Comic books can be long running with hundreds and hundreds of characters in a titles history which is so intricately woven it can take hours on a wiki-walk if you want to find out everyone’s back stories – I’m looking at you, X-men.
What can be interesting is when a character is introduced in some other form of media and they prove popular enough to be added into the main series continuity, either by the demand of fans, or excitement by the writers. In a new golden age of superheros, let’s take a look at five of my personal favourites and it's by no means an extensive list.
- Harley Quinn AKA Doctor Harleen Frances Quinzel
First appearance, Batman: The Animated Series, 1992. Main DC Universe Continuity, 1999.
Most Batman fans these days are aware that Harley Quinn was created for the animated series, specifically for Arlene Sorkin who was the inspiration for the character. At the time few could have guessed how far the character would come.
Now a firm fan favourite, Harley has continued to appear in animated adaptations, video games, live action movies and tv series. Becoming more than just ‘Joker’s girlfriend’ with 25 years of character development under her belt she’s one of the most complex characters of the modern age. It’s hard to imagine now a world without Harley and her Puddin’.
Harley is not Bruce Timm and Paul Dini’s only contribution to the DC world, they are also credited with Condiment King, Nora Fries (Wife of Mister Freeze), Terry McGinnis (Batman Beyond), and Livewire. Speaking of which…
First appearance, Superman: The Animated Series, 1997. Main DC Universe Continuity, 2006.
Another Dini/Timm creation, Livewire was voiced by Lori Petty in her first appearance, and who doesn’t love them some Lori Petty? Perhaps not as iconic as Harley, Livewire still brings a lot to the table.
A former shock-jock DJ who has an encounter with a bit of Thunder, so the origin story goes, Livewire causes chaos wherever she goes. Her greatest exposure in recent years has been her portrayal by Brit Morgan in the Supergirl tv series, but she also featured in Smallville. She appeared in several video games, including the MMORPG DC Universe Online, and Superman: Shadow of Apokolips saw Petty returning to voice the character.
- Perry White and Jimmy Olsen
First Appearances, the radio show The Adventures of Superman, February 14, 1940 for Perry, and April 15, 1940 for Jimmy.
Main DC Universe Continuity, November 1940 for Perry, Jimmy appeared briefly in November 1941 for a handful of issues and then disappeared, not returning to the comics until 1953.
Being such an engrained part of the Superman canon now, both have appeared continually in practically every version of Superman.
Marc McClure played the character of Olsen in all five Superman films of the 1978-1987 era, the only actor and character to do so. Whilst both Michael Landes and Justin Whalin portrayed the character in Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman.
Perry White, who picked up his "Great Caesar's ghost" and "don't call me chief" catchphrases in his portrayal by actor John Hamilton in the 1950’s television and radio series. This became ‘Great shades of Elvis’ when Lane Smith played the Baby Boomer version of White in Lois & Clark.
- Agent Phil Coulson
First Appearance, Iron Man 2008. Marvel 616 Continuity, April 2012
Agent Coulson first appeared in the MCU in Iron Man, going on to appear in Iron Man 2, Thor and The Avengers. As well as the One-Shots, The Consultant and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Thor’s Hammer.
Actor Clark Gregg was not aware there were further plans for his character until he asked about an off-hand mention in the script about ‘Going to New Mexico’ and it was only then he was told he would be also appearing in the Thor movie.
The character saw great expansion on the TV series Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, sadly it’s unlikely the character will make another appearance in the films. Joss Whedon stating,
"As far as the fiction of the movies, Coulson is dead", elaborating that "generally I feel like the S.H.I.E.L.D. audience and The Avengers audiences are not actually the same group, necessarily," and so the films would have to explain Coulson's resurrection again for the film-only audience if he was to be reintroduced.”
Now a fixture of S.H.I.E.L.D in the comics, the character is modelled after actor Clark Gregg, the character has appeared in titles such as Secret Avengers, Thor: God of Thunder and Deadpool.
- Honourable mention - Morph, X-men the animated series
So the rumour goes that for X-Men: The Animated Series, the creators wanted to shock the audience early on by killing off a character. Spoiler warning for a show that ended 20 years ago. Yes, it's been that long.
Frightened that they'd upset comic fans by killing off Changeling, they handed over his powers to Morph and killed the character. Very much an early Loki-esque character he proved to be so popular they ended up bringing him back from the dead and subsequent appearances in the comics have been an amalgam of the two.