Superhero fiction has been around in American comic books since the 1930s. Throughout the years, these innumerable fictional characters have had certain motives. If such a physically enhanced individual puts on a costume and dedicates his or her life to fight crime, he or she is considered a superhero. Whereas, if a supe uses abilities to instead create havoc, a super-villain is born.
Whatever his intentions may be, a superhuman’s costume plays a great deal in representing him. Such a character’s physical appearance may depend on many factors like his abilities or whether he’s part of a superhuman team or not, but most importantly, his persona reflects his ideology. Often, when two such superheroes have a difference in their morals, their physical attributes are made to mirror this contrast. Following are examples of superhuman duos whose physical appearances support their clash of ideologies.
1. Batman / Moon Knight
Moon Knight can be considered a rip-off of Batman, as both characters have astonishingly similar personalities despite being in separate universes. They have so much in common that it is hard to believe that the former wasn’t inspired by the latter. Both caped crusaders are highly comparable due to their mega rich personalities and their urge to fight crime at night. Both of them are elite combatants, use weaponry and gadgets to fight crime, and have quite similar costumes.
However, one notable difference is the color of their suits. Bruce Wayne wears a grey suit with a black cape and bat symbol, whereas Marc Spector prefers white. This is because of their contradictory opinions on human fear. Batman believes that being hidden and unseen creates fear in the hearts of criminals.
“And men fear most what they cannot see.” – Ra’s al Ghul, ‘Batman Begins’
On the other hand, Moon Knight has the opinion that bad guys should see him coming, and that will instill terror in them.
“…I don’t wear white to hide myself, I wear it so they’ll see me coming. So they know who it is, ’cause when they see white it doesn’t matter how good a target I am. Their hands shake so bad, they couldn’t hit the moon.” — Moon Knight Vol. 4, #1
Thus, though both Batman and Moon Knight require the same thing, the ideals they follow to achieve it are entirely different.
2. Captain America / Winter Soldier
The Russo Brothers did a superb job when it came to creating conflicting dualities in characters in Captain America: Winter Soldier. Captain America wears a helmet that covers his forehead whereas the Winter Soldier has his eyes and mouth covered, but his forehead exposed. This difference in costumes symbolizes what each of them are fighting for. Cap is seen as a representative of justice and hope. He proudly wears the symbol that represents this idea on his forehead. Whereas Bucky’s mask is similar to a muzzle that is used to control him and keep his identity hidden.
The same can be said regarding the weaponry Steve and Bucky use. Steve’s shield is a source of protection for him and others around him against harm. On the other side, Bucky’s arm and the guns he carries with it are indicative of violence and force. All these points result in an excellent portrayal of contradicting ideologies.
3. Professor X / Magneto
Xavier and Magneto were created in the ‘60s, and were modeled after Martin Luther King and Malcolm X respectively. Both of them desire a world where mutants can live peacefully without fear. While Charles strongly believes that this goal can only be accomplished if mutants and humans live together in harmony, Magneto feels it’s achievable only by using force against human aggressors.
The difference in ideologies is presented in the characters’ physical traits in this case as well. Charles Xavier dresses just like normal human beings because of his belief that while mutants may seem unusual, they are still people. Magneto, meanwhile, wears a cape and a helmet as if they are his robe and crown, symbolizing superiority over mankind.
4. Spider-Man / Venom
This one is a bit more than obvious as Venom can almost be considered an evil version of Spider-Man. Since his contact with Peter Parker, Venom can replicate web-like structures similar to Spider-Man’s webs and is also immune to the spider-sense. While the symbiote was bonded to Peter, Spider-Man felt stronger, more agile and had an inexhaustible, stronger supply of webbing. However, when he found out that the symbiote was trying to permanently bond with his body, Peter rejected it.
“I know what it feels like. It feels good. The power. Everything. But you’ll lose yourself. It’ll destroy you. Let it go.” — Peter Parker, ‘Spider-Man 3’
All in all, Spider-Man and Venom represent two sides of a person: good and evil. Their physical personas show this through a simple costume appearance — the Venom costume is a darker, more evil version of the original Spider-Man costume.
All of the above characters were intentionally given conflicting appearances to add weight to their difference in beliefs and if you ask me, it worked damn well.
Do you know any other opposing superhuman duos? Comment below!