Much of the Marvel Comics universe is based on families. Like any family, the heroes and villains of the Marvel Universe have had their ups and downs. Families are built on love, trust, and caring, but those qualities aren’t always expressed in the healthiest way.
In fact, for many Marvel families, the reality is quite the opposite. Secrets, deception, and even abuse have been the hallmark of several of Marvel Comics’ most prominent families. The venerable House of Ideas has crafted many tales and tragedies centered around dealing with family trauma throughout its long history.
Mentions of abuse ahead. Proceed with caution.
10/10 Quicksilver was an absent father
Family issues have plagued Quicksilver (Pietro Maximoff), one of Marvel’s fastest speedsters, his entire life. His father is the X-Men’s main nemesis, Magneto, hell-bent on mutant supremacy on Earth. Although Pietro eventually joined the Avengers, he did not escape the legacy of his parents’ shortcomings.
He married Crystal, a member of the Inhuman royal family, and had a daughter, Luna. Quicksilver soon joined the family business, joining the Inhuman military. His focus on his duties to the military caused him to neglect his duties as a father, which strained his relationship with Crystal and ultimately led to a divorce.
9/10 Bruce Banner grew out of an abusive home
Bruce Banner is best known to Marvel readers as the Incredible Hulk. However, the brilliant scientist got his start in an abusive home. Young Bruce was the object of his father Brian’s envy, as Bruce soon caught the attention of Brian’s wife, Rebecca.
Brian ultimately murdered Rebecca and was institutionalized, leaving Bruce essentially an orphan. The trauma of his childhood experiences lingered on Bruce as he struggled not only to keep the Hulk at bay, but also the trauma of raising him.
8/10 J. Jonah Jameson’s worldview was shaped by a home in trouble
J. Jonah Jameson has no superpowers, but his power over the daily bugle has made him one of Spider-Man’s most ardent foes. Jameson is constantly angry and frustrated and is immensely suspicious of his friendly neighbor Spider-Man.
That worldview was formed from growing up in an abusive home. Although his father had been a decorated war hero, young Jameson was a constant victim of his father’s abuse. This led him to realize that even the most revered heroes have flaws, which helped inform Jameson’s campaign against Spider-Man.
7/10 Shang-Chi broke family tradition to become a superhero.
Shang-Chi was one of Marvel’s more relatively obscure heroes until he burst onto the stage in the MCU with Shang-Chi and the legend of the 10 rings. However, the character has a long history in the Marvel Comics universe, beginning with family disagreements.
His father, crime lord and assassin Fu Manchu, intended for Shang-Chi to inherit the family’s criminal empire. However, Shang-Chi defied his father’s wishes and defected after his first mission. Years later, Shang-Chi became part of Steve Rogers’ Secret Avengers and found himself once again at odds with her infamous father.
6/10 Doctor Doom saved his mother from hell
There is perhaps no greater villain in the Marvel Comics universe than Victor Von Doom. As the main nemesis of the Fantastic Four, Doom has plagued Marvel’s heroes for decades. So it may be surprising to learn that Doom was actually a love child.
Learning that his late mother’s soul had been condemned to Hell, Doom set out to free her. He allied himself with Doctor Strange and traveled to Hell to free her from her. Doom made a deal for Strange to take his mother’s place, only for his mother to be upset by the deal. As such, his soul was taken to Heaven. Doom won his mother’s freedom from him but lost his respect.
5/10 Hank Pym became an abuser
Hank Pym, the original Ant-Man, unleashed one of Marvel’s most dangerous villains when he created the artificial intelligence known as Ultron. The malevolent Ultron regarded Pym as his father, leaving Pym with the legacy of essentially fathering a being bent on the destruction of the human race.
Pym later became one of the first troublesome characters in the Marvel Universe, as he abused his wife, Janet Van Dyne, the Wasp. In the years after Ultron’s creation, Pym fell into a depression upon realizing that Pym’s size-changing particles would be his only scientific achievement. Along with his guilt over Ultron becoming one of the Avengers’ most dangerous villains and his wife’s successful career as a model, Pym took his aggression out on his wife.
4/10 Moon Knight’s fighting instinct disappointed his father
Moon Knight has recently become known among MCU fans with his Disney+ series. His experience in his true identity as Marc Spector hinted at his future as one of the top fighters in the Marvel Universe, much to the disappointment of Spector’s father.
His father, a rabbi, had escaped Nazi persecution in the 1940s. The elder Spector’s faith caused his children to be bullied. Marc’s brother Randall was often the target of bullying, prompting Marc’s tendency to fight to protect Randall. Unfortunately, the rabbi’s pacifist instincts conflicted with his son’s desire to fight back, resulting in a strained relationship.
3/10 Tony Stark’s father sent him to boarding school
Tony Stark is best known in the Marvel Universe as the invincible Iron Man. A billionaire playboy and philanthropist, Stark is the CEO of one of the world’s largest corporations. However, the resourceful Stark began life as something of a thorn in his father Howard’s side.
Howard Stark had problems with alcoholism, which he would eventually pass on to his son. The older Stark was verbally abusive towards his youngest son, eventually sending him to boarding school at the age of seven. Sending Tony to boarding school also caused a rift between Howard and his wife, Maria.
2/10 Matt Murdock grew up an orphan
Before becoming crime fighter Daredevil, Matt Murdock lived a rough life. His father, boxer “Battlin'” Jack Murdock, claimed his mother was dead and raised his infant son in abject poverty. Under pressure from his father to do something for himself, Matt’s studies led him to be bullied by the neighborhood kids.
After Jack was killed in a match, Matt was left alone and an orphan. Matt didn’t realize until years later that his mother was alive, living as a nun in a convent, fully aware that she had a son. As a result, Matt learned to distrust his only living parent from him. All of these events led to Daredevil becoming one of Marvel’s most brutal heroes.
1/10 Spider-Man’s family has been chaotic for years
There is probably no superhero in Marvel Comics with more family problems than Spider-Man. While his upbringing was relatively healthy, raised by his loving Aunt May and his Uncle Ben, Peter Parker has struggled to find a peaceful family life ever since he became Spider-Man.
Peter and Mary Jane Watson had a haunted marriage that ended in divorce, causing the two to be in an on-and-off relationship for years. Additionally, Aunt May herself has caused Peter some angst, as she has struck up relationships with supervillain nemesis Doctor Octopus and Spider-Man’s chief detractor in the press, J. Jonah Jameson.
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