10 of Marvel’s Best Corruption Arcs Where Heroes Turned Villain
10 of Marvel’s Best Corruption Arcs Where Heroes Turned Villain: Since the inception of Marvel Comics, the battle between good and evil has been at the forefront of their storytelling. While superheroes are known for their unwavering moral code, there have been moments when even the most beloved heroes have succumbed to corruption. These corruption arcs showcase the dark side of heroism, where characters are driven to make questionable decisions that ultimately lead to their downfall. In this article, we’ll be exploring some of Marvel’s corruption arcs where heroes turned into villain, delving into the reasons behind their descent into darkness and how it affected the Marvel Universe as a whole.
10 of Marvel’s Best Corruption Arcs Where Heroes Turned Villain
When discussing about Marvel characters who have transformed from heroes to villains, Jean Grey is frequently amongst the first to come to mind. As a long-standing member of the X-Men and one of the world’s most powerful mutants, she has held a prominent role. As Phoenix, Jean’s abilities surpassed anything that had been seen before, making her a desirable target for the Hellfire Club. They manipulated her mind and subjected her to brainwashing, leading her to become Dark Phoenix. In this state, Jean’s actions resulted in mass genocide, surpassing the threat posed by Galactus. Her immense power made it difficult for her to maintain control, making her an extremely perilous force.
It’s not just Jean Grey’s malevolence that leaves us stunned, but also Cyclops’ betrayal of his comrades. Cyclops had been a prominent member and mentor of the X-Men for many years, and he often contrasted with Wolverine in their shared struggle. Sadly, the Phoenix Force takes control of Cyclops and compels him to murder Professor X, leaving everyone in shock. Despite being halted, Cyclops confesses that he would repeat his actions, driven by his desire to create a society where mutants could prosper without fear of persecution. Nonetheless, he does feel remorseful for slaying his mentor.
Following Norman Osborn’s Dark Reign, Daredevil found himself facing an unexpected adversary – the Hand, his former foe – as well as the aftermath of Bullseye’s victims in Hell’s Kitchen. Overcome with bitterness, he turned to the Hand to exert his power over New York, all while a shadowy threat lurked in the background.
As Daredevil’s allies watched on in concern, particularly after he broke his own no-killing rule to seek revenge on Bullseye, they discovered that he was under the control of the Hand’s Beast – an ancient demon worshipped by the organization. With the help of Iron Fist, Matt was freed from the Beast’s grasp, though he took a temporary retirement in order to rediscover himself.
The Scarlet Witch is widely regarded as one of Marvel’s most powerful magic practitioners. Initially, she was an antagonist but later became a member of the Avengers. However, she has experienced several devastating tragedies that have nearly shattered her mental state, such as the death of her husband Vision and the revelation that her children were a product of her own imagination. Eventually, she reached a breaking point and ended up killing some of her fellow Avengers, resulting in the group’s dissolution.
While she was ultimately caught, her brother Quicksilver manipulated her into using her powers to create a new reality in which Magneto ruled the world, and her children were brought back to life. Although her former colleagues managed to stop her, the fallout resulted in Wanda reducing the number of mutants and retreating into seclusion for a while.
Despite Tony Stark’s efforts to use his technology for saving lives, his ego and intelligence may have concealed the potential for him to become a cruel individual. The Red Skull’s manipulation of Professor X’s mind during the AXIS events caused a shift in the moral compasses of many heroes and villains. While several heroes transformed into villains, none posed as significant a threat as Iron Man.
Returning to his former ways, Tony transformed San Francisco into an advanced dystopian society by infecting the city’s inhabitants with the Extremis virus. His comrades attempted to put a stop to his actions, but Tony proved too formidable to be defeated. Ultimately, a fatal confrontation between Tony and Captain America ensued, resulting in the deaths of both heroes. However, they were eventually restored to their former selves during the Secret Wars of 2015.
Bucky Barnes was Captain America’s partner, presumed dead after the conclusion of World War II. Years later, while searching for the stolen Cosmic Cube, Captain America encountered an enigmatic assassin with abilities and strength equal to his own. To his surprise, Steve recognized the assassin as his former sidekick, who had since grown up.
As it turns out, Bucky’s body had been recovered by the Soviets and subjected to brainwashing, resulting in his transformation into the Winter Soldier, a highly efficient killing machine. Under the control of Cap’s arch-nemesis, the Red Skull, Bucky committed numerous acts of violence against innocent civilians. Although Steve eventually succeeded in freeing Bucky from the mind control, Bucky chose to confront his past on his own.
Although the Ultimate universe shares similarities with its main counterpart, the 616 universe, it differs in several unique ways. The Fantastic Four disbanded after Magneto’s attack left several heroes dead and the world in ruins. Reed Richards, traumatized by Sue breaking off their engagement and Kang’s revelation of the world’s impending doom, suffered a mental breakdown.
In an attempt to prevent the apocalypse, Reed’s plans for global preservation brought him into conflict with his former allies, causing his body to become disfigured. He then assumed the persona of the evil Maker, becoming one of the greatest threats in the Ultimate Universe due to his intelligence and his knowledge of his former friends, which he used to manipulate them in his sinister plans.
Black Widow has always maintained a delicate balance between being a force for good and evil. However, her actions have sometimes been questionable and have come quite naturally to her. In the Ultimates universe, she is arguably the most heinous character, having tricked Tony Stark into an engagement after seducing him and killing Jarvis. She also murdered Hawkeye’s family and went so far as to frame Captain America for the act.
Outside of this universe, her heroic qualities are still debatable. For instance, she was assigned to assassinate her best friend Marina, which she did, and even killed Marina’s pet cat to eliminate any witnesses. Even when she’s fighting on the side of good, her moral compass can be hard to decipher.
During the 90s, Speedball was regarded as one of the most promising superheroes, headlining his own solo series and serving as a member of the New Warriors, a team that is currently underrated. In the 00s, the New Warriors came close to uncovering the hideout of a villain but were discovered and had to defeat them. This led to Nitro, the villain, causing an explosion that devastated Stamford, Connecticut and sparked the Civil War.
As the sole survivor, Speedball held himself responsible for the catastrophe and transformed into Penance, an antihero striving to atone for his actions. Fueled by his self-inflicted punishment, he cooperated with the Thunderbolts to capture unregistered heroes, causing his former New Warrior teammates to feel disappointed. However, he eventually learned to forgive himself and reverted to his original identity, now aiming to mentor young heroes.
Professor X handpicked Angel as one of the initial mutants to join the X-Men, given the team’s dependence on his wings. Sadly, during the Mutant Massacre narrative, Angel’s wings underwent severe damage at the hands of the villainous Harpoon, which necessitated their amputation to save his life. This tragic event pushed Warren into a deep depression, making him an easy target for Apocalypse, the immortal mutant conqueror.
Under Apocalypse’s control, Warren underwent brainwashing and received new metallic wings and blue skin, transforming into Death, the leader of the Four Horsemen. Using his knowledge of his former allies, he exploited their weaknesses to serve his new master. Although he ultimately broke free from Apocalypse’s control, Warren still grapples with his Death persona, with his new wings serving as a constant reminder of his past.
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