By now, everyone has had a chance to see Avengers: Infinity War, and inevitably, all anyone can talk about is what’s going to happen in Avengers 4. While we officially know very little about next year’s blockbuster sequel, it stands to reason that the stakes, which were already extremely high in Infinity War, will be raised even higher for its follow-up. And if you want to talk about high stakes, they don’t get much higher than the Celestials. These giant cosmic space gods have been referenced a few times already in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, specifically in the Guardians of the Galaxy movies. With their close ties to the Infinity Stones, there's a good chance that the Celestials will make an appearance in Avengers 4.
First created by Jack Kirby in 1976, the Celestials are older than the Marvel Multiverse, and sowed seeds of creation throughout billions of worlds. They’re responsible for the emergence of superheroes and mutants on Earth, and in the MCU they’re powerful enough to safely wield the Infinity Stones. They’re almost immortal, virtually indestructible and look extremely cool, so is there anyone that can beat them? Well, let’s find out! Join us as we look at 10 entities that could vanquish a Celestial, and 10 that did!
20 DID: THANOS
Starting with the big bad of Avengers: Infinity War, Thanos the Mad Titan has proven time and again that he’s not to be messed with as the mastermind behind almost every evil deed throughout the MCU to date. On his own, he’s a mutated Eternal with enhanced strength, speed, endurance and intelligence, and he's also a psychopath, a sociopath, a narcissist and a nihilist with delusions of grandeur and the ego to back it up.
With the Infinity Gauntlet, Thanos is virually invincible.
As one of the only beings in the multiverse with the skills and determination to collect the Infinity Stones and harness the powers of a god, Thanos was always going to get noticed. And in the original Infinity Gauntlet, the biggest cosmic beings in the universe came together to oppose Thanos and his newfound ultimate power. This group, including two Celestials, was batted away with a flick of Thanos, illustrating just how all-powerful he had become. Without the godlike glove, Thanos is still able to generate a blast so powerful that it can knock Galactus’s hat off, but with the Gauntlet, the Celestials don’t stand a chance. They may be older than the multiverse itself, but even Celestials don't survive a confrontation with the Mad Titan and his Gauntlet.
19 COULD: REED RICHARDS
As the leader of the Fantastic Four, Mr. Fantastic, Reed Richards, has always been the go-to guy when it comes to vanquishing seemingly un-defeatable cosmic threats. He and his family were the ones who turned back the original giant cosmic space god, Galactus, in the classic Fantastic Four #50 from 1966, so he knows a little something about massive space dudes that can decide the fate of mankind on a whim.
Sure, the Celestials are a little larger than Galactus, by about 1,900 feet, but the concept is the same. And if one Reed Richards isn’t enough, don’t worry. There’s a whole Council of Reeds made up of a hundred versions of the stretchy smart guy, gathered together from across the multiverse. It's like a less-delinquent Council of Ricks from Rick and Morty. When we first meet the Council of Reeds, they’re wielding Infinity Gauntlets themselves and professing their desire to “solve everything.” Our Reed turns to them for help multiple times and assists them in projects such as restarting dying stars and dealing with Doctor Doom once and for all. The Celestials may not pose much of a threat in their everyday existence, but whenever they visit Earth it’s never a good sign. When that happens, you want at least one Reed on your side.
18 DID: THE STONE AGE AVENGERS
The most recent addition on this list comes from the ongoing Avengers series from writer Jason Aaron and artist Ed McGuinness, which follows up on the story threads teased in Marvel Legacy #1. In that one-shot, we were introduced to the Avengers of 1,000,000 B.C., a team made up of familiar yet almost entirely new heroes. The Marvel Universe is filled with characters who are imbued with the powers of ancient gods or beings like Jean Grey and the Phoenix, Thor and the Odinforce, and Doctor Strange with his Eye of Agamotto. Well, it turns out they weren’t the first to wield these powers, and
In 1,000,000 B.C., these Avengers defeated a Celestial.
Odin, the Phoenix, Black Panther, Starbrand, Iron Fist, Agamotto and Ghost Rider all came together to vanquish the Fallen, a deranged Celestial that came to Earth and caused devastation in a frantic searched for something still-unrevealed. The Stone-Age Avengers defeated this mad Celestial and buried it under what is now known as South Africa, and the new Avengers series has revealed that some secrets don’t stay buried. Archaeologists have uncovered the Fallen, which has been awoken after its magical restraints failed. Now, its presence has set in motion a chain of events that we’re still learning about.
17 COULD: THE BEYONDER
Originally, the Beyonder was nothing more than a means to an end. Introduced in Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars, an event miniseries from 1984, the Beyonder was a cosmic being that brought heroes and villains together on his patchwork Battleworld to fight for his amusement. In reality, this event was nothing more than a glorified advertisement for a toyline from Marvel and Mattel. The Beyonder was merely a cosmic tool for the writers to bring all of these characters together and make them battle. That’s not to say that the original Secret Wars isn’t good, but telling a good story wasn't its only purpose.
Since then, however, the Beyonder has been used by other writers to tell far more compelling stories, like when Jonathan Hickman expanded on the mythos in the lead-up to his own event in 2015, which was also conveniently called Secret Wars. In his sprawling epic, the Beyonders were reimagined as a race of beings on the edge of creation, and the original Beyonder was just a "child unit" of these higher dimensional creatures. They’ve been around in Marvel comics for decades, but the Beyonder is now canonically one of their race. If the Beyonder had that much power as a child, the actual Beyonders themselves have unimaginable power, which would be enough to combat the almighty Celestials.
16 DID: BLACK BOLT
Aside from having the most awesome/ridiculous full names in the history of comics, Blackagar Boltagon, the leader of the Inhumans, is one of the most powerful beings in the Marvel Universe. While his ability to level mountains with a single word has fluctuated over the years, Black Bolt destroyed Apocalypse with a whisper, but Hulk survived his scream.
Black Bolt's voice brought down a host of Celestials that attacked Earth in an alternate future.
In the Marvel series Thanos, we are shown an alternate future in which the Mad Titan wins. In a twisted alternate world, we see what would happen if, or maybe when, Thanos is unleashed at his full potential, taking on the entire multiverse and emerging victorious. At one point, after battling his way through every Marvel hero, we see the Mad Titan confronted with the judgment of the Celestials, who've come to punish him for destroying their creation. Refusing their judgment, Thanos stabs Black Bolt through the chest. Whether it’s the Inhuman’s scream or the resulting power released from his body, the resulting shockwave destroys half the planet and wipes out the Celestials in the process. This means that Blackagar Boltagon has the power to eliminate the Celestials inside his body.
15 COULD: PHOENIX
Even more than its mutant host Jean Grey, the Phoenix Force is a powerful cosmic entity that breeds creation through destruction. Like its mythical namesake, the Phoenix Force is all about death, rebirth and sweeping across the universe to obliterate the old in order to make way for the new. Originally introduced through the mutant Jean Grey, the Phoenix was revealed through the X-Man's death and rebirth. This almighty cosmic being supplemented Jean's powers, and their fates were forever tied into this cycle of sacrifice and restoration.
While we’ve never seen a one-on-one match between the Phoenix Force and a Celestial, we’ve recently seen it as part of the Stone Age Avengers, an Avengers team that defeated one. In that team, a mysterious mortal woman is a host for the Phoenix Force, and along with her lover Odin, a Hulked-out caveman Starbrand and, among others, a wooly mammoth-riding Ghost Rider, they defeated the mad Celestial known as the Fallen. She mentions that her supernova-level flames weren’t enough to even scratch it, but seeing as Jean Grey has obliterated entire planets as Dark Phoenix, there’s no doubt that the full force of the Phoenix could give a Celestial a run for its money.
14 DID: APOCALYPSE TWINS
If we told you that the origin story of the Apocalypse Twins was tied to Kang the Conqueror, that should be enough for you to understand just how complex their history is. The master of timey-wimey shenanigans, Kang the Conqueror, has been a temporal thorn in the side of the Avengers for decades. So when he turned his gaze towards the X-Men’s already-convoluted, you just knew that things would get weird. The future twins of X-Man Archangel and Apocalyptic Horseman Ichisumi, Uriel and Eimin were stolen by Kang and taken to be raised in the future.
The Twins accepted their fate as the heirs to Apocalypse's power.
From there, they traveled back to the present day and confronted Genocide, the son of Apocalypse. Believing that he was the true heir of En Sabah Nur, Genocide contacted the Celestial Gardener, looking to be judged worthy to receive the Death Seed and adopt his father’s full powers. Eimin and Uriel intervened by stealing the Asgardian weapon Jarnbjorn, slaying the Celestial, defeating Genocide and taking the Death Seed for themselves. With it, they bred their own Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, summoned another Celestial to Earth and proceeded to destroy the planet and almost all of its inhabitants. But don’t worry, the combined team of mutants and Avengers, known as the Unity Squad, saved the day.
13 COULD: ARNO STARK, TONY STARK’S BROTHER
If you didn’t know that Tony Stark has a brother it’s okay, Marvel forgets frequently too. Arno Stark is a fairly underused character, but when he does make an appearance, he reminds you that he’s capable of destroying a Celestial like it's no big deal. These revelations were made in 2013's Iron Man comics written by Kieron Gillen, who explored an unknown chapter of Tony Stark’s life and the life of his parents, Howard and Maria Stark. Before Tony came along, Howard and Maria had another child, Arno, who was genetically manipulated by the Rigellian Recorder 451, a being who believed that the Earth needed a child that could rise above humanity and protect them from the Celestials.
In the present day, the Recorder approached Iron Man since he though that he was the one who could fight the oncoming cosmic menace. He gifted Tony the Godkiller armor, an ancient weapon that could kill a Celestial and could only be wielded by the son of Howard and Maria Stark. When Tony tried and failed to wield Godkiller, the truth was revealed. Tony was merely the adopted son of the Starks, and the Starks' first child, Arno, had been hidden away for decades due to his debilitating illnesses. As the biological son of Howard and Maria, he was therefore the only human being who could pilot a suit of armor custom-made to take out Celestials like its no big deal.
12 DID: THE HORDE
If the Celestials are the arbiters of creation throughout the universe, then their opposites must be the harbingers of death. Very little is known about the Horde, except that they are as powerful as the Celestials. The Horder are the Celestials' equals, but also their opposites, in almost every way. The universe is all about balance, and when a group of beings like the Celestials is created, it only stands to reason that their opposites are also born. In the 2008 series The Eternals, written by Neil Gaiman, it’s revealed that the Horde standing in opposition to the Celestials on the opposite side of the cosmic scales.
The Horde are like cosmic locusts that eliminate life wherever they go.
It is suggested in that series that both the Celestials and the Horde are servants of The Fulcrum, an all-powerful cosmic being that may be an alias of The One Above All. This is the very essence of all reality, and the cosmic abstract around which everything revolves. It’s mentioned in The Eternals that the Celestials, the Horde, and even the Watchers all fall under the command of the Fulcrum. While the Celestials create races such as the Eternals or the Deviants, the Horde destroy that kind of life. Their opposing roles have brought them into conflict with the Celestials on multiple occasions.
11 COULD: THE LIVING TRIBUNAL
The Living Tribunal is one of those grand cosmic abstracts that Marvel Comics does so well. When you start to ascend the cosmic hierarchy of the Marvel Multiverse, you come across beings that are less physical entities and more like concepts of universal constants like Death or Eternity. The Living Tribunal is one such abstract entity, who sits almost at the top of the Multiversal ladder, overseeing the balance of all things and passing judgment on all of the universes under his gaze.
First created in Strange Tales #157 from 1967, the Living Tribunal appeared in front of Doctor Strange while looking to pass judgment on the Earth due to its potential for evil. While Doctor Strange is able to convince the Tribunal to spare our world, this isn’t the last time we see him pass judgment. The golden, three-faced deity (the faces represent Equity, Vengeance, and Necessity) is powerful enough to eclipse the Infinity Gauntlet, and he's one of only two beings capable of doing so. When it comes to the grand cosmic hierarchy, the Celestials sit fairly high, but the Living Tribunal sits above them. As such, anyone above them on that celestial ladder has the ability to defeat them and wipe them from all existence.
10 DID: THE FINAL HOST
Since they’ve only just been introduced in recent issues of Avengers, very little is so far known about the Final Host, who are also called the Dark Celestials. After a large cosmic disturbance is reported by Captain Marvel and Alpha Flight, the Avengers are first called into action. This nebulous storm in the Solar System suddenly turns into a portal, which puts countless dead Celestials on a collision course with Earth. As the sky opens up and it starts raining dead Celestials, the Avengers do what they can to mitigate the loss of life and look up into the sky and see the arrival of the Dark Celestials and the Final Host.
There's almost no limit to what these Dark Celestials can do.
The Celestials are responsible for the nurturing of all life on Earth by manipulating early humanoids through genetic manipulation. As such, they occasionally return to the planet to view their creations and, if necessary, intervene to ensure that things are proceeding as they wish. Each of these visits is called a Host. During the first Celestial Host, the Celestials enhanced the fledgling humanoid race with material from beings such as the Eternals or the Deviants and by injecting key differences to the DNA of early man, which laid the groundwork for superhero and mutant abilities. If that was called the First Host, we can only imagine what the Final Host could have in store if these Dark Celestials first act was wiping out so many Celestials.
9 COULD: MOLECULE MAN
Over the years, the Molecule Man has gone from a fairly beatable, C-list foe for the Fantastic Four, to a nigh-unbeatable cosmic level threat capable of destroying and recreating whole universes. First appearing in Fantastic Four #20 from 1963, Owen Reece was a fearful, timid lab technician, who was full of anger and loneliness following his mother’s death. That all changed when he was involved in an accident at Ace Atomics Corporation, and he was bombarded with an unknown radiation that gifted him with power over all matter and energy.
Originally, his powers were limited by his own subconscious, which restricted his full potential by making him cling to a steel rod that he used as a wand. Soon though, the cosmic burden of his powers became clear, and he quickly became capable of warping reality on a multiversal scale. He was instrumental in the 2015 event Secret Wars, where he was manipulated by Doctor Doom into creating Battleworld following the final universe-destroying incursion. It’s revealed that Molecule Man was created by the Beyonders as a “multiversal composite entity,” a single being fractured into pieces, with each one becoming its own being in its own multiverse. The full power of Molecule Man may still be unknown, but any being capable of commanding universes is more than a match for a Celestial.
8 DID: GOD EMPEROR DOOM
As a man who once harnessed the power of a god and found it to be “beneath him,” Doctor Doom would inevitably become the ruler of the universe. In a way, that’s what happened in 2015’s Secret Wars event. Following the death of the Multiverse caused by the incursions, destructive collusions of two separate universes, Doom alone remained to rebuild a single universe in his image. Harnessing the powers of the Beyonders, and utilizing the skills of the Molecule Man, Doom built a patchwork planet made from dozens of dead realities and called it Battleworld.
On Battleword, Doctor Doom was a king, an emperor, a supreme ruler... and a god.
This newly crowned God-Emperor Doom soon built himself a reputation based on myth, legends and outright fiction that blurred the lines between reality and fable in a way that we may never truly know the history of that patchwork world. In the 616 reality, there is the head of a dead Celestial floating in space called Knowhere. This head (also seen in the Guardians of the Galaxy movies) was used as a spaceport for thousands of aliens on a daily basis, but its origins are unclear. In Doom’s Battleworld, Knowhere orbits his patchwork reality, and it’s said that it was created when God Emperor Doom defeated a Celestial with his own two hands.
7 COULD: FRANKLIN RICHARDS
It’s rare for a young character like Franklin Richards to harness such an unbelievable amount of power, and Franklin rarely uses his power to its full potential. When pushed to the brink, the son of Susan Storm and Reed Richards is capable of creating whole universes with a single thought. We’ve seen Franklin grow and evolve over the years, from his birth in Fantastic Four Annual #6 from 1968 to his current status as a young pre-teen member of the Future Foundation. Over the years, it’s become clear that Franklin is an omega-level mutant, who's capable of reality manipulation on an almost unrivalled scale.
He’s responsible for saving the lives of the Fantastic Four, the Avengers and the whole world following the Onslaught saga in 1996. When the aforementioned heroes sacrificed themselves to defeat the mutant Onslaught, Franklin created a pocket universe in which the heroes, including his family, could survive and thrive. Following 2015’s Secret Wars event, Franklin has accompanied his parents on a mission to restore the multiverse, working alongside Reed Richards and the Molecule Man to create new universes from nothing and rebuild what once was before the incursions. It’s hard to imagine a world in which he would, but if he put his mind to it, Franklin could wipe out any Celestial he wanted to.
6 DID: LOGOS
The destruction of the Multiverse in 2015’s Secret Wars has a lot to answer for. It paved the way for the new, seventh iteration of the Multiverse, and it caused chaos in the new cosmic hierarchy. A new cosmic order takes time to form, and strange and powerful events can occur in the power vacuum left by such cosmic disorder. Such is the case in the creation of Logos. In its new iteration, the Multiverse that forms the current Marvel Comics Universe was still in its weakened state when it was attacked by the First Firmament, a living universe who hated that it had been replaced time and time again with what it believed to be inferior copies.
The First Firmament is the physical embodiment of Marvel's ancient first universe.
The First Firmament influenced the cosmos at its highest level by manipulating the Lords of Order and Chaos into killing the Living Tribunal and merging with the cosmic being known as the In-Betweener to become the all-powerful Logos. Consumed with a desire for ultimate power, one of the first acts of Logos was to hunt down the last Celestial in an attempt to ensure that the grand arbiters of judgment over civilization could not oppose its will. It took the combined might of Galactus and the Ultimates, a super team made up of heroes such as Black Panther, Captain Marvel, America Chavez, Blue Marvel and Spectrum a.k.a. Monica Rambeau, to defeat Logos and restore the correct order to the cosmos.
5 COULD: THE ASGARDIANS
While Thor is one of the most powerful beings in the Avengers roster, the Asgardians fall woefully short when we’re talking about beings on the level of the Celestials. Since debuting in Journey into Mystery comics from the early ‘60s, Asgard and its inhabitants have fast become a staple of modern Marvel media, appearing prominently in the Thor trilogy of movies, as well as playing a part in the Avengers films right up to 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War. Over the decades, their power has been mighty and almost unbeatable. Asgardians are a warrior race led by the All-Father Odin, wielder of the cosmic Odinforce and the father of the Mighty Thor.
The Asgardians have come into conflict with the Celestials on multiple occasions, with mixed success. The Stone Age Avengers, led by Odin, were successful in defeating and burying the Mad Celestial when it arrived on Earth over a million years ago. Much later, Odin and his Greek counterpart Zeus attempted to stop the Third and fourth Hosts on Earth, but were easily outmatched. However, when the Apocalypse Twins traveled back in time and slaughtered a Celestial, they used the Asgardian ax Jarnbjorn, so the power of the Asgardians was crucial in the defeat of the space gods. While Asgard has been largely unsuccessful in fending off the Celestials in the past, it is within their power to defeat them.
4 DID: GALACTUS
Galactus, the Devourer of Worlds and the original giant space dude, arrived on the scene in Fantastic Four #48 and changed comics forever. No joke, the original "Galactus Saga" from Stan Lee and Jack Kirby influenced how grand and cosmic Marvel could get. It set the stage for almost all of the company's events moving forward, and it was all because of just how awesome Galactus and his herald the Silver Surfer really were.
Even a giant like Galactus is small next to a 2,000 foot tall Celestial.
While we’ve rarely seen the Devourer of Worlds take on Celestials in the main Marvel Universe, he fought against them fairly successfully in the alternate universe series Earth-X. In that universe, the Celestials procreate by planting seeds within the core of planets they deem to be worthy. These seeds then gestate in Celestial Eggs before becoming the massive cosmic beings that we all know and love. They would then manipulate life on those planets, much like they do in the 616 universe, into gaining superpowers, but that is merely so that these superheroes can protect that planet and their Celestial Egg. Galactus opposed this and set about devouring any and every world impregnated by the Celestials, doing everything he could to end the Celestial line for good.
3 COULD: CHAOS AND ORDER
Lord Chaos and Master Order come in just under the Living Tribunal in Marvel's grand cosmic hierarchy. As their names suggest, they are the abstract beings responsible for the balance between discipline and disarray who work alongside the Living Tribunal to control and maintain equilibrium across the Multiverse. First appearing in Marvel Two-in-One Annual #2, Chaos and Order are depicted as two supermassive floating heads: Order looks like a bald, human male, and Chaos has a twisted, deformed, purple humanoid face.
They are rarely seen apart, as they each represent a different side of the same cosmic coin, and over the years they’ve been seen to influence the multiverse on an unimaginable scale, but always in discreet and subtle ways. In their first appearance, they nudged disparate heroes together to combat Thanos in his first attempt at universal power, and they joined forces with the rest of the cosmos to oppose the Mad Titan when he obtained the Infinity Gauntlet. More recently, they took advantage of a weakened multiverse to merge into the singular being Logos and attempted to obtain ultimate power for themselves. Due to their place in the grand cosmic hierarchy, they should have no problem defeating the Celestials.
2 DID: THE ASPIRANTS
The true origin of the Celestials has only recently been revealed. The very first iteration of the universe was in the form of an unimaginable singular being, known as the First Firmament. Alone in all of reality for eons, this being became lonely and decided to create companions and servants to maintain his idea of creation. He created the Celestials and the Aspirants, and while the Aspirants were all-too-eager to help their master maintain the status quo of the universe, the Celestials rebelled, opposing the stagnant constant in favor of life, evolution, and diversity across the cosmos.
The Aspirants' Godkiller weapon wiped out billions of Celestials.
During one of the greatest wars in all reality, the Aspirants created the Godkiller, a giant deity-destroying armor, and used it to take out numerous Celestials. However, a civil war within the ranks of the Aspirants gave the Celestials a chance to overpower their enemy and unleash their ultimate weapon, which tore the First Firmament apart. This destroyed the original universe and created a new multiverse from its pieces in its stead. Unknown to the Celestials, an endangered species in this new reality, the First Firmament actually survived, along with a handful of Aspirants by escaping outside of reality and waiting for their moment to return and reclaim their power.
1 COULD: THE ONE ABOVE ALL
If the name’s not a dead giveaway, the One Above All is the big one. Sometimes depicted as a bright, golden light, sometimes as a bartender on the edge of oblivion, and occasionally depicted as Marvel icon Jack "The King" Kirby himself, the One Above All stands at the very top of the hierarchy of the Marvel Multiverse. It is the being under which everything in all of reality lies. Not to be confused with the Celestial of the same name, the One Above All is very rarely seen, but frequently mentioned, and its only appearance in the flesh was in a 2007 issue of Sensational Spider-Man.
It’s hard to truly comprehend the One Above All, in fact, it is often referred to as a being that cannot dare to be imagined. The Living Tribunal is its most direct servant, a being who often passes judgment and once stated that these laws “set forth from Above declare that only He may now reverse that decision.” As the sole entity responsible for the maintenance, harmony and continued existence of all of creation, the One Above All is, by default, far more powerful than any Celestial. Considering that its mere existence can hardly be comprehended by beings far mightier than mere mortals, the One Above All is capable of unspeakable, unimaginable acts. One can only guess at how easy it would be to vanquish a Celestial, if not all of the Celestials with a single fleeting thought.