Behind every spandex clad do-gooder, there are the unsung heroes who don’t always get the credit they deserve. We’re talking about mission control! These characters can either be an artificial intelligence or an actual person who provides assistance to a main character. In both situations, those in mission control tell the superhero — or villain — about the latest tech and give them updates on their enemies. And while their hand-to-hand combat may sometimes be lacking, their computer skills are always top-notch.
After all, where would John 117 be without Cortana’s badassery? Could Nighthawk operate without Tilda and her witty remarks? Maybe, but we’d rather not find out. To show appreciation for the folks who help our favorite heroes from the shadows, CBR breaks down the 15 characters who rock at mission control and make it easier for our heroes to save the day.
15. PRINCESS PEACH / TOADSTOOL
Princess Peach is known as the ultimate damsel in distress since she’s almost always getting captured by Mario’s arch nemesis, Bowser, in Nintendo video games. However, in 1988’s “Super Mario Bros. 3,” game developers gave Princess Peach a break from getting kidnapped (for a bit) and instead gave her a job as mission control for Mario and Luigi. Instead of getting saved, Princess Peach returns the favor by providing items to help Mario and Luigi defeat villains and make it through levels.
Unfortunately, game developers didn’t keep Princess Peach safe for too long. When the game is almost over, Mario discovers that Princess Peach, who is known as Princess Toadstool in this game, was once again taken captive by Bowser. Luckily, Mario and Luigi are able to come to her rescue. But it doesn’t come without a bit of playfulness as the Princess taunts the two after they come to her rescue. When they arrive, she jokingly says: “Thank you but our princess is in another castle!…Just kidding! Ha ha ha! Bye bye.”
14. CHLOE SULLIVAN
Chloe Sullivan was created to be Clark Kent’s best friend in high school in the 2001 series “Smallville,” but her role in the series becomes much bigger as time goes on. Although her original dream was to be a journalist, Sullivan gets fired from the Daily Planet after Lex Luthor takes over the newspaper. Afterwards, the young computer whiz went to work for the Watchtower. Originally, she only worked there part-time but eventually she took on a full-time position on mission control at the Watchtower.
With her hacker skills, she played an integral role in helping superheroes in Metropolis defend the city — when she wasn’t providing witty commentary, that is. Unlike other “Smallville” characters, Chloe Sullivan was a new character who was created solely for the series. However, she later made her first comic book appearance as a character in “Jimmy Olsen’s Big Week” which was featured in 2010’s “Action Comics” #893.
13. JEREMIE BELPOIS
Jeremie Belpois may be only 11-years-old, but the young genius is wise beyond his years. As a programmer, Jeremie is the only one among his peers who can operate the Supercomputer that allows his friends to go into the virtual world, Lyoko, to battle against monsters who disrupt the real world. Throughout the series, the four-member team works together to keep the world safe and eventually go back in time to reset events with the help of Aelita, a girl stuck in the virtual reality world.
When a friend goes into Lyoko, Jeremie often spends his time behind the computer screen to keep track of their life points. During this time, he also gets to see the girl he has a mutual crush on — Aelita. When he isn’t trying to save the world, Jeremie works for another noble cause — love. While the team members can come back to reality, Jeremie is still working on a way to bring Aelita to the real world so they can be together.
12. ANASTASIA “DEE” DUALLA
Anastasia “Dee” Dualla is known for having one of the most tragic and shocking storylines in a television series, but before we that infamous and heartbreaking moment, Dualla worked as mission control of sorts in “Battlestar Galactica.” Aboard the ship, Dualla was a communications officer in the Combat Information Center, or CIC and served as a bridge for the Galactica. In this position, she was responsible for communications between Galactica’s command staff and other spacecraft it encountered.
Unfortunately, in season 4, episode 13’s “Sometimes a Great Notion” (right after the season four mid-season finale), Dualla met an unsettling ending on the series. Before that, she was one of the best to handle the mission control boards since her first appearance in the 2003 Battlestar Galactica miniseries and subsequent full series that started in 2004. She also transferred to the Pegasus and served as an executive officer for the ship for a brief period of time.
11. JADE BLACKWATER
“Agents of the Realm” is one of the ever-growing popular indie webcomic series by Mildred Louis that follows a group of five women — Norah, Adele, Paige, Kendall and Jordan — in college. Together, they learn that they are magical girls and defenders of the Earth. As if freshman year wasn’t hard enough, right? And while they regularly fight baddies, they make sure to play to each of their strengths, especially with the help of their mentor, Jade.
Jade united the five women together and often aids the team as mission control, even if that means fighting against her evil twin sister, Ruby, who serves as the villain of the series at one point. Similar to other mission control characters, Jade communicates to the agents through a holographic projection. “Agents of the Realm” began in 2014 and is still getting ongoing updates every Tuesday and Thursday on its site.
While mostly a side character, the alien Salaak has a rich history in the DC Universe. After being chosen to serve as a green lantern for Space Sector 1418, he fought in many battles during the “Crisis on Infinite Earths” and later decided to live in the future, where he assumed the identity of Pol Manning — the same as Hal Jordan — and married a human woman. But when the Corps was in danger of becoming extinct in the present, Salaak went back in time to save them. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to prevent Sinestro’s execution or the destruction of Central Power Battery on Oa.
With a powerless ring, he was sold into slavery but was luckily saved by Guy Gardner (much to his later chagrin). While Salaak went through many ordeals and held many jobs, his most famous role has been as an intermediary between the Green Lanterns and their bosses, the Guardians of the Universe, as well as the keeper of the Book of Oa. It was in this role that he truly became a nucleus of mission control and thus, a candidate for this list. Although Salaak is known for being a pessimistic loner with no small amount of snark, he always gets the job done. Salaak made his first appearance in “Green Lantern” #149.
9. THE CALCULATOR
The Calculator is one of the few villains to serve as mission control. After his first appearance in “Detective Comics” #463, The Calculator, whose real name is Noah Kuttler, showed up in a one-shot stories where readers followed up on his antics. But in 2004’s “Identity Crisis,” he was shred of his costume and provided assistance in a mission control capacity for supervillains. In contrast to Oracle, The Calculator helped villains execute their plans by providing information on weapons and offering strategic advice. But of course, his work didn’t come without a price. Unlike Oracle, who provided her services for free, The Calculator charged villains $1,000 per question. Yikes.
The Calculator would later play an integral role in Lex Luthor’s Secret Society of Super Villains, along with Doctor Psycho, Doctor Light and Deathstroke. But all that power didn’t stop him from obsessing over the identity of the Oracle in “Birds of Prey.” This eventually led to his mental breakdown.
8. TONY STARK
While J.A.R.V.I.S. helped Tony Stark during his time as Iron Man, the latest iteration of Iron Man is getting help from the man who created J.A.R.V.I.S., Tony Stark himself. Similar to Stark, the A.I. Tony is snarky, cocky and funny as he helps Ironheart (aka, Riri Williams) build her suit and learn how to pilot it. Riri, a young M.I.T. student, took on the Iron Mantle in 2016’s “Invincible Iron Man.” Like Stark, Riri is a prodigy who excels in engineering and technology. These traits help her relate to Stark, who helps her in battle, becoming the hero she wants to be and navigating the world as a young genius as he once has to do.
But while Stark is a middle-aged privileged extrovert, Riri is a 15-year-old with introvert tendencies, which provides a good contrast between the two as they work together to save the day. While the real Tony Stark was in a coma during Riri’s early days, the two finally meet in “Invincible Iron Man” #12.
7. BRUCE WAYNE
In 1999, a new Batman was born in the animated series “Batman Beyond.” However, instead of Bruce Wayne, the man behind the mask this time was Terry McGinnis. In the year 2039, Bruce Wayne is shown as an old man who has long since retired from his days as Batman. Unfortunately, Gotham (now Neo-Gotham) is still overridden with crime. After some reluctance and pushback, Wayne gifted a new batsuit to Terry to fight against the new criminals plaguing Gotham, like the Jokerz gang, Spellbinder, Stalker, Royal Flush Gang, Mr. Freeze and the Joker himself.
During this time, Bruce Wayne took the seat in the mission control panel to guide Terry through his missions — something he never really got except with a short run by Oracle. Along with Terry’s friend Maxine “Max” Gibson, who helped him in missions with her hacking skills, the 16-year-old Batman was often able to complete his mission and keep Gotham safe thanks to the steady feed of elder-Bat experience in his ear.
6. WADE LODE
“Kim Possible” starred a red-headed spy who wasn’t afraid to have her identity known as she was battling against supervillains like Dr. Drakken and Shego, among others. But completing her missions would be nearly impossible without Wade Lode, the 10-year-old genius who helps her from the comfort of his room. The young black pre-teen helps out Kim on the regular by providing her with updated tech and information for her mission through the “Kimmunicator.” He is also a master at hacking. His top-notch gadgets included grappling hook, laser lipstick, compact mirror that can deflect energy blasts and a love ray to make people fall in love.
While the two collaborated often, Kim and her side-kick and best friend, Ron, didn’t meet Wade until season three in “Team Impossible,” when a group of former spies who Kim put out of business sent a virus to his computer. Fun fact: Wade finished high school and college in eight months.
5. TILDA JOHNSON
Nighthawk isn’t afraid to take down (or kill) the bad guys to find his own sense of justice. But his job would be a bit harder without the help of Tilda Johnson. Unlike other mission control characters, Tilda Johnson originally started off as a criminal known as Nightshade. During this time, she battled against Captain America, Power Man and Iron Fist, Machine Man and many more. She even joined up with Misty Knight’s crew for a bit, but left after The Purple Man offered her more money. With all of her bouncing around, Tilda finally found a home with the Chicago-based vigilante as she works as his mission control in David F. Walker’s critically-acclaimed but ill-fated run on “Nighthawk.”
In addition to her engineering skills (she created owl drones to fly around the city and help Nighthawk), she also provides hilarious quips and pop culture references to films and TV, including one of the classic South Korean film, “Oldboy.” But above all, she’s loyal — to Nighthawk at least. When his life was on the line, it was Tilda who worked tirelessly to find him.
Cortana is the A.I. who helps players in the ever-popular game “Halo” as John-117’s partner. Cortana is one of the 20 to survive after scientists attempted to duplicate the brain of Dr. Catherine Halsey — aka, the woman who created the SPARTAN-II Program, a project to create ultimate soldiers through biological and technological augmentation. The only other survivor was Cortana’s A.I. predecessor, Kalmiya. But even though she was created as a duplicate of the doctor, she eventually formed her own personality. At one point, she even called the doctor a “condescending bitch,” which is both pretty funny and kind of true (sorry about that Halsey fans).
Cortana also served as the artificial intelligence and comms officer on multiple transports and warships within the Halo universe, and since the game’s release 16 years ago, she has been one of the most helpful companion to players, and definitely one of the medium’s most memorable.
Barbara Gordon is mostly known for her nightly crusades as Batgirl. However, in “Batman: The Killing Joke,” the Joker shot her in the spinal cord, which caused her to be paralyzed from the waist down and left her confined to a wheelchair. But that didn’t stop the young superhero from, well, superhero-ing. Instead, she took on the mantle of Oracle. From Oracle’s seat, Barbara Gordon was still able to help Gotham’s finest — including Batman, of course — fight against villains in the city.
As Oracle, Barbara Gordon used her research and hacking skills to assist Gotham. At one point, she teamed up with Black Canary to form a group of crime-fighting superheroes in “Birds of Prey.” The group consisted of Power Girl, Vixen, Huntress, Hawkgirl, Catwoman and more. Although Barbara Gordon entered the comic book world in 1967’s “Detective Comics” #359, her first appearance as Oracle happened over 20 years later in 1989’s “Suicide Squad” #23. She is later shown in the MMO, DC Universe Online, as the main contact for superheroes.
2. MEI LING
“Metal Gear Solid” follows Solid Snake, a soldier who is sent on espionage missions to disrupt the plans of his employer’s enemies. But he doesn’t do it alone. One of our favorite mission control characters is Mei Ling, who helps Snake in several of the games in the series. Along with providing Snake (i.e., the player) with the opportunity to save their progress, she also invented gadgets for him including a communications system and the famous radar that helps him detect enemies. She even provides him with advice every time the player goes to save the game.
Mei Ling follows Snake when he formed Philanthropy, an anti-Metal Gear organization and later worked as his mission control again in “Metal Gear Solid 4.” Mei Ling also received her own story in a Metal Gear 1998 audio drama, as well as a non-canon side story in the Game Boy Color version of Metal Gear Solid. She can also be seen helping Snake in “Super Smash Bros. Brawl.”
J.A.R.V.I.S. is fairly new, created for the Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2008’s “Iron Man.” However, the A.I. is based on an older character, Edwin Jarvis, who was created by Stan Lee and Don Heck in 1964. The original Jarvis made his first appearance in Tales of Suspense #59. Similar to J.A.R.V.I.S., Edwin Jarvis assisted Stark and his family. But instead of being Iron Man’s helpful A.I., he served Stark’s parents, Howard Stark and Maria Stark, as their butler and later raised Stark after his parents were killed. Jarvis is one of the few characters to remain a constant as the Avengers formed, disbanded and joined together again. So, it was only natural to bring the highly regarded character to the cinematic universe in some way.
J.A.R.V.I.S., which stands for Just A Rather Very Intelligent System, helps guide Tony and keeps him updated on incoming weapons as well as the status of the suit. He even aided Tony when he fell unconscious. In the film, “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” J.A.R.V.I.S. is turned into the Avengers’ wise and powerful ally, Vision.
Who would you want backing you up from afar? Let us know in the comments!