14 Marvel Characters You Didn't Realize Inherited Their Title

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Vote up the Marvel heroes and villains you didn't realize took their name from someone else.

Is there such a thing as superhero nepotism? The sheer amount of second-generation superheroes that have snuck their way into every set of Marvel’s new generation of heroes would suggest the answer is "yes."

Heroes (usually temporarily) passing their titles, mantles, or costumes down to younger vigilantes is nothing new in the world of comic books. In fact, it’s a tried-and-true method of injecting life into a character. Less common, however, are the instances in which the hero fans best know and love turns out to be the inheritor. Yet some of the biggest names in Marvel Comics are legacy characters, out there fighting crime in hand-me-down tights with a borrowed codename - including some of the last names a more casual reader might expect. 


  • For such a notoriously simple individual, the origin story of Peter Quill - intermittently known as the Legendary Star-Lord - is incredibly convoluted. Quill’s earliest tales involve him encountering the Master of the Sun in space and being offered a job as the latest in a long line of Star-Lords, essentially a corps of intergalactic police. 

    Those tales were later relegated to an alternate reality, and the real Peter Quill was retconned into the half-alien, half-earthling offspring of J’Son, ruler of the Spartax Empire. After being abducted by Yondu and raised as a space pirate, Quill met his dad and learned he was next in line to be named Star-Lord, a position of royal importance within the Spartoi culture. 

    Then, after all that, the Master of the Sun came back into the picture, revealing that “Master of the Sun” was also a title that could be passed down, and dubbing Peter the next Master of the Sun. Quill now has two superhero names, and they’re both hand-me-downs - albeit, hand-me-downs of great cosmic import. 

    315 votes
  • The Phoenix Force is a cosmic entity that’s at least as old as the current Marvel Multiverse, and maybe even older than that. A force of fiery destruction and rebirth, the Phoenix typically does its business by inhabiting a host, imbuing them with godly power, and then using them as an avatar to commit mass acts of annihilation.

    The Phoenix Force’s most famous visit to Earth brought it into contact with Jean Grey, whom it empowered and then eventually replaced for a spell. The big space-bird must have a penchant for redheaded terrans, because it has also inhabited Grey’s daughter from another timeline, Rachel Summers, and Hope Summers, the unrelated so-called mutant messiah. And it’s been at it since long before it ever got its talons into Jean.

    The first recorded instance of the Phoenix Force visiting Earth came around the year 1,000,000 BCE, when it merged with Firehair, a prehistoric mutant woman. Firehair was more successful than most in bending the Phoenix to her will, and she used its glorious power to found the Stone Age Avengers alongside Odin. As Lady Phoenix, Firehair protected Earth for centuries - though subsequent visits from the Phoenix Force haven’t been nearly as benevolent. 

    253 votes
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    211 VOTES

    Earthlings Have Worn The Star Brand Since The K-T Extinction Event

    The Star Brand is a mysterious object of canonically unknown origins, aside from the entirely separate reality (and publishing imprint) that birthed it. A transferrable mark, the Star Brand has the ability to initiate a “White Event” and grant nigh-unlimited power to anyone the mark attaches itself to. It first arrived on Earth aboard the asteroid that caused the K-T Extinction. Thereafter, it attached itself to a tyrannosaurus, and that Dino-Starbrand went on to protect Earth from a couple of alien incursions as its fellow dinosaurs perished around it.

    From there, the Star Brand was discovered by Vnn, a caveperson who became the next Starbrand and joined with the Stone Age Avengers. The brand disappeared for a while after that, but it reemerged in the modern era to turn Kevin Connor into the next Starbrand - after which he immediately and accidentally destroyed his college campus. Seeking redemption, he served with the Avengers until he was slain by a Ghost Rider, and the Star Brand has since moved on to a toddler, who is also now a semi-official member of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.  

    211 votes
  • A Ghost Rider isn’t really a mantle, a title, or even a job. It’s more a state of being - specifically, the state of being that arises from a mortal individual striking a deal with a hell-lord and having their soul bound to a Spirit of Vengeance. In doing so, the mortal in question receives a suite of fiery superpowers and a custom, flaming ride - but in exchange, they’re expected to claim the souls of evildoers and send them packing to hell. It isn’t a one-at-a-time sort of proposition, either: There can be as many Ghost Riders at one time as there are suckers willing to make a deal with the devil. 

    The first Ghost Rider on record was a prehistoric youngster who rode into battle alongside the Stone Age Avengers on a flaming mammoth. Hundreds more would follow in the millennia to come, mounted on horses, camels, and wagons, until veteran stunt-rider Johnny Blaze struck a deal with Mephisto and started the tradition of Ghost Riders zipping around on flaming motorbikes. Also starting with Blaze, several Ghost Riders have managed to escape from Mephisto’s bonds and strike out on their own as purely benevolent figures in the Marvel Universe - in fact, Blaze himself has gone as far as to boot Mephisto off his underworld throne and become the new king of hell, an act that has effectively freed all Ghost Riders, past and present, from their soul-binding contracts. 

    Robbie Reyes, the latest Ghost Rider, exchanged the bike for a superpowered supercharger, and he’s now a valued member of the Avengers, relatively free and clear of his demonic origins. 

    161 votes
  • Long-time Marvel Comics readers were ecstatic when Clint Barton exchanged his Hawkeye garb for a Ronin outfit in Avengers: Endgame, primarily because it was something that the comic book Barton had done before - but he’s not the only one, or even the first.

    The original Ronin was Maya Lopez, a deaf character who started fighting street crime alongside Daredevil. Eventually, she shed the face-covering and started going by Echo, leaving the Ronin mantle open for Barton to take when he came back from the grave and wanted to keep his identity on the down-low. 

    The next Ronin of note was Alexei Shostakov, better known as the Red Guardian. He received the suit and a new mission from the Dark Ocean Society, but was shut down fairly quickly by Hawkeye and the Black Widow.

    Blade and Bullseye have also donned the Ronin hood in a temporary effort to hide their identity, but for diametrically opposed reasons. Each was found out within the span of a couple of issues. 

    Most recently, Barton himself has again taken up the Ronin mantle for the purposes of taking some more direct - and less-than-ethical - shots at major organized crime figures.

    194 votes
  • Wanda Maximoff and her twin brother Pietro have had a contentious relationship with their origin story, to say the least. Initially believed to be mutants, and then specifically the children of Magneto, Wanda and Pietro were revealed to instead be human orphans that had been experimented on by the High Evolutionary in order to give them wondrous abilities.

    And then, after all that, it was further revealed that Wanda was not just any random orphan, but one specifically selected due to her preestablished connection to Chaos Magic. The couple that had raised Wanda and Pietro through infancy were their aunt and uncle, with their real mother having been Natalya Maximoff - better known as the Scarlet Witch.

    Natalya, who had perished trying to rescue the twins from the High Evolutionary, was a renowned Romany sorceress carrying a magical mantle that had been passed down through several generations of her family. Her father, and Wanda’s grandfather, was known as the Scarlet Warlock, and the title stretched back for centuries beyond him. 

    Wanda’s mastery of Chaos Magic was not fully imbued in her by the High Evolutionary; instead, he just enhanced that which was already in her blood. Her adoption of the Scarlet Witch moniker prior to any knowledge of her ancestry is either coincidence or perhaps mystical destiny. 

    170 votes