Some superheroes live in enormous mansions and inherit huge family fortunes, international corporations, and occasionally even a personal butler, but not every hero has access to such luxuries. While the Tony Starks, Bruce Waynes, and Scrooge McDucks of the comic book world may never have to worry about whether or not that bill to the electric company will clear, there are plenty of characters who live in the real comic book world! Whether working double shifts or trying to figure out how to support their family, the challenges that come with a dwindling bank account can sometimes prove to be the greatest enemy of all. In some instances, keeping a roof over their head can become a require an ongoing heroic effort, and not everyone is up to the task.
There are plenty of different reasons these characters find themselves fighting fist to fist with financial troubles, and they each deal with their money problems in their own unique way. Whether they place the blame for their financial troubles on others or themselves, many find the urgency of their situation steadily increasing until taking action of some variety becomes necessary, and when they have family members who rely on them, that pressure just increases. While some of them are able to navigate their way out of financial ruin through legitimate means, others find the strain too great and find themselves bouncing between a friends' couches or ending up on the street. But sometimes that comes with the territory when you're super broke! Here are 20 heroes who are barely making rent.
20 PETER B. PARKER
The animated movie Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse features a whole slew of Spider-People, each with their own unique characteristics. The Peter Parker who lived in Miles' universe funded his heroic adventures and technological goobers with to the money he earned by selling licensing rights to the Spider-Brand, but not every incarnation of Parker is so fiscally savvy.
Peter B. Parker, who serves as a mentor for Miles, was barely solvent when he was sucked through a portal that appeared on the ceiling of his dilapidated, leftover-pizza strewn apartment.
In Deadpool 2, the Merc with a Mouth meets orphan Rusty Collins, a mutant who calls himself Firefist thanks to the pyrokinetic powers he possesses. Tired of being subjected to inhuman treatment by the abusive staff at the Essex House for Mutant Rehabilitation, Firefist goes all Carrie and (a handful of) the X-Men arrive to save the day!
While the situation is successfully diffused and no significant damage caused, the outcome is hardly a happy conclusion for the poverty-stricken Firefist, who ends up being incarcerated in an isolated high-security prison alongside an initially indifferent Wade.
Watchmen by Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons, and John Higgins is set in a version of 1985 New York City where the superheroes who once patrolled the streets have largely retired (whether voluntarily or thanks to coercion). Nevertheless, one hero continues to peddle his own brand of uncompromising justice: the masked vigilante, Rorschach.
When not dressed in his disguise, Rorschach lives on the streets, carrying a literal sign of the apocalypse. This serves as the perfect way to hide in plain sight, as most people never spare a second glance at the homeless hero, at least until he's locked in prison.
17 BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER
In this sixth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffy finds herself in a deepening pit of debt and personal responsibility. In the episode "Flooded," Anya asserts that Buffy should just bill those she rescues from vamps, a strategy she claims is used by Spider-Man (it isn't - see entry for Peter B. Parker).
Forced to find a job so she can support her younger sister and keep her creditors at bay, the Slayer takes a job working the counter at a fast-food joint in order to make ends meet in the episode "Doublemeat Palace."
16 SCOTT PILGRIM
Scott Pilgrim lives in a basement apartment in Toronto with Wallace Wells. With no resources, furniture, or self-motivation, Scott is seemingly content to literally share a bed with his roommate.
But in Scott Pilgrim Gets it Together by Bryan Lee O'Malley, Scott resolves to make it on his own, immediately exploiting his friends' connections. Stephen Stills lands Scott a job washing dishes at The Happy Avocado vegetarian restaurant, (which is fortunate, considering how well the conversation Scott and Wallace have with their scary landlord Peter goes).
In the Cloak & Dagger TV show, Tandy Bowen's family was once economically comfortable thanks to her father's position at the Roxxon Energy Corporation. But after the Roxxon gulf spill ends in a fatal disaster for her father, Tandy's family faces a fiscal crisis.
Her mother’s issues with substance abuse and the fact that Roxxon goons repossessed part of her later father’s property complicate matters. Eventually, the tension created by the circumstances causes teenaged Tandy to leave home and take up residence in a condemned church.
14 BILLY BATSON
While he eventually gains superpowers and becomes Captain Marvel, at the start of his journey, Billy Batson is an orphan who is living in foster care. But while he may not have any resources of his own, he soon becomes a superhero thanks to the power of public transportation!
After boarding a magic subway car, Billy is brought to a secret chamber where he meets a wizard who gives him the invaluable ability to transform into his super-powered persona simply by uttering the acronym "Shazam!" Good thing he couldn't afford cab fare!
13 PASTY WALKER AKA HELLCAT!
In Patsy Walker AKA Hellcat! #1 (2015) by Kate Leth, Brittney L. Williams, and Megan Wilson, Patsy loses her gig working for BFF Shulkie's law office (and by extension, loses the office broom closet she's been sleeping in). Luckily, Patsy befriends Ian Soo, an Inhuman who's been looking for a roommate.
Pasty plans to open a temp agency that focuses on finding jobs for superpowered individuals, but in the meantime, she still has to pay her share of her and Ian's rent. Patsy may have escaped from the fiery underworld, but can claw her way through a job in retail?
12 ASH WILLIAMS
While the hero of the Evil Dead series may have plenty of experience chainsaw-ing his way through the armies of darkness, you can't pay bills with leftover chunks of Deadite. Fortunately, this working-class hero won't be caught with his pants down when the landlord knocks on the door of his trailer!
In the theatrical ending for the movie Army of Darkness, Ash is seen working at the S-Mart department store. Filling out Ash's resume is the gig he held at ValueMart in "El Jefe," the first episode of the series Ash vs. Evil Dead.
11 THE RUNAWAYS
When they lived with their wealthy parents, the Runaways team members never had to worry about where their next meal was coming from. Their lives become considerably less luxurious after going on the lam.
In the first episode of Runaways Season 2, "Gimmie Shelter," the half-starved team hopes to get a meal at a Los Angeles soup kitchen, but discover that the community outreach program was funded by Pride, their parent's organization. Later in the season, the Runaways learn the art of scavenging dumpsters, allowing them to obtain sustenance without relying on their morally dubious parents.
10 LUKE CAGE
When Luke Cage accepted a job to beat up some robots for $200 in Luke Cage, Hero for Hire #9 (1973) by Steve Englehart, George Tuska, William Graham Jr., and Stan Goldberg, the hero of Harlem didn't realize the gig had been ordered by Doctor Doom.
When Doom welches, Cage travels all the way to Latveria to collect. Doom mocks Cage for going to such lengths for a paltry two hundo, but not all of us are counting stacks of despotic dictator money, honey!
9 FAITH HERBERT
As a fan of Doctor Who and Joss Whedon shows, Faith Herbert was eager to become a superhero after she gained the power of flight thanks to her latent psiot abilities were unlocked by the Harbinger Foundation. But after spending some time serving in the ranks of the Renegades, Faith was ready to start fresh.
In Faith #1 (2016) by Jody Houser, Frances Portela, Marguerite Sauvage, and Andrew Dalhouse, Faith has relocated to Los Angeles, where she dons a disguise to patrol the skies of LA at night, where she works for an entertainment blog to make ends meet.
8 FAITH LEHANE
When Kendra Young fell in battle against Drusilla, Faith Lehane was called as the next vampire slayer. During the third season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Faith fled to Sunnydale after an ancient vampire named Kakistos executed her Watcher.
With no real means of support or shelter, Faith soon finds herself living out of a dingy motel with a bad reputation. Her economic stress makes its even easier for Mayor Wilkins to cement her loyalty by bribing her with a fully furnished apartment (complete with PlayStation) in the episode "Doppelgangland."
In the 2008 movie Hancock, Will Smith plays an alcoholic superhuman whose careless "heroics" cost the taxpayers of Los Angeles millions of dollars. But when Hancock gets the chance to turn his image around when a man he rescues turns out to be an advertising executive who takes an interest in his career.
Ultimately, Hancock is convinced to surrender himself to police and serve his prison sentence until Los Angeles needs him. While incarceration doesn't suit the surly superhuman, the rising crime rate in LA in his absence soon leads to his release.
6 THE INCREDIBLE HULK
In the 1977 made-for-TV movie The Incredible Hulk, the DNA of mild-mannered scientist David Banner is subjected to an overdose of gamma radiation, resulting in a singular mutation: when David becomes angry, he transforms into the Hulk! But when an accident befalls one of David's coworkers, a journalist mistakenly pins the fatality on the Hulk, and David is forced to go on the lam.
In The Incredible Hulk live-action television series that began in 1978, David travels from one location to the next helping people, and only making enough money to support himself through whatever odd jobs he can find.
In Mech Cadet Yu #1 (2018) by Greg Pak, Takeshi Miyazawa, and Triona Farrell, enormous robots from space journey to earth annually. When they arrive, each "robo" forms a life-long bond with one of the students from the Sky Corps Academy.
But this year, one of the robos elects to bond with Stanford, who isn't a student at the Sky Corps Academy, but rather the son of one the school's janitors. The students who remain unchosen are quick to voice their skepticism, but once a robo chooses a partner, the partnership is permanent.
In Kick-Ass #1 (2018) by Mark Millar, John Romita Jr., and Peter Steigerwald, Patience Lee returns from a tour in Afghanistan to discover that, her husband had absconded to Los Angeles after years of relying on Patience for financial support as he pursued an unsuccessful songwriting career, leaving Patience to raise their children in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Patience's plan to enroll in college crumbles as the debts accrued by her husband accumulate interest. Desperate for cash, she dons a Kick-Ass costume and decides to use the skills she honed with military service to steal money from local criminals.
3 CASEY BRINKE, TERRY NONE, & LOTION
When Lotion the cat returns home in Doom Patrol #8 (2017) by Gerard Way, Nick Derington, Tom Fowler, he looks a little different than Casey Brinke remembers. For one thing, he's in a punk phase, and also, he is now humanoid and capable of conversation.
Although Casey agrees to let Lotion crash on the couch pending the approval of her roommate, Terry None, she does find it necessary to underscore the fact that cash is tight and her work for Doom Patrol is unpaid.
A professional wrestler when he first appears in Thing #8 (1985) by Mike Carlin, Ron Wilson, Brett Breeding, and Michael Higgins, Dennis Dunphy doesn't adopt the name Demolition Man until Captain America #328 (1987) by Mark Gruenwald, Paul Neary, Vince Colletta, and Ken Feduniewicz.
But an illustrious history as a superhero doesn't make someone immune from poverty. In The Pulse #13 (2006) by Brian Michael Bendis, Michael Gaydos, and Matt Hollingsworth, D-Man is arrested for vagrancy after Ben Ulrich discovers him living homeless in the sewers of New York City.
1 JOHN CONSTANTINE
Although he typically earns rent working as an occult detective in London, there are times when John Constantine's figurative demons get in the way of his battles against those of the more literal variety.
One such occasion begins in Hellblazer #68 (1993) by Garth Ennis, Steve Dillon, and Tom Ziuko. After being dumped by his girlfriend and having a row with his best friend in the previous issue, Constantine has been leaning into an alcoholic spiral that ultimately leads to homelessness.