Ever since the MCU expanded its reach to include television with ABC’s Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., it has continued to expand, with more Marvel TV shows seemingly getting announced all the time. Even while we wait for such shows as Inhumans, New Warriors, Runaways, and Cloak and Dagger, Marvel is bringing a bunch of its characters together this summer for Marvel’s The Defenders on Netflix. Uniting the leads and supporting casts from Daredevil, Iron Fist, Luke Cage, and Jessica Jones, the series raises the question of which of Marvel’s TV characters is the most powerful.
This list is a ranking of the most powerful characters from the Marvel shows that have already aired on Netflix or ABC. It doesn’t include characters from announced shows that are yet to make it to air, or any characters that may be introduced in The Defenders.
The ranking is largely determined by the physical abilities and aptitude of the characters, but does take into consideration such mitigating factors as leadership ability, cunning, and in some cases even death.
Some of these characters may never get an opportunity to face each other in battle, but who needs that when you have our MCU TV: The Definitive Power Rankings.
20. Cornell ‘Cottonmouth’ Stokes
Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes was the first enemy to take a crack at Luke Cage during the first season of his show, and while his fortunes turned drastically part of the way through the season, he was able to quickly establish himself as a fearsome foe, especially considering that he is just a normal mob boss going up against a man with unbreakable skin.
Most of Cornell’s power came from his charisma and ability to exert control over those that he employed. All the personality in the world can’t stop you from getting pushed out of a window, however, and in a straight-up battle he would come up short against almost anyone else on this list. But for a brief, glorious time, Cottonmouth was a very real threat to a bulletproof man.
19. Misty Knight
Lacking the robot arm of her comics’ counterpart, Misty Knight may seem like your average, run-of-the-mill detective. However, she distinguishes herself throughout the first season of Luke Cage by not blinking twice at all of the weirdness she comes up against, and facing enemies that way outclass her without a moment’s hesitation.
Misty can likely hold her own in a fight, but in the Marvel Universe, that’s not necessarily enough when it comes to super-soldiers, Inhumans, and all the rest of the deadly combatants the TV corner of the Marvel Universe has to offer.
18. Trish Walker
Trish Walker is the best friend of the super-strong Jessica Jones, so while she may not seem like a powerhouse in comparison to her bestie, she still has plenty to bring to the table. While she’s currently just a radio host who has taken some self-defense classes, if the comics are anything to go by, Trish is destined to take on a superheroic identity herself at some point in the future, as the deadly Hellcat.
In season one of Jessica Jones, Trish helps Jessica take on Trish’s unhinged ex, Will Simpson. Even though she has to take Will’s super-soldier meds in order to jump into the fight, she did so with no hesitation even knowing that it could kill her.
With a fighting style that will only continue to improve the more she immerses herself into Jessica’s world, Trish seems poised to eventually make major waves in Marvel’s street-level world, even if she’s not quite there yet.
17. Mariah Dillard
At the start of Luke Cage, Mariah Dillard is a politician trying to clean up Harlem, all while dealing with her crime-lord cousin, Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes. As she is drawn deeper and deeper into his nefarious dealings, she begins to uncover her darker side, eventually murdering her cousin and seizing control of his empire, with the encouragement of fellow criminals Diamondback and Shades.
While Mariah’s combat prowess is limited to pushing people out of windows and smashing their heads with mic stands, she ends the season with control over all of Diamondback and Cottonmouth’s assets and territory, firmly establishing herself as the new crime boss of Harlem.
16. Phil Coulson
Before getting an Asgardian staff through the chest in The Avengers, Agent Phil Coulson was just your average S.H.I.E.L.D. agent with a man-crush on Captain America. Since becoming the lead of ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Coulson has risen to the rank of Director, lost that status, and then sort of got back there again, in a roundabout fashion.
While his effectiveness as the director of S.H.I.E.L.D. is debatable, Coulson is an effective agent, especially since losing his hand and having it replaced with a robotic prosthetic with a number of abilities. Competent in combat, though not at the level of many of his teammates, Coulson has benefited greatly from not only the added strength his prosthesis affords him, but also the super-cool energy shield it can now deploy.
15. Bobbi “Mockingbird” Morse
While it’s been a season or two since we’ve seen Bobbi “Mockingbird” Morse on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., the memory of how cool she is still lingers. An addition to the show in season 2, alongside her wise-cracking ex-husband Lance Hunter, Bobbi was introduced as an S.H.I.E.L.D. agent undercover in Hydra, whose weapons of choice were a pair of short metal staffs.
Bobbi and Lance were originally meant to receive a spin-off of their own, Marvel’s Most Wanted, but it didn’t end up getting picked up, which leaves them in limbo, still on the run from the various agencies they angered back in season 3.
Hopefully Bobbi at least will pop back up at some point in the future, because while she my be overpowered in a world of Inhumans and superheroes, she and her dual sticks o’ pain look awesome in action.
14. Colleen Wing
Colleen Wing doesn’t have a glowing fist, or superpowers, or anything besides years of martial arts training, but she can hold her own against opponents much larger and stronger than her through sheer skill. She’s even a member of the Hand, and you just know that their audition process has got to be super tough.
An expert martial artist who runs her own dojo, Colleen is proficient with weapons, as well as with her bare hands. However, she’s not the best fighter in the Marvel TV Universe, and is usually hanging it with other martial artists that are at least at her level.
13. Will “Nuke” Simpson
Seemingly an ordinary cop who gets roped into the adventures of Trish Walker and Jessica Jones, Will Simpson turns out to be much more than meets the eye. He is a version of Nuke, a Marvel villain known in the comics for having an American flag tattooed right across his face.
While this version of Nuke doesn’t have the tattoo, he does have a series of red, white, and blue super-soldier pills, from his days in a creepy black-ops unit.
Crazy and super strong are a bad mix, and when Will starts to lose his mind in his dealings with Kilgrave, he returns to his pills, which only makes things worse. He eventually faces off against Jessica and Trish in Jessica’s kitchen, and while he is defeated, it takes both of them to take him down. It’s unlikely that viewers have seen the last of Nuke.
12. Melinda May
Melinda May, known to some as The Cavalry for reasons that become clear once you see her in action, is by far the most talented hand-to-hand combatant in S.H.I.E.L.D. Despite having people on the team with literal superpowers, when it’s time to throw down, Melinda is almost always on the front lines. Particularly prone to showy and acrobatic flips, kicks, and grapples, Melinda has been able to hold her own against Inhumans and robots.
She may be a one-woman army, but Melinda is far from invincible. She was recently captured and replaced with a robot version of herself, and then forced into brutal virtual reality world where she worked for HYDRA. She was able to come to her senses even with a life-time of false memories, however, and join her team in saving the day.
It’s impossible to say how strong Elektra will be in The Defenders, given the apparent Hand brainwashing she seems to have been through post-death and regeneration, but even before she got run through, Elektra was one of the deadliest fighters in the Marvel Universe. Able to stand her ground against Daredevil and countless ninjas, Elektra’s speed, agility, and proficiency with her two sai make her someone you don’t want to mess with.
But she did get stabbed. And in the wake of that fatal error, her future is uncertain. It seems likely that when she meets the Defenders, the tone of their encounters will be less than friendly. Regardless of any tampering that the Hand have done to her mind or body, she’s guaranteed to put up a major fight.
10. The Punisher
When the Punisher was first introduced in season 2 of Daredevil, it was hard to see how he would fit alongside some of the more fantastical elements of the Netflix corner of the Marvel Universe, like the magic ninjas that appear in that very same season. Thanks to John Bernthal, though, there was nothing to worry about.
With Bernthal bringing a real sense of weight and gravitas to Frank Castle, this version of the Punisher was imposing and heartbreaking from his very first appearance.
While he certainly has something of a reliance on fire-arms and weaponry, The Punisher shows off his skills at hand-to-hand combat multiple times against seasoned fighters like Daredevil. What truly makes him dangerous, though, is his ability to take as much damage as he can dish out.
9. Wilson “Kingpin” Fisk
Wilson Fisk is a big man, and one of the first acts of violence that he carries out in season 1 of Daredevil is to literally cut a guy’s head off using a car door. What makes Fisk so scary however, isn’t his ability to fight, but his ability to ensure that he rarely has to.
Always sure to have leverage over just the right people, The Kingpin earned his name every step of the way. He even exerts his control over an entire prison once he ends up behind bars.
In a matter of months, Fisk is running the place, with both prisoners and guards on his payroll. He fearlessly faces down The Punisher, a man who has shown himself capable of extreme violence. Yet, his confidence in his own position is unassailable, with so many aces up his sleeve at any given moment that he never needs to worry.
Matt Murdoch is a blind lawyer by day, but by night he patrols the streets as the notorious Daredevil, the man without fear. Murdoch is an excellent fighter to be sure, with the ability to take a hit and keep on going, while doing everything it takes to keep his enemy down.
His most powerful ability, however, is his radar sense; it allows him to “see” in 360 degrees around himself at any given moment. While he may miss out on some of the details of his surroundings, Matt’s intensely aware of any sort of movement or shift in the air.
7. Iron Fist
Based on the trailer for The Defenders, Danny Rand’s teammates are going to give him a hard time about his Iron Fist, which he claims is chi, channeled into his fist.
Throughout the first season of Iron Fist, Danny takes on countless goons with his martial arts skills, occasion employing the power of the deadly Iron Fist to make short work of his enemies.
After a lifetime in K’un-Lun, training to be the Iron Fist, Danny achieved that honor by fighting a literal dragon. He may sometimes come across like an arrogant little jerk, but between his ability to harness his chi, and his general skill at fighting and martial arts, Iron Fist packs more of a punch than it may initially seem.
With the ability to make people do whatever he says, the sociopathic Kilgrave spent the duration of season 1 of Jessica Jones making the lives of everyone around him utterly miserable. In addition to the horrible violation of having your actions controlled by someone else, Kilgrave is also something of an evil genius, always using his powers to create elaborate traps that ensure he stays one step ahead of his super-strong nemesis.
In fact, Kilgrave would likely have secured the number one spot on this list if it wasn’t for a slight case of, um, being dead. Before his untimely demise, however, he was getting stronger and stronger, even figuring out how to use his abilities through microphones and other devices.
5. Madame Gao
This mysterious figure is deeply involved in the heroin trade in Hell’s Kitchen. Madame Gao has come face-to-face with both Daredevil and Iron Fist, and while she hasn’t gotten in a straight-up fight with either of them, she has been able to knock both of them across the room – both with her fists and (presumably) with her chi.
In addition her criminal enterprises, Madame Gao claims to be several hundred years old, and has had dealings with the mystical city of K’un-Lun.
Fan theories predict she will turn out to be the Crane Mother, a character from the Iron Fist comics, but even with no direct connection to a comic book character, Madame Gao has set herself up as the closest thing the Netflix shows have to an over-arching villain.
4. Daisy “Quake” Johnson
Initially a computer hacker known as Skye, the Inhuman S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Daisy Johnson is now not only proficient at combat, but capable of creating vibrations and seismic blasts. Even without her hacking skills and combat knowledge, Daisy Johnson, AKA Quake, is capable of taking on almost anyone else in the Marvel TV Universe based on her superpowers alone.
Unfortunately, her Quake skills do come with a downside, as they have the potential to damage her bones with the vibrations. For this reason she wears two super-cool looking gauntlets, which allow her to harness that power in a more controlled way, directing her blasts without hurting her.
3. Jessica Jones
Jessica Jones is really, really, really strong. She doesn’t do kung-fu, and she doesn’t have radar sense or a glowing fist, but in a fight she almost always wins through sheer force of strength alone. Of course, this didn’t exactly help in most of her battles against Kilgrave, who was able to ensure that she didn’t get close enough to do any damage, but in the end she was able to make short work of him as well.
Jessica has been through a lot, and she copes with drinking, violence,and an acerbic attitude. As a survivor of trauma that few other superheroes could ever imagine, she’s strong not only physically, but mentally as well. She’s been through the worst, so now she fights to make things better, one punch (and one drink) at a time.
2. Luke Cage
Luke Cage, formerly the policeman (and then inmate) known as Carl Lucas, has unbreakable skin. He’s also uncommonly strong, on a similar level to his sometimes-lover Jessica Jones, but what truly gives him the advantage is that he can’t be shot, stabbed, or burned in any sort of way that would slow him down. He did go up against some special bullets during season 1 of Luke Cage that he had a hard time with, but against any conventional weaponry he’s essentially invulnerable.
Of course, he has some weaknesses; like those aforementioned bullets, or the fact that Jessica was able to put him in a coma for a little bit by shooting him point blank in the head with a shotgun, thus knocking his brains around. If you can get to his organs then you can do some damage, but even someone as strong as Jessica had to resort to weaponry.
1. Ghost Rider
Possessed by the Spirit of Vengeance itself, Robbie Reyes has found himself in the unique position of being the Ghost Rider. With his flaming skull and a car to match, no one that Ghost Rider faced during season 4 of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was even close to being a match for him – including Quake. Once he started swinging a flaming chain around, it was clear that Ghost Rider was not only deadly, but also super intimidating.
Scare factor aside, Ghost Rider seems able to heal, control flame, heal his car, hit real hard, and even open portals to weird other dimensions. He’s operating at a whole other level from the rest of TV’s Marvel Universe.
While so far nothing can take Ghost Rider down, with more and more Marvel shows launching every day, it’s clearly only a matter of time before he meets his match.
Who do you think is the strongest on the TV side of the MCU? Let us know in the comments below!
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