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Comic Book / Wildcat

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Tommy Bronson and his father Ted Grant

Wildcat is the name of several DC Comics characters, the first and most famous of which was created by Bill Finger and Irwin Hasen and made his debut in Sensation Comics #1 in January, 1942.

Golden Age hero Ted Grant grew up during the great depression and despite wanting to study medicine ended up using his fists to make money as a professional boxer instead. After a couple of fixers accidentally killed a boxer they'd drugged to ensure he'd lose a fight, they framed Ted for the whole mess and then tried to have him killed to prevent anyone from learning the truth. When the hit went wrong and killed the cops instead of Ted, he went on the run, and met a young boy who talked about Green Lantern (Alan Scott). Inspired by Lantern's example, Ted vowed to clear his name and created a cat themed costume for himself, and the rest is history.

During World War II, Ted joined the Justice Society of America, a hero team he would forevermore remain affiliated with.

Ted started a boxing club in Gotham and went on to become instrumental to the training of many other heroes, powered and Badass Normal alike. He discovered decades later his old club was still using his name and had been turned into a training ground for henchmen, providing them with combat skills and powered suits. He manages to shut them down despite knowing he's well past his prime and can't take on the heavy hitters with powers which reaffirms his place as a hero.

One of his boxing pals, 'Mauler' Montez, made Ted the godfather of his daughter Yolanda, whose mother Maria was experimented on by the insane Dr. Love while she was pregnant. Unlike his other test subjects (including Maria's sister), Love lost track of Maria and her family when they moved from Mexico to the US to be with Maria's husband. Yolanda eventually developed superpowers which gave her feline characteristics, and when Wildcat was injured during the events of the Crisis on Infinite Earths and retired from the role, Yolanda decided to succeed him as Wildcat, joining Infinity, Inc. soon afterward.

At a rather elderly age, Ted — whose body is that of a younger man due to a number of time-traveling and magical mishaps — learned he'd fathered an illegitimate son named Tom living in Brooklyn. During Ted's visits to get to know his son he discovered that Tom had powers when Tom rescued Ted from Vandal Savage. At this discovery Ted invited his son to the JSA and welcomed him to the use of Ted's Wildcat moniker for hero work should he be interested.

Others, like Hector Ramirez, have held the name for only a single issue.

Notable appearances of Ted Grant:

Notable Comic Books

Live-Action TV

Video Games

Web Animation

Western Animation

Notable appearances of Yolanda Montez:

Notable Comic Books

Live-Action TV

Notable appearances of Tom Bronson:

Notable Comic Books

Tropes applying to all Wildcats:

  • Animal-Themed Superbeing: Ted is the "Animal Alias" variation while Yolanda and Tom are the "Animal Abilities" variation.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Ted and Yolanda wear black or dark blue. Tom's werecat form has black fur. All of them are unambiguously good guys.

Wildcat I (Ted Grant) provides examples of:

"Fists are nature's problem solvers."
Ted Grant, Justice Society of America Vol 3 #7

  • Alternate Company Equivalent: A lesser notable one to Wolverine. Both are semi-immortal Fights Like a Normal Animal-Themed Superbeing heroes who are Kavorka Man types but also made a career out of training young women. The biggest difference is Ted usually lacks Wolverine Claws and, unlike Wolverine, is 6'6'', and he's less of an asshole.
  • Animalistic Abilities: Ted has the "nine lives of a cat".
  • Animal-Themed Superbeing: Cat themed.
  • Artistic License – Cars: Motorcycles actually. Most artists seem to be unaware that Indians are real bikes or just have zero interest in having Ted's bike resemble something that's been made of a modified one.
  • Badass Normal: Ted has no powers—originally, he later gained limited Resurrective Immortality—he's just a really good fighter. He's personally defeated an entire team of villains that came calling, helped teach Bats how to fight and has beaten him multiple times.
  • Badass Biker: He's a Badass Normal hero who fixed up and customized an Indian (back when the bike was still new) and continues to improve and maintain his bike.
  • Boxing Battler: He's a champion boxer who fights crime in a cat mask.
  • Boxing Lessons for Superman: He has used his skills to train other heroes how to box including, Batman, Batgirl (Barbara Gordon), Catwoman, Black Canary, and Superman.
  • Breakout Character: To a minor case; he went from one-of-a-million expies of Batman to taking his place in the JSA, was retconned into having been his trainer and the trainer of Black Canary, and was the only one who got to appear in Justice League. Him, Jay Garrick, and Alan Scott pretty much stand as the three most prominent figures, which is far more impressive for him when you consider Jay and Alan have their connections to The Flash and Green Lantern legacies to boost their popularity, while Ted's legacies aren't nearly as prominent.
  • Cats Have Nine Lives: Ted Grant possesses the ability to return from the dead, a total of nine times. These "nine lives" are characteristic of the mythical properties of average house cats. Ted apparently acquired this power when the magician Zatara altered a curse placed on him by the villain King Inferno. He at one point believed he had used up all nine lives, but (in a Retcon) the sorcerer Mordru (while disguised as Doctor Fate) later informed him that he always has nine lives unless he is killed nine times in a single "cycle".
  • Characterisation Marches On: During the Silver Age, Ted was often presented as being quite a chauvanistic pig, to the point he would often need to be told off by Power Girl. In Post Crisis, though, as he was retconned into being Black Canary II's first trainer and supporter, and best friends with her mother, he became much more respectful of women. Though he was a bit of Chivalrous Pervert, it was made clear he respected women enough that he was able to charm Queen Hippolyta of the Amazons (who would never have tolerated the Ted who existed beforehand), and his relationship with Dinah is nothing short of heartwarming mutual respect.
  • Cool Old Guy: He's generally able to fight well despite his old age and not carrying any weapons.
  • Don't Make Me Take My Belt Off!: Has often made remarks like this when fighting younger opponents, or just when bantering with Black Canary; apparently, he reckons that she'd be less of a Deadpan Snarker if he was still allowed to spank her.
  • Demoted to Extra: In live action adaptations, Ted is usually a much lesser deal within the JSA, if not being Adapted Out completely. When the JSA appeared, he was virtually absent in Smallville, he had an Age Lift and was unconnected to them in the Arrowverse, and Stargirl (2020) has him Killed Off for Real in the pilot to give room for Yolanda.
  • Dented Iron: He started out as just a really good boxer who donned a cat outfit and started fighting bad guys back in the '40's. While he's in shockingly good shape given his age and now has Resurrective Immortality he picked up a lot of injuries over the years and his body is just older and not as capable as it once was.
  • Expy: Ted was pretty blatantly a Batman-esque hero, wearing a similarly animal-themed black outfit. He lacked the finances and gadgets though.
  • Famed In-Story: As both a boxer and a hero. His hero cred is best amongst other heroes since the JSA are not as well known amongst the general populace as the flashier teams but are looked up to and respected by the hero community. Tim Drake, who was a giant fanboy before DC turned him into a dour Batman clone, was so excited to run into Ted at a car show he nearly ruined his own secret identity.
  • Good Old Fisticuffs: No matter how big the opponent or how seemingly impossible the odds might be in or out of combat Wildcat will always solve the issue with boxing.
  • Hidden Depths:
    • Being a Boxing Battler, Ted is often assumed to just be Unskilled, but Strong. He's actually a highly skilled martial artist and technical fighter, but had merely started off as a boxer and considers it his preferred style. He's more than capable of using Judo, kick-boxing, and other styles, many of which he taught to his students.
    • Despite being the resident Jerk with a Heart of Gold who used to be written as a Straw Misogynist, he's typically now shown to be fairly progressive for a man his age, especially towards women, and takes on many female students whom he tends to view as daughter figures. He's old-fashioned in how he talks to women (IE, using terms like "broads" or commenting on their figure), but he's very respectful to them on their person.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Some writers have played with the idea that Ted was in love with Dinah Drake (JLA: Year One even presents that they once had an affair). However, he didn't push anything further because she was married to Larry Lance. Instead he concentrated his romantic love towards Dinah Sr into paternal love for her daughter, who he cared for as if she was his own daughter.
  • Kavorka Man: Covered in welts and cauliflower ear, he's still managed to gain interest from and sleep with Catwoman, Queen Hippolyta and dozens of other women. It helps that he shows women respect.
  • Like a Son to Me: He sees Dinah Lance/Black Canary II this way, being that he was best friends with/possibly in love with her mother, has seen her grow up, and was the one to first train her to fight crime. The feeling is mutual, and Dinah loves him like a second father.
  • Old Master: As one of DC's most prolific mixed martial artists, he's often sought out for training, which he's usually happy to give. Special emphasis goes to the "Old" part, since he's somewhere in his 90s+ at least.
  • One-Man Army: Ted loves a fight, and he's insanely good at it. He's surpassed as a Badass Normal only by the likes of Richard Dragon, Lady Shiva and Cassandra Cain. He's taken on hordes of opponents on his own and won.
  • Outliving One's Offspring: Ted's son Jake was kidnapped by Wildcat's enemy Yellow Wasp and raised as his own son. Jake died without learning his true parentage and decades before Ted finally learned what happened to his son.
  • Precursor Heroes: Ted, and the JSA at large, has served as such for the wider DC Universe in several continuities and adaptations as heroes who rose to prominence during and in the aftermath of WWII at the start of the age of heroes.
  • Raised by Rival: Not Ted himself but his son Jake. Jake's mother was killed and Jake himself kidnapped by the Golden Age villain Yellow Wasp. Ted spent decades searching for them but only learned the truth after Jake had grown up and died without ever knowing who his true father was.
  • Resurrective Immortality: His "nine lives" curse fix works more like this since its really quite a bit more than the original nine lives he thought it was.
  • Ret-Gone: An Earth-One version of Ted Grant existed pre-Crisis and teamed up with Batman on several occasions, himself a retired world heavyweight champion like his Earth-Two counterpart. This version of Ted Grant ceased to exist following the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths, with the Earth-Two version becoming the dominant version on the new unified universe, although it was still said Post-Crisis that Batman received some training from Ted Grant.

See Infinity, Inc. for examples from Wildcat II (Yolanda Montez).

Wildcat III/Tomcat (Tommy Bronson) provides examples of:

"I don't like fighting. Especially for exhibition."
Tommy Bronson

  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Tommy and Ted have a somewhat tense relationship, owing to the fact Ted was never there for him (because he didn't know he existed), and their completely differing preferences concerning combat. However, Ted loves his son and Tommy, even while they don't express it often.
  • Contrasting Sequel Main Character: Ted loves fighting, in the ring for sport or on the streets to take down thugs. Tommy absolutely hates fighting, but he will fight to save lives if the situation really requires it. When Ted tries training Tommy in boxing the two butt heads constantly.
  • Heroic Lineage: He's the son of Ted Grant.
  • Heroic Bastard: He was the illegitimate son of Ted Grant and turns into a hero, despite his slacker attitude.
  • Hidden Depths: While he's a sardonic Deadpan Snarker who likes to drink, smoke, and turns into a cat, he actively dislikes violence despite being capable of taking on Vandal Savage; at first it was because he was seemingly worried about his powers, it becomes apparent he just doesn't enjoy it and finds the idea of fighting for anything but drastic necessity to be really off-putting.
  • Legacy Character: The third hero to use the Wildcat name, though in a variation he uses the name alongside his father Ted.
  • One-Steve Limit: Averted with two Wildcats being on the same team. Eventually he goes by the name Tomcat, even though he had stated in the past that he would never go by that name; given it's a pretty obvious go-to nickname to distinguish the two, it's likely he didn't choose to go by it, but everyone was already calling him that anyway.
  • Our Werebeasts Are Different: Tom's werecat (Tomcat) form which is humanoid, but with head-to-toe black fur, a panther-like face, claws, and a tail. He inherited the ability to shift into a were-panther form from his mother.
  • Reluctant Warrior: Part of the reason Tom hid his powers was that he was scared of his lack of control, the other part was that he doesn't like fighting and didn't want to be forced into fights. Despite his slacker personality he will quickly take down anyone attacking innocents in front of him and his dad talked him into joining the JSA.
  • Ret-Gone: Flashpoint wiped him from continuity.
  • Secret Secret-Keeper: Tom knew his father was Wildcat for years, which comes as a surprise to Ted.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: He has the ability to change into his were-cat form and back at will.