Heavy-hitters of the Marvel universe are usually big names for a reason. Captain America led the Avengers to save the world countless times, Thor is king of an entire realm, Captain Marvel keeps watch over the cosmos, and so on. Their adventures often have massive ramifications for the Marvel universe as a whole.
However, it is still a bit of a head-scratcher why certain Marvel heroes gained so much notoriety in the first place. Some are even so ubiquitous that their popularity transcends superhero fandom despite their underwhelming comic book history. Here are 10 big-name Marvel heroes who’ve actually done nothing.
Marvel fans’ favorite bloodthirsty vigilante with a Gatling gun really isn’t much use to anyone. His endless one-man war on scum and villainy in New York City has done very little to actually curb crime in the Big Apple. After all, there are still enough bad guys running around to keep fellow New Yorkers like Spider-Man, Daredevil, and Luke Cage pretty busy.
Punisher makes a huge impression on fans because of his questionable heroics, and iconic skull insignia. Unfortunately for him, unloading uizis into mob bosses is small potatoes in the grand scheme of the Marvel universe.
Long before Punisher dished out some morally ambiguous justice, Namor was known as the first major antihero in superhero comics. The distinction earned Namor enough goodwill that comic book fans still complain about his notable absence from Marvel Cinematic Universe films. However, few people seem to realize that every joke about how Aquaman is lame also applies to Namor, too.
Although he possesses the power of flight, if the problem isn’t at the bottom of the sea, then Namor cannot really help. Even his past attempts to conquer dry land failed miserably thanks to his limited skill set.
Maybe one of the most endearing things about Deadpool is that he actually does nothing. Marvel’s “Merc with a Mouth” made a name for himself through dark humor, irreverent self-awareness, and a love for Mexican food that feels relatable to anyone. His attempts at traditional superhero activities often fail miserably and hilariously, which is exactly why fans adore him so much.
People love an underdog. Fans root for Deadpool precisely because his reliably sleazy and smart-aleck nature will always get in the way of actually achieving something that makes the Marvel universe a better place.
Groot is a strange case because he became popular through the film medium. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) turned Groot into a household name, but the character doesn’t do much in his comic book appearances. The film version brings Groot into the foreground, and even fleshes him out with complex characterization in a way the comic books still cannot quite figure out.
On the page, Groot is usually either muscle or occasional comic relief. Somehow, the walking and talking tree became the most popular member of a more than capable superhero team who probably just keep Groot around because they like him.
Another unusual instance of a medium separate from comic books hyping up a superhero who doesn’t do much on paper. Although Jubilee was a bona fide scene-stealer in an animated adaptation of X-Men comics that were popular during the 1990s, her appearances in comics are often pretty useless.
Surrounded by some of the most powerful mutants in the Marvel universe, Jubilee’s power to shoot “fireworks” from her hands is simply an unnecessary addition to the team. Her awkward transformation into a vampire at one point seems like an admission of guilt that Marvel struggles to find something for Jubilee to do.
Jubilee’s father figure is a whole other story. X-Men comics, cartoons, and films can’t seem to give the adamantium-clawed mutant enough spotlight. Who doesn’t love Wolverine’s gruff personality that often erupts into animalistic violence? He’s been on the front lines of many important comic book battles in Marvel history, but he is much more of a follower than a leader.
Like Punisher, Wolverine’s bloodlust is exciting but ultimately aimless. He is a great mutant to have in the superheroes’ corner if you really need to stab a bunch of bad guys, though.
Okay, just one last mutant on this list for good measure. Gambit is beloved among Marvel fans for his tortured soul, flexible morals, and heartthrob Cajun accent. What most Gambit fans probably can’t tell you is exactly what he does for the X-Men, or why he occasionally fights against them.
With a vague power that comics seem to make up as they go along, Gambit’s character drama usually upstages his heroics. When he occasionally turns into a villain, as in the time Apocalypse turned Gambit into one of his Four Horsemen, his odd mutant abilities just don’t seem to get much done.
3 Human Torch
Let’s face it; Human Torch has powers that should belong to a supervillain. Even the X-Men fight a bad guy with the ability to create and manipulate fire. As a member of the Fantastic Four, Human Torch belongs to the original Marvel superhero team. Decades later, it is still unclear what functions he actually performs.
It’s not as if he can catch someone who falls off a cliff without burning them to death or save a kitten from a tree without igniting a forest fire. On second thought, maybe it’s actually better that Human Torch does nothing.
Hawkeye is so good at doing nothing that even his film version played by Jeremy Renner has an entire arc about the fact that he does nothing. The Avengers do not really need him. Shooting arrows is great for taking out evil henchmen who are a dime a dozen, and Hawkeye even started his own little Avengers team on the West Coast. Still, you can only use a guy with a bow and arrow for so much.
As popular as he is, Hawkeye mostly functions in the peripherals of the Marvel universe. His name recognition doesn’t make a whole lot of sense when you consider less popular heroes who accomplished more.
Daredevil is what happens when a guy like Punisher has no serious weapons or homicidal rage. As an even tamer version of a street-level vigilante, Daredevil’s never done much more than punch and kick bad guys in their faces. Most supervillains are simply out of Daredevil’s league.
His stomping ground, Hell’s Kitchen in New York City, is only a few square blocks to protect. Although he patrols slightly more space than the average mall security guard, Daredevil is yet another Marvel A-lister who gets a lot of credit for ultimately doing nothing compared to other superheroes.