From the age of pulp comics to the iconic golden and silver ages of comics and all the way up to the modern movie age of comics, one thing has remained consistent throughout generations: corporate theft. The industry is a game of sales and demographic appeal, and if one idea works for one company, it stands to reason it will work for another.
As a result, a lot of characters are either heavily influenced by or outright ripped off from other, pre-existing properties. This practice has become standard in the comic book industry and has been going on for so long that some of the most famous rip-offs in the medium's history have outshone their predecessors and become iconic in their own right.
People have forgotten that Alan Moore modelled his the Watchmen directly on Steve Ditko's Charlton Comics characters, that the Squadron Supreme is a riff on the Justice League, and that Hawkeye is a carbon copy of Green Arrow, right down to a bird-themed girlfriend. And sometimes, it helps to take a step back and be reminded that the characters currently dominating the box office are based on plagiarisms.
10. Deadpool - Ripped-Off Deathstroke
Even people who don't like superheroes or comics or even action movies know Deadpool. Be it from the aggressive marketing campaigns for the two blockbuster movies released under his name, the numerous interviews and stunt promotions Ryan Reynolds has performed in character, or just by law of cultural osmosis, the Merc' with a Mouth is now a household name. And he's best known as a subversive, fourth-wall breaking, uber-violent parody of juvenile superhero comics.
That doesn't stop the fact he's kind of a rip-off though.
Thanks to years of character development in the comics, it's almost impossible to tell that Deadpool was originally a blatant copy of DC's Deathstroke. When artist Rob Liefield handed the first draft of the character design to writer Fabian Nicieza, he immediately saw the similarities and so decided to lean into the comparison head on, naming the character Wade Wilson, a play on Deathstroke's alter ego of Slade Wilson.
While he was supposed to die in his first appearance (The New Mutants #98), Deadpool pulled a Joker. Fans were instantly taken with the wisecracking assassin and a triggered a grassroots campaign to have him reinstated as a regular character. In the subsequent decades, he's established himself as a pillar of Marvel Comics lore, a unique voice and perspective in the Earth-616 universe.
However, his first character design wasn't the only thing he stole. His fourth-wall breaking, humor, and wily person are direct rip-offs from silver-age She-Hulk.