Marvel hasn’t dominated the comic and film industry by accident. Their massive success is owed to their enduring and relatable characters. From Spider-Man to Iron Man, Wolverine to Captain America, Hulk, Deadpool and countless others, they’ve covered the gamut of superpowers — with compelling personalities and adventures to match.
But not every character has been a home run. When you’ve been in business as long as Marvel has, there have been more than a few misfires along the way. It’s to these less-than-super-heroes that this list is dedicated. From the hilariously inept to the aggravatingly asinine, here are fifteen Marvel Universe characters who should never have made it to the printed page, and who you’ll (hopefully) never see in any movie or television show… unless it’s a comedy at their expense.
Without further ado, here are the 15 Most Useless Superheroes in the Marvel Universe.
A former trucker from Arkansas, Buford Hollis began fighting crime as Razorback, wearing a goofy and unflattering costume, and sporting the not-so-mind-boggling mutant ability to drive or pilot any vehicle (all of which he nicknames “big pig”). When you’re in a universe with multiple characters that are capable of destroying worlds, an expert wheelman really isn’t all that helpful.
In addition, the mane of his unwieldy headpiece is electrified, but that limited power is cancelled out by the indignity of having to wear an oversize furry helmet that limits mobility and peripheral vision. The end result is a character that has never made a sizable impact in the Marvel Universe, and for good reason.
A former Spider-Man villain who’s now in the anti-hero zone, Typeface is essentially a bargain basement Punisher: an ex-soldier blessed with some decent fighting skills and a way with words. Or more accurately, signs. The character (real name Gordon Thomas) is a sign maker, and his obsession with letters extends to his fashion sense. His clothing and flesh are adorned with sloppy, misplaced letters, like the “R” on his forehead, which stands for “retribution.”
Typeface’s wordy wardrobe also serves as an arsenal — he literally throws the letters at his enemies. Given the inherit lack of aerodynamics in such projectiles, Typeface is just hard to take seriously, so he gets an “F” for failure. If you needed any more proof that Typeface is lame, he even had a sidekick for a while named Spellcheck, who was just as annoying as his name implies.
The Great Lakes Avengers were always a bit of a joke outfit, and Doorman was no exception. DeMarr Davis is a mutant with the power to tap into the “darkforce dimension.” The shorthand of that is that he acts as a living portal, allowing people and objects to pass through him.
While that may sound impressive, its nothing to get overly excited about. Davis can only transport stuff to the other side of whatever he touches. Thus, his power is limited to sending you into the next room. So if you find yourself locked out of your house or car, he can be pretty handy. Besides that, Doorman is a bit of a buzzkill.
If he were ever able to expand upon his power (similar to how Nightcrawler of the X-Men learned to teleport to places outside of his line of sight), Doorman’s skills could definitely come in handy. Until then, he’s pretty much useless.
12. Gin Genie
X-Statix members were always gloriously random with their variety of spectacularly useless mutant abilities, but Gin Genie was particularly impressive in being quite unimpressive. On one hand, she was able to create powerful seismic waves. On the other, she had to be drunk to do it, and her power level directly paralleled just how much booze she consumed. Not a great recipe for success. Not to mention the mixed message this hero delivered to children reading about her exploits– booze will give you superpowers, kids!
The result was someone with great power and even greater irresponsibility. Not to mention irritability: Gin Genie was a mean drunk, who often took used her power on her teammates instead of for the greater good. She’s no longer with us, but surprisingly not from cirrhosis or drunk driving. Pour one out for her won’t you?
11. The Thunderer
Like Captain America, The Thunderer was another patriotic Marvel superhero feeling the call of God and country, fully invested in kicking Nazi ass during World War II. But that’s where the comparisons end. And despite a cool costume, The Thunderer (real name Jerry Carstairs) was basically a dud with a very limited skill set.
Carstairs was a former radio operator who stuck to what he knew: thus his powers consisted of a built-in microphone allowing him to hurt your eardrums by yelling at you. He could also knock down the occasional building if he turned up the volume, but that’s not a terribly effective way to stop the bad guys without hurting civilians. Unsurprisingly, Thunderer didn’t singlehandedly win the war and take down Hitler. Instead, his adventures were limited to tales like fighting an evil deformed dwarf who killed attractive people using Morse Code. It was a simpler time for storytelling back then.
10. El Guapo
Another (not so) superhero from X-Statix is El Guapo, real name Robbie Rodriguez, a mutant with a symbiotic link to his skateboard, giving him some righteous skateboard moves. While that would pay off at The X-Games (pun unintended), it’s not a terribly effective way to fight crime. And his mutant ability had a huge disadvantage: if he was separated from his wheels for too long, he could weaken and eventually die.
To make things even more complicated, Robbie’s skateboard acted as his moral compass, even beating him for cheating on his girlfriend. This showed an even more unheroic side of El Guapo, as he pleaded “not in the face!” due to his extreme vanity. This unhealthy co-dependent relationship ultimately proved that if you live by the skateboard, you die by it too: poor El Guapo departed this mortal coil after getting impaled by his own skateboard. He was last seen skating in the heavens. RIP.
9. NFL Superpro
The 90’s were full of questionable creative choices in comics, and this collaboration between Marvel and the NFL was no exception. After a knee injury sidelines football player Phil Grayfield’s career, he turns to sports journalism. But sitting on the sidelines isn’t Phil’s style, and after he witnesses a crime, he becomes NFL Superpro, wearing an indestructible sports uniform.
This essentially boils down to a failed football player with a bum knee who fights crime while cramming in sports terminology during heroic feats. Unsurprisingly, he did not catch on with the majority of comic book readers and was short-lived, ending after only 12 issues. In recent years, NFL Superpro’s awful has given it something of a “so bad, it’s good” reputation, with its rare issues becoming collectible items. If you’re wondering why Marvel would ever green-light such a lame character, NFL Superpro creator Fabian Nicieza admitted the ugly truth: his sole motivation was free NFL tickets.
If NFL Superpro wasn’t bad enough, the football hero comic series spawned a supergroup with the uninspiring moniker The Happy Campers. They were a group of college buddies gifted with superpowers after attending a motivational camp with the slogan “Awaken your inner hero!” But it was just a scheme for a mad scientist to play God, imbuing the gang with very unique, and utterly ridiculously, abilities.
One such member was Tubby Walsh, who became Girth, blessed with the power of having a near indestructible beer belly. But being capable of pounding down brewskis while repelling objects and people with your midsection doesn’t lend itself to practical fighting techniques (running into your opponent belly first is an awkward strategy at best). When you think about it, the Kool-Aid Man is basically a tougher, and tastier, Girth. In summary, Girth was the “dad bod” superhero the world never demanded.
Doug Ramsey’s mutant power gave him the ability to understand and speak any language. While that is a mighty impressive skill that would definitely come in handy in our globalist society, it just never properly translated (sorry) to the printed page. For a medium built on dynamic action, Cypher never delivered, and was just a hard character to make compelling. This had the unintended effect of making Cypher a rather annoying presence in the X-Men roster.
He proved so irritating that many readers wrote in, begging to have him killed off. Realizing Cypher brought nothing to the table, series writer Louise Simonson complied. But every Marvel fan knows death in comics is never permanent and he was eventually resurrected. But he still kinda sucks. Even his new powers (advanced computer skills and the ability to sense structural weakness in buildings) continue to underwhelm. You can’t polish a turd as they say, and you just can’t make Cypher cool.
This X-Men member has the unique qualification of being both weird and lame. Born in South Africa, this oddball mutant has a most unusual digestive system. It houses two slugs who are able to leave his body, eat anything they want, then crawl back into his guts, helping him grow in size, stamina, and speed. This process also turns his skin blue and his eyes red. But if that sounds cumbersome and overly complicated, there’s another rule: the slugs must enter through his stomach in a meticulously precise manner to be effective.
Maggot also has psychometric power– he’s able to see things from the recent past or the immediate future. In other words, Maggot is kind of a hot mess. He’s not written in a way for satisfying battles and he’s also fairly annoying to explain. And the grotesque delivery system for him to eat and gain strength takes him out of the action during critical moments. The fact that his slugs are named Eany and Meany just makes it all worse somehow. Plus he’s just kinda gross.
5. The Phone Ranger
With a name like The Phone Ranger, you know you’re in for a disappointment. But A.G. Bell (get it?) set out to do great things. A telephone repairman with a sense of social duty; at least his heart was in the right place. He certainly had a unique origin story: after helping a customer with a broken phone, he discovered the phone housed a distress signal from an alien race. He then used the alien technology to create a suit that gave him his lackluster abilities.
Bell was able to connect with any telecommunications device in existence while wearing the suit. This enabled him to be the first responder to 911 calls. The only problem is that when there is a dire emergency at hand, perhaps a phone repairman with delusions of grandeur isn’t the most ideal candidate for saving the world, or even a cat from a tree, for that matter. And due to this fact, he died in the line of duty. He was later resurrected and now works in tech support. He finally figured out his place in the world.
4. Ulysses Solomon Archer (U.S. 1)
If his name doesn’t ring a bell, it’s for good reason. One of several characters developed as shameless 1980’s corporate tie-ins, Ulysses Archer was a character created to shamelessly promote Tyco’s U.S. 1 slot car toy-line. Thus the superhero trucker concept was born, with a curious origin story that begins with the title character surviving a nasty car accident.
Afterwards, Archer receives experimental surgery on his cranium. This results in a metal skull that gives him the earth-shattering ability to pick up CB radio transmission in his mind. Armed with this unique gift and a tricked out big rig, he becomes a seeker of highway justice, chasing The Highwayman, a villain involved in his car accident. Is it any wonder his comic series lasted only twelve issues? It should also be noted that he eventually crossed paths with the equally useless and previously mentioned Razorback, fighting over a woman in outer space.
3. Hindsight Lad
Hindsight Lad was member of the New Warriors, a group of teenage superheroes that popped up in the late 80’s. The epitome of the annoying sidekick, Carlton LaFroyge was blessed with no special powers, except one: the ability to analyze how things could have gone better after a failed mission.
Yes, Hindsight Lad was “that guy,” a know-it-all who only tells you what you need to know after it is too late to be of any use. During the Civil War arc, the powerless Hindsight suddenly became bigoted against his former New Warrior teammates, even running an anti-New Warriors website, where he effectively doxxed them by revealed their secret identities. Oh and he laundered official Avengers funds to buy himself a costume. To make him even more unappealing, he was only accepted by The New Warriors after discovering a teammates secret identity and blackmailing him. Smug, arrogant and useless. Arguably the most punchable character in the Marvel Universe.
2. Almighty Dollar
Another member of the aforementioned Happy Campers from NFL Superpro, the Almighty Dollar is actually J. Pennington Pennypacker: a mild-mannered CPA by day and costumed hero by night. The mad scientist who gave Almighty Dollar his powers blessed him the power to fire pennies out of his wrists. His tagline was that he can “throw money at my problems.”
Even by early 90’s standards, this was simply unacceptable superhero criteria, and Almighty Dollar came off more like a bad corporate mascot a bank might use to sell checking accounts to kids. It must be insulting for any supervillain to endure the indignity of being hit by pennies, which would have likely resulted in his quick demise, had his adventures continued for more than one issue. At the very least, Almighty Dollar was the embodiment of the terrible creative decision made by Marvel in collaborating with the NFL. He may have be named the Almighty Dollar, but he sure couldn’t sell comics.
The Marvel Universe has a cache of mutants with interesting powers. It also has an affinity for those blessed with blue skin pigmentation. But while Nightcrawler can teleport, Mystique has near-omnipotent shape-shifting abilities, and Beast is a genius with impressive agility, Jazz is just a blue guy who likes to rap.
Unfortunately for Jazz, his mutation doesn’t extend to spitting rhymes. He has no skills in the hip-hop arena. He’d be the first to get cut at any reality show talent competition. He’s just… blue. Maybe that would’ve been something if he was the first blue mutant. But when you’re so far down the totem pole, it just blows.
Given Jazz’s rather bleak resume, he eventually turned to selling drugs. He wasn’t good at that either. He was eventually killed by a voodoo doll. A fitting end for one of the most cursed characters in Marvel history.
What Marvel superheroes do you think fall into the most useless category? Be sure and tell us in the comments. And if you’re looking for useless superheroes from the “distinguished competition,” click here for our list of useless DC Universe heroes.