Shapeshifting is one of the all-time great superpower fantasies. The ability change one’s appearance or even parts of their body into different objects is an attractive power for readers to latch onto. In the context of comics, many shapeshifters are the perfect spies. They are able to blend in to gather intelligence unnoticed by their foes and they use their gifts along with skills in acting to fool those around them. In combat, they may change their limbs into weapons, making them frightening threats.
Some of these characters may be on the more obscure side and some are the most well-known characters in their respective universes. Regardless, they are all fantastic and skilled shape-shifters. It is a testament to the writers and artists who bring these characters to life that each character can use their powers in a different and unique way.
16 CHAMELEON BOY (DC)
In "Legion of Super-Heroes," Reep Daggle was born on the planet Durla to a species of aliens who had orange skin, antennae, and long pointy ears. As a boy, his planet was reduced to a wasteland after a nuclear war. The Durlans have innate ability to shape-shift. It was that power that kept the species alive after the war. Reep and his family eventually escaped from Durla to Earth. In order to fight injustice, Reep joined the Legion as Chameleon Boy.
Chameleon Boy can change the appearance of his body to any shape, size or color. There is no limit to how long he can stay in another form nor how big or small his form can take. Chameleon Boy uses the antennae on his head to scan objects to transmute into. Once he scans an object, it is stored in his memory for him to recall at a later time. He is not able to replicate others’ superpowers, though.
15 MADAME ROUGE (DC)
Laura De Mille was an actress who was involved in a serious car accident. Afterward, she developed a split personality – one good, the other evil. De Mille met with the Brotherhood of Evil's leaders The Brain and Monsieur Mallah. The Brain performed surgery that both enhanced De Mille’s evil personality and gave her the ability to change her appearance at will. De Mille’s two halves have continuously battled against each other, resulting in her positions on both the Brotherhood of Evil roster and romantic encounters with Niles Caulder.
Madame Rouge is able to change her appearance, especially her face, at any time. She uses this power to trick the Doom Patrol and help out her evil partners in crime. She is also able to stretch parts of her body beyond what normal humans can. Her powers of shapeshifting, in addition to her acting abilities, made her a highly effective agent for the Brotherhood of Evil.
14 CHAMELEON (MARVEL)
Dmitri Smerdyakov was born in Russia and is the half-brother to famed Spider-Man villain Kraven the Hunter. Dmitri was a skilled impressionist as a boy and due to his traumatic upbringing, found it easier to pretend to be other people than his true self. As a career criminal, Chameleon ended up on the roster for several iterations of the Sinister Six. Dmitri infamously disguised himself as then Vice President Al Gore in a devious operation devised by Doctor Octopus.
Chameleon was injected with a serum that gave him his powers of shape-shifting and mimicry. He is able to instantly transform himself into anyone he chooses. He also wears special clothes that respond to his brain and change form much like his own body. It was revealed that the serum Chameleon was injected with slowed his aging process and therefore he is presumed to be much older than one would expect.
13 EVERYMAN (DC)
Hannibal Bates was patient zero in Lex Luthor’s Everyman Project. After gaining his powers, Bates went on to impersonate several characters, most notably Green Arrow. Bates spent so long masquerading as Green Arrow that he became mentally unbalanced and believed himself to be the true archer. Afterwards, he changed his supervillain name to Dark Arrow and teamed up with Cupid, who is another villain obsessed with Green Arrow. A version of Everyman appeared in season one of "The Flash" television show.
Everyman is unique on this list because unlike other characters he can only transform into different person after eating a small sample of said person. He can ingest anything ranging from a finger nail to a strand of hair or a small bit of skin. Once Hannibal Bates changes into someone else, his genetic code reads as that person. The process Bates underwent to become Everyman also made him a skilled fighter.
12 ANIMAL-VEGETABLE-MINERAL MAN (DC)
Sven Larsen was a scientist who obtained superpowers after an unlikely accident. Larsen would go on to wage battle with the Doom Patrol in order to seek revenge against Niles Caulder. Larsen claimed Caulder stole an invention from him and has never forgiven the leader of the Doom Patrol. Over the course of many encounters, there have been several times in which Larsen either lost his powers or was frozen to negate his villainous ways.
Larsen has the ability to transmute parts of his body into any conceivable animal, vegetable or mineral. He is most often shown to have one-quarter of his body as a normal man, one-quarter T-Rex, one-quarter tree and the final part as quartz. While he is capable of changing his whole body into just one thing at a time, he often does not. Despite the goofy nature of his powers, Larsen is regarded as one of Doom Patrol's more difficult foes to handle.
11 CHANGELING/MORPH (MARVEL)
Kevin Sydney is the name for two different characters in the Marvel Universe. One character used the identity Changeling and the other used the name Morph. The character Changeling originally appeared in the comics as Changeling. Kevin was then introduced as Morph in "X-Men: The Animated Series." That character’s popularity caused Marvel to introduce Morph into the comic book universe. Comics, everyone! Changeling originally acted as a villain, but then reformed his ways to join the X-Men briefly. Morph has always operated on the side of good.
Both Changeling and Morph are mutants with the ability to transform their appearance and voice into any other person they can imagine. Changeling posed as Charles Xavier for a time and was given limited telepathic powers by Xavier himself. Morph is able to change his shape beyond the size of a normal human. He is also able to alter his appearance into inanimate objects.
10 MISS MARTIAN (DC)
During a time of war, M’gann M’orzz fled her home planet of Mars to Earth with her parents. After arriving her parents were captured, experimented on, and tortured by the U.S. government. M’gann found herself in the company of the Teen Titans and briefly joined the team. She has struggled over the years, coping with her true White Martian identity. At one point, she relocated to the Australian outback because it reminded her of Mars’ climate.
White Martians and Green Martians share the same power sets despite their differing appearances. Miss Martian is able to fly, communicate telepathically, and has super-strength. Her ability to shape-shift is quite profound as she layers her identity through several forms. She masks her true identity as a White Martian by passing as a Green Martian via a relaxed, causal form and a battle-ready superhero form. M’gann passes as an Earth civilian in her Megan Morse identity.
9 THE SKRULLS (MARVEL)
The Skrulls are a race of aliens with green skin, jagged chins, and long elf-like ears. They originated from the Andromeda Galaxy in the far reaches of space. The Skrull race is typically shown to be vicious and war-mongering in nature. They are in constant battle with the Krees and the wars between the two often spill onto Earth. Several times throughout history, the Skrulls have successfully infiltrated Earth and posed as well-known heroes like Captain America.
All Skrulls have the ability to shape-shift and disguise themselves as other beings. Their powers of shapeshifting even extend to changing their voice. The Skrulls, however, cannot mimic superpowers. This is one way in which heroes of Earth can detect when Skrulls have assumed the identity of their fellow man. One notable exception is Kl’rt, the Super-Skrull. He has surgically enhanced powers that replicate the collective powers of the Fantastic Four in addition to his innate Skrull powers.
8 CLAYFACE (DC)
There have been several characters over the decades to take up the name of Clayface. The first two Clayfaces are the most notable of those holding the name. The first, Basil Karlo, was a failed actor who went on a murderous rampage when his most famous role was recast. Matt Hagen was an adventurer who was exposed to a mysterious substance. These two characters were combined into one for the depiction of Clayface in "Batman: The Animated Series."
Both characters’ bodies have been changed at a molecular level to adopt the properties of clay. They are typically depicted as being giant, hulking, wet masses of clay stalking their victims throughout Gotham. Clayface is able to change any part of his body into any object. Many times, he is shown making his arms into a weapon to fight Batman. Clayface can also change the size of his body to mimic another person. Basil Karlo’s acting skills make him particularly good at this.
7 APOCALYPSE (MARVEL)
En Sabah Nur was born in ancient Egypt and is considered the first mutant in human existence. Apocalypse has tried, unsuccessfully, over the course of several millennia to conquer the Earth and rule as he sees fit. There is an alternate timeline in which Apocalypse does conquer the world, known as "The Age Of Apocalypse." This is one timeline that the X-Men must always be aware of and fight to prevent. After his most recent resurrection, he was was reborn without any memory of his past life and was enrolled into the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning.
Apocalypse is host to a slew of superpowers including immortality, super-strength and telepathy. Using his shapeshifting powers, he can change his body at will into any design he wants. He has stated that he has complete control over his body even at the molecular level. This is why he can extend, grow, or change the appearance of his body. Typically, Apocalypse uses his shape-shifting power to be frightening in his appearance. Conversely, in the past he has disguised himself as a mere mortal man.
6 METAMORPHO (DC)
Rex Mason was a mercenary who was double-crossed and left for dead inside a cave. Inside that cave was a meteor that gave Rex powers and changed his body into a grotesque mismatch of different colors and textures. Rex, operating as Metamorpho, took to the streets and became a superhero. He found himself in the company of Batman’s group, The Outsiders, and has since primarily been a member of that group. He has also been on the roster of both the Doom Patrol and the Justice League of America.
Metamorpho, The Element Man, has full control over all the elements in existence. He can transmute any part of himself into different objects and sizes made up of one of the elements on the periodic table. He can even create complex substances using nothing more than his body. He often fights foes by transforming one of his arms into a large, swinging weapon like a giant mace or hammer.
5 MS. MARVEL (MARVEL)
Kamala Khan secretly went to a party without her parent’s permission. As she was going home, she was covered in Terrigen Mists – the secret gas that can activate latent Inhuman superpowers. When Kamala woke up, she found that she had superpowers! Kamala decided to follow in the footsteps of her favorite superhero, Captain Marvel, and take up that hero’s former alias of Ms. Marvel. Since then, Kamala has quickly proved herself to be a capable hero all the while juggling her life and fangirl-ing out at meeting other superheroes.
Kamala’s Inhuman genes allow her to change her whole body or parts of her body into any shape or configuration she wants. She can even disguise herself as someone completely different! She can stretch or shrink her body to become either a giant or tiny being. Alternately, Kamala can stretch her appendages outwardly over many yards. In addition to her shapeshifting powers, she also has accelerating healing similar to, but not as powerful as, Wolverine's.
4 MARTIAN MANHUNTER (DC)
J’onn J’onzz was born on Mars and for years upon years thought he was the last Green Martian in existence. His fellow Green Martians were slaughtered by the war-mongering White Martians. J’onn was teleported across time and space to Earth by a scientist experimenting with Martian artifacts. After his arrival, J’onn adopted the name Martian Manhunter and became a key member of the Justice League. Over the years, J’onn has learned to proudly call Earth his home planet due to the relationships he’s formed and, of course, his love of Oreo cookies.
J’onn possesses many superhero abilities including flight, super-strength and telepathy. However, his shapeshifting prowess is of particular note. J’onn spends extended periods of time passing as a mere Earthling. Due to his power set, he can even pretend to be other heroes when necessary. When push comes to shove, he can transform into a giant, usually draconic, monster to do battle with enemies of the Justice League.
3 PLASTIC MAN (DC)
Patrick "Eel" O’Brian was a petty criminal who was drenched in a mysterious acid. After recovering from the accident, O’Brian found he now possessed the power to stretch and reshape his body into any configuration imaginable. He adopted the name Plastic Man and became a superhero to atone for his criminal past. Plastic Man is an on-again, off-again member of the Justice League. Despite annoying other Leaguers with his highly energetic and often sarcastic attitude, he has proven himself to be a valuable member of the team.
In Frank Miller’s "The Dark Knight Strikes Again," Batman infamously referred to Plastic Man as "immeasurably powerful." Plastic Man is able to change his appearance into any object imaginable and manipulate his body into changing density or hardness. In another adventure, he traveled back in time and was presumably killed via explosion, but over the course of the next 3,000 years, he slowly pulled himself back together.
2 BEAST BOY (DC)
When Garfield Logan was a young boy he fell desperately sick with a rare illness. The only solution was to use the blood of a green monkey. The side effects of this cure turned his whole body green and gave him the ability to transform into any animal he could image. At first, Garfield was a member of the Doom Patrol, but then transferred over to the Teen Titans where he made his mark as a superhero. Since then, he’s been part of various incarnations of the Teen Titans and legacy groups with the other Titans.
Beast Boy is a true master in the art of shapeshifting. His ability to turn into any animal has been proven time and time again to a be a key aspect to the Teen Titans' successes in defeating their foes. His abilities let him transform into animals as big as a whale or as small as a fly. He can change so quickly that oftentimes he will switch from one animal to the next over the course of a conversation.
1 MYSTIQUE (MARVEL)
What makes Mystique, Raven Darkholme, the best shape-shifter in comics isn’t necessarily her powers, but rather her place as one of the central figures in the X-Men mythology. Over the course of many decades, Mystique has been a faithful follower and sometimes leader of various villainous organizations including the Brotherhood of Mutants and the Hellfire Club. She claims to be the birth mother of Nightcrawler and was a pseudo-foster mother to Rogue. Mystique was the architect behind the assassination attempt of Senator Robert Kelly during the classic "Days of Future Past" storyline. She even turned good on a few occasions to work for the X-Men and X-Factor.
While no one truly knows how old Mystique is, it is known that one of her first adventures was in the early 1920s. Since then, she has proved to be a shapeshifting powerhouse. While other characters on this list can change shapes temporarily, Mystique has such supreme command over her powers that she has over the course of her life tricked and imitated her way through several fake lives. It is that ability to fool other people to such a degree that makes Mystique the greatest shape-shifter of them all.
Who is your favorite shape-shifting character? Did we forget one? Let us know in the comments!