Marvel Comics has finally released a few details concerning its latest summer blockbuster event, “Generations.” Although much remains secret regarding the 10-issue limited series, we do know that it will revolve around Marvel’s burgeoning stable of legacy heroes working alongside their legendary predecessors in a cycle of interconnected one-shots. The storyline will also occur within current Marvel continuity and won’t rely on time travel or alternate universes.
With that in mind, we decided to take a look back at our favorite Marvel legacy heroes and how they are tied to the universe’s rich history. Considering the sheer number of characters that could be considered heroes preserving the legacy of their esteemed forebears, we had a difficult task paring our list down to just 15 entries. Did your favorite hero make the cut? Read on to find out!
SPOILER ALERT! Spoilers ahead for numerous stories published by Marvel Comics.
15 AMERICA CHAVEZ
Thanks to her high visibility and fierce individuality, it’s sometimes easy to forget that America Chavez is a legacy hero. The Joe Casey-Nick Dragotta creation first appeared in “Vengeance” #1 in 2011 and almost immediately set herself apart from her Golden Age predecessor, Miss America. With a totally different power set, including immense superhuman strength, speed and durability, not to mention the ability to literally punch holes in reality, she’s a much more formidable opponent than the original Miss America ever was.
As a teenage, Latina member of the LGBTQ community, Chavez is a symbol of a more tolerant and progressive America, a nation that embraces different ideas and people rather than dismiss them off-handedly. In a climate that feels decidedly opposite to everything Chavez stands for, it’s more important now than ever before that we follow her example of tolerance and inclusion. Currently appearing in both a solo series and as leader of the Ultimates, America is poised to lead a new generation of heroes into a brighter future.
14 THE PATRIOT (ELI BRADLEY)
It’s been quite some time since Eli Bradley appeared in comics. A long-time member of the Young Avengers with a superhero pedigree second to none, the second man to take the name of Patriot has had something of a rocky road to true heroism, since his first appearance in “Young Avengers” #1. Created by Allan Heinberg and Jim Cheung, Eli is the grandson of Isaiah Bradley, one of America’s first super soldiers. Not having been born with super powers, Eli secretly relied on the drug Mutant Growth Hormone to increase his natural abilities to superhuman levels.
He quit the Young Avengers in disgrace but rejoined them in time to save Captain America’s life, severely injuring himself in the process. A transfusion of Isaiah’s blood saved his life and granted him the powers he had always coveted. He hasn’t been seen on active duty for quite some time, however Marvel has teased the return of a mysterious new Patriot during its Secret Empire event. Whether or not it is Eli under the Patriot’s cowl remains to be seen but it would be a shame if he was overlooked in favor of somebody new.
13 NOVA (SAM ALEXANDER)
Sam Alexander first donned the mantle of Nova in 2011’s “Marvel Point One” #1, created by Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuiness. His link to his predecessor Richard Ryder and the Nova Corps came by way of his father Jesse, who was the bearer of the Black Nova helmet. He was taught the fundamentals of using his Nova helmet by Guardians of the Galaxy Rocket and Gamora and was sent into space to scout for an invading Chitauri armada. He played a pivotal role in “AvX,” crash-landing on Earth in a desperate attempt to warn the planet’s heroes of the imminent return of the Phoenix Force.
In the years since, Sam has served alongside the New Warriors and the Avengers, gradually learning to use his abilities responsibly. In the aftermath of “Civil War II,” Sam joined with several other young heroes such as Miles Morales and Kamala Khan in resigning from the Avengers, disgusted by the violence and bloodshed perpetrated by their mentors over possession of the prescient Inhuman Ulysses. Deciding to seek out proactive ways to affect real change in the world, Sam and his friends formed a new team of Champions, their exploits and message going viral almost immediately.
12 THE WASP (NADIA PYM)
Nadia Pym is the daughter of Henry Pym, the original Ant-Man and founding member of the Avengers, and his first wife Maria Trovaya. Created by Mark Waid and Alan Davis, she first appeared in Marvel’s “Free Comic Book Day 2016.” Trained in the notorious Red Room, Nadia’s scientific aptitude was discovered and fostered by her captors at a young age. With the help of a black market Pym Particle, she managed to escape the Red Room and sought out her father, only to discover that he had sacrificed himself in a battle versus his insane robotic creation, Ultron.
After meeting her stepmother, Janet Van Dyne, the original Wasp, she joined the Avengers, staying with the team even after the events of “Civil War II,” which saw the resignation of her fellow young heroes, Ms. Marvel, Nova and Spider-Man from the team. She played an integral part in the team’s war versus Kang the Conqueror, using her scientific no-how and moxie to save the time stream by rescuing the temporal despot’s infant self from the Priests of Pama.
11 VIV VISION
When the artificial Avenger the Vision determined to become more human, he created a family of synthezoids in order to create a life for himself apart from his career as a superhero. Created by Tom King and Gabriel Hernandez Walta for their hit series “The Vision,” Viv and her brother Vin attempted to live a normal life as high school students until their artificial family spiralled into dysfunction during an attack by the Grim Reaper. Grievously wounded by the insane villain, Viv watched as her mother Virginia beat him to death in front of her injured children.
Viv’s injuries were so great that her father spent three entire weeks trying to revive her, finally succeeding with the help of Tony Stark. After Vin was inadvertently killed by Victor Mancha, who was spying on the family for the Avengers, Virginia murdered him by tearing out his heart. She subsequently committed suicide, leaving Vision and Viv as the surviving members of their family. In the aftermath of “Civil War II,” Viv joined Ms. Marvel, Miles Morales, Nova, Cyclops and Amadeus Cho as a member of the all-new Champions.
10 THOR (JANE FOSTER)
Jane Foster first appeared way back in 1962’s “Journey into Mystery” #84, created by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee as a romantic foil for the Asgardian god of thunder, Thor. During the events of “Original Sin,” Nick Fury unmanned Thor with a whisper, stealing his ability to wield his enchanted hammer, Mjolnir. The unworthy Odinson abandoned his hammer after repeatedly trying to lift it from its resting place on the moon. When even the mighty All-Father Odin was unable to lift the powerful weapon, Jane took up Mjolnir, noting that there must always be a Thor.
Transformed into a new thunder goddess, Jane relied upon her past relationship with the Odinson to learn the hammer’s secrets, even taking his place as a member of the Avengers. Suffering from breast cancer in her mortal form, every time Jane becomes Thor, the chemotherapy treating her is burned from her system, trapping her in a vicious cycle of divine health and all-too mortal terminal illness. Still, she never hesitates to jump into the fray by herself or alongside the Avengers, proving she is a most worthy successor as the latest wielder of Mjolnir.
9 HAWKEYE (KATE BISHOP)
Kate Bishop first appeared in 2005 as a member of Allan Heinberg and Jim Cheung’s Young Avengers. A wealthy Manhattan debutante, Kate became disillusioned with her family’s wealth after discovering her father was involved with criminals. After her life was saved by the Avengers’ resident marksman Hawkeye, she became inspired by his ability to stand beside such powerful heroes as a normal human. However, it wasn’t until she was recovering from a sexual assault in Central Park that she determined never to be a victim again, using her wealth to train herself in a variety of martial disciplines, including archery.
She became a member of the Young Avengers for a time, where she met her BFF America Chavez, before striking out on her own. After her mentor and hero Clint Barton killed Bruce Banner during “Civil War II,” she became disillusioned once again, feeling betrayed by his unheroic actions and unsure how to deal with her conflicted emotional state. Determined to walk her own path, Kate currently resides in Los Angeles, where she has opened up her own detective agency, Hawkeye Investigations.
8 NICK FURY JR.
In one of Marvel’s more controversial editorial decisions, it was deemed necessary to bring its comic book and cinematic universes closer together. To this end, fan-favorite character Nick Fury was effectively retired, in favor of his African-American son, Marcus Johnson, who was created by writers Cullen Bunn, Matt Fraction and Chris Yost, and artist Scot Eaton. He debuted in “Battle Scars” #1 as a former Army Ranger, who uncovered his unique parentage after the murder of his mother. Father and son teamed up to bring the assassin to justice but not before Johnson lost an eye along the way.
He subsequently accepted a position as an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. and served as a member of the Secret Avengers, wearing Steve Rogers’ old Super Soldier uniform. However, his tenure with the spy organization was relatively brief, coming to an end during the events of “Civil War II,” after he was sent on a mission to save S.H.I.E.L.D. by director Maria Hill that almost cost him his life. Although he understood Hill’s decision, he could no longer trust her or the organization and ended his working relationship with both. He now operates from the shadows, much as his old man did before him.
7 CAPTAIN AMERICA (SAM WILSON)
Created by Stan Lee and Gene Colan, Sam Wilson first appeared as the Falcon in the pages of “Captain America” #117, in 1969. He was one of Marvel’s first and most popular African-American heroes and served alongside his good friend Steve Rogers for several years as his partner and as a member of the Avengers. When the super soldier serum that granted him his enhanced abilities was removed from his system during their battle with the Iron Nail, Rogers gave up the mantle of Captain America, choosing Sam as his successor. He first took up the Star-Spangled Avenger’s iconic shield for the first time in 2014, in “Captain America” #25.
His appointment to the role rubbed a lot of people the wrong way and many demanded that Rogers “take back the shield.” Unbeknownst to Sam, Rogers’ history was effectively rewritten by the sentient Cosmic Cube Kobik during “Avengers Standoff” and his former friend and mentor is now a Hydra deep cover agent preparing to take over the Marvel Universe from within the ranks of its greatest heroes. With “Secret Empire” finally coming to fruition this spring, it seems the two Captains America are destined to collide in a confrontation for the ages.
Riri Williams was created by Brian Michael Bendis and Mike Deodato Jr. and first appeared in 2016’s “Invincible Iron Man” Vol. 2 #7. A teenaged super-genius who received a scholarship to M.I.T. at the age of 15, Riri has already known her fair share of tragedy after witnessing the deaths of her best friend and stepfather in a drive-by shooting. While at M.I.T., she embarked on a quest to create her own suit of armor, reverse-engineering Tony Stark’s technology using purloined parts from the university. Although her budding superhero career caused her mother no little worry, Stark supported her endeavors, impressed with her intellect and drive.
She fought alongside her mentor against Captain Marvel during “Civil War II,” who was intent on using a precognitive Inhuman named Ulysses to stop crimes before they were committed. After Stark was put into a coma by Captain Marvel during the conflict’s climactic battle, Riri dedicated herself to carrying on his legacy as the hero Ironheart. Advised by an onboard A.I. patterned after Stark’s personality, Riri currently stars in the latest volume of “Invincible Iron Man.”
5 TOTALLY AWESOME HULK (AMADEUS CHO)
For a while there, it seemed like Marvel wasn’t quite sure what to do with the so-called “seventh smartest man in the world.” Created in 2006 by Greg Pak and Takeshi Miyazawa, Amadeus Cho first appeared in “Amazing Fantasy” Vol. 2 #15. After his debut, Amadeus popped up all over the Marvel Universe, making friends with a number of heroes including the Hulk and the Olympian demigod Hercules. During the “Time Runs Out” storyline leading up to “Secret Wars” and the eventual realignment of the Marvel multiverse, Amadeus worked with the greatest minds in the 616 to solve the problem of the terrible incursions wreaking havoc across reality.
Several months after the multiverse was restored, he helped Bruce Banner rid himself of the Hulk by absorbing massive amounts of gamma radiation into his body using special nanites of his own design. As the “totally awesome” Hulk, Amadeus uses his fierce intellect and immense powers to fight monsters alongside his sister Maddy and as a member of the newly formed Champions, a team of young heroes like himself, trying to make a difference in the world using their powers for something other constant fighting.
4 WOLVERINE (LAURA KINNEY)
Laura Kinney first appeared as the mutant killing machine X-23 in 2004, in the pages of “NYX” #3. Created by Craig Kyle and Chris Yost, Laura was created using DNA culled from the mutant Wolverine, by a splinter group of the Weapon X program. Trained as an assassin from birth, she eventually escaped the secret program but not before inadvertently killing her surrogate mother, geneticist Sarah Kinney. Later she hooked up with her “father” and became a trusted member of the X-Men, serving most often as a member of Marvel’s merry mutant kill squad, X-Force.
After Wolverine gave his life to prevent a revived Weapon X program from creating more mindless killers, Laura was devastated. Unsure of how she wanted to live her life, she ultimately decided to continue her father’s honorable legacy by adopting his codename and a version of his old gold and blue costume. A younger live-action version of Laura leapt across theater screens in the blockbuster film “Logan,” portrayed with appropriate savagery by talented newcomer Daphne Keen.
3 CAPTAIN MARVEL (CAROL DANVERS)
Currently billed as “Earth’s Mightiest Hero” in the pages of her own solo series, Carol Danvers’ path to the role of Captain Marvel was long and circuitous. Created by Roy Thomas and Gene Colan, Danvers first appeared in 1968’s “Marvel Super-Heroes” #13, serving as NASA’s head of security at Cape Canaveral. There, she encountered the first Captain Mar-Vell, a Kree soldier trying to prevent his people from invading Earth. Danvers eventually gained powers of her own via the Psyche-Magnitron and embarked on a long, rich superhero career as a member of the Avengers, the Starjammers and several other groups.
She finally graduated to the role of Captain Marvel in 2012, in “Avenging Spider-Man” #9, after her revived predecessor Mar-Vell sacrificed his life to save the Kree homeworld Hala. Most recently, in the second superhero Civil War, she butted heads with Tony Stark, insisting they use the prescient Inhuman Ulysses to prevent crimes before they occur. She ended up putting Stark in a coma after she went Binary and punched a hole through his armor. She currently serves as the commander of Alpha Flight Space Program and as a member of the Ultimates under the leadership of America Chavez.
2 SPIDER-MAN (MILES MORALES)
Before coming to live in the restructured Marvel Universe after the events of “Secret Wars,” Miles Morales was an inhabitant of the Ultimate universe, taking up the mantle of Spider-Man from the late Peter Parker, who sacrificed his life to save his family from the insane Norman Osborn. Created by Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Pichelli, Miles first appeared in 2011’s “Ultimate Comics Fallout” #4. Like the Ultimate Peter Parker, he gained his spider-powers from a spider infused with the Oz Formula, a serum created by OsCorp in an effort to recreate the super soldier serum that created Captain America.
After taking up residence in the main 616 Marvel Universe, Miles found himself at the centre of the second superhero Civil War, when the precognitive Inhuman Ulysses predicted he would kill Steve Rogers. Although that event has yet to come to pass, the resulting battle over the Inhuman culminated in Captain Marvel putting her former ally Iron Man in a coma. Disgusted by the actions of his mentors, Miles resigned his membership in the Avengers and joined his friends Nova and Ms. Marvel as a founding member of the Champions, a team dedicated to finding positive solutions to the world’s problems.
1 MS. MARVEL (KAMALA KHAN)
One of the most popular new heroes to come along from the House of Ideas in several years, Kamala Khan was created by G. Willow Wilson, Stephen Wacker and Sana Amanat as the first prominently Muslim superhero in the Marvel Universe. One of the Inhuman NuHumans, who gained her shapeshifting powers as a result of Terregenesis, Kamala first appeared in 2013’s “Captain Marvel” Vol. 7 #14. Inspired by the original Ms. Marvel Carol Danvers, Kamala determined to use her newfound powers to protect her New Jersey home from evil as a superhero. She eventually joined the Avengers until her hero’s controversial actions during “Civil War II” caused her to rethink her approach to superheroics.
She resigned from the Avengers and formed a new team of Champions, alongside Miles Morales, Viv Vision, Amadeus Cho, Cyclops and Nova. Together, they have dedicated themselves to a new positive, proactive approach to using their powers, striving to affect real change in the world, rather than follow in their mentors’ destructive footsteps. A symbol of diversity and tolerance in a world in desperate need of both, Ms. Marvel stands at the vanguard of a brave new generation of heroes dedicated to the credo that might doesn’t always mean right.
Who is your favorite Marvel legacy hero? Let us know in the Comments!