When it comes to superheroes, most do it because they want to do the right thing. They have been gifted with powers and feel that if they don’t help people, those powers will go to waste. But being a superhero doesn’t pay the rent, and not everyone is secretly rich.
There are heroes who have to find a way to use their powers while paying the bills, and like most adults with unique abilities and a modicum of celebrity, they turn to corporations for sponsorship. Of course, when corporations have access to people with incredible powers, they don’t always keep up. Some heroes quickly discover that their moral compass is being jostled by their corporate masters and they have to part ways just to keep their souls.
10/10 Booster Gold joined the corporate team The Conglomerate
Booster Gold originally returned to the past with the intention of becoming a superhero and earning a lot of money. He joined the Justice League International for a while, but his ego and a growing desire to be taken “seriously” caused him to walk away from the team. But it wasn’t long before he found himself on another team, working with the Conglomerate.
A new super team formed by Max Lord’s ex-wife, the Conglomerate was invested in by several major companies within the DC Universe, including LexCorp, STAR Labs, Stagg Industries, and American Steel. Booster stayed on the team until it became clear that they would never be a “real” team with so many corporations hanging over their heads.
9/10 X-Factor was managed by Serval Industries
X-Factor has had one of the strangest storylines of any X-Men team. Originally, they were a team of “mutant hunters” made up of the original X-Men who wanted to collect and train mutants. They were then a government-run organization for a time before becoming X-Factor Investigations under the leadership of Jamie Madrox, the Multiple Man.
After Jamie retired, Serval Industries CEO Harrison Snow bought the brand from him to create his own team. This version of X-Factor was led by longtime X-Factor member Polaris, who teamed up with Gambit and Quicksilver to form his own team. This version of the team was short-lived, as the All New X Factor The comic didn’t last long.
8/10 Property of Stark Industries protected by Iron Man
Tony Stark basically introduced the first corporate superhero. After building the Iron Man armor, Stark knew that he couldn’t let people know that he was the one behind the suit. Instead, he revealed that Iron Man was to serve as his bodyguard and protector of the private property of Stark Industries.
Stark kept Iron Man’s identity “hidden”, but made him a high-ranking employee within the Stark Industries organization. Iron Man remained Tony Stark’s bodyguard for several years until the mid-2000s, when he revealed his secret identity not once but twice. These days, people are very aware of who is really under the helmet.
7/10 The new Avengers became the heroes of the Avengers ideas mechanic
When Sunspot took over the New Avengers, they were unlike any of the previous eras that had well-known heroes like Spider-Man and Wolverine. Instead, Roberto da Costa used his money to buy the superscience terrorist organization Advanced Idea Mechanics, making it the Avengers’ superior Idea Mechanics.
Backed by the scientific wing of this new AIM, Sunspot and the Avengers fought enemies with science as much as their powers. Comprised of heroes like Wiccan, Hulkling, Squirrel Girl, and White Tiger, the team didn’t last long, but they quickly reformed as another Avengers team: the USAvengers.
6/10 Outsiders were funded by Optitron
The Outsiders were led by Batman for much of their existence, but years after Batman left the team, Roy Harper re-assembled the team after leaving the Titans. However, it wasn’t long before Roy convinced Nightwing to lead the group, and they took money from the mysterious Optitron, a multimedia company that owns global cable companies.
Optitron was responsible for funding everything the Outsiders depended on, from a base to transportation. Unlike most corporations, they wanted nothing from the Outsiders, claiming their actions had more to do with philanthropy and the importance of having a lesser-known superhero team doing good. However, as Nightwing later found out, the real reason Optitron didn’t want anything is that they were a shell corporation owned by his mentor, Bruce Wayne.
5/10 Aztek was financed by Lex Luthor
Aztek was one of the heroes added to the Justice League in the late ’90s when the team decided it needed an expansion. A hero who relied on technology, Aztek arose to fight a dangerous threat his people had trained to combat for centuries.
While Aztek was meant to fight this mysterious threat, he had the support of an organization called Q Corp. But Q Corporation’s financial backer was Lex Luthor, who wanted a superhero within the Justice League. Although Lex granted his wish, Aztek proved too noble to be the tool Lex wanted him to be.
4/10 Spider-Man became the bodyguard of Parker Industries
When Peter Parker got his body back from Otto Octavius, he also had to take over the business that Otto had started running. As the head of Parker Industries, Peter decided to make the job easier with his alter ego Spider-Man.
Like Iron Man, Peter decided to make Spider-Man his personal bodyguard. The connection between Spider-Man and Peter Parker was already made considering that he spent years taking photos of Spider-Man, so people just bought it. The story made it seem like Peter was finally living up to his potential, something Marvel doesn’t usually allow him to do. However, it wasn’t long before Parker Industries collapsed and Peter no longer had a need to carry on the charade.
3/10 Infinity Inc. name was bought by LexCorp
Infinity Inc. was originally the sons of the Justice Society who had been denied membership within the JSA. Once the importance of the JSA waned after the crisis on infinite earths, Infinity Inc. also gradually disappeared. but with the series 52Lex Luthor bought the rights to the name Infinity Inc. and chose to use it for his own team of heroes.
This new version of Infinity Inc. was made up of people who were given powers thanks to their special project Everyman, which was meant to give humans superpowers. Luthor intended to have his own corporate-controlled superheroes, but it wasn’t long before they rebelled against him.
2/10 X-Statix was run by billionaire venture capitalist Spike Freeman
The successor to X-Force in the early 2000s, X-Statix was a commentary on an increasingly celebrity-centric culture. A team full of barely functioning mutants given “heroic” missions, the team was assembled by a billionaire named Spike Freeman. Freeman’s main reason for keeping the team was to find ways to make money off of them.
Freeman’s schemes ranged from the simple, such as maintaining the team’s fame through missions, to the complex, such as creating an artificial civil war between two factions of the team in order to sell an X-Statix video game. Irresponsible ownership led to the roster constantly changing new members as they accepted new recruits.
1/10 Ben Reilly was run by The Beyond Corporation
Recently, Ben Reilly took over the role of Peter as Spider-Man while Peter was out of action. During that time, Ben worked for the Beyond Corporation, a group that wanted their own privately funded superhero. For the Beyond Corporation, that meant intentionally taking Peter Parker out of action and even having Ben fight Miles Morales over the trademark Spider-Man.
The Beyond Corporation’s machinations were eventually discovered by Ben, though he was unable to shut down the group without sustaining personal injury. The organization erased many of his memories of him as Peter Parker, making him a more amoral character. In the end, the Beyond Corporation was forced to abandon its plans with private superheroes… for now.
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