Classic myths and religious stories are filled with epic dramas of sibling rivalry. Cain slew his brother Abel. Joseph’s brothers literally sold him into slavery. The Greek Gods regularly fought one another for power and status.
Today, those epic tales have migrated to our modern mythology — comic book stories. Whether they take place on the page or on the screen, some of the most fantastic superhero epics are still grounded in the very relatable conflict between brothers and sisters. Of course, when your brother can smash through brick walls or your sister throws bolts of cosmic power at you, those rivalries tend to be a lot rougher on your surrounding environment.
Get ready to have a whole bunch of unresolved childhood issues brought into the light. As sibling rivalries know no company lines, here are some of the best ongoing conflicts between brothers and sisters from both DC and Marvel Comics.
Thor and Loki
If epic sibling rivalries have their roots in ancient mythologies, it’s only appropriate that one of the greatest comic book rivalries is drawn out of Norse myth. Indeed, many of the most popular comic book duels between Thor (the God of Thunder) and his step-brother Loki (the God of Mischief) are adapted from the myths — including one referenced in the "Loki" TV series where Loki cuts off the goddess Lady Sif’s hair because of her romantic connection to Thor. In the original myths, Loki gets some dwarves to create new golden hair for Sif, while in the comics, Loki can’t pay the dwarves so they craft black hair instead.
One of the most relatable aspects of Thor and Loki’s rivalry is that despite their violent battles, the two still retain affection for each other. Both have set aside their differences to work together, and while Loki is resentful of how their father Odin often favors his natural-born son Thor, he still considers the thunder god his brother and can’t help but be loyal to him.
Intriguingly, in the original myths, Loki tricked the dwarf Sindri into creating the hammer Mjolnir as a gift for Thor to apologize for cutting Sif’s hair. While the comics don’t take this into account, it’s an intriguing wrinkle in a tale of sibling rivalry that reaches back centuries.
Professor X and Juggernaut
Cain may have been the original "bad brother" from the Bible, but even he would be hard pressed to match the deeds for Marvel Comics’ Cain Marko. The step-brother of Charles Xavier (aka Professor X), Cain grew up resentful of Xavier’s brilliance and popularity — so when he was presented with a chance to become the avatar of the magical deity Cyttorak, he took it and transformed into the unstoppable Juggernaut. Possessing superhuman strength, invulnerability, and limitless stamina, Juggernaut is seemingly unbeatable — except by his step-brother, who regularly shuts him down with his telepathic powers.
Like Thor and Loki, Professor X and Juggernaut have buried the hatchet on occasion, and Juggernaut has even served as a member of Xavier’s mutant team the X-Men (despite not being a mutant himself). While he does slip back into his villainous ways, in at least one alternate universe his son Zane inherits his powers and joins a new generation of Avengers as the nearly-unstoppable J2.
It’s also worth noting that Cain and Charles’ rivalry isn’t the only family conflict in the Xavier household, as Charles once nearly killed his twin sister Cassandra with his telepathic powers while they were still in their mother’s womb. Cassandra ended up surviving and later returned in a new body — with some major revenge issues.
Aquaman and Ocean Master
The Greek God of the oceans Poseidon occasionally found himself in conflict with his brothers Zeus and Hades (not to mention Zeus’ many illegitimate demigod children), and similar family squabbles continue to plague the sea with DC’s King of Atlantis Aquaman and his half-brother Orm, better known as Ocean Master. While the two have been at odds for decades, the exact nature of their relationship has changed greatly over the years.
Originally, Ocean Master was Orm Curry, the human son of Mary O’Sullivan and Aquaman’s human father Tom Curry. Unlike the Atlantean Orm Marius from the 2018 "Aquaman" movie, this human Orm had no powers and grew up to be the high-tech pirate Orm Marius/Ocean Master who fought against Aquaman. Later, when the DC Universe rebooted after the "Crisis on Infinite Earths" event, Orm became the son of Aquaman’s "true" father Atlan the wizard and an Inupiat woman. Gaining mystical powers after selling his soul to a demon, Orm continued to fight Aquaman as Ocean Master.
Orm got another origin during DC’s "The New 52" relaunch, where he became a full-blooded Atlantean and the second son of Queen Atlanna, who inherits the throne of Atlantis but again comes into conflict with his half-human brother Arthur. While character histories may be fluid as water in comic books, sibling rivalries are eternal.
Starfire and Blackfire
Sibling rivalries aren’t limited to brothers. Just look at Komand’r the alien princess of the Tamaran royal family, who’s got a major hatred for her sister Koriand’r. It’s easy to see why.
Although Komand’r was the firstborn child of her family and first in line for the throne, she was beset with misfortune from the day she was born. An empire killed thousands of her citizens upon her birth, causing everyone to hate her. A childhood illness stole her superpowers, and her younger sister was given privileges and honors that should have been hers.
Twisted by jealousy and hatred, Komand’r turned against her sister and family, allying herself with the rival Citadel Empire and helping them conquer Tamaran. Komand’r ended up enslaving her sister and putting Koriand’r through years of torture. When both of the sisters were abducted by a species of sadistic scientists, however, the experiments granted both Komand’r and Koriand’r devastating energy powers, thrusting their sibling rivalry onto a more epic stage.
Koriand’r ended up joining the Teen Titans as the heroic Starfire, but Komand’r continued her vendetta against her sister — and by extension, Earth’s heroes — as the villainous Blackfire. Although comic book reboots have allowed the sisters to reconcile in some stories, as a rule, they’ve been at each other’s throats.
Spider-Man and Ben Reilly
Peter Parker grew up thinking he was an only child — but that stopped being the case when the insane geneticist Miles Warren (aka the Jackal) cloned him and created a perfect genetic duplicate of Spider-Man. Possessing all of Peter’s memories, powers, and sense of responsibility, the clone was crushed by the realization that he wasn’t the real Peter Parker and decided to change his name to "Ben Reilly" and leave town, occasionally helping people from the shadows.
Five years later, Ben returned to New York — and his reunion with Peter was a decidedly rocky one. Peter was unnerved at the thought of having another version of him swinging around the city as the "Scarlet Spider" … and when genetic tests indicated that Ben might be the original Peter Parker, he completely lost it. Fortunately, the two reconciled and began bonding as brothers with Ben even taking over as Spider-Man when Peter wanted to start a family.
Ben would even sacrifice himself to save Peter from dying at the hands of the Green Goblin — only to be resurrected by the Jackal and driven insane. Temporarily taking on the identity of the Jackal himself and battling Spider-Man, Ben eventually tried to become a hero again, but his relationship with Peter continued to be strained. Curiously, additional Spider-Man stories indicate Peter also has a sister, SHIELD agent Theresa Parker. Wonder how she’ll relate to Ben?
Cyclops and Havok
Mutant brothers Scott and Alex Summers had a childhood marked by tragedy — they were separated after their parents apparently died in a plane crash and the boys were forced to jump from the plane using the only available parachute. Growing up in an orphanage, Scott manifested his mutant power to fire "optic blasts" uncontrollably from his eyes, while Alex was adopted by a different family and later accidentally killed a boy when his own mutant ability to generate powerful "plasma blasts" emerged.
Scott would eventually find his place in the mutant superhero team the X-Men as their team leader Cyclops and Alex would also join the team as Havok — although he’d later leave and go on to lead his own mutant team, X-Factor. As brothers, Scott and Havok generally got along well, although like all siblings, they had their issues.
One interesting wrinkle in their sibling dynamic was that each brother was immune to the other’s power — meaning Scott couldn’t just blast Alex into the middle of next week if they had an argument, forcing them to settle their disagreements in more conventional ways. To make things even more complicated, Marvel later introduced a third Summers brother — Gabriel, aka "Vulcan" — who was born and raised on the alien Shi’ar throneworld before he came to Earth, joined the X-Men, died, came back to life, and became a villain. Sounds complicated, but it’s fairly typical for people in the X-Men.
Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch
Twin siblings Pietro and Wanda Maximoff have a life defined by tragedy. Originally cast as the mutant children of Magneto, the twins had to contend with human bigotry and multiple attempts on their lives, leading them to join Magneto’s Brotherhood of Evil Mutants as Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch. The two eventually switched sides and lent their powers of superspeed and magic to the Avengers, but this didn’t exactly solve their problems.
Wanda became increasingly unstable, causing Pietro — already impatient and hot-tempered — to take advantage of the situation by convincing her to warp reality and create the world of House of M where mutants are the ruling class. Pietro ended up dying in this reality and a distraught Wanda re-warps reality to depower most of the mutant population, including Quicksilver. While Pietro eventually regained his powers, re-establishing his connection with his sister proved more difficult. The two may share a strong bond, but it’s routinely tested by manipulation, mental illness, and societal prejudice.
The Human Torch and the Invisible Woman
The Fantastic Four might be considered Marvel’s superhero family, but the only two members of the founding team related by blood are siblings Johnny and Sue Storm. Growing up, their relationship was actually less brother/sister and more surrogate mother/son as Sue had to basically raise Johnny when their parents died. This, along with Johnny’s naturally hot-headed personality, leads him to act very immaturely around Sue (and pretty much everyone else). Even so, Johnny has a great deal of love and respect for his sister, and has even stated on multiple occasions that she is his hero.
Things got even stranger when the two were exposed to cosmic rays, along with Sue’s fiancé Reed Richards and his best friend Ben Grimm. Suddenly, Sue and Johnny gained superpowers and became The Invisible Woman and the Human Torch. This granted them celebrity status among the general public, which only made Johnny more arrogant and reckless … although thankfully, Sue was still around to rein him in (even if he couldn’t always see her).
Tony Stark and Arno Stark
The "long-lost brother" is a common trope in legends and soap operas, but Tony Stark’s brother Arno has a more complicated origin than most. The genetically altered child of Howard and Maria Stark, Arno became the family’s dirty secret when Howard sabotaged the experiment and Arno was born with a congenital disease that left him paralyzed and unable to speak without the aid of machines. Gifted with a genius-level intellect, Arno remained hidden in the shadows for years while Howard and Maria adopted another child who grew up to be the super-genius, Tony Stark (aka Iron Man)
Tony would eventually learn of Arno’s existence, and the step-brothers worked together to create new technologies for the benefit of the world. Arno even developed a way to rewrite his own DNA and manage his disease, temporarily granting him the full physical autonomy he had always wanted.
Unfortunately, Arno later became stricken with a delusion that Earth was under threat of an alien A.I., causing him to try and unite humanity by enslaving it. Unable to stop Arno by conventional means, Tony was forced to place his brother in a life support system that let him live in a computer-generated fantasy simulation where Arno was the hero. Putting your sibling into a version of "The Matrix" may not be the healthiest way to end a fight, but at least Arno went out happy.
Think having two superpowered siblings is rough? Try dealing with four super-powered preteens, all living under the same roof. After an encounter with a friendly alien left them with powers over gravity, mass, acceleration, and energy, the four Power kids — Alex, Jack, Julie, and Katie — were charged with saving the world, fighting crime … and getting home before dinner. When their parents relocated to New York, the teens’ ability to interact with the greater superhero community increased, and they got to team up with everyone from Wolverine to Spider-Man to Captain America.
Shockingly, despite the fact that none of the kids wear masks, they’ve managed to keep their superhero identities a secret from the general public … and their parents! While it’s probably true that Mr. and Mrs. Power aren’t the most observant people in the world, the kids also do a decent job of covering for themselves (often using their cute little sister Katie as a distraction). They may get into super-powered sibling squabbles, but they also know when to work together to be effective.
Thanos and Starfox
Thanos, the Mad Titan, once gathered together the six Infinity Gems and erased half of all life in the universe. Surely someone like that must have a monster for a brother, right? Well, maybe … but it depends on how you look at it.
While Thanos is a mutant born with purple skin and a monstrous appearance, his brother Eros (aka Starfox) is a devastatingly handsome man with the superhuman ability to charm anyone he meets via low-level mental manipulation. His abilities allow him to effortlessly seduce so many women (including several married ones) that he was once accused of using his powers as a date-rape drug. Thanos himself finds his brother annoying and infuriating — and once used the power of the Infinity Gauntlet to erase Eros’ mouth, the better to keep him from charming anyone.
Weirdly, Eros was once accused of mentally manipulating a young Thanos to fall in love with Death, suggesting that all of Thanos’ later genocidal actions were Eros’ fault. While other stories suggest Thanos’ relationship with Death went beyond any manipulations by his brother, this is a very disturbing aspect of their sibling history.
Lex Luthor and Lena Luthor
To say Lex Luthor and his sister Lena have a complicated relationship would be charitable. Depending on what era of DC Comics you’re reading, Lex has seen Lena as someone to protect or someone to exploit. During the Silver Age, Lex felt affection for Lena, who never knew she was related to one of the greatest criminal minds of her time. Feeling that the truth would only cause her pain, Lex kept their sibling relationship a secret and even got help from Supergirl and Superman to keep Lena in the dark.
Following the "Crisis on Infinite Earths" reboot, Lex and Lena’s relationship got more strange. Lena was Lex’s dead foster sister, who became the namesake for Lex’s daughter. This Lena became possessed by Superman’s enemy Brainiac and was used by Lex himself as a bargaining chip to gain advanced technology. In yet another reboot, Lena was again Lex’s blood sister and suffered from an illness that left her paralyzed. Lex cured her, but then cruelly reverted Lena back to her previous state just to show he can give or take anything.
Still, she isn’t a helpless victim in all continuities. In the "Supergirl" TV show, Lena (Katie McGrath) has taken over the Luthor company and is genuinely trying to do some good for the world. She even forms a friendship with Supergirl (Melissa Benoist) and helps her stop Lex Luthor (Jon Cryer), showing she’s capable of standing up to her brother.
Hawk and Dove
Superhero personalities are often defined or revealed by their powers, and that’s definitely true of these superhero brothers whose powers literally represent chaos and order. Initially granted powers by the Lords of Order and Chaos, brothers Hank and Don gained the ability to transform into superhuman versions of themselves. While the conservative and hot-headed Hank became the superhumanly strong and fast Hawk, his liberal brother Don used his strength and speed more defensively. Although they worked together, their differing points of view often led to plenty of friction.
Eventually Don was killed while saving people and the role of Dove went to a woman, Dawn Granger, who inherited Don’s powers. Still working with Hank, the new Hawk and Dove duo continued to strive to find the balance between chaos and order. Interestingly, Dawn’s powers allow her to suppress Hank’s violent nature and keep him from getting too out of control, showing that while they may fight, they also need each other.
Shazam and Mary Marvel
Shazam (aka Captain Marvel) has had a very strange relationship with his siblings. Created in 1940, young Billy Batson was introduced as an orphaned boy chosen to be the champion of the Wizard Shazam. Given the power to transform into a superpowered adult just by shouting "Shazam!" Billy later learned that he had a twin sister who had been adopted and was living under the name "Mary Bromfield." Even stranger, Mary learned that when she shouted, "Shazam!" she also gained god-like powers and fought alongside her brother as "Mary Marvel."
Over the years, Mary’s story has been retconned and she’s been introduced as Billy’s younger sister and more recently his college-aged foster sister. While the two generally get along well, this wasn’t the case when Shazam’s enemy Black Adam corrupted Mary with his powers and turned her into a supervillain clad in a form-fitting black minidress. Embracing her dark side, Mary tried to beat up her brother and even corrupted him with a new "dirty magic word." Sibling fights can get pretty nasty — but when there’s magic involved, things rise to a whole new level.
The Greek gods may have had their family issues, but even they weren’t quite as strange as The Endless, a family of beings who embody incredibly powerful, abstract forces in the DC Universe.
Created by Neil Gaiman for his comic book series "The Sandman," the Endless includes Destiny, Destruction, Desire, Despair, Delirium, Death, and Dream (aka Morpheus, the main character of the series). As the living embodiments of natural forces, the Endless are actually more powerful than most gods, which makes their family drama more interesting.
While certain members of the Endless (notably, Dream and Death) are very serious about fulfilling responsibilities in maintaining their realms, others (like Destruction) abandoned their duties for personal reasons — like, not wanting to destroy the scientific advances of the Enlightenment. This causes conflict within the family. Likewise, the androgynous and cruel Desire has a rivalry with Dream, whom he sees as a sibling.
Fortunately, the Endless have a level-headed member in Death, whose ironically sunny and happy nature is capable of even shaking Dream/Morpheus out of his depressed state following years of imprisonment. Depicting Death as a kind and compassionate entity was an unexpected move from Gaiman — but considering how cruel, arrogant, and downright crazy some of the other Endless can be, it’s a good thing they’ve had her around to keep them in line.