When it comes to fighting crime and protecting the galaxy, some heroes like to go at it on their own, but sometimes, when things get tough and it becomes difficult to balance being a superhero and being an ordinary citizen, it’s good for superheroes to have someone there at their side.
While many comic book readers and casual moviegoers know of iconic friendships, such as Batman & Superman and Captain America & Iron Man (two friendships which have taken shape on the big screen), there are several superhero friendships people are simply unaware of.
Sure, devout comic book fans know of virtually all of the friendships, but the fact is, not everyone does, which is why we’ve decided to put together a list comprised largely of friendships most audiences don’t know about. Here are 15 Superheroes You Didn’t Know Were Best Friends.
15. Luke Cage (Power-Man) and Iron Fist
Comic book and Marvel Studios fans are certainly aware of the upcoming Luke Cage (which debuts its first season on September 30th) and Iron Fist TV series on Netflix, which will join the streaming service’s other Marvel series Daredevil and Jessica Jones as part of the team that will come to be known as The Defenders. Although each series is part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Netflix and Marvel Studios have chosen to keep the shows relatively separate.
While Luke Cage made his debut during the first season of Jessica Jones earlier this year, Iron Fist may not be doing the same by appearing during the first season of Luke Cage, despite the two characters sharing an abundant history together as friends and crime-fighting partners. Not long after Marvel renamed Luke Cage, Hero for Hire to Luke Cage, Power Man, the publisher decided to combine their Luke Cage and Iron Fist series together in hopes of spurring new sales — and so began a longstanding friendship between the two superheroes.
14. Spider-Man and Captain Britain
Everyone knows who Spider-Man is, but not everyone (especially casual comic book fans) knows of Captain Britain aka Brian Braddock, the British counterpart of the famed Captain America. However, unlike Steve Rogers, Captain Britain received his extraordinary abilities not from a super-soldier serum, but from the magician Merlyn and his Omniversal Guardian daughter Roma.
Brian Braddock debuted in the mid-’70s, and following a motorcycle accident, Merlyn and Roma offered Braddock the chance to become a superhero, which he accepted. After running solo for awhile, Marvel injected Captain Britain into the Marvel universe by having him join Spider-Man in their Team-Up comics, following the conclusion of the Captain’s weekly series.
It’s during this Team-Up series that Captain Britain — who had temporarily emigrated to America — became close friends with Spider-Man, after having first quarreled with each other due to a simple misunderstanding. They remained friends throughout Braddock’s stay in the U.S., but he eventually became homesick and returned to the U.K., where he continued his career as Captain Britain.
13. Captain America and Namor
Long before Marvel Comics began during the Silver Age of Comics, there was Timely Comics (the precursor to Marvel), which published comics centering around three titular heroes: Captain America, Namor, and the original Human Torch aka Jim Hammond (not the Fantastic Four Human Torch we’re all familiar with today).
Due to being Marvel’s original heroes, Namor the Sub-Mariner and Captain America became close friends, something comic book readers and, especially, casual moviegoers may not be familiar with today. In fact, when Steve Rogers assumed the mantle of Captain America, following the death of Bucky Barnes aka the Winter Soldier, he occasionally teamed up with Namor, along with other notable heroes.
Although they are starkly different in many ways, Namor and Captain America share similar qualities — honor and respect being among them, which is why when Steve Rogers’ body was returned to the Arctic following his death, Namor volunteered to watch over him for as long as he rests (which wasn’t long, because comics).
12. J.J. Thunder and Stargirl
Whereas most of the characters on this list are well-known by comic book readers and casual audiences alike, Jakeem Thunder (originally named J.J. Thunder) aka Jakeem Williams and Stargirl aka Courtney Whitmore are not, though they can be identified by devout DC Comics readers. What’s more interesting is that among some of the newest character additions to comics during the Modern Age, their friendship is one of the most notable, yet has also gone relatively unnoticed.
When Jakeem Thunder joined the Justice Society of America, he quickly befriended Courtney Whitmore, who took him under her wing. Throughout their time with the JSA, Stargirl would train Thunder along with Johnny Thunder. But what makes Jakeem and Stargirl’s relationship intriguing is that there is a genuine, platonic affection between them, a sort of sibling connection that arises without the unnecessary complications of a romantic relationship. That is a rarity in comics, and in virtually every other medium.
11. Iceman and Beast
Longtime comic book fans, especially those who’ve followed X-Men comics over the years, may be familiar with Iceman aka Bobby Drake and Beast aka Hank McCoy being best friends. Ffor those that are unaware, however, Iceman and Beast are among the closest friends in the Marvel Universe, often serving as comic relief for the mutant team.
The duo were members of the original X-Men team, fighting enemies such as Maha Yogi together, and they later joined up with the Defenders together, where they stayed for quite some time. However, when the group broke off after joining Cyclops and Jean Grey’s X-Factor team, Iceman and Beast became estranged.
Still, despite the duo being close friends with other heroes (such as Wonder Man and Angel), their friendship is one of the most noted throughout the X-Men comics. We haven’t seen much of them together in recent years, though, especially not in any of 20th Century Fox’s X-Men movies, where the film universe’s timeline has them a generation or two apart in age.
10. Aquaman and Martian Manhunter
Despite being half-human, Arthur Curry aka Aquaman does not belong in the surface-world, yet he wasn’t always accepted amongst Atlanteans either; therefore, he tends to feel as if he is an alien amongst his own people, no matter which group he’s with. J’onn J’onzz aka Martian Manhunter feels the same way, seeing as he inadvertently teleported to Earth early in the Silver Age of Comics and, unfortunately, became stranded here. Luckily for him, J’onn had the ability to take virtually any form, which allowed him to blend in with humans.
In addition to being aliens amongst humans, Aquaman and Martian Manhunter were two of the seven founding members of the original Justice League, which allowed them to develop a bond that would last decades. However, now that J’onzz was essentially replaced by Cyborg on the new Justice League roster, we don’t see much of Aquaman and Martian Manhunter hanging out with each other anymore. Hopefully that changes in the future, because their awkward interactions were always enjoyable to read.
9. Cyborg and Shazam
While the majority of characters on this list have been friends for several years, Victor Stone aka Cyborg and Billy Batson aka Shazam have only become close during the recent New 52 reboot in 2011. Perhaps it was because they were two of the youngest Justice Leaguers around, or perhaps it was because their brief mentorship quickly became kinship, with Victor seeing someone who was — on some level — somewhat like him. Whatever it was, the friendship between these two has a pretty strong presence in the comics nowadays.
Unlike most people in comics, who befriend others with similar abilities and interests, Cyborg and the man formerly know as Captain Marvel could not be any different: one is a fully functioning cyborg (science), and the other receives his powers from seven Greco-Roman gods (magic). For those who are unfamiliar with the two characters, a decent place to see their relationship take shape is in the first few issues of the New 52 universe’s Justice League series, or in the animated adaptation Justice League: War.
8. Supergirl and Mary Marvel
Unlike the relationship between Cyborg and Captain Marvel, there are many similarities between Supergirl and the Captain’s twin sister and female counterpart, Mary Marvel. Not only are both characters among the first female counterparts to major male characters, but they are both incredibly powerful heroes that are trying to balance a secret civilian life with their superhero exploits — and they’re doing an excellent job at it. That may or may not be one of the reasons they became close friends.
Shortly after DC Comics concluded the Power of Shazam! series in 1999, Mary Marvel occasionally joined Superman and Supergirl in their comics for a few years, where her and Supergirl’s friendship grew. Perhaps one day we’ll see Mary Marvel make the jump to the small screen and appear on The CW’s Supergirl. We’ve already gotten characters like Flash and Superman, so having Mary Marvel appear on the series shouldn’t be too big of an issue, hopefully.
7. Ms. Marvel and Spider-Woman
Before she assumed the name Captain Marvel, Carol Danvers was Ms. Marvel, and her best friend (who was injected by an irradiated spider serum) Jessica Drew went by the superhero name Spider-Woman. While both characters play an integral part in the Marvel Universe, they are known for their close friendship, one which many fans have been hoping will take a more romantic route somewhere down the line. Maybe that’s something the Russo brothers will campaign for on the big screen in the future.
As with the hopes of Mary Marvel appearing in a future Supergirl episode, now that Spider-Man (and all the characters that come with him) are part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, perhaps we’ll see Spider-Woman make an appearance in Marvel’s upcoming Captain Marvel movie, starring Brie Larson as the eponymous superheroine. After all, if the movie will be about Carol Danvers’ journey to becoming Captain Marvel, it would make sense to have her best friend there at her side.
6. Star-Lord and Nova
Guardians of the Galaxy fans are undoubtedly familiar with the space-faring adventurer Peter Quill aka Star-Lord, but for the most part, only comic book readers know of the legendary Richard Rider aka Nova, the once final member of the intergalactic police force, the Nova Corps. While moviegoers may not be aware of their history, comic book fans know that Nova and Star-Lord have been friends for quite some time, and their ability to fight in unison is what makes them a great team.
You can see their friendship take hold in their recent encounter with Thanos, in which they both were ready to sacrifice themselves to defeat the Mad Titan (only Nova dies in the end). Additionally, their banter in recent Guardians of the Galaxy comic issues has been enjoyable to read. And, as with many other characters on this list, we hope to one day see these two fight alongside each other in a future movie. And with John Krasinski expressing interest in taking on a Marvel role, perhaps he should be the one to play the iconic superhero?
5. Kyle Rayner and Wally West
As with the members of the Batman and Superman families, Green Lanterns and members of the Flash family tend to become close friends over time. And while the majority of the focus has been on Hal Jordan and Barry Allen (the Silver Age Green Lantern and Flash) ove the years, Kyle Rayner and Wally West deserve their time in the spotlight for their unique friendship, which is arguably more organic and profound than their predecessors.
Wally grew up working alongside Barry Allen and Hal Jordan as Kid-Flash, so he was accustomed to the Silver Age Green Lantern. Therefore, he wasn’t the most welcoming person when Kyle Rayner was introduced as the new Green Lantern. However, over time, their friendship blossomed, and not only did Wally come to accept Kyle as his crime-fighting partner, but he campaigned for him to join the Justice League following his stint on Arsenal’s New Titans. They have been best pals ever since!
4. Sentry and Hulk
The Hulk is a seemingly irrepressible creature, one that Bruce Banner transforms into when he, well, gets angry — and his limitless powers only increase when he consequently gets angrier. We all know that, but what you may not know is how Banner (usually) manages to not attack his friends while he is the Hulk. One way the comics have made this possible is due to Robert Reynolds, aka The Sentry.
It’s no secret that Hulk occasionally loses control of himself, but under the guidance of Sentry — who was suffering from a similar dissociative fate with the supervillain Void — Banner was not only able to gain control over the Hulk, but was also able to redeem himself from all the misdeeds he had committed while transformed.
Interestingly, we see this important aspect of Sentry and Hulk’s friendship partially adapted in parts of Joss Whedon’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, in which Black Widow acted as Banner’s tether to reality, allowing him to somewhat control the big guy. Who knows, perhaps one day we’ll see the Golden Man appear in a future Hulk movie (if one is ever made again).
3. Nightwing and Arsenal
Operating alongside some of the most iconic characters in the DC Universe are Dick Grayson aka Nightwing (the original Robin) and Roy Harper aka Arsenal (originally Speedy), both of whom have been around for more than 75 years! While their mentors — Batman and Green Arrow, respectively — haven’t exactly gotten along over the years, they have certainly developed their own particular friendship.
Due to the popularity surrounding the Flash family, most fans associate Dick Grayson with Wally West, but the fact is, Grayson, West, and Harper have all been close friends over the years. And considering that they are among the original sidekicks in the DC Universe, it makes sense why they’ve attached to one another, not to mention the fact that they have all been a major part of the Teen Titans.
We see Nightwing and Arsenal’s — and Flash’s (Wally West) — friendship take hold once again in the new Titans comic series, part of DC Comics’ Rebirth. However, it would be pleasing to see the unbreakable bond that these three characters have take shape in a future movie in the DC Extended Universe.
2. Hawkman and Atom
Fans of The CW’s Legends of Tomorrow will undoubtedly be familiar with Ray Palmer aka The Atom and Carter Hall (originally named Katar Hol) aka Hawkman. While the type of relationship they have in the TV series is a contending one, they actually have one of the closest superhero friendships in the DC Universe. The only thing is, casual comic book readers never really cared about them, which is why there are many people who don’t even know about their friendship.
Following declining sales in both of their self-titled comic series, Hawkman’s series was temporarily combined with Atom’s, which was retitled Atom & Hawkman, though it was canceled after only one year. Nevertheless, the duo’s friendship has survived all these years, which is what garnered an Atom & Hawkman revival shortly before DC Comics last rebooted the DC Universe. What made them great friends, and one of the best DC Comics friendships, was their collective intrigue of science and history; they truly wanted to know everything about the universe.
1. Thor and Hyperion
Everyone — comic book readers and, now, casual moviegoers — knows who Thor is, the Asgardian God of Thunder and member of the Avengers. But, as with a few other characters on this list, not everyone knows who Hyperion is. Simply put, he’d one of many characters modeled after Superman, but what’s unique about this character is that there are seven versions of him to-date, with the majority of them having acted as supervillains. That’s not to say he doesn’t possess any heroic qualities; after all, he is one of Thor’s closest friends.
What drew these characters together, in addition to obviously being among the strongest beings in the Marvel Universe, was their shared status as royalty of their respective realms (to an extent, for Hyperion). Additionally, both characters took it upon themselves to act as defenders of Earth, despite not actually being human. However, the most important aspect of Thor and Hyperion’s friendship is that they bonded during a time in which Hyperion failed to defend his reality while Thor was deemed unworthy of Mjolnir. They picked each other up when they were each at low points, which is as sure of a sign of true friendship as there is.
Which forgotten superhero pairings do you think warranted a mention here? Which of these friendships would you like to see on the big screen? Sound off in the comments.