Marvel has become one of the biggest names in all of entertainment, with their heroes and villains headlining hit after hit on both the big and small screens. The company has proven itself adept at taking comic book characters both popular (Hulk, Captain America) and largely unknown (Guardians of the Galaxy) and producing creative, audience-pleasing content starring them.
This creative streak has roots going back much farther than the last decade of blockbusters, as Marvel has been pumping out popular comic books starring some of the most recognizable characters in the industry for over 50 years. Perhaps nothing is a greater testament to the creativity and talent powering the Marvel machine than the sheer volume of beloved characters the company has created from the unlikeliest of inspirations: pests.
Despite the fact that millions of people hate spiders, Spider-Man has been the face of the company since the 1960s, making the wallcrawler a ubiquitous and adored pop-culture figure with prominent placement in movies, children’s television, and the toy aisle. Joining the webhead in the canon of improbably successful Marvel characters are favorites like Rocket Raccoon, Squirrel Girl, and Ant-Man, among others.
Spider-Man’s prominent position in Infinity War as well as the upcoming sequel film starring the last of the characters named above, Ant-Man And The Wasp, inspired us here at Insight Pest Solutions to take a deeper look at Marvel’s pest-based characters and their place in the Marvel universe. Our findings show just how crucial these pest-based characters are to the world of the comic books, TV shows, and movies that have made Marvel one of the top brands in the entertainment industry.
To start, we wanted to find just how many different pest-based characters Marvel has on it’s roster. To figure this out, we combed through Wikipedia’s alphabetical listing of Marvel characters and collected data on each and every one that was inspired by a bug, reptile, or mammal that Insight Pest can help deal with. All told we found 144 different Marvel characters meeting that criteria, with reptiles and arachnids serving as the basis for characters most often, at 44 and 43 instances, respectively. That’s a whole lot of superbeings slithering through webbing!
Given how much most people dislike the creepy-crawlies that most often classify as “pests,” we weren’t terribly surprised to find that most pest-based Marvel characters are villains, with over 60% of the total falling on the evil side of things. When it came to specific inspirations, we found that spiders provided the basis for the most heroes, while most people in the Marvel universe would probably agree with Indiana Jones when it comes to hating snakes, as they were far and away the top template for villainy.
So what does it mean, powers-wise, that all of these characters are based on pests? We compiled all of the powers and abilities of these characters and then reviewed to find the most common characteristics of our characters. The hero-genre staple of super strength was far and away the most prevalent power, with over half of the pest-based characters possessing it in some form or another. The ability to fly was tied for wall-crawling in second, and given the amount of spider and bug based characters, were were a little surprised their numbers weren’t higher, and we were even more surprised to find that 40% of the characters with the ability to stick to wall were NOT inspired by spiders!
One of the most iconic parts of any superhero’s story is their origin. These beginnings shape the characters going forward in major ways, and serve as obvious stories to tell in other mediums such as film and television. With that in mind, we wanted to see if we could find any similarities among Marvel’s pest-based characters and where they come from.
The most common origin is a rather mundane one (at least by comic book standards), in that 21 characters are mutants like the X-Men, including some that actually were on that team. The only other origin encompassing double-digit characters is the group that uses technology-based super suits to enhance their otherwise normal human bodies. The least common origin we included, however, may be the most interesting as it covers characters that are clones of Spider-Man. In this category we found three…and a half. What’s the deal with that half you ask? Well a recent addition to the Marvel canon named Itsy Bitsy is cloned from the combined DNA of Spidey and Marvel’s unlikeliest big screen star: Deadpool.
Speaking of Marvel movies (and television shows), we would have been remiss if we hadn’t collected some data about how many pest-based heroes have appeared on screen as part of the massive Marvel media machine. Of the 144 pest-inspired characters in our study, 11 have made at least one appearance in a Marvel Cinematic Universe movie or show. Interestingly, the only place snake-based characters have shown up so far is on TV, specifically in the Luke Cage series on Netflix. Only one character based on a mammalian pest has gotten a turn in the spotlight so far, but it’s a big one in the beloved Rocket Raccoon from the Guardians of the Galaxy. The types of pest character with the most representation on screen is actually insects, largely thanks to characters from the Ant-Man series of films.
One thing some of the insect and arachnid-based character that have appeared in the MCU have in common is membership in the Avengers. Looking beyond that shared cinematic universe, however, we found that many pest-based characters in the comics are active members of super teams on both sides of the law. Given how prevalent the snake theme is for Marvel villains it wasn’t surprising to find that the Serpent Society boasts the largest collection of pesty characters, with the Avengers having a strong contingent of their own. On the other hand, since being a mutant was the most common single origin for pest-based powers in our study we were more than a little surprised to find that only three such characters have been members of the X-Men, the largest and most famous mutant team of all time. Sure seems like Professor X might have a fear of bugs that Insight Pest could help him out with at the X-Mansion!
Even though beloved Marvel characters based on household pests dominate the entertainment, toy, and clothing industries, homeowners shouldn’t ignore actual real-life pests on the slim chance of gaining superpowers from them. If you have a group of villainous pests invading your life and home, give the super team at Insight Pest Solutions a call to come and save the day!