As we all know, there’s no such thing as the average superhero. They come in a whole range of shapes, sizes and skill sets. But if there’s one thing that's guaranteed to make the super-powered even more super, it’s a healthy dose of good old-fashioned METAL.
After all, who wants to wear lurid-colored spandex and fight with their bare hands when they could be rocking a flying armored suit, a prosthetic gun-arm, or wielding adamantium claws the size of their face? Luckily for us, there are quite a few metal dudes out there who know the correlation between metal and mettle. That’s why CBR has put together a list of the most metal superheroes ever put to paper… cue epic guitar solo!
15 IRON MAN
Let’s be honest, what makes Iron Man so “metal” is his super-powered exoskeleton, so really it’s the armor that deserves all the attention in this entry (although he did build it, so kudos is still in order!). However, the appearance and on-board functions of Iron Man’s suit differ from comic to comic, as Stark often undertakes modifications or designs specialized for specific purposes, so it’s hard to talk about as a single entity.
Still, pretty much every reincarnation of Stark’s armor shares some characteristics with Don Heck and Jack Kirby’s original 1963 design: it gives Iron Man enhanced strength and protects him from attack using a forcefield, enables him to fly at great speed, and comes equipped with an impressive on-board weapons system, communication tools and sensors. All this makes Iron Man a certifiable metal badass, whatever version of the suit he’s wearing!
CBR reckons James Rhodes (War Machine/Iron Patriot) deserves an honorable mention here also, as he uses similar technology to fight and fly, and has worn the Iron Man armor on several occasions, like when Stark relapsed into alcoholism in “Iron Man” #170 and supposedly died in “Iron Man” #284. Keep it heavy, Rhodey!
As everyone already knows by now -- and if not, where exactly have you been for the last 40 years -- Wolverine was chosen as a candidate for the Weapon X project because of his mutant healing factor, but that’s not really a contest anyone would want to win. The prize was having his entire skeleton fused with unbreakable adamantium, turning him into a barbaric killing machine… and, eventually, a hero.
Of course, back in 1993, Wolvie had the adamantium ripped out of him by Magneto in the “Fatal Attractions” crossover event. Unbeknownst to Logan, or anyone else, he had bone claws beneath... which is still pretty damn metal, honestly. A few years later, in "Wolverine" #145, it was revealed that none other than Apocalypse replaced that adamantium to make a brainwashed Wolverine more dangerous again.
Metal bones or not, Logan was still killable, and eventually died in the “Death of Wolverine” arc (beginning in “Wolverine” Vol.5 #5), ironically being suffocated in a coating of adamantium. His legacy lives on in the form of his clone, X-23, who kicks serious amounts of ass, despite having her claws in all the wrong places. The king is dead, long live the queen!
Okay, so Cessily Kincaid might be one of the newer kids on the block (having first appeared in “New Mutants” Vol.2 #2 in August 2003), but she’s already proven she can hold her own in a fight and deserves her place among the metal heavyweights. If you’re not convinced, bear in mind she was part of the Hellions Squad while at Xavier’s Institute, a title which just screams “metal!”
As her name suggests, Mercury’s body is composed of a highly pliable non-toxic metal,which she can reshape or solidify at will. Thanks to the molecular cohesion power of her metallic DNA, she can cling to solid surfaces and move her body without external propulsion. Cooler still, in “New X-Men: Childhood’s End” #1, she demonstrated that having her hands cut off is really no biggie… it just helps her “lose a few pounds.”
She’s had a troubled life and probably wished she’d been stripped off her powers by Scarlet Witch during the 2005 “Decimation” crossover event, but CBR is glad that Marvel allowed her to retain her mutant skill and continue kicking X amounts of ass.
Warren Kenneth Worthington III is quite literally a dark angel… well, okay, he's a morally-questionable mutant born with wings, but that’s just semantics. What makes Archangel so “metal," isn't just his disposition, but the steam-punky techno-organic wings he acquired after the feathery ones he was born with were damaged and eventually ripped off by one of his foes. Worthington reappeared soon after this accident, though, bigger and more kickass than ever in “X-Factor” #24, complete with a brand-new look thanks, not for the first time in this list, to Apocalypse making him his new horseman, Death.
This revamp gave him increased powers, including the ability to shoot blades from his wings with tips coated in a potent neurotoxin to paralyze his enemies. Later, he develops a “bloodthirsty subconscious” that drives his wings to act of their own accord on occasion, as confirmed in “Uncanny X-Men” #293. If that doesn’t have you convinced, then how about the fact that he tried to destroy humanity by way of apocalypse in the “Dark Angel Saga”? Any being that powerful deserves a mention on this list of the greatest metal heroes.
Jocasta is basically the metallic equivalent of Frankenstein’s Bride. Designed by the evil Ultron to be his mate (sex doll alert!), but rebelling against her maker to fight for the good guys, she’s since become an honorary member of the Avengers and part of the staff faculty team at their Academy. So why is Jocasta so “metal”? Well, apart from the obvious -- y’know, having a body composed of titanium -- she’s blessed with superhuman strength, speed, stamina, reflexes and intelligence, and can withstand most physical or energy-based attacks.
She’s also immune to disease, doesn’t need food, water or oxygen, and can easily survive in the vacuum of space. We've also saved the best for last… she can shoot electromagnetic energy beams from her eyes! CBR doesn’t really want to know what Ultron had in mind when he gave her the power to do that! She’s not without her quirks, though. In “Marvel Zombies” Vol.5 #4, she turns humankind into a bunch of flesh-eating monsters to prevent them getting robotic upgrades and endangering her status as their mechanical overlord. Yikes! Maybe she’s a little too “metal"…
John Henry Irons, otherwise known as Steel, first appeared in “The Adventures of Superman” #500 in 1993 as a relatively normal man with a super-powered robotic suit. Named after an African-American folk hero, Irons may have been a normal man before his metal upgrade, but his will was always ironclad. Working in construction during the "Death of Superman," Irons tried to help Supes against Doomsday using only a sledgehammer before he was covered in tons of rubble. He then designed his famous suit, to honor the original Man of Steel.
That all changed when Lex Luthor tampered with his DNA as part of the Everyman Project, transforming him into a being entirely composed of stainless steel. This made him incredibly strong and durable, and also for some reason gave him the power to liquefy metal by producing intense levels of heat (weird, but useful). Steel could even turn himself into a super-powered puddle if he wanted to, although why he’d want to is another question entirely. Unfortunately for Irons these powers weren’t to last, as his metal outer coating gradually peeled off to reveal human skin beneath. Even so, he remains as steely as ever, always ready to join the fight if he’s needed.
9 THE METAL MEN
The Metal Men are a group of super-powered robots that debuted in “Showcase” #37 back in the Silver Age. Don’t let their fun look fool you: they’re a powerful bunch of odd-bolts. Each robot was designed by mad scientist Dr. Will Magnus with powers and personalities to emulate their namesake metals.
The team’s leader, Gold, can soften and stretch his body to immense proportions, and his female counterpart Platinum can flatten herself out so she’s incredibly thin (because apparently that’s all girls care about, according to creator Robert Kanigher). As the resident hot-head, Mercury can melt down and liquefy, whereas Iron is the strong, steadfast type. Lead’s a bit thick -- geddit? -- but can repel radiation by morphing into a shield. And Tin just sort of holds things and spins around a lot. But hey, no team’s perfect!
As part of a 1993-1994 retcon in “Metal Men” Vol.2 #1-4, Dr. Magnus got a metal upgrade after being fatally wounded, becoming the team’s new leader after Gold’s death and assuming the identity Veridium. They've only had a minimal impact during the "New 52" reboot, but these loveable metal heroes are sure to return soon.
8 COMMANDER STEEL
There’ve been three incarnations of Commander Steel (otherwise known as Citizen or Captain Steel) since the metal-clad hero first appeared in “Steel, The Indestructible Man” #1 back in 1978. Interestingly, each Steel hails from the same family. Now there’s some good genes! The first was a WWII hero that took on Nazis, but it’s his super-powered grandsons that intrigue CBR most of all, at least for the purposes of this list.
Both wield superhuman strength and wear metallic bodysuits, allowing them to withstand devastating blows from a powerful opponent without leaving a scratch. However, this power does have its challenges -- being able to put things down properly, for instance, and leaving cracks in pavements because the suit's so heavy (a small price to pay!). In “Justice Society of America” #15, it was explained that the suit actually keeps Steel’s abilities in check. So, the more naked he gets, the more powerful he becomes? That’s“metal” enough for us!
Just to clarify: when we say Vision, we’re not talking about the original, green-skinned alien dreamed up by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby in the 1940s. Ohhh, no. After Stan Lee and Roy Thomas decided to make Vision a super-powered synthezoid in “The Avengers” #57, this particular hero got a helluva lot more “metal.” Vibranium metal, to be precise… at least in the MCU.
Like Jocasta, Vision was originally created by Ultron, but unlike her, he was designed as a straight-up death machine with enough firepower to take on the Avengers single-handed. So, what can he do? It might be easier to describe what he can’t do. As a walking, talking supercomputer, Vision is gifted with superior intelligence and the ability to take control of any technology he chooses, including the world's nuclear weapons systems. He can also alter his density and mass, going from a floaty ghost to impenetrable fortress-man in seconds. He is, without question, one of the most powerful Avengers of all time, and definitely metal AF.
6 SILVER SURFER
The Silver Surfer is a super-powered humanoid covered in an otherworldly metallic coating who rides through the galaxy on a shiny cosmic surfboard heralding the apocalypse. Of course he's going to be on this list! Thanks to his ability to wield the Power Cosmic, his power range is insane: his surfboard allows him to journey through interstellar space, move through time, and even take others along for the ride (as seen in “The Silver Surfer” #6). On top of that, he can convert matter into energy, meaning he doesn’t need food, water, air or sleep and can survive anywhere, even within a black hole. Oh, and did we mention he can produce cosmic bolts powerful enough to destroy a planet? Heroes don’t come much more “metal” than this!
The Surfer has proven himself to be a menace at times, battling other heroes under misguided assumptions (like Thor in “Silver Surfer” #4) or being tricked into using his powers for sport (as seen in “Incredible Hulk” Vol.3 #95). However, the Silver Surfer proved his worth when he overcame Galactus’ brainwashing and saved Earth from impending doom, and has since fought to defend the Marvel Universe on countless occasions alongside the Fantastic Four and the Defenders.
No list of hard-hitting metal heroes would be complete without Colossus, the unstoppable mutant who’s able to transform his entire body into super-strong organic steel armor. His superhuman strength, stamina and durability arguably make him one of the toughest X-Men of all, even more so after Magneto realigned his cells as part of the 1986 “Mutant Massacre” crossover event.
Although he’s a superb hand-to-hand combatant, so his ability to attack shouldn’t be sniffed at, what’s most impressive about Colossus are his defensive capabilities. Shoot him with a rocket launcher, throw him off a 100-storey building, hit him with a magical attack, and hey presto, he’s fine! When he took over from Juggernaut as the unstoppable Avatar of Cyttorak, Colossus was also pretty much impervious to injury and had the power to ignore any impediment to his movement, no matter the size or density. Any man who can power through almost anything and come out unscathed on the other side is pretty damn “metal” in our eyes!
It wouldn’t be unreasonable to suggest that Chris Claremont’s mega-cyborg creation, Cable, who started out in “New Mutants” #87, is a veiled Terminator rip-off. Bulging muscles and blazing guns? Check. Elaborate back story involving time travel and alternative timelines? Check. Creepy red laser eye? Check. However, he’s since become a fan favorite and, perhaps as a result of that, is now one of the most fully-realized X-Men characters of the modern era.
As well as being one of the coolest-looking characters on the list, he’s also probably one of the most formidable: sure, his biomechanical arm and cybernetic eye make him stronger, tougher and enhance his field of vision, but don’t forget, he’s also a powerful mutant with a highly sought-after lineage (Cyclops and a Jean Grey clone? Jackpot!) gifted with telekinetic and telepathic abilities.
We here at CBR wouldn’t be doing our jobs if we didn’t also give a shout out to the Winter Soldier and on-off Captain America, Bucky Barnes, who also rocks an enhanced cybernetic arm that gives him super-strength and lightning-fast reflexes. Plus, unlike Cable, Bucky can operate his arm remotely via mental implant when it’s detached… but is that cooler than a super-arm from the future? You decide!
3 X-O MANOWAR
Aric of Dacia is a 5th-century barbarian Visigoth who managed to turn the tables on his alien abductors by taking control of one of their greatest weapons, the X-O Manowar armor. That should earn the darling of Valiant Comics considerable kudos in itself, but Manowar’s soooo much more than a time-and-space travelling super-thief.
Upon finding his way back to Earth and discovering that he’s been gone for about 1,600 years (because of time-space relativity and stuff), he made quite a show of his abilities, which include enhanced strength, speed and reflexes, invulnerability, halted ageing and accelerated healing, flight, X-ray vison, energy manipulation and, because creators Jim Shooter and Bob Layton really wanted to throw the kitchen sink at him, teleportation, technopathy and ESP, as well. He was already a ferocious warrior, so all this extra metal borders on overkill. The character was later reimagined in 2012 by Robert Venditti and Cary Nord for the Valiant relaunch in "X-O Manowar," but his powers are largely the same: he's still very much meant for war!
Vic Stone proves that you can’t keep a good guy down in the comic book world… especially when his parents have got a load of high-tech mechanical parts lying around at S.T.A.R. labs, just waiting to be claimed. After his body was mangled in a terrible accident -- originally caused by a rampaging space-monster in the pre-New 52 universe, but later retconned in “Justice League” Vol.2 #2 to incorporate the Mother Box explosion -- Stone became Cyborg, a part-man part-machine mash up that’s so “metal” it hurts.
His cybernetic enhancements give him superhuman strength, endurance and durability, enable flight and enhance his vision and hearing. He can release concentrated blasts of sound from his “sonic cannon” that are potent enough to shatter rock or deform steel. Oh, and he’s also got lasers in his fingers and a grappling hook if, y’know, all that flying around gets boring. As if all that wasn’t cool enough, Cyborg acquired a boatload of new skills during the New 52 revamp and can now assimilate with other technology, shapeshift, emit EMP blasts covering a 50-meter radius and teleport his super friends around using a Boom Tube. This is one metal man you don’t wanna mess with!
Whoa, what a curve ball! The most “metal” superhero here isn’t metallically augmented at all. He does, however, have the capacity to manipulate it on a superhuman scale using magnetic fields, meaning he could probably take everyone on this list and win without even breaking a sweat. Now that we mention it, he does have an unfortunate habit of switching sides… but isn’t that half the fun of being an anti-hero?
Magneto’s magnetic powers extend right down to the atomic level (which makes sense when you think about it, given that electromagnetic force is responsible for chemical bonding), meaning he can manipulate chemical structures and rearrange matter with the power of his mutant mind. He can also use his magnetism as a kind of force-field that can selectively block out certain types of matter and energy that’s powerful enough to withstand the simultaneous detonation of multiple thermonuclear weapon blasts.
Throw in hardened telepathic resistance with or without the helmet, powers of astral projection and flight, and the ability to wield Thor’s hammer by manipulating its metallic properties (at least in the late Ultimate Universe, during “Ultimates” Vol.3 #5), and it makes for a pretty unsurpassable opponent. Magneto wins, hands down!
Are there any other metal heroes you think should have made our list? Let us know in the comments!