Italy is known for a range of things, including fine culture and amazing food. Italy also boasts badass superheroes, especially the Italian-American variety. As a person with Italian heritage, I’m proud of having it as part of my family history. It inspired me to look into four characters with Italian roots. All of them are intriguing and worth knowing about.
The Mafia plays a prominent role in the lives of Italian superheroes, with Huntress being a good example. Helena Bertinelli has Sicilian heritage and comes from a family of Mafiosos. After her parents were murdered in a mob hit, Helena vowed revenge on the Mafia. She became the vengeful Huntress, targeting the Italian criminals of Gotham.
Huntress’ violent methods put her at odds with Batman, but over time she was able to mature. This came through her friendship with Barbara Gordon and Dinah Lance. Helena became a trusted member of the Batman family, highlighting the loyalty of Italian people.
Jackie Estacado/The Darkness
Another character with a connection to the Mafia, Jackie Estacado has all the qualities of an anti-hero. He was raised to be a hit-man for the Franchetti mob, becoming the outfit’s most efficient killer. Life in the Mafia provided Jackie with a sense of security. Even though he killed people, he followed his own moral code, making him a candidate for the Darkness.
As the wielder of the Darkness, Jackie has a range of powers, such as shapeshifting, healing and superhuman strength. He can also call on an army of supernatural creatures called Darklings. Jackie’s criminal past meant he had a complicated relationship with Witchblade wielder, Sara Pezzini, though the two of them eventually had a daughter together.
Mac Gargan might be the original Scorpion, but he’s not the only person to use the identity. A young woman named Carmilla Black took on the name in reference to her powers. Born Thansanee Rappaccini, Carmilla was genetically engineered by her mother, the Scientist Supreme of the terrorist organisation AIM.
Her abilities make her immune to toxic environments and she can produce a range of poisons. She can release toxins through her left arm, which led to the accidental death of her boyfriend. Her powers are so potent that she managed to absorb the toxins of the Venom symbiote, causing it to flee because it believed Carmilla was capable of truly destroying it. Scorpion has proven to be a talented spy, being a part of several successful SHIELD missions.
Frank Castle/The Punisher
The Punisher needs no introduction, but he’s definitely one of the toughest Italians around. Punisher is the son of Sicilian immigrants, with his real name being Francis Castiglione. Frank’s name change came during his service in the Marine Corps. Punisher excelled in the army, becoming the best sniper in the corps. It’s believed his superiors disliked him and put him in situations where they’d hoped he’d be killed.
Punisher fought in various battles, earning a Medal of Honour, the Navy Cross, the Silver Star, Purple Heart and Presidential Medal of Freedom. After completing his second tour of duty, Punisher went back to the US and had his second child with his wife. Then, he changed his name to Frank Castle to illegally get back into the Marines. Frank is the ideal character for describing the resiliency of Italians.