Today we start with the DC side of casualgamer‘s request, and we begin with one of Superman‘s most iconic villains: Bizarro, the perfectly imperfect duplicate of the Man of Steel. He first appeared in the Superboy tv series, portrayed by Barry Meyers: in this version, he was born from an experimental duplicating ray that hit Superboy, fell in love with Lana Lang and kidnapped her; after allying with Lex Luthor, he eventually became a good guy and even saved Superboy’s life a couple of times. He appeared again in Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, portrayed by Dean Cain: this version wasn’t monstrous as the previous one, being a perfect copy of Superman, but he surely turned out to be much dumber than the original Man of Steel. The last live action version so far appeared in Smallville, portrayed by Tom Welling as a failed Kryptonian experiment who escapes from the Phantom Zone, steals Clark Kent‘s DNA and becomes a malicious and evil doppelganger who, aside from conquering the world, even tries to seduce Lana Lang, and who’s able to absorb energy from Kryptonite. It’s likely he’ll eventually make an appearance in the DC Extended Universe, but in the meanwhile let’s take a look at the originals… yes, because there are more than one, even considering just the New Earth continuity.
The first Bizarro was born when Lex Luthor, unable to convince Superman to work for him, decided to create “his own Superman”. He managed to obtain the services of Chinese biologist Doctor Teng, who was put in charge of Project: Changeling, aimed to create a perfect duplicate of Superman with his powers and memories, but imbued with a blind loyalty to Luthor. Teng, as everyone else, believed Superman to be a mutated human rather than an alien, and this proved to be the cause of his failure: the creature that emerged from the cloning process was a mute, monstrous being that looked like a parody of the real Man of Steel; disgusted by his creation, Luthor ordered it to be destroyed, but the clone escaped Lexcorp, starting to act like his heroic counterpart (even saving the life of a blind girl, Lucy Lane, who was trying to commit suicide). Upon meeting the true Superman, however, Bizarro reacted violently, and punched him through the Daily Planet building; inheriting part of the Man of Steel’s memories and even feelings, he kidnapped Lois Lane and escaped, followed by Superman. Lucy’s presence managed to calm down the artificial being for a while, but when Superman appeared again to save Lois, he charged at his “genetic father” with all his superhuman speed: with his body worn out by the use of his powers, Bizarro’s body exploded when he hit the hero’s body: even dying, he managed to perform one last good deed, as the powder produced by his destroyed body healed Lucy’s blindness. Even the second Bizarro was created for Lex Luthor, this time to heal him from a genetic plague: engineered by Sydney Happerson, this Bizarro was able to speak, and was slightly more intelligent than the previous one. After rebelling against Happerson and seriously injuring him, he escaped and built a fake Metropolis, which he started “protecting” from threats he himself created. Also the second Bizarro had the original’s feelings for Lois Lane, and he kidnapped her, repeatedly exposing her to lethal threats he later saved her from. After battling Superman in Smallville, he was captured by Luthorcorp, that resumed researching on him… but with the last of his strength, Bizarro used his Heat Vision to destroy the lab, dying a hero while dismantling Luthor’s illegal facility for human experimentation.
The third and definitive Bizarro was created when The Joker managed to steal Mr. Mxyzptlk‘s reality-bending powers. He created a twisted world he was the emperor of, inhabited also by an insane and twisted version of Superman, who had Superman’s powers, but reversed, who had a childish personality, and who had a complicated speech pattern according to which everything meant its opposite (for example, “I love you” meant for him “I hate you”). When Joker’s empire fell, the twisted creature was captured by Avruiskin of Pokolistan, the dictator who had named himself after General Zod, and who kept him to torture and beat somebody resembling Superman. The real Superman intervened, and saved Bizarro from Pokolistan: the doppelganger built for himself a refuge, the Graveyard of Solitude, and made it his home, from which, from time to time, he came back to Metropolis, either to help or to challenge Superman depending on his mood (and causing a remarkable destruction either way). One of the most powerful beings on Earth, he was also contacted by Zoom to join his Secret Society of Supervillains, but he told the speedster he would have challenged him in a race around the planet first. Due to his unique way of speaking, Zoom didn’t quite understand if Bizarro would have joined after winning or losing the race, but agreed to run nevertheless. Bizarro’s pattern was so erratic and nonsensical that Zoom grew exasperated by him, and started to insult him… so that Bizarro grew flattered with all his “compliments”, decided they were friends and agreed to join. Bizarro stayed with the Society until he grew tired of it and left, only to be captured by Lex Luthor and studied and experimented upon for thirteen months (this wasn’t such a bad experience for Bizarro, since he spent all his time watching television and considered this period as some sort of vacation). He was freed by the original General Zod, and followed him in his migration from Earth… but only to move on his own and create his homeworld, the cubic Bizarro World. The blue sun his world orbited around gave Bizarro a new power, and he was able to populate the planet with Bizarro-copies of people from Earth, starting with Lois Lane. Thanks to Superman’s and Jonathan Kent‘s help and suggestions, with time, he became Bizarro World’s greatest hero, finally finding his place in the universe… always acting and thinking in his own, unique and twisted way, of course.
Bizarro is a living paradox, a “perfectly imperfect” duplicate of Superman who’s the exact opposite of the hero in any way. The first two Bizarros were little more than mindless monsters who displayed the same powers of the Man of Steel, but the third one is something else entirely: with the mind of a baby and the power of a god, he’s an unpredictable creature who acts on his obscure logic and speaks in a language only he can truly understand. Apart from flight, invulnerability and superhuman strength, speed, stamina and durability, Bizarro has the opposite version of Superman’s powers, such as the Arctic Vision in place of the Heat Vision and the Flame-Breath instead of the Freezing Breath; albeit Blue Kryptonite is lethal for him, the radiations of a blue sun gives him the power to create new lifeforms from his body mass. Just as dangerous as he is unpredictable (he accidentally killed the hero Human Bomb while “playing” with him), Bizarro is like a big baby toying with a nuclear device, with him being both the baby and the bomb. It’s quite hard to tell if he causes more damage by being a villain or by trying to be a hero…