Melvin Potter, better known to the world as "The Gladiator", was a costume designer who held a grudge against costumed superheroes and dreamed of one day defeating them. He constructed a new costume which featured deadly wrist blades, razor boots, body armor and a helmet and then went under the guise as "Gladiator" when Foggy Nelson went to Potter to make a Daredevil costume to convince Karen Page, the girl of his dreams, that he was actually the crimson hero. However, when he faced Potter in combat, he was knocked out in a single blow, but after the real Daredevil arrived, the Gladiator was soundly defeated. After his defeat at the hands of Daredevil, he joined forces with the mysterious Masked Marauder.
Matt, Karen and Foggy attend a boxing match, unaware that the Masked Marauder and the Gladiator had taken their three best men and converted their best characteristics into an android known as the Tri-Man. Daredevil was forced to fight the Masked Marauder and Gladiator's Tri-Man in order to secure leadership in the Maggia, however Daredevil managed to defeat their creation, and follow its teleporter back to their base. There, Daredevil fought alone against the three men whose abilities were templated for the Tri-Man (Dancer, Mangler and Brain) and the Gladiator. The Masked Marauder broadcast video from the battle to the Maggia so that they could see the Marauder's triumph over Daredevil, in hopes that this would secure his role as the crime cartel's leader. However, Daredevil managed to defeat all attackers, including a lion that was turned on him and escaped. In the aftermath, the Masked Marauder's membership bid was denied and the Maggia, liking the Gladiator's style, took him into their group.
Emissaries of Evil
He once joined Electro's Emissaries of Evil to battle Daredevil together as a team. After battling each crook individually, they regrouped and took on Daredevil together, however the group's lack of teamwork and each member's desire to be the one to finally kill Daredevil caused them to lose their battle. Daredevil captured them all and turned them over to the police.
Gladiator aided Madame Masque in a raid of Stark Industries, where he first fought Iron Man. Frost was not convinced that Gladiator could succeed given his past record, however the Gladiator assured her that his failure against Daredevil was due to his choice in allies, not because of his inability to stop his foe. Not wishing Jasper Sitwell to be harmed, Frost traveled to Stark Enterprises to pick him up. Stark meanwhile had a meeting with Janice Cord and her lawyer Vincent Sandhurst who had come to sell her father's assets to Tony. Traveling to Janice's father's old lab, the trio were captured by Gladiator and the Maggia and taken to their base, where Tony learned that Whitney was the Maggia's leader Big M. Faking a heart attack in order to get a hold of his brief case, Stark managed to break out a window and seek cover long enough to change into Iron Man. As Iron Man, Stark battled the Maggia and Gladiator, and saved Janice and Vincent from a falling trap. However, his hands were crushed in the rescue attempt. Battling the Gladiator again, Iron Man tried to gain the upper hand by using his repulsor rays, but in attempting to do so Iron Man discovered that they were damaged when he was trying to save Janice and Vincent, leaving him at the mercy of the Gladiator's whirling blades. As Iron Man was busy fighting the Gladiator, Whitney Frost and her Maggia goons knocked out the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents assigned to protect Stark Industries so that they could steal high tech weapons. Iron Man managed to fight off Gladiator who retreated from battle to join the rest of the Maggia at Stark Industries. Following Janice and Vincent, Iron Man confronted the invaders and was aided by the timely arrival of Jasper and reinforcement S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. During the course of the battle, most of the Maggia agents and the Gladiator were captured, however Jasper could not bring himself to stop Whitney from escaping due to his feelings towards her.
Potter was in prison and tried to claim insanity to get out of his sentence. Nelson and Murdock were hired to determine if Potter was lying or not and visited him in prison. When allowing Potter to wear his old Gladiator costume and hold his old weapons, he then revealed that he was faking and attempted to break out. He was attacked by Daredevil, and during the battle the Gladiator's saw blades suddenly dissolved. Making quick work of Gladiator, DD explained that expecting a trick Nelson and Murdock had treated the saw blades with a chemical that would make them dissolve after a certain period of use.
Gladiator next appeared kidnapping a plane that Matt Murdock was on-board. Matt managed to change into his Daredevil costume and with the help of the Black Widow, defeated the Gladiator and his fellow hijackers.
He later allied with the Death-Stalker. In Citrusville, Florida, Gladiator attacked Matt Murdock and Richard Rory. When Richard was knocked out, Matt slipped away to change into Daredevil. During the fight, Daredevil had the advantage over his old foe, until Gladiator's missing swings cut loose a tree branch that landed on Daredevil's head, knocking him out. When Death-Stalker ordered the Gladiator to kill Daredevil, the Man-Thing shambled out of the swamp to witness the scene. The muck-monster's intervention saved Daredevil and during the fight, Gladiator learned of his employer's death touch, deciding to learn its secret to eventually double cross Death-Stalker.
After an unsuccessful interrogation of Rory and Daredevil, Death-Stalker ordered Gladiator to get rid of the two men. The Gladiator doused the house they were in with gasoline and set it ablaze, leaving them inside to die. Daredevil revived and just barely manages to free himself and carry Rory outside to safety. There, Daredevil found the Man-Thing had taken down the Gladiator. Daredevil then changed back into his guise of Matt Murdock, and drove himself Rory and Gladiator out to a location where they could be found by the authorities.
Fighting Ghost Rider
Gladiator reappeared in Los Angeles, tearing apart the movie studio where Johnny Blaze was working, looking for a device stolen by the Eel. He managed to kill the Eel, but was defeated by the Ghost Rider.
Potter and Beetle escaped from a Florida prison and have hijacked a train to New York to seek revenge, once and for all, on their arch-foe Daredevil. As their train comes into Grand Central Station out of control, Daredevil meets them ready for battle. A heated match takes place by a newsstand. The Gladiator makes some serious wounds into Daredevil's back, but also wounds his partner the Beetle in his rage. Eventually, Daredevil wins the day.
Potter had one last battle against Daredevil before deciding to reform. He began undergoing therapy from Betsy Beatty, who helped him and convinced Melvin to give up his criminal career. He then served as a bodyguard to a blind lawyer named Matt Murdock, who was ironically Daredevil. A lady killer was roaming the streets and he looks exactly like Melvin Potter. Daredevil tracks down the man responsible for crippling Becky and clears the Gladiator.
At the costume shop he owns, Melvin is distracted from his work by the sound of gunshots, but dismisses them and concludes that it's not his business. The shots involve three young hoodlums who are fleeing police after committing an armed robbery. When one of them shoots down a police officer, they panic and begin trying to find a place to hide. One of them knows just the place to go and breaks into Melvin's costume shop for them to hide in. When Melvin confronts them, one of the hoods recognizes Melvin as Daredevil's old foe the Gladiator. They ask his help but he refuses, but when he attempts to call the police they shoot him, hitting his arm and forcing him at gun point to don his Gladiator costume. The shout alerts the police who head to the scene, unaware of what is in store for them. Along his way home Peter Parker spots the police surrounding Potter's costume shop. When they fire tear gas into the store, the Gladiator is forced to fire his razor discs at a nearby sign that topples above the police sending them scattering. Spider-Man gets involved and takes down the Gladiator with a single blow, and then easily beats down the crooks and captures them for the police. The combination of Spider-Man's punch and blood loss from his bullet wound causes the Gladiator to hallucinate and think that he is indeed a Roman gladiator and attacks Spider-Man, slicing his back open with a razor disc in an attempt to kill the thugs extorting him into helping them escape. Spider-Man fights off the Gladiator, trying to make him see sense and not commit murder. Eventually, the Gladiator snaps out of it and gives the crooks a scare by firing his discs at their feet and telling the police to get out of his sight. With the battle over, and the crooks in police custody, Melvin thanks Spider-Man for his help and gladly offers to repair his costume.
Potter was pressured into producing a Daredevil costume for a madman in the employ of the crime lord known as the Kingpin. Potter later donned his Gladiator costume again to discourage a youth from a life of crime. He eventually married Beatty, and started running the costume shop with her. His marriage didn't last long however. At some point Melvin divorced Beatty and married Li Lang, who gave birth to his daughter Melanie.
He was later forced into working for the Kingpin's elderly predecessor Alexander Bont, who claimed that Potter had a four year old daughter that he had never met and that she would die if Potter did not help. Potter brought Murdock to Bont, who attempted to kill Murdock and assume his old mantle but instead died of a drug-induced heart attack. The Gladiator was defeated by the new White Tiger, and went back to prison.
Potter is accused of murdering two fellow inmates and Nelson and Murdock defend. Matt's super-senses indicated that he was telling the truth when he claimed he was innocent. Potter snaps his handcuffs and brutally assaulted the inmate and a guard, only to surrender to another guard and claim once again that he didn't do it. Later, after being broken out of an armored car, Melvin beat a confused Daredevil and moves to the sewers, heading for his Gladiator costume. Potter then goes on a rampage in Chinatown killing innocent people and then attacking Matt and Milla in a restaurant. After being knocked out, Matt awoke in a police car to hear a voice that Potter will murder his wife. Matt finds the Potter and Milla, rescues Milla, and defeats the Gladiator. Melvin realizes what he has done and attempts suicide, but is saved by Daredevil. Potter is taken back to prison, and is heavily sedated after repeatedly banging his head against the wall. It is revealed that Mr. Fear had administered chemicals to Potter that caused his outbursts.
Potter eventually went completely insane, hearing voices in his head, and was set on getting revenge for the death of his family. He was then confronted by Daredevil, who tried to reason with him. Potter instead tried to kill him, but was ultimately stopped when Daredevil grabbed his hands, causing shards of his arm saws to pierce his left eye, blinding him. Six months later, he was locked up in the Stillman Psychiatric Hospital.
Gladiator has no superhuman abilities.
He is a superb martial arts fighter and very physically powerful. Potter is an accomplished clothing designer, proficient in drafting, design and sewing.
He wore a thick metal armor with a helmet and metallic gauntlets, and was armed with an arsenal of edged weapons and whirling, jagged circular blades made of titanium steel, one mounted on each gauntlet; small rotors in the gauntlets cause the blades to rotate at high speeds.
- 48 appearance(s) of Melvin Potter (Earth-616)
- 9 appearance(s) in handbook(s) of Melvin Potter (Earth-616)
- 11 minor appearance(s) of Melvin Potter (Earth-616)
- 9 mention(s) of Melvin Potter (Earth-616)
- 26 image(s) of Melvin Potter (Earth-616)
- 11 quotation(s) by or about Melvin Potter (Earth-616)