Metallo is a fictional supervillain and android who appears in Superman stories published by DC Comics. Metallo's trademark is his kryptonite power source, which he often uses as a weapon against Superman. His traditional identity is John Corben. Metallo first appeared in Action Comics #252, May 1959.
John Corben was originally a journalist (and secretly a thief and murderer) who had just committed what he thought was the perfect murder. While fleeing from the scene of the crime, Corben suffered a near-fatal accident that mangled his body beyond repair. However, elderly scientist Professor Vale happened upon Corben, and used his scientific skill to transfer Corben's brain into a robotic body covered by a fleshlike artificial skin. However, Corben discovered that his power source, a capsule of uranium, would only last a day, but was told by Vale that kryptonite would provide him an indefinite power supply.
After obtaining a job with the Daily Planet, Corben briefly tried to romance Lois Lane, while deciding that he'd use his powers to eliminate Superman, the one person who might expose his criminal deeds. After setting a kryptonite death-trap for Superman, Corben stole what he thought was another sample of kryptonite from a museum as a new power supply, not knowing it was in reality a fake prop; this mistake caused him to die. Superman eventually escaped from the kryptonite trap.
A second Metallo, John's brother Roger, debuted in Superman (volume 1) #310 (April 1977). This Metallo was created by a secret organization that transferred Roger's brain into a new robotic body, so that Roger could get revenge on Superman for his brother's death. Like the previous Metallo, this one was also powered by kryptonite.
After John Byrne rewrote Superman's origins in the 1986 miniseries Man of Steel, Metallo was also given an altered backstory.
In the current version, John Corben was a small-time con man who was fatally injured in a car crash, but to his luck Professor Emmet Vale happened to pass by. Professor Vale was a pioneer in robotics, and erroneously believed that Superman was the first in a wave of superpowered Kryptonian invaders. Vale transplanted Corben's brain into a robotic body, which was powered by a two-pound chunk of kryptonite, and instructed him to kill Superman. Metallo—the alloy his body was made of, and now Corben's new moniker—thanked Vale by snapping his neck, killing him.
Despite ignoring Vale's commands, Metallo came into conflict with Superman on various occasions, in large part to his continued activities as a petty thug. Metallo later lost his kryptonite heart to Lex Luthor, though back-up life support systems allowed Metallo to reactivate himself and escape. He remained a thorn in Superman's side, and due to his sheer power no other superhero save Superman could quickly and effectively handle him. Metallo later received a major upgrade via an unholy bargain with the demon Neron. As a result, Metallo was now able to morph his body into any mechanical shape he could imagine (turning his hands into guns or "growing" a jet-pack from his back) and project his consciousness into any technological or metallic device. As Superman and others learned on various occasions, the most effective way to neutralize Metallo was to remove his (largely invulnerable) head and isolate it from other metallic items.
In recent comics, evidence was uncovered that implicated John Corben as the criminal who shot and killed Thomas and Martha Wayne, the parents of Bruce Wayne. This proved to be a ruse by Lex Luthor, however, orchestrated in order to lure both the Dark Knight and Superman into a "final" confrontation. More recently, Corben's mind was removed from the Metallo body, and placed into a cloned version of his original human body, by the (second, post-Crisis) Toyman, Hiro Okamura, whose family had invented the metallo alloy. Despite the fact he is once again just a man, he is still a dangerous foe to Superman. It is unknown if Corben retains his Neron-granted abilities.
It is widely believed that the modernized Metallo was influenced by the film The Terminator. Metallo's mechanical design, as well as his fake human skin, greatly resemble the Terminator's endoskeleton and Arnold Schwarzenegger's body.
Metallo appeared in an Lois & Clark episode called Metallo. In this episode, Johnny Corben was the boyfriend of Lucy Lane and, unknown to her, a petty criminal. He was shot when a holdup went wrong, and turned into a Kryptonite-powered cyborg by ex-Lexcorp scientist Dr Emmett Vale. He was played by Scott Valentine
Metallo first appearance in the DC Animated Universe was during Superman: The Animated Series, and was voiced by Malcolm McDowell.
Metallo as he appeared in Superman: The Animated Series and Justice League UnlimitedJohn Corben was an Australian criminal-for-hire who was involved in a plot by Lex Luthor to sell the LEXO-SKEL SUIT 5000 to Kasnian terrorists (Luthor knew that the Pentagon would want him to design something bigger and better to combat the suit the terrorists had "stolen"). Corben was caught by Superman and jailed, but while in jail he contracted a rare and lethal disease. Luthor offered him a chance at new life, as a cyborg, by having his mind transplanted into a robotic body; a Dr. Vale assisted in the procedure. Corben's new body, made of a revolutionary new metal called Metallo, was powered by a kryptonite "heart," which Corben was eager to use against Superman. At first, Corben revelled in his new body, but when he learned it had no sense of touch, no way to sense even a simple kiss, he went mad and began referring to himself as Metallo. When Superman later revealed to Corben that Luthor himself had arranged for Corben to get ill while in prison, Corben turned on Luthor, but in the battle he was thrown off of Lex's yacht, and his non-buoyant body sank.
Metallo walked across the ocean floor, eventually walking up the shore of a small island that Superman was helping to evacuate due to an impending volcanic eruption. Initially, Metallo had no memory of who he or Superman were, and befriended two children on the island (the son and daughter of one of the seismologists studying the eruption). Metallo eventually did regain his memory, however, and attacked Superman, but was caught in the lava flow. It cooled around him, leaving only part of his head and one arm exposed, the rest trapped in rock. Unable to free himself, he began to recite his name and history to himself, so he would not forget again. Metallo was eventually rescued, and returned to plague Superman again and again. He even had a battle against Steel III (John Henry Irons).
Metallo has also appeared in Justice League as a member of the Superman Revenge Squad but was defeated. He was voiced by Corey Burton.
He later returned in Justice League Unlimited as a member of Gorilla Grodd's Legion of Doom. He, along with Silver Banshee, were sent on a mission to Skartaris (an area in the center of the Earth) to obtain a large kryptonite rock, but were thwarted by the Justice League, when Supergirl removed his kryptonite power supply. He was coerced to give them information in exchange for his power source, but just before divulging the information, he was forcibly shut down by an outside source. He was taken to the Watchtower waiting so that his mind could be probed for information. Malcolm McDowell reprises his vocals.