We've all tried to reinvent ourselves. Whether it's growing an awesome mustache right before you head off to college, shaving off your lame mustache right after graduating from college or re-growing that mustache during your mid-life crisis -- change is a natural part of life. Fictional characters are no different: Dissatisfied and bored with themselves, they're constantly revising and reworking their images in a vain attempt at happiness. Some of the best-loved characters of today are practically unrecognizable from their original forms:
7Scrooge McDuck Was a Genocidal Maniac
In the 64 years since he was first introduced in Donald Duck comics, Uncle Scrooge has become one of Disney's most popular and beloved characters -- taking his three rosy-cheeked nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie on adventures through space, time, space-time and occasionally puberty.
But in the Beginning:
Scrooge was a genocidal madman.
Most ducks can't pull off the whole "pantsless mass murderer" look. Scrooge McDuck is not most ducks.
Scrooge's first appearance was in the Donald Duck story "Christmas on Bear Mountain," where he's shown as a miserable old man spending Christmas alone and marinating in hatred in a giant, empty mansion.
It's almost like his name is some sort of reference to something ...
A few issues later, in the story "Voodoo Hoodoo," Scrooge is visited by two disenfranchised characters from his past, seeking revenge: the ridiculously named Foola Zoola, an African witch doctor, sorcerer and chief of the Voodoo tribe who tries to put a curse on the old Scottish duck, and Bombie the Zombie, his outlandishly racist undead pal.
Have you ever wondered how Scrooge got so rich? Wise investments? Novel inventions? Shrewd business practices? Nope: He made all of his money by "hiring a mob of thugs" to destroy Zoola's African village. Then he convinced Zoola to sell the land to him in order to establish a brutal colonial rubber plantation.
Nothing impresses small children like destroying entire cultures.
Yep -- lovable old Scrooge McDuck was essentially a Robert Mugabe analogue. It wasn't until the 1950s that Scrooge was toned down from a psychotic villain to the fowl version of Indiana Jones' dad. He spends the bulk of his modern comic time on swashbuckling adventures, treasure hunting, saving the day and teaching his boys valuable lessons -- but only when he's not busy literally wallowing in money soaked in the blood of indigenous peoples.
They tried editing out the racism in later printings, but the Internet never forgets.
6Alfred from Batman Was a Shitty Detective
Batman's stodgy English butler/adoptive father, Alfred Pennyworth has stood by Bruce Wayne's side since childhood, protecting his secret identity and providing the occasional dry quip nestled within sage advice. Alfred is a dignified kind of badass: Batman's father figure, his conscience and his only confidante.
Some men want to burn the world. Others just want to tidy up afterward.
But in the Beginning:
For starters, Alfred didn't raise Bruce Wayne from childhood after his parents were murdered. In fact, he didn't make his first appearance in the comics until Batman No. 16. Things seemed to be going pretty well for the Dark Knight at this point -- he's dealt with his grief via fancy pajamas and ultra-violence, nurtured a questionable relationship with a young boy and sank most of his family fortune into animal-themed vehicles. So why hire an advice-giving butler? Because he was so damn funny, of course!
Alfred was originally introduced as the dimwitted comic relief: He was a tubby, bumbling, would-be detective that Batman and Robin were constantly saving from his own incompetence while giggling behind his back.
The notion of death means little to the boy who fights crime in green panties.
It was Alfred's father Jarvis who served the Waynes his whole life and, on his deathbed, asked his son to carry on this tradition. Apparently Gotham City was working on the caste system back then, because sure enough, Alfred inherited his father's shitty job cleaning up after flamboyant mental patients. Alfred was given a special feature in every issue (up until Batman No. 36), where he would make his own bungling, foolish attempt to solve a mystery like Batman. At the end of every story, he would solve the case by accident, everybody would have a good laugh and the feeling of accomplishment would keep the gun out of Alfred's mouth for another week or so.
"Our fun's over. Go get the shovels, old chum."