There are superheroes who have been around since the early 1900’s. They have had a lot of different forms and powers but if you look closely, you realize that the inspiration for these heroes usually goes back much further - back to ancient Greece even.

The most typical example is the American comic book Olympians, published by Marvel in 1965. These characters are based loosely on the Twelve Olympians and other deities of Greek and Roman mythology. Apart from comic books and films that are directly associated to Greek gods and heroes, there is a plethora of characteristics and hints to be recognised in some of the most famous characters of the comic universe.

Case study ‘Zeus’. Zeus, the father of gods and men, was the ruler of heavens and the world of the living. Although there is no particular, modern comic character who embodies Zeus, with the exception of that in the Olympians series, traces of the Greek god can be identified in modern characters, such as Superman, Thor and more.

We already know that in Norse mythology, Thor was a hammer-wielding god associated with lightning, thunder and strength, but centuries before Thor, Zeus was the lord of thunder and lightning and this is why he is often pictured holding a lightning bolt in his hand. What about Loki? The Norse God of Mischief looks like the great-great-great grandson of Zeus, who had been capable of assuming forms others to his true self, forms of other people, animals or even elements. Since his most usual motive for this change of form was seduction, he is definitely the ancient predecessor of Loki. According to a myth, he even transformed into an ant once to seduce princess Eurymedousa and their son was named Myrmidon (Ant-man). Does this ring a bell?

The comic character who bears strong similarities to Zeus more than any other is probably Superman. Superman is an alien and aliens might look like gods to ordinary human beings. Zeus is the god of heavens and Superman almost always approaches humans from the skies. Both of them are leaders, the most powerful of their respective groups, they have the ability to transport themselves almost at speed of light and they are often somehow disguised so that they walk among the mortals on earth.

Ladies and gentlemen, I rest my case.


By Valia Skivalaki