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Marvel Comics is a comic book publishing company founded in 1939 under the name Timely Comics. Timely Comics changed its name to Marvel Comics in 1961. Along with its chief rival, DC Comics, Marvel Comics is the biggest and most important mainstream comic book publisher in the United States. Throughout the rich and colorful history of Marvel Comics, a large number of characters have appeared in the stories published by Marvel.
Our list is going to focus on Marvel’s characters, as we are going to bring you the 20 best Marvel 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 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!
20 Best Marvel Characters of All Time
20. Miles Morales (Spider-Man)
Alias: Miles Morales
Debut: Ultimate Fallout #4 (2011)
Created By: Brian Michael Bendis, Sara Pichelli
Miles is an African-American teenager of Puerto Rican origins, who lives in Brooklyn with his family after New York had been rebuilt following the events of the Ultimate Fallout storyline; he is a shy but very intelligent boy who finds himself catapulted into a world completely out of the ordinary, that of the metahuman community, due to the bite of a spider.
After the death of Peter Parker, he decides to act, gradually becoming a more conscientious and self-confident person by embarking on a career as a superhero heir to Spider-Man. His parents, Rio Morales and Jefferson Davis, in the hope that he will receive an advanced education, enroll him in a prestigious school but, while visiting his uncle Aaron Davis’ home, he is stung by a spider which gives him some skills, such as camouflage, enhenced agility and the ability to paralyze opponents with his hands.
Then he discovers that these abilities are similar to those possessed by some types of spiders. Frightened by this situation, he claims he just wants a normal life and doesn’t want to be a hero like Spider-Man. But, following the death of Peter Parker, Miles, who had sneaked out of his student residence and had headed right near the battle to try to understand what was happening, witnesses the last moments of the hero’s life.
Miles is burdened with guilt because he could have helped him if he had decided to use his powers rather than be subdued by fear. Later, Miles decides to somehow undertake a career as a vigilante and in his first outing he confronts and defeats the criminal Kangaroo, but in a clumsy way, and the press begins to write about him because of his bad taste, much more because of his actions.
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 characters 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
Scarlet Witch is the superhero name of Wanda Marya Maximoff, a fictional superhero from the Marvel Universe. She was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, debuting in The X-Men #4 (1964). She was initially depicted as a mutant, but her story was recently retconned and she became a mutated human through genetic experimentation.
Scarlet Witch was initially a supervillain along with her twin brother Quicksilver (Pietro Maximoff) and one of the founding members of the Brotherhood of Mutants, a villainous group led by Magneto. In most of the early depictions, she was portrayed as a mutant, and, for much of the character’s history, was considered the daughter of the mutant Magneto and the half-sister of Polaris. This was later retconned. The Scarlet Witch possesses abilities to alter reality in unspecified ways and is a powerful sorceress.
Later on, though, the mutant version of the Scarlet Witch is depicted as a superheroine and a regular member of the Avengers superhero team. She also becomes the wife of fellow superhero and teammate Vision, with whom she has two sons, Thomas and William.
The character’s in-universe backstory and parentage have been changed more than once throughout the years. During the 1970s, Pietro and Wanda have been depicted as the children of the superhero Whizzer (this is why, at one point, she has been known as Wanda Frank), but a 1980s retcon revealed the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver are the unknown offspring of supervillain Magneto. They were born to Magneto’s estranged wife in Transia, and were left in the care of their adoptive Romani parents. Still, during the 2010s, their story was once again retconned, and it was revealed that Quicksilver and she are not mutants but were kidnapped and used as subjects of genetic experimentation by the High Evolutionary, then misled to believe Magneto was their father.
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.
Alias: Eric Brooks
Debut: The Tomb of Dracula #10 (1973)
Created By: Marv Wolfman
Born a half-human and vampire hybrid, Blade has enzymes in his blood, which made him immune to normal vampire bites; he could sense the supernatural, and he is also resistant to aging. Blade has gained more of the traditional powers of the vampire without having any of their weaknesses. He cannot be affected by sunlight. He has superhuman strength, stamina, and senses, as well as an accelerated healing factor.
Blade has a wide range of weapons in his arsenal, his most known one and his most valuable one is his adamantium sword. He has other weapons such as a shotgun stake, and he infuses his bullets with garlic because not all vampires can be taken out with bullets alone, but because vampires’ weakness is garlic, Blade uses that to his advantage to take them down.
Blade is so strong that he’s able to rip a vampire’s head with just one hand and one time only. And vampires are known to have one of the strongest bone structures. Blade has been able to go up against a vampire Spiderman, which is stronger than a Spiderman in his normal state and defeated him with ease.
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.
Alias: Matt Murdock
Debut: Daredevil #1 (1964)
Created By: Stan Lee, Bill Everett
Daredevil has many tags to his name. Some call him the “Man Without Fear”, and some call him “Devil of Hell’s Kitchen”. No matter what name you call him by, the actual character behind Daredevil is Matt Murdock. Matt is a citizen of the neighborhood “Hell’s Kitchen” in Ney Work city. Most of the people living in that neighborhood are of Irish-American descent, and from working-class backgrounds. Matt is a compassionate young man, who has a kind heart.
One day while walking down the streets of Hell’s Kitchen Matt sees a truck rushing by, unaware of the fact that a blind man is crossing the street right in front of it. Matt quickly runs towards the blind man and pushes him away from the road. The truck driver takes a quick turn to avoid running over Matt. The truck loses control and slides down the path. The truck was carrying the radioactive substance, which fell on Matt. In the aftermath, Matt loses his vision. But Matt soon realizes that despite losing his vision, he has gained superhuman senses and ability. He now possesses Radar senses. Matt lost his mother when he was a kid. He lived with his father Jack Murdock, who was a boxer by profession.
From an early age, Matt went through a rough upbringing, but his father always loved his son unconditionally. Soon after the accident, Jack is killed by street thugs, who were pushing him to start a fight. Soon after this incident, Matt makes acquaintance with the Stick. He is mysterious, and also blind. Stick trains Matt to harness his physical abilities, and make the most of his natural radar vision. With time Matt becomes a skilled martial artist.
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
Silver Surfer, Norrin Radd’s alter ego, is a fictional comic book character created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1966 and published by the US publishing house Marvel Comics. He made his debut in the series The Fantastic Four #48 in 1966, during The Galactus Trilogy. The public’s positive reactions led to the Silver Surfer getting his own series in 1968, created by John Buscema, which, albeit short-lived, won the prestigious Alley Award in 1968 and 1969.
Following the cosmic power conferred on him by Galactus, he possesses remarkable strength and endurance and the ability to manipulate matter at will. He has a surfboard that allows him to fly faster than the speed of light and travel through time and between dimensions.
Silver Surfer is presented as an extraterrestrial herald of Galactus, the most powerful devourer of worlds, who took him in exchange for the salvation of his home planet (Zenn-La) and bestowed on him his superpowers, including the silvery skin that makes his body almost invulnerable and the ability to travel at incredible speed in sidereal spaces with the help of an unusual surfboard, which in all comics has always been defined by Norrin himself as “axis”.
Finally on Earth, due to his pity for mankind and his encounter with the blind sculptress Alicia Masters, the Silver Surfer rebelled against his master, allying himself with the Fantastic Four in an attempt to defeat him. Galactus therefore decided to exile him on the planet that he had helped to save.
Another peculiarity of the character is his surfboard, which always reaches him, unless it is blocked by supernatural forces (for example by Mephisto or by the grip of the Lockjaw dog). The cosmic power allows him to heal, act on mechanisms and fire very strong shots of energy: moreover he does not seem to need to breathe, feed or warm up.
Curiously he can be knocked out by gas, energy discharges or brute force. Over time, however, his powers have been deepened and revised, and the Surfer has been shown to be a very skilled being, with complete control of matter, also able to transform his axis into a globe, as happened in the stories of the Revival of the Fantastic Four, or how to turn a toaster into gold.
His bitter enemy is Mephisto, a demon who longs for his soul and who, to obtain it, does not hesitate to repeatedly kidnap the beautiful Shalla-Bal, the woman Surfer he is in love with.
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
Doctor Stephen Vincent Strange, better known as Doctor Strange, is a fictional superhero and surgeon who appears in American comics published by Marvel Comics. Created by artist Steve Ditko and writer Stan Lee, the character first appeared in Strange Tales #110 (July 1963). In most stories, Doctor Strange serves as the Sorcerer Supreme, Earth’s primary protector against magical and mystical threats.
Inspired by stories of black magic and Chandu the Magician, Strange was created during the Silver Age of Comic Books to bring a different kind of character and subjects to Marvel Comics. The character’s origin story relates that he was once a skilled and brilliant, but selfish surgeon. After a car accident severely damages his hands and hampers his ability to perform surgery, he seeks a way to repair them by meeting the Elder.
After becoming one of the Sorcerer Supreme’s students, he becomes a practitioner of both mystical and martial arts, studying in the mountains of Asia. Aside from knowing many powerful spells, he has a magical suit that contains two mystical and magical objects: the Cloak of Levitation and the Eye of Agamotto, both of which grant him additional powers.
During his adventures, Strange can count on the assistance of his friend and servant, Wong, and a wide variety of mystical objects. He takes up residence in a mansion called the Sanctum Sanctorum, located in New York City. Later, Strange himself becomes the Sorcerer Supreme.
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 do land a spot on our list.
Debut: Fantastic Four #48 (1966)
Created By: Stan Lee, Jack Kirby
Galactus was actually a humanoid alien explorer known as Galan from the Taa-an species. After passing a star, Galan gained god-like powers and turned into Galactus, a god-like entity that has to devour planets because he feeds on their energy. His origin was further expanded by revealing that he had lived during the previous universe, before the Big Bang that created the current one; Galactus still remains the last living being from the previous universe.
Due to his nature, Galactus has been an inspiration for many writers who’ve explored his story and his character further. Being a god-like entity, Galactus is usually depicted as having a very different sense of morality than regular humans, which often causes him to clash with Earth’s superheroes. He has an immense set of powers and is considered to be one of the most powerful beings in the whole Marvel Universe, especially if full of energy after having devoured several planets.
He is usually accompanied by a herald (the most famous one being the Silver Surfer) to whom he has granted cosmic powers. The herald travels the universe and searches for suitable planets for Galactus to feed on in order to satisfy his endless hunger. Although not impossible, it is exceptionally difficult to stop Galactus from devouring a planet once he’s decided to do so, which is why the best option is to leave the planet and let it get eaten.
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
The Black Widow, whose real name is Natalia Alianovna Romanova (or Natasha Romanoff), is a comic book character created by Stan Lee, Don Rico, and Don Heck, published by Marvel Comics. Her first appearance occurs in Tales of Suspense #52 (1964).
A bio-empowered assassin enlisted in the Soviet KGB security service and spearhead of her country’s Cold War espionage, Black Widow was a long time opponent of Iron Man and the Avengers before defecting for the United States and becoming a superheroine and ultimately a member of both the Avengers and the S.H.I.E.L.D., of which she is the only level 10 agent besides Nick Fury and Quake.
Although on the side of the good guys, unlike many of her superhero companions, the Black Widow still uses extremely violent and brutal methods against her opponents, having no qualms about torturing or even killing them.
Born in the early thirties in Stalingrad, in the Soviet Union (now Volgograd in Russia), Natasha is the youngest, and only girl, of Alian Romanoff’s four children and his unnamed wife. As distantly related to the Russian imperial dynasty of the Romanovs, in the autumn of 1942, during the Battle of Stalingrad, Natasha and her family were attacked by the Nazis, who set fire to their apartment building.
To save her daughter, then just under ten years old, her mother throws her from the window to a young soldier who has come to their rescue belatedly: Ivan Petrovich Bezukhov who, since then, has been raising his child as well as Natasha. Some time later, Baron Strucker allies himself with the sect of ninja mercenaries known as Mano in order to kidnap the girl and make her their weapon thanks to her aptitude in learning martial arts.
However, this proposal is thwarted by Ivan Petrovich, Captain America and the Canadian adventurer Logan. The kidnapping was, however, part of the espionage training undertaken by Natasha at the behest of Ivan, affiliated with the Red Room and the Black Widow Program who, having brainwashed the girl by convincing her that she was studying ballet at the Bolshoi Theater, subjected her to intensive gymnastic-martial exercises and various espionage indoctrinations, as well as the Kudrin Treatment, a serum aimed at giving the young guinea pigs in the program superhuman physical abilities and slowed aging.
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
Jean Grey is a comic book character created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, appearing in stories published by Marvel Comics; she debuted in The X-Men #1 (1963). She is an omega-level mutant belonging to the X-Men group, of which she was a founding member, later co-founding X-Factor.
During Marvel’s editorial history, Jean Grey had her name changed name several times, starting with Marvel Girl and then moving on to Phoenix, which later became the Dark Phoenix after the cosmic entity of the same name took her identity and her place in the X-Men, turning her evil. Finally Jean, after her death and conjunction with the cosmic incubation site of the Phoenix, was called White Phoenix of the Crown and in this role she saved and rewrote the history of the Earth for one last time.
Jean is the character who has the highest number of deaths and rebirths in various ways in the history of the mutant group; another characteristic is that of being an important reference figure in the life of all those who have been close to her: wife and first love of Cyclops, “daughter” and disciple of Charles Xavier, main sentimental interest of Wolverine, “sister” and best friend of Storm, mother (actual or adoptive) of Rachel Summers, Cable and Nate Gray, and mentor of numerous other young mutants.
She was born in Annadale-on-Hudson, New York, to John and Elaine Grey. Like all mutants, Jean’s powers appeared during adolescence, although in her case in an explosive way: at the age of ten, in fact, she witnessed the death of her best friend, Annie Richardson, who was run over by a car and died in his arms.
Jean had trouble coping with all the pain and suffering caused by her friend’s death and was traumatized by this set of emotions, as well as by her nascent powers, which is why she was sent for treatment to Professor Xavier, who was tasked with helping her control her powers.
During one of their sessions with Cerebro, Jean was able to hear, inside the orphanage in which he was housed, a young and desperate Scott Summers and, through her powers, she touched his mind in order to leave a memory. Realizing that the young woman would not be able to handle the high potential of her mutation, Xavier telepathically blocked her powers and allowed them to develop naturally.
At the age of thirteen, Jean developed good telekinetic control and in adolescence she was sent to Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, thus entering the first X-Men lineup. She was the only girl in the group and assumed the code name of Marvel Girl.
During her first mission, she clashed with the mutant Magneto and later with increasingly powerful enemies such as the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, the Juggernaut and the Sentinels. Leaving the Xavier School briefly, Jean attended Metro College only to return to the X-Men and begin a relationship with Scott.
Another strong female character, Jean Grey’s transformation from mutant child, to heroine, to 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
Debut: Fantastic Four #52 (1966)
Created By: Stan Lee, Jack Kirby
Black Panther is a fictional superhero appearing in comic books published by Marvel Comics. He was created by Marvel legends Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, debuting in 1966’s Fantastic Four #52. Despite being a regular with Marvel, Black Panther has only recently become as popular as some other big superhero names like Captain America, Iron Man or Thor. Black Panther is actually the alter ego of T’Challa, the king and protector of the fictional African country of Wakanda.
Black Panther is actually a hereditary title that is passed on to Wakandan rulers, but they have to prove themselves beforehand. Interestingly enough, although the character debuted under the name Black Panther before the Black Panther Party was actually founded (October, 1966), Marvel’s editors tried to change his name to Black Leopard during the ’70s in order to avoid a connection with the BPP, but the new name was never accepted so they quickly “revived” Black Panther.
As a child, T’Challa’s father, T’Chaka, was killed by villain Ulysses Klaw, leaving the underage prince as the successor of the throne. His uncle was regent until he became of age. T’Challa was obsessed with avenging his father and killing Klaw, which has driven a lot of his initial plots. But he was also a very successful ruler, uniting the majority of Wakandan tribes under his rule. A lot of his initial stories focused on him wanting to kill Klaw.
As part of his training, he even summoned the Fantastic Four in Wakanda and fought them one by one to prepare for Klaw; he would later explain his motives and befriended the group. This all happened in his debut appearance. Later on, Black Panther became part of the Avengers and the authors further developed his story.
An important moment was his fight against the usurper Killmonger, whom he defeated initially, before losing later on but Killmonger never actually usurped the throne because he fell into a coma after consuming a herb that was toxic for anyone outside the royal bloodline. T’Challa spared his life afterward, opting not to kill him.
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.
Alias: Max Eisenhardt
Debut: The X-Men #1 (1963)
Created By: Stan Lee, Jack Kirby
Affiliation: Villain, Antihero
Magneto is a supervillain appearing in comic book stories published by Marvel Comics. Created by writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby, the fictional character first appeared in the The X-Men #1 (1963). Magneto is a mutant, and masters magnetism.
He’s the most recurring antagonist of the X-Men. In his first appearances, Magneto is presented as motivated by his megalomania. Subsequently, the series’ writers reworked the character, making him a Holocaust survivor who, above all, wishes to prevent mutants from suffering similar persecution.
That, plus his very ambiguous friend / foe relationship with Charles Xavier, the founder of X-Men, makes Magneto one of the most complex supervillains in the Marvel Universe. He is variably presented as a criminal, an anti-hero, or even occasionally as a hero.
Magneto is one of the most powerful mutants on Earth. His main power consists in being able to manipulate electromagnetic fields, and therefore primarily metals. The maximum amount of matter that he can handle at the same time is unknown. He has repeatedly been able to displace huge asteroids, and effortlessly levitate a 30,000-ton nuclear submarine.
His abilities extend to the atomic level, which allows him to manipulate chemical structures and rearrange matter, although this is often a tiring task for him. Magneto can manipulate a large number of individual objects at once and with his powers he was able to assemble complex machinery. To a lesser extent he can also influence non-metallic and non-magnetic objects, and can levitate himself and others (again by controlling electromagnetic fields).
He can also generate electromagnetic pulses of great strength and generate and manipulate electromagnetic energy down to the level of photons. He can become invisible by curving the light around his body. Another way Magneto often uses his power is the projection of force fields that can selectively block matter and energy.
These fields are strong enough to withstand the detonation of multiple thermonuclear weapons, so Magneto is invulnerable to a lot of damage when surrounded by his shield and thanks to it can temporarily survive in deep space.
He can also channel his powers through his body to increase his stamina and durability far beyond human limits and has a base reaction time fifteen times shorter than that of normal humans.
On one occasion he altered the behavior of the gravitational fields around him, which is attributed to the existence of a unified field that he can manipulate. He has demonstrated the ability to produce wormholes and to safely teleport himself and others through the wormhole.
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
Professor X, whose real name is Charles Francis Xavier, is a comic book character created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1963 for Marvel Comics. He is the founder of the X-Men group, which has as its principle the peaceful existence between mutants and humans. He is a powerful telepath who can read, control and influence human minds and create illusions. A natural genius, he is also an authority on genetics, mutations and psychic powers.
Although he is a superhero, some recent stories have shown us some dark episodes from his past, in which it seems that his behavior has not always been faultless.
Charles Francis Xavier is the son of nuclear physicist Brian Xavier and Sharon Xavier. The radiation absorbed by his father will cause Charles to find himself with enormous mutant powers. Also gifted with an intelligence above the norm, Charles will quickly become a student and a top-level athlete, only to retire from competition believing that his mutant power gives him an advantage over ordinary humans.
After her husband’s death, Sharon will remarry Kurt Marko, her colleague, who will take with him her son, Cain. Extremely jealous and resentful towards Charles, Cain will despise his stepbrother for years, believing that his father loves him more. After the death of Kurt, who sacrifices himself to save his two sons from a fire in his laboratory, Cain will distance himself even further from his stepbrother, later becoming the mystical criminal known as the Juggernaut.
Xavier was later rendered paraplegic by an accident, which was later revealed to be caused by the alien supervillain Lucifer. He graduated from the University of Oxford. He helped Tad Carter escape from people who wanted to kill him and invited him to join him.
He then decided to establish a school for gifted young people, an institute where he taught young and frightened mutants to understand their true nature and to learn to use their powers wisely.
In order to counter the criminal plans of Dr. Schmidt, a mutant with the ambition to dominate the world by starting World War III, and who, during WWII worked alongside the Nazis, under whose orders he found and tortured the young Magneto, Xavier formed the X-Men, a group formed by his students to counter threats from mutants with criminal intentions.
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.
Alias: Wade Wilson
Debut: The New Mutants #98 (1991)
Created By: Fabian Nicieza, Rob Liefeld
Deadpool is the alter ego of one Wade Winston Wilson, a fictional character appearing in comic books published by Marvel Comics. He was created by Fabian Nicieza and Rob Liefeld, debuting in The New Mutants #98 (1991). Due to his quirky nature and the general weirdness of his stories, he has become one of the most popular comic book characters today.
Initially, Deadpool was depicted as a supervillain when he made his first appearance in The New Mutants and later in issues of X-Force, but later evolved into his more recognizable antiheroic persona.
Deadpool is actually a disfigured mercenary with the superhuman ability of an accelerated healing factor and physical prowess. The character is known as the “Merc with a Mouth” because of his tendency to talk and joke constantly, including breaking the fourth wall for humorous effect and running gags.
Interestingly enough, he was modelled after DC Comics’ supervillain Deathstroke, who completely inspired the Deadpool persona, including his name (real name and alias), his origins and his costume. The main difference is that Deathstroke is a serious supervillain and mercenary, while Deadpool is more on the comical side. His adventures include numerous hilarious storylines, with one even depicting him killing off the whole Marvel Universe, including himself.
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!
Debut: The Invincible Iron Man #55 (1973)
Created By: Jim Starlin
Thanos was inspired by the Freudian concept of “Thanatos”, just like his brother, Eros, was inspired by the Freudian concept of the same name. Thanos was born on Titan, one of Saturn’s moons as a member of the Eternals. He is the son of A’lars and Sui-San, two Eternals, but also a carrier of the Deviants gene, which explains his physical experience. Believing him to be a threat to the universe, his mother wanted him killed, but his father stopped her. As a child, he was a pacifist and would only play with his brother and their pets.
Later on, he became fascinated with nihilism and the concept of death, eventually falling in love with Mistress Death, the embodiment of Death in the Marvel universe. Not long after that, Thanos became a supervillain, initially a simple pirate, but soon had more megalomanic plans.
He was not satisfied with mere piracy; he wanted more. Much more. Thanos wanted ultimate power, to rule over the whole universe and to become the most powerful being alive. This is why he wanted to collect the Infinity Stones, so he could shape reality according to his own will. A lot of his actions are motivated by his love towards Mistress Death, in whose name he has killed on several occasions.
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
Captain America, whose real name is Steven Grant “Steve” Rogers, is a fictional comic book character created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby in 1941 for Timely Comics, which later became Marvel Comics.
Initially created as a propaganda character during the Second World War, “Cap” was immediately a great success (the first issue of the series sold almost a million copies and the following ones remained on these levels, surpassing magazines such as Time) and became the publisher’s most popular character. His popularity dropped after the war, which led to his in-universe disappearance for several years, until he was reinvented as a proper superhero, without any propaganda elements.
During the Second World War, the young Steve Rogers wanted to enlist to serve his homeland in war. Discarded on the draft visit due to his frail physique, he was allowed to participate in a secret experiment called “Project: Rebirth”, aimed at creating an army of super soldiers. Through a chemical preparation made by Dr. Abraham Erskine, Rogers’ physical and mental condition was enormously developed.
The death of the inventor of the trial, killed by an infiltrated Nazi spy, meant that Steve Rogers remained the only person to take advantage of the benefits of the super soldier serum, thus becoming a unique specimen. Enlisted for secret missions beyond enemy lines, the meek Steve Rogers thus became Captain America, wearing a stars and stripes costume that explicitly resembled the American flag.
Initially he was provided with a triangular-rectangle shield always in theme with his uniform, but later he replaced it with a circular one, practically indestructible, given to him by President Roosevelt himself. Steve learned to use the shield as a defense and attack weapon, which soon became the symbol of the hero all over the world.
As a symbol to counter the rise of the Hitler Youth, the government gave him a young “sidekick” named James Buchanan Barnes, better known as Bucky. Towards the end of the war, Cap and Bucky travel to Great Britain to stop Baron Zemo, a Nazi scientist who is there with the task of bombing London by a V2; the two heroes are unable to prevent it from taking off but launch in pursuit: the plane explodes while it was flying over the English Channel, and Cap crashes into the sea trying to divert its course, while Bucky dies in the explosion.
In the sixties Steve Rogers comes back to life thanks to the involuntary help of Namor who, still furious with the Avengers after the defeat suffered by allying with the Hulk, goes to the Arctic Ocean, where he finds Eskimos bowing in front of a block of ice, believing it to be a totem pole.
Namor, who considers the gesture outrageous, becomes furious and throws the iceberg away. The block begins to thaw under the effect of the hot currents, revealing a man inside in a state of suspended animation.
Giant-Man manages to grab the man and drag him into the Avengers submarine, where they identify him as Captain America, surviving thanks to the super soldier’s serum, which had prevented the crystallization of organic fluids. Steve Rogers thus becomes part of the group of heroes, of which he becomes one of the recognized leaders.
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 herosim. 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.
Alias: Bruce Banner
Debut: The Incredible Hulk #1 (1962)
Created By: Stan Lee, Jack Kirby
The Hulk is a fictional superhero appearing in stories published by Marvel Comics. Hulk is the alter ego of physicist Bruce Banner, who is a regular human, without any superhuman abilities. Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the characters debuted in The Incredible Hulk #1 (1962) and is today regarded as one of Marvel’s strongest characters.
Dr. Robert Bruce Banner is a genius physicist, but a physically weak, socially withdrawn, and emotionally reserved human. During the experimental detonation of a gamma bomb, Banner saves teenager Rick Jones who has driven onto the testing field; Banner pushes Jones into a trench to save him, but is hit with the blast, absorbing massive amounts of gamma radiation. He awakens later seemingly unharmed by the incident, but that night transforms into a lumbering grey (yes, he was initially grey before having been recoloured) form. A pursuing soldier named the creature a “hulk”.
Originally, it was believed that Banner’s transformations into the Hulk were caused by sunset and undone at sunrise, but later, it was discovered to be caused by anger. Banner was, interestingly enough, cured in The Incredible Hulk #4, but chose to restore Hulk’s powers with Banner’s intelligence. He later became one of the founding members of the Avengers.
The Hulk is a green-skinned, hulking and muscular humanoid possessing a vast degree of physical strength. The two exist as separate dissociative personalities in the same body, and (generally) resent each other. The Hulk’s level of strength is normally conveyed as proportionate to his level of anger. Commonly portrayed as a raging savage, the Hulk has been represented with other personalities based on Banner’s fractured psyche, from a mindless, destructive force, to a brilliant warrior, or genius scientist in his own right.
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.
Alias: Thor Odinson
Debut: Journey into Mystery #83 (1962)
Created By: Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Jack Kirby
Thor Odinson is a fictional comic book character created by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber and Jack Kirby for the American comic book publishing house Marvel Comics. His first appearance occurs in Journey into Mystery #83 (1962). Inspired by Norse deity of the same name, Thor, known as the God of Thunder, is the heir to the throne of Asgard, son of Odin and Gaea.
Thanks to the powers derived from his dual heritage and the enchanted hammer Mjolnir, Thor is one of the strongest and most important protectors of both worlds, a founding superhero member of the Avengers and one of the most powerful beings in the Marvel Universe.
Thor is the son of the father of the gods of Asgard, Odin, and the spirit of the Earth Jord (an avatar of Gaea). Odin’s goal was to have a son who had powers not derived solely from the homeland of the heavenly gods. So Odin created a cave in Norway, where Jord gave birth to Thor. Thor is raised among the Asgardians in the belief that Frigga, his father’s lawful wife, was also his biological mother.
He spent his childhood throwing himself into the most disparate adventures together with his envious adoptive brother Loki, his friends Balder, Fandral, Hogun, Volstagg and his first love, Lady Sif.
Soon, not denying the strength and nobility of his heritage, Thor becomes the best warrior of Asgard, skilled enough to be able to wield the enchanted hammer Mjolnir and to recover the ring of the Nibelung on behalf of his father under the guise of “Siegfried”, giving life to the legend of the same name.
However, all this leads the Asgardian prince to develop an arrogant, impulsive and almost warmongering character, which is why Odin decides to teach him the value of humility by exiling him to Earth (without memory or powers) in the body of a young and frail medical student Donald Blake who, after ten years, opens a private clinic in New York becoming a brilliant doctor known for his virtues of perseverance and compassion.
Realizing that he has learned his lesson, Odin makes his son go on vacation to Norway, near a cave, to find Mjolnir. Later Thor and his alter ego Donald Blake begin a double life, taking care of the sick in their private clinic together with nurse Jane Foster and defending humanity from evil.
The main adversaries faced by the “God of Thunder” during his first adventures are the Absorbing Man, the Destroyer, the Demoman, Zarrko, the Radioactive Man, the Lava Man, Cobra, Mister Hyde, Amora the Enchantress, Skurge the Executioner, Gargoyle and finally, his archenemy and adoptive brother Loki. After ha fight against Loki, Thor co-founded the Avengers with some of Earth’s heros.
Falling in love with Jane Foster and life on Earth, Thor refuses to return to Asgard even after Odin marks the end of his exile, which creates numerous friction between father and son. Meanwhile, due to Loki’s machinations, the hero is drawn into a series of epic adventures such as facing the demon Surtur and the giant Skagg, alongside Odin and Balder, or proving his innocence from a false accusation before the Court of Gods; all these events force him to take a long period of absence from the Avengers.
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, he has 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.
Alias: James Howlett, Logan
Debut: The Incredible Hulk #180 (1974)
Created By: Roy Thomas, Len Wein, John Romita Sr.
Wolverine is the superhero/mutant name of one James Howlett, a fictional superhero/antihero appearing in Marvel’s X-Men franchise. Wolverine is also know as Logan and Weapon X.
He was created by Roy Tomas, Len Wein and John Romita Sr. and made his first full appearance in The Incredible Hulk #181 (1974), after having had a cameo appearance in the preceding issue of the same comic. Wolverine is a typical antihero, although most incarnations show him as being a superhero and a member of the X-Men, despite him having a very unorthodox approach to fighting crime and the status of mutants in the world.
Wolverine’s origin story involves a lot of blood and tragedy. He was born as James Howlett in Canada during the 1880s, as the son of John and Elizabeth Howlett; he was actually the illegitimate son of the groundskeeper Thomas Logan, which explains one of his aliases. Although his creators weren’t sure on which origin story to pick for him, the contemporary Marvel canon states that Wolverine first manifested his powers when bone claws appeared from his hands after his father had killed John Howlett as a retaliation for the latter sending him away after he had been falsely accused of rape. He used the claws to kill Thomas Logan, avenging John Howlett’s death, but now knowing that he was actually murdering his own father.
He then became a soldier and mercenary, fighting in both World Wars and living a solitary life in between. He was recruited as a member of the infamous Team X and given false memory implants. He managed to break free from the fabricated reality, but was ultimately kidnapped and turned into a test subject for the Weapon X project. During this captivity, adamantium was inserted into his body, which augmented his powers and made him the famous mutant he is today. He managed to escape and regain his humanity with the help of some friends. Later on, he was recruited by Professor X as a member of the X-Men and the rest is – history.
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
Iron Man is the superhero alter ego of one Anthony Edward “Tony” Stark, American billionaire, playboy, and inventor. Iron Man was collectively created by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Don Heck, and Jack Kirby in 1963, debuting in the comic book Tales of Suspense #39. Iron Man is a superhero from the Marvel fictional universe, known also as one of the first and best-known members of the Avengers.
Tony Stark was born as the son of industrialist Howard Stark and his wife, Maria. He was a wunderkind, entering MIT at the age of 15 and later receiving a master’s degree in engineering and physics. While he was still young, his parents died in a traffic accident, so Tony inherited his father’s company.
Initially, Iron Man was a way for Marvel to approach Cold War topics, especially the comparison of American, capitalist technology with Soviet, communist worldviews. When the Cold War ended, Iron Man became less of a political character and more of a modern superhero character.
The Iron Man suit was actually an invention of Stark’s, who is a genius engineer and inventor. On one occasion, he was kidnapped and sustained a severe chest injury. The kidnappers wanted him to build a weapon of mass destruction, which he refused and instead built a suit for himself to escape. Thus, Iron Man was born, but Tony Stark never wanted to stop with the first suit. He has constantly upgraded and improved his suits, creating enhanced versions every now and then.
Tony Stark was initially secretive about his superhero identity, but at one point he decided to go against the general comic book rule that states that the superhero should never reveal his or her name as to spare their family, friends, and others. Namely, Tony Stark decided to reveal to the whole world – not just Pepper Potts and James Rhodes – that he was actually Iron Man, which was a bold and very important moment in the history of American comics.
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 of a 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.
Alias: Peter Parker
Debut: Amazing Fantasy #15 (1962)
Created By: Stan Lee, Steve Ditko
Spider-Man is the superhero alter-ego of Peter Parker, a character appearing in comic books published by Marvel Comics. He is a superhero from New York City and one of the most popular comic book characters in history. He was created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, making his debut in Amazing Fantasy #15 (1962). Since then, Spider-Man has appeared in numerous solo volumes, but also as part of other series and teams, most notably the Avengers.
Although not the only one to don the costume of Spider-Man – the most notable successors being Miles Morales and Doctor Octopus himself – Peter Parker is definitely the most famous Spider-Man, which is why we are going to talk about him in this article.
Peter Parker was born in New York to Richard and Mary Parker, but was raised by his uncle Ben and aunt May Parker, due to his parents dying in a plane crash. The comic books dealt a lot with the issues of adolescence, growing up and Peter’s constant financial struggles. The life of an average teenager changed when he was accidentally bit by a radioactive spider, which gave him superhuman abilities, including, but not limited to shooting web from his body or climbing walls. Realising that he has become a superhero of sorts, Peter Parker designed a suit for himself and became Spider-Man, your friendly neighbourhood superhero.
Spider-Man mostly operates out of Queens and, along with fighting regular criminals, he battles against a gallery of famous rogues including Vulture, Scorpion, Rhino, Lizard, Mr. Negative, Venom, Green Goblin and his nemesis, Doctor Octopus. Spider-Man also has to battle against the negative propaganda advocated publicly by J. Johan Jameson, the publisher of the Daily Bugle, who leads an active smear campaign against Spider-Man, despite all the good he does for the city.
Ironically, it is J. Jonah Jameson who employs Peter Parker, not knowing his superhero identity, as a photojournalist for the Bugle; Parker made a career by constantly bringing in great photographs of Spider-Man. Peter Parker’s private life is also examined in the comics, especially the impact of Uncle Ben’s death and his love relationships with Mary Jane Watson and Gwen Stacy.
Usually a standalone hero, Spider-Man has been a member of the Avengers since the 2010s. Spider-Man’s membership (or rather his failed attempts to join the group before the 2010s) in the team was a running gag in the comics, as well as his relationship and friendship with Deadpool.
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.
And that’s it for today. We hope you had fun reading this and that we gave you all the information you were looking for! See you next time and don’t forget to follow us!