Since Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s first issue of “The Avengers” in 1963, Marvel’s flagship super team has counted what sometimes feels like every Marvel hero ever among its ranks. That’s probably because, unlike Marvel’s other premier team, the X-Men, you don’t have to be a mutant, so the only barrier to entry is being invited. So, with an array of members that includes highly skilled but physically average humans, mutants who have even led the X-Men and literal gods, there’s one pretty big question that’s yet to be settled: Just who is the mightiest of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes?
While the debate has gone on for decades, we here at CBR have done our best to definitely rank the 15 Strongest Avengers. Now, keep in mind, we’re focusing on the kind of strength that manifests mainly as the physical kind that’s used in a brawl, so something like the Scarlet Witch’s powers are difficult to quantify. With that said, let’ the countdown to the Earth’s Mightiest Avenger begin!
15. Iron Man
Just going by the Marvel Cinematic Universe, you might think Tony Stark’s real greatest strength is Robert Downey Jr.’s charisma, but then you’d be forgetting just how deep his comics adventures have gone. While his powers are mostly based on his many Iron Man suits, never forget that all those suits are designed by one of the top tech geniuses in the entire Marvel U. These different armors give him a staggering bevy of abilities, including flight, repulsor rays, missiles and highly advanced detection and analysis equipment, but perhaps paramount to all of these — and arguably the suit’s simplest yet most elegant function — is super strength.
Along with its life-saving technologies, strength was the first thing Tony Stark needed to escape his imprisonment, and it was one of the first main functions of his Mark I armor. Since the armor first appeared in 1963, even back then being able to let Stark shift tons of weight, it has only gained stregth with each new iteration. That’s not even taking into account his off-shoot designs, like the Hulkbuster, which augments his strength further, letting him go toe-to-toe with “the strongest there is.”
14. The Vision
The Vision has always been a bit different. Starting as a mystical police officer in Joe Simon and Jack Kirby’s comics that, in 1940, actually pre-dated Marvel’s existence, the character was later brought back as an android member of the Avengers, created, ironically, by their nemesis Ultron. The “synthezoid,” whose mind is patterned on the brainwaves of the Avenger Wonder Man, has one of the most unique and powerful skill sets in comics.
Powered by solar energy, the Vision is able to alter the density of his body from a ghostly level of intangibility, which famously lets him phase through solid material, to a density that renders him diamond-hard, effectively immovable and nearly invulnerable. This also gives him tremendous super strength rivalling Marvel’s heaviest hitters, which he has used to punch, crush and pummel his foes. Of course, as strong as he is, he couldn’t hold his world up from shattering beneath the weight of tragedy in his recent standalone series.
13. Wonder Man
One of a few Avengers who owes his power to a villain, industrialist and embezzler Simon Williams was turned into a being of pure ionic energy by the nefarious Baron Zemo, whose plan to use him against the Avengers failed when Simon sided with the team. While he does seem to die at a higher-than-average rate, when he is around, Wonder Man earns his name as one of the strongest beings the Avengers have ever had within their ranks. His ionic powers give him the same superhuman strength, speed, endurance, reflexes and flight powers that many superheroes share, but their scale goes further than almost any of them.
From the start, Wonder Man has been considered to have strength comparable to Thor, and since then, he’s died, come back to life and gained the ability to turn into a being of pure ionic energy for even more strength. And while it’s never quite been put to the test, several Avengers believe him to be as strong as a guy you’ll hear about later, known as The Sentry.
12. The Forgotten One
An ancient Eternal cast out by his own race, The Forgotten One spent millennia on earth, where his heroic deeds had him mistaken for ancient mythological heroes like Hercules and Gilgamesh, the latter of which became one of his names. Going it solo as Hero, he successfully fought off the destructive cosmic race of Deviants, and then joined with Thor to battle none other than his own creators, the extremely powerful Celestials. No wonder the Avengers turned to him when their membership had dwindled.
Whatever his alias, The Forgotten One has the same ultrahuman physical abilities as all Eternals, but through training, has elevated them beyond those of his kin. His strength, aided by the finely-honed ability to control his own molecules, has made him nearly unparalleled among his race, approaching the level of Thanos. After all, when Blastaar disintegrated the rest of the Eternals in The Negative Zone, it was The Forgotten One who survived to stop him. That is why, as far as Avengers go, The Forgotten One is far from the most accurately named.
A non-alternate universe Eternal, Sersi had the honor of debuting in Jack Kirby’s original “The Eternals” series in 1976. One of the few members of the superhuman race who decided to live among humans, she periodically assisted the Avengers for years before finally joining in “Avengers” #314 in 1990. Sersi has the same abilities as all the Earth-born members of her race, including super strength and agility, but it’s her focus on the transmutation of cosmic energy that makes her one of the Avengers’ strongest members.
Able to alter the atomic structure of all matter, including living beings, through her psionic powers, Sersi can effectively make herself invulnerable, with complete mental control over her physical form. As a master of both dance and martial arts, she can augment her illusions with serious fighting ability. While she’s not a god herself, it’s how she’s battled both alongside and against them, from Asgard to Olympus, and beyond that proves her strength not just of arms, but of character.
10. Nova (Richard Rider)
There have been several human members of the Nova Corps, an intergalactic police force that could be seen as Marvel’s version of the Green Lantern Corps, but Richard Rider is the strongest of them all. As the original Nova, he was actually created by Marv Woflman and Len Wein as an homage to Spider-Man, with both working class roots and an alliterated name. At first randomly chosen by a dying alien Nova Corps member to succeed him (sound familiar?), the human Nova grew to become not just one of the strongest Avengers, but one of the most heroic.
Like all Nova Corps members, Nova draws power from an energy source called the Nova Force, which grants him flight, superhuman strength, speed and stamina. Most importantly, he also has the ability to absorb energy and redirect it back at his enemies. But it was Marvel’s “Annihilation” event that showed Rider as one of the strongest (Secret) Avengers ever. After the Annihilation Wave wiped out the entire rest of the Nova Corps, our Nova manages to absorb the entire Nova Force on his own to defeat Annihilus. How he survived is anyone’s guess, though his recent re-arrival back in the “Nova” book as part of the Xandarian Worldmind should soon be providing answers.
Beyond the star power of being played by Tessa Thompson in the upcoming movie “Thor: Ragnarok,” Valkyrie’s Asgardian might makes her one of the most formidable heroes of any Marvel realm. First appearing in “The Avengers” in 1970, Vakyrie has, like fellow god Thor, inhabited various bodies, such as that of human Barbara Norris. But unlike most Asgardians, she actually has her own superhero name! Born Brunhilde, she was chosen by Odin to lead the Valkyrior, a band of warrior goddesses who choose which mortals are worthy to be taken to Valhalla. These days, however, she’s more consumed with protecting the living than ushering in the dead.
A member of both the Defenders and the Avengers, Valkyrie possesses god-like Asgardian strength and fighting skill, making her one of the strongest members of either team. Plus, as a Valkyrior, she can perceive approaching death through its “deathglow.” While not quite as strong as top Marvel gods like Thor and Odin, her training, proximity with death and enchanted sword Dragonfang made her strong enough to go up against a Moondragon who was powered by the Beyonder himself. With a film appearance coming up, who knows what new power a higher profile will bring?
The ancient Greek god of war has kicked around the Marvel U for decades since arriving in “Thor” back in 1966. However, the former villain was recast as an Earth-dwelling anithero in Michael Avon Oeming and Travis Foreman’s “Ares” miniseries in 2006, leading to prominent roles in “Dark Avengers” and “Siege,” amongst many other Avengers and Avengers-adjacent titles.
While Ares may not be the only son of Zeus on the team, his combination of godly might and war experience makes him nearly unrivaled in combat. With physical strength equaled only by Olympians Zeus and fellow Avenger Hercules, Ares also has nearly endless stamina, permanent youth and expert martial arts training, Ares may not be able to fly, but does he need to? After all, this is an Avenger who, on multiple occasions, has been able to tear through the fabric of space and time itself. Add to that his tactical expertise, and it’s clear there are very few stronger gods the Avengers could have.
First debuting, well, a few thousand years ago, the most well-known hero of ancient Greek Mythology also just happens to be one of the strongest heroes in the Marvel Universe. Making his Marvel debut in “Avengers” #10 in 1964 (though that one was actually an impostor because comics!), the half-human son of Zeus was an early additional to Marvels divine side. He’s been in and out of the Avengers over the years, but whenever they need a guy with Olympian strength, Herc is there to lend a hand (not to mention a bicep).
A worthy rival to Thor not just in godly heritage but fighting ability, including physical strength, speed, durability and magical resistance, Hercules has knocked out Titans, wielded a golden Olympian mace as strong as Thor’s Mjolnir and has repeatedly gone up against the Hulk at his peak in “World War Hulk.” Plus, he’s one of the most fun Avengers to have around, and one of the only bisexual ones. That all not withstanding, “The Prince of Power” moniker isn’t just a fancy nickname; Herc’s impossible strength has been battle tested against some of Marvel’s most powerful monsters, including Godzilla!
Not unlike fellow cosmos-roamer Nova, there have been many heroes to take up the mantle of Quasar (including at one point, the first Nova himself). But whether it’s Wisconsinite human Wendell Vaughn or genetically-engineered Kree, Phyla-Vell, Quasar has always been one of the most powerful heroes in the universe, making the former’s membership in the Avengers critical during some of their biggest battles.
Powered by the Quantum Bands, a weapon from everyone’s favorite weapon-making alien race, the Kree, Quasar can utilize and manipulate energy from the Quantum Zone, a nearly limitless source of power, as well as almost all kinds of energy, including suns. Battling everyone from Galactus to Ego the Living Planet, whose essence he simply absorbs, Quasar may be the top Avenger to have when facing cosmic threats. After all, even after being literally killed by Annihilus, Vaughn managed to return to life in the form of Quantum Energy.
One of Marvel’s more confusing characters, there have been quite a few versions of Hyperion, the Superman pastiche Roy Thomas and Sal Buscema first created in 1969. But one thing each Hyperion has in common is sheer power. From alternate universes in the Marvel multiverse, the heroic incarnations of Hyperion lead an Avengers-like team called the Squadron Supreme (whose Mark Gruenwald-penned 1985 limited series, it should be noted, prefigured Watchmen).
As the last surviving member of the Eternals of Earth-712, Mark Milton was sent to earth and raised by humans. Fortunately for the 616, that Hyperion joined their Avengers to become one of the strongest heroes in this or any other world. With the highest levels of Superman-esque strength, stamina and speed, plus the ability to wield cosmic energy as his own life force, one version of Hyperion went up against a Thanos-led team in “Infinity,” proving his might. It may be difficult to keep track of which Hyperion you’re talking about, the one common thread is that his raw power makes him unquestionably one of the strongest Avengers of all time.
4. Captain Marvel (Carol Danvers)
Carol Danvers has had many identities since her first appearance as a US Air Force operator in 1968, and after her return 10 years later as Ms. Marvel. But thanks to Kelly Sue DeConnick’s recent run, the now Captain Marvel has become Marvel’s most prominent female Avenger, both in comics, and soon onscreen in Marvel’s long overdue first female-led superhero movie. But even before this, Danvers has been considered one of the strongest Avengers, period.
Gaining her powers in an explosion involving a device made by the Kree, Danvers wields a strength that allows her to lift weights exceeding 70 tons! And that’s just in the comics! Marvel Studios’ Kevin Feige recently stated that she will be the most powerful hero in the whole of the MCU that we have seen thus far. “Her powers are off the charts,” he said in an interview, “And when she’s introduced, she will be by far the strongest character we’ve ever had.” That’s saying a lot when you’ve already established characters like Thor and Hulk. It’s a credit to Carol that, in any iteration — be it her base Captain Marvel form or as the godlike Binary — she has been, and will presumably continue to be one of Marvel’s absolute strongest characters.
One of the only superheroes to have ever been worshipped by actual, real life warriors, the mythological Norse God of Thunder and founding member of the Avengers is at the top tier when it comes to Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. Going off average, resting power, it’s hard to argue that the God of Thunder isn’t the strongest of all, as, even in the most extreme of circumstances, only two Avengers can truly reach higher. Even for a god, Thor is incomparable: physically, he’s the strongest of Asgardians, and his mystical hammer, Mjolnir focuses his control over not just weather, but much of matter itself.
However, it’s not just the amount of power that makes Thor one of the most important Avengers, it’s that he may be the best at actually using it. His millennia-spanning life as a leader and fighter have let Thor develop the highest levels of both fighting skill and courage. Whether it’s inspiring universe-wide resistance with the smash of his hammer in “Infinity,” closing dimensional rifts with his fists or successfully wounding Galactus, Thor Odinson may be a hair below the absolute strongest, but he (or she) just may just be the greatest Avenger of all.
2. The Sentry
The newest character on this list, The Sentry is by far one of the strongest heroes in the Marvel Universe. He also has one of the weirdest origins out there. In the 2000 miniseries “The Sentry,” Robert Reynolds learns that he used to be a superhero called The Sentry, a silver age-inspired hero who no one can remember existed. With help, he discovers that The Sentry is half of the evil Void, and that he must erase everyone’s memories of both to stop it.
Five years later, Brian Michael Bendis brought The Sentry back as an Avenger in a storyline that includes real-life Sentry creator Paul Jenkins as a character; after that, the hero stuck… well, for a while. There have been several explanations of The Sentry’s power source, derived from a serum 100,000 times stronger than Captain America’s, but his ability to move his molecules an instant faster than the current timeline gives him nearly limitless strength. Having held off Worldbreaker Hulk, and having once fought Galactus to a stalemate, not even CBR is sure what the limit of The Sentry’s powers are. Though his history of instability doesn’t make him the most reassuring of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.
The Sentry isn’t the only unstable-yet-unstoppable Avenger; nor is he the strongest. As put by none other than the Green Goliath himself, “Hulk is the strongest one there is.” Truer words, perhaps, have never been uttered (repeatedly) in the Marvel Universe. The Jade Giant is, after all, one of the main barometers against which to measure any Marvel entity’s strength. It’s not impressive that in “World War Hulk,” the Smashing One was able to keep up with The Sentry until they both fell to exhaustion — what’s impressive is that The Sentry even survived the experience.
Sure, the founding Avenger’s power source of anger-fueled gamma radiation may seem quaint compared to some of the more mystical, mythical and cosmic beings out there in the Marvel U, but the fact remains that there is no apparent end to how much the Hulk can smash. It isn’t just that he can jump so far that it’s practically flight, or so strong that he’s been know to break through the barriers between a universe or two, or even that underneath all the muscle is the mind of a supergenius. It’s that the madder Hulk gets, the stronger Hulk gets. And Hulk is the maddest one there is.
Think Thor could take The Hulk if he really wanted to? Is Sentry’s strength overrated? Sound off in the comments!
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