In the 1940s and 50s, when comic books surged in popularity, a great number of superheroes had origin stories rooted in the fear of nuclear power gone wrong. Whether via spider bite, cosmic storm, or experiment gone wrong, these characters are transformed -- and not always for the better.

The 10 superheroes and supervillains here, chosen from many, are not relics of the Cold War's nuclear paranoia; more than half have appeared in major movies in the last decade. Scarred by radiation but are also empowered by it, they perfectly encapsulate modern society's hope for and fear of nuclear energy.

Who are your favorite nuclear-powered superheroes? Let us know in the comments.

Dr. Manhattan

More than any other superhero, Watchmen's Dr. Manhattan reflects the impact of nuclear power on world history. Cold War nuclear physicist Jon Osterman develops superhuman strength, telekenesis and the ability to teleport after an accident in his lab.

Employed by the U.S. government, he single-handedly wins the war in Vietnam, gets everyone to switch to electric cars, and slowly loses his connection with humanity.

Video: Watchmen (2009) via YouTube

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