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10 scifi icons (and 10 obscure characters who have the same names)

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You know Spider-Man, but have you heard of the British anti-hero Spiderman? Everyone's seen Terminator 2, but have you seen the Italian Terminator II? Here are 10 familiar characters (and a bunch of randoms who share their names).

1.) Terminator II
You first think of: James Cameron's 1991 drama about a duo of wacky time-traveling cyborgs who reunite a broken family.
But this also refers to: Italian trash cinema auteur Bruno Mattei's 1990 rip-off of James Cameron's extraterrestrial-safari-gone-wrong flick, Aliens. Seriously, watch the clip.

Terminator II was cobbled together to beat T2: Judgment Day to the box office. Its American title was changed to Shocking Dark for obvious legal reasons. Despite being a clone of Aliens, the film maintains a tenuous continuity with The Terminator — the female hero, Sara, mentions that she's had nasty encounters with cyborgs. Read a detailed plot synopsis here.

2.) Harry Potter
You first think of: J.K. Rowling's bespectacled boy sorcerer.
But this also refers to: The father and son from the 1986 horror movie Troll.


Yes, two characters in this Eighties fantasy schlock classic were named Harry Potter, and the film's producers were immensely irked by their shared nomenclature with Rowling's character. A remake of Troll has been bandied about for a while now. Should the film ever get the green light, hopefully Potter Junior and Senior will remain in the script if but only to perplex audiences.


3.) Spider-Man
You first think of: Peter Parker, Homo arachnid mutate/average schmo New Yorker.
But this also refers to: The Spider, reformed science criminal and pulp hero of British comics.

The Spider (who sometimes went by the moniker Spiderman) wore a high-tech exoskeleton that boosted his strength, had the power of hypnotism, and boasted web-guns that fired sticky steel wire.

Was he based on Peter Parker? Perhaps — Marvel's Spider-Man debuted in 1962, whereas Spiderman first appeared in 1965. Truth be told, I'd rather hang out with the Spider than Spider-Man. Spiderman would simply snark on your wardrobe, whereas Spider-Man would unload all his crippling neuroses on you. You can read a Spiderman adventure at Pappy's Golden Age Comics.


4.) The Punisher
You first think of: Frank Castle, undying vigilante and skull shirt trendsetter.
But this also refers to: Galactus' robotic menial.

Frank Castle first declared his everlasting war on mobsters in 1974, but Stan Lee and Jack Kirby invented the first Punisher in 1966. This Punisher was a cybernetic space ogre who flew around the universe at Galactus' behest. Moviegoing audiences are pretty sick of the second Punisher by now, but trust me, they're totally champing at the bit for this guy.

5.) Iron Man
You first think of: Tony Stark, rakish billionaire and flying armor aficionado.
But this also refers to: The star of Shinya Tsukamoto's 1989 grotesque cyberpunk film, Tetsuo: The Iron Man.


For all its awesome cybernetic surrealism, there's nothing particularly sexy or debonair about Shinya Tsukamoto's cult classic. In fact, Tetsuo's drill-penis sex scene (arguably NSFW) is one of the creepiest cyborg sequences ever filmed. I imagine Tony Stark's a sexual futurist and has his kinks, but this is ridiculous.

6.) Swamp Thing
You first think of: DC Comics' friendly heap of moss (debuted 1971).
But this also refers to: The man-beast from Ron Ormond's sleaze film The Monster and The Stripper (1968).


Some things just don't need embellishment, so here's the story of the first Swamp Thing from IMDB:

A trio of hunters in the Louisiana bayous capture a monster called the Swamp Thing. They take it to New Orleans where (naturally) they display it in a strip joint. When the monster's favorite stripper gets into a fight with another stripper, he breaks loose and starts killing.


7 and 8.) Batman and Superman
You first think of: The World's Finest, a.k.a. The Dark Knight and the Man of Steel.
But this also refers to: This curiously named Singaporean fellow.


We're doubling up here. According to UPenn's Language Log, 20-year-old Batman bin Suparman is the victim/lucky recipient of a common surname and diabolical parents. The "bin" makes his name literally mean "Batman, son of Superman." I'd like to think that DC Comics paid this fellow's folks for a decades-in-the-making, yet-to-be-revealed viral marketing stunt.


9.) Superboy
You first think of: Clark Kent before he learned about the Kryptonian equivalent of the birds and the bees.
But this also refers to: A French superhero who dressed like Viewtiful Joe.

The French comic magazine Super Boy debuted in 1949, but the character didn't hit the scene until 1958. His powers included a rocket belt, a handsome visor, and having absolutely nothing to do with the Kryptonian Superboy, who first appeared in 1945.


10.) Kryptonite
You first think of: A mineral that gives Superman the trots.
But this also refers to: A nickname for jadarite, a real mineral discovered in Serbia.


Okay, so this entry isn't a person, but it's uncanny nonetheless. In 2006's Superman Returns, the chemical formula for Kryptonite is "sodium lithium boron silicate hydroxide with fluorine." In 2007, scientists discovered a mineral with a near identical chemical composition in Serbia. Said Dr. Chris Stanley of London's Natural History Museum:

Towards the end of my research I searched the web using the mineral's chemical formula - sodium lithium boron silicate hydroxide - and was amazed to discover that same scientific name, written on a case of rock containing kryptonite stolen by Lex Luthor from a museum in the film Superman Returns. The new mineral does not contain fluorine (which it does in the film) and is white rather than green but, in all other respects, the chemistry matches that for the rock containing kryptonite.


Way to mirror art, reality! Now cook up some of that Kryptonite that turns Superman into a silverback gorilla.