There are so many movies and television shows based on comics nowadays. Because of its proliferation on the big and small screen, characters like Tony Stark, Steve Rogers and Wade Wilson have become household names even to those who don’t collect comics.
However, there are a select number of times when the characters are first introduced in the movie and television adaptions and then ported over the comics. There are a surprising number of them; some of them you might not be aware of.
Here are just five examples of when this happened…
#1. Harley Quinn and Mercy Graves
I could actually fill this entire list with the characters from the Batman and Superman animated series… but let’s just focus on the two best ones, shall we?
I still remember when the first Suicide Squad trailer came out. There was this one person I read on a certain message board and she was complaining that comic book fans were raving about her because they had Margot Robbie wear a sexy outfit. She was totally wrong because comic book fans fell in love with Harley Quinn because she was one of the best characters that came out in the Batman: The Animated Series! She made one heck of an impact with her weird accent and flair in her first appearance, didn’t she?
Harley Quinn was such a hit that it would’ve been stupid for DC to not bring her into the official comic book continuity. Soon after, Harley Quinn became a super popular character in the comics as well, joining with other teams like the Suicide Squad and the Birds of Prey.
This was all the impetus the Warner Bros. Animation Studios needed to try to duplicate this magic when Superman was given his own animated series. If Joker could have a cute sidekick, shouldn’t Lex Luthor get one as well? Thus, Mercy Graves was created.
Like Harley Quinn, Mercy Graves’ temperament was patterned after her boss’ personality. She’s a no-nonsense, straight-shooter who is very strong willed. She never reached the heights of Harley Quinn’s popularity but I still like her just the same. It was at least fun to see the two of them scuffle with each other.
#2 Bebop and Rocksteady
Another two-for-one entry here but an extremely necessary one. If you have Bebop, you definitely have to include Rocksteady.
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series was a sharp departure from the dark and gritty comics that Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird originally envisioned. It was filled with slapstick comedy and comical violence but it worked! The cartoon was a hit and sold a ton of toys. One of the things the cartoon invented were two of the Turtles enemies, Bebop and Rocksteady.
They were mainstays of the cartoon, which made it odd that it took Bebop and Rocksteady a long time to burst out of their cartoon confines. We didn’t see the duo in the second live-action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles but we got reasonable facsimiles in Tokha And Rahzar.
It’s not much of a shock to Turtles fans as they know that they were created for the cartoon. However, it should be noted that their inclusion in the comic book happened after Eastman and Laird sold the rights to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It’s just an odd little tidbit of information regarding these guys.
#3 Batgirl (Barbara Gordon)
Or Oracle. However you want to call Barbara Gordon’s alter ego.
Now, there was actually a different Batgirl that appeared in the comics but she wasn’t Barbara Gordon. Before her, there was Betty Kane, the niece of Kathy Kane, the era’s version of Batwoman. The Batgirl that most of us know, Barbara Gordon, first appeared in the campy live action Batman television series starring Adam West and Burt Ward.
The addition of Batgirl was more of a marketing gimmick and the series was under threat of cancellation. They figured out that the show needed to attract a more female audience and they decided that a female version of Batman would be their ticket to success. To their credit, her inclusion did save the series for another season but it just wasn’t enough in the end. However, this new version of Batgirl did prove successful enough to eventually include her in the comics.
Oh, Human Torch. You have no idea how many cartoon heroes you invented because you were stuck in licensing limbo.
When Marvel initially wanted Spider-Man to team up with an ice-themed hero and a fire-based hero for Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, it was easy to get Iceman to join in. Unfortunately, their first pick for his fiery friend, The Human Torch, was stuck in a licensing deal (that didn’t lead nowhere, by the way). So, rather than just pair Spider-Man with Sunfire, a lesser known member of the X-Men, or Crystal, one of the Inhumans, Marvel decided to create a totally new hero named Firestar. Because that’s much easier, I guess?
The show was generally a hit, mostly because of the Spider-Man name. But a lot of this success did rub off on Firestar. She did eventually gain enough popularity that Marvel decided to bring her into the official comics canon.
#5 Perry White
Way back in the original Golden Age Superman, Superman didn’t work for the Daily Planet and he didn’t call Perry White his boss. This was because he was working at the Daily Star and his editor-in-chief was a man named George Taylor. Then the Adventures of Superman radio program was broadcast, totally forgetting that Clark Kent already was working with someone as they created Perry White, the editor-in-chief of The Daily Planet. All of a sudden, George Taylor was silently booted out of his job to be replaced with someone who was, well, basically him!
Yes, the heralded editor-in-chief of the Daily Planet wasn’t created in the comics… even though Clark Kent already worked in a newspaper and reported to someone already! The comic industry is a cutthroat business.
Another invention of the Adventures of Superman radio show. But unlike Perry White, this creation was necessary as they needed to give Superman a weakness, something the comics forgot to do!
In a strange twist of fate, it turns out the creators of Superman already wanted to introduce a kryptonite-like substance but the DC editors vetoed it, not because it would make Superman less super, but because the Man of Steel would’ve revealed his secret identity to Lois Lane. And we wouldn’t want that to happen, right?
Well, that sucks.
What other comic book characters do you know of were created outside comic books? Let me know in the comments section below!