The Marvel universe is home to a variety of different superheroes and supervillains, and characters who make up Marvel Comics and film adaptations. Founded some 80 years ago, Marvel contains a variety of fictional places and people that act as a fantastic form of entertainment for invested audiences around the world.
With thousands of superhumans, mutants, and ridiculously intellectual specimens, there is no shortage of exciting elements when it comes to Marvel. Here are the top 10 Marvel heroes and villains to have graced comic strips as well as the silver screen.
Thor Odinson, King of Asgard and a member of the Avengers, is primarily known for his magical hammer Mjolnir forged by Dwarven blacksmiths. As a great symbol of his character, those who are worthy to possess the hammer are empowered with Thor’s essence.
First featured in Marvel Comics in 1962, Thor’s immense strength and presumptuous self-indulgence often get him into trouble. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, his father Odin banishes Thor from Asgard due to his own sheer bravado and stupidity.
This results in Thor losing his armor, a hauberk made entirely of Asgardian steel, and preventing him from lifting the hammer that embodies Thor’s spirit. Mjolnir grants Thor a variety of capabilities including transportation to different dimensions, manipulation of the climate around him, and the ability to fly.
In addition to these superpowers, Thor has basic superhuman abilities including enhanced strength, speed, and stamina. These powers are most commonly represented in the film adaptations. According to IGN, he is at the top of the list for “The Top 50 Avengers,” a believable claim, because who doesn’t love a hero who can shoot lightning from a hammer?
9. Steve Rogers
Formally known as Captain America, Steve Rogers was once a small guy from Brooklyn with a huge heart and tiny muscles. Steve wanted to enlist in the military but got turned down each time he tried because of his small stature.
This led to his desire to become a test subject in a secret military experiment in 1943. Doctors injected him with Super Soldier Serum. The substance was inserted into Steve’s major muscle groups causing his body to triple in size, growing inhumanly bigger and stronger than before.
Being the only living test subject, he was enlisted into the military and helped defeat H.Y.D.R.A, a terror-criminal-paramilitary group organization attempting to achieve world domination, among other things.
In the movies, Captain America is a superhero who may have been genetically altered, but his morals remain the same. His diligence, loyalty, and sweet personality only add to his character’s depth as he leads the Avengers in fighting crime around the world.
Dressed in a red, white, and blue superhero suit, Captain America’s most prominent symbol is his near-indestructible vibranium shield.
Magneto is a powerful mutant who has a love-hate relationship with the X-Men. Born Max Eisenhardt, Magneto survived Auschwitz, where he served a group of Jewish men called the Sonderkommando. The group was forced to help the Nazis run gas chambers, ovens, and fire pits.
Out of a family of three, Max was the only Holocaust survivor. Magneto’s powers allow him to control, maintain, and exist in magnetic fields. He believes mutants should be the dominant species of the world and aims to conquer the human race.
He feels that he and others with special abilities are far superior to regular mortals and that mutants should be praised and respected instead of hurt and ridiculed. Despite being good friends with Charles Xavier, leader of the X-Men, he often clashes with him because of their different principles.
With an aggressive and often volatile approach toward obtaining the rights he feels all superhumans deserve, he teeters on the line between good and evil. Magneto regularly switched between being an enemy and an ally to the X-Men. This antihero has been in four movies. According to IGN, he is the “Greatest Comic Book Villain of All Time.”
Quicksilver is a mutant superhero who fights evil with the Avengers. He also stars in his own series. He has made appearances in several films including Captain America: The Winter Soldier and X-Men: Days of Future Past. He is considered to be “the shining example of a villain turned good” according to IGN.
In addition to the ability to move at great speeds, Quicksilver can also speak and think similarly. His greatly elevated stamina levels make it easy for him to dash around like lightning, and his superhuman reflexes are often great assets to the Avengers team.
Also known as Pietro Django Maximoff, Quicksilver and his twin sister, Wanda, both discovered that they had unusual talents and abilities at a young age. Quicksilver has super speed and Wanda has the ability to control probabilities. Raised by a couple named Django and Marya Maximoff, the foursome was forced to steal food from villages to survive.
Enraged camp dwellers caught Django stealing and attacked the family, causing Quicksilver to flee with his Wanda using his speed. Following an incident in which Wanda accidentally catches a house on fire, the duo are saved by Magneto. After several run-ins with the X-Men, Iron Man recruits the siblings to the second generation of the Avengers.
6. Peter Parker
Peter Parker, more commonly known by his superhero name, Spiderman, is one of the most recognizable and well-known Marvel characters. Hailing from Queens, Parker wasn’t known for much besides being a goofy nerd with a camera. After his parents died in a plane crash, he was raised by his aunt May and uncle Ben.
Peter’s life was flipped upside down when he was bitten by a radioactive spider during a field trip. The arachnid passed special powers on to Peter. Spiderman’s abilities included super-strength, the capability to jump from extreme heights, increased speed and durability, cognitive spider senses, and the ability to climb walls and buildings using nothing but his bare hands.
Not only did these powers allow him to catch criminals around New York, but they also put him in the position to compete with various supervillains who threatened the safety of the world. As the mascot for Marvel, Spiderman makes appearances across comic strips, social media, and a variety of wildly successful movie series.
The role of Spidey has been reprised by several actors across a multitude of films with portrayals by the likes of Tobey Maguire from 2002 to 2007, Andrew Garfield from 2012 to 2014, and Tom Holland since 2016.
5. Charles Xavier
Charles Xavier is Professor X, an extremely important and fantastic character known for his role in the X-Men series. Since birth, Charles’ powers emerged at a rapid progression, allowing him to telepathically read, control, and alter the thoughts of someone’s mind.
Not only does this make Professor X a powerful mutant, but it also meant that, had he chosen to be a supervillain, his capabilities would have been a force to be reckoned with. As the founder of the uncanny X-Men, Charles runs a special private school in upstate New York to protect and train mutants from around the world.
His exceptional talents allow him to be a driving force of good in the world. He seeks peace between humans and mutants so that they may coexist without harming one another. By guiding young and confused superhumans, who are often ridiculed and misunderstood by their peers and parents alike, Professor X is able to cultivate and spread this belief system.
Although Professor X is a friend to many, his prominent philosophies on equality for all living beings do not allow him to make nice with every mutant who crosses his path. A prime example of this is Magneto, who believes the opposite of Professor X’s strict idea of the world.
In addition, Professor X is well-versed in creating technology to enhance his capabilities, allowing him to continue taking in orphans and maximizing upon their highest potential.
4. Bruce Banner
Known as Dr. Robert Bruce Banner, the exceptionally talented scientist held degrees in nuclear physics, biochemistry, and gamma radiation. One of the most accomplished chemists of his time, he worked on a recreation of the Super Soldier Serum that turned Steve Rogers into Captain America.
Instead of succeeding in this, however, Bruce was accidentally exposed to gamma radiation instead, which completely altered the course of Bruce’s intended path. From a calm, collected, and noble scientist, Bruce became afflicted with a horrendous condition.
Whenever angry, Bruce’s body turns into the Hulk: a massive monster with green skin and a violent, rage-induced vengeance. Bruce became a recluse to avoid hurting those around him.
Instead, he focused on saving the lives of the sick and impoverished, whilst avoiding triggering elements and people that may turn him into the monster he could become. Despite his desire to live in seclusion, the strength and capabilities of the Hulk were sought out by the Avengers, who needed his power and durability to help save the world.
In addition to being a wonderful ally, Bruce also became close friends with Tony Stark. After the Avengers split and subsequently regrouped to fight the HYDRA Uprising, Bruce was allowed to leave the team without the fear of being hunted any longer.
3. Tony Stark
Before becoming the beloved superhero, Iron Man, with a variety of incredibly fancy, sought-after suits, Tony Stark was a man leading a wealthy industry. The playboy mastermind headed Stark Industries.
Tony’s innovative mindset was what made him such a distinguished character, especially when he was kidnapped by the Ten Rings, a terrorist group that wanted him to build a missile capable of decimating a small town. Left to his own devices, Tony decided to create a special suit that would allow him to escape the group’s clutches.
The armored creation aided him in returning home, where he subsequently designed several other suits that not only allowed him to sustain his life, but also created his infamous, crime-fighting alter ego, Iron Man. As the world became threatened by dark forces time and time again, Tony eventually teamed up with the Avengers.
He continued creating new mechanisms and ideas to help whittle down the evils of the universe. His laidback sense of humor and ability to make sarcastic jokes in the darkest times makes Tony a relatable and well-liked character in the Marvel universe.
Potentially one of the most interesting and relatable characters in all of superhero history, Wolverine, also known as Logan and Weapon X, is a mutant with bone claws that protrude from his knuckles.
He possesses several unique abilities that allow him to regenerate damaged parts of his body at a rapid rate as well as enhanced speed, strength, endurance, cognitive abilities, and reflexes. Born in 1886, Logan has seen more than the average person over the years, enabling him to often drink away his memories as his highly regenerative body doesn’t allow him to move on.
After a dark upbringing, Logan lived in exile with wolves for many years. He eventually joined the military in various parts of the world, living as a samurai in Japan, an operative for the CIA, and a supposed caveman in Canada. In addition to this, he vaguely remembers meeting Captain America during a stint in World War II.
Later, Logan was taken to be a part of the Weapon X program, which fitted his skeleton with a special, indestructible metal called adamantium. A brooding character that quickly became a favorite among X-Men fans, Wolverine has starred in everything from his own comic series to riveting film adaptations, where he is played by actor Hugh Jackman.
He has allied with both the Avengers and the X-Men, aiding them with his everlasting deadly skills.
As one of the funniest and deadliest Marvel characters to date, Deadpool is as unique as they come. Known as Wade Wilson, Deadpool was a Special Forces operative who later became a mentally unstable mercenary.
When he discovers that his body is ridden with cancer, Wade sets out to find an unorthodox cure to his problems. He leaves behind the love of his life whom he refuses to weigh down with his terminal illness. This leads him to a government-run research facility where he becomes a test subject.
Although Deadpool’s cancer was in fact “cured” by the program, he was incessantly tortured in order to find a pre-existing genetic mutation within his DNA. The evil scientists sought to sell off his DNA to the highest bidder.
Through their experiments, Wade gains an incredible feature at the expense of his charmingly handsome looks – the ability to regenerate much faster than the typical human being. Deadpool transformed into a mutant-like, grotesque creature who could regrow any organ and every other feature on his body.
Deadpool rose to mainstream fame after the release of his self-titled comedic action film in 2016. A box office success, the movie received two Golden Globe nominations and two Critics’ Choice Award wins.