Comparing power sets is something fans have been doing since comics began. It’s always nice to think that your favorite hero could hold their own against the heavy hitters in the Marvel Universe. Power can be deceiving in the Marvel Universe, however. Some heroes can punch holes in planets, but are of no use against a telepath. In a similar vein, a vastly powerful telepath wouldn’t be much help against a mindless robotic dictator. Heroes can be extremely powerful in their own right, but there’s usually someone out there that can stop them. Even heroes that are conceived to be ultimately powerful are defeated eventually (looking at you, Sentry!) We’re going to look at heroes that people think are powerful, but aren’t as powerful as you may have initially thought.
Additionally, we’re going to look at heroes that more people should pay attention to. There are heroes that people either overlook or may be unaware of entirely. Part of the allure of comics is that there are great characters across so many titles. A character you’ve never seen before may pop up in a crossover and impress you enough to want to read more of them, making the Marvel Universe that little bit bigger for you. Whether discounted because they don’t seem as powerful as others or they’ve had a lack of exposure to the average reader, there’s a lot of stellar supers that need a little more love. Let’s take a look into these unsung heroes, also!
24. THINK ARE POWERFUL: HULK
The Hulk has proven himself to be one of the strongest heroes to ever grace a comic page. He was particularly scary during World War Hulk, an instance where he was at one of his most powerful points. It took the all-powerful Sentry to stop him, and it almost took all of Sentry’s power.
However, Hulk isn’t always at his strongest and he can be dealt with quite easily on a regular day. Mind control and pheromone manipulation have been shown to calm him down, neutralizing his rage. Most of the time, people just throw poor Hulk into space to deal with him, a tactic employed by the likes of Thor and Nova in the past.
23. SHOULD PAY ATTENTION TO: MOON KNIGHT
Marc Spector has been a consistently intriguing character across all of his runs. Though sometimes he is a little extra in his execution of justice, he is a layered and infectious character. Moon Knight is Schizophrenic and his mental health is a topic woven into his stories.
How a hero deals with mental health is an interesting angle and has also shown to provide the foundation for some great visuals. In the pages of Moon Knight (2015) we were treated to visual spectacle from the avatar of the Moon God. Traversing a dream world, rescuing children and even punching ghosts, Moon Knight is a fascinating hero.
22. THINK ARE POWERFUL: IRON MAN
Iron Man’s a smart guy, a little overzealous at times, but very capable. His ingenuity and the ever-improving array of armor make him one of the most adaptable Avengers. It’s easy to see why he’d be a good pick to take on just about anyone, as given the right research, he could devise a counter to several heavy hitters.
The problem, however, is that being a tech-based hero, he leaves himself open to vulnerabilities others do not have. During Secret Invasion, the Skrulls were able to attack his immune system by uploading a virus into his suit. On many occasions, people have re-purposed his own Stark Tech to defeat him, which is a little annoying for the inventor.
21. SHOULD PAY ATTENTION TO: IRON FIST
Danny Rand’s a thoroughly likable hero. Though his initial Netflix outing was polarizing, his comic counterpart is both consistent and endearing. From his partnership with Luke Cage as a Hero for Hire, to his time on the Avengers and Defenders, Danny’s always a sight for sore eyes.
Iron Fist has done so many cool things including punching a bullet train, punching a dragon and also punching the Phoenix Force itself. Yes, he punches a lot of things and yes, it’s always great. He’s a big kid, too, doing things like chartering a private jet just to read his comics in peace and then having the jet breach the upper atmosphere, so he can read them in zero-gravity.
20. THINK ARE POWERFUL: PROFESSOR X
Professor X is one of the most powerful telepaths on the planet. His battles with the Shadow King are the stuff of legend, and his telepathic confrontations are like a game of mind-bending chess. He is also one of the few telepaths capable of using Cerebro, which is notorious for the stress it puts on the user’s mind.
The issues come with how open he is about his powers, as people can adapt to him. Characters like Magneto and Juggernaut have developed tech to block him from their minds, as they know what to expect. His want to resolve things peacefully also leaves him wide open, as when trying to rationalize with Scott in Avengers Vs. X-Men, his life was taken by his wayward student.
19. SHOULD PAY ATTENTION TO: MAGIK
The current leader of the New Mutants and the little sister of Colossus, Magik has been through a lot in her young life. Between contracting the Legacy Virus, losing a large portion of her soul and managing to accidentally stop the wedding of her brother and Kitty Pryde, Illyana’s had a rough time.
Despite this, her adaption to her circumstances has been admirable. Becoming the Queen of Limbo and having command over demons, she scares the hell out of her teammates. To top it all off she has a really cool, huge sword for hunting wayward demons. Who doesn’t see the appeal in that?
18. THINK ARE POWERFUL: WOLVERINE
It’s easy to see why someone may think Wolverine is extremely formidable as he’s nigh invulnerable. His healing factor and his adamantium skeleton make for robust and reliable survival. His combat training across various styles and mediums also cannot be overlooked.
Logan isn’t as unstoppable as you’d think though. Some characters like Silver Samurai can cut through his adamantium skeleton. Although meeting his end might not always be the case, as it is quite hard to end him, that doesn’t mean he can’t be incapacitated. Cutting off oxygen to Wolverine is also a surefire way to stop him, with Daken once remarking that over the years so few people have thought just to drown Logan.
17. SHOULD PAY ATTENTION TO: NOVA
It’s a shame we’ve only seen the Nova Corps in general within the MCU and not Nova the hero specifically yet. Both Richard Rider and Sam Alexander have taken part in some of the most pivotal events in Marvel Comics history.
Richard held the heroes of the cosmos together in a valiant alliance to save the universe in Annihilation. Sam heralded the coming of the Phoenix in Avengers Vs. X-Men and proved vital in taking on Cyclops in the final battle. They teamed up recently, as Richard finally escaped the Cancerverse, giving us a great dynamic between two Novas with differing experience levels.
16. THINK ARE POWERFUL: SPIDER-MAN
Peter Parker is one of the most beloved heroes in comic book history. He is a pop culture icon and an inspiration to would-be heroes everywhere. Though many of Spidey’s fans can make a case for him holding his own against other, more powerful heroes, it’s unlikely Spider-Man could measure up in battle.
That is the point of Spider-Man, though. Peter doesn’t have the scariest power set but he isn’t meant to. Spider-Man is, at his core, a street-level hero who is perfect for street-level crime fighting. Though he has excelled on occasion, Peter doing his best with what he has is what makes him so great. Spider-Man isn’t too powerful and we love him precisely for that fact.
15. SHOULD PAY ATTENTION TO: ELIXIR
Beginning his time in the Marvel Universe as a student under Charles Xavier, Josh Foley has filled many roles. He’s been the lovelorn teenager, the designated medic and even an executioner. His ability to heal others and his secondary mutation that allows him to break down other people’s cells is a frightening contrast.
His bright-eyed and naive beginnings saw him accidentally fall into a slot on the lethal X-Force team. During his time with X-Force, he would take the life of his former friend Wither and he himself would perish shortly after. Revivified later, he eventually joined Magneto, firmly disenfranchised by his hardships.
14. THINK ARE POWERFUL: THOR
Thor is the God of Thunder, so he obviously has a lot of power. His wielding of Mjolnir is intimidating and it is a clear display of the forces he commands. Thor has stood against gods, supervillains and other powerful beings within the cosmos. His power level fluctuates, however, as he is often used as a measuring stick for new or reemerging enemies.
If a villain can bat Thor aside, it establishes them as a credible threat and as a result, he is used as fodder in many narratives. Whether he’s having his face melted by the acid of the Apocalypse Twins or having his arm cut off by Malekith, Thor often gets the unfavorable end of the stick.
13. SHOULD PAY ATTENTION TO: SHANG-CHI
Shang-Chi has been around for a very long time, but rarely enjoyed the spotlight he deserves. A thoroughly likable guy, he’s rated highly by his fellow heroes and has been drafted onto several Avengers teams. His services to the Marvel Universe despite his limited power set are nothing to discard.
The Master of Kung Fu has stood with the galactic council against the universe culling Caretakers, worked with Madame Web to help stop the Spider-Queen, defeated Gorgon of The Hand and even taught Spider-Man and Domino how to be better hand-to-hand combatants. Prior to the events of Infinity, he gained the ability to duplicate himself, and having more Shang-Chi is never a problem!
12. THINK ARE POWERFUL: CYCLOPS
One of the most talented people in the Marvel Universe in terms of leadership is Cyclops. He has become another iconic character. The most trusted of Xavier’s students, Scott Summers has one of the most visually appealing powers in comics. The optic blasts he fires, however, are more concussive than anything else.
While not the most lethal mutant and not the most durable, Cyclops relies more on his tactical mind. He was extremely powerful when inhabited by the Phoenix Force, but after Avengers Vs. X-Men, he no longer had that level of power. In fact, his time as the Phoenix made his powers unreliable. He later regained his Phoenix status and put up a valiant fight against God Emperor Doom in Secret Wars, but unfortunately, he was easily dispatched.
11. SHOULD PAY ATTENTION TO: QUENTIN QUIRE
From one wielder of the Phoenix Force to one who is destined to wield it in the future, Quentin Quire is a very special kid. He’s caused riots at the X-Mansion, been the reason for international incidents and even joined the West Coast Avengers. For all his difficulties with authority, Kid Omega has vast potential to do good.
He helped rescue his fellow students from a deadly plot by the Hellfire club to indoctrinate them and he was once called on to help Jean Grey deal with the Phoenix Force. The abrasive young upstart likes to make a spectacle of things, making constructs of telepathic and telekinetic energy, similar to Psylocke, but prefers the visuals of firearms.
10. THINK ARE POWERFUL: DEADPOOL
Deadpool seems unstoppable in a similar way to how Wolverine seems unstoppable, as he’s very hard to keep down. His healing factor is one of the most potent in the Marvel Universe. However, due to his extraordinary resilience, he can get quite complacent. This has led him to defeats that would have otherwise been easily avoided.
He’s even been dealt with fatally on occasion, a future version of Deadpool was ripped apart permanently by Stryfe. In another case, he was frozen by an Iceman from the Age of Apocalypse universe and shattered into thousands of pieces. His regeneration could not help him there, only a machine in Fantomex’s possession could piece him back together.
9. SHOULD PAY ATTENTION TO: NAMOR
Namor was once one of Marvel’s hottest commodities alongside the likes of Captain America and the original Human Torch. He proved instrumental in helping topple the Axis forces in the World War Two of the Marvel Universe. Part Atlantean and part mutant, the King of Atlantis’ roots go deep in the comics.
He is a formidable character, having harnessed the Phoenix Force once. He even tried to drown Tony Stark once. Whether he’s helping the mutants avoid extinction or going to war with Wakanda, Namor is never dull. He’s even been counted among the ranks of the Avengers and the Defenders.
8. THINK ARE POWERFUL: COLOSSUS
Colossus is often taken on X-Men missions to provide some much-needed muscle in the field. His organic steel skin allows him to absorb a lot of punishment and deflect a large number of projectiles. Piotr Rasputin also possesses great strength, as he is able to hold his ground against Juggernaut or Hulk.
Holding your ground isn’t quite the same as defeating someone, however. Colossus’ record against the other muscle of the Marvel Universe isn’t too great, with more losses than wins against other behemoths. He did, however, enjoy increased power as the Unstoppable Colossus when he was briefly in possession of the Crimson Gem of Cytorrak.
7. SHOULD PAY ATTENTION TO: QUASAR
Though cosmic superheroes have been receiving a lot more love thanks to Guardians of the Galaxy getting an MCU outing, some heroes remain a little obscure. Quasar is one of the most powerful of the cosmic heroes due to his Quantum Bands. Wendell Vaughn is the chief Quasar, but there are several who have held the title.
Heroes such as Phyla-Vell of the Kree, have had their time as Quasar, helping to defend the universe in the events of Annihilation: Conquest. Most recently, Wendell returned to train a new Quasar, a former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent named Avril Kincaid. Avril’s connection to the Quantum Bands has her powers rumored to be greater than the likes of Captain Marvel, Spectrum and Blue Marvel.
6. THINK ARE POWERFUL: DRAX
With Drax being created to stop someone like Thanos, you’d expect him to be quite formidable. While he has succeeded from time to time, he isn’t as strong as it seems. A very capable warrior, he can sometimes get stuck in his own tunnel vision.
It’s understandable why Drax would want to stop Thanos whenever he gets the chance, but sometimes he’s done so at the expense of the universe. Thanos has even defeated Drax as many times as Drax has stopped Thanos. That’s not a very convincing Win/Loss record for someone whose specific purpose is to deal with the Mad Titan.
5. SHOULD PAY ATTENTION TO: WARPATH
James’ older brother wasn’t the most popular X-Man, abrasive and egotistical, he rubbed people the wrong way. Unlike Thunderbird, Warpath is a different story, his ability to work in teams is well documented. James has been the quiet MVP in several teams over his X-Men tenure, including X-Force and Weapon X.
With his good sense of right and wrong measured by his willingness to use lethal methods if necessary, James is perfect for covert work. When the energy vampire Selene plotted to absorb millions of mutant souls to ascend to Godhood in Necrosha, it was James who stopped her. Using his connection to the spirits of his heritage, he was able to avert a vampiric dictatorship.
4. THINK ARE POWERFUL: CABLE
There’s no doubt Cable is powerful and his survival skills are legendary. He’s imparted these skills on the likes of Hope Summers and his friend Deadpool. He’s also tangled with and defeated the Avengers singlehandedly on one occasion.
Despite his achievements and current abilities, Cable is vastly underpowered. The techno-organic virus that is ravaging one half of his body is what limits his powers. He needs to concentrate on stopping the virus from consuming his whole body. Stryfe, Cable’s clone, is far more powerful as he has no virus to contend. Stryfe’s own power shows us what Cable’s potential could extend to if he was cured.
3. SHOULD PAY ATTENTION TO: DOMINO
Domino is a longtime friend of Cable and Deadpool and a recurring member of several X-Force rosters. Domino’s power is luck; affecting the probabilities and likelihoods of the world around her. This has helped her avoid all kinds of danger and even improved her accuracy. The application of her power was once entirely random, making for some hairy escapes and close calls.
Recently, however, in the pages of her self-titled run, she has learned to control her power. With the help of Shang-Chi, she is now able to focus on her power and activate it at will. Now that Domino has the ability to actively change probabilities and the world around her, who knows what she is truly capable of?
2. THINK ARE POWERFUL: EMMA FROST
Though a formidable telepath, Emma Frost is a victim of her own vanity. Her need to pit herself against fellow X-Men alumni and assert her agendas means she can sometimes get in her own way. She also loses her mental prowess when in her diamond form, which means she can be forced between states so that an advantage can be gained over her in battle.
Emma’s been defeated by several of her friends due to her abrasiveness. One memorable occasion was when she was given a beatdown by Kitty Pryde, who trapped Emma underground. In another confrontation, she was pinned to a wall by Storm’s winds, on which Storm threatened to throw a sharp object at range to shatter her diamond form. Poor Emma.
1. SHOULD PAY ATTENTION TO: BLUE MARVEL
Adam Brashear was once one of the greatest heroes in the Marvel Universe. His services as a hero to the United States was unfortunately during a time where civil rights were a contested topic. He retired his role as the Blue Marvel amidst polarized public opinion. This was a real shame for the planet and the superhero community.
Luckily, Adam came out of retirement to help teams such as the Mighty Avengers and more recently, The Ultimates. His keen scientific mind and immense power make him a fascinating hidden gem of the Marvel Universe. Spearheading the team that converted Galactus into the Giver of Life rather than the Devourer of Worlds, Adam really is something special.
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