Superheroes have always had their generic roots in the twin fields of sci-fi and fantasy. A man arrives from space with great powers, a princess is given gifts from her gods as she goes out to explore the world, a millionaire fights crime with the aid of super-science gadgets, and so on. But over time, superhero fiction developed its own tropes, and left its forebears behind.

Fantasy in particular has fallen by the wayside, outside of magic-specific characters like Thor and Dr. Strange, as superhero comics have embraced a greater veneer of realism. But people love fantasy, and the kind of people who create superhero comics tend to be particularly interested in that sort of thing. So naturally there's been no shortage over the years of stories that take superhero characters and place them in a high fantasy context.

DC Comics has done this the most, thanks to how many Elseworlds stories they put out in the '90s and '00s. Two of the most memorable were League of Justice, in which the entire Justice League are recast as magical characters encountered by a group of teens from Earth, and Dark Joker: The Wild, in which the Joker is an evil wizard and Batman is an inhuman creature. At Marvel, on the other hand, these stories often depend on a magic-user actually transforming the world, whether it's Kulan Gath in X-Men or Morgan LeFay in Avengers.

To celebrate that seemingly forgotten tradition of taking these characters out of their comfort zones, we've assembled this gallery of fantasy interpretations of your favorite superheroes. This is the best fantasy-inspired superhero art.


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