The heroes of the Marvel Universe have received their power from many different sources. You have technology heroes like Iron Man and Ant Man, who built the source of their powers. There are enhanced humans like Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four, whose bodies were altered by outside sources. When Stan Lee finally got bored of coming up with origin stories, he created the mutants from the X-Men, who are just born with powers.
Alongside all of these are the rare few heroes that can use magic. This barely explained power source has been wielded by many different characters over the years. Unlike the other forms of power in the Marvel Universe, magic is something that can be taught (although those without an aptitude for it would struggle to wield it efficiently).
Magic in the world of Marvel comics is not something that should be used lightly. This isn’t like Harry Potter, where waving a wand is the same motion for both making fireworks and for killing people. Magic has risks and it has a cost, which is why only the most fearless of individuals take it up. We are here today to count down the heroic witches and wizards from Marvel comics. From the Avenger whose power can rewrite reality, to the Sorcerer Supreme himself, here are Marvel’s 15 Most Powerful Magical Superheroes.
15. Scarlet Witch
The most well-known incarnation of Wanda Maximoff, better known as the Scarlet Witch, is the one played by Elizabeth Olsen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This version of the character first appeared in Avengers: Age of Ultron, and has no true magical powers. Instead, she has psionic abilities that were given to her by exposure to the energy of Loki’s Scepter. The original version of Scarlet Witch from the comics does possess magical abilities, that she combined with her own natural mutant powers.
Wanda Maximoff’s powers have been redefined several times over her history. She was originally able to use “hexes”, which were spells that affected probability. As time went on, this was retconned into being able to control Chaos Magic, which allowed her to control probability in her favour, and literally rewrite events. This became the focus of the company-wide event House of M, where Scarlet Witch recreated the entire Marvel Universe in her own image. This ended with her restoring the old reality, with the addition of removing the powers of 90% of the mutants in the world.
The true extent of Scarlet Witch’s magical powers have never been revealed, but being able to completely alter reality, and then remove the powers from most of the superheroes & villains in the world would probably put her in the top tier. The only problem is that Scarlet Witch cannot control these extreme extensions of her powers, and she has only been able to perform them while at the very edge of despair.
14. Black Widow (The Other One)
No, not the one played by Scarlet Johansson; the other one.
Way back in Mystic Comics #4 (released in 1940), a character named Black Widow was introduced. She was the spirit medium named Claire Voyant (although her job options were probably limited with a name like that). After being murdered, she is sent back from Hell by Satan to take revenge on her killer. She became the Black Widow, a woman who could kill with the touch of her fingers.
While Black Widow only appeared a few times in the 1940s, she would return in Marvel’s 2007 series The Twelve. The story of The Twelve involves a group of characters from The Golden Age of comic books, who were captured by the Nazis and frozen in suspended animation. They were uncovered in modern day Germany, and the story follows their struggle to try and build a new life in contemporary America. It is an excellent series and well worth checking out.
Black Widow’s main power is her magical touch of death, that can kill anyone so long as she comes into contact with their head. When Black Widow was brought back in The Twelve, she was given the powers of flight and super-strength.
Marvel UK originally existed to reprint American made comics. Over time, they were allowed to create their own original material, which has since crossed over with the main Marvel Universe. One of these characters was Captain Britain, who would go on to form his own British offshoot of the X-Men in the series called Excalibur. One of the members of this team was Meggan, a mutant empath who was one of the most powerful members of Excalibur.
Meggan has a magical link to the world itself, this manifests itself as a wide array of powers. She is a powerful shapeshifter, can mimic the abilities of other superheroes, can command the elements, and she can read the emotions of others (like Counsellor Troi from Star Trek: The Next Generation).
Another thing that adds to Meggan’s magical heritage is the fact that she was co-created by Alan Moore. Of all of the creators on this list, the closest to actually being a real life wizard is Alan Moore. He was the co-founder of the real life magical order known as The Moon and Serpent Grand Egyptian Theatre of Marvels, and has released books on the subject of paganism and ritual magic. Surely that has to count for something?
12. Sister Grimm (Nico Minoru)
The Runaways was a surprise hit for Marvel in 2003. The Runaways focused on a group of teenagers who discovered that their parents were members of a super-powered crime organisation known as “The Pride”. Not only were their parents evil dictators, but they were planning on destroying on the world and building a new one, with the aid of three mystical giants known as the Gibborim. It was up to the Runaways to try and stop them.
Several of The Runaways inherited powers and technology from their parents. One of these was Nico Minoru, who was briefly known as Sister Grimm. Her parents were a pair of dark wizards, and Nico inherited their magical abilities. Her power is tied to a magical weapon known as the Staff of One. When Nico sheds blood, the staff emerges from her body. The staff allows you to cast any kind of spell… with a catch. She can only use the staff to cast that spell one time; if she tries to cast it again then it will either not work or create a random effect.
It was recently announced that Hulu is making a series out of The Runaways, so there is a good chance that Nico will soon be making her way on to TV.
In X-Men #120, Canada’s equivalent to The Avengers were introduced. The team known as Alpha Flight originally battled the X-Men in an effort to return Wolverine to the Canadian Government. After this initial villainous outing, Alpha Flight were given their own series and were established as Canada’s main team of superheros.
One of the members of Alpha Flight was Michael Twoyoungmen, better known as Shaman. In his youth, Twoyoungmen was asked to take over his grandfather’s role as a medicine man. He refused, due to not believing in magic, and went to the city to pursue a life for himself. Twoyoungmen would go on to become a doctor, get married and have a daughter. When his wife came down with a terminal illness, Twoyoungmen turned to science and medical knowledge to try and save her. He failed, and his wife passed away. Michael Twoyoungmen abandoned his old life, and he was contacted by the ghost of his grandfather, who offered again to teach him the ways of the Shaman. This time, Twoyoungmen accepted. Many years later, when Alpha Flight was formed, Shaman was asked to join the team.
Shaman’s powers are linked to his medicine bag, which contains a pocket dimension filled with magical items. These items, along with a connection to the earth itself, give Shaman a huge array of powers. The medicine bag has another, darker ability, as the villain named Smart Alec learned. If you look into the void contained within the bag, then you will lose your mind forever.
While Colossus from the X-Men may be the most well-known of his family to general audiences (especially after Deadpool), he has two siblings who are equally important to the X-Men canon. He has an older brother named Mikhail, who is a recurring villain, and a younger sister named Illyana, who is not only a mutant like her brothers, but is also a very powerful mage.
When Illyana was first introduced, she was a recurring background character in the pages of Uncanny X-Men. Illyana was only six years old at first, but would go on to be trapped in Limbo by the demon Belasco, where she spent seven years learning magic. She managed to escape back to the real world, but her seven years in Limbo had only been a few moments in ours. She was now a teenager, and was soon drafted into the team known as the New Mutants, where she would take the name Magik.
Along with her natural mutant ability to create teleportation circles, Illyana knew a vast array of magical spells (enough that she was considered the Sorceress Supreme of Limbo). She could summon a suit of Eldritch Armor that would protect her from damage, and could conjure a Soulsword that can carve through magic as if it were flesh.
9. Captain Britain
While Marvel UK originally existed to reprint American comics, it was decided that a homegrown hero with his own original stories would help improve sales. Famed X-Men writer Chris Claremont and artist Herb Trimpe worked together to create Captain Britain, a totally original character who wasn’t just Captain America, except British. After being used in several different series by many writers (including Alan Moore), Captain Britain became a member of Excalibur, where most of his stories took place.
The nature of Captain Britain’s powers have changed many times over the course of the character’s history. He originally required the Amulet of Right, an item that gave him his mystical powers. When using the Amulet, Captain Britain gains super strength, the power of flight, super speed and super durability. He is often compared to Captain Marvel in terms of power, though his abilities come from magic. Captain Britain’s powers work fine while he is within the UK, but he must wear his costume if he wants to use them anywhere else in the world, which gives him a significant weakness.
8. Agatha Harkness
One of the most mysterious figures of the Marvel Universe is Agatha Harkness, a powerful witch with her own mysterious agenda, who has helped many superheroes with the aid of her vast magical knowledge.
Agatha Harkness first appeared in the pages of Fantastic Four, where she became the nanny of the young Franklin Richards (a mutant of incredible power). She would aid the Fantastic Four against opponents like the Frightful Four and Annihilus, as they attempted to harm her young ward. Agatha is perhaps best known as Scarlet Witch’s teacher in the mystical arts. This would later be her downfall, as Agatha removed Scarlet Witch’s memories of her children (whom were not real children, but had been created by Scarlet Witch from pieces of Mephisto’s soul). When Scarlet Witch discovered the truth during Avengers Disassembled, she killed Agatha Harkness in cold blood. Although being a powerful witch, it’s hard to say if Agatha was ever truly dead or not.
Due to her command of magic, Agatha Harkness can alter someone’s long term memories, create powerful illusions and teleport over great distances, to name but a few of her powers. She is often seen with her adorable black cat Ebony, who can transform into a panther at will.
Whilst Shaman was the resident magic user in Alpha Flight for a long time, he would go on to be replaced by his more powerful daughter, Elizabeth Twoyoungmen, also known as Talisman.
During their initial run, Alpha Flight battled against the seven Great Beasts, a group of evil supernatural beings who were tied to the land itself. Despite having no powers herself, Elizabeth managed to defeat the Great Beast known as Ranaq the Devourer. She instictivly reached into her father’s medicine bag and pulled out the powerful Coronet of Enchantment, a diadem which granted its wearer great magical powers. She would join Alpha Flight as Talisman, and would help defeat the remaining Great Beasts.
Unlike Shaman, whose powers were learned over time, Talisman utilises magic through her Coronet. The Coronet resembles a golden tiara with a vaguely heart shaped ruby in its centre. The bearer of this item is given access to a huge range of magical powers that are tied to the earth itself. Talisman had a great deal of power over the spirits of the land. She could make the dead rise, control nature, and conjure magical energy into both a weapon and shield.
It is said that once the bearer of the Coronet of Enchantment has learned to control its powers, then that person will be the equal of the Sorcerer Supreme in magical ability. Due to Alpha Flight’s popularity waning after its initial run, Elizabeth Twoyoungmen has yet to reach this level of power.
6. Doctor Druid
Doctor Druid technically predates most of the Marvel Universe. He was created by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko in the pages of Amazing Adventures, a series that predates the first issue of Fantastic Four by several months. Despite being fond of the character, Stan Lee felt that his position was usurped by Doctor Strange. He would later be brought back as part of the main Marvel canon, and would go on to join The Avengers.
When he was reintroduced to the main Marvel Universe, Dr. Anthony Druid was originally a “backup” of the Ancient One, who planned to make him into the next Sorcerer Supreme, should Stephen Strange fail his training. He would make sporadic appearances across several Marvel titles, before becoming an Avenger. He was eventually killed in battle against Hellstorm, the son of Satan. He has since returned in All-New, All -Different Marvel.
Doctor Druid’s mystical powers are based upon mental abilities. He is one of the most powerful telepaths of the Marvel Universe. He can create complex illusions, and possesses powerful telekinetic abilities. Like the Druids of old, he can control the forces of nature, but this comes at a cost. Like the legends of faeries, Doctor Druid is weak against iron, and it affects his ability to use his magical powers.
It is well-known that Nightcrawler’s birth mother is the villain Mystique. She abandoned him at birth, and he was adopted by a travelling family, who gave him the name Kurt Wagner. His sister was a girl named Jimaine, who loved Kurt despite his appearance. Kurt fled the family after his brother Stefan accidentally fell on his blade while the two were fighting.
Jimaine was first introduced as Amanda Sefton, a flight attendant who began dating Kurt (who had no idea of her true identity). She would go on to aid the X-Men in their battles against Arcade and the Hellfire Club. When Kurt joined Excalibur, he asked Amanda to join as well, as Excalibur tended to battle magical opponents. Jimaine took on the codename Daytripper, and would be an Excalibur mainstay for years to come.
Daytripper is a powerful illusionist, who can also physically shapeshift into different forms. She can hypnotize her foes, summon bolts of magical energy, and can teleport across dimensions.
Daytripper’s mother is Margali Szardos, the self-titled “Sorceress Supreme”. She is an incredibly powerful witch, and would easily have made this list… if it weren’t for that one time that she sent the X-Men to the Hell from Dante’s Inferno in X-Men King Size Annual Vol 1 #4. The X-Men teamed up with Doctor Strange, and literally stormed the gates of Hell in order to save Nightcrawler’s soul, whom Margali imprisoned due to believing that he had murdered her son Stefan.
To those unfamiliar with Forge’s background, his presence on this list might seem odd. He is a character primarily associated with X-Men and X-Factor, whose mutant ability is to be an unrivalled master of technology. What most fans don’t realise is that Forge’s background is deeply associated with magic.
Forge is a Native American, and a member of Cheyenne tribe. Much like Shaman, Forge was trained to be a medicine man, and was schooled in the ways of magic. Due to his mutant power and his love of technology, Forge rejected his upbringing and went off to fight in the Vietnam War. Upon witnessing the deaths of his comrades, Forge uses his knowledge of magic to summon a band of demons to slay the enemy. When Forge was unable to banish them, he called in a B-52 bombing on his own position, an act which destroyed the demons, but also cost Forge his right leg and hand.
What Forge did not realise at the time, was this spell had allowed a demon named the Adversary to be summoned to earth. The X-Men would later battle against the Adversary, but to no avail. Forge had to once again use his mystical abilities to banish the Adversary, an act which required the sacrifice of nine members of the X-Men in order to work.
After the events of Avengers Disassembled, where the old members of The Avengers were split up – a new team of superheroes appeared. Four super-powered teenagers had taken on identities similar to those of the founding members of the Avengers. They were Hulkling, Iron Lad, the Patriot and Asgardian. The press dubbed them “The Young Avengers”.
Asgardian later changed his name to Wiccan, after it was discovered that he was in a relationship with fellow Young Avenger Hulkling (and the fear that the name might be altered into a homophobic slur). It was revealed that he is one of the long lost children of the Scarlet Witch, and his powers are linked to the same form of Chaos Magic that she uses.
Wiccan has a wide range of powers, including teleportation, force fields, lightning manipulation, flight, telekinesis and telepathy. The only weakness of this power is that Wiccan must be able to hear his own voice for the spell to work. Whilst still only a young man, Wiccan is considered one of the most powerful magic users in the Marvel Universe, and may one day hold the title of Sorcerer Supreme.
2. Brother Voodoo
Despite being an important part of Marvel’s main continuity, Brother Voodoo actually got his start in one of Marvel’s horror titles. He first appeared in Strange Tales #169, where he had a several issue arc explaining his origins. Brother Voodoo was originally Jericho Drumm, a man who rejected his Haitian heritage and travelled to America to become a psychologist. He returned home to see his dying brother, who convinced him to take up the mantle of Brother Voodoo, and become skilled enough in magic to stop the evil spirit Damballah.
Brother Voodoo would go on to be introduced into the main Marvel continuity, where he would appear sporadically across many different titles over the years. After Stephen Strange used dark magic to battle the Hulk during World War Hulk, he rejected the title of Sorcerer Supreme. Many feared that the mantle would pass on to Doctor Doom, but they were wrong. The next Sorcerer Supreme was Brother Voodoo, who changed his name to Doctor Voodoo. His tenure was brief, however, as he sacrificed his life to stop Agamatto from taking over the Earth (although he would later be revived, and become Brother Voodoo once more.).
Brother Voodoo is the foremost practitioner of Voodoo in the Marvel Universe. He can control fire, command living beings through the use of hypnotism, and call upon both the spirits of the dead, and the gods themselves to aid him.
1. Doctor Strange
The title of “Sorcerer Supreme” isn’t just for show, you know; it literally identifies you as the most powerful magic user in the Marvel Universe. Despite the many witches and wizards who would claim otherwise, Doctor Strange is the greatest mage alive.
Stephen Strange was an arrogant surgeon, who lost the use of his hands after a car accident. Desperate to become a doctor again, Stephen Strange sought out the being known as the Ancient One, who he believed could fix his hands. Strange is trained to take the Ancient One’s place as the Sorcerer Supreme, the officially sanctioned protector of magic in this dimension. Once his training was complete, he took on the name Doctor Strange, and moved to New York City. Doctor Strange would go on to become a recurring fixture of the Marvel Universe, and star in several of his own titles.
As the most powerful magic user in the Marvel Universe, Doctor Strange has access to a huge array of spells and abilities. The range of his magic is so vast, it is safe to say that his powers are basically “what the writer needs at any given time.” Alongside his magic, he possesses the Cloak of Levitation (which allows him to fly), the Eye of Agamatto (an amulet that can see through illusions), the Book of Vishanti (a tome containing vast magical knowledge) and the Orb of Agamatto (a crystal ball which grants clairvoyance).
Doctor Strange is set to star in his own movie in November 2016. Is Benedict Cumberbatch up to the task of playing a character with over fifty years worth of stories and characterization? Only time will tell.