Fictional artists love New York City, and that is not a secret. You can write a library of books about New York’s appearances in fictional media, and that is not different in the comics. For example, Marvel took it to the next level and put everything in New York – Baxter Building, Avengers Tower, Brooklyn-based superheroes, and more. DC was a lot tamer than Marvel, and you will notice it after this article. In this article, we will list the most prominent New York superheroes based in New York including both Marvel and DC.
As we already hinted, Marvel Universe has a lot of New York superheroes. Most notable are Spider-Man, Iron Man, Daredevil and the rest of the Defenders, Fantastic Four, Captain America, Doctor Strange and so many more. DC Universe does not use New York that much for their superhero’s origin stories but changed it in recent years by moving Justice League Headquarters to New York.
We will include more superheroes on the list but won’t list them all because Marvel has just too many of them. Also, we will explain why DC Universe doesn’t use New York that much, and if that is going to change in the future. We have a lot to talk about, so let’s go!
1. Marvel New York-Based Superheroes
As we already mentioned, Marvel Universe has a lot of superheroes based in New York. Why is that? Is it because New York was already the center of everything in fiction? Is it because it is easier for a reader of the comics to relate more to the events happening in the real-life city than in the made-up one? Or is it that Stan Lee and other creative executives of Marvel just liked New York, and they were actually there so why not do it? It is probably everything combined but the fact that the Marvel Comic headquarters is actually in New York support this thesis.
Marvel Universe did present a lot of New York-based heroes from the beginning, and because of that, we decided to divide the NY superheroes into groups in which they operate and fight against evil. Some will be independent but you will get the gist of it. Why are we doing this? Well, there are dozens and dozens of New York-based superheroes who operate in the city for one reason or the other.
Matt Murdock is a proper New Yorker. Car accidents and radiation exposure gave him special abilities. Growing up in the crime-ridden neighborhood of Hell’s Kitchen in New York earned him the name “The Devil of Hell’s Kitchen”, and his law degree from Columbia Law School fights the biggest foes of New York Bullseye, and Kingpin. Anytime New York’s in trouble, and needs protection from the evil, Daredevil is there to help his fellow superheroes.
He even founded a group called Defenders that is usually rotating but the general public knows it from the Netflix TV show Defenders which was formed out of other New York-based superheroes.
Matt Murdock was firstly introduced to MCU all the way back in 2003. Charlie Cox was a star of the Netflix TV show Daredevil, and he had a cameo in a recent Spiderman movie. Daredevil will be in the future Marvel projects – the TV show Echo and the untitled Daredevil series.
Another New York-based superhero who has an incredible knowledge of New York streets and a superhuman ability. Great in hand-to-hand combat, Jessica is a troubled individual who got inspired by Spider-Man and his fight against crime. Jessica Jones is much more mature and troubled in the Netflix TV show called Jessica Jones because the creators used more mature material to show the public more realistic characters.
Besides Defenders, she is affiliated with the New Avengers, A-Force, and others.
Luke Cage is always there when New York needs him. He got his powers after volunteering in the experiment and being falsely accused of a crime he never committed. He later teams up with Iron-Fist, another New Yorker and Defender, with whom he fights crime on New York streets. Like his wife, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage is affiliated with Avengers, New Avengers, Heroes for Hire, Fantastic Four, Thunderbolts, and more.
Danny Rand practices martial arts and is the wielder of a mystical force known as the Iron Fist, which allows him to summon and focus chi. He got this ability from the city of K’un-Lun which appears on earth every ten years. He is also part of the New York affiliated groups like Avengers, New Avengers, and more.
The most famous group of mutants in comic books is established in Salem Centre in New York. Of course, not all X-Men are from New York but there are a few.
Professor Charles Xavier
The leader of X-Men is a born and bred New Yorker. He lived in the luxurious grand mansion with his parents in Westchester County. He later moved to England for education but was always a New Yorker by heart. He decided to establish a home for mutants in his hometown. As you already know, X-Men are always part of the big events in Marvel Comics and when New York is attacked, they are always there to protect it.
She was born in Harlem, New York to a Kenyan princess mother and an American photojournalist father. She later moves to Egypt, becomes an orphan as a child, and wanders to Africa. Professor X recruits her after finding her in one of the African communities where she has been worshiped as a goddess because of her powers.
Comes back to New York to be part of the X-Men.
Born and raised in New Yorker, Jean Grey had a pleasant childhood with her father being a professor at Bard College in Upstate New York. Professor X recruits her after finding out about her powers and inducts her into the X-Men group. Probably the most powerful superhero or being while in Phoenix form, and she is coming from New York.
Well, we all know who these heroes are but we will mention a few individuals who are really from New York and part of the Avengers as well. Avengers are established in New York and is their main city for operations.
Brooklyn-born, national hero, war hero, and a true America’s hero, Captain America aka Steve Rogers is one of the most iconic superheroes of all time. Captain America is a super-soldier who fought with Allies in WWII, got frozen, and woke up 70 years later in New York – at least what his MCU biography states. Even after everything, New York, especially Brooklyn is a huge part of his identity, and he is really proud of it.
Tony Stark was born to Howard Stark and Maria Stark. Son of an extraordinary industrialist that won over the world with his inventions and weapon manufacturing. Tony is a certified genius and a snob, but when it comes to fighting against evil forces that attack his home city, Stark is really protective of it. One of the founders of the Avengers and one of the most iconic superheroes is a New Yorker as well.
Stephen Strange was a neurosurgeon based in New York whose hands were injured in an accident that propelled him to leave everything behind and go on a journey to heal. Today, he is the most famous Doctor in Marvel Universe and an extremely good sorcerer who is also a Sorcerer’s Supreme. His being in New York to protect is always a plus against the evils that attack New York.
Peter Parker is Brooklyn born and raised and the ultimate protector of New York. His hometown is really engraved in him, because of his mannerism, charisma, and accent that is always on a display. One of the most iconic superheroes ever.
Sam Wilson, like Storm, was born and raised in Harlem, New York. He had a happy childhood that transitioned into him being a notable volunteer in his community. When he faced racism and his parents dying in the neighborhood petty crime, he persisted in being a good guy. Later he met Captain America whom he always admired and Falcon, which propelled him to be an Avenger.
1.4. Fantastic Four
Another famous Marvel Group is based in New York. Fantastic Four consists of Ben Grimm (The Thing), Susan Storm (Invisible Woman), Reed Richards (Mr. Fantastic), and Johnny Storm (The Human Torch).
All of them possess unique abilities they got when they traveled to the space, and are an unbelievably coordinated and exceptional group. Fantastic Four reside in Baxter Building that’s located in Manhattan, New York, and can see firsthand if someone is attacking Big Apple.
2. DC New York-Based Superheroes
We came to the tricky part of the article. As we all know, DC values its superhero cities very much – they decided to make up new cities that are inspired by real-life ones. For example, Gotham City is inspired by New York and Chicago which is rotten and full of crime, while Metropolis is an idealistic look at real-life New York.
Despite being overshadowed by other cities, New York was named “a Cinderella City” – a city between two “ugly” sisters, Metropolis and Gotham City.
DC also likes for their superheroes to be protectors of their cities like Batman is for Gotham, Superman is for Metropolis, Green Arrow is for Star City, and so on. They are opposites of Marvel in that sense. Since that is the case in DC, unfortunately, there are not that many resident New York superheroes in DC Universe.
However, in recent years there has been a movement of big teams of superheroes like Justice League, Teen Titans, and back in the day Justice Society. New York is also a base for world institutions like United Nations and is important to an extent but is always overshadowed by Metropolis and Gotham City.
But there are a few DC superheroes who actually operate there so we will mention it.
2.1. Teen Titans And Titans
This sidekick superhero group to the Justice League is far from weak. They are young but very gifted individuals who protect the people from crime, not just in New York but all over America. The group was formed by Kid Flash (Wally West), Robin (Dick Greyson), and Aqualad (Garth). Younger sister of Wonder Woman, Donna Troy (Wonder Girl) joined the group later.
When they grew up a bit Titans had at one point the base in New York as well.
For years, Teen Titans operated in New York and had headquarters there, however, in new comic book issues Titans Tower has been moved to another city, San Francisco.
2.2. Justice League
Justice League has a lot of versions in DC Universe, and a few of them have headquarters in New York. Specifically, the original Justice League or then called Justice Society was based in New York after WWII.
The likes of Martian Manhunter, Hawkman, Hawkgirl, Green Lantern, Spectre, The Flash, Doctor Fate, Atom, and more. They were on the first line of defense of the City every time evil had attacked.
2.3. Kirk Langstrom – Man-Bat (Earth-One)
Formerly from Chicago, Man-Bat is a scientist that moved to New York City with his wife Francine where he now operates and protects the New York streets from crime and evil.
To become Man-Bat, Kirk needs to take a special serum that turns him into this bat creature. He joined Robin and Batgirl to stop the Outsider of destroying Manhattan.
2.4. Nightwing, Supergirl, And Power Girl (New Earth)
Nightwing aka Richard Greyson, the adopted son of Batman, at one point, had the base of operations in New York City. He was operating as a vigilante there and had to stop Two-Face from destroying the city in half.
Supergirl aka Kara Zor-El lived in New York for some time after Paradise Island was banished to another dimension.
Power Girl aka Kara Zor-L from Earth-Two, lived at Starrware Industries in Manhattan after her original universe was destroyed during the Crisis on Infinite Earths.
The recent critically acclaimed HBO TV show Watchmen, had heroes located in Tulsa, Oklahoma, while in the original graphic novel, the plot of the novel was set in the alternate universe of New York in 1985. The group consists of Dr. Manhattan, probably the strongest being in the universe, Ozymandias, the second Silk Spectre. the Comedian, and Rorschach.
Probably one of the most successful graphic novels released from DC in decades, this group of superheroes (or antiheroes) are powerful and deserve to be mentioned on the list of New York-based superheroes.
This is the end of this article. It was quite an adventure finding out who are New Yorkers in both DC and Marvel Universe, so hopefully, we did a good job identifying the most notable ones. Marvel has so much more superheroes that could be in this article but we will leave it for the next time!