It’s kind of ironic that comic books have more of a reputation for being serious instead of, well, comic. Many of the early comics were humorous, but the rise of superheroes brought a lot of righteous do-gooders. Of course, that doesn’t mean there aren’t superheroes and other popular comic book characters that are pretty hilarious.
The fact is, there are quite a few these days, including many who have popped up in movies and TV shows as well, like the characters on this list. They tickle your funny bone with silliness that ranges from surreal to witty to outright toilet humor and even practical jokes.
Why did the chicken cross the road? To read this list of the 11 Funniest Comic Book Characters Of All Time.
11. Rocket Raccoon
Raccoons can be cute. Raccoons can be a nuisance. But funny? Part of what’s funny about Rocket Raccoon is that he’s just a raccoon. An anthropomorphic raccoon, sure, but he’s not much bigger than a regular raccoon and has all the normal abilities of a raccoon. But he also has the abilities of a person who’s a really good pilot and can handle a gun (especially ones that look way too big for him to handle)… and strategize and talk.
Rocket debuted in the ‘70s, and had his own limited series in the ‘80s, but didn’t hit it big until he joined the Guardians of the Galaxy in 2008. Even when it comes to his dialogue, the humor comes from the juxtaposition of him being both a raccoon and kind of smart-alecky. In the movie Guardians of the Galaxy, Rocket sees a Xandarian citizen and says, “Can you believe they call us criminals when he’s assaulting us with that haircut?”
And then there are his practical jokes. He lays out a highly detailed plan to escape the prison, and he asks his friends to get him three things. Star-Lord agrees to get the prosthetic leg Rocket “needs.” Star-Lord goes through pains to get the leg off a man and when he returns with it, Rocket says, “Oh, I was just kidding about the leg… I thought it’d be funny!”
10. Hal Jordan as Green Lantern
There are many Green Lanterns, of course, but we’re calling out Hal Jordan’s comedy stylings here. Guy Gardener and the Green Lantern antagonist Larfleeze both have their moments as well, but we’re sticking with Hal. He was the second Green Lantern, created in 1959, and the first to wear the iconic suit we now know and love.
Jordan is a bit of a cocky playboy type and his broad personality combined with Batman’s more private, introverted persona has created a fun dynamic in the comics. “Stow the high school angst, Batman,” he says in New Earth, “nobody’s buying it.” And he and Barry Allen/Flash have a funny bromance going. Of course, despite its failures, the 2011 Green Lantern movie did showcase Ryan Reynolds’ patented humor. When he was trying to charge his ring, he got his catchphrases confused, saying, “To infinity and beyond!… By the power of Greyskull!
9. Stanley Ipkiss as Big Head/The Mask
Weak, neurotic Stanley Ipkiss first found the magical mask in Dark Horse’s Mayhem series in 1989. Ipkiss wasn’t necessarily hilarious, but it was that mask that turned him into a wild and crazy guy – named Big Head in the comics, but referred to as The Mask in the 1995 movie starring Jim Carrey. The very fact that he was played by Carrey tells you that the masked character was wildly, comically insane.
His humor is characterized by a combination of surreal transformations, flatulence jokes and pop-culture references. There’s a whole sequence in the movie that illustrates all of these, when he’s shot at, avoids bullets by magically swirling his body and turning into random characters (from a matador to Elvis Presley), paraphrases classic movie quotes during his “death” swoon, farts, then accepts a fake Oscar for his performance.
8. Iron Man
Iron Man doesn’t look funny. Not even a little bit. He looks like a dangerously powerful robot. It’s the man inside the suit, Tony Stark, who’s funny. And more humor is brought to Stark in the Marvel Cinematic Universe than anywhere else he’s appeared. And that’s all thanks to actor Robert Downey Jr., who played a role in the screenwriting process and helped add that element to the genius billionaire playboy character.
Downey told MTV of the character’s change from a darker place to a brighter one, “When someone used to be a schmuck and they’re not anymore, hopefully they still have a sense of humor.” That philosophy led to lines like, “Give me a scotch. I’m starving.” And he won’t shy away from potty humor (literally) – take this classic from Iron Man 2: “You know, the question I get asked most often is, ‘Tony, how do you go to the bathroom in your suit?’ [Long pause] Just like that.”
7. Howard the Duck
These days it seems Howard the Duck is most infamously known as the star of a blisteringly bad big screen adaptation, released in 1986. That version of Howard the Duck featured a more feather-brained, nail-on-the-head brand of potty humor. That’s not what the comic book Howard was all about. The original Howard went a little deeper. He broke the fourth wall, his sense of humor was cynical, socially satirical and self-aware.
During the 1976 presidential election, a storyline had Howard running for president. It would be fun to revisit during the current bizarre election season. It featured Howard as leader of the “All-Night Party.” His slogan was so disco: “Get down, America.” A sex scandal ultimately upended his campaign, long before we saw that happen to so many real politicians.
The very name Hellboy tells you exactly what you’re in for. It’s kind of silly, it starts with something scary and ends with something harmless and innocent. To be clear, though, he does come from hell and his dad was a demon, so he has a rather unfunny pedigree.
Beyond the comics, Hellboy has also appeared in two live-action feature films, a couple of animated films and a pair of video games. And the dark humor is always there. In the comics, there’s lines like, “Don’t mess with me, Lady. I’ve been drinking with skeletons.” And in the first movie, there’s the time he was asked if he lost track of somebody and his response was: “Well let’s see – there was that moment when I had the train on top of my head…”
Spider-Man was conceived as a funny character. After all, he’s a geeky teenager who’s bitten by a spider and suddenly has spider-ish powers and super strength. That’s pretty funny. In pretty much all of his incarnations, both in comics and on screen, his often self-deprecating – and often villain-deprecating – sense of humor has shone through. He even once took on Deadpool in a “your mama” joke-off. And the Ultimate Spider-Man animated series is renowned for its humor.
It’s possible the next big screen iteration of Spidey will be the funniest yet. The writers of the latest reboot, John Francis Daley and Jonathan M. Goldstein, have some serious comedy pedigree, having written the Vacation reboot, as well as Horrible Bosses and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2. In fact, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige hinted at this direction last year, when he said, “When he puts that mask on in the comics, he has a non-stop wit that is almost as troublesome to the bad guys he is fighting as his webs and agility. And we feel we really haven’t seen that in the movies. That’s just the tip of the iceberg.”
Like we saw with Hellboy, the silliness here starts with the name: Ant-Man. Even what he is is silly: a man who can shrink down to the size of an ant and can communicate with insects. While four different characters have worn the Ant-Man suit in the comics, the 2015 film features two of them: Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and Scott Lang (Paul Rudd).
Rudd, of course, is known for his comedy chops, and brought those skills to the film both as the lead and as a co-writer. This led to lines like, “Sorry I’m late, I was saving the world. You know how it is.” He even took a shot at his own name, telling the villain Yellowjacket, “No, I’m the Ant-Man!… I know, it wasn’t my idea.” And in the comics he cracks the pop-culture-savvy line, “Hey, when you’ve seen Raiders of the Lost Ark twenty-seven times, jumping from one speeding object to another becomes second nature!
3. Plastic Man
It’s not a “stretch” to say that Plastic Man is inherently bizarre. Just look at him: the shades, the slick hair, the endless v-neck, and the fact that he can stretch his entire body to ridiculous degree. His debut came all the way back in 1941 with Quality Comics, but he later moved over to DC. He’s had many different incarnations, but they’ve often been goofy.
In recent animated appearances he’s been voiced by comedian Tom Kenny – SpongeBob himself. Always the jokester, in the video game Justice League Heroes, he leaves an “important” message for Batman during a tense time: he’s forgotten his keys. He’s even self-deprecating, saying in a 1999 Justice League America comic, “Oh, please – any idiot can stretch himself into a funny shape.”
2. The Tick
The Tick was most famously a Fox animated show in the mid-’90s, but he was birthed in 1986 as a newsletter mascot for New England Comics stores, and by 1988 he had his own independent comic. He even had a very brief incarnation in a live-action prime-time show, where the title character was played by Patrick Warburton. But no matter where you see him, The Tick is a complete lunk-headed goofball.
A lot of the humor stems from The Tick himself being a sort of satire of a superhero. While he’s got superhuman strength, his strangest ability is “drama power,” which heightens his powers during dramatic situations. He tends to blurt out crazy, often nonsensical speeches, with quotes like, “Destiny’s powerful hand has made the bed of my future, and it’s up to me to lie in it… And, you don’t eat crackers in the bed of your future, or you get all… scratchy.” And then there’s this, which we should all remember: “Eating kittens is just plain… plain wrong! And no-one should do it, ever!”
Deadpool has long been considered one of the funniest superheroes lurking the pages of comic books, since his inception in 1991. Finally, after an unfortunately awkward and abrupt take in 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Ryan Reynolds finally got to do the character – and his off-color, off-the-wall sense of humor – justice in this year’s massively popular Deadpool flick.
The R-rated humor, of course, and how well it was translated from the comics, is one of the main reasons for the film’s success. Wade Wilson’s alter-ego is known as the “Merc with a Mouth” for a reason. No topic is off limits for Deadpool and his potty mouth. He’ll poke fun at his own cancer when asked what his “sign” is; he’ll make a homoerotic crack when he’s riding on Spider-Man’s back; he makes infamous use of breaking the fourth wall to talk to the audience, or acknowledge the fact that he’s in a comic book; and he has some great pop culture references – take the time he was struggling to reach a little statue and said, “Must… use… Shatner… voice… to… reach… statue.” He even once shot a guy for preferring the Star Wars prequels to the original trilogy.
Can you think of any other funny superheroes who should be on this list? Let us know in the comments!