Across their film and television appearances, the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. have counted some fearsome fighters among their ranks. In the comics, the organization’s decades-long history has seen even more of the planet’s mightiest warriors wear the eagle emblem. Though their leadership has changed over the years, the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division has always been tasked with protecting the world from global threats. While they often act covertly, S.H.I.E.L.D. isn’t opposed to uncloaking their massive Helicarriers for a good fight.
Given the nature of their work, S.H.I.E.L.D. are often called to take on opponents too powerful for any normal military or governmental outfit. As such, the organization employs a number of enhanced assets, former assassin’s, and many of the world’s greatest combatants. While groups such as the Secret Avengers and Secret Warriors have operated under the purview of S.H.I.E.L.D. or their main director Nick Fury, we wanted to look at those individuals more directly involved in helping them keep the peace. Here are the 17 Most Powerful Agents Of SHIELD, Ranked.
17 Timothy "Dum-Dum" Dugan
Like S.H.I.E.L.D., Timothy Aloysius Cadwallader "Dum-Dum" Dugan was created by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee. A couple of years before the introduction of the organization, however, Dugan was a member of Nick Fury’s World War II squadron. Debuting in 1963’s Sgt. Fury and the Howling Commandos, Dugan is one of Fury’s oldest friends and comrades. Like Fury, Dugan's decades of experience in espionage and war have forged him into one of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s greatest assets-- and that was before he was an android.
While Fury’s prolonged life was chalked up to the Infinity Formula, a lot of questions have remained about how Dugan has stayed so youthful. During the Original Sin event, we learn that the real Dum-Dum actually died during a mission in 1966 and Fury had him replaced with a Life Model Decoy. When Dugan learns this, he’s furious at his friend and asks to never be brought back again before taking his life.
Unfortunately, S.H.I.E.L.D. isn’t one to let a good warrior go, and new director Maria Hill once again revives Dugan when he’s needed. Given his years of experience in the field, his expert fighting skills (which he's used to battle Godzilla hand-to-hand), and his enhanced strength and invulnerability (not to mention immortality) as an LMD, Dum-Dum is a highly formidable combatant.
16 Eric O’Grady / Ant-Man
Introduced in 2006’s The Irredeemable Ant-Man, Eric O’Grady is the latest to don an ant-themed costume and use Hank Pym’s size-changing tech. Starting out as a low-level agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., O’Grady quickly replaces another agent and former friend who was tasked with donning a new Ant-Man suit and serving as a spy. Rather than use the suit for good, O’Grady fights with fellow Ant-Man candidate Mitch Carson, badly disfiguring him. He flees and proceeds to seduce his dead friend’s wife, impregnating and then abandoning her. He uses most of the rest of his time with the suit committing crimes and generally being a creep.
Despite that, the suit and his command over it make him exceptionally skilled and Steve Rogers eventually adds O’Grady to his roster of Secret Avengers. He slowly redeems himself through their missions, but eventually dies in the field and is replaced by an LMD. Unlike Dugan, this LMD is part of a plot to destroy S.H.I.E.L.D., and declares himself the Black Ant. His threat doesn’t add up to much, however, and the character flees at the conclusion of the series. As an LMD, Black Ant is even more powerful than before, so hopefully we haven’t seen the last of the rogue.
15 Sharon Carter / Agent 13
Like Dum-Dum, Sharon Carter was created by Kirby and Lee and introduced in the ‘60s. First appearing in Tales of Suspense #75 in 1966, Sharon joins S.H.I.E.L.D. as Agent 13 and quickly climbs through the ranks. Like in the MCU, Sharon is the great-niece of Peggy Carter, and shares many of the woman’s attributes. She’s a gifted strategist, an incredibly skilled combatant, and she’s got a thing for living symbols of patriotism. Throughout her comics history, the younger Carter has been romantically involved with Steve Rogers. While they’ve yet to wed, they might as well given their long and somewhat exclusive history together.
It’s not surprising that Cap would be so enamored with her, considering she’s long been one of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s best assets. While she lacks his enhanced physiology, she’s gone toe-to-toe with the forces of Red Skull, Armin Zola, and A.I.M. Her time on screen has been disappointingly short, sadly, especially given how much she was hyped in the marketing for Civil War. Hopefully, Infinity War or a future Captain America movie will let Sharon and her skills shine like they have for so long in the comics.
14 Alison Blaire / Dazzler
Alison Blaire is a fairly new S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, and didn’t last too long in the post. Her comic history, however, is long and interesting. Given her look and ability to convert sound into weaponized light, it’s no surprise that the mutant Dazzler is a product of the ‘70s. Though she didn’t appear in comics until 1980’s Uncanny X-Men #130, she was designed in the previous decade.
The original plan was for Marvel to create a character and Casablanca Records to provide a real-life singer who would then star in a film based on Dazzler. Marvel held up their end by designing Dazzler after Grace Jones, but the film studio forced them to change the character to resemble Bo Derek, who they were planning a project with. Marvel conceded and premiered Dazzler as a new member of the X-Men at the dawn of the decade, but the film sadly fell through.
Dazzler has lived on, using her unique powers to prove a powerful adversary to the X-Men’s enemies. Following Cyclops' mutant revolution, Dazzler became one of the few mutants to join S.H.I.E.L.D. in an effort to bridge the gap between the peacekeeping organization and the growing revolutionary spirit of her kind. Sadly, she was soon replaced by Mystique, who technically served for some time as a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, and so perhaps shares this spot with Dazzler.
13 Sam Wilson / Falcon
While Sam Wilson wasn’t the first black character to co-star in a Marvel comic, he was the very first African-American in mainstream comics to be a superhero. Created by Stan Lee and Gene Colan, Sam first appeared in 1969’s Captain America #117. Given his historic introduction and connection to Captain America, he’s long served as a champion of justice and equality, both on a macro scale and in his neighborhood of Harlem.
Though he started life as a criminal, Marvel later retconned this to be the work of Red Skull. The villain’s plan would eventually lead to Sam being forced to battle against Cap, with Skull granting him the ability to communicate with birds thanks to the Cosmic Cube. The spell is eventually broken, and Sam dons a suit and names himself the Falcon, spending most of his career fighting alongside Cap as one of his oldest friends.
His link with the world’s bird population grants Sam a surveillance network to rival S.H.I.E.L.D. itself, along with millions of potential avian allies. His current wing harness, designed by Black Panther and made of hard light, not only grants him flight but an array of weaponry. Mix that with his S.H.I.E.L.D. training and years of experience, and Falcon was a powerful adversary even before he took on Steve’s shield and became the latest Captain America.
12 Theodore Sallis / Man-Thing
Man-Thing may seem like a character that could never be brought into the MCU, but he’s actually already come to life onscreen. A few years before Marvel introduced their cinematic universe with Iron Man, the Sci-Fi Channel made a Man-Thing movie that was actually produced by Kevin Feige. Even if Marvel would rather forget the TV movie, the creature was name-dropped by Garrison in the first season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., meaning Man-Thing does exist somewhere in the MCU. Perhaps the man formerly known as Dr. Ted Sallis could follow his recent comic book path and make his way onto a horror-themed TV series.
Originally a scientist working on a version of the Super Soldier Serum, Sallis goes on the run from A.I.M. while doing research in the Everglades. As he's being chased, Sallis injects himself with the serum before crashing into the swamp. There, the concoction mixes with magical forces native to Florida and transforms him into the monstrous Man-Thing.
Retaining virtually no intelligence, Man-Thing remains formidable thanks to his acid burn that’s triggered when he senses fear in an individual. He’s also capable of teleporting himself and others thanks to the magic of the Everglades, which is a nexus of reality. He was recently put under Dum-Dum Dugan as part of the new Howling Commandos of S.H.I.E.L.D., a group of monsters and non-humans tasked with taking on supernatural threats. Tell us that wouldn't make a great show.
11 Jamie Carlson / Teen Abomination
A bit more intelligent than Man-Thing and just as strong, Jamie Carlson is also a Howling Commando. The son of Happy Hogan and Katrina Carlson, a Stark Industries scientist, Jamie was exposed to gamma radiation when a test led by his mother failed. She was fired and soon after Jamie began transforming. Given his resemblance to the Hulk villain Abomination, Jamie decided to throw back to the Golden Age of comics and named himself Teen Abomination before setting out to be confront Tony Stark.
Introduced in Superior Iron Man #1, Jamie came to Tony after his AXIS inversion into less of a villain and more of a jerk. Surprisingly, this new Tony doesn’t destroy or dismiss Jamie, but sort of takes him on as a protege. They eventually part ways as Tony grows increasingly erratic, and later he finds himself mind-controlled for nefarious purposes. Luckily, Dum-Dum and the Howling Commandos are able to rescue Jamie and add the young hero to their ranks. While he’s got a lot to learn, his gamma powers make Teen Abomination destined to be one of Marvel’s more powerful characters.
10 Bobbi Morse / Mockingbird
While many know Bobbi Morse as the superhero Mockingbird or S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent 19, she’s also Dr. Barbara Morse, a genius in biology. Her Ph.D. in the field led to her working on Project: Gladiator in the Everglades, the same Super Soldier program that led to Ted Sallis becoming Man-Thing.
Aside from her expert knowledge, she’s also one of the most skilled S.H.I.E.L.D. agents there is. Introduced in Astonishing Tales #6 in 1971, Bobbi was almost a throwaway character before being crafted over the course of several comics into the genius badass we all know and love.
Mockingbird is not only gifted hand-to-hand, but excels at the use of batons and bo-staves. Her amazing new costume also grants her some gliding abilities which pair nicely with her already impressive agility. Like a number of other S.H.I.E.L.D. agents over the years, she’s even been augmented a bit.
During a mission with the Secret Avengers, her life was saved by her being injected with a substance that combined the Infinity Formula which had long kept Nick Fury young, and an experimental version of the Super Soldier Serum. The results greatly increased her healing, stamina, and strength, elevating Mockingbird’s considerable skills.
9 Tony Masters / Taskmaster
Tony Masters may just be one of the most skilled fighters in the Marvel Universe. While he first appeared as a supervillain with a mysterious past in 1980’s The Avengers #125, his backstory has been fleshed out over the years thanks to his growing anti-hero status and work with the Secret Avengers.
It turns out Tony Masters was a once a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. Already a skilled fighter and athlete, Tony somehow gained the ability of perfect photographic reflexes. This enabled him to replicate any skill or move, just by witnessing it. As such, he can now master any weapon or fighting style, with one caveat: his new abilities slowly overwrite his previous memories.
Not only does Taskmaster not remember his former life and loved ones, but he has trouble forming new memories. Still, he spent years using his skills to train other supervillains before slowly becoming more of a good guy. Since then, some of his past was able to be uncovered and he’s often found working with S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Avengers more than against them.
The saddest thing about his memory loss, however, is he can’t remember how ridiculous his costume looks, and how much cooler his more tactical, S.H.I.E.L.D.-inspired costume was.
8 Lilith Drake
Joining Man-Thing and Teen Abomination on Marvel’s monster squad is the daughter of Dracula himself, Lilith Drake. Comics have never been shy about weaving literary and mythological characters into their roster of heroes and villains, and Dracula has long been a rogue in the pages of Marvel.
Back in 1974, his daughter Lilith was introduced in Giant-Size Chillers #1. Her exact age isn’t known, but seeing as she’s Dracula’s oldest child, she’s likely been around for quite some time. Her lengthy history and vast store of knowledge make her a powerful foe, so it’s unsurprising that S.H.I.E.L.D. would want her on their side in the all-new Howling Commandos.
Like her father, Drake has a number of vampiric and supernatural abilities that make her an asset to the world-peacekeeping organization. She has incredible strength, mastery over many animals, the ability to hypnotize with a gaze, and can transform into a number of things like bats and mist. Thanks to her lineage, she’s also immune to the sun, crosses, and garlic, making her superior to most vampires. She’s also nearly invulnerable, and can even be resurrected as long as Dracula still exists. Even if they’re both destroyed, she can return as long as he does somehow.
She may be a more minor Marvel character, but she’s destined to rise through the ranks.
7 Jim Hammond / The Human Torch
Not to be confused with the confusingly similar Human Torch of the Fantastic Four, Jim Hammond stands with Steve Rogers as one of Marvel’s oldest heroes. Debuting in Marvel Comics #1 in 1939, the Human Torch actually predates Captain America’s arrival by two years. During that time, he was introduced as an android created by Dr. Phineas Horton. As a side effect of the cells that covered his body and powered him, he’d burst into flames whenever exposed to oxygen. At first, he was labelled a menace and even briefly had a foray into crime.
When the Human Torch realized crime wasn't for him, his partner doused him in nitrogen in an attempt to destroy Hammond. The chemical proved a boon, however, as it allowed him to turn on and off his flames.
From there, he began working as a hero and soon joined Cap as a member of the Invaders taking on World War II threats. After a few decades of adventures and a couple of deaths, Hammond returned a few years back when Steve asked him to join the Secret Avengers.
Since then, he’s joined up with S.H.I.E.L.D. proper as a full agent. His android body, durability, and seeming immortality alone would make him as formidable as the LMDs, but his flame powers and flight make him far stronger than most other robots in the Marvel Universe.
6 Daisy Johnson / Quake
Daisy Johnson may be young, but she’s already served with Nick Fury’s Secret Warriors and been both an agent and director of S.H.I.E.L.D. Introduced in 2004’s Secret War #2, Agent Johnson studied directly under Nick Fury. As such, she’s not only an incredibly gifted spy, but a skilled fighter and marksman. All of that makes her wildly powerful even before her Inhuman powers are brought into the mix.
Though originally just a normal superhuman, her story was altered to match her MCU backstory in recent years. Turns out, her father’s unstable DNA (which turns him into the villainous Mr. Hyde) activated her powers without the need for Terrigen Mists. With them, she’s able to command all manner of vibrations, from small tremors to massive seismic events. Fury’s training has even allowed her to pinpoint the vibrations, which she’s demonstrated by exploding Wolverine’s heart in his chest.
On top of that, Quake, Fury, and Black Widow are the only known members of S.H.I.E.L.D. to possess Level 10 security clearance, granting her access to untold stores of data. When you add that to her training and powers, not many S.H.I.E.L.D. agents are a match for Quake.
5 Natasha Romanova / Black Widow
Created in 1964 by Stan Lee, Natasha Romanova (alternately known as Natalia or Natasha Romanoff) began life as a KGB spy and Cold War threat for Iron Man. Over time, her appearance slowly changed and she donned her signature catsuit and became the villainous Black Widow. She clashed with Spider-Man, duped Hawkeye into taking on the Avengers, and spent time as a spy and assassin before finally seeing the light and defecting from Russia to the States. Upon doing so, she joined up with S.H.I.E.L.D. and eventually joined Hawkeye as an Avenger.
She’s likely second to only Captain America in terms of tactical and threat assessment skills, and is one of the most gifted fighters in the world. Like Steve and Fury, she’s also been around a long time. Thanks to some implanted biotech, Black Widow ages far slower than a normal human and is immune to virtually every disease. This has enabled her to stay young and in peak physical condition for decades; time she’s spent amassing heaps of knowledge, contacts, and fighting skills.
Her physical prowess mixed with her espionage skills, second only to director Fury, make her one of the toughest warriors in the pages of Marvel Comics and one of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s greatest assets.
4 Wendell Vaughn / Quasar
As amazing as Black Widow is, she’s just no match for raw, cosmic power. Like Eric O’Grady, Wendell Vaughn was once a lowly S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. Unlike O’Grady, however, Vaughn is a kind everyman who just wanted to prove himself in the field. Sadly, his commanding officers didn't think he had what it took, and stuck him with small transport and security assignments. During one of those gigs, he was forced to don the cosmically-powered Quantum Bands to protect a S.H.I.E.L.D. facility from A.I.M. While he defeated them, the Bands nearly overwhelmed him, but his more easy-going personality allowed him to accept their power and bond with them.
From there, he became Quasar (after brief stints as Marvel Boy and Marvel Man), and continued working with S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Avengers to stop threats both big and small. Though he lacks the fighting skills of Quake and Black Widow, he’s still a highly-trained combatant and spy. Thanks to the Quantum Bands, he’s also capable of wielding untold amounts of cosmic, quantum, and gravitational energy. These powers grant him flight, shields, energy projection, and a whole host of other abilities that make him one of Earth’s mightiest heroes.
3 Jessica Drew / Spider-Woman
Though she was essentially created to nab the trademark of "Spider-Woman" given the popularity of Spider-Man, Jessica Drew proved to be especially popular when she premiered in 1977’s Marvel Spotlight #32. The next year saw her given her own title, and her complicated backstory was revealed. Unlike other female versions of male heroes, Spider-Woman bears virtually no connection to Peter Parker. In fact, her powers are barely even spider-related.
Though she’s injected with irradiated spider DNA as a child growing up in Mount Wundagore, the effects give her wildly different powers from the other Spiders. She’s got the standard strength, speed, agility, and wallcrawling, but she hardly needs the last one as she can straight up fly. She can also shoot little energy bursts and can manipulate pheromones, making her an excellent spy. These skills came in handy as she spent her early years working for HYDRA before defecting to S.H.I.E.L.D.
Since then, she’s joined S.W.O.R.D., the Avengers, and finally got a new costume. Still, she and Marvel won’t let go of that name despite it making virtually no sense. Regardless, her fighting and espionage skills along with her bevy of abilities essentially make her Black Widow with superpowers. Hey, how about Red Widow?
2 Steve Rogers / Captain America
Ever since his thawing out, Steve Rogers has long-served as an Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. under his old pal and wartime colleague Nick Fury. Though he’s come to blows with the organization many times thanks to his idealism, he's still a soldier through and through. As such, he regularly undertakes missions for S.H.I.E.L.D., has led the Secret Avengers under them, and even spent time as the outfit’s director.
Captain America’s bona fides hardly need listing, but there’s a reason he’s been able to combat so many superpowered villains (and heroes) and live to tell the tale. Okay, he’s died a few times, but dead’s not "dead" in comics. Not only is he in peak physical condition thanks to the Super Soldier Serum, but he’s got decades of experience as an Avenger an a soldier during wartime. He’s battled just about every threat there is and is regarded as the best tactician and strategist in the Marvel Universe.
Cap’s essentially Batman without the anger issues, meaning he’s always got a plan to take out those bigger and stronger than he is. As far as S.H.I.E.L.D. agents go, there’s pretty much no one more skilled than Steve Rogers.
1 Bruce Banner / Hulk
Sadly for Steve, Bruce Banner has also served as an Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. A few years back, the premise for Indestructible Hulk saw Bruce Banner sick of his scientific peers like Hank Pym and Tony Stark getting so much glory for their achievements both in the lab and the field. He decided that instead of wasting all of his energy and genius trying to cure the Hulk, he’d use his free time to create cutting edge science and technology. In order to secure the facilities and funding he needed, Banner cut a deal with S.H.I.E.L.D.
The proposal? Banner would get access to their labs and financing and would in turn aid them in scientific breakthroughs. To sweeten the pot, he’d also allow the Hulk to become an Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. In this way, Banner could do his work and S.H.I.E.L.D. could deploy him as a living nuclear weapon whenever they had need. The comic offered a fresh take on the Dr. Jekyll story, allowing Banner some glory as a scientist and Hulk some targets in need of smashing.
While Banner’s brains alone would make him a valuable asset, it’s the Other Guy that makes the Hulk the most powerful Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. there is or ever will be.
Who are your favorite S.H.I.E.L.D. agents? Anybody you think we should have included? Let us know in the comments.