Life as a costumed evildoer doesn’t seem to leave much time for dating or starting a family, and yet the children of supervillains keep popping up in the pages of Marvel Comics and DC - usually as fully formed baddies themselves, ready to carry on their villain parents' malevolent legacy. Superheroes may be known for handing their mantles down to younger generations, but supervillains do it just as often, albeit usually for more nefarious purposes.
Given that most well-known villains have been around for decades in the real world but are still relatively young in the comic timelines, the storytelling logic behind their kids - especially those that are already fully grown - can get tricky. Fortunately, comics are also rife with anti-aging spells, time travel, and other such gimmicks that can get around any chronological issues, leaving fans free to focus on all that juicy family drama.
- Photo: DC Comics
There once was a time when Talia al Ghul was just another Batman love interest, caught between her loyalty to her father Ra’s and her feelings for Bruce Wayne. Those days are long gone, and now it’s Talia who is feared across the DC universe.
Sometime after giving birth to Damian Wayne, Talia took over the League of Assassins from her father, but she didn’t stop there. She also helped found the Secret Society of Super-Villains and, when Bruce and Damian went public with Batman Incorporated, she retaliated with Leviathan, an international organization that made her past endeavors look like child’s play.
It is in this role that Talia even went as far as to have her own son eliminated. And while Batman eventually dragged Damian out of the afterlife, this incident pretty much put an end to any chances of the two ever getting back together. Talia’s pure supervillain from here on out.
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Whether it was the Goblin Formula, the sadistic example set by his father, or the decades of parental neglect, Harry Osborn was pretty much doomed to follow in his father Norman Osborn's evil footsteps. After Harry’s two stints on the Goblin Glider, the last of which ended in his demise, Norman became the Green Goblin once again. Then, he went by just “Norman” for a while, stayed a supervillain, became the Goblin again, and was then “cured” of his evil ways by the Sin-Eater.
How long that lasts remains to be seen, but there’s now a chance that Harry - who was brought back to life as a side-effect of Peter Parker’s deal with the devil - will have an even longer legacy of villainy. Though he at first appeared to have been resurrected as Peter’s good ol’ best buddy, he was eventually revealed as Kindred, a demonically powered big bad who psychologically tormented Spider-Man for years. Where Harry got this new power from has yet to be revealed, but it’s fair to say that his ill intentions might just run in the family.
- Photo: DC Comics
Slade Wilson is one of those characters who proved so popular that they had to slowly transition from supervillainy to begrudging quasi-heroism, destined to walk that moral line forever. It’s a path that Deathstroke has also passed on to at least two of his kids.
Slade’s son Joseph, mute since childhood after a hostage situation gone wrong, used his possession powers to join the Teen Titans as Jericho, with the specific aim of opposing his father. Ironically enough, Jericho himself became possessed with a legion of impure souls and started taking teenagers for the purpose of ritual sacrifice. In the end, Deathstroke chose to put his son down, rather than watch him suffer through more involuntary evil acts. Jericho would eventually return to life, now fully corrupted, and it would take the entire Justice League to shut him back down.
Rose Wilson, on the other hand, was raised by her mother with no knowledge of her father until Slade’s half-brother tracked her down and tried to slay her. Rather than bring her into his life of bloodshed, Deathstroke left Rose in the care of his old foes, the Titans, where she could hone her kinesthetic abilities. She joined her father for a time as the new Ravager, lost an eye, and nearly took out Superman on her father’s orders, but ultimately thought twice and went to become a Titan.
Speaking of Ravager, that’s the original codename of the one Wilson child who never made good. Grant Wilson followed directly in his father’s footsteps as a costumed assassin, and he actually idolized Deathstroke even before he learned he was his son. He accepted a contract on the Teen Titans and perished in the attempt, which happens to be what brought Deathstroke into conflict with the Titans in the first place.
- Photo: Marvel Comics
Helmut Zemo, most recognizable for his role as the antagonist in Captain America: Civil War, is typically referred to in the comics as Baron Zemo, but that’s a title he borrowed from his father. Heinrich Zemo was the original bad baron in the family, battling Captain America way back in WWII in a trademark purple mask permanently bonded to his face with “Adhesive X.” Heinrich survived the war, founded the first Masters of Evil, and stuck around long enough to see Steve Rogers unfrozen before he met his end clashing with his revived foe.
When Helmut learned of his father’s demise, he became a supervillain known as the Phoenix (no word on how Jean Grey felt about that) and sought out revenge, only to be sent plunging into a vat of the same Adhesive X that had disfigured his father. By the time he resurfaced, Helmut had donned his dad’s purple mask, started going by Baron Zemo, and formed his own Masters of Evil to besiege Avengers Mansion.
Much later, and in the temporary absence of most earthly superheroes, Zemo pulled off his greatest scheme yet. Taking on the name Citizen V, Zemo gathered up several other small-time supervillains, invented new heroic identities for them, and posed as the world’s last real superteam. Unfortunately for him, most of his recruits took a shine to heroism before he could convince them to turn on the public.