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The Untold Truth Of Marvel Villain Stilt-Man

Few Marvel villains are more absurd — or litigious — than Wilbur Day, aka Stilt-Man. He's a classic Daredevil baddie, going all the way back to 1965's "Daredevil" #8. His unbelievable braggadocio is present from the beginning: "So long as I am master of my stilts, I'm unbeatable! I'm completely invincible!" he gloats triumphantly in his inaugural issue. In fact, Stilt-Man proves to be very beatable. He's been whipped by Daredevil, Black Goliath, Alpha Flight, the Champions, and many more. 

What gives him such unearned confidence? Well, his duds are pretty cool. Stilt-Man wears an armored suit that features a pair of powerful hydraulic legs that help him run fast and grow to immense height. A gyro allows him to zoom up hundreds of feet into the air while retaining perfect balance. Moreover, the suit is specially treated to be non-stick — making it hard for Spider-Man to web up its length — and its legs are detachable. Basically, it's designed to rob skyscrapers with great ease ... and not much else.

But Stilt-Man's greatest power isn't his suit — it's his persistence. Fully cognizant of his loser status, he still fights on. Stilt-Man has joined supervillain teams, sued people, tried to reform himself, died, been cloned, and traveled to another planet — and that's just for starters. This is the untold truth of Stilt-Man, one of Marvel's oldest, weirdest, and outright silliest villains.

It all starts with a lawsuit

In "Daredevil" #8, Stilt-Man's first appearance, Daredevil gets distracted by a bomb-laden car while an impossibly tall figure robs a helicopter carrying a company's payroll on the other side of town. Armed with various grenades, this bizarrely armored bad guy with telescoping metal legs manages to get away. Later that day, an unassuming gray-haired man named Wilbur Day enters the law offices of Nelson and Murdock and asks for help suing his employer. He claims to be an inventor, and says his boss, Carl Kaxton, has stolen his patent for a hydraulic lift. 

Of course, the mousy Wilbur is actually Stilt-Man, and it is Kaxton who truly invented the revolutionary hydraulic system that allows Wilbur to rob helicopters. Wilbur, ever the jerk, simply stole it from him. But Kaxton is such an abrasive and obnoxious figure, Wilbur easily convinces Matt Murdock that he's Stilt-Man. Soon after, Daredevil once again fails to stop the lofty foe.

What Wilbur Day really wants is Kaxton's new weapon: a molecular condenser, aka a shrink ray. This genuinely dangerous device could send Wilbur's criminal career in a vastly different and likely more dastardly direction. Thankfully, Daredevil manages to confound Stilt-Man by simply jumping around — the baddie turns out to be a terrible shot. Stilt-Man manages to zap himself out of sight with the molecular condenser in the ensuing fracas. Matt Murdock proceeds to tell Kaxton that Wilbur Day is no longer going to sue him.

Stilt-Man goes Hollywood

Wilbur Day is never quite content to just be Stilt-Man. He's always looking for an upgrade or using gimmicks that lie outside his skill set. One especially vivid example of this trait is the convoluted revenge he attempts to exact upon Daredevil. Matt Murdock and his girlfriend Karen Page are in Hollywood, as she's set to co-star in a television pilot with Stunt-Master. He's a whole story unto himself, as an Evel Knievel-esque motorcycle stunt driver who becomes a criminal after falling on hard times. Eventually, he goes to prison, rehabilitates himself, and gets into films. 

Uniquely, Stunt-Master is supposed to do a scene with Daredevil. Stilt-Man eavesdrops on their initial meeting (held in a skyscraper, of course) and knocks Stunt-Master unconscious in his trailer soon after. While everyone waits for Stunt-Master to emerge, Wilbur Day puts on a Stunt-Master disguise, which includes a fake nose and some heavy cosmetics. Somehow, he fools everyone, including Daredevil, a blind man who ignores the fact that Stunt-Master's voice and heartbeat are suddenly completely different. Wilbur even brings out a pair of barely-disguised hydraulic legs and attaches them to the motorcycle. 

After he barely misses hitting Daredevil during their scene, he falls into the water, changes into his armor, and attacks. Daredevil wraps him up with his billy club cable and knocks him over. The fact that Stilt-Man's hugely ridiculous scheme gets this far is a testament to his skill — or everyone on set's extreme distractibility.

Stilt-Man meets the Trapster

When Sam Wilson goes on trial for his apparent misdeeds as "Snap" Wilson in 1975's "Captain America" #191, his former underworld acquaintances panic and put out a contract on his life. A colorful mob leader named Jaz tells them to contact Stilt-Man. Perhaps Jaz feels sorry for Sam, because by this point, Stilt-Man has proven time and time again to be terrible at his job. Jaz's recruiter, a man named Hollywood Vine, contacts Wilbur, who's deluded himself into thinking he can become the underworld's top assassin. 

In a truly monumental meeting between two of comics' most ridiculous villains, Stilt-Man encounters the Trapster, who is helplessly floating in mid-air. The Trapster was once one of several early glue-based villains named Paste-Pot Pete. As you might expect, he used a powerful adhesive against his enemies. Upon joining the Frightful Four, he gave himself a criminal makeover and became the Trapster, who is marginally more threatening. In this issue, he's hovering because he was just beaten by Ghost Rider, whose fiery powers put the Trapster's anti-gravity devices on the fritz.

The Trapster begs for help, and offers Stilt-Man whatever he wants in return. Wilbur Day, always happy to steal things made by cleverer people, gleefully takes the Trapster's weapons and drops him in a palm tree. Stilt-Man proceeds to attack the Falcon at his trial, and even breaks out some paste bombs. However, Redwing distracts Stilt-Man, allowing the Falcon to remove his helmet and take the bad guy down.

Seeking Daredevil's help

In 1982's "Daredevil" #186, Matt Murdock is engaged to socialite Heather Glenn, whose late father owned Glenn Industries. The company has fallen into corruption under the auspices of the slimy Mr. Spindle. For his own purposes, Matt helps assistant district attorney Maxine Lavender build a case against Glenn Industries, but he's careful to make sure Heather isn't implicated in any way.

What does this have to do with Stilt-Man? Spindle hires the baddie to pressure Lavender to drop the case against Glenn Industries, or else. When Stilt-Man sees that Daredevil is helping her, he doubles his fee. As he counts the money, he loses a glove. He promptly buys a replacement as Wilbur Day from Melvin Potter's costume shop, where small-time criminal Turk Barrett (a frequent source of comic relief) is badgering Potter to help him become the Kingpin's new assassin. Turk realizes he knows Wilbur from somewhere and trails after him. As Wilbur ponders what he needs to do to beat Daredevil, Turk knocks him out and takes the Stilt-Man suit. 

Disempowered, Wilbur goes to the police and demands they summon Daredevil. Wilbur provides the horned hero with a specialized tool, which allows him to take Turk down. Thus, Wilbur gets what he wants — but this is certainly one of his most humiliating moments in a career that's already chock-full of them. Losing is one thing, but begging the man who's put you behind bars multiple times for help is another.

Negated by Iron Man

In 1987's "Iron Man" #225, Tony Stark helps reformed supervillain Force get a new job and identity. Examining Force's armor, Stark wonders out loud how so many supervillains get their hands on so much advanced technology. Then, he notices that the weapons activation grid in Force's armor looks eerily familiar. That's because it's his own technology, which was evidently stolen from him at some prior point. An investigation reveals that his industrialist nemesis Justin Hammer is the culprit, and that he got the tech from Iron Man's old enemy, the Spymaster. 

Iron Man hacks Hammer's computers to figure out exactly who's benefited from his stolen creations. He then invents a "negator pack" that recognizes and destroys his own tech. Who's his first target? Our old friend Wilbur Day, aka Stilt-Man. Iron Man interrupts Wilbur as he steals documents from an office seven stories up. Though the baddie attempts to deploy his legs' hydraulic ramming capabilities, they don't put a dent in the armored Avenger. Knowing when he's beat — which makes sense, as it's hardly a new experience for him — Stilt-Man attempts to jettison his suit's legs and escape with his rocket boots. But Iron Man simply bonks him over the head with one of his detached legs and uses his negator pack to fry Stilt-Man's armor. This beat-down is par for the course for ol' Stilt-Man. But significantly, it sees him get trounced by a whole new Marvel villain. 

Meeting the Punisher

When the Superhuman Registration Act is signed into law, a lot of weird things happen. One of them is Wilbur Day's decision to reform, get registered, and become an extremely short-lived superhero. His career is brief not because he turns bad, however, but because he makes the mistake of running into the Punisher

Both Stilt-Man and the Punisher stake out sleazeball criminal Fulvio Morsella in a restaurant. He's already in the FBI's custody and expected to testify against bigger fish than him. The Punisher finds this unacceptable, given Morsella's heinous crimes, and plans to kill him. Stilt-Man ... has no plan. He doesn't seem to understand that Fulvio is already in custody when he tries to "arrest" him, and inadvertently destroys a great deal of property by lumbering around. When the Punisher makes himself known, Stilt-Man starts shooting, then declares that they should team up, like heroes do. 

The Punisher's response is to blow Stilt-Man's legs off. Poor Wilbur surrenders, but this isn't Daredevil he's dealing with. The Punisher walks up to the helpless Stilt-Man and shoots him in the face. Then, the Punisher tracks down the Tinkerer, who upgraded the Stilt-Man's armor, and stabs him. To add insult to injury, the Punisher disguises himself as a bartender and poisons everyone who shows up to Stilt-Man's wake at the Bar With No Name. Stilt-Man might be a bad guy, but this is definitely overkill.

Stilt-Man's strange legacy

In the wake of his brutal death, Wilbur Day's legacy takes some very weird turns. It all starts when Tony Stark comes to Peter Parker with a concern: He's designed a horrifying weapon and has no idea why or how he did it, due to his hazy memories. After he and Peter search for terrorist groups ramping up production of such a weapon, they narrow their hunt down to a group known as the Bastard Sons of Wilbur Day. These wannabes turn out to be a bunch of malcontented trust fund kids who are trying to turn Stark's death-machine design into a reality. They invoke Wilbur Day because they see him as a man who spoke truth to power and was forcibly silenced for doing so. Spider-Man chastises the group for their foolishness, describing Wilbur Day as a decent guy — albeit a villainous one — who doesn't deserve to be attached to their ridiculously flimsy ideology.

Later on, Wilbur Day's armor winds up in the hands of a young woman who dubs herself "Lady Stilt-Man," a name so ridiculous, Spider-Man begs her to say it again as they fight. The wall-crawler infuriates her so intensely, he manages to trick her into slamming her hydraulic leg into a giant high-heel shoe. Deadpool soon arrives, craftily removes a manhole cover, and guides her other leg into it, which effectively takes down the new supervillain. Ever the gentleman, Spider-Man consoles her after she starts crying. 

Send in the clones

Years ago, Miles "The Jackal" Warren took samples from his students. Eventually, he clones them — a process that inadvertently creates Spider-Man's infamous clone, Ben Reilly, who goes on to die in Peter Parker's arms. However, a revolutionary process dubbed "New U" is developed that doesn't simply clone people — it can essentially resurrect them. Basically, using the tiniest hints of genetic material, this breakthrough creates clones who have the original person's memories. Ben Reilly returns through this process, becomes the new Jackal, and raises all of Spider-Man's friends and foes from the dead ... including Stilt-Man. But the process is flawed, and many of the New U clones disintegrate, almost causing a zombie apocalypse. Luckily, Spider-Man saves the day, and Wilbur ends up being one of the clones who survives

So what does the Stilt-Man do with his new lease on life? Does he try to accomplish something meaningful, perhaps? Nope! He joins up with a gang of supervillains who are hired to turn Hell's Kitchen into a pile of ashes. If anything, being resurrected brings out his mean side — he tries to bomb a church that even the Rhino gives warning to. Daredevil takes him down first, because while Stilt-Man is a joke, the bombs he's gained access to make him an actual threat. Daredevil uses one of these bombs to destroy the villain's legs, then sends him head-first into a car. At least Daredevil takes him seriously this time?


Due to a convoluted series of events, an attempt is made on the Kingpin's life. His wife, Vanessa, shuts down his operations and moves him to Europe to recover. One of his former operatives gives up a crucial piece of info to the feds: Daredevil's secret identity. This is leaked to the media, and a scandal mag prints it. 

Matt Murdock's response is to launch a lawsuit against them, even though the information is true. Somehow, this makes him even more feared and respected by both the public and his fellow superheroes. Case in point, our old pal Wilbur Day (now bald, for some reason) barges into Murdock's law office, his arm in a sling. Murdock pretends not to know him until an angry Wilbur hands over his Stilt-Man armor. He then tells Daredevil that he's quitting the bad guy business and leaving town. He reveals that the reason why none of Murdock's old enemies have tried to kill him is that they're genuinely terrified of him. He also notes that Vanessa Fisk sold him a cut of the Kingpin's empire, but refused to sell to the Owl, another long-time enemy of Daredevil. It was the Owl who broke Wilbur's arm and put his girlfriend in the hospital, prompting the beleaguered man to throw in the towel.

Melvin Potter, the former Gladiator, shows Wilbur the door. Matt promptly offers Foggy Nelson the Stilt-Man suit, but Foggy says he'd rather be Rocket Raccoon. Even Stilt-Man's duds can't escape disrespect.

A benevolent ruler

On a quest to stop the resurrected Korvac, Iron Man is mysteriously teleported to a strange planet. There, he encounters a colony of beings who were also transported against their will. Despite their many different species and backgrounds, these abductees have successfully banded together and established a little village called Megiddo.

A Kree woman named Yar takes Tony to their leader, who just so happens to be a long-haired and bearded Wilbur Day. Wilbur claims he was transported to this world like everyone else, and that it has turned out to be everything he ever wanted. There's only one problem: This is the planet where Ultimos come from. These giant bio-robots used to plague Iron Man on Earth, and they're not too happy that the Megiddans are messing with their ecosystem. Iron Man helps defeat one of them and vows to work beside the former Stilt-Man, whose utopia Tony genuinely admires.

But then Wilbur tells him that it's pointless to try to stop the Ultimos, which Tony thinks is suspicious. As it turns out, Wilbur is the one who brought the Megiddans to this planet. He reprogrammed the Ultimos to instill fear in the society, which reliably prompts the Megiddans to work together and respect him as an effective leader. Once the truth is revealed, the enraged Megiddans turn on Wilbur. But before they can exact revenge, the Living Tribunal shows up and sends them all back home.