Villains are the ones we love to hate. When a hero is annoying or infuriating, it's less endearing. In fact, it can be downright hard to tolerate! Why should we settle for second-rate, obnoxious heroes? That said, not every despised character deserves the hate he or she receives. Sometimes it's based on misunderstandings, bad retcons, or a bad version of the character wiping out previous iterations.
Sometimes the champions in question are as grumpy and annoying as readers imagine them, but have good reasons for their obnoxious behavior. Not that justification excuses bad behavior, but hearing legitimate grievances can go a long way towards understanding-- and not hating-- someone. Let's take a look at some heroes who probably don't deserve all the hate they sometimes get.
There are legitimate reasons to dislike Scott Summers. He's kind of guilty of some horrible acts. Most of his unpopularity, though, comes from the fact that he's grumpy, stiff, and Lawful Good. When paired with his long-time frenemy Wolverine, he seems square.
House of X shows who Cyclops really is. He's a leader who makes difficult, imperfect decisions and lives with the consequences. As a decent person, the pressure Scott feels as a result makes him brittle and angry, but he's willing to do things like hunt down Cable-- his own son-- when he seems like a threat to mutantkind's future. Making those choices has changed him. Hating Scott for abandoning his wife and child makes sense, but he shouldn't be hated for his painful pragmatism.
9 The Spectacular Spider-Clone
Ben Reilly's introduction as a Spider-Man clone was ham-handed and marred by bad writing. The character was also perpetually mopey and self-pitying, and in general Spider-fans felt cheated by the 'revelation' that this newcomer was the "real" Spider-Man. With that said, what did the character actually DO to deserve the hate he received?
Poor Ben sometimes avoided superheroic responsibilities, and was often directionless, but it's no wonder. He gave up the life his implanted memories told him he should have! He was suffering so much mentally, it's no coincidence he fought a demon named D'Spayre. That's more a reason to help than hate.
8 Iron Fist
In the comics, Danny Rand's long been a ray of sunshine. He had some awkward fortune cookie wisdom attached to his character, but as Luke Cage's partner at Heroes for Hire he rarely came across as arrogant or patronizing. Iron Fist was presented to a wider audience by Netflix in 2017, with awful results.
Bad writing framed him as a do-gooding, kid-punching billionaire who missed the obvious while constantly sharing his inherent wisdom. It was hard for the character's fans to watch, but thankfully the televised version of the character hasn't replaced the original. Try to forget the bad and appreciate the good.
Since his first appearance in 1940, Batman's buddy Robin has always gotten some pushback. Especially in more recent decades, where his existence ruins the Dark Knight's loner reputation. This is particularly true of two characters who've donned the red and black: Jason Todd and Damian Wayne.
Both of these kids have been dismissed as angry and dangerous and, especially in the latter case, their critics aren't wrong. Damian Wayne's opening move was Tim Drake's attempted murder. However, these are traumatized children, filled with understandable rage. This is doubly true of Damian, who was raised by assassins and other dangerous people. The al Ghul family didn't give Bruce a lot of choices with Damian, but letting kids fight supervillains is a reflection on Batman, not the Robins.
6 Howard the Duck
George Lucas' 1986 film Howard the Duck did permanent damage to Howard's reputation. Part of the problem was Howard's appearance in the film, which made him look like a high-end basketball mascot. The bigger sin was Howard's personality-- aggressively abrasive, like a teenager trying to be cool.
In Steve Gerber's original comics, Howard was a perpetual underdog. He faced foes that other superheroes probably wouldn't touch-- vampire cows and gingerbread golems-- but that the police couldn't handle either. He was a victim of bad luck, legitimately aggrieved since he'd been stolen from his world and trapped on this planet. Chip Zdarsky's more recent run with the character represented a return to form, as has his friendship with Gwenpool. He's a little guy with a tiny bit of wisdom and a lot of tenacity, making him a great hero.
Yes, there are reasons why Arthur Curry sometimes comes off as a joke. He's often hated as the most useless member of the Justice League. It's an unfair criticism, though, since he can hold his own alongside heavy hitters like Wonder Woman even on dry land.
While not a lot of crime happens underwater, his powers-- and vast magical kingdom-- make him uniquely useful on those crucial occasions when the world is threatened from beneath the waves. He's a specialist. Most people specialize. We can't all be Superman.
The Man of Steel may be comics' first superhero, but that hasn't kept him from getting a lot of pushback. The typical complaint about Supes is that he's boring. He's a big, blue Boy Scout, some say, then lots of people get mad when Zack Snyder presents him in an edgier light. Others say he's too powerful, that nothing ever challenges him, but he's been handed massive defeats throughout his incredibly long career.
When a character's this prominent, some folks are going to hate on him, in fiction and out. Even so, he's still fundamentally the paragon of comic book heroism and kindness. When he succeeds, he makes the world better. When he fails, we all fear the consequences. Much love, Superman. You deserve it.
Marvel's main speedster has a well-deserved reputation for being hot-tempered and surly. Sometimes this has led to unpleasant iterations of the character, who seemed unable to get along with anyone he hadn't shared a womb with. When his rudeness had no apparent source, it made sense that he got a lot of hate. However, Pietro's reasons for perpetual frustration have been clear since 1993.
X-Factor #87 gave Quicksilver a chance to eloquently explain himself. He's always waiting. Everyone moves so slowly that his life is a non-stop test of patience. Worse, he's fast, but not light speed fast like The Flash. Barry, Wally, and their ilk can read books in between blinks so they're never bored. Pietro is always bored, and mad about it.
Japheth is hated by some fans for the same reasons the Toxic Avenger is adored by others. He's gross, or his powers are, and some people think that makes him seem unheroic. It's not a coincidence that murderous lookers like Emma Frost get a fan base, though, while someone who's suffered like Maggott gets ridiculed instead.
Unlike some other gross characters like Toxie or Zeitgeist, Maggott was not a murderer. Growing up as a mutant whose power source is worms that explode out of his gut? That would be enough to inflict a bitter streak on most personalities. Instead, Japheth was generally kind and likable, his biggest personality flaw stemming instead from a fear that even other mutants would reject him.
1 The Sentry
'Show, don't tell' is supposed to be the writer's credo. When we look at The Sentry, who apparently has a long, secret, and mass-amnesiac history in the Marvel Universe, we can see why. That said, the problem with The Sentry is not the character's behavior, but the fact that he was created in 2000 and his long history was retconned into existence.
Marvel's most powerful hero doesn't deserve hate, he deserves healthcare. He's sacrificed not only his power but all memory of himself and his heroism an endless number of times to protect Earth from his dark half, The Void.