By Nick Authenrieth, Micah Stahl and Ben Casper
No date on the calendar strikes fear into the hearts of superstitious folk quite like Friday the 13th. With an unshakable reputation as being the unluckiest day of the year, some people become gripped with complete paranoia, finding themselves hyper-aware of dark visions of black cats crossing paths, salt being dropped on dinner tables and people snatching tails-up pennies from sidewalks. To some, there's just no escaping this dark day.
But for some superheroes, it seems that bad luck follows them like a lost child. No matter what they do, where they go or how good things become, at some point it all comes crashing down. Their luck will always sour. So in honor of these tragic heroes and today, Friday the 13th, Marvel.com has put together a list of the unluckiest heroes in the Marvel Universe and some of the harshest examples of their poor fortunes.
The Winter Soldier
Being Captain America's original sidekick was definitely the high point of Bucky Barnes' life. Unfortunately, that Nazi jerkbag Baron Zemo put a quick halt to that. After discovering Cap's secret identity and going on several missions to battle the Nazi menace, the nefarious Zemo finally succeeded in ending the threat to Cap's power by launching a drone plane outfitted with an explosive device which Bucky and Captain America attempted to destroy. While Bucky was trying to defuse the bomb, he got his sleeve stuck in the plane, attaching him to the bomb which exploded, blowing off Bucky's arm and hurling him into the freezing waters of the North Atlantic along with Captain America. Now that's some bad luck.
Believed dead by the American powers-that-be, Bucky was actually found arm-less and preserved in the North Atlantic by a Soviet submarine which brought him to Moscow, where he was revived. Unfortunately for Bucky, the explosion that blew his arm off also destroyed his memory. This amnesia gave the Soviets the perfect opportunity to program an assassin who would do their bidding. Outfitted with a new bionic arm and a head chock full of Soviet propaganda, Bucky became the Winter Solider, one of the most ruthless and skilled assassins in the world. With a list of
assassinations under his belt including (but definitely not limited to) Red Skull, Nomad and Wolverine's then-wife and child, Winter Soldier was used and abused like a deadly ice-cube tray by the Soviets, getting frozen, thawed out and refrozen for decades. But the gray skies cleared up a bit for Bucky when he came into contact with his old best friend, the now defrosted and fully operational Captain America.
Armed with a little love and an uber-powerful Cosmic Cube, Cap restored Bucky's mind and freed him from the controlling grasp of his masters. With things starting to look good for Winter Soldier, it all came crashing down again when Cap's life was snuffed out during a brutal mid-day assassination. Looking to avenge his fallen comrade and mentor--and armed with Cap's trusty shield--Bucky may be ready to turn his luck around.
Being born into an extremely affluent family, complete with money, cars, status and a monumentally-priced education is what many may consider a stroke of good luck. But when that fortune gets overshadowed by a pair of enormous wings painfully sprouting from your back, you're not off to a good start. Like many mutants, Warren Worthington III, the X-Man also known as Angel and Archangel, had to come to terms with being hated and feared simply for existing. Not only vilified by much of the world, he's been the Worthington pariah since childhood.
For a time, Warren moonlighted as a solo hero, calling himself the Avenging Angel. But switching to simply Angel, he enrolled in Professor Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters and became a charter member of the original X-Men. Despite his angelic appearance, Warren's romantic advances were rejected by red-head hottie Jean Grey--for a guy who wore silly red glasses, was awkward and introverted and went by the nickname "Slim." As if the fact that his formative years were rife with bigotry and failed romance weren't enough, the winged wonder lost both his parents at an early age. To his uncle. In a series of Hamlet-like events, Warren's father was killed by his uncle--who then went on to woo and poison Mrs. Worthington. Ouch.
Despite those rough years, Warren grew to become a valued superhero, fighting alongside the X-Men, Champions and X-Factor. While working to save the underground-dwelling mutants known as the Morlocks from the murderous Marauders, Warren's life hit one heck of a snag. His wings impaled and mutilated by the Marauder known as Harpoon, Warren's "friend" Cameron Hodge turned against the mutant cause and had Angel's wings unnecessarily amputated. Not content to stop there, Hodge blew up a plane that Angel was aboard, sending him to his doom. In a terrible twist of fate, Warren was "rescued" by Apocalypse, an ancient mutant as evil as he is old. Apocalypse gave Angel back the gift of flight, but at the cost of his humanity. Fitted with razor-sharp metal wings and rechristened Archangel, Warren joined Apocalypse's Four Horseman as Death--a vicious, dark and twisted shade of his former self.
He's since broken broken free of Apocalypse's grip, regrown his original feather wings and gained a healing power, but he's also seen friends and lovers hurt and killed and his race decimated. If nothing else, Angel's life proves that having a fortune does not good fortune
Ant-Man (Scott Lang)
There's no two ways about it. Scott Lang was an unlucky man. Maybe he liked to play under ladders as a child or hang out with black cats and broken mirrors, but the unfortunate incidents that occurred throughout his life made him one of Marvel's most ill-fated friends. The hero seemed forever marred by an inability to find a stable niche within either his family life or his career. Put simply, the shrinking hero was given the short stick.
Lang's life was consistently scarred by an assortment of family issues. When his job as an electronics engineer failed to provide enough money for his family, Lang did what any decent father and husband would do: He resorted to burglary. Unfortunately, he was captured by authorities and sentenced to five years in prison. Soon after his release, Lang discovered that his daughter Cassie Lang (now known as the Young Avenger Stature) had a congenital heart condition. If that weren't bad enough, he soon found that Dr. Erica Sondheim, the only doctor that could cure his ailing daughter, had been kidnapped. Lang instinctively turned to burglary...again. Out of desperation, Lang broke into Dr. Henry Pym's home (the first Ant-Man) and "commandeered" his Ant-Man guise. Although Lang was never punished for swiping the suit, the proverbial crud kept hitting the fan.
Lang's wife Peggy Rae Lang divorced him, obtaining sole custody of their daughter Cassie soon after. Eventually overcoming the loss of his daughter and wife, he recovered and began to date Jessica Jones. Lang just couldn't catch a break, soon discovering that his girlfriend was pregnant with Luke Cage's child. Take that, dignity!
His unlucky run wasn't only confined to his family life, however. Lang had stints with various other groups such as Heroes for Hire and the Fantastic Four, neither of which ever resulted in a long-term position. It just seemed that he couldn't fit in anywhere. After aiding Earth's Mightiest Heroes multiple times, he was finally invited to become a member in the Avengers. Maybe things were finally looking up for Ant-Man. Nah, uh, uh! During his tenure on the team, Lang had various verbal disputes with explosive Avengers member Jack of Hearts. Things came to a head--strangely enough--after Jack had died, when a "resurrected" Jack of Hearts exploded on Avengers property, ending Lang's long and unlucky life.
Identity can be a huge issue for anyone, whether they be superhero or prepubescent teen. Unfortunately for Spider-Man, he's been both. Although he had struggled to keep his identity secret from the public until Civil War, his personal life has been persistently plagued by villains and his responsibilities to justice. Shocker, Doctor Octopus, the Osborn family and others have all wedged their way into Peter Parker's world to make his life as luckless as possible.
One thing is for sure: We wouldn't want to be friends with the Web-Slinger--or even within 20 feet of him. It seems that every close friend and relative of Peter Parker's has either died or come close to it. Even infancy revealed Parker's unlucky streak, with his parents dying in a plane crash overseas. His uncle and mentor Benjamin Parker was murdered by a burglar. May Parker suffered numerous heart attacks, a coma, kidnappings by a bagillion bad guys and an unfortunate blood transfusion from her nephew. The closer to Peter you are, the worse it gets.
His bad luck persisted in his love life as well. After her father was crushed during a fight between Dr. Octopus and Spider-Man, Parker's beloved girlfriend Gwen Stacy was tossed off the Brooklyn Bridge by the Green Goblin (Norman Osborn) and fell to her death. Finding some flash of luck, Spidey hooked up and married the comely Mary Jane Watson. But Spider-Man's better half has repeatedly suffered calamitous catastrophes as well. She's been kidnapped countless times, had a miscarriage caused by the return of Norman Osborn and at one point was even thought to have died in a plane crash. If Parker's life were a donut, it would be misery flavored, stuffed with sadness jam and topped by a thin glaze of horrible.
And while there's no denying Spidey's personal life has had its share of troubles, you know he's taken beating after beating in his professional life. From the massive written beatdowns he's taken in the Daily Bugle courtesy of J. Jonah Jameson to the debacle that was unmasking during Civil War to simply getting his tail kicked, the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man is New York's friendly neighborhood pin cushion.
Abandoned by his mother at an early age and left to be raised solely by his boxing father, Matt Murdock's a guy who's had it rough from the start. Pretty much from day one it seems that Daredevil is beyond having bad luck, this guy is jinxed! Despite leading a life of violence himself, "Battling Jack" Murdock always stressed the importance of nonviolence and learning to his son. Unfortunately for Matt as a youngster in Hell's Kitchen, that sort of lifestyle marked him as an easy target for bullies and torment. While dealing with mixed messages and adolescent troubles, Matt saved an old man from an oncoming truck, which consequently spilled radioactive chemicals on the boy's face. Leaving him with heightened senses, the accident also left him blind. On top of that, Matt's father was murdered when he refused to throw one of his fights. C'mon, that's just not fair to dump on a kid! If anyone thought it would end there, they were sorely mistaken!
As young Matt Murdock grew into the crimson hero we've all come to love, his double life as Daredevil only increased the dose of bad luck he'd been prescribed. This hapless hero soon learned that not only was he cursed, but it seemed that those he loved had hexes placed on them too! While in school at Columbia, Matt Murdock fell in love with Elektra Natchios, who broke our hero's heart when she left him after her father was murdered. Returning as a hitman for the kingpin, she was hired to kill Matt's law-partner and best friend Foggy Nelson. When she couldn't deliver the goods, Kingpin had Daredevil's nemesis Bullseye spear Elektra on her own sai. She crawled to Matt Murdock's doorstep and died in his arms. Fortunately an event like that wouldn't leave any scars. Right.
Elektra's death was just the first a long string of doomed girlfriends to come for Daredevil. His one-time lady love Heather Glenn became an alcoholic and committed suicide, while Glorianna O'Breen was killed by one of Kingpin's hitmen. Typhoid Mary was hired by the Kingpin to seduce Daredevil and then drive him crazy. His true love--and law office secretary--Karen Page, became an adult movie star, picked up a nasty heroin habit and ultimately sold Daredevil's secret identity for a fix. After rehabilitating, Page got back together with Matt Murdock, only to become his second girlfriend to be impaled by Bullseye—this time with Daredevil's own billy-club. Now a married man (for who knows how long), DD's current gal pal Milla has been smacked around, kidnapped and threatened more in a year than most characters deal with in their entire existences. Ladies, stay away from this guy!
It's not just love that vexes our boy in red. Recently, his identity was publicized, leading to about as much terror as you'd expect from that kind of unwanted experience. After seeing his life go through the wringer, Murdock landed in jail on Ryker's Island with the likes of the Kingpin, Owl and Bullseye. While visiting the imprisoned hero, DD's best friend Foggy Nelson was stabbed and nearly killed. Since then Matt Murdock's life has been on a bit of a mend, but with the100th issue of DAREDEVIL looming, you know Ed Brubaker and Michael Lark are cooking up something to send the unfortunate hero on a downwards spiral he's well-acquainted with.
You've seen our list, but who'd make your list of Marvel's unluckiest heroes. Discuss in the forums and let your voice be heard!