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Marvel has a massive catalog of characters in its comic book history – somewhere around the range of 8000 staple characters, and exponentially more if you count ancillary, one-offs, and multiverse versions of folks. Only a small fraction of these have been introduced to the big and small screens, so many in the larger public know little about the expansively populated universe encompassed by the Marvel brand. While we have seen quite a few extremely powerful heroes and villains in live action, the vast majority of the most potent Marvel entities haven’t made their way off the comic book page yet. And so, we present you with the 15 most powerful Marvel characters, ranked according to utility of abilities. It should be noted, though, that for the sake of not boring readers with a bunch of unknown names and Lovecraftian space monsters, Eternals, Celestials, and cosmic beings have been left off the list. And when I say cosmic beings, I mean true cosmic beings, not aliens or Earth-born spacefarers, so let’s not hit the Twitter comments with our superior Marvel prowess all at once. We’re well aware that your nerd knowledge is infallible.
Gabriel Summers, brother to Scott and Alex Summers of X-Men fame, is an Omega-level mutant, far more powerful than his brothers. He is so powerful in fact, that he took over Emperorship of the Shi’ar Empire. Vulcan has the ability to control water, wind, earth, fire, electricity, light, and darkness, and can channel these forces into a blast of deadly magnitude. He eventually even learned how to use his powers to produce force-fields, and lift and move objects. Not only that, Vulcan has, on occasion, learned to siphon power from other mutants, not unlike Rogue. He can also detect, suppress, and manipulate energy from any source nearby. He’s taken on beings as strong as Black Bolt, and has simultaneously fought the X-men, the Inhumans and the Starjammers, all on his lonesome. Vulcan was presumed dead after a rare moment of heroism in which he sacrificed himself to save his brother Scott. But rumors of his demise have been greatly exaggerated.
Everyone should know the Hulk by now. He is what happens when Dr. Bruce Banner gets mad. Basically, he turns into a giant, green, unstoppable monster that destroys everything in his path. This characteristic took hold of the good doctor when he was exposed to an experimental gamma bomb detonation, causing him to absorb massive amounts of gamma radiation. Ever since, the Hulk has taken over Bruce Banner’s body when he sees red, turning him from a brilliant, but fragile scientist into a giant green rage monster with the intelligence of a toddler. The angrier the Hulk gets, the stronger he becomes. The Hulk has displayed on many occasions a nearly invincible exterior, and strength that can match almost the best the Marvel universe has to offer. Strength-wise, he is beyond class 100 strength (strong enough to press 100 tons). This dude’s destroyed meteors the size of Earth with his fists. He’s got skills.
Regarding Red Hulk, this was an extreme act taken by General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross to deal with the Hulk when all other measures had failed. Assisted by AIM and the Intelligencia, experimentation resulted in the birth of Ross’s Red Hulk form. While his formidability against the regular Hulk is still in question, Red Hulk has a few advantages over Bruce Banner’s transformative state. General Ross can shift forms at will instead of having to get angry. He also retains the entirety of his intelligence and memories when he goes red. Also, unlike the Hulk, Red Hulk’s anger only makes him burn hotter, rather than get stronger. This can be seen as a strength or a weakness, depending on the situation. But if he gets hot enough, Red Hulk will lose consciousness. However, he can get stronger in a different way. You see, Red Hulk absorbs energy, and the more he absorbs, the stronger he gets. And if he absorbs enough, he will eventually explode, causing damage to everyone within a certain radius.
Now, we should talk about Skaar. Skaar is the son of the Hulk in an alternate reality. He hasn’t appeared in enough material to fully analyze his stats, but it has been shown that his strength surpasses that of dear old dad. He also has a healing factor greater than Wolverine’s. His accolades include falling to earth from outer space and surviving (Although we’ve seen the Hulk do this in Avengers: Infinity War) and cracking the supposedly unbreakable armor of the Juggernaut with a single punch, sending him into orbit in the process. This dude is not to be messed with.
Apocalypse makes his way into this position on the list because he is technically stronger than the Hulk. He also has a multitude of other abilities, including telepathy, telekinesis, and shapeshifting. And that’s just touching the surface of his powers. One of the first mutants ever born, En Sabah Nur was conceived in ancient Egypt and rejected for his strange appearance. But he showed them what for! Combining his inborn gifts with the technology he discovered in Rama Tut’s tomb and on a Celestial spaceship, he soon became the most powerful being on Earth at the time. He’s used said technology to regenerate himself repeatedly, surviving to this present day. Eventually, Apocalypse founded the idea of having four horsemen accompany him on his genocidal endeavors, enlisting powerful mutants and others against their will, including Archangel and Wolverine. He’s had multiple incursions with the X-Men, specifically Cyclops, Jean Grey, and Cable, mostly attempting to syphon their powers. He’s almost taken over the world several times. Hey, he is Apocalypse.
While the MCU films have powered him down a bit in order to make full-length features where the bad guys don’t die in thirty seconds, Thor is incredibly powerful. In the comics, The Norse God of Thunder can destroy planets, control the weather (including summoning lightning bolts), fly through space at the speed of light, and even break adamantium. That’s right, Thor could smash Wolverine’s metal skeleton if he wanted to. He has beyond class 100 strength. And let’s not forget, he has the might of his hammer, Mjolnir, behind him as well. Oh, and he’s also immortal. Thor has fought Thanos, the Hulk, the Silver Surfer, and even Galactus.
Odin is, of course, Thor’s dad. As such, he’s strong enough to whip Thor’s ass, if need be. He’s immortal (as opposed to the MCU version), he’s magical, and he can do a whole bunch of gnarly things. For one thing, he can absorb the powers of all the other Asgardians to increase his own fortitude. But the best of Odin’s arsenal is the Odinforce. The limits of this power are still unknown, but so far he’s used it to resurrect dead beings, manipulate the life-forces of his subjects, use telepathy, and enchant weapons with magical abilities (Where do you think Mjolnir came from?). And yes, he too has fought Galactus. Maybe that should be a qualifier for this list.
Hercules (Yes, that Hercules) is, of course, the son of the Olympian god, Zeus. While not cosmic (none of that on this list!), he can survive the vacuum of space and resist cosmic attacks. He ranks above Thor here because he’s technically the stronger of the two. In fact, he is considered by many authorities to be the physically strongest character Marvel has ever created. According to legend, he replaced Atlas in holding the sky on his shoulders. More recently, he single-handedly moved the island of Manhattan, claimed in the comics to having weighed 99,000,000,000 tons. Thor never did that. Further, he has beaten both Thor and the Hulk in battle. Hercules is immortal as well, and wields the power of an adamantite mace and the protection of a Namean Lion skin cape, which is virtually indestructible.
Hercules’s father, Zeus, is close in strength to that of his son. He’s beaten the likes of Thor and the Hulk in battle. Not only does he have super-strength, he has super-speed, and the power of flight. And, being Zeus, he can summon and throw lightning bolts. Thor and Odin, Zeus and Hercules… who do you think would win at a father-son company games picnic?
Now while Dr. Strange may not possess the physical prowess of some of our earlier picks on the list, he doesn’t have to. He is the Sorcerer Supreme, the magic man, the most powerful wizard in the world. His command over magic is indomitable, allowing him to perform such feats as levitation, teleportation, time travel, astral projection, dimensional travel, and a host of other cool magical stuff. His powers have varied greatly over the years, and at times has been difficult to define, but at his best, Strange can do almost anything. He was the protector (and user) of the Time Stone, and let’s not forget that awesome living cape of his. And yes, he has beaten Galactus in battle.
Captain Marvel, like Thor, is even more powerful in the comics than on the big screen. Carol Danvers, aside from being crazy strong, indestructible, capable of interstellar flight, and able to shoot photon beams at folks, is also precognitive. She can also control gravity and light, and can manipulate and absorb radiation and magic. This isn’t explored in the films, but she can tether herself to a white hole to gain even more power. As Marvel Studios’ Kevin Feige has said, "Captain Marvel, she is as powerful a character as we've ever put in a movie. Her powers are off the charts, and when she's introduced, she will be by far the strongest character we've ever had." This is a man who knows what he's talking about.
Gladiator is the leader of the Shi'ar imperial guard, and is stronger than the Juggernaut, Thor, and the Hulk. In fact, he’s taken a punch to the face by the Juggernaut without blinking. Kallark (his real name) competed against a host of other beings for the title of Gladiator. Being of the planet Strontia, Kaalark already had impressive physiology, but the Gladiator trials granted him so much more. He can fly, survive in outer space, and he’s super-fast, super-durable, and super-strong, the levels of which increase with his confidence. When he feels really good about himself, he can destroy entire planets. Gladiator has easily K.O.’ed the Thing, broke Hyperion’s back, and even beat Vulcan in combat, taking one of his eyes as a prize. If hearsay is to be believed, Gladiator has also collapsed stars and destroyed black holes. He has the stamina to fight for days before feeling tired. He can shoot energy beams from his eyes so intense they can burn the skin off the Hulk. Oh, and he can blow hurricane-level winds out of his lungs. Gladiator may just be the Superman of the Marvel universe. I mean, this is a guy that’s survived a supernova explosion. I'm not sure even Supes has done that before.
While the Wanda Maximoff of cinematic and comic book presence are dissimilar in origin, both versions have immense power. Whether you consider her to be a mutant, a science experiment, a witch, or all three, she’s got the goods. She can fly, she can blast enemies with energy, and she can perform telekinesis and telepathy. She can also cast probability-altering hexes and chaos magic, but more importantly, she can alter the very fabric of reality itself. In WandaVision, she resurrected Vision and gave life to two children in a very unnatural way. In the comics, she killed or depowered over 90% of the mutant population with a single thought. Wanda is, in fact, a Nexus Being: those very few and rare individuals who can affect probability, and thus the future of the world. In the movies, Wanda went up against Thanos twice, without a scratch. In WandaVision, the evil witch Agatha told her that she could destroy the world. While several figures placed earlier in the list have been known to destroy worlds, Wanda’s ability to psychically control reality itself places her above them.
Another Omega-level mutant, Hope Summers was the first mutant born after the Scarlet Witch killed/depowered over 90% of the world’s mutant population. She was considered a danger by much of the world’s population, so the heroic Cable, son of Cyclops and a clone of Jean Grey (I know, it’s a lot) saved Hope and took her to the future with him. Much like Rogue, Hope has the power to absorb other mutants’ abilities, with three major differences. She doesn’t have to touch them, the mutant subject doesn’t lose his or her abilities in the process, and Hope gets to keep the powers forever. Unfortunately, like her mother’s original version, Hope has a connection to the Phoenix Force (Yes, I know it’s cosmic, but Hope isn’t), which makes her and her powers a bit unstable. She earns this rank on the list because she beat Scarlet Witch in a fight.
You remember that show on FX! And you remember it because it ruled! And it ruled because Legion is such a bad-ass. Legion is one of the most powerful mutants ever born, and of Omega-level ranking, thanks to his papa, Charles Xavier. His powers are basically limitless, but handicapped by his fractured psyche caused by dissociative identity disorder. This took hold under the traumatic event of watching his stepfather get killed. It caused a psychic split, which left him as just one of an ocean of different personalities floating around in his brain, each in control of one of his abilities. Bummer. But throughout the series and the comics, David has demonstrated the powers of pyrokinesis, telepathy, super strength, super speed, super healing, time travel, mind control, and even reality alteration, not unlike Scarlet Witch. If Legion ever managed to get his shit together, he could be number one on this list.
Proteus (Kevin MacTaggert) is another Omega-level mutant, specifically capable of warping reality. Yep, very Scarlet Witch. But that’s not where his abilities end. Proteus has many varied and versatile powers. He can teleport anywhere in the Marvel universe and multiverse, generate forcefields, manipulate molecules to a degree, and terraform planets with a thought. He is one of the few beings who can travel to the Astral Plane. His telepathic and telekinetic abilities are off the charts. Proteus, in his natural form, is a being composed of pure energy, which basically makes him immortal. But no, this does not make him cosmic. Sadly, Kevin must possess human hosts from time to time to feed on. When he’s through with them, there’s basically nothing left but zombies. Hey, everybody’s got their issues.
Sentry is Canada’s attempt at creating a Captain America, but with 100,000 times the strength. And by gum, after decades of failed attempts, a random break-in at the facility and ingestion of the formula by meth addict Robert Reynolds (No, not the guy who plays Deadpool), led to a successful trial! As per the comics, Reynolds gained the power of a million exploding suns. Sentry has way above class 100 strength (he has ripped Carnage in two, and beaten She-Hulk, Thor, and Captain Marvel all at the same time), light speed flight, and telepathic powers far in excess of Professor X. Let’s see… what else… oh, he can resurrect the dead and his senses are so magnified that he can hear a butterfly's heartbeat halfway across the world. Nick Fury has classified him as a being of power Level 10+ and Mister Fantastic has designated him an Omega-level threat. Unfortunately, a dark mirror version of himself, the Void, emerged and wreaked some havoc, until Sentry accepted it as part of himself and they merged, creating an even more powerful being. Sentry has the power of molecular manipulation, and has beaten Molecule Man in battle. Why do you think he’s here on the list? Unfortunately, Sentry doesn’t have full control of his abilities, and has often relied on his alter-ego, the Void, to take over when things get risky. But this has become much less of a problem since overcoming his agoraphobia. Now, he can use his molecular powers to build things and even sentient beings. That’s some deity-type behavior, right there. Furthermore, Sentry needs no food or water, has no known vulnerabilities, and is effectively immortal. Has he beaten Galactus in a fight? He sure has!
Franklin Richards, son of Fantastic Four members Reed Richards and Susan Storm Richards, is far more powerful than any member of his parents’ team. The kid’s an Omega-level mutant, often classified in terms of future potential as the most powerful mutant in the Marvel Universe. He is capable of altering reality and creating pocket universes just with a thought. He’s defeated Celestials, and is thought, quite sensibly, to have powers as great, if not greater, than those masters of the universe. Like the most powerful on this list, he can manipulate molecules. Further, he has the gifts of telepathy, telekinesis, time-travel, energy projection, precognition, super-durability, and astral projection. Oh, and (sigh), an adult version of the character did beat Galactus. Is there anyone who hasn’t? I’m starting to wonder.
Molecule Man, Molecule Man, can do anything that… No, that song doesn’t work. Anyway, Molecule Man (formerly Owen Reese) was created in a freak accident involving an atomically powered device. It also had the unfortunate side-effect of opening a hole between Earth and the dimension of the Beyonders, but that’s a topic for a different article. The accident gave Reese the power to control the molecules of, well, anything. Of course, his first instinct was to take over the world. That didn’t happen, thankfully. You see, Reese’s powers were hampered by psychological issues stemming from his mother. But as everything in the entire universe is made of molecules, Molecule Man, at his best, can do just about anything to anything or anyone. He can basically manipulate all forms of matter in the universe, or even the Marvel multiverse. He can transmute objects or beings on the atomic or subatomic level, thereby turning a substance into something completely different. On the molecular level, he can change the shape of objects or people. Owen can also affect giant landscapes, and has been shown moving entire mountain ranges. He can also shoot powerful energy bolts, and travel through hyperspace and between dimensions. Effectively, he could destroy Earth, or even the universe at any time he wishes. He is at the top of this list because Uatu himself, the Watcher, has proclaimed that Molecule Man is the most powerful being in the Marvel multiverse. I’m going to take his word for it.
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I was a computer scientist who became a lawyer, who became an amateur novelist/screenwriter, who became a pop culture content writer and never looked back. Currently I write movie/tv/video game features for Collider.
With great power comes great online reputation.