and would go Super Saiyan Blue whenever someone made her cry.
1. BAD: OMNI-MAN
This is a bit of a funny one, since Omni-Man has been both a villain and a hero in Robert Kirkman’s Invincible, and he’s been both a good and bad parent throughout the series. Nolan Grayson, AKA Omni-Man was the world’s greatest superhero and a member of the Viltrumite race. When his half-human son, Mark, was born, he told him their people were sent to planets to protect them.
However, we would soon learn that this was a lie, and that he was sent to weaken the planet’s defenses for a full-fledged invasion. Omni-Man enacted this plan once Mark started getting his powers by killing all the Guardians of the Globe. When Mark witnessed this, Nolan asked him to join the conquest, but he refused and Omni-Man beat the ever-loving snot out of him. Good thing he turns out to be a good guy in the end.
Can you think of any other odd parent dynamics in the superhero/villain community? Let us know!
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