When I see a comic with Rhino on the cover, it mostly turns out to be a very predictable storyline, where it naturally ends with him getting beat by a random hero. Many readers would label Rhino as a B-rated villain because of his reputation of accomplishments, which is very low for a super-powered villain. But the question is that should be asked, is Rhino really the B-rated villain we naturally see him as?
Understanding this character is very easy when you look at his history. His lack of intelligence, dependency of his armored suit and others, incapable of making his own choices, limitations of certain acts of violence, impulsiveness, and the need to express his powers. Rhino basically has a mindset compared to a twelve year old child. Its no mystery that Rhino’s IQ is very low, which is why he blindly participated as a guinea pig for profit and what caused him to be the Rhino in the first place. Rhino is basically a follower, like many children who turn to crime. They were either inspired or motivated by other means to follow the path of others or see it as the only choice they have in life, which naturally leads them to doing criminal acts. Overall I actually don’t see the Rhino as a real super villain due to his on and off situations that would label him as a hero or villain and his actual personality.
Wearing the Rhino suit
Now, imagine what type of person the Rhino would be if we removed his suit, how his character will be developed within a storyline?
Before being the Rhino, he was nothing more than a hired thug with low intelligence, easy for others to manipulate. With his IQ so low, you can imagine him not being able to find a job or being easy to associate with. All he had was his brute strength and that’s the only power he had to make a living, which is understandable on how he was easily led to crime. But overall, the Rhino was nothing without his suit. So when he started wearing his armored suit, he instantly realized that the power he gained, he was much more than a normal thug, which also led the dependency of wearing his suit. Rhino’s motives are overpowered by only one goal, which is self-realization, and he feels the need to wear the Rhino suit in order to aquire that goal. After so many years of having his ass handed to him, you thought he would get the clue by now. But its not gaining victory that the Rhino is after, it’s the fact that he can go up against the heroes of the Marvel Universe. As a way to convince himself, that he’s more of a man than just a useless and powerless thug with a low IQ.
Rhino’s dependency of his suit, lead him to a very unhealthy lifestyle, and he realized this within the Gauntlet storyline. Giving up on his suit, Rhino served his time and managed to find himself a girlfriend and a job in security when he got out of jail. Managing to make a living without the Rhino armor, his connection to the suit isn’t fully disconnected due to the fact that he has it stored in a shop. As he begins go through an event that involves him defending himself or his loved one, he can’t help but use the suit to solve his problems. Going through life without being the Rhino was very difficult, and when he starts to go through difficulties or crises we see that he cannot fully function without wearing the suit. What also helps prove his dependency of his armor, is the fact that his body without the suit is thick enough to protect him from gunfire, so even without the suit, its possible that the Rhino could have protected himself and his loved one.
Trust from others, is Rhino’s biggest downfall in Marvel Comics. One thing that is a fact, it is possible that heroes like Captain America, SpiderMan, or even the Avengers could have guided a character like the Rhino away from crime. But we don’t see that at all. In the Gauntlet storyline, you’ll notice how SpiderMan doesn’t trust the Rhino on wearing his suit, because he assumed that Rhino would most likely return to a life of crime, when he was wanting to wear it to protect his girlfriend and his life that he built. At the end of Rhino’s storyline, you’ll see how SpiderMan possibly made a wrong but difficult choice on not trusting Rhino, causing Rhino to further his dependency on the armored suit and caring less what he does as a villain. Imagine yourself being released from prison for a petty crime, and your actions for the crime was understandable and could have been prevented by the help of others. Upon release, you start to discover people not trusting you due to your criminal background, finding a job and even starting a new life ends up becoming very difficult because people lack the trusting you. In a way, you actually become a victim of this trust and find yourself being pressured to commit the crimes that got you arrested from the start.
So is it a fact that Rhino is a villain because our heroes fail to guide and trust him on making the right choices or even being a hero?
Anyways, if you haven't read Rhino's storyline within the Gauntlet series, I hope this helps for you to understand in some for or way to see why it's such a powerful and emotional event.