Top 50 Marvel Characters #5

Now Marvel's turn...

5. The Thing - The Thing (Ben Grimm) - 850 points (12 first place votes)

Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Ben Grimm, the Thing, had his dialogue based on the popularity personality, Jimmy Durante, whose working class New York attitude fit the Thing's attitude perfectly, right along with Thing's battle cry, "It's clobberin' time!"

A college friend of Reed Richards, Grimm agreed to pilot an experimental spaceship that Richards had built. Along with Richards' girlfriend and her brother, the quartet snuck into the launch site and took off. Sadly, the shields on the ship failed, and the four were bombarded with cosmic radiation, which, when they returned to Earth, resulted in the foursome gaining fantastic powers.

The problem was, though, that while all four of them gained powers, besides gaining super strength and super durability, Ben also was mutated into a rocky monstrous looking creature. As you might imagine, Ben was not pleased by this situation, but ever the trooper, he agreed to join the other three in the Fantastic Four, to use their powers for the good of mankind, while Richards would work on a cure for Ben's condition.

Along the way, Ben began a relationship with the noted blind sculptress, Alicia Masters. She was able to accept the man inside the monstrous appearance, which did Ben a world of good.

Ben has a bit of a temper, so he clashed with the other members of the FF a number of times over the years, but for the most part, he continued as a stalwart member of the team for as long as the team was around. His longest absence came when, after an interplanetary battle called Secret Wars, Ben learned he could control his mutation on the planet. So he decided to stay on the planet for awhile, but eventually came back to Earth, and his monstrous fate.

More recently, Ben discovered that he was quite wealthy (due to some money Reed Richards had invested for him). It is unclear what Ben will exactly do with all this newfound wealth.

He is currently a member of the Fantastic Four.

Here is why our own blogger, Pol Rua, picked the Thing #1...

There are lots of reasons why I chose The Thing as my favourite Marvel character.

One of the main ones is that he's what I like to call a foot soldier. He's not the strongest, or the toughest, or the fastest. He's not 'the best there is at what he does'. He's certainly not the prettiest. But when the chips are down and the poop has hit the fan, you can bet your bottom dollar that he'll be there, giving his all until there's nothing left to give.

Ben Grimm is the sort of hero we can all be. Because his real power has nothing to do with cosmic rays and super-strength and everything to do with strength of character. Loyalty to your friends, bravery in the face of danger, showing warmth to those around you, helping where you can, and being willing to do whatever it takes no matter what are far greater powers than super strength or laser vision, and The Thing has these qualities in spades. In fact, sometimes, I'll forget I'm reading about a superhero when I'm reading about The Thing, because really, he contributes so much more than just being able to move a couch with his pinkie or crush a Buick into a bowling ball.

Add to that, of course, the skills he contributes as an astronaut, war hero and test pilot, and being able to bench-press a tank starts to look like the least of his abilities. At his heart, Ben Grimm is a blue-collar joe who gets in there and gets the job done. And all with a remarkable lack of egotism or self-promotion. He probably doesn't even see himself as either Super or a Hero. He's just a guy who does the best he can with what life has handed him, and by doing so, proves himself to be both.

Like a lot of Marvel's heroes, he has his problems, and can have a tendency to kvetch. But honestly, if you can't complain about looking like a giant orange turd 24/7, what can you complain about? And for all that, he gets over himself... and there are a lot of other characters who whinge more despite having less to deal with. Character. Once he's said his piece, he gets past it and gets the job done. It may seem a strange thing to say, but he's one of the more emotionally stable, generally up-beat guys in the Marvel Universe. He may grouse, but he very rarely wastes time on angst. He doesn't have time. He's got stuff to do. Best to make the most of the hand you're dealt and get on with it.

Ben Grimm is an everyman hero. An honest palooka who got dealt a bum deal and makes the best of it. A surprisingly down-to-earth guy who you could aspire to be like, but could also hang about, shooting the breeze and downing a couple of pints with. A guy who does the best he can with what he's got, who never gives up, and does what needs doing.

What's not to like?

Thanks, Pol!

#4 tomorrow!

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