#3. Omar Little from The Wire
If you aren't familiar with Omar or, even worse, aren't familiar with The Wire, shame on you. Stop reading this, you've got some Netflix business to take care of. The Wire is widely considered the best cop show ever in the history of everything.
And on that best cop show ever was probably the best criminal character ever, Omar Little, a Baltimore stickup-man with a badass face scar and a Robin Hood complex that has been named one of USA Today's 20 reasons they still love TV.
How We Almost Lost Him:
If David Simon, the creator of the show, had executed his original vision, Omar would've been killed off after just seven episodes of the first season. This puts his total number of appearances somewhere between jack and shit.
The problem was that Omar, while based on actual stickup men, was very much an exaggerated character, basically an urban cowboy going around robbing drug dealers and stopping just short of riding into town to duel the evil rancher at high noon. For a down to earth police drama, Omar was just too scrotum-uppercutingly awesome.
Who Saved Him?
Michael K. Williams.
The actor who played Omar brought so much humor and natural charm to the role that producers basically couldn't bring themselves to kill him off. It also helped that the scar on Williams's face is fucking real. It was a gift from a Brooklyn bar patron on Williams's 25th birthday bash. If the guy had given him socks instead, Omar would've been written off like a tax deduction.
"The interest on your savings bonds counts as non-taxable income. Motherfucker."
It is a testament to Wolverine's status as a pop culture icon when a movie like X-Men: The Last Stand did nothing to diminish his popularity. That's like surviving getting hit by a truck. A truck hauling shit.
How We Almost Lost Him:First, Wolverine was first envisioned as an actual wolverine, only mutated and somehow a teenager.
"Give him a skateboard. Kids like skateboards."
Luckily everyone realized how ear-bitingly retarded this was and the character was soon reworked into the one we know today. But even then, Wolverine wallowed in obscurity, and as the comic progressed the creators considered dropping him off the series indefinitely.
Who Saved Him?
Byrne, who took over as the artist of X-Men in 1977, was presented with a dilemma in that the editors feared that Logan and fellow X-man Thunderbird were too similar.
We can totally see the confusion.
One of them had to go, so Byrne chose to keep Wolverine because he, like Byrne, was Canadian and let's face it, there's not a whole bunch of Canadian superheroes out there. He dedicated himself to making Wolverine less ridiculous...
...and over time, Wolverine became a regular character in X-Men. Thunderbird, meanwhile, was killed on board an exploding plane, a death that could just as easily have been Wolverine, had the whole Canadian connection not been there. Which to our knowledge is the only example in recorded history where being Canadian actually worked to someone's advantage.
He's a superhero. You can Google him.
How We Almost Lost Him:
We've covered several characters who were nearly killed off early on, but Batman was nearly aborted.
It was 1938, when Bob Kane approached the editors over at National Publications and presented them with his idea for a new superhero: "Bat-Man," a no-nonsense crime fighting bat-themed vigilante who didn't mind getting rough with the criminal scum. This is how he envisioned him:
"Is... is Batman behind this guy? I don't understand."
By the way, you can't tell from the drawing, but the costume was to be red.
Who Saved Him?
No matter how you look at it, Bill Finger is the man who created Batman. Turns out that Bob Kane, the man credited with the birth of The Dark Knight (a term Finger coined in 1940), did about fuck-all with the character. Finger was hired to "even out the wrinkles" in the "Bat-Man" concept (a process we hope he referred to as "Fingerbanging").
His work is the reason Batman became the kind of dark hero who would survive when thousands of brightly-colored cornball heroes came and went. Finger gave the character a bat cowl with ears and a wing-like cape, replaced the red costume with a brooding black and gray combination and slapped a big ole bat symbol right on the chest. This was the end result:
Finger also wrote the parts of Bruce Wayne, Robin, the Riddler and the bulk of the first Batman stories. In the simplest terms, if Finger had not been hired as an assistant to Kane, there may have been a "Bat-Man" character--one we likely would not know about today--but there never would have been a Batman.
The world owes you one, Mr. Finger.
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