Ever since Marvel released their original X-Men film in 2000, there have been hundreds of movies and TV shows based on comic book characters. Although they were not the first to do so, their films changed the game with their graphics and the way people saw superhumans. While most movies have stuck to the original story line, some directors took some creative freedoms with the content. In taking those creative liberties, they decided to create their own characters, some of whom became so popular that fans called for their appearance in the comic books where their counterparts appeared. Here are some of the most popular comic book characters who didn’t get their start in comic books.
In 1956, Betty Kane was introduced not only as Batman’s love interest, but also as Batwoman. Years later, her niece, Betty Kane (and Robin’s love interest) took up the mantle as Batgirl, but she didn’t stick around for long as fans didn’t seem to care for her. In 1966, the live-action Batman TV series made its debut, but by the third season, viewers weren’t as interested as they were for season one. In an attempt to save the series, the producer introduced Barbara Gordon, the daughter of Commissioner James Gordon, as Batgirl. The buzz created by the character led to her appearance in Detective Comics #359, after her TV debut. She is now one of the most popular characters from the Bat family.
- Jimmy Olsen
It’s nearly impossible to imagine a world where Clark Kent exists without his best friend Jimmy Olsen, but believe it or not, Jimmy hasn’t been around for most of Superman’s existence. Shortly after Superman was introduced, an unnamed young man with red hair moved to Metropolis with the dream of meeting Superman. In 1940, the radio program, The Adventures of Superman, introduced Olsen as a young reporter for The Daily Planet and his popularity was unexpected. DC claimed that the redhead in the earlier comics was in fact Jimmy, but many believe that had it not been for the show, he would have never been named. He began to appear in Superman comics in 1941 and has been popping in and out ever since.
- Phil Coulson
The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) includes over 30 films and dozens of shows and throughout their universe, the company had to create several characters to fill in some gaps. One such character is Agent Phil Coulson, played by actor Clark Gregg. Introduced in Ironman (2008), Coulson appeared in subsequent Avengers films, in addition to being a main character in ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. After his appearance in the first two MCU films, he made his debut in Battle Scars #6 in 2011. In the comics, Coulson is responsible for working with superhumans, some of whom have difficult personalities.
X-23 was first created by Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost in 2003 for the animated series X-Men: Evolution. Marketed as a young (female) Wolverine, X-23 or Laura Howlett, is a clone created by HYDRA using Wolverine’s DNA to create the perfect assassin. Like Wolverine, she had adamantium claws (2) on each hand. After her debut in 2003, she was introduced in the comics, specifically NYX #3 and has appeared in over 2,000 issues since. She later appeared in the film Wolverine in 2017, Hugh Jackman’s final film as the title character.
- Harley Quinn
Harley Quinn is one of DC’s most popular villains so it’s difficult to imagine that the insane character only became a member of the franchise in 1991. Back then, writer of Batman: The Animated Series, Paul Dini was inspired by a scene from Days of Our Lives to create a female version of the Joker. What was supposed to be a one-off character became so successful that not only did she appear in the comics, the first of which was The Batman adventures #12, but she also appeared in films including but not limited to Suicide Squad, Birds of Prey and The Lego Batman Movie.