There is a famous saying that the best art imitates life and, as the world moves forward from a somewhat fractured past, we can see the global melting pot stewing across all forms of media. The superhero sub-genre has not been left behind either, as we shall soon see…
Since some of the greatest comic book characters are black. It’s history time today, as we look at the origins of black superheroes and how they captured hearts and minds just as well as they catch criminals. We’ve compiled a neat list (in order of importance) of some of the most exciting and impactful black superheroes for you to enjoy. Let’s get started.
Who was the first black superhero?
Marvel has a long history of powerful black superheroes and villains. But, the first black superhero in mainstream pop culture is Marvel‘s Black Panther, also known as T’Challa, prince (and later king) of Wakanda.
The Black Panther’s comic debut is a guest appearance in 1966’s The Fantastic Four (Vol 1, issue 52), where Reed Richards and his team are invited to Wakanda to lend a hand against an old foe.
The character was an instant hit, as Stan Lee and Co. struck gold once again. Marvel was lauded for this masterstroke, though criticized in some sectors, unfortunately. Remember, this was amidst the backdrop of the Civil Rights Movement in America.
Black Panther went on to be one of the most (if not the most) famous black characters in the entire Marvel Universe, and pretty much the entire sub-genre. His film career propelled him to stratospheric heights, cementing the Black Panther’s legacy as a cultural icon.
Let’s kick things off with one particularly peculiar hero.
For starters, he’s the only character here who is neither Marvel nor DC. In fact, he’s the only one here to not start off from the pages of a comic book.
Secondly, he’s, without a doubt, the most reluctant superhero on this list. So reluctant, in fact, that his status as a superhero is very debatable.
We are, of course, talking about the high-flying, low-alcohol-tolerance-having bane of the American taxpayer…John Hancock.
Created in 1996 by screenplay writer Vy Vincent Ngo, Hancock’s debut was as delayed as his memory. The character was eventually brought to life on the silver screen by Will Smith in 2008’s Hancock, a booze and profanity-laced rollercoaster ride that confused as many people as it amazed.
John Hancock is best described as an anti-Superman. He has similar powers, but none of the charm. Not even a hint of a smile.
However, despite the exterior nihilism and gruffness, Hancock is just a fearful, lonely, and immortal superbeing with no recollection of his life before he emerged from the hospital 80 years prior with no form of identification. His name is actually derived from hospital officials requesting his “John Hancock” (which means signature) on discharge papers.
During a routine fly-around in Los Angeles, Hancock spots Ray Embrey, a PR specialist, stuck in a car in front of an oncoming train. Without hesitation, Hancock intercepts the train, knocks it off the rails, and saves Ray’s life. Ray then proposes to pay Hancock back by helping him clean up his terrible public image. However, unbeknownst to Hancock, Ray actually hopes to use their newfound relationship to score points at work, where he is sinking quickly.
Ray introduces Hancock to his wife, Mary, and his son, Aaron, who pitch in on helping Hancock improve his likeability. Ray then gets Hancock to prove his value to society by voluntarily giving himself up to the police to atone for his public property damage. Hancock reluctantly agrees and goes to a “maximum security” prison where he learns to talk about his feelings and how to work as part of a team.
A crazy misadventure ensues, as Hancock and his new friends team up to deal with bank robbers, the police, as well the fallout of Hancock’s surprising past.
Unfortunately, there is only one piece of Hancock media out there. There have been discussions for a sequel for 14 years now, but don’t hold your breath. Charlize Theron, who plays Mary has previously indicated her interest in a sequel so we’ll see how the situation develops.
That said, Hancock is an interesting reimagining of the modern superhero that adds a bit of comedy to a genre that sometimes takes itself a little too seriously.
9. Miles Morales’ Spider-Man
The successor to Peter Parker’s Spider-Man mantle, Miles Morales broke the mold in both the Ultimate and Prime Universes by becoming the first black Spider-Man. The character was created by Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Pichelli and mainly exists in the Earth-1610 reality. He was introduced in 2011’s Ultimate Fallout (Vol 1, issue 4).
Miles, son of Rio and Jefferson Morales, starts off as a simple kid growing up in Brooklyn, New York. One day, while visiting his uncle, Aaron Davis, a genetically enhanced spider from Osborn Industries works its way onto Miles’ hand and bites him, injecting him with the company’s Oz formula.
Miles later notices the development of powers such as increased reflexes, spidey-sense, wall-crawling, camouflage, and agility.
He quickly realizes that these powers are similar to those of Spider-Man (Peter Parker), which frightens him. At first, Miles tries to continue living his life as normal, ignoring his newfound powers.
However, Miles is forced to pick up the role of Spidey after Peter Parker is killed in a battle against the Green Goblin and other escaped villains. He is fuelled by remorse as he knows he could have helped.
As he learns the ropes, he manages to trip himself up and cross paths with Spider-Woman and Nick Fury, who both demand answers. Miles later proves his usefulness to the Ultimates, who give him their blessing to continue as the new Spider-Man. Miles also learns that his uncle Aaron is the Ringer and has to fight him after turning down his offer of a life of crime.
Miles continues his web-slinging adventures and meets Captain America, as well as Peter Parker from Earth-616. He also battles Venom, which ends up costing his mother’s life convincing him to stop being Spider-Man.
Miles has to don the Spidey suit once more a year later to battle Roxxon, before dealing with the great cataclysm of realities.
Miles Morales’ Spider-Man has the same powers as Peter Parker. These range from superhuman speed and stamina, to regenerative healing and venom energy blasts. Miles is also a quick learner and has high levels of willpower and love for his friends and family.
Miles Morales has appeared in Ultimate and Prime Universe comics, as well as various video games, novels, and television shows. However, Miles is most known for the CGI film Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (voiced by Shameik Moore), which has sequels coming soon.
8. War Machine
To the casual viewer, it is pretty easy to view War Machine as an over-polished sidekick. However, you’d be very mistaken.
Let’s be honest, most heroes would be relegated to sidekick by Tony Stark’s ego alone.
War Machine is the pinnacle of man and machine working in unison, with Commander James Rhodes at the heart of the second-most iconic iron suit in the skies.
Rhodes rose up the ranks in the US Marines as a pilot, before he met Tony Stark (as Iron Man Mach 1) after being shot down behind enemy lines in Siancong. Tony needed the batteries in Rhodes’ chopper to recharge the suit, which represented their best chance for their survival. Rhodes agreed and the two worked together to steal an enemy helicopter and fly to safety.
Rhodes then left the military, joined the private sector, and eventually took an engineering gig at Stark Industries. This was the start of a beautiful friendship with Tony Stark, who had also requested that Rhodey become his personal pilot.
With time, Tony grew to admire Rhodes’ intellect, bravery, and noble heart. The two worked together on many Iron Man and Avengers missions, with Rhodey’s quick-thinking, and elite-level physical prowess proving decisive on many occasions.
The role of Iron Man would later be thrust upon Rhodes in Iron Man (Vol 1, issue 170) after Tony began spiraling with drinking problems. Stark International was being attacked by Magma, so prompt action was needed. After thwarting the threat, Rhodes was given the job of Iron Man until Tony could recover. With Tony off his game, things would quickly spiral out of control, with even Stark International falling into the hands of Obadiah Stane.
Rhodey’s journey with the Iron Man suit proved to be a hindrance to his mental health, as the suit was specifically tailored to Tony’s brain patterns. He began experiencing severe migraines, as well as bouts of rage, paranoia, and confusion. Tony later had to don a basic Iron suit to stop a suited-up Rhodey during a serious mental episode.
What followed was a retirement period, an unretirement period, which led to Rhodey almost burning in his Iron suit,…and another (seemingly permanent) retirement.
However, Tony Stark’s powers of persuasion are legendary…
After Tony suffered a severe injury, he was put into cryogenic sleep and announced as dead. In his will, he named Rhodey as CEO of the new Stark Enterprises, and that he was to continue the role of Iron Man using the latest model spec nicknamed “War Machine”.
Unfortunately, Rhodey soon learned that Tony’s “death” was just a ruse, and he felt betrayed. He left Stark Enterprises and teamed up with Avengers West Coast. War Machine would occasionally pop up to aid Iron Man from time to time, but the bromance, it seems, was dead.
After solo missions in Africa, Rhodey had to return to Stark Industries because Tony was the only one who can repair the suit. The two were then forced to put their disputes aside to battle Mandarin. After securing victory, the two decide to rekindle their friendship.
War Machine then goes on countless adventures and missions with Iron Man. From assisting S.H.I.E.L.D. with containing a rampaging Hulk, to working alongside the Avengers against Thanos, the Skrull and others. He is killed in battle against Thanos but is revived and rebuilt as a cyborg by Tony.
Much like Iron Man, War Machine has undergone several evolutions from the original model 11 armor. He has had alien armor, Stane Tech armor, Iron Man 2.0 armor, and the legendary Iron Patriot armor.
War Machine is most often depicted with a chain gun on his shoulder. He also uses rockets, a flamethrower, and an assortment of lasers.
Of course, different variations of War Machine have different features, such as Iron Patriot’s ability to command Iron Patriot Drones. With the War Machine armor, Rhodey has super strength, flight, as well as the ability to go to space and underwater. The armor is powered by solar and beta particle absorption technology.
James Rhodes appears in pretty much most Iron Man and Avengers media. He has appeared in ten MCU films and was initially played by Terrence Howard, who would be later replaced by Don Cheadle from Iron Man 2 onwards.
7. Black Lightning
While Marvel was first to the punch as far as black superheroes, DC was not too far behind.
In fact, DC has a notable history of heroic black supporting characters that stretches as far back as the Second World War.
However, DC’s first titular superheroes were John Stewart (Green Lantern) and Jefferson Pierce (Black Lightning). Our focus here is on the latter.
Black Lightning made his comic debut in Black Lightning (Vol 1, issue 1) in 1977. He was created by Tony Isabella and Trevor von Eeden and has gone on to become an underrated star under the DC umbrella.
Black Lightning’s first origin story (New Earth Reality) is that of Francis Pierce, a mild-mannered schoolteacher who gets the power to create and manipulate electricity from a special powerbelt. Francis decides to use his newfound powers for good by tackling crime in his home borough of Suicide Slum in the city of Metropolis.
This origin story has been changed and evolved over time, though, and in his current origin story in the Prime Earth Reality, Francis is a native of Cleveland, Ohio who is based in Los Angeles.
In both the New Earth and Prime Earth realities, Black Lightning proves himself to be a bona fide superhero and a reliable ally of the Justice League until the coalition is reformed with him as a founding member.
Black Lightning boasts several powers including electrokinesis, electromagnetism, enhanced senses, enhanced jumping, and superhuman reflexes. He is also very agile and well-practiced in hand-to-hand combat.
Black Lightning has 403 comic book appearances in the New Earth reality and 77 appearances in the Prime Earth reality.
The character has finally begun to get mainstream recognition thanks to the 2018 television series Black Lightning, which aired on The CW for four seasons.
Cress Williams stars as a retired Black Lightning who is, at this stage, simply Jefferson Pierce, the principal of a charter school. Unfortunately, he’s pulled out of retirement after his two daughters are kidnapped by a gang headed by an old enemy.
6. John Stewart’s Green Lantern
While Black Lightning is DC’s most commercially successful African-American superhero, he’s still just the second to have his own comic.
The first is John Stewart, the fourth man to represent the Green Lantern Corps on Earth.
Stewart was created in 1972 by Dennis O’Neil and Neal Adams, making his New Earth comic debut in Green Lantern (Vol 1, issue 87). In this reality, John is an architect who gets an unexpected job offer from the Guardians of the Universe to be Hal Jordan’s partner.
John and Hal prove to be a formidable team, and the former even proves himself capable during solo missions when Hal is unavailable.
When Hal eventually decides to call it quits on his Lantern career, John is a more than worthy successor and fills his boots successfully. There are notable growing pains, of course, such as John’s identity as the Green Lantern being exposed in the media by his supposed girlfriend Tawny Young.
John plays a decisive role in battles against the Anti-Monitor during the Crisis on Infinite Earths, as well as against Guy Gardner during the attack of Qward’s moon. John’s adaptation to the Green Lantern Ring impresses all of his colleagues, as he produces some astounding constructs to save innocent (and not-so-innocent) lives and thwart baddies.
New Earth John Stewart has 580 comic appearances.
The character was later re-booted in the Prime Earth in 2011’s Green Lantern Corps (Vol 3, issue 1).
In this reality, John Stewart is a war-hardened retired US Marine with the steadiest trigger finger you’ve ever seen.
After falling out with his superior officer during a civilian rescue mission in Gotham City, Stewart quits the Marines and heads to Architecture school in California. After his graduation, he is hired by Ferris Air, an aviation company to supervise a project.
Interestingly, while on the job, John soon finds himself in a job interview of a wholly different kind, thanks to the Guardians of the Universe. The Guardians send a Manhunter, a vicious android, to test John’s mettle under pressure. Acting instinctively, John attacks the threat head-on. The Guardians grant John a Green Lantern Ring, which he then uses to defeat the Manhunter.
John is then transported to Oa to meet the Guardians for the first time. The Guardians formally offer John the opportunity to be a peacekeeper as a Lantern, an offer John accepts.
John proves to be an effective recruit, as he saves the day many times during battles for the Corps, as well as the Justice League. He gains notable powers and abilities along the way, including emotional electromagnetic spectrum manipulation and the ability to wield the Star Sapphire Ring.
John Stewart’s Green Lantern boasts many skills and abilities in addition to his firearms expertise. He has unshakeable willpower that helps him get over the line even in situations where he is deprived of his powers. Before the New God Lonar aided his evolution, John had mastered the Green Lantern ring, as well as flight.
After his evolution, John acquires cosmic awareness, the ability to enlarge or shrink himself, enhanced construct creation, energy projection, enhanced strength, energy blast absorption, and invulnerability. Pretty impressive.
John Stewart has appeared over 300 times in Prime Earth comics.
John Stewart has also appeared in the animated series Justice League Unlimited, where he is voiced by Phil LaMarr. He has also been voiced by Roger Cross in the animated film Justice League Dark. John Stewart also has recurring and cameo roles in various Justice League and Teen Titans films, tv shows, and video games.
The tremendous success of the Black Panther was more than enough evidence for Marvel to introduce another black character to the universe.
Enter Samuel Thomas Wilson, aka Falcon, one of the Avengers and a close friend to Captain America.
Falcon was introduced by Stan Lee and Gene Colan in Captain America (Vol 1, issue 117) in 1969. In this issue, a young Sam Wilson sends a trained hawk named Redwing to distract The Red Skull’s henchmen to give Captain America time to escape during a clash. The two men are then formally introduced and immediately strike a rapport based on their mutual belief in freedom.
Cap advises Sam to get a suit and alter ego so he can better represent the values he fights for. Sam ponders for a bit before deciding on “Falcon”, based on his affinity for birds and his ability to relate to them. The rest, as they say, is history.
Falcon’s main power is his avian telepathy, which allows him to communicate with birds, or even see through their eyes. He is also an elite-level martial artist, with belts in karate, jiu-jitsu, judo, and many more. Additionally, Falcon, possesses astounding willpower, discipline, tolerance to pain, and leadership.
Falcon has appeared nearly 800 times in comics set in the Earth-616 reality. He has shared the billing with Captain America several times, including on issues 134-192 and 194-222 (these issues were titled Captain America and the Falcon).
Samuel Wilson even becomes the “new Captain America” when Steve Rogers is forced to hang up the shield in Captain America (Vol 7, issue 25).
The Falcon has also been popularized through the Marvel Cinematic Universe, where Anthony Mackie has excelled in his role as Sam Wilson. Mackie has appeared in the role for six films, making his debut in 2014’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
Mackie’s success in the role earned him and the Falcon the main role in the spin-off television series The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.
The Falcon has also appeared in multiple animated and live-action tv shows, theatre stage plays, as well as videogames and theme parks.
The 1970s made up what was one of the coolest decades of the 20th century, and African-American culture was at the forefront of that.
From Afros and heated barbershop debates to snazzy convertibles and Sunday afternoon brunches. Add to that the 70s’ funk and disco, a fitting soundtrack, and you’ve got the setting for artists to thrive.
And thrive is exactly what Marvin Wolfman and Gene Colan did. The Marvel hotshot writers pondered and binned many concepts before they finally emerged from the depths of the studio with Eric Brooks, aka Blade.
To say Eric had an action-packed start to life is perhaps the understatement of the year. When his mother, Tara, was viciously attacked by a ravenous maternal doctor-turned-vampire, baby Eric absorbed some of the bloodsucker’s venom, and his DNA was changed forever.
Blade was born…literally.
Growing up in a tough neighborhood, young Eric learned to keep his wits about him and lay low. He later ran into a man by the name of Jamal Afari, who would help guide him to his purpose.
Jamal was a seasoned Vampire Slayer, a real thorn in the side of the undead, and he offered to train young Eric, who was motivated to track down and kill Deacon Frost, the vampire who murdered his mother.
Eric, now going by “Blade”, was a natural, thanks to the mix of his vampire-like physical prowess and his natural hatred of the creatures. He learned to use daggers, swords, firearms with garlic-filled silver bullets, UV weapons, and much more in a whirlwind comic career that spans over 291 appearances. Blade’s debut in 1973’s The Tomb of Dracula (Vol 1, issue 10) was as good as any in Marvel’s history.
However, while the comics always had a cult following among Marvel fans, it was the Blade film trilogy that turned the character into a truly global phenomenon.
Blade, played by the peerless Wesley Snipes, won the hearts (and wallets) of the masses with all three films (Blade, Blade II, and Blade: Trinity) proving to be worldwide box office hits for Marvel and New Line Cinema.
Blade has also appeared in videogames based on the films, in Marvel’s Anime series, as well as 2006’s Blade: The Series (starring Kirk “Sticky Fingaz” Jones).
The Marvel train keeps rolling on as we shift our focus to Storm from the X-Men, who is the world’s first black superheroine. Storm is one of the most recognizable characters in the entire Marvel universe, gaining popularity from successful comic books, television shows, and films. She made her first appearance in 1975’s Giant-Size X-Men (Vol 1, issue 1).
Storm (real name Ororo Munroe) was born to an African-American photojournalist, David Munroe, and a tribal Kenyan princess, N’Dare. She lived in New York and in Egypt before her parents were killed when a plane crashed into their home.
Young Ororo was forced to grow up in the mean streets of Cairo, where she quickly learned how to be a pickpocket and a thief from Achmed El Gibar, an adopted guardian. As Ororo approached her teen years, she decided to leave Egypt and travel south.
Ororo survived the treacherous journey through the Sahara Desert before she discovered her ability to control the weather with her mind, a legacy of her mother’s magical bloodline.
She encountered T’Challa (the Black Panther), who rescued her from a gang of bandits. She would then rescue him back when the same assailants attempted to kidnap the prince. They began a romance, but T’Challa was duty-bound to remain in Wakanda and perform his duties as future king.
Ororo continued her journey alone and reached her mother’s ancestral home in the Kilimanjaro Valley, where she was deified as a goddess due to her ability to control the weather. Later, while serving as her tribe’s protector, she would encounter the X-Men for the first time in a battle against Deluge in the Savage Lands.
Professor Charles Xavier, the founder of the X-Men, later recruited Ororo to help the new X-Men (featuring Thunderbird, Wolverine, and Nightcrawler) deal with the threat of Krakoa, a sentient island being. She was made aware of her status as a mutant, was trained in the famous Danger Room, and was assigned the nickname “Storm”.
Storm proved to be a formidable addition to the team and a compassionate friend. She befriended Jean Grey, who volunteered to mentor her on western traditions and customs.
Storm continued fighting alongside the X-Men, warding off threats from villains like Magneto and the Juggernaut. When Cyclops left the X-Men after Jean Grey’s “death” Storm was promoted and became the new leader of the X-Men.
Storm then went on many adventures, including a period where she lost her powers after being shot with an anti-mutant gun.
Storm would later get married to T’Challa, who was now king of Wakanda, and become his queen. The marriage would later be annulled after Storm and T’Challa had irreconcilable differences over the threat the X-Men and other mutants posed to Wakanda.
Storm then moved back to the X-Men Academy permanently as a teacher and senior X-Men member alongside Wolverine and others. She dated Wolverine until his death.
Storm has made nearly 2,000 comic book appearances in the Marvel Universe. She was brought to life for the first time by the beautiful Halle Berry in 2000’s X-Men live-action film. Berry would also appear in three more films, X2, X-Men: The Last Stand, and X-Men: Days of Future Past. Alexandra Shipp played the role of a younger Storm in X-Men: Apocalypse and X-Men: Dark Phoenix.
Storm is also in several tv shows, including the widely popular X-Men animated series, as well as video games, novels, and more.
2. Nick Fury
As the baddest man to ever slip on an eyepatch, Nick Fury hardly needs an introduction. The legendary leader of S.H.I.E.L.D. doesn’t have any superpowers, per se, but his decisive leadership, planning, and improvisation skills, combined with his ability to assemble and manage Earth’s mightiest heroes (and egos) more than earns him a spot on this list.
Nick Fury was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, making his comic debut in the first issue of 1963’s Sgt. Fury, which is set in Earth-616. The character has over 1100 appearances in Marvel comics.
Nick’s comic origin is in New York City around the time of the Great Depression. He was the the eldest of three children and the son of Jack Fury, a decorated military pilot. Nick’s biological mother died early in his life, and his father would later re-marry.
Nick grew up in the rough neighborhood of Hell’s Kitchen so, in order to keep out of trouble, he spent a lot of his time and energy boxing in the New York City Police Athletic League. He also practiced with firearms, which revealed his talent as a marksman.
Nick would later join the International Brigades and be stationed in Spain to help peacekeeping efforts in the Spanish Civil war before returning to the States.
Nick and his best friend, Red Hargrove, later enlisted and joined the U.S. Army before being stationed at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii during World War 2. Red was then killed when the Japanese navy attacked Pearl Harbor, which gave Nick a deep thirst for revenge.
Because of Nick’s skills and inherent leadership, Captain Samwell “Happy Sam” Sawyer, promoted Nick and gave him command of his first unit, the First Attack Squad. The team operated in Europe mostly, carrying out special operations to aid the Allied Forces. Nick and his men would then earn special commendation from British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, as well as the honorary title of Commandos.
During his time in Europe, Nick also met Lady Pamela Hawley, a British nurse for whom he fell head over heels. Unfortunately, while he was planning to propose to Pamela, she was killed during a bombing raid on London.
After the war, Nick got seriously injured by a landmine in France, and soon found himself as a test subject for Berthold Sternberg, a scientist with a serum known as the Infinity Formula. The experimental serum was believed to be able to halt the healing process. However, once a person was on the treatment, they would have to receive annual dosages otherwise they would age quickly and die.
Nick recovered and was recruited by the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), an early predecessor of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). He later moved to the CIA as an agent and did special recon missions during the Korean War.
Fury thrived at the CIA and worked his way up to Colonel, one of the youngest people to ever reach that rank. He met and recruited Richard and Mary Parker, who would later have a son named Peter. It is around this time that Fury began his role as a superhero liaison. His first encounter was with the Fantastic Four, whom he met in Sgt. Fury, issue 21.
It would later emerge that Fury was losing his eyesight in one eye, a delayed consequence of taking shrapnel to the face during WWII. This prompted the appearance of the now-iconic eyepatch.
After proving his skills in managing superbeings, Nick was assigned to be the commander of the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement, and Logistics Division (S.H.I.E.L.D.). He excelled again, proving himself to be a composed and competent military tactician.
Nick’s leadership proved to be a major driving force in turning S.H.I.E.L.D. into an international force, and his diplomacy skills earned the organization (and the American government) strategic alliances with other nations. He was also influential in getting previously alienated superbeings onside with S.H.I.E.L.D.’s agendas. His most notable achievement in his first stint was helping bring the Avengers together.
The rest of Nick Fury’s time in the comics features betrayals, the disbanding and re-establishment of S.H.I.E.L.D., as well as epic battles against an assortment of baddies. Notable foes include Hydra, the Skrull, Norman Osborn, Loki, and Thanos. Fury also played a meditative role when Captain America and Iron Man fell out during the Civil War.
Fury fathered two sons with two different women. He had Mikel Fury with Amber D’Alexis and Nick Fury, Jr. with Nia Jones. Mikel, a trained assassin who went by the codename Scorpio, was killed while on a mission for his father’s Secret Warriors division. Nick Jr is alive and works for the CIA as Agent 110911.
While Nick Fury doesn’t have any special powers or mutations, he is still considered a very formidable character in the Marvel universe. He has all the tools of S.H.I.E.L.D. at his disposal, including highly trained personnel and state-of-the-art vehicles and weapons. He is also an elite-level martial artist and is proficient with countless weapons. His intelligence and quick thinking have saved his and many other lives several times.
Fury has appeared in various media including books, games, and television shows. Interestingly, Fury was actually a white character until Marvel started modeling him after Samuel L. Jackson in 2002. That move proved to be a wise bit of foresight as Jackson would go on to play the role of Nick Fury in 2008’s Iron Man. Jackson has played Fury in 11 of the MCU films so far, giving us several intimidating looks (and epic one-liners) along the way.
1. Black Panther
In top spot, we have a hero who has proven his nobility time and time again. A warrior of peace, a wise ruler, and a tremendous friend. Of course, we’re talking about the legendary Black Panther.
Another Stan Lee and Jack Kirby creation, Black Panther is one of the most popular Marvel heroes and is officially Marvel’s first black superhero. The character has made well over a thousand appearances in the Earth-616 comics.
T’Challa, the crown prince of Wakanda, was born to King T’Chaka and Queen N’Yami. Unfortunately, N’Yami would die shortly after T’Challa’s birth, succumbing to an autoimmune disease.
Wakanda is a fictitious African country that is home to a rare metal known as Vibranium (the same material that Captain America’s shield is made of).
After harnessing the metal, the Wakandans were able to build and develop their country at an exponential rate and quickly rose to be the world’s most technologically advanced nation. However, the Wakandans were initially reluctant to open up to the world out of fear of being raided for their precious resource.
T’Challa was raised with this strong territorial philosophy and was trained as a warrior to prepare him for kingship.
He was forced to grow up fast when his father was murdered by Ulysses Klaw, a Belgian physicist who sought the rights to mine Vibranium from T’Chaka. T’Chaka refused, stating that the Vibranium belonged to Wakanda and its people. This angered Klaw, who ordered his party of mercenaries to kill the king and his party. T’Chaka was killed in the skirmish by jumping in front of Klaw’s sonic blaster when it was aimed at T’Challa, who later maims Klaw’s hand with the same weapon.
After T’Chaka’s demise, T’Challa was then sent to wander the wilderness, an ancient Wakandan rite of passage. During this time, he rescued and met a girl named Ororo from would-be kidnappers.
Ororo later returned the favor using her powers and the two immediately hit it off and began a brief romance. However, the two lovebirds had to go their separate ways because of their respective duties.
T’Challa was later sent to America and then to Europe for his studies. Using the alias Luke Charles, he excelled in academics, sports, and socially. T’Challa would then proceed to obtain a physics Ph.D. from Oxford University.
Upon his return to Wakanda, T’Challa was ambushed and captured by Advanced Idea Mechanics (A.I.M.), an organization that is always on the look out for new technologies they can use for world domination. T’Challa would soon learn that his best friend, B’Tumba had led A.I.M. right to him as a result of jealousy.
However, B’Tumba soon regretted his betrayal and freed his friend so they could fight off A.I.M. together. A.I.M. was defeated but B’Tumba would not survive the battle.
T’Challa would later challenge his uncle, S’Yan, for kingship and win. After earning the throne, T’Challa took a Heart-Shaped Herb and was linked to the Panther God Bast. The connection gave him the superhuman abilities of the Black Panthers who came before him.
T’Challa quickly began a social and political shakeup. He disbanded violent counterintelligence organizations like his adopted brother, Hunter’s, Dogs of War. He also realized that Wakanda’s isolation would turn out to be a death sentence in an ever-changing world.
T’Challa began inviting great minds to help with certain infrastructure projects and would soon meet Reed Richards and the Fantastic Four, who quickly became trusted allies after helping defeat a vengeful Klaw.
He would then meet Captain America in Captain America (Vol 1, issue 100), when the two teamed up to face off against Baron Zemo. Impressed by the Black Panther, Cap asked him to join the Avengers.
With the Avengers, T’Challa battled against the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, Ultron’s Masters of Evil, as well as Vision. The Avengers would, in turn, help T’Challa thwart a coup attempt by M’Baku of the Jabari tribe.
T’Challa would go on to battle many other domestic and foreign threats by himself and, on occasion, with the aid of the Avengers and S.H.I.E.L.D. He would later reunite with Ororo and the two would marry in Wakanda before embarking on a global diplomatic tour together. The two would temporarily replace Reed and Sue Richards as members of the Fantastic Four.
However, their marriage would later be annulled by a Wakandan High Priest after a dispute over Storm’s allegiance to the X-Men, whom T’Challa had deemed enemies of Wakanda.
T’Challa would later fall into a coma, which led to his younger sister Shuri taking up the mantle of Black Panther for a time.
The Black Panther boasts several impressive powers and abilities. With the power of the Heart-Shaped Herb, T’Challa has super-soldier powers like those of Captain America. When Bast grants him the power of King of the Dead, T’Challa is also able to draw power from previous Black Panthers.
Naturally, T’Challa is in excellent shape due to his rigorous training and healthy lifestyle. He has advanced senses and great intelligence. He has super strength, stamina, and is faster than other humans. He also has regenerative healing and great agility. In the MCU films, the Black Panther’s suit is made up of a bulletproof Vibranium weave.
Black Panther has been cemented as a top-tier Marvel superhero by his appearances in the MCU. He was played by the late Chadwick Boseman, who made his debut in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War. Black Panther would also get his own MCU film, 2018’s Black Panther, which proved to be a mega box office hit and one of the most successful films of all time. He has appeared in four MCU films so far and time will tell how the filmmakers will replace Boseman.