The 2000s produced a variety of new superheroes the world has never seen before. Each one of them was a new, interesting design with a well thought out storyline just waiting for viewers to dig into creative characters and their pasts. Sure, there will always be beloved classic superheroes like Superman and Captain America to save the day, but they have always been a staple for companies like DC Comics and Marvel. When it came to these new heroes, there was nothing to lose. However, with a boom of new superheroes coming to life, there were other unique challenges that made them interesting. Sure, some of them had been well thought out before they hit the page, but others seemed to just be filling space.
The good news is that, over time, some of these characters finally got their chance to shine in the spotlight! We’ve seen DC and Marvel do a variety of things with their characters and while some might have been left in the 2000s to dust, others would go on to have a long life with their respective companies and storylines. Some were given fresh redoes while others were just getting the attention they initially deserved. Others would, unfortunately, continue on with a good attempt at restoring the character to their former glory, but with no real success. Some characters just should have stayed in the 2000s, you know? That being said, there are plenty of great choices for us to go through so here are 20 characters from the 2000s that got better and worse with age.
20. BETTER: RED HULK
The Red Hulk was already an incredible character to begin with because it was unheard of to see a character that could equal Hulk himself. Surely, there were creatures more powerful than Hulk and vice versa, but we hadn’t seen someone so on par — it really is Hulk versus Hulk.
Since his release in 2008, Red Hulk has maintained a decent villain. Usually, when a character has been around long enough, they tend to have both rises and falls in popularity — a natural reoccurrence. But Red Hulk has always been a very worthy and interesting villain, offering a unique challenge that no other competitor has. Besides, the moustache and sunglasses that were added later are pretty iconic.
19. WORSE: DAMIAN WAYNE
Damian Wayne started out with a cool background. Being the son of Batman himself, Bruce Wayne, and Tailia Al Ghul you knew that he was going to be destined for greatness … or something like that. Certainly, there were interesting things about his family ties and fighting prowess, which made him a prime candidate for heroism, but his story just didn’t seem to turn out that way as the years went on.
His personality and whiney attitude was widely unpopular with fans, regardless of the series they saw him in. Since this was never really fixed, he always seemed to get worse and worse as a character with no real development.
18. BETTER: WICCAN
First appearing in 2005, Wiccan is introduced as the son of Scarlet Witch and Vision. He’s able to control chaos magic and eventually ascends to godhood — a vision that Loki has originally seen. His start was pretty strong, however he was known as the Asgardian originally, modelled after Thor.
What was really cool about Wiccan was that he was one the first openly gay characters Marvel had introduced that could actually be out in the comic itself. His relationship with Hulkling was part of the reason for his character design change, however, as Wiccan grows older, we see him really grow into his own. His design and story have always been interesting, so we’re glad he’s still around.
17. WORSE: HULKLING
The Hulkling was one of those characters to come out in the 2000s that was just strange. Surely, his backstory of being the son of the first Captain Marvel and Skrull Princess Anelle and being unable to live amongst his people was both heartbreaking and enduring.
He also had broken barriers with his relationship to Wiccan, however, he hasn’t really done much on his own. Over the years, we’ve barely seen anything really amazing to happen with Hulkling, nor does it seem like he’s achieved anything on his own. In a lot of aspects, he seems to be, unfortunately, in Wiccan’s shadow.
16. BETTER: TOXIN
Toxin has always been incredible. When it comes to symbiotes, Venom and Carnage just can’t compare to the third generation of insanely overpowered aliens. Released in 2004, Toxin was said to be the offspring of Carnage and the grandchild of Venom. As symbiotes work, the later generations are more powerful.
Since Carnage was already considered insanely powerful and brutal as a villain, you can only imagine what any offspring of his would be like in terms of power. What was cool about Toxin’s story in particular was that he would eventually be raised by Venom and Eddie Brock to become the perfect hunter for Carnage.
15. WORSE: SENTRY
Sentry is one of the strangest characters Marvel thought was needed in their roster of super heroes. Most fans often saw Sentry as a weird counter statement to DC’s Superman, only he was clearly a failed experiment. With an edgier background story, he was already off to a rocky start.
But as the years went on, we’ve seen that not only has his story made him too overpowered and ultimately too ridiculous for most of Marvel’s storylines, but that he’s not even used as much. We’ve seen a little bit of Sentry over the years, but the truth is that there’s no real conflict other than his own personal demons when it comes to him fighting crime.
14. BETTER: AMADEUS CHO
Amadeus Cho debuted in the early part of the 2000s before becoming the Totally Awesome Hulk almost 10 years later. He brought a refreshing feel to a classic character by portraying a new type of personality to a typical character. Rather than being the classically angry type we know the traditional Hulk to be, Amadeus was a little cockier and more self-assured, and more controlled.
Not only that, but his relationship with the Hulk seemed to be a lot healthier than Banner’s original struggle. Rather than hating the Hulk, Amadeus has always loved being this kind of hero, utilizing his strength and wit to save the day.
13. WORSE: PATRIOT
Patriot seemed like a fantastic character, in theory, but didn’t really work out in. Originally, he was in charge of the Young Avengers and shown to be a leader who took charge. The downgrade seemed to come when he essentially became Falcon’s sidekick and, after Falcon became the new Captain America, it just seemed to spiral.
As the name would suggest, he’s already the kind of character that adorns red, white and blue so it seemed a little redundant to have him around with a character like Captain America. We haven’t really ever gotten to see Patriot shine on his own — something we wish Marvel would change.
12. BETTER: JAIME REYES
There were previous versions of the Blue Beetle in DC, but Jaime Reyes came into the picture in the 2000s, re-imagining him in a whole new way. Originally, the Blue Beetle only really had his gun and nothing particularly special about him. Jaime’s version had the Scarab attach to his back and grant him special powers such as shooting energy blasts and flying.
In this new version, he became a fan favorite and has grown in popularity since — he’s even shown up in some of the video game series such as Injustice 2 and Young Justice. To see them scrap the original outline of a character and give him a whole new, fresh perspective was something really nice to come out of the 2000s.
11. WORSE: RONIN
First appearing in 2005, Ronin started off as a woman named Maya Lopez who was basically your typical ninja-type character. However, overtime, multiple characters have taken on the identity of Ronin, including Hawkeye. This might sound like a cool character concept because it’s essentially a hero made up of several different characters with different experiences.
However, Ronin never really grew fan’s interest because there was no constant storyline or character to grow attached to. What do you do with a character that has no stable background stories or future involvement? It’s extremely tough and it didn’t work out for Ronin, despite how creative the concept was.
10. BETTER: MISS MARTIAN
Miss Martian was yet another character who started out strong and stayed that way; her popularity has been stable and spiked at times. Especially after her involvement with Young Justice, a lot of comic fans found themselves loving her overall character design and unique traits.
Sure, we’ve had characters with green skin and superpowers before, but being a White Martian was a completely new concept for a lot of people. Some of her coolest powers include being able to shapeshift, having regenerative abilities and becoming intangible. Sure, she seemed a little strange to some, but for a superhero she’s spot on!
9. WORSE: MARIA HILL
Maria Hill started off as the kind of agent S.H.I.E.L.D. desperately needed. She first appeared in 2005 with the New Avengers team, bringing a welcoming change to the facility by making it a more orderly infrastructure. However, during the Civil War series, we saw Hill’s mentality go astray as she used nefarious tactics in order to lure in heroes and went as so far as to brainwash other heroes to capture them.
After these events, she would go on to create Pleasant Hill, a prison which used brainwashing to create model citizens out of villains. Unfortunately, having someone who was so reliable suddenly go evil was a huge downfall for us.
8. BETTER: ANTI-VENOM
Remember when the Spider-Island virus was a thing? Yeah, we do too, which is why we’re so proud to see that Anti-Venom has finally grown into a hero of his own. Originally, he wasn’t that big; sure he was cool, but he was really playing a small part with Eddie Brock as cure for the virus.
His 2008 introduction was really cool, but we didn’t see much of him outside of that, which was super disappointing. Why Anti-Venom has gotten better is definitely his return in 2017 as Flash Thompson, Agent Venom. This redid his design and gave him a proper role in the Marvel Universe.
7. WORSE: NICO MINORU
You might recognize Nico Minoru as the wizard of the Runaways. Her introduction in 2003 gave her an interesting backstory, like most of the other members of the Runaways who are offsprings of villains. She is the daughter of dark wizards, because of this she was granted with a lot of interesting powers.
You would think with the kind of power she holds, despite all the nosebleeds, she would be an interesting character that would reoccur and be useful. Unfortunately, it looks like Nico hasn’t held the same level of power or influence that she did before. Even with the new Runaways show, she doesn’t seem to be nearly as powerful as she was in her original introduction, which was a huge disappointment.
6. BETTER: KATE BISHOP
Appearing in the Young Avengers in 2005, Kate Bishop initially was taking over the spot that Hawkeye would normally fill. Her original design was good, but we wouldn’t say that she had the largest following at first; certainly, there were other members of her team that were gaining more popularity.
However, after a few design changes over time, she’s certainly collected a fanbase of her own. Perhaps one of the coolest things about her is that she’s been able to expand on Hawkeye’s arsenal by using things like battle staves or utility belts modeled after other characters like Mockingbird or Black Widow.
5. WORSE: SPEED
If you think Speed looks familiar, it’s either because you already know who he is or you’re confusing him with his uncle, Quicksilver. The son of Scarlet Witch and Vision, you would think that Speed has just as much influence as his brother, Wiccan.
Scarlet Witch and Vision both have insane powers and Wiccan even ascended to godhood. But Speed is really only a younger clone of his uncle with no real distinctions as a hero. Surely, he started off with and interesting backstory and had some pretty prominent ties to heroism because of his lineage, but he just doesn’t seem to be that interesting outside of those facts.
4. BETTER: X-23
X-23 essentially started off as a clone of Wolverine, which doesn’t seem that interesting at first. We’ve seen plenty of clones and family members who take on previous generations superhero identities, but it doesn’t always work out. Besides, with the Marvel and X-Men fallout, you would think there wouldn’t be that many survivors to begin with.
Well, X-23 proved to be a hero all of her own in recent years, proving to also be a cool survivor of the 2000s. Her popularity was certainly bolstered when she showed up in the new X-Men, including the screen time she spent in Logan, and we finally got to see her in Marvel vs. Capcom.
3. WORSE: ALEX WILDER
Alex Wilder used to be such an inspiring kind of hero. For once, we saw a regular person with no superpowers take on the world in a leadership role. He was in charge of the Runaways and was known for using his wit and tactical prowess to help lead his teammates.
When we were first introduced to him, he seemed reliable and trustworthy — someone everyone could truly aspire to be. When it was revealed that Alex was actually a double agent, his credibility dropped, and it seemed there weren’t too many fans impressed with the plot twist. Unfortunately, since this turn of events, we haven’t seen much of Alex… yet.
2. BETTER: JESSICA JONES
Jessica Jones is perhaps one of the most improved characters since her release in 2001. When she was first introduced, her comics and overall story line was pegged as being controversial and left a lot of people nervous about the portrayal of abuse.
She certainly was a darker comic, but they’ve definitely taken steps to improve her as a character. A lot of this is thanks to her Netflix show and her later comics which depicted a much healthier and loving lifestyle for Jessica; something her fans have desperately wanted for her since the beginning. We’re definitely liking this new design for her!
1. WORSE: HOPE SUMMERS
You would think that being the supposed savior of an entire race would make a character automatically interesting, but unfortunately that isn’t the case with Hope . Her debut in 2007 was her only high, however, as it would seem the years to come wouldn’t be so kind.
Her name symbolized hope after the tragedy that was “House of M”, as she was the start of a new era. It was a lot of building only to see that in later years, Hope would hardly hold any significance in the Marvel Universe outside of being the main focus of “Avengers vs. X-Men”.
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