Every superhero needs a sidekick! Well… not really, but it’s a good saying, isn’t it? Superheroes have changed a lot since the golden age of comics. The idea of superhero sidekicks has become somewhat of an outdated concept. But that doesn’t mean that they can’t still work! In fact, one of the most interesting things about comic books is the moment when sidekicks step out of the shadow cast upon them by the main hero and steal the spotlight. Everybody loves to see a character grow into themselves and emerge from the shadows to become the hero!
Here are 10 Superhero Sidekicks that Stole the Spotlight!
1. Jubilee (Jubilation Lee)
Most people probably won’t be aware of this, but originally, Jubilee was actually meant to be sidekick of sorts to Wolverine. First appearing in Uncanny X-Men #244 (1989), she was an orphaned mutant living in a shopping mall. After rescuing Wolverine from a private military organisation known as the Reavers the two grew close, forming a father-daughter like bond.
Eventually, Wolverine would temporarily leave the X-Men following the events of the Fatal Attractions storyline within which Magneto removed the Adamantium from his skeleton. In his absence, she joined a group of young mutants called Generation X. It was with this group that she really began to grow into herself both as an adult and as a hero.
It was around this time that her popularity really began to rise when she took centre stage in the 1990s X-Men Animated Series as one of the show’s main characters. Since then, we’ve seen her go through an absolute rollercoaster ride of stories. We saw her lose her powers, join the New Warriors with a power suit, become a vampire, and finally have her powers restored when her vampirism was cured by the Phoenix Force.
2. Bucky/The Winter Soldier (James Buchanan Barnes)
Marvel has never really engaged in the traditional “superhero sidekick trope”. But if there ever was a character that perfectly fit that criteria, then it was Bucky Barnes. He perfectly embodied the role of the golden age superhero sidekick. That was until his apparent death near the end of World War II.
From this point, he didn’t appear again (outside of flashbacks) for another 41 years! And when he did reappear, Bucky was no more. He was now the Winter Soldier, a brainwashed super soldier who had been carrying out assassination missions for the Soviet Union since his disappearance.
Of course, in time, the mind control was broken and his memories were restored. But gone was the sidekick that he used to be. He was now a hardened super soldier and the star of his own comic book. He even temporarily took on the mantle of Captain America when Steve Rogers “died” during 2007’s Civil War crossover storyline.
3. Nightwing/Robin (Dick Grayson)
Dick Grayson was the first Robin, quite literally the original sidekick! It wasn’t until Tales of the Teen Titans #44 (1984), that after 44 years of being Robin, he finally transcended the persona that has become synonymous with being Batman’s sidekick and reinvented himself.
This change began to happen when Dick joined the Teen Titans as their leader. He began to spend less time in Gotham with Batman. This was not something Batman was very happy about and he told Dick that if he didn’t want to be his partner anymore, he couldn’t use the persona of Robin anymore.
Inspired by a story that was told to him by Superman, Dick took the name of the Kryptonian legend, Nightwing. At this point he had effectively stepped out of Batman’s shadow and taken centre stage in his own stories. Of course, he would later join the Bat-Family as becoming Batman’s ally again, but he would never be referred to as a sidekick again.
4. Hit-Girl (Mindy McCready)
At a first glance, you would probably buy into Hit-Girl being some kind of sidekick to Kick-Ass. On paper that is what she is supposed to be, but everywhere but on paper it is clearly the other way around. She is described as a sidekick to both Big Daddy and Kick-Ass at different times but in reality, she’s neither to both.
With Big Daddy she is the one on the frontline fighting criminals while Big Daddy sits back in the sniper seat watching her do all the hard work. Who sounds like the sidekick in that scenario? Sounds to me like Hit Girl is the main hero and her father, Big Daddy is the sidekick assisting her. Even considering the fact that he’s the one that plans everything it’s still hard to call her the sidekick given that she’s the one doing all the fighting!
As for her relationship with Kick-Ass, I think it’s clear for all to see who the real sidekick is. In the movie she stole the show from start to finish… and she did the same in the comics.
5. Robin/Red Hood (Jason Todd)
When Dick Grayson became Nightwing he left Batman in need of a new Robin. This was a role Batman wasted no time filling. His replacement came in the form of street orphan, Jason Todd. He was never the light-hearted boy scout that Dick Grayson’s Robin was, neither was he the acrobat. Jason was much more streetwise but also much more aggressive.
Eventually, tragedy struck and his recklessness led to his murder at the hands of the Joker. It was later revealed that he had been resurrected and then further revived in the Lazarus Pit by Ra’s al Ghul. Furious that Batman had not killed the Joker for what he had done to him, he was not only out for Joker’s blood but Batman’s too.
At his point, Robin was no more. He was now the Red Hood, an anti-hero with no problem killing his foes or using lethal weapons such as guns or knives. Of course, in the end he did return to the Bat-Family, but he would never be overshadowed by anyone again.
6. Speedy/Arsenal (Roy Harper)
Roy Harper (aka Speedy) was the loyal sidekick of the Green Arrow. Of course, being a sidekick and a boring watered-down copy of the hero he was partnered with he was always overshadowed. That is until the infamous “Snowbirds don’t fly” storyline began in Green Lantern/Green Arrow #85 (1971), when it was revealed that Roy had become addicted to heroin.
He would in time get clean, however it was this event that not only thrusted Roy into the spotlight, but also began to drive the two apart. After this he went on to adopt the new identity of Arsenal. From here he re-joined the Teen Titans and even went on to lead them.
Roy would at some point settle his differences with his surrogate father but his days as Speedy the sidekick were very much over.
7. Batgirl (Barbara Gordon)
Debuting in Detective Comics #359 (1967), Barbara Gordon was the second Batgirl (the first being Betty Kane, the niece of the original Batwoman). As the name suggests, she’s the daughter of long-time Batman ally, Commissioner James Gordon. Initially, Batman tried to prevent her from becoming a crimefighter, but eventually, he accepted her as his sidekick.
For years, she provided a more light hearted side to the darkness of Batman’s stories. That is until 1988’s incredibly dark The Killing Joke storyline came along and flipped things on their head. In this now iconic storyline we saw the Joker shoot Barbara, breaking her spine and leaving her paraplegic.
Now without the use of her legs, she decided to use her brains to fight crime. After developing one of the world’s most advanced computer systems, she would use her incredible intelligence, photographic memory, and many connections to help other crimefighters as the Oracle.
Ironically, her working behind the scenes became the very thing that threw her into the spotlight as an incredibly important ally to pretty much every superhero in DC Comics. Ultimately, the New-52 reboot event came and “healed” her disability and despite the disappointment this caused, Batgirl would continue to hold the spotlight as one of DC Comics’ most popular characters.
If there ever was a sidekick that outshines the main hero, it has to be Green Hornet’s sidekick, Kato. In fact, it’s hard to even call him a sidekick because he’s only really a sidekick in name. Without Kato, Green Hornet wouldn’t have much going for him.
The duo first appeared in a radio show in 1936 and was later played by the legendary Bruce Lee in the Green Hornet TV Series. In this show we regularly saw him physically outperform the Green Hornet as a much more superior martial artist and general physical presence.
It was this TV show that gave rise to the popular of the Green Hornet and it was mainly due to Bruce Lee’s portrayal of Kato. Just to put into perspective how influential this was, it also was one of the highest contributing factors to the martial arts craze that began in the 60s.
Kato’s superiority mainly originated with Bruce Lee’s refusal to allow Asian martial arts to be defeated on the show. Because this show was the main thing that went on to shape the characters it stuck. In every rendition of Green Hornet and Kato that has followed, Kato has been the physically superior out of the two.
9. Bob, Agent of Hydra (Robert Dobalina)
This one’s a weird one, the last thing most people would ever expect to see on a list about superhero sidekicks is a Hydra agent. But then again, wherever Deadpool is concerned, what should we expect but the unexpected?
Robert Dobalina (or Bob, Agent of Hydra as he’s more affectionately known), first appeared Cable & Deadpool #38 (2007), and he’s probably the most unlikely sidekick on this list. You know? being an agent of Hydra and all…
However, that didn’t stop Bob from burrowing his way into our hearts as Deadpool’s cowardly yet loyal sidekick. How did this happen, you ask? The answer is simple… he was tortured into it. Deadpool, who at the time had been shrunk down to a comical size, used a security card to torture Bob until he agreed to help him.
From this point on Bob left Hydra to work for Deadpool. Although, sadly for Bob the torture wasn’t limited to their first encounter. Throughout their relationship Wade has beat Bob from pillar to post but Bob still remains fiercely loyal to him no matter what Wade does.
Whenever Bob’s around it’s hard not to be sucked into what he’s doing. He never saves the day though, he just steals the spotlight with his sheer buffoonery.
10. Kid Flash/The Flash (Wally West)
Wally West is the nephew (by marriage) of the second Flash (Barry Allen). First appearing in The Flash #110 (1959), he was the first to take on the moniker of Kid Flash after getting his super speed in an accident that was identical to the one that gave his uncle Barry his powers.
As Kid Flash, Barry mentored Wally and took him under his wing as his sidekick. It was during this time that Wally also became a founding member of the Teen Titans. For years, this would be the status quo for Wally. But everything would change when Barry Allen would die during Crisis on Infinite Earths leaving Wally to take up the mantle of Flash.
At first, Wally limited himself due to not wanting to surpass his mentor through fear of tarnishing his memory. However, during his fight with Reverse-Flash he broke through his mental barrier surpassing his mentor. From here Wally went on to be the fastest Flash we’ve ever seen. Even going as far as breaking the time barrier.