Debate: Who are the 3 Best Marvel Comic Characters Ever?

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by Staff & Contributors

in Nerdy

In the now massive army of Marvel comic book characters the world has come to know and love, there are a handful that have stood the test of time, not only maintaining a place in the spotlight for generations but actually increasing in popularity over the years. Since Marvel took to the big screen and began showcasing its most popular characters in full length feature films, using stunning computer graphics and effects, these characters have been brought to life in a way few people ever imagined possible.

Still, just as the fact that having a movie made about a character does not necessarily indicate its position in such a list, the popularity derived from movie appearances cannot be used as a scale to measure a character’s value to the culture. Furthermore, the ideas of calling a character the ‘best’ or of attempting to objectively rate which character is better in a general sense can both be topics of intense debate. Each comic book fan will have his or her own favorite character and will swear up and down that this character is the best.

Overall popularity and longevity are both relatively easy to determine while attempting to figure out which character is the most powerful gets into a much cloudier arena.  Taking this into account, this list will focus primarily on the former two categories, while using the latter as more of a tie breaker. As a result, this list can in no way be considered definitive. Check out this site for further information on Marvel Comic’s top characters.

1. The Amazing Spider-Man made his first appearance in a 1962 comic book and has become one of the most popular comic book characters of all time. In 2002, 40 years after his creation, the feature film Spider-Man was released garnering a highly positive critical reception and grossing over 800 million dollars in the box office.

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From 2002 to 2012, 4 successful Spider-Man films have been released with a 5th set to be released in theaters in May of 2014. Spider-Man was co-created by writer Stan Lee and writer/artist Steve Ditko. Spider-Man’s abilities include superhuman strength and dexterity, the ability to shoot webs from his wrists and the ability to cling to walls and ceilings like a spider. Behind the mask, Spider-Man is actually Peter Parker, a teenager who, after being bit by a radioactive spider, is transformed from an unpopular high school outcast to a superhuman crime fighter.

2. Iron Man was also created by Stan Lee, along with character development from writer Larry Lieber and designed by Jack Kirby and Don Heck. Iron Man’s first appearance was just one year after Spider-Man, being introduced to the public in Tales of Suspense #39 in March 1963. Iron Man has also found great success in the box office in recent years, being the star of the film trilogy of the same name and being featured as a main character in the crossover film Marvel’s The Avengers in 2012.

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Iron Man is similar to DC’s Batman in the sense that his powers come from technology he was able to design and build with the help of an immense fortune. Iron Man’s alter-ego is that of Tony Stark, a billionaire playboy and brilliant engineer. After being nearly killed by a chest injury, inflicted on him by captors who were trying to force him to build a nuclear bomb, he builds a suit of powerful armor to help him elude captivity and preserve his life. He goes on to use the Iron Man suit, and later upgraded suits, to protect the world. The suit becomes progressively more weaponized and gives him the ability to fly and deflect bullets.

3. Wolverine easily overshadows the rest of the X-Men characters in terms of popularity. Wolverine was created by writer Len Wein and art director John Romita, Sr. first appearing in an issue of The Incredible Hulk in 1974. Wolverine has appeared as a main character in the popular X-Men movies and, in 2009, appeared as the protagonist in X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

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Differing considerably from the first two characters on this list, Wolverine is a mutant with the ability to rapidly heal his body, allowing him to recover from severe injury, disease, and poisoning. His special healing ability also slows down his aging process and has allowed him to live an incredibly long life span. Because of this rapid healing mutation, Wolverine was able to survive an intense procedure that grafted the practically indestructible adamantium metal alloy to his skeleton. From this skeleton, he is able to deploy and retract his signature razor sharp adamantium claws from his knuckles. Also known as Logan, Wolverine is depicted as a complex character with a mixed past. Although he fights for the side of good while working with the X-Men, he is rebellious in nature and regularly demonstrates revulsion to authority.

{ 45 comments… read them below or add one }

Lamar the Revenger January 28, 2014 at 8:54 pm

Captain America, Spider-Man, & Wolverine. (Honorable mention: The ever lovin blue eyed Thing)

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Eduardo Tato Ortiz-Hernandez January 30, 2014 at 3:39 am

only americans like cap! (that is a fact) he is actually very lame!

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HowardTheDeck January 30, 2014 at 12:22 pm

I’m with you. I’m american, and I think Cap is somewhat lame. I like the character of Steve Rogers, but it’s inexplicable how the Captain America gimmick holds up.

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Brian (Cool and Collected) January 29, 2014 at 9:59 am

Spiderman, Hulk, Captain America. ’nuff said.

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@eclectik January 29, 2014 at 1:31 pm

Pretty much nailed it with the post, the only thing you could possibly do is swap Iron Man with Hulk … maybe.

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Cold Slither Podcast January 29, 2014 at 11:14 pm

Spidery, Cap, Cyclops….

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Andrew Arnold January 30, 2014 at 1:55 am

Nope, Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk, The Silver Surfer

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Eduardo Tato Ortiz-Hernandez January 30, 2014 at 3:40 am

I think these are dead on the 3 best marvel heroes

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The Walking Cuban January 30, 2014 at 8:18 am

Yep

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UN January 30, 2014 at 6:21 am

never read their comics hence, basing completely on movies and animations ill say this list is perfect

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HowardTheDeck January 30, 2014 at 12:21 pm

If this was movies only, I’d put Thor in there. If Downey wasn’t SO great as Tony Stark, Thor would be my hands down #1. And the fact that he has the best cinematic villain in the Marvel U is huge.

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The Walking Cuban January 30, 2014 at 12:33 pm

Of marvel movies, the best page to screen translations are Iron Man, Loki, and J. Jonah Jameson.

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HowardTheDeck January 30, 2014 at 2:09 pm

HAH, JJJ is a great call, one that many (myself included) wouldn’t think of. I actually liked the Tobey Spider-Man movies and was fine with most of the casting (sans Eddie Brock)

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HowardTheDeck January 30, 2014 at 2:10 pm

by the way, you present a great idea for a future list to post: “The X Best Marvel Page to Screen Character Conversions”

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The Walking Cuban January 30, 2014 at 2:55 pm

And the opposite, cuz that’s a good point. That was the worst Venom imaginable.

The Walking Cuban January 30, 2014 at 5:33 pm

I’d like to add professor X, and maybe even call him the best. We got exactly what we wanted: Patrick Stewart. Too bad we’ll never see Adrian Paul as Gambit.

Travis January 30, 2014 at 2:10 pm

Of those J. Jonah Jamenson was the best. They nailed that character so perfectly in the Rami movies

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The Walking Cuban January 30, 2014 at 2:54 pm

I’d Iike to see him in the amazings, but who wants to see JJJ without Ted Raimi to yell at?

Me.

UN January 31, 2014 at 12:54 am

put thor in and replace who?

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The Walking Cuban January 30, 2014 at 8:20 am

Dazzler, Maria Hill, and Luke Cage’s baby

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HowardTheDeck January 30, 2014 at 12:20 pm

I thought Dazzler was obvious. These are all 1a to her clear #1.

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The Walking Cuban January 30, 2014 at 12:26 pm

And squirrel girl

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HReyn87 January 30, 2014 at 9:37 am

I didn’t read the title careful enough to see that this was Marvel only and almost lost it. Good choices though!

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HowardTheDeck January 30, 2014 at 12:20 pm

that certainly makes it interesting. Including all comic characters, It would have to include Batman, Spider-Man, and choosing a third is near impossible. So many huge snubs.

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The Walking Cuban January 30, 2014 at 12:27 pm

As a marvel fan it’s hard to say this but, batman is the best comic book character of all.

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Stacey Rader January 30, 2014 at 9:40 am

Thor, Hulk, and Doop.

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Rincewind54 January 30, 2014 at 9:55 am

Deadpool, Slapstick, Howard the Duck ftw.

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HowardTheDeck January 30, 2014 at 12:18 pm

Any top 3 with Deadpool has my undying support. I say “undying” on account of the healing factor. #rimshot

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eelsyy January 30, 2014 at 12:15 pm

I ve had enough of ironman (the movie) on the internet

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SenorApplesauce January 30, 2014 at 3:12 pm

Havok, Colossus, and Dr. Strange.

Oh… wait, those are my 3 favorite.

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The Walking Cuban February 3, 2014 at 12:13 pm

In that case… Wolverine, Hulk, Colossus. Gambit too

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DJRickyV January 30, 2014 at 5:13 pm

Iron Man wouldn’t have broken into the top three without Downey playing him in the movie. But yeah the top three should include Stan Lee’s #1 creation, a rep from the X-men, and a rep from the Avengers.

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Marzo Kalif January 31, 2014 at 12:52 pm

Gotta take Captain America over Iron Man. Even though Iron Man ended up with that killer Black Sabbath/Ozzy song, Captain America has a couple decades on him and was fighting Axis Nazi Red Skull way before Iron Man existed. I feel like most of Iron Man’s immense popularity came within the last 5 years of movies they pushed out.

BTW, I’m not much of a movie guy these days since I kinda gave up on Hollywood after getting sick of them trying to cash in on all these comic book heroes, “nerd”, 80s, etc.. beloved properties. I am VERY stuck in the past when it comes to movies more than anything else…and that’s saying something. lol

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doubledumbass January 31, 2014 at 4:19 pm

Iron Fist. Iron Fist. Daredevil.

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HowardTheDeck February 3, 2014 at 7:56 am

I’m not being sarcastic or facetious at all here, honest question from a comics fan who has never read Iron Fist (besides when he has a small role in event crossover books): what is the appeal here? Sell me Iron Fist!

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HowardTheDeck February 3, 2014 at 7:57 am

I WANT to like him.

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The Walking Cuban February 3, 2014 at 12:04 pm

He seems to best when paired with Luke Cage and vice versa. I’m interested to see how the netflix shows turn out. I’m hopeful until, well, until it sucks.

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HowardTheDeck February 3, 2014 at 12:17 pm

same here. Just the fact that these shows are getting made is a win for us, though.

doubledumbass February 3, 2014 at 11:20 am

Iron Fist started to reappear in the Marvel U back during Civil War, when he was posing as Daredevil to convince the authorities and media that Matt Murdock wasn’t Daredevil (who has in jail at that point). He sided with Cap during Civil War

Ed Brubaker & Matt Fraction co wrote the Immortal Iron Fist, which created a mythos telling stories of Iron Fists of ages past, introduced a Mortal Kombat-esque fighting tournament between other Immortal Weapons and basically reunited Heroes for Hire.

Knowing that Brubaker & Fraction’s run will have some influence on the new Netflix series brings me hope

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HowardTheDeck February 3, 2014 at 11:54 am

So Immortal Iron Fist would be the trade to pick up if I am looking to get aboard the IF train? Thanks man.

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Justin August 13, 2015 at 10:27 am

By best, I take that to mean unbeatable, or undefeatable. By that rationale you woul have to go with Hulk, Wolverine, and Thor, with an honorable mention to Collosus.

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Naoise April 9, 2016 at 2:59 pm

why has no one mentioned deadpool?

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The Walking Cuban February 3, 2014 at 1:00 pm

Same here. I’ll watch shield til it’s over. Probly do the same with those shows.

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HowardTheDeck February 3, 2014 at 8:49 pm

me too. I feel an odd sense of commitment to it. And it can only go up from here, right?

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The Walking Cuban February 3, 2014 at 9:01 pm

I’m expecting something great, I just hope it’s not too late… That rhymed.

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