Little is known about the background of Antonio Rodriguez other than he had a criminal record and a wife named Bonita. His wife critically stricken with an undiagnosed disease, Rodriguez took her to every doctor who would see her but none was able to help her.
In desperation, Rodriguez sought the criminal scientist Arnim Zola, an expert in the generation and bestowal of superhuman powers, whom he heard about while in prison. Zola agreed to try to cure her in exchange for Rodriguez agreeing to become his test subject and employee for an indefinite period of time. Zola subjected Rodriguez to an experimental process that combined genetic material from an armadillo with the man’s human genes.