One of the best things about comics is their ability to tell relevant and compelling personal stories. As comics often parallel real-life events, history has always been a source of inspiration for fictional stories and characters. The creation of some of the most popular and important comic book characters were heavily inspired by real historical figures, such as famous actors, singers, and even comic book pioneers.
In the same way that real people inspire comic book heroes that creators look up to, comic book villains are often inspired by some of the most notorious people to ever live.
ten Howard Hughes is Tony Stark’s inspiration
Wanting Iron Man to adopt a “quintessential capitalist” persona, Stan Lee modeled Tony Stark after Howard Hughes, the American businessman and world-renowned pilot. According to Stan Lee, Howard Hughes “was one of the most colorful men of our time” and “was a mad inventor, an adventurer, a ladies’ man, and finally, a crackpot”. Minus the perceived insanity, Lee and fellow Iron Man creators Don Heck, Larry Lieber, and Jack Kirby shaped Iron Man to follow these traits. Beyond the Stan Lee-penned version of Iron Man, the character has undoubtedly nurtured the image of “mad inventor” and “adventurer.”
9 David Bowie Inspired Neil Gaiman’s Lucifer Art
Created by comic book legend Neil Gaiman, Lucifer, who first appeared in Sand seller #16 and later had a solo series, had a look based entirely on music icon David Bowie. In an interview with Vulture, comic artist Kelley Jones, known for his extensive work with characters like Sandman, Batman and Swamp Thing, claimed that “Neil [Gaiman] was adamant that the devil was David Bowie. He just said, ‘He is. You have to draw David Bowie. Find David Bowie, or I’ll send you David Bowie. Because if it’s not David Bowie, you’re going to have to do it again until it’s David Bowie.”
Given this hilarious quote from Jones, it’s safe to say that Neil Gaiman wanted Lucifer to look like David Bowie.
8 Wesley Gibson is inspired by Eminem
The main protagonist of the comic series Wanted to, Wesley Gibson is heavily inspired by rapper Eminem. In a 2008 interview with Entertainment Weekly, Wanted to creator Mark Millar said Eminem was Wesley’s inspiration. Universal Studios even considered approaching Eminem for the role in the film adaptation. The resemblance between Wesley Gibson and an Eminen from 2003 when Wanted to was being published is immediately noticeable. Book artist JG Jones did an impressive job of capturing the rapper’s likeness, right down to the hair and earrings.
7 J. Jonah Jameson is a ‘gritty’ version of Stan Lee
Stan Lee has often spoken of Spider-Man and the connected mythos as one of his proudest co-creations. Using his trademark lingo, Lee has frequently pointed out the many qualities that make Spider-Man an incredible character. For years, fans have often wondered if Lee himself inspired Peter Parker’s boss and Spider-Man’s arch nemesis, J. Jonah Jameson.
In an interview on the Talk about the Nation podcast, Lee confirmed this fan theory, saying, “You caught me! I really did. I thought if I was a grumpy, irritable guy, which I sometimes am, how would I act? “
6 Darkseid is a representation of fascist dictators
One of Jack Kirby’s most significant creations during his time at DC Comics is the evil ruler of Apokolips, Darkseid. Although many parallels can be drawn with new gods Mythos as a whole, as an evil conqueror with hopes of dominating all of existence, Darkseid is based primarily on real-life fascist dictators, like Hitler and Mussolini. As a scout in the US Army, Jack Kirby saw what fascism was capable of when he helped liberate a concentration camp, as he described in Ray Wyman’s book: Conversations with Jack. Given his background and the evil he’s witnessed as a result of fascism, it makes perfect sense that Kirby felt inspired to represent those evils through Darkseid.
5 Tintin is based on a Dutch actor
From 1929, The Adventures of Tintin was a comic book series about a young Belgian journalist and adventurer named Tintin, who regularly gets involved in dangerous adventures and takes heroic action to save the good guys. Many fans don’t know that Tintin is based on a real person named Palle Huld.
Huld was a Danish film actor who appeared in 40 films from 1933 to 2000. Huld traveled the world at a young age, which inspired Tintin creator Herge to create the character.
4 A horror icon inspired the creation of Doctor Strange
With the highly anticipated sequel to Doctor Strange’s live-action debut just months away, Doctor Strange is one of Marvel’s most talked about characters. What many fans don’t know about Strange is how heavily he is inspired by horror film legend Vincent Price, who often played mystical characters like wizards and wizards. When Steve Ditko began modeling Doctor Strange, many of Price’s features, such as his mustache and eyebrows, were used to create the Sorcerer Supreme. Stan Lee even said that Marvel didn’t want to hide the similarities between Strange and Price to clarify the inspiration.
3 The Joker is based on a silent movie character
Batman’s nemesis, the Joker, is one of the most well-known villains in all of comics. So much so that his signature look and quirky smile are instantly recognizable to comic book readers and movie buffs alike. But what many of those same fans don’t know is that much of The Joker, from appearance to certain behavioral traits, is inspired by German actor Conrad Veidt’s performance as Gmynplaine. in the 1928 silent film, The man who Laughs.
Considering the title was also used for a well-known comic book story about the Joker by comic book legend Ed Brubaker, it’s safe to assume that this performance still inspires Joker writers.
2 A famous actor is the model of Professor X
As the leader of the X-Men, who Stan Lee has repeatedly confirmed were created as an allegory of the civil rights movement, Professor X as a character draws inspiration from the great civil rights leaders of the Twentieth century. However, Professor X’s look is largely based on Oscar-winning actor Yul Brynner. While once describing the creation of the character, Stan Lee said “I thought of Professor X as Yul Brynner…” confirming that Brynner’s look was Charles Xavier’s inspiration. Brynner was a world-famous actor at the height of his career, which made Professor X look recognizable around the world.
1 Hedy Lamarr is the original Catwoman
While many famous actresses throughout history have been considered an inspiration for Catwoman (whose real name is Selina Kyle), the actual inspiration for Catwoman’s look was Hollywood actress, Hedy Lamarr. Lamarr, an Austrian-born actress whose career spanned Hollywood’s Golden Age, was used to model Selina Kyle because Batman co-creator Bob Kane admired her film career . Actress Anne Hathaway, who portrayed Catwoman in the 2012 film The dark knight risestold the Los Angeles Times that she modeled her character’s dialogue from Hedy Lamarr’s performances.
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