When you throw on a spandex costume and declare yourself a superhero, you are opening yourself to a bevy of new experiences. But while most costumed do-gooder experiences would be pretty great (saving the world, getting the girl, etc., etc.), there are certain facets of the job that aren’t quite as appealing. After all, even with wonderful powers and chiseled good looks, these heroes are, at the end of the day, just people. And people have a tendency to mess up, drop the ball, and generally embarrass themselves. If you get lucky, you manage to go your whole superhero career without one costume malfunction or embarrassing loss. But there are some Marvel superheroes that weren’t so lucky.
Super heroics isn’t all punching bad guys and spouting cool one liners; sometimes, the best and brightest of the Marvel Universe find themselves in situations that are downright humiliating. After all, you can save the world numerous times, but people tend to forget these kind of things. Take a shot below the belt or suffer a humiliating defeat? That is the kind of stuff people tend to remember. And thankfully, we’ve complied these memorable humiliations into one handy dandy list! So join CBR as we take a look back through the years and bring you the 15 most embarrassing, mortifying, and just plain humiliating things to ever happen to Marvel superheroes!
15. SPIDER-MAN TAKES A SHOT TO THE FAMILY JEWELS
Spider-Man may do whatever a spider can, but at the end of the day, he is all too human. He has flaws, he is susceptible to vices, and, most importantly, he is not a fan of being hit in the jewels. Fortunately for Spidey, downstairs damage hasn’t been a huge issue in his superhero career. Unfortunately for Spidey, one of the few times it was an issue, it happened on an internet broadcast, allowing the whole world to see Spider-Man take a shot to the spider-nards.
In Superior Spider-Man #6, a Doctor Octopus-controlled Spider-Man is hot on the heels of the internet obsessed villain Screwball and the joke prone Jester. As Screwball streams the Spider-Man encounter online to her thousands of followers, Jester breaks out a slingshot and, with a single well placed shot, catches Spidey downstairs. Taking a blow to the coin purse is never fun, but having it happen while thousands watch? Now that’s humiliating.
14. PRINCESS POWERFUL DROPS WOLVERINE WITH A SINGLE PUNCH
For more than 43 years, the mutant known as Wolverine has stabbed, skewered and mauled his way through thousands of foes. He’s managed to go toe-to-toe with some of the strongest villains the Marvel Universe has to offer and has lived to tell the tale. What we’re saying is that when it comes to battle, Wolverine is no chump. But all this experience couldn’t prepare Wolverine for Princess Powerful.
As the youngest member of the Runaways, Molly Hayes, a.k.a. Princess Powerful, doesn’t exactly look like a force to be reckoned with. But this mutant packs a wallop thanks to her superhuman strength. So when Wolverine came looking for Molly in Runaways #12, the diminutive bruiser was having none of it, sending Wolverine sailing into a snowbank with a single punch. Wolverine has always claimed to be the best there is at what he does, and apparently what he does is “get dropped by a little girl.”
13. GAMBIT IS BLINDED BY HIS OWN PLAYING CARD
Gambit is the textbook definition of smooth; from his roguish ways to his effortless charm, he practically oozes charisma. But all it took was one well placed shot to turn Gambit from “smooth operator” to “embarrassed Stevie Wonder stand-in.” In X-Men #158, the X-Men clash with a team of Chinese superheroes known as the Eight Immortals. In the skirmish, Rogue tackles one of the members to the ground, causing the heroes gun to discharge.
Gambit, presumably busy thinking of playing card one liners, is charging one of his trademark playing cards nearby, only for the card to be grazed by the bullet, causing the kinetically charged card to go off, blinding Gambit. Gambit would go on to blame Rogue for his newfound blindness, but he was likely lashing out over his embarrassment about losing his sight like a chump. Gambit would eventually regain his sight, but the humiliation of this event lingered with him for a very long time.
12. THE HUMAN TORCH ENDS UP NAKED IN A KIDDIE POOL
Johnny Storm prefers to be in the spotlight at all times, but Johnny is a little less accustomed to being the subject of public scorn. Thus, when the public turned on the Fantastic Four, Storm sought the help of his longtime friend Spider-Man. Unfortunately, through a series of circumstances, this little meeting lead to the Human Torch ending up naked in a kiddie pool.
In Fantastic Four #512, Johnny is struggling to deal with his fading popularity. Distraught, he seeks the advice of Spidey, asking the Web-Head how he deals with being seen as a “total loser.” Spider-Man summons the hot headed hero to a water park the next day to teach the Torch a lesson in humility, but the pair end up in a fight with Hydro-Man. During the course of the fight, one of Hydro-Man’s waves knocks Torch off balance, removing his trunks in the process. Unfortunately for Torch, this leaves the hero sans pants in a kiddie pool, surrounded by toddlers. Spider-Man has landed the Torch in some embarrassing moments before, but this is certainly Johnny’s most humiliating.
11. THE X-MEN ARE TURNED INTO BABIES
The X-Men: brave heroes that have stopped the insidious Magneto and saved the world countless times. They have fought against all manner of foe and have managed to emerge unscathed. These brave warriors are often the only thing standing between the world and complete annihilation. Also, they got turned into Muppet Babies knock-offs.
In Uncanny X-Men Annual #10, the dastardly, TV-obsessed alien Mojo de-ages the X-Men, creating a team of pint sized heroes, the X-Babies. Retaining the powers and personalities of their grown-up versions, these little ankle-biters become bonafide TV stars on Mojo’s planet, leading to the plus sized villain making clones of the X-Babies. The X-Men eventually reverted to their all grown up selves, but this brief foray into fighting crime while wearing diapers was plenty embarrassing for the X-team.
10. AQUAMAN DROPS A WHALE ON NAMOR
Namor is a proud warrior of the sea, willing to go toe-to-toe with any foe for the glory of Atlantis. For a man that has spent most of his decades-spanning career in a green speedo, Namor is a remarkably proud man that does not take loss well. This pride makes Namor’s utterly embarrassing defeat to Aquaman all the worse.
When the famous Atlantean superheroes Namor and Aquaman finally met in battle, the outcome was up in the air; after all, both heroes rule Atlantis, both heroes possess fantastic powers, and both heroes are willing to fight until their bodies give out. So instead of getting into a knock-down, drag-out brawl, Aquaman settled for a simple solution: drop a whale on the guy. As Namor insulted Aquaman, the blonde Atlantean called to the seas and summoned an orca, dropping the enormous creature right onto Marvel’s Atlantean King, ending the fight swiftly. Definitely not Namor’s proudest moment.
9. CAPTAIN GRANDMARICA
Steve Rogers has fought tyranny and injustice all over the globe, trading punches with the vilest of foes in defense of the planet. When it comes to protecting truth, justice, and the American way, there is nothing Captain America won’t do. Apparently, this includes donning a girdle and dressing like an old woman to infiltrate the Nazis.
In one of Cap’s earliest adventures, Rogers and Bucky opt for an undercover approach. But since a jacked American and his boy sidekick would stick out like sore thumbs in Nazi Germany, the heroes opt to dress up. Bucky dresses like a dainty little boy, while Cap goes all in and dresses up like a grandma. This is weird enough, but the image of Cap squeezing into a corset and rocking a pair of heels takes the whole thing to a new level of ridiculous. This humiliating plan remains one of Captain America’s most mocked stories, and for a good reason.
8. IRON MAN’S OWN ARMOR FALLS IN LOVE WITH HIM
Listen, Tony Stark is an eligible bachelor. That flippant, devil-may-care attitude. That genius intellect. That hunky mustache. There is a lot to Tony Stark that gets admirers all weak in the knees. And while Tony is more than happy to hop between the sheets with just about anyone, he did find an exception to this rule in one of his most humiliating adventures.
In The Invincible Iron Man #30, Stark’s Iron Man armor gains sentience after being struck by lightning, as this is how technology works in comics. With its newfound sentience, the armor quickly goes full blown Misery on Stark, becoming completely enamored with Tony and generally acting controlling and possessive. After Tony dons an old suit of armor in hopes of defeating his sentient armor, the lovestruck armor accuses Tony of “cheating” and brutally beats him. The sentient suit ultimately sacrificed itself to save Tony, leaving the billionaire playboy bruised, battered and more than a little confused about this humiliating situation.
7. PUNISHER SHOOTS WOLVERINE IN THE MAN-THING
Boy oh boy does The Punisher loves punishing. Whether he’s shooting mobsters, blowing up mobsters, feeding mobsters to sharks, or dreaming up new ways to murder mobsters, all this mobster murder keeps Frank Castle plenty busy. But it turns out Castle isn’t interested in constraining his punishing ways to just bad guys; when the Punisher crossed paths with fellow anti-hero Wolverine, he gave the X-Man one humiliating death.
In The Punisher V5 #17, Wolvie and Punisher cross paths while hunting the same group of mobsters. To get Wolverine out of his way, Castle blows the mutants’ face off with a shotgun, shoots the guy in the jimmy, and, just as a final middle finger, runs poor Wolverine over with a steamroller. Wolverine has survived some nasty encounters, but there is just no coming back from a defeat this humiliating.
6. SPIDER-MAN PUNCHES HIS OWN NOSE
Remember earlier when we talked about Spider-Man getting hit in the spider-nards in front of thousands? That’s pretty humiliating. But at least that wasn’t a self-inflicted injury, which is more than we can say for this humiliating encounter. Spidey has dealt with the oddball villain Spot dozens of times, so you think the Web-Head would be prepared to fight the C-Level baddie when they crossed paths again.
Spot’s whole shtick is that his body is littered with teleporting portals that he can control at will, so it is unwise to take a swing at the guy. Unfortunately, Spider-Man apparently did not get this memo. Thus, when Spidey punched Spot in the chest, his arm traveled through the portal and reemerged from a portal on Spot’s face, causing Spidey to punch himself in the face, breaking his nose. This humiliating fight and even more humiliating injury was far from Spidey’s proudest moment.
5. A KNEE TO THE SENTRIES
The Sentry, Marvel’s utterly coo-coo Superman stand-in, is said to possess the power of “A Million Exploding Suns.” Hercules, while no slouch in the power department, definitely is not on the same strength level of The Sentry. So when Hercules found himself locked in combat with The Sentry, the Greek demigod knew he wouldn’t win in a clean fight, so Herc decided to fight dirty. That’s right, this bonafide superhero decided to knee The Sentry in the nards.
In this memorable encounter, Hercules squares off against Norman Osborne’s Dark Avengers, finding himself outmatched and out-gunned. When The Sentry enters the fray, Hercules chides The Sentry for not being as tough as he had heard. With The Sentry distracted with threats to unleash his full might against Hercules, Herc seizes the moment and delivers a swift knee to the Sentry’s beanbag. For a guy that can rip a man in half with his bare hands, being immobilized with a shot to the boys is about as humiliating as it gets.
4. AN OLD WOMAN DROPS HULK ON HIS FACE
The Hulk regularly proclaims to be the strongest one there is; and who are we to argue with him? The Hulk has destroyed skyscrapers single-handily, he’s saved the world numerous times, and he’s even survived being shot into space. This is the same man that has defeated some of the strongest villains the Marvel Universe has to offer. But despite these bragging rights, The Hulk was no match for an old woman using akido.
When Bruce Banner assembled the Hulkbusters, he hand-selected an elite team of soldiers and scientists that would be able to take down the Hulk if the Green Goliath was out of control. Professor Hideko Takata was chosen for her keen mind, not her martial arts prowess. But when the Hulkbusters swept in to halt a Hulk rampage, Professor Takata found herself targeted by The Hulk. With the monster running right at her, Takata deftly toppled the Hulk with a well timed akido throw, causing Hulk to eat pavement. A humiliating defeat, this loss probably haunts the Hulk to this day.
3. HULK BEATS UP THOR WITH HIS OWN HAMMER
Mjolnir, the mighty Asgardian hammer wielded by Thor, may only be used by those the hammer deems worthy. While many have managed to wield the hammer over the years, Mjolnir will not budge if the hammer believes you to be unworthy. As such, Thor never needs to worry about this foes utilizing his fabled hammer against him. Well, at least not in the traditional sense; leave it to the Hulk to figure out a loophole to use Mjolnir against Thor in a thoroughly humiliating way,
In Hulk: Let The Battle Begin #1, Thor intervenes in a battle between the Green Goliath and the Wrecking Crew. After Hulk confuses Thor for a woman, the two briefly trade blows. Deciding to take the “mean older brother” route, the Hulk proceeds to grab Thor’s hand and do the old “stop hitting yourself” routine by beating Thor into unconsciousness with his own hammer. As Mjolnir would not find Hulk worthy, this workaround to using the hammer against Thor is ingenious and utterly ridiculous. But being defeated with your own signature weapon? Definitely not Thor’s proudest moment.
2. EMINEM BEATS UP THE PUNISHER
Frank Castle has a list of kills miles long. Over his lengthy career, The Punisher has managed to shoot, stab, and straight up murder his way through thousands of faceless goons and costumed bad guys, and he’s managed to walk away from plenty of life threatening situations. The Punisher is the closest thing the Marvel Universe has to a one man army. And this guy got dropped by popular rapper Eminem.
In Eminem/Punisher #1, the vigilante and rapper cross paths as Frank is mowing down mobsters. In an ensuing confrontation, Em gets a drop on Frank, clocking The Punisher across the jaw with a pistol. As Eminem continues to wail on the anti-hero, he stops to pop a couple bullets in The Punisher, voicing his surprise at how easy it was to put down the fearsome Punisher. Of course, the Punisher doesn’t die that easy, but the fact that a rapper managed to knock out one of the deadliest vigilantes in comics is all sorts of humiliating.
1. SILVER SURFER IS SUBDUED WITH AN ARM LOCK
The Silver Surfer. Wielder of the Power Cosmic. Former herald of the mighty Galactus. Traveler of the stars. In terms of galactic knowledge and sheer cosmic power, the Silver Surfer is unmatched. But this ridiculously powerful individual was subdued by Black Panther with a simple arm lock. Yeah, not the Surfer’s proudest moment.
When the proud king of Wakanda crossed paths with the surfer of the stars, the outcome of the battle seemed pretty obvious. After all, while Black Panther may be a world class fighter, this is Silver Surfer we’re talking about here. But when the two heroes finally started fighting, Panther grabbed the Surfer, whipped over him, and held him in a basic arm lock. Black Panther warned that, due to the Surfer’s humanoid physique, he wouldn’t be able to break the hold without snapping his arm. So the character literally imbued with the might of the cosmos (admittedly, though, he was powerless at the time) was defeated with a basic hold, earning the Silver Surfer the top spot on our humiliating list.
Can you think of any other humiliating defeats suffered by Marvel’s heroes? Let us know!
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