Superheroes have held the attention of the young and old alike for decades. Comic books – the primary channel in which superheroes appear – have given us that avenue to escape reality, even if only for a short period of time. Who hasn’t read a Batman book and thought, I wish I could rid the streets of my city like that, looking sleek in that black suit! Most comic book lovers have always been able to relate to the human side of heroes while admiring their otherworldly gifts. Those are natural responses. We love heroes. We love what they typically stand for. We love the fact that heroes can do what we can’t. That’s why we admire them. That’s why we admire the following 25 superheroes, because there’s humanity and courage in every last one of them.
Massive, amnesiac green dude equipped with a head fin. Did we mention he’s a cop? Still going strong after well over 200 issues, this is one dude you simply don’t want to tangle with. Kudos to creator Erik Larsen for creating a genuinely fresh superhero.
Namor is so overlooked it’s really quite heartbreaking. Maybe Marvel should pull his tail out of the depths and let the company’s first official mutant actually get some shine! All the options on the table… all swept away by the sea.
Green Lantern (Hal Jordan)
Okay, so Green Lantern went through a few sketchy times. Who doesn’t nearly destroy masses when possessed by some weirdo? What matters is that Hal got his head clear and his mojo back. This dude is game for any showdown. Big or small, fast or slow – line ‘em up and Green Lantern will handle his business.
Peter Parker’s become much trendier over the last few decades. In fact, read just about any Spidey title on the shelves and you’ll note that he’s now become something of a cool cat. He’s still got jokes, though, and that’s a big relief. He’s also got an assortment of enemies to throttle that is rivaled only by the great Batman.
It feels like Aquaman doesn’t kick ass with as much flare of some of his fellow DC heroes. That’s probably because everything moves in slow motion once fully submerged. While that may never change, there are options to transform this noble stud. I mean, really, why not a modern day crossover that pits Aquaman and Namor? That would be awesome!
Be honest with yourselves: You love Captain Marvel. He’s a little pipsqueak kid with big dreams, a big heart and the ability to transform into a hulking crime fighting machine, just by using a silly childlike word: SHAZAM!
The Flash (Barry Allen)
I’m not going to lie to you, I’m a fan of every man to ever embrace the Flash moniker. Jay Garrick, Wally West, Bart Allen and of course, Barry Allen. Regardless of who donned the suit, these guys were amazing. Using their brains to contact outrageous inventions in labs, speeding through the city to prevent a mugging, speeding right back to the other side of the city to ensure Captain Cold gets a dose of warmth before he ruins some unsuspecting soul’s meal. The Flash is amazing, and Barry may be the man who has done him most justice over the years.
I recall reading an ancient copy of Fantastic Four, and while little of the details stick out to me (I read the book back in 1988/1989 and it was already an older issue), I still haven’t let go of this minor tirade that Johnny Storm launches into, pissing and moaning about the challenges his super-powers bring about. As I recall, Thing put him in his place. But, to get that self-loathing from a guy who enjoys putting up a cocky front was great. It was a rare moment spent looking at the real Human Torch, who, as it turns out, has just as many inhibitions as you and I.
Martial Manhunter should, theoretically, be the baddest hero in existence. He should, realistically, have a half dozen monthly titles dedicated to him. He’s like Superman multiplied by 100, with telepathy, invisibility, telekinesis and the ability to shape-shift (I feel like I’m missing a few of his other powers). And that should pretty much guarantee the Manhunter can and will win every battle he ever engages in. Unfortunately, despite his tremendous skill set, Martian Manhunter often goes overlooked by fans. My theory? You’re all a bunch of racists, unwilling to give a green man a fair shake.
The first deeply mature and refined pupil of Professor X, Cyclops always has his head on straight, always looks out for his fellow X-mates and never hesitates when it’s time to react. He’s one of the leaders of the X-Men for a myriad of reasons. And to his credit, he’s found himself in some very precarious situations. And he always stagger emerges from the dust and rubble. To top it all off, he’s been engaged in some great feuds, each vying for Jean Grey’s love. Guess who put a ring on it?
Nick Fury is basically a super spy extraordinaire with the skills to treat the Avengers like simple puppets. Although Nick holds those powerful strings, he can also be a threat in good old fashioned hand-to-hand combat. Need another reason we love Fury so much? He makes every man on earth want to wear an eyepatch. You gotta be a special son-of-a-gun to make the eye patch cool.
A socially conscious and heavily opinionated gent, Oliver Queen is gnarly in the best of ways. He’s equipped with all kinds of tricky gadgets although that bow and arrow function as the true trademark. I’ve also got to praise Arrow’s ruthlessness when it comes to the villainess type. This man has no mercy and he believes in severe punishment. Respect to you, Mr. Arrow!
Hellboy might be the greatest superhero not related to Marvel or DC. Mike Mignola’s creation is loaded with sharp humor but he’s all business when it comes time to take down demonic beasts from hell. Hellboy is awesome, flat out, and the fact that he’s red doesn’t hurt his cause!
Charles Xavier is kind of like the Godfather of superheroes. If not for this gentleman would we even have characters like Jean Grey, Cyclops, Wolverine, etc., etc.? Probably not. This man earns huge points on his accomplishments alone, but when he really opens his mind, he’s fully capable of tearing the bad guys apart. No one wants to lose a fight to a guy in a wheelchair.
The Thing is a brute. But you know what? He’s also kind of a nice guy. He tends to bicker with his fiery ally, but it’s typically in good fun. If it wasn’t, you can guarantee that Johnny Storm would find himself one with the pavement. It’s the Thing’s charisma and gentle heart that ultimately land him on this list. He’s just a good guy, and he’s always got the backs of his fellow Fantastic Four members.
A major player of classic mythology, Thor has now become synonymous with a long haired blonde gent capable of taking a building down with a single swing of the hammer. Thor can come off as a little arrogant from time to time, but you would too, if you were a god… right? The fact that the man earns respect from measly humans as well as nobles from other worlds is a reminder that he’s one to follow.
One of the founding members of the X-Men, Jean Grey is arguably the most powerful telepath on the planet. She also seems to struggle with her identity a bit. Is She Jean Grey? Is she the Phoenix? Is she dead, or alive? Who knows… who cares, her influence on the X-Men is still unwavering. Plus, she’s uber hot!
Those who only watch Iron Man films and avoid reading the comments may not realize it, but Tony Stark is something of a ticking time bomb. All the money in the world doesn’t change his well disguised death wish. He’s always pushing the borders of his suit, and there’s a very human reason for that. In some ways, Iron Man is the most complex character on the Marvel roster. Regardless of any mental issues the man has, we love him. And his armor.
Do we really need to dive into this one? Daredevil is badder than bad. The dude literally destroys villains… and he’s blind. HE’S BLIND!! ‘Nuff said.
When Bruce Banner rages, the world feels that rage. Sometimes the good guys feel it too, as Hulk kind of… loses himself from time to time. All the same, Bruce is a great guy with a brilliant mind, and the Hulk is a wrecking ball that no villain would voluntarily tangle with. I’m always up to see the big green man in purple pants tear a few buildings down.
Captain America is like Marvel’s father figure. He’s an amazing guy, pure in intentions, always respectful and capable of dismantling just about everyone. This is the first true Avenger and his counterparts treat him as such. There’s no shortage of respect for the man who always acts as an upstanding citizen. He’s quite literally the prototypical All American Good Guy. Cap rocks!
Somehow Wonder Woman can whip a villain with ease with that Lasso of Truth, all the while maintaining her purity and connection to the peaceful side of life. That sentence feels like a whole bunch of oxymoron’s battling each other in just a few words. But that’s what Wonder Woman does. And she represents female empowerment like none other in the comic world. Sexy, dangerous and influential, Wonder Woman was an obvious pick for this list. Who doesn’t love the Amazonian?
There’s a reason Wolverine is such a beloved character; he’s as human as you and I. Of course he does indeed have some nifty super powers, but he’s a haunted human being. Like so many of us, he battles his own demons on a regular basis. He’s lost a lot of what he once loved about life. That too, eats at him. In short, Wolverine is a sad story… a haunted soul in unending pain, and that’s something that a lot of us can truly relate to. 40 years ago no one would believe you if you told them a mutant with nasty claws that burst from his flesh would prove to be an insanely relatable and human character, but that’s exactly who and what Logan is.
Gotham’s wealthiest detective moonlights in a stunning suit designed to prevent any bodily damage. How’s that sound? Sounds accurate! Batman and Wolverine share a lot of similarities. Both have lost individuals that they deeply love. Both are constantly troubled by their own pasts. And both have a major desire to rid the world of the scum that wanders freely, looking for the vulnerable, hoping to snatch some cash, or murder for no reason. Every bit as haunted as Wolvie, Bruce Wayne is a sympathetic character whose only fault is his obsession with cleaning up the streets of Gotham.
Kal-el isn’t human. But he sure does behave as though he is. Well, at least when he’s disguised as Clark Kent. When the spectacles are removed and the suit is peeled away, Kent becomes Superman, the archetypical superhero. The superhero that other superheroes wish they could be. But Superman’s near-limitless abilities have never once gone to Superman’s head. He was raised (by Jonathan and Martha Kent) to be a respectful, responsible and decent man. The Kent’s did a brilliant job. The last thing Superman wants to do is see an unsuspecting pedestrian hurt (unless you base your opinion of the man on Zach Snyder’s miserable flick, Man of Steel, in which case you see Superman as a superhero who doesn’t give a rat’s tail about the well-being of anyone other than himself; there’s a building crumbling and it’s going to crush a lot of civilians! Eh, who cares, I’m in the middle of a fight Zod!), and he always goes far out of his way to protect humanity. Outside of Snyder’s crappy movie, Superman has always been selfless, and he’s always commanded a respect that few, if any, other superheroes will ever know.