Sidekicks have been around almost as much as many of their iconic superhero counterparts. Many times you’ll get a sidekick who seems even to be cooler and better than a lot of solo superheroes. Many of these sidekicks also go on to continue the legacy of the mentors that they follow and become a new hero in their own right. None other is this evident than Captain America passing the mantle on to his dearly beloved friends. With Falcon and Winter Soldier currently running on Disney Plus to much acclaim and success, and with those two characters originally being sidekicks to none other than the Star Spangled Man With A Plan; Lets take a look at some of the greatest superhero sidekicks throughout the years.
Note: Though many of these sidekicks have had different origins throughout different universes and often go on to be portrayed by different characters, I’m going to stick with the characters as they first appeared. We won’t dive as much into subsequent characters taking on the mantle.
Let’s start off with the sidekick that we have all come to know and love in recent cinema, and for decades on paper. Sam Wilson, a.k.a. The Falcon. First appearing in 1969, created by Stan Lee and Gene Colan, Sam Wilson was Born in Harlem, New York. He grew up amidst a good family and a happy childhood. Sam liked to raise pigeons and always loved birds. Though not everything was great for Sam growing up. He encountered racism, street crime, and disillusionment from his religion. He left his family’s faith but remained on good terms with his parents. Sadly, his father was killed intervening in a fight going on in Sam’s neighborhood and his mother was killed by a mugger not too far from where they lived. Grief stricken and enraged Sam moved out to L.A. where he became “Snap” Wilson; criminal and gang member. On his way to Rio de Janeiro for a “big score” his plane crashes on Exile Island. This island had been conquered by the Exiles, collaborates of the Red Skull during World War II. Post WWII they remained on the island enslaving the natives. It is here that Wilson meets his trusty falcon companion, Redwing. With tampering from the cosmic cube, The Red Skull gives Wilson a superhuman connection to Redwing giving Sam vaguely defined powers over all birds if he concentrates. The Red Skull also used the cube to erase Wilson’s past and memory as “Snap” Wilson. Part of this altered timeline made it so that Wilson was a social worker lured to Exile Island to free the natives. It’s here that Wilson meets Captain America. With Steve Rogers, they create a persona for Sam to inspire the natives and thus the Falcon was born. With wings to fly, and his faithful companion falcon, Sam was ready to fight injustice. Cap and Falcon then defeated the Red Skull and the Exiles and freed the island. This began their legacy as friends, partners, and as bearers of the shield. Sam would go on to join the Avengers, save the world, and eventually become Captain America himself.
First Appearance as Falcon: Captain America #117 (1969)
First Appearance as Captain America: All-New Captain America #1
Suggested Reading: All-New Captain America, Captain America Volume 5: The Tomorrow Soldier, Falcon And Winter Soldier
The original Kid Flash, Wally West. First appearing in 1959 and created by John Broome and Carmine Infantino, Wally West is the nephew of Iris West, wife of Barry Allen the Silver Age’s Flash. Wally West grew up with a rather tough relationship with his parents and spent a lot of his time and schooling in Central City living with his aunt Iris. Wally West was the number one fan of The Flash, who he had no idea yet was Iris’ boyfriend Barry Allen. On a tour of Central City’s police station and visiting Barry’s laboratory, the same accident which caused Barry Allen to gain superspeed happened again to young Wally. Lightning struck Wally through the skylight, bathing him in the same chemicals that once hit Barry. Wally received the same superspeed and access to the Speed Force as his mentor and fashioned a costume to fight crime with his uncle as the Kid Flash. Not only that, but he went on to make friends with Dick Grayson and Donna Troy, and become one of the founding members of the original Teen Titans. Later during the events of Crisis On Infinite Earth’s Barry Allen sacrificed his life to save the multiverse and Wally became the new Flash. Later Barry would return, but Wally retaining the Flash title alongside Barry and Jay Garrick. Bart Allen, the time-traveling grandson of Barry Allen becoming the new Kid Flash. And later during the New 52/Rebirth era, Wallace West; cousin of Wally West named after the same Grandfather, became the Kid Flash while Wally West returned to continuity alongside Barry Allen once again as The Flash. (It’s complicated, but he’s a good character who upheld the legacy of The Flash).
First Appearance As Kid Flash: The Flash #110 (1959)
First Appearance As The Flash: Crisis On Infinite Earths #12
Suggested Reading: Titans (2016), Heroes in Crisis, Flash: Rogue War, The Flash War
Also making appearances throughout the comics and MCU is War Machine. James “Rhodey” Rhodes, longtime friend of Tony Stark and armor bearer known as War Machine, was created by David Machelinie, John Byrne, and Bob Layton. He jumped onto pages in 1979 as a United States Marine and combat pilot. He was stranded in Vietnam when his helicopter was shot down and it was here that he met Tony Stark who had recently escaped Wong-Chu’s prison camp in his prototype suit of armor. Together they defeated the Viet Cong soldiers who ambushed them and destroyed their rocket base. After they make it back home Stark thanks Rhodes and offers him a job as his personal pilot, later becoming Stark International’s chief aviation engineer. Later, Obadiah Stane began taking business from Stark International and Tony Stark fell into alcoholism which led to his defeat by Magma. Rhodes took up the mantle of Ironman at the request of Stark and fought back the villains moving in to conquer Stark International and the world. One Stark was rehabilitated Rhodes stepped back and remained at Tony’s side while Stark Enterprises was born. After a few more crises averted by Stark and his comrades; he developed the “Variable Threat Response Battle Suit, Model XVI, Mark I” he nicknamed this the War Machine. It was a much more heavily armored version of the original Iron Man armor. Stark was “killed” and Rhodes took over the company and continued on once again as Iron Man using the War Machine armor. Stark was revealed to be not dead, this fractured their friendship, but after they reconciled Stark had Rhodes keep the War Machine armor and they both became their own separate heroes. It’s arguable that Rhodes is actually a sidekick. He’s more of a good friend and stalwart partner, who stepped in while the hero was unable to fight. In essence though, I think that is the mark of a true sidekick; one who will always stand for the hero when they can’t.
First Appearance: Iron Man #118 (1979)
First Appearance as Iron Man: Iron Man #170
First Appearance as War Machine: Iron Man #282
Suggested Reading: Iron Man: War Machine, X-Force: Assault On Graymalkin, Iron Man/War Machine; Hands Of The Mandarin
Created by Bob Haney and Bruno Premiani, we have Donna Troy as Wondergirl. Faithful companion and fellow amazon to Diana Prince, Wonder Woman herself. The inception of Wonder Girl is an interesting one. Initially, when Wonder Woman was created by William Moulton Marston, she was inspired by Marston’s wife Elizabeth, and their life partner Olive Byrne. The driving philosophy of the character was a behavioral theory derived by Marston which included Dominance and Submission, (this is why Wonder Woman comes from a land full of women who seduce men to their island where they submit them to bondage with lassos, whips, and other things). When the comic industry started cracking down on more mature content and undertones of its books, DC editorial wanted to create a sidekick for Wonder Woman who was appealed to families and children. Thus Wonder Girl was born to give Wonder Woman more of a family element, since Wonder Girl was originally Wonder Woman’s younger sister. Her origin wasn’t necessarily fleshed out though until Marv Wolfman and Gil Kane created the story that Wonder Woman rescued and orphan from an apartment on fire. She brought the orphan to Paradise Island to be raised by her mother Hippolyta. And she becomes known simply as Wonder Girl. Initially Wonder Girl dressed exactly as Wonder Woman did, but when Wolfman retconned a lot of the character she decided to don a red bodysuit, and adopt the secret identity known as Donna Troy. However, Wonder Girl has been subject to a lot of retcons about her past and origin. She is usually tied more explicitly to the Teen Titans, later the Titans. And as she grows up she become known simply as Donna Troy with Cassie Sandsmark taking the role of Wonder Girl after Donna Troy grows up after the New 52 reboot. Donna doesn’t show up on the scene really again until DC Rebirth in the pages of Titans.
First Appearance: The Brave and the Bold #60 (1965)
Suggested Reading: Titans (2016), Infinite Crisis, Return of Donna Troy
Wong, the valet, sidekick, and sort-of butler to The Sorcerer Supreme. Wong was created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko in 1963. Wong was the descended of Chinese Monk Kan who aided in the conquering of the Wizard Kings millennia ago. In order to atone for this Kan pledged his loyalty and the loyalty of all firstborn sons in his family generation to all magic wielders so long as they user their magic for good. Wong was born in Kamar-Taj and served the Ancient One. He was a student of the martial and mystic arts and was trained specifically to serve powerful sorcerers. When Wong came of age the Ancient One sent him to the United States to serve Doctor Stephen Strange in his battle against the ancient dangers of the world. Wong serves as his valet and bodyguard and is always at his side no matter what. Even when Doctor Strange led the Defenders and subsequent other teams, Wong was always there at his side sometimes even sacrificing his very lifeforce in servitude to The Sorcerer Supreme and the oath that his ancestor took long ago. Post Civil War he also served as the housekeeper to the New Avengers at the behest of Doctor Strange who was off doing other mystical adventures. But eventually Strange settled back into Bleecker Street and Wong followed where they both battle the forces of darkness, keep the mystical forces at bay, and grab a sandwich together every now and then.
First Appearance: Strange Tales #110
Recommended Reading: Doctor Strange: The Last Days of Magic, Tomb of Dracula #44, Doctor Strange Vol. 2 #14
Some sidekicks just can’t get a break. Such is the case with Green Arrow’s sidekick Speedy. Roy Harper, a.k.a. Speedy was originally created by Mort Weisinger and George Rapp. Roy Harpers father was a forest ranger. The fate of his mother is unknown to Roy, which has gnawed at him all his life. Roy’s father died in a forest fire while rescuing a Navajo Medicine man named Brave Bow. Roy was raised as Brave Bow’s own son, growing up on stories about his father’s heroism. Roy trained in archery and begun hearing legends of the Green Arrow in Star City and began idolizing him. Brave Bow contracted a deadly illness and before he died, contacted Green Arrow and asked him to take Roy in and raise him. Green Arrow, who adjudicated an archery contest in which Roy was competing, saw promise within Roy as a potential sidekick and adopted him after Brave Bow’s death. Roy was given the name Speedy because Roy would routinely stop a crime before Green Arrow had the chance to pull on his costume. Roy was also wicked fast at the draw and often could outshoot Green Arrow when it came to speed. Along with Wally West, Dick Grayson, and Donna Troy; Roy founded the Teen Titans and adventured with them when not with Green Arrow. But, a character defining moment occurred in Speedy’s life when the Teen Titan’s broke up briefly. While Green Arrow was out with Green Lantern, leaving Roy all on his lonesome. He turned to heroine. This caused a rift in his partnership with Green Arrow, but Green Lantern sought pity on the poor boy and brought him to Green Arrows girlfriend Black Canary who helped Roy with his withdrawals. (Much of this is chronicled in the comic Snowbirds Don’t Fly, which was met with much critical acclaim as one of the first comic ushering in more adult themes). Roy recovered for the time being but ended his partnership with Green Arrow. Speedy would grow up to become Arsenal, and even rebrand for a time being as Red Arrow. Currently he goes by Arsenal once again, constantly taking out drug dealers and working with the Titans and fellow baditude The Red Hood.
First Appearance as Speedy: More Fun Comics #73
First Appearance as Arsenal: The New Titans #99
Recommended Reading: Green Lantern Vol. 2 #85, Snowbirds Don’t Fly, Red Hood And The Outlaws (2011), Titans (2016)
A little bit of an oddball, we’ve got Weasel, sidekick to good ol’ Deadpool. Created by Fabian Nicieza and Klaus Janson, Weasel first hit comic pages in 1993. He was an up and coming student at Empire State University and was the classmate of characters such as Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy. His birthname is Jack Hammer, but became Weasel after Deadpool traveled back in time and while disguised as Peter Parker, convinced Norman Osbourn that Jack was a drug user which ended his employment opportunity. So Jack Hammer became the Weasel and turned to a life of crime. He would provide intelligence, weapons and other goods to mercenaries and criminals, and it is during this period of his life where he met Deadpool for the second time, (well, the first time that he knew of). Weasel became a good “friend” to Deadpool providing good intel and keeping his mouth shut. He would supply Deadpool with weaponry and eventually began to form somewhat of a true friendship with the Merc with a Mouth. Weasel has gone on plenty of adventures with Deadpool along with the Great Lakes Avengers. He’s always getting into mischief as some form of anti-Jimmy Olsen type character. Sometimes he’s stuck in time, sometimes a suit of armor called “the House” and sometimes he’s been condemned to Hell. Just the kind of sidekick for an equally bizarre hero.
First Appearance: Cable #3
Recommended Reading: Deadpool #11, Deadpool Vol. 2 #23, Spider-man/Deadpool #14
Superboy has had a few very different incarnations throughout the years. Initially Superboy comics were just tales of Superman when he was young, growing up in Smallville. Then we have Kon-el or Subject 13 who was a clone of Superman using some of Lex Luthor’s DNA. He’s the first original character called Superboy, however he’s never really been all that connected to Superman in the past. So for the purposes of this post I’ll be discussing the Superboy known as Jonathon Kent. Jonathan Samuel Kent was created by Dan Jurgens in 2015. He was revealed during the Convergence event where Superman, Lois Lane, and their son from the pre-New 52 Universe were placed in the current continuity, replacing the newly deceased Superman and Lois Lane. Initially, Jonathan Kent didn’t know that his father was Superman, and they tried to keep a secret from the world. Even Batman and Wonder Woman didn’t quite know that there was a new Superman yet. Eventually the good old Clark Kent of yesteryear became Superman once more and with that his son realized his true destiny. His powers fluctuated when he was younger and he often found himself adventuring with Damian Wayne the son of Batman as the duo known as Super Sons. Eventually he met his grandfather Jor-El who was thought to have been dead with the planet Krypton. Jor-el took Jonathan Kent on a “character building” experience through the cosmos which resulted in a large-scale galactic conflict that Jonathan Kent was instrumental in resolving resulting in a galactic holiday and the appearance of the Legion Of Superheroes from the 31st century, where Jonathan Kent resides now; adventuring with the Legion of Superheroes like his father before him.
First Appearance: Convergence: Superman #2
Recommended Reading: Super Sons, Superman: The Unity Saga, DCEASED
Born in Shelby, Indiana in 1925, we’ve got James Buchanan “Bucky” Barnes. Bucky was created by Joe Simon and The King Of Comics himself, Jack Kirby in 1941. Bucky grew up as sort of an army brat until his father was killed in training at Camp Lehigh prior to the start of WWII. Because of this and the goodwill that Bucky had in the Army Corps at the time he was adopted as a sort of mascot. It was at Camp Lehigh that he met Steve Rogers and their friendship began. Bucky insisted that he join Captain America in his fight against the Axis and he began training in the British S.A.S. as a commando and was assigned to be Captain America’s partner. Together they fought the Red Skull, Hydra, and other villainous foes throughout World War II. It was later retconned that Bucky was trained as part of the Kid Commandos, which would see Bucky performing covert tasks that the more public facing heroes such as Captain America couldn’t be seen doing by the people of America. In an attempt to foil Baron Zemo’s, Bucky and Captain America leap onto an experimental drone plane to diffuse the bomb. Bucky climbs to do so, and is unsuccessful and the plane explodes seemingly killing Bucky and sending Captain America into the freezing waters of the North Atlantic Ocean to be later found by the Avengers decades later. But Bucky survived the explosion. It was revealed that a Russian patrol vehicle found Bucky’s body, also preserved by the cold, minus his arm. They brought Bucky to Moscow where they fitted him with a robotic arm and a heavy dose of brainwashing made all too easy due to a case of brain damage and amnesia. He does Russia’s bidding as their top assassin, The Winter Soldier. Eventually Captain America tracked him down and made him see who he really was, turning Bucky back over to the side of America where he would fight alongside his partner again. After the death of Captain America it is Bucky who takes up the shield and fights on as Captain America until Steve Roger’s eventual return. Finally, Bucky is still the Winter Solder and following the events of the Original Sin has taken the responsibility of The Man On The Wall, a title held previously by Nick Fury. Now Bucky watches over Earth and protects it from any threat doing what is necessary to keep harm from befalling the planet.
First Appearance: Captain America Comics #1 (1941)
First Appearance as The Winter Soldier: Captain America #1 (2005)
First Appearance as Captain America: Captain America #34 (2008)
Suggested Reading: The Winter Soldier, The Death Of Captain America, Original Sin
Robin, The Boy Wonder
Finally, perhaps the most iconic sidekick of them all, we’ve got Robin. There have been many Robins throughout the characters history and each of them are very good characters. But we’re here to talk about the first one, many would argue the best one, Dick Grayson. Richard Grayson was created by Bob Kane, Bill Finger, and Jerry Robinson in 1940. Dick Grayson was a circus acrobat along with his family The Flying Graysons. One fated day a crime lord known as Tony Zucco rigged the performance resulting in Dick’s family being killed. Billionaire Bruce Wayne was at the show and took in the young acrobat. As Batman, Bruce began training him to become Robin, the first Boy Wonder. Dick Grayson fought crime alongside Batman for many years. Dick Grayson, along with the other sidekicks of the era founded the Teen Titans and since then there has been a Robin on the team. Dick Grayson is also the worlds greatest acrobat. He’s fast, he agile, and he’s colorful. He’s the light to Batman’s darkness. But like a child, one must always grow up and break free from their parents control. Dick became disillusioned with Batman and struck out on his own to become a new hero. Taking inspiration from a Kryptonian legend he heard from Superman, Dick took on the moniker Nightwing and patrols Bludhaven; a small city adjacent to Gotham. Nightwing is the oldest brother of his younger adopted siblings providing levity, heart, humor, and great hair to the Batman family. When Batman died during the events of Final Crisis, it was Nightwing who stepped up and became Batman while Bruce was launched through time, seemingly dead. He’s been an agent of S.P.Y.R.A.L. as Agent 37, and he became Ric Grayson shortly. But in the end, he’s one of the first sidekicks ever, and the most well known; and after all that, remains a great character.
First Appearance: Detective Comics #38 (1940)
First Appearance as Nightwing: Tales of the Teen Titans #44
First Appearance as Batman: Robin #0
Suggested Reading: Batman: The Black Mirror, The Judas Contract, Robin Year One