The superhero world is constantly evolving and new heroes and villains are being introduced in order to keep the comics feeling fresh. If a character becomes stagnate they can be updated or even replaced by a newer version that represents the same ideals but is characterised in a completely different way. Across both Marvel and DC a number of new heroes have been introduced as successors to the legacy characters we've come to know and love.
Some of these new heroes have been fantastic and only added to the great story they have inherited. But others either fail to live up to their predecessors standards or are so poorly received by the public that they are deemed to be failures. In this list we're taking a look at 5 heroes that were a success and 5 that were failures after following on from famous characters. The first half of the list includes Marvel heroes and the later half focuses on DC characters.
10 FAILURE: ANT-MAN
Ant-Man is a character that Marvel has relied upon for a number of years. He's a member of the original Avengers and has been a core component of both the films and comics. There have been a couple of iterations of the character, from the original Hank Pym to the more recent Scott Lang. However, there is a third version of the character that both in and out of the universe, has been a bit of a failure.
Eric O'Grady was first introduced in the Ireedemable Ant-Man in 2006. The name was pretty accurate, as despite acting as a hero to start with he was a poor replacement for the heroes that had come before him. He was a criminal, a crook and pretty inappropriate, using his powers for less than heroic deeds. He eventually fell from grace and became the Black Ant, a villain for all intents and purposes. The public didn't respond to his antics too well either and he's barely been featured in comparison to the original two.
9 SUCCESS: X-23
Wolverine is a difficult character to replace. Whether it's in the comics or in the movies he's a beloved member of the family of mutants and has been an integral member of the Marvel universe. There have been attempts to find a successor over the years, from clones to even a son named Daken. But, only one hero has what it takes to really step up to the mantle, wield the claws and deliver a satisfying version of the Wolverine that is both different and respectful of his legacy.
X-23, a mutant who has undergone similar experiments to Logan, is a fascinating character that has gained many fans during both her comic run and her live action debut. As a daughter of sorts to Wolverine she eventually donned the costume in All New Wolverine showing why she really is the perfect successor for her father. She's just as complex, just as broken yet infinitely resilient. Most of all she has the ferocity to carry on the violent legacy.
8 FAILURE: IRONHEART
This may be a controversial choice for the failure section but there's a couple of reasons for Ironheart being deemed unsuccessful as a successor. Tony Stark is one of the most popular heroes of all time in Marvel comics. He's pretty irreplaceable so it's a difficult job for any character to follow in his footsteps. Riri Williams is now considered a pretty great character and there's demand for her to enter the MCU.
However, when she initially debuted in 2015 there was an initial backlash as to how one dimensional the character really way. She was underdeveloped and lacked the spark that Tony brought. It was difficult for fans to accept her in the role and while over the past few years she's become a larger part of the universe she isn't quite up to the standard of the original Iron Man. There's no telling whether the character will become infinitely more popular but for now she's a dud in comparison to the expectations of Ironheart.
7 SUCCESS: THOR
The recent announcement and consequential excitement of the Mighty Thor entering the MCU is evidence enough that the character has been a major success. Thor has evolved many times over the years and has constantly felt fresh and exciting. However, the introduction of Jane Foster as the new Thor gave fans something entirely different. Including a well known character in her own right as the successor created a recipe for success.
Her background is well documented and her battle with cancer is inspiring. The character has gone from strength to strength, including in the War of the Realms and she has shown why she is not just a replacement for Odinson, but a hero in her own right. The Mighty Thor, or female Thor as some have nicknamed her, has continued to help contribute to the wider Marvel universe, remaining as relevant and popular as the original Asgardian warrior.
6 FAILURE: BLACK WIDOW
Natasha Romanov is the only character people think about when they mention the Black Widow. This is despite the fact that another has used this name and acted as her successor for a while. Yelena Belova, who will soon be making her life action debut in the MCU, could be considered a failure. Her debut in 1999 pitted her against Natasha as a rival from her past, although the character has developed since then.
She has been the second Black Widow for quite some time, using her skills as a spy and assassin from her time in the Red Room. However, the character has never felt compelling enough, with her backstory being too similar to the far more superior Black Widow that Natasha heroically portrays. Therefore, the character has become a failure and could never permanently replace the original in the comics unless her motives and background were significantly developed further.
5 SUCCESS: BLUE BEETLE
It's fair to say that the latest Blue Beetle, Jaime Reyes, may have totally reinvigorated the character and brought the name to new heights. The Blue Beetle has always been a classic member of the DC universe, but was never quite the standout hero that he had the potential to be. There was something lacking, with other characters with more personality or charisma stealing the spotlight. That all changed with the introductions of Reyes in 2006.
The character has had both alien and magical backgrounds, with a strong tie to ancient Egypt. His powers are pretty cool and he wears the suit well, but it's the boyish personality of Reyes that really helps the character to shine. He's young and a little inexperienced but makes up for it in heart and humour. He's been incredibly useful on a number of missions and has been featured alongside many other classic heroes as he improves many of the stories he is featured in. His exposure might be the highest it's ever been, showing what a success the character is.
4 FAILURE: RED HOOD
In terms of the reality of comics sales and commercialism, Red Hood has been a massive success. He's been an incredibly popular member of the Batman mythos and has starred in both animated series, games and his own comic run. In universe however, Jason Todd could be perceived to be a massive failure at continuing on the legacy that Bruce Wayne started when he donned the cowl for the first time.
Joker did a real number on the young Robin and the results have not been pretty. The anti-hero is anything but a good successor to Bruce. While other heroes like Nightwing have actually been incredibly successful at keeping the peace the same way the Gotham knight would have done, Red Hood takes much more pleasure in killing his enemies; a complete betrayal of everything Batman stands for. He could never be the true Batman and is a far more interesting character for it. However, for the purposes of this list he has been a failure.
3 SUCCESS: GREEN LANTERN
The Green Lantern corps are designed with successors in mind. Someone should always wield the ring and all of the Green Lanterns we've seen in the DC universe have been successors to previous heroes. However, the Lanterns that have come after Hal Jordon have also had to perform critically and commercially in the real world, just as well as Jordon has done since his debut. John Stewart is a shining example of a great successor.
The character has set out his own path as the Green Lantern and even moved into Ultra Violet territory recently. He's been a member of the Justice League and has been a loyal part of the corps itself. He's diligent, hard working and has a strong moral core. While he's not as reckless as Hal was, especially in his early days, Stewart brings something completely unique to the universe and is one of the more interesting elements of the Green Lantern comics in the last few runs.
2 FAILURE: ARTEMIS
Wonder Woman cannot be replaced. There has been no successful iteration of the character that has taken over from Diana Prince. That hasn't stopped the creative teams from trying to do so, especially in the 90s. Artemis is a strong part of the Wonder Woman mythos, before and after her time as Wonder Woman. However, the anti-hero and sometimes villain could never really be the true wielder of the lasso of truth.
Artemis is an incredibly interesting character, but nothing about her fits into the role of Wonder Woman. She's had a long an troubling history but isn't quite the inspirational leader that the Amazonian is. Diana carries with her a lot of heart and wisdom and is always wise before she is violent. Artemis on the other hand is chaotic and doesn't hesitate from killing her enemies if she feels it's appropriate. The characters are almost an antithesis of each other and Artemis is absolutely a failure as a replacement for Diana.
1 SUCCESS: FLASH
The Flash has had a number of success over the years and Barry Allen himself actually took on the mantle from Jay Garrick. Almost every version of a new Flash speedster has been a success in one way or another. It's the two versions of Wally West that stand out the most as being great versions of the fastest man alive. Kid Flash continues to learn a lot from Barry and tries to carry on his legacy as best he can.
The original Wally West though has been the greatest success. While the character was certainly flawed, he possessed the heart and soul needed to be the truest version of the Flash. He was perhaps even faster than Barry as evidenced on many occasions and was heroic as he could possibly be. The latest version of the character, obsessed with finding his lost family added an extra wrinkle to the charavter although it was sad to see his apparent demise.