Whether from comic books or the big screen, superheroes have always been more than just geek culture, appealing to the masses who identify with the many characters. This love for the gallant heroes and super villains has made an easy transition to the tattoo world, with many people deciding to get ink of their favorites. For many, the traits of some of these larger-than-life heroes and villains resonate in their own personal lives, making them an ideal image to permanently paint on the skin. With so many different characters to choose from and so many ways to apply them to the skin, the wealth of superhero and supervillain tattoos is abundant and the following picks are only a small sample of the ones that exist in the world.
We put our capes on, tied up our utility belt and leather boots, summoned our superhuman strength and “swang through” the Web to come up with the Top 15 Superhero Tattoos.
The character of Catwoman has gone through many changes over the years and her most recent incarnation is as an anti-hero that has been epitomized in two modern film versions. The draw that many people have towards Catwoman is that she represents a different take on the repressed rage that drives Batman.
With previous abuse often alluded to in comic books and descriptions of the character, Catwoman could be seen as a sign of triumph over a difficult life, complete with achievements as well as revenge. This duality makes Catwoman an attractive choice for many people. Catwoman is also seen as a sex symbol, which is reflected by the large following of female fans. Her genuine "girl power" flair is a strong indication that this tattoo would be favored by women seeking to make a statement about their femininity.
Similar to Catwoman, many people see the character of Spawn as being figuratively representative of their own life. The story of Spawn is that he has gone to hell for his actions while he was alive and makes a deal to become a demonic servant in exchange for seeing his wife one last time.
The idea of literally going through hell for love (even though it ends badly for Spawn) could be source of inspiration for some readers and the striking artwork of Todd McFarlane makes for plenty of good source images from the comic book.
Found on the skin of both men and women, the character of Wonder Woman can be seen in different ways. For men, the simple attractiveness of Wonder Woman is a major selling point, but for women, the character can be much more.
Many women have chosen Wonder Woman for tattoos because she represents female power and the ever-vigilant search for truth. Invented during the second World War, Wonder Woman is an icon for personal freedom and the fight against tyranny, obviously a noble cause that echoes with many people.
Similar to the Spawn story, the origins of Ghost Rider follow the same deal-with-the-demon plot line, but with a twist. The body of Ghost Rider is actually controlled by two separate entities, motorcycle stuntman Johnny Blaze and a demon named Zarathos.
The result is an antihero that fights crime but punishment can be overly severe when Zarathos takes control of the body. Ghost Rider tattoos are most commonly found on motorcycle enthusiasts that face the challenge of being seen as a threat to society even though their intentions are good.
As one of the older comic book heroes, the Green Lantern has been in publication since 1940 and has earned countless fans with his sense of righteousness and sense of social duty. Throughout the years, the Green Lantern has been featured in stories that attack societal issues and justice.
A common identifying factor with this superhero is his willpower and people who choose to get a Green Lantern tattoo may be following the belief that anything is possible when a person has enough willpower.
While many superheroes have been adapted over time to match the views of audiences, Captain America has remained the same for the past 70 years. The legend of Captain America is that he is the epitome of human perfection and his image as a patriot was a conscious choice by creators Joe Simon and Jack Kirby.
Fans of Captain America frequently have the same patriotic perspective and it may be this quality that motivates them to get a tattoo of the hero. This patriotism combined with incredible strength and honor makes Captain America the perfect choice for a person that believes in their country and wants to show their pride.
The Punisher may be one of the darker comic book and movie heroes out their, but his unique brand of justice has proven to be popular, attracting many fans. The back-story for the Punisher is that his wife and children were murdered after witnessing a mafia-related execution in a public park. From that day forward, the sole mission of the Punisher, also known as Frank Castle, is to shut down the mafia at any cost. This means that the character is often more violent than other superheroes and is willing to bend or break the rules in order to make the mob pay for their mistake.
Popularized by several movies in addition to comic books, The Punisher has become a symbol for righteousness and the willingness to do whatever it takes to set things right. It is this vigilance that has made the character a popular tattoo choice among fans.
As yet another antihero, Wolverine has been a comic book favorite since his first appearance in 1974, leading to a featured role in many installations of the X-Men movie franchise. Like the Punisher, Wolverine is known to use excessive force when necessary, but there is a major difference between the two characters. With the latter, the character is often troubled by his actions and his lack of control under pressure. For this reason, Wolverine has become a loner, rarely trusting anyone enough to let them get close.
Afraid of what may be happen during one of his rages, he chooses to stay apart from groups and in several instances has distanced himself from the ones that he loves. It may be these realistic human qualities and flaws that makes Wolverine endearing to fans and a popular choice for a tattoo. That and the adamantium claws.
Thor is one of the stranger superheroes to be popular among fans. Based upon a god from Norse mythology, little is known about the Mighty Thor and how he came to be a member of the Avengers superhero group. The original writing for the Thor comic book used the historical legend of Thor being the son of Odin, another Norse god, and an immortal that has dedicated his never-ending life to fighting the good fight.
Armed with Mjolnir, a hammer of supernatural powers that allows him to command weather forces, Thor has turned into the exemplification of power. It is this connection that links him to fans and his continued popularity is proof that the qualities of the hero are merited. A person that chooses a Thor tattoo values the hero's strength and willingness to make tough decisions that are always morally correct.
Often considered to be one of the most psychologically tormented superheroes in the world of comics, the Incredible Hulk has long been a source of fascination for his many fans. Following accidental exposure to a gamma bomb that he created, Dr. Bruce Banner developed an involuntary response to anger, turning into a bright green monster that is extremely aggressive and dangerous.
With a similar guilt complex as Wolverine, the Incredible Hulk plays the same loner role, attempting to stay out of situations and relationships where he may injure people that are close to him. For this reason, Banner frequently lives in hiding, but nothing he can do will prevent him from changing into the Hulk when he becomes angry. The deep mental and emotional issues found in Hulk comics and movies has resonated with fans and the image of the Hulk has become one of the most common superhero choices for a tattoo.
Tony Stark, or the Iron Man, is an anomaly in comics. While most heroes came from a troubled background, the transformation from Stark to the Iron Man is completely of his own doing. As a billionaire engineer that made his money from designing weapons, Stark leads a playboy lifestyle and has little care for the people that suffer from his creations. However, a kidnapping leads to Stark building the Iron Man suit that turns him into a superhero. From this time forward, Stark changes his outlook and works to fight crime instead of being part of the problem.
Originally created as a way to examine themes present in the Cold War, Stark and Iron Man have become an example of being able to change your life. This is the reason that Iron Man tattoos have been showing up more and more. With movies that follow the Iron Man action, fans see themselves in Stark's change to a productive life and a tattoo of the superhero is an excellent way to memorialize making this type of change.
As a darker character, Batman is one of the most recognizable superheros in the world, due in no small part to an extremely successful series of movies as well as multiple comic book titles to his name. Dating back to 1939, the story found in the comics is that Batman witnessed first-hand the murder of his own parents and swore an oath of revenge on the criminals responsible. In normal life, Batman is Bruce Wayne, a man that uses his intelligence for philanthropic reasons.
Batman tattoos are very popular as well, with portraits and the traditional Batman symbol being common choices among fans. The immediate connection for many Batman tattoo owners is the true sense of morality that is found in the character and his ability to always understand the ethically right decision even when it has to be made against personal gain. This respect for morality is echoed in those people that would always like to do the right and are willing to wear the tattoo to prove it.
First appearing in the comics world in 1938, Superman is both one of the oldest and most popular superheroes that still exists . The reason that the character has persevered for so long without fading into the background is that he is the perfect archetype of what a superhero should be. His socially awkward and clumsy alter ego as Clark Kent is a stark contrast to the confident and powerful Superman. This duality is clearly the main drawing point for the superhero, with millions of fans that would like to be able to shed their flaws and live a secret life as a perfect person.
Superman tattoos are wide and varied, ranging from the standard symbol of an S on the chest to portraits of the hero drawn in realistic and comic book styles. For a Superman tattoo owner, the style may reflect how they see the hero, whether from a realistic point of view or from a utopian ideology. There are few superheros that are represented by more tattoos than Superman and many examples are held as high points for the superhero tattoo genre.
If Superman is the archetype of the superhero, then Spider-Man is the practical application of the superhero idea. Similar to Clark Kent, the alter ego of Peter Parker has trouble with girls and difficulty standing up to authority. However, when he changes into Spider-Man, he becomes a hero that no longer worries about newspaper deadlines and puts his skills toward fighting the highest level of criminals. Superman may be the more perfect character, but the human side of both Peter Parker and Spider-Man makes him a more popular choice for tattoos.
The tattoos chosen for Spider-Man can range greatly. Because the character is so easily recognized, a simple web design may be enough to make a clear reference point. Other tattoos use the ripped flesh technique to show the superhero qualities that lie just below the skin. Whatever the choice, a Spider-Man tattoo is about the human side of the superhero and the point where a person is transformed from being ordinary into greatness.
Who says the good guys always win? The most popular superhero tattoo character is not a hero at all, but rather a villain. The Joker is the famous archenemy of Batman and has had a role in both the comic and movie versions of the story. In nearly every representation, from Bob Kane's early drawings to Heath Ledger's recent acting role, the Joker is seen as being a criminal mastermind that is both intelligent and psychotic. With a sick sense of humor, the Joker is somehow a likeable villain, capable of truly evil things, but turning many of his own criminal exploits into an elaborate game.
The image of the Joker is clearly the reason why so many people have chosen to get tattoos of the villain. The smiling face has become an iconic symbol and can be seen in many different tattoo styles, including line drawing, painting, and portrait images. With so many varied representations of the Joker available to artists, a person can surely find one that showcases the insanity and sense of humor found in the villain.
Who is your favorite Superhero? Leave a comment below.