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Weird Things You Didn't Realize About Your Favorite Superheroes' Parents

Updated September 23, 2021 5.1k votes 957 voters 162.1k views15 items

List RulesVote up the most surprising details you just learned about superhero parents.

The trope of costumed crusaders having dead parents is so well-trodden that it’s surprising anytime one encounters a superhero whose parents still happen to be alive. As it turns out, not every would-be crimefighter needs to have their mother and father gunned down in an alley to give their career a head start.

But a superhero having living parents isn’t necessarily a positive thing. Comic books are, after all, famous for their never-ending cycles of horrific revelations about the past, and that means that it’s generally only a matter of time before any given hero learns something weird about their dear old mom or dad - whether they’re still around or not. 

  • Mister Fantastic's father disappeared during his adolescence, vanishing without so much as a note. Unlike most absentee fathers, however, Nathaniel Richards had a pretty valid excuse for abandoning his family: He was busy traveling through time and protecting all existence.

    While Reed Richards was still young, his father was approached by representatives of an ancient order called the Brotherhood of the Shield, forebears of the modern-day S.H.I.E.L.D. His adventures with them brought him into contact with intellects as diverse as Howard Stark and an immortal Leonardo da Vinci, and they also resulted in him being catapulted through time. At one point, Nathaniel ended up in the 30th century, where he brought about an era of peace as “The Benefactor” and accidentally inspired the transformation of his own descendent into the time-traveling omni-villain Kang the Conqueror.

    After decades lost in the timestream, Nathaniel was able to reunite with his son and his ever-expanding family, and he remains an important, if unreliable, ally of the Fantastic Four. 

  • Luke Cage was born Carl Lucas, son of James Lucas, a former NYPD detective who disowned his son after Carl was wrongfully imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit. It took decades of Carl fighting crime as a superhero before James was willing to talk to his son again, which is why Cage only recently discovered that his old man was once an Avenger.

    Though he has no superpowers to speak of, James discovered the corpse of a vampire-like creature in 1972, which led to him falling in with a group of superhumans like the Blue Marvel and Blade. Together, this group dubbed themselves the “Mighty Avengers” and worked as a team until the threat of the Deathwalkers had been stopped. 

  • Fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe are familiar with Rene Russo’s portrayal of Frigga, partner of Odin and mother to Thor and Loki. In both Norse mythology and Marvel Comics, however, Frigga is only the mother of Odin’s less notable sons like Balder and Tyr. Thor’s mom, on the other hand, is Midgard itself.

    Seeking to sire a son that was as powerful on Earth as he was on Asgard, Odin specifically sought out and mated with Gaea, an Elder God alternatively known as Mother Earth and a physical embodiment of the planet itself. Since then, Gaea has remained on the outskirts of the Thunder God’s life, though their paths have occasionally crossed and they remain on good terms.

  • For much of her published history, Carol Danvers was thought to be a character only circumstantially related to the alien Kree, having been blasted by their Psyche-Magnitron and granted wondrous Kree powers. Some time after taking on the mantle of Captain Marvel, however, Danvers learned that her abilities weren’t the only Kree legacy she carried.

    While her father was, indeed, a human being, Danvers’s mother turned out to be Mari-Ell, a Kree warrior hiding out in the guise of an earthling. This makes Captain Marvel a human-Kree hybrid, something that has led to countless changes in her personal life. Shortly after being confronted with the truth, however, Mari-Ell had to sacrifice her life to save her daughter from a Kree sleeper agent, limiting Carol’s chances to learn of her true heritage - though she has since also discovered the existence of a Kree half-sister.