Modern comic book characters are often compared to gods nowadays, but for the most part, the majority of them are still mortal. You might not realize it from how often someone like Superman has avoided death, but he is still just a mortal being. So it’s pretty incredible to think that there’s still room for such characters to become even more powerful by actually attaining the power of a god.
We’re not interested in characters who were born into godhood, like the original Thor, since he never knew any other way of life. Starting out as a mortal and becoming an immortal is just far more impressive, and creates interesting conundrums for even the most moral of heroes. It’s not something that happens often, but a number of characters have achieved this over the years through a variety of plot machinations and incredible events. Here are 15 Comic Book Characters Who Became Gods.
Kicking things off is the big villain that Marvel’s cinematic universe has been building to for years now. With Avengers: Infinity War around the corner, the tyrant is set to make his splash on the big screen quite soon, but he’s been making a strong impact in the comic world for quite some time now. And he wasn’t even a god for the majority of it, which makes it pretty scary to realize that he can, and has, become even stronger by becoming an immortal.
Thanos becomes all-powerful by way of the Cosmic Cube, which grants him the power to stand against the mightiest heroes in Marvel’s world, particularly the Avengers. But one of the perils of not being a natural-born god is that what has been given can be taken away. Once the heroes learns how Thanos derives his power, they get rid of the Cube, deprive Thanos of his status as a god, and are able to defeat him.
Batman just always finds a way to keep up with peers, doesn’t he? So when he’s hanging out with allies who already have nearly godlike powers, of course Batman has to make it a level playing field for himself. And as we said, godhood comes in many forms, so it’s quite fitting that Batman’s abilities came in the form of him becoming a god of knowledge. Bruce has always used his cunning to even the odds between him and far more powerful foes, so his mind really is his best weapon.
As will become apparent the further we get into this list, oftentimes a character is granted godhood at the expense of an original god. That was certainly true in this Batman’s case, where Metron the God of Knowledge has his position usurped by Batman. Bruce takes the title for himself and sits upon Metron’s chair with the answer to any question that interests him at his fingertips. His first question is to validate that it really was Joe Chill who killed his parents. And his second question was about the true identity of the Joker, which led us to one of last year’s biggest shocks: that there is more than one Joker.
13. JANE FOSTER
The most recent occurrence of a character being granted godhood is still a hot topic of conversation today. We all know that comic book character pass on their superhero and villain mantles pretty often, but Thor is not just some identity; Thor is a god. So people were understandably shocked when the role of Thor was not only being passed to someone new, but that a woman would now claim the role of Thor.
A terminally ill Jane Foster was eventually revealed to be the mystery woman who had taken up Thor’s hammer. When Jane becomes Thor, her illness shows no signs and its progression is halted. It was made clear that Jane was not some alternate version of the god of thunder, or that she merely had the powers of Thor. By being worthy of lifting Mjolnir, Jane was the new Thor. And with Jane’s extensive history with the original god, it added quite the twist to the dynamic between the two.
12. DOCTOR MANHATTAN
Dr. Jonathan Osterman was the furthest thing from an extraordinary man for much of his life. Sure, he had great skill as a scientist, and his experiments likely could have led to new innovations in life, but such things are nothing compared to the power he would later gain. Of everyone in this list, Osterman has perhaps the most humble of origins, especially when comparing him to the likes of Superman and Wonder Woman before they became gods.
It was only recently that Doctor Manhattan became a part of DC’s main universe, but even dating back to his actions in Watchmen, the power he exhibited was incredible. The mishap of his last experiment had transformed him into a being seemingly impervious to death, who could clone himself, and enlarge himself to enormous heights. And by the end of the story, when Manhattan had grown weary of humans, he declared his interest in going to another planet and creating life. We’ve seen plenty of gods looking to destroy life, but Manhattan is one of the few who has appeared capable of creating something totally new in the universe.
11. THE FLASH
Last year was pretty big for the Justice League. Not only did Batman become a god, but others on the team started rising to the rank of deity as well, and all at the same time. DC’s heroic group has been compared to gods a lot, but now they were actually doing so, without any hyperbole. Though Batman beat him to the supernatural status, the Flash wasn’t far behind. When you’re the world’s fastest man, you’re pretty much never far behind.
In an ironic twist, the Flash became something that no mortal can outrun when he claimed the role of Death. After the defeat of Darkseid, the Flash gained control of the title of God of Death from the Black Racer. We’ve known the Flash could alter time and reality with his speed, so it seemed like he couldn’t become any more powerful, but now he could add dominion over life itself to his list of impressive abilities.
Todd McFarlane’s Spawn is a character who deals quite extensively with the war between Heaven and Hell, frequently encountering both angels and demons. It’s only natural that eventually Spawn’s journey should take him into direct contact with God and Satan. But in this world, God and Satan are only the names of two warring brothers, and there is a power even higher than both siblings known as the Mother. And when the fight between God and Satan spills into Earth and threatens to destroy everything, the Mother intervenes by sending Spawn to resolve the conflict.
Despite God and Satan just being names rather than titles, the brothers still had power far beyond any mortals. So for Spawn to measure against them, he had to gain the power of a god himself. The Mother tasked Spawn with eating the Forbidden Fruit to grant him this godhood, and in this new form, Spawn wipes out all the forces of both Heaven and Hell. And though God and Satan defeat him, Spawn is resurrected and uses his power to lock away the brothers and resurrect all the mortals who were killed in their war. Not bad for a hellspawn.
9. WONDER WOMAN
Wonder Woman has borderline disqualified for this list due to how closely she has always brushed with godhood. We’re not here to discuss characters who were born as gods, so Diana has strayed a bit close to being excluded due to her one origin of being blessed by the gods, and her revamped origin of being a demi-god. Still, she’s never quite had her origin changed into being a full-fledged deity, so she still qualifies. And her rise to the status of a god is something that came about pretty recently.
Wonder Woman found an ally in the God of War Ares in recent years, and he became a mentor to Diana in her developing time as a hero. But as often happens with mentor characters, Ares was not meant to stick around in this story. Wonder Woman was forced to kill him while in the midst of fighting an enemy, but the world can not function without a God of War, so whoever killed Ares was destined to take his place. Ares was a god of chaos with dominion over the dead, and so now Wonder Woman was not just an Amazon Princess, but had the power of a god.
The origins of Darkseid vary, but one thing that doesn’t change is that he is typically the most feared person in the universe. Even the Justice League cannot defeat him without resorting to extraordinary measures, and nobody does destruction better than him. With that kind of power, it was pretty obvious that Darkseid was a god even before it was overtly stated. Though it’s hard to imagine a time when he wasn’t an overlord, he didn’t always have the power he now does.
In the New 52, his origin has him stealing his power straight from the gods of Apokolips. He tricks them all into fighting each other, and once they are beaten down and vulnerable, he kills them one by one and gains their power as a result. His rock-like appearance comes about as a result, and he gives his new form the name of Darkseid. Unlike his predecessors, there doesn’t seem to be any ending the tyrant either. The world needs a balance of good and evil, and as the God of Evil, Darkseid is just reborn anew even after being killed.
The gods among the Justice League just keep on coming. Wonder Woman had already become the God of War through her own adventures, but now others were joining her in the aftermath of Darkseid’s defeat. Batman had become the God of Knowledge, Flash had become the God of Death, and Superman wasn’t sitting out on the fun either. Even though Superman has always been one of the most god-like comic book characters out there, he made it official in this storyline when he became the God of Strength.
In addition to some otherworldly chrome duds, Superman also comes with a vicious new attitude in this form. He pummels his longtime adversary Lex Luthor into the ground, single-handedly rips off Lex’s armor, and threatens to kill him should Lex ever return. Superman hardly needed any more power, but he definitely had it here. But with how quickly godhood was being passed out in the plotline, Superman didn’t have time to grow comfortable being the only god in the room.
6. BETA RAY BILL
By this point we’re well aware that whoever lifts Mjolnir isn’t just gaining the power of a powerful weapon; they are becoming the god Thor himself. If we were just going by the many characters who have lifted Thor’s hammer, we could include quite a few more gods for this list. But most of those instances were just temporary– more like borrowing godhood for a few moments than fully becoming a god. However, there has been one being other besides Jane Foster who lifted Thor’s hammer to become a god, and went on to retain that power.
The first character besides the original Thor to lift Mjolnir was the monstrous looking Beta Ray Bill. He did not just happen to pick the hammer up, but beat Thor in combat to claim ownership of it. Despite his scary visage, Bill was actually a friendly hero, quite worthy of the title of a god. He was so kind that even after beating Thor a second time to decide who would keep the hammer, he relinquished it. Odin was so impressed by this display of humility that he had a hammer especially made for Bill that had the same properties as Mjolnir, grantinghim the ability to become a god whenever he chose.
5. JEAN GREY
Jean Grey is undoubtedly a powerful member of the X-Men, as mutants with mental abilities often prove to be some of the most dangerous of the entire race. But even as one of Professor Xavier’s most gifted allies, Jean was far from a goddess– though any fan of the franchise already knows what Jean would eventually go through to make her qualify for this list. The Dark Phoenix Saga is one of the most famous storylines in comics, and saw Jean rise to unimaginable power thanks to bonding with the Phoenix Force.
The story ended with Jean’s apparent death, but obviously comic books have a bad habit of bringing people back to life. The story was later retconned to state that the Dark Phoenix the X-Men had encountered wasn’t the real Jean. Stuff with clones in comics seldom goes well with the fans, so many prefer to believe it was the actual Jean transformed into this cosmic god. It’s just a shame one of the coolest villains in comics had such a disappointing adaptation by way of X-Men: The Last Stand.
4. DOCTOR DOOM
2015 was a big year for characters becoming gods. In addition to DC’s members of the Justice League and Lex Luthor getting a taste of godhood, characters over at Marvel weren’t going to be excluded either. And so it was that Doctor Doom not only became a god, but became the emperor of the world. Even someone as strong as Thanos had no choice but to recognize the power that Doom’s new form possessed.
Like so many of the characters we’ve discussed, Doom’s godhood came from him claiming the powers of other powerful beings– in this case that of the Beyonders. And also like the majority of the other characters we’ve mentioned, Doom’s godhood wasn’t something that would become permanent. The sudden change was part of a miniseries, and unfortunately for Doom, his rise to total power had to come with a fall. Still, for a brief time, he was the undisputed ruler of the world. Considering how many villains attempt to do that and fail, he still deserves props for a temporary victory.
Shazam is another hero who hardly needed the status of a god. Like Wonder Woman, he was already imbued with the power of various gods, placing him well above the ability of any other mortal. But during this period, transforming into a god was as contagious to comic characters as a cold is to most people. Following Batman’s, the Flash’s, and Superman’s ascension to godhood came Shazam’s turn. He didn’t just become a deity of any single attribute, but was given the title the God of Gods.
This new title doesn’t mean that Shazam is the leader of his other new god buddies, but rather relates to the mythos of Shazam that has long been part of his character. His name is made from the first letter of the names of six gods who fuel his abilities, but as Shazam takes on his new title as a God of Gods, six new gods whose initials conveniently spell out his name give Shazam new powers. So in the Justice League’s seeming contest to see who can become the best god, Shazam has a bit of an edge by harnessing the power of six gods compared to everyone else’s one.
A lot of stories have put forth the idea that gods are nothing without believers. Without anyone to worship them, gods become forgotten and may as well have never even existed. So in that sense, godhood could be looked at as a “perception is reality” type of situation. And that works both ways. If people believe a god exists, it doesn’t matter if they’re right; it just matters that they believe their prayers are heard by someone.
X-Men’s Storm is obviously someone we know as a mutant, but could you really blame anyone for perceiving her as a goddess when she has control over the weather? And that’s exactly what happened in Storm’s early years as she traveled around Kenya to experience her homeland. The tribes she encountered saw her abilities and worshipped her as their local goddess. She might not have had the powers of a true god, but she had the followers of one, and sometimes that is what matters most.
1. LEX LUTHOR
Proving it wasn’t just the Justice League who could have all the fun, even the villains were getting the powers of gods in the wake of Darkseid’s death. After Batman, the Flash, Superman, and Shazam all gained their respective powers, we had one more god to be introduced to: Lex Luthor, the God of Apokolips. And obviously that was kind of Darkseid’s territory before his demise, meaning Luthor had pretty much just taken over the job of one of the most powerful villains alive.
Suddenly Lex was not only an equal to the heroes he had battled for so long, but he had the potential to change a world. Lex quickly becomes wrapped up in deciding whether to attempt to rule Apokolips as a tyrant like Darkseid did, or become a liberator to the world by throwing off the remnants of Darkseid’s rule and creating something better. Lex quickly learns that being a god entails a lot more responsibility than he imagined when he could only stand on the sidelines and observe the likes of Superman shaping the world.
Wonder Woman is coming to the big screen on June 02, 2017, Thor: Ragnarok will be out on November 03, 2017, the Justice League movie will be in theaters on November 17, 2017, and Avengers: Infinity War will be showing starting May 04, 2018.