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Supervillain Origins: Bullseye

VO: Adrian Sousa WRITTEN BY: Michael Wynands
He never misses his mark… and that’s bad news for his targets. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we will explore the comic book origin of Bullseye.
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He never misses his mark… and that’s bad news for his targets. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we will explore the comic book origin of Bullseye.

Bullseye is a mysterious and mentally unstable assassin for hire who notably takes great pleasure in his work. What makes him stand out from his peers is his unparalleled skill as a marksman, which verges on superhuman. He hasn’t been deemed a mutant or metahuman, but he can turn pretty much any object into a lethal projectile. Add to that his peak physical conditioning, skills as a martial artist and the fact that he at one point got adamantium laced to his skeleton, and you have one formidable killer. Bullseye made his comic book debut in 1976’s Daredevil #131, quickly proving that his villainous moniker was more than just a cool name. Apart from being hellbent on killing the Man without fear and doing it in the most public way possible, Bullseye would largely remain a man of mystery for decades, despite becoming one of Daredevil’s most persistent and influential villains.

Bullseye’s past is so mysterious that we don’t even know what his real name is. Benjamin Poindexter is one that comes up most often, but we’ve also seen him use the aliases Lester Jangles and Leonard McClain among others. It wasn’t until 1996’s Elektra #2 that we got our first look into Bullseye’s past, and even then, it was far from a fully-fleshed out picture of the troubled villain’s formative years. As he tangled with the woman he once murdered, we were treated to flashbacks from his youth. In it, we learned that Bullseye came from a broken home; his mother ran off with a salesman when he was young, and his father was an angry, abusive drunk. Disinterested in school, Bullseye, who we learn is colorblind, skips to practice the only thing he’s good at - target sports. After a beating from his father, a young Bullseye would paint one a target on his father’s head, faking the man’s suicide in what would become his first kill.

And then… nothing. After this tiny peek under the hood, Bullseye returned to being a closed book until 2004 when the fan-favorite villain got his very own miniseries, “Bullseye: Greatest Hits”. In the first issue, Bullseye talks of his childhood, contradicting much of what we learned in Elektra #2. In it, he talks about growing up in Queens alongside a brother named Nate. We also see memories that suggest his name is Leonard. Again, he talks of an abusive alcoholic father, though this time his mom stuck around, another victim of his father’s abuse. As he tells it, his brother burned down their apartment in an attempt to kill their dad but ended up killing himself and his mother in the process.

After the fire, Bullseye went into foster care and started playing baseball, going straight to the minors after high school graduation. Quickly getting bored, however, he made the game lethal by targeting and killing a batter with a pitch. From there, Bullseye was forced to join the military, eventually being deployed to Nicaragua to train rebels, where, according to him, he took control of the cocaine trade, creating a bottleneck to the states, and drawing the attention of the Punisher.

After his messy encounter with Frank Castle down south, Bullseye returned stateside, where he became the masked criminal we first met in 1976’s Daredevil #131. Except in “Greatest Hits” #4, we see the creation of his costume by a punk rock tailor, and get the grandiose interpretation of his rise to fame as a criminal and even more shockingly, a covert NSA agent. Then… in the fifth issue of “Greatest Hits”, Bullseye drops a bombshell. He made up most of what he’d just said. He was the one who tried to burn his father alive, but the man survived. His father was the NSA agent, and just so happens to have been locked in the same prison where Bullseye has been telling this whole story. The miniseries ends with him breaking out of his cell and proceeding to finish the job of killing his father by burning down the facility

When Bullseye tells agent Baldry that his life story was a fabrication, it throws a lot into question. From the flashbacks, you can tell that Bullseye is blurring fact and fiction throughout “Greatest Hits”, hiding certain things from the Agent. Bullseye is an unreliable narrator, and with so little other information to go on, this is our best rough outline of his early years. Bullseye is a villain with serious daddy issues though, and they don’t end there. His father, later identified as the Kingmaker, would resurface in 2009’s “Dark Reign: Hawkeye” miniseries, during which Bullseye would seemingly finally kill his dad after two failed attempts. Much like DC’s Joker, Bullseye’s conflicting history is part of his appeal - he’s a mystery, an enigma, a villain who delighted in laying a false trail. At the end of the day, the lack of historical certainty adds more to his psychotic personality than any definitive backstory ever could. Here’s what we know for sure: from the moment he became a freelance assassin, he quickly established himself as a major player in the criminal underworld of Marvel, leaving his mark on the life of Daredevil.

When he made his debut in 1976’s Daredevil #131, he proved himself to be a foe the likes of which Daredevil had never faced before. In their first encounter, Bullseye actually bested the Man Without Fear. Though Daredevil eventually got the better of him, Bullseye would continue to be a thorn in the side of the former. It was during this time that Bullseye’s insanity first began to make itself known, a character trait that would go on to be developed further in the decades to come. Though they tangled multiple times in the years following Bullseye’s debut, 1981 was the year he cemented his status as the hero’s arch-nemesis after killing Daredevil’s troubled ally and lover, Elektra.

Bullseye has continued to define himself as one of Marvel’s most compelling and distinct villains. After killing Elektra, his fight with Daredevil left him paralyzed, but a treatment provided by Professor Kenji Oyama AKA Lord Dark Wind involving adamantium would eventually get him back on his feet and stronger than ever. In 1990, he actually donned the Daredevil costume during Matt Murdoch’s absence and tried his hand at crimefighting and vigilantism, albeit, as you can imagine, in his own twisted way. Only Matt Murdock dressing up as Bullseye could convince the villain that he was not, in fact, the real Daredevil. Bullseye would go on to further scar Daredevil when he later killed another love interest of Murdock’s: Karen Page. During the Dark Reign storyline, he would once again play the twisted superhero when he donned the mantle of Hawkeye as a member of the Dark Avengers.

Bullseye might be something of an enigma, but he’s one that we never grow tired of. While his backstory continues to invite questions and inspire doubts, his character development over the years makes him one of the most well-defined, fleshed out villains in Daredevil’s rogues' gallery. From a tough childhood to his apparent death at the hands of Daredevil to his eventual return, to going blind, Bullseye’s been through the ringer, and we can’t wait to see what this madman does next.
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