20 Best Marvel Characters of All Time

20 Best Marvel Characters of All Time

In this list, we are going to bring you the 20 best Marvel fictional characters ever created. The main criterium is the quality of the character itself – including parameters such as character development, depth, popularity, consistency, etc. – and not such qualities as power, influence, or heroism. This list doesn’t care whether a character is a hero or a villain, it just cares about how well the character was created and portrayed throughout the comic books. We have the best that Marvel ever created and you can now relax and enjoy our list!

List of Best Marvel Characters Ever

20. Miles Morales (Spider-Man)

Alias: Miles Morales
Debut: Ultimate Fallout #4 (2011)
Created By: Brian Michael Bendis, Sara Pichelli
Affiliation: Hero

One of the many Spider-Man in Marvel’s continuity, Miles Morales has quickly become a fan-favorite and a worthy successor to Peter Parker. He has a greatly written background and origin story, and while he does don the same costume as Peter Parker, his unique story makes him a character that is by all means completely different than his friend and mentor, which is why we start off our list with him.

19. Scarlet Witch

Alias: Wanda Maximoff
Debut: The X-Men #4 (1964)
Created By: Stan Lee, Jack Kirby
Affiliation: Hero

The character was around for some time, but it wasn’t until the recent MCU stories that Wanda Maximoff really entered the spotlight, which is a shame since she had some excellent stories in the original comic books. Scarlet Witch is not only one of the more powerful Marvel characters with truly awesome abilities, she also has a great backstory with a lot of depth and tragedy, which is why she absolutely deserves recognition and has rightfully earned a place on our list, considering all the relevant parameters and criteria.

18. Blade

Alias: Eric Brooks
Debut: The Tomb of Dracula #10 (1973)
Created By: Marv Wolfman
Affiliation: Hero

Yet another character that rose to popularity thanks to the movies and Wesley Snipes’ excellent interpretation, Blade is a character with a long tradition and although he deviates from Marvel’s most popular stories and its usual style, Blade has been a pillar of Marvel’s stories for decades. His stories are for those that like a darker approach to stories, which is good in terms of diversity, while Blade himself is also relevant for the African American community and its status in mainstream comics. All things considered, there is absolutely no doubt that Blade deserves a spot among the 20 best Marvel comics ever and that is why we have listed him here.

17. Daredevil

Alias: Matt Murdock
Debut: Daredevil #1 (1964)
Created By: Stan Lee, Bill Everett
Affiliation: Hero

Daredevil probably has one of the best origins and narratives in the whole Marvel universe, which explains why he is so popular. He is also a bit darker than Marvel’s usual characters and the tone is much different, but Daredevil is still enormously popular and very intriguing. A lot of deep and complex issues have been analyzed in the stories featuring Matt Murdock and while the first movie almost ruined the character’s popularity among mainstream audiences, the recent TV series has certainly done its share in redeeming him and again transforming him into one of Marvel’s most popular characters. All of this is, we think, more than enough for us to list Daredevil here.

16. Silver Surfer

Alias: Norrin Radd
Debut: The Fantastic Four #48 (1966)
Created By: Stan Lee, Jack Kirby
Affiliation: Hero, Antihero

The Silver Surfer is a character whose mysterious origins have been intriguing comic book fans ever since his debut. He is immensely powerful and although he is usually associated with Galactus, whose herald he is, Silver Surfer has a story of his own and the quality of that story – we’re talking about the Norrin Radd iteration of the character – is certainly enough for us to consider him an individual character in his own right. We thought it would be a shame that such a fascinating creation doesn’t appear on our list, which is why we ultimately decided to include the Silver Surfer here.

15. Doctor Strange

Alias: Stephen Strange
Debut: Strange Tales #110 (1963)
Created By: Stan Lee, Steve Ditko
Affiliation: Hero

Marvel’s best-known Sorcerer Supreme is a character that is certainly worthy of our attention, and not just because of Benedict Cumberbatch’s interpretation in the MCU. Doctor Strange has some of the best and most entertaining stories ever published by Marvel and the fact that he is Marvel’s best and most popular magical character makes him so interesting for us and this list. With him, it is not a question of whether the stories will be interesting, but rather how interesting they are going to be. Plus, his powers are truly awesome and something we can thoroughly enjoy in every aspect. This is why he absolutely had to land a spot on our list.

14. Galactus

Alias: Galan
Debut: Fantastic Four #48 (1966)
Created By: Stan Lee, Jack Kirby
Affiliation: Villain

One of Marvel’s strongest and best-known villains, Galactus has intrigued readers for decades simply because of his titanic appearance. The guy is as large as a planet, which is ironic because planets are the exact thing he feeds on. You are what you eat, right? Well, Galactus is more than just your regular planet-destroying supervillain. He is a force essential to the existence of Marvel’s fictional universe and a character with an amazing origin story. On top of it all, he is an actual threat and whenever he comes into the spotlight, you know you can expect a great story with amazing fight scenes. It’s no wonder that MCU fans have been calling out for Galactus to appear in the movies for years.

13. Black Widow

Alias: Natalia Alianovna Romanova (Natasha Romanoff)
Debut: Tales of Suspense #52 (1964)
Created By: Stan Lee, Don Rico, Don Heck
Affiliation: Hero

Natasha Romanoff certainly deserved her spot on this list thanks to both her great comic book origins – which reflect the political tensions of the time when she was created – and her pivotal role in the MCU, where she is played by Scarlett Johansson. Black Widow’s story is one of the most intriguing ones in the whole Marvel Universe and it has been a true pleasure seeing how that story evolved and branched out, revealing new details about her past and her relationships every time. On top of it all, she is a truly amazing female heroine and in that aspect also carries an important social value in terms of female empowerment and emancipation. This all was enough for us to list her here.

12. Jean Grey

Alias: Jean Elaine Grey
Debut: The X-Men #1 (1963)
Created By: Stan Lee, Jack Kirby
Affiliation: Hero

Another strong female character, Jean Grey’s transformation from a mutant child, to heroin, to a villain, to whatever she was later in the stories is absolutely amazing and there is absolutely no doubt that she has one of the best narrative arcs of all the characters in the Marvel Universe. While some of them might seem a bit too much, it all fits in nicely if you look at the whole picture from start to finish. Jean Grey is absolutely amazing and she has cemented her role in the X-Men canon as well as the Marvel Universe, which is why we can state, without much doubt, that her position on this list is absolutely deserved.

11. Black Panther

Alias: T’Challa
Debut: Fantastic Four #52 (1966)
Created By: Stan Lee, Jack Kirby
Affiliation: Hero

Black Panther closes out the lower half of our twenty-name list. The historical importance of T’Challa for the inclusion and role of African-American characters in mainstream superhero comics is essential and there is probably no other black character that has done so much for that community in terms of their popularity in mainstream American comics, as was witnessed by the recent success of the Black Panther movie. But, aside from his socio-historical importance, Black Panther is a great character in his own right and his home country of Wakanda has been an inspiration for fans and authors ever since it debuted in the stories. Without much ado, Black Panther deservedly landed a spot on our list.

10. Magneto

Alias: Max Eisenhardt
Debut: The X-Men #1 (1963)
Created By: Stan Lee, Jack Kirby
Affiliation: Villain, Antihero

This spot, as well as the next one, was a bit of a dilemma, as the two characters on spots ten and nine are almost equally important, but we ultimately chose this order because we wanted to give a small advantage to the good guy. Still, Magneto is certainly one of Marvel’s best characters and despite usually being portrayed as a supervillain, he is loved by all. His dark background as well as his motivations for being a supervillain are extremely intriguing, but the fact that he has risen above his traumas and convictions to help the good guys on more than one occasion shows just how complex and layered he is. A lot of work has been put into Magneto’s development and we decided to honor that by listing him here.

9. Professor X

Alias: Charles Francis Xavier
Debut: The X-Men #1 (1963)
Created By: Stan Lee, Jack Kirby
Affiliation: Hero

You now understand our dilemma in ranking the characters on spots ten and nine, as Magneto and Professor X are two sides of the same medal. They’re pretty equal in terms of power, they were (and still are, in some strange way) close friends and they want(ed) to change the world. Their ideologies are what ultimately drove them away, as Magneto had a more merciless, anti-human point of view, while Charles Xavier was more of a pacifist that tried to show the humans that mutants pose no danger for them. Charles Xavier is a brilliant character and is one of the most important characters in the X-Men lore, which is why we absolutely had to include him on our list. Also, thank you both Patrick Stewart and James McAvoy for making the character even more popular through your cinematic interpretations.

8. Deadpool

Alias: Wade Wilson
Debut: The New Mutants #98 (1991)
Created By: Fabian Nicieza, Rob Liefeld
Affiliation: Antihero

Another mutant on our list, Deadpool might not have a truly original origin story, he might not even be truly original himself (he’s a rip-off of DC’s Deathstroke with elements from other Marvel characters), but he is absolutely awesome and there is no comic book fan that can say he dislikes Deadpool. Wade Wilson is a character that broke and keeps breaking a lot of comic book traditions, which is why his stories are such a beautiful, chaotic mess. He is aware of his nature as a comic book character and he does all he can to profit from that fact, often breaking the fourth wall and even the general structure of a comic book. Oh, he also killed everyone in the Marvel Universe once, when he went nuts, before ultimately being killed by… well, himself. Deadpool absolutely had to be on this list and here he is!

7. Thanos

Alias: None
Debut: The Invincible Iron Man #55 (1973)
Created By: Jim Starlin
Affiliation: Villain

The highest-ranked villain on our list, Thanos is more than just a regular supervillain. He is a character with a great story, a character with enormous power and a character with a conviction that is scarier than all his might combined. Sometimes he is guided by ideology, but most of the time, Thanos is guided by his love of Lady Death, as he wants to prove his love to her. This gives Thanos a certain tragic depth that you don’t usually see in comic book villains, regardless of how good they are written and that is the reason why we have decided to include the guy on our list of Marvel’s best characters of all time.

6. Captain America

Alias: Steven Rogers
Debut: Captain America Comics #1 (1941)
Created By: Joe Simon, Jack Kirby
Affiliation: Hero

A pillar of Marvel Comics and American superheroism, Captain America is a character that embodies the traditional superhero values from the Golden Age, as well as American views on heroism. His character has changed and evolved throughout the decades, but Captain America has remained an essential and omnipresent figure in Marvel’s lore. He is a great guy with a very interesting story, a normal guy that became a superhero by chance, thanks to his idealistic views which is why he also became so popular. Sure, he has superpowers, but he is in a lot of ways relatable and that is what a comic book fan loves to see in a character. Due to his immense popularity and his importance, Captain America landed a high spot on our list.

5. Hulk

How Tall Is the Hulk? (Comic Books, Movies, TV Shows)

Alias: Bruce Banner
Debut: The Incredible Hulk #1 (1962)
Created By: Stan Lee, Jack Kirby
Affiliation: Hero

Out top five starts with the Green Goliath, Hulk. The indestructible monstrous side of scientist Bruce Banner is a pop-culture phenomenon and a character that has done a lot for the popularization of comic books. The Hulk is quite an interesting character and while his well-known origin story might not be what intrigues modern audiences that much, his evolution and development certainly are a big part of his appeal. The Hulk has constantly pushed his own limits throughout the decades and the list of his unbelievable feats just keeps getting bigger. He is an essential part of the Avengers and a character without whom modern comic books could not be imaginable. That is why he is so high on our list.

4. Thor

Alias: Thor Odinson
Debut: Journey into Mystery #83 (1962)
Created By: Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Jack Kirby
Affiliation: Hero

Initially quite flamboyant and flashy, Marvel’s interpretation of the Norse god of thunder has changed a lot over the years. Thor has not only become more popular and more important, but he has also become darker and deeper, a lot less flashy and a lot more serious. This is why we love him so much, as he is a character that really matured over the years, probably more than any other character on this list. Thor’s recent stories are among the best that Marvel has ever written and the adventures the god of thunder went through, along with the villains he has fought (especially Gorr), are absolutely amazing. We cannot praise Marvel enough for what they have done with Thor, but we think that this fourth place is at least a small sign of our gratitude.

3. Wolverine

Alias: James Howlett, Logan
Debut: The Incredible Hulk #180 (1974)
Created By: Roy Thomas, Len Wein, John Romita Sr.
Affiliation: Hero

As far as the X-Men series is concerned, Wolverine is absolutely the most famous character from the whole lore and is – in a way – synonymous to them. Wolverine has been a character with a lot of depth and a lot of traumas from the very start and we really do love that about a comic book character. Why? Simply because it allows for better character development and the authors have really put Logan’s origins to use in developing him as an independent personality. On top of that, Old Man Logan is one of the best comic books ever written and Hugh Jackman’s amazing interpretation of the character on the big screen are both facts that have helped make Wolverine so popular and such an integral part of modern American superhero comic books.

2. Iron Man

Alias: Tony Stark
Debut: Tales of Suspense #39 (1963)
Created By: Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Don Heck, Jack Kirby
Affiliation: Hero

Tony Stark and his superhero alter ego Iron Man have always been an important part of Marvel’s slate. Iron Man has always been one of the most popular comic book superheroes and the fans have simply loved his stories since his debut. But, Iron Man’s role is much bigger, as he was the first character chosen to launch the MCU, which shows just how important Iron Man is and how much potential he carries with him. As far as the MCU is concerned, Iron Man was the first and the rest is history, but the lasting legacy of the Iron Man character is something Marvel can certainly take pride in and we are just very grateful to be able to continue reading stories about him, which is why we have decided to honor the character with such a highs spot on our list.

1. Spider-Man

Alias: Peter Parker
Debut: Amazing Fantasy #15 (1962)
Created By: Stan Lee, Steve Ditko
Affiliation: Hero

The absolute winner of this list is, of course, Spider-Man, which you might have figured out by now, as he had not appeared earlier on the list; there is no way we could forget him. Peter Parker is by all standards Marvel’s most popular character, probably because he successfully appeals to all age groups and different types of comic book readers. He both is and is not a traditional American superhero – he shares and embodies the values, but he is very original, very individual and very special. His stories have humor, they have heart, and, what’s most important, a soul. They are a combination of pure fun and actual, palpable psychological depth and that is why he absolutely deserves the top spot on our list of best Marvel characters of all time.

  • Arthur S. Poe has been fascinated by fiction ever since he saw Digimon and read Harry Potter as a child. Since then, he has seen several thousand movies and anime, read several hundred books and comics, and played several hundred games of all genres.