So, in our last poll we posited the question "who is Marvel's Greatest Superhero". Now this is an interesting question because, unlike their Distinguished Competition (to borrow a phrase from the late great Stan Lee), Marvel don't really have a "fixed pantheon" of superheroes. This is possibly down to their main super-team. Unlike the Justice League, the Avengers doesn't really have a "classic" line-up and hasn't ever really been the be all, end all of the Marvel Universe because, at various times, they've been overshadowed by other Marvel characters who weren't part of the Avengers (X-Men being a good example of this). With DC, all of their big hitters (both in universe and IRL) were in the Justice League and no other super team really came close, whereas Marvel had all of their in universe big hitters in the Avengers but none of their IRL biggest and most culturally significant characters were until around 2005 (40 odd years after the team first started). Obviously that has changed now, but having such a long period of fluidity has led to a very interesting result of our poll. So, I think I've rambled enough up here, let's actually jump into the list shall we:
Honorable Mentions: Captain Marvel (Carol Danvers), Black Panther (T'Challa), The Hulk (Bruce Banner)
10. Mister Fantastic (Reed Richards)
So, kicking off our list is the leader of Marvel's first family (though not their oldest nor longest running team) who helped relaunch Marvel's superhero line up in the early 60's. Certifiably the smartest man in any room he should choose to be in (even if that room should contain such other noted luminaries as Tony Stark, Hank Pym or Deadpool), he has at times been a couragous leader and a diabolical villain, a father and a father figure, a loving husband and a tremendous misogynist, a genius in every single scientific field he puts his elesticated mind to and a complete human idiot. Yet, all the way through his lengthy and fantastic career, one thing has always been constant: that he can't get a good movie to save his life.
9. Nightcrawler (Kurt Wagner)
Everyone's favourite blue, demonic BAMF master, Kurt is definately the X-Men member you'd most like to hang out with. He's from the Spider-Man school of "being funny is the best way to do superheroics" and his whole character is based around being a civilrous swashbuckler, whilst also being a devout Catholic with the body of a demon, which gives him just that extra bit of character depth which all good heroes should have. Plus he was once resurrected by teleporting out of heaven. Yup, he teleported from the spiritual world to the physical one. Not sure exactly how that's possible, but it's comics, nothing ever makes sense.
8. Professor X (Charles Xavier)
Speaking of the X-Men, let's now turn our attention to the grandaddy of all mutants (not in a literal sense of course, more metaphorical). Quite simply, there would not be an X-Men without Professor X, I mean, it's got his name on it. Another very, very smart man, he is a mutant civil rights advocate following the reconcilatory path as opposed to his friend and rival Magneto's speratist approach. He's also one of the strongest psychic's in all of comics (possibly second only to his student Jean Grey) and the best teacher in the history of ever. His school has a private spy plane under the basket ball court for crying out loud. Oh and there's also the matter of his wheelchair, a great example that one doesn't have to be a physical marvel to be a great hero.
7. Thor (Thor Odinson/ Donald Blake)
Now for someone who I bet a lot of people were assuming would be a lot higher on the list, considering his popularity in the MCU. Unfortunately, the Odinson just could muster the might to break into the top 5 in the votes. Weilding the hammer Mjolnir, which acts as a sort of benchmark for who is a truely "great" hero in the Marvel Universe (basically, if you can lift the thing you're already in the best of the best status), the hammer describes pretty well Thor's main role in the Avengers, he's what they use when something needs hitting really hard. But that's not all there is to him. Obviously, having all his best powers contained within something with an enchantment of worthiness on it means that he's got to remain worthy of his powers, which often leads to loss and redemption as he struggles to hold to those lofty ideals. Oh and because he's from Norse mythology, he has some pretty sucky family issues to deal with as well, not least of which is an adoptive brother with a major complex.
6. Wolverine (Logan)
Short both of height and temper, not very polite despite being Canadian and armed with claws coming out of his literal arms, Wolverine should be your straight up standard loner anti-hero. But his popularity (with both the writers and the fans) led to him becoming more and more central to the X-Men team to the point where he's easily the most recognisable member, despite not being an original member of either the OG 60's team, nor the Ultimates reboot. And of course, he's got the mother of all tragic backstories.
5. Dr. Strange (Stephan Strange)
Probably a few people will be wondering how Dr. Strange got so high on this list, but I put this to you: How can you not like someone who pairs the 70's 'stache with a cape that has a collar so large you could actually use it to fly, which he does by the way (though I'm not sure as to whether it's the collar catching an updraft or the magic cast upon the cape that does it). Another good example of a character who's power is not in their physicality, I mean it's pretty hard to punch someone when you're fingers are like snapped twigs, Strange went for an entirely unlikable and arrogant arse to being a guiding light for morality in not just the universe but the multiverse. And he has some pretty snazzy sound stuff too, like The Eye Of Agamotto and The Book of the Vishanti.
4. Daredevil (Matt Murdock)
When Marvel restarted publishing superhero comics in the 1960's their guiding principle was to take a character with great power and give them some flaws or a great weakness to balance it out. However, with Daredevil they decided to go the other way, start with a character who had a great weakness and had some powers to balance that weakness out. Marvel's second "disabled" superhero after Professor X, his entire career as a crimefighter is about overcoming great adversity (as one could probably surmise from his origins). Plus he fell out of the awful life tree and hit every branch on the way down, dead parents, horrible life-changing accident, dead girlfriend, junkie girlfriend, lost his job, worst enemy is a powerful crimelord who will stop at nothing to ruin his life, you know the usual.
3. Iron Man (Tony Stark)
A character with a successful start almost ruined by an addiction problem who then came back from the brink to become one of the most popular characters in the world today. And that's just the guy who played Iron Man in the films. If we look at the comics version of Iron Man, we'll see a character who had a very successful start, who then fell into addiction and almost lost everything, to then come back and become one of Marvel's most popular characters. And they both managed it with an air of smugness that really should make everyone hate their guts. But yeah, Iron Man. Devised by Stan Lee to be everything that 60's counter-culture would hate, it took him a while to find his footing as a truely complex and interesting character, mostly fighting other industry based characters, mostly from the USSR because Capitalism. But then he developed a drinking problem. It ruined him, he gave up on the superheroing and kicked the addiction to come back better than ever. And by better than ever, I mean, he came back as Robert Downey Jr. and took over the world. Which isn't bad going for a character who was nobody's favoutire hero until 2008.
2. Captain America (Steve Rogers)
If any character defined the soul of comic books (if there could be such a thing) it would be Captain America. He's virtue incarnate, he's uncorruptable (screw Secret Empire), he will always do the right thing no matter the cost. He stands up for everyone and anyone, especially those who have nothing and who aren't strong enough to stand up for themselves, becuase he was once one of those people. He didn't start out rich like Tony Stark or Bure Wayne, he didn't have powers from the very start like Clark Kent, and whilst he did gain his powers through science like Barry Allen, Bruce Banner and Peter Parker, he was not the result of an accident, he was given his powers because of the strength of his convictions and the content of his character. He fought the Nazis in WW2, he fought the Soviets in the 60's and 70's, he led the Avengers for nearly 50 years and he is the man that Gods defer to when the situation calls for a man to step up to the plate despite being usually the least powerful man in the room. But he didn't quite make number one. That honor goes to....
1. Spider-Man (Peter Parker)
For all my talk at the top of this piece about how Marvel doesn't really have a true pantheon of heroes and it's not that easy to predict the top 10, we all knew this was coming right? This list was just about who were going to fill out the other 9 places. Spider-Man is a global phenomenon, probably 2nd only to Batman in terms of popularity and is up there with Bats and his big blue best friend as the most recognisable symbols of the medium. Truely a revolutionary character, he was the teenage sidekick that didn't have a character to sidekick for. He has had every single real-life problem you can imagine, he was bullied, he had girl trouble, he had job insecurity and a terrible boss. He got dumped, he got his girlfriend dumped... off a bridge. He fell out with his best friend... who promptly went insane and became a supervillain and tried to murder his family. He broke up with his wife... after making a pact with the devil to revive his aunt who had been shot by a sniper hired by and underground crimelord after he revealled his identity on national tv. You know, normal stuff. But all throughout one thing remained constant. Spider-Man made it look like the greatest thing ever. He could get beaten into a pubble of blood and goo by Rhino and get up and be swinging around making jokes on the next page. He could get fried into jerky by Electro, mauled by Lizard, suffocated by Sandman and still he'd remain upbeat, optimistic and a joker. That's why Spider-Man is the best Marvel hero and, in my opinion, the best superhero in comics.
So, that's the list. What do you guys think? Anybody you're surprised made it/ didn't make it? I think next week we're going to the dark side, so that'll be interesting.
And with that