Superman is considered the most essential superhero in both comic books and movies. Ever since his first depiction in a live-action film the fans have had a special place for the character. The character was the most successful comic book character and was a major motivation that has led to a lot of other characters who were inspirations of him. But there are times in the comic books that this hero takes on the shades of grey and thus ends up being the most terrifying villain of all time. The heroic persona is so convincing and great that when he turns evil it is rather compelling and tragic. Here’s a look at a few times when Superman became the villain in the comics.
This is one of the best DC comic book events of all time. Blackest Night saw the rise of the Black Lanterns who are powered by death itself. In one of the darkest periods in DC’s history, some of the long-dead characters are brought back to life as zombies who are battling the living. Amongst the undead were Green Arrow, Wonder Woman, and Man of Steel himself. The most disturbing part of this version of Superman is his zombie appearance along with the black rendition of his costume.
In the New 52 version of the Doomsday arc, the latter doesn’t end up killing Superman. Instead, Superman kills Doomsday but is left with the virus that led to the monstrous conversion of Doomsday. The virus ends up transforming him into the apocalyptic monster called “SuperDoom”. In one of the most intense arcs of New 52, we get to see the monster cause chaos throughout the DC Universe.
Superman: The Dark Side
This is actually one of the most interesting arcs with a twist on Superman himself. Kal-El spaceship ends up landing on Apokalips instead of Earth. Darkseid ends up raising Kal-El as his own son and makes him conquer the world in his name. But this narrative ends when Superman realizes his wrongdoings and decides to correct his acts and then turns against Darkseid. One of the most interesting parts of this version of Superman has to be the costume that Superman dons that is given to him by Darkseid himself.
This is quite similar to some of the other ways in which Superman was brainwashed in the previous stories. Here too Superman is made to believe that Batman is Brainiac while Wonder Woman is Doomsday. He ends up battling Batman to death until Wonder Woman comes to the rescue and this was considered to be one of the most controversial moments in the DC comics.
Superman: Red Son
As a part of the Elseworlds stories, we see Kal-El’s spaceship land in the Soviet Union. Mark Millar shows us a Superman who is loyal to the Soviet State and adopts the ideology of spreading the reign of his country across the globe. Lex Luthor, one of his most essential foes, ends up protecting America from coming under his reign. This was a major twist as we also got to see Lex Luthor as the good guy which was rather unexpected considering Superman became the antagonist.
Superman/Batman: Absolute Power
In a rather interesting narrative from the comic books a group of supervillains from the future travel back in time to acquire a young Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne in order to kill the Justice League. They raise the two boys to be the world’s greatest supervillains. The most essential part of their persona ends up being the fact that they completely lack the moral fabric that had made their prime versions the iconic heroes they were known to be.
This is a Batman classic that has stuck with the fans of the Caped Crusader for a long time. But one particular moment in Hush follows Poison Ivy poisoning Superman to get under her control and makes him fight with Batman. Things go haywire but Batman brings things to his control by using Superman’s other big weakness, Lois Lane, as a means of stopping him.
Injustice: Gods Among Us
The entire storyline treads the steps to Superman becoming a dictator in the DC Universe. Joker uses Kryptonite-laced fear gas to make Lois Lane appear like Doomsday. He punches her into space where her heart stops while she was pregnant with his child. Her death triggers the nuclear device in Metropolist that destroys the city. Every act that Superman does following these events does give a hint of the loss that he has faced and how he was the sole responsible for it.
So these were the instances when Superman became the villain.