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

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by UnderScoopFire Staff & Contributors on January 29, 2014

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.

  • Lamar the Revenger

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

    • Eduardo Tato Ortiz-Hernandez

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

      • HowardTheDeck

        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.

  • Brian (Cool and Collected)

    Spiderman, Hulk, Captain America. ’nuff said.

  • @eclectik

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

  • Cold Slither Podcast

    Spidery, Cap, Cyclops….

  • Andrew Arnold

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

  • Eduardo Tato Ortiz-Hernandez

    I think these are dead on the 3 best marvel heroes

    • The Walking Cuban

      Yep

  • UN

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

    • HowardTheDeck

      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.

      • The Walking Cuban

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

        • HowardTheDeck

          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)

        • HowardTheDeck

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

          • The Walking Cuban

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

          • The Walking Cuban

            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.

        • http://cmro.travis-starnes.com/ Travis

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

          • The Walking Cuban

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

            Me.

      • UN

        put thor in and replace who?

  • The Walking Cuban

    Dazzler, Maria Hill, and Luke Cage’s baby

    • HowardTheDeck

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

      • The Walking Cuban

        And squirrel girl

  • HReyn87

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

    • HowardTheDeck

      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.

      • The Walking Cuban

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

  • Stacey Rader

    Thor, Hulk, and Doop.

  • Rincewind54

    Deadpool, Slapstick, Howard the Duck ftw.

    • HowardTheDeck

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

  • eelsyy

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

  • SenorApplesauce

    Havok, Colossus, and Dr. Strange.

    Oh… wait, those are my 3 favorite.

    • The Walking Cuban

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

  • DJRickyV

    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.

  • Marzo Kalif

    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

  • http://www.doubledumbassonyou.com doubledumbass

    Iron Fist. Iron Fist. Daredevil.

    • HowardTheDeck

      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!

      • HowardTheDeck

        I WANT to like him.

        • The Walking Cuban

          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.

          • HowardTheDeck

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

          • The Walking Cuban

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

          • HowardTheDeck

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

          • The Walking Cuban

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

      • http://www.doubledumbassonyou.com doubledumbass

        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

        • HowardTheDeck

          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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