Every comic book fan has had this debate at one time or another, “Who would win in a battle between…” There are numerous powerhouses in the Marvel universe, but none with more epic levels of power than these!
Focusing on more than just physical strength, and looking at pure power, such as energy and matter manipulation (and not including the cosmic entities such as Ego: The Living Planet or the Elders of the Universe, or the Gods such as Zeus and Odin that are as often adversaries), here are the 13 Most Powerful Superheroes in the Marvel Universe.
13 Jean Grey (At her classic power levels)
When possessed of the Phoenix Force, or being impersonated by the Phoenix, Jean’s powers were almost without limit. However, even at her classic "normal" power levels, Jean “Marvel Girl” Grey is still one serious mutant powerhouse! Earth 616’s original Jean Grey could, at the height of her power, telepathically circle the earth searching for a specific mental imprint. For comparison, Charles Xavier could only do that with the power of Cerebro backing him up. Her telekinetic abilities varied depending on the era and the writer, but, typically, she could fly and levitate objects weighing hundreds of tons.
The more recent incarnation of Jean, torn from the past by The Beast, is thus far free from the interference of the Phoenix force, and that gives us a clearer view as to how powerful Jean truly is on her own. She has already developed the power to combine her telepathy and telekinesis into a pure psionic-energy blast capable of making short work of the current ruler of the Shi’ar, Gladiator!
Based on the Greek demigod of the same name, Marvel’s Hercules is a physical powerhouse that few can match. Essentially a god of raw strength, he has swatted aside heroes such as Spider-Man and Doc Samson without even noticing them. On one occasion, he knocked out The Abomination with a single blow. On another, he defeated Ragnarok (a clone of Thor’s) in single combat, smashing him into a pulp. Other examples of his incredible raw strength include the time he dragged the entire island of Manhattan behind him, and lifting and hurling the giant lizard Godzilla!
He has fought the Hulk to standstill on a few occasions, but most of the time cannot quite match the sheer power and ferocity of a fully enraged Hulk. Like The Hulk, however, he gets even stronger in an enraged state. But also like The Hulk, he loses is focus and can be defeated by those who use his rage against him. As with some others on this list, Hercules has, on occasion, been granted omnipotence. During The Chaos War, he became supremely powerful and recreated the entire multiverse from scratch. While he may not be able to ever access this power level again, it remains a possibility that he may one day far exceed the powers of his father, Zeus.
11 Black Bolt
Blackagar Boltagon is the king of the Inhumans by birth, but it’s his Terrigen-imbued abilities that are his real power. His parents, gifted Inhuman geneticists, experimented on him while he was in utero and he was born with power levels much higher than the average Inhuman. Due to the nature of his powers, he was placed in an energy dampening chamber until he was 19 and trained to control his abilities.
While his power usually takes the form of a sonic scream, similar to, albeit infinitely stronger than, the X-Man Banshee, Black Bolt’s primary power is that of Ambient Particle & Electron Harnessing. The speech center of his brain contains a unique organic mechanism that's able to generate an unknown particle that interacts with the electrons he absorbs to create certain phenomena that are determined by his mental control. Due to his power, he is unable to speak without the vibrations being powerful enough to level cities. Should he shout at full power, it’s been theorized that he could crack the planet in half. He has also been able to use his abilities to enhance his physical strength and on a few occasions he has even been able to rearrange the molecules in matter, taking him into the Omega-Level!
10 The Sentry
Robert Reynold’s power levels were never fully defined, but due to his dual nature as The Sentry/The Void, his power levels varied depending on his mental state. What is certain is that he is potentially a destructive force of Biblical proportions. His powers come from a concentrated and enhanced version of the same Super Soldier Serum that gave Captain America his powers. Whereas the original serum took Steve Rogers to the peak of human strength and agility, the enhanced serum combined with the illicit drugs already in Robert Reynold’s system took him to the very peak of superhuman ability.
Aside from his strength and durability, which was shown to be equal to The Hulk’s when the two fought and almost leveled Manhattan during World War Hulk, The Sentry had a multitude of other abilities which seemed to be almost without limit. When battling The Molecule Man, it was discovered that The Sentry had the same power he did, the total control over molecules both inside and outside his body. It is theorized that his ability to regenerate himself and others, as well as his ability to reanimate his dead wife stem from this ability.
Beyond these abilities, The Sentry has shown to be capable of harnessing sunlight into energy beams, hypersonic flight, and astonishing psionic abilities. Had he not asked Thor to kill him, it’s unlikely that the combined superheroes present during the Siege event would have been able to defeat him.
9 The Hulk
The Hulk is the strongest one there is. It’s been said many times, but it’s true. In terms of sheer physical strength, nobody can beat the Hulk. While The Sentry fought the Hulk to a standstill during the World War Hulk storyline, The Hulk quickly powered back up and threatened to destroy the whole east coast of America and may have done so if not powered down by orbiting satellites, temporarily depowering him.
He has fought and beaten powerhouses such as Thor (at his normal power levels), Hercules, Onslaught, Juggernaut, and the Abomination. He once had the combined weight of a mountain on his back, and held it there, preventing the deaths of the assembled heroes present, after having it dropped on him by the Molecule Man during the original Secret Wars. While his strength is seemingly limitless, it is dependent on his mental state. As his rage increases, his strength levels increase. Literally “The madder Hulk gets, the stronger he gets.” Often considered the original Omega Level threat, there has yet to be a limit to the physical power of The Hulk.
8 Silver Surfer
The Silver Surfer is one of the most powerful beings in the universe, and the most powerful of the Heralds of Galactus. Imbued with the Power Cosmic by Galactus himself, he has near limitless energy absorption and manipulation abilities that manifest in a variety of ways. Being capable of manipulating the four fundamental forces of the universe, The Silver Surfer can discharge energy far exceeding that of other cosmic-powered being such as Quasar and Nova. His energy based powers are currently seen to be equal to those of Thanos, if not greater, and are capable of destroying planets. As well as manipulating energy, he has been able to manipulate matter to the point where he can effortlessly transmute one substance into another.
Along with these abilities, The Silver Surfer has physical strength which is comparable to an enraged Hulk. Along with intergalactic flight at superluminal speeds, The Surfer can use the Power Cosmic to sense events across the cosmos.
7 Cable / X-Man (at their highest power levels)
Nathan “Dayspring” Summers, A.K.A Cable, and his genetically identical alternate self “Nate” Grey, A.K.A X-Man, are typically considered to be the most powerful of earth’s mutants. While Cable has rarely been able to access his ultimate potential due to the techno-organic virus implanted in him buy Apocalypse, his untapped potential has been exemplified by Nate Grey.
Nate has, at the height of his power, been the most powerful telepath in existence as well as having been able to access limitless telekinetic powers. For several years, this power threatened to consume his human body, but eventually he overcame this. Finally achieving his full potential, Nate was able to transcend this universe altogether and walk between the dimensional barriers.
Eventually he returned to earth, but had his powers reduced to minimal levels after they were siphoned off by the dark X-Men. While Cable has had the potential to achieve these power levels, he has rarely been able to. At one time, when the T/O virus was in remission, he managed to touch the minds of every conscious being on earth while simultaneously levitating the island of Providence and battling the Silver Surfer. The combined strain, coupled with a cosmic lobotomy by the Surfer, deprived Cable of these power levels, but he has the potential to achieve this state once again.
6 The Scarlet Witch
Wanda Maximoff, the Scarlet Witch, has had varied power levels throughout her career as a superhero. Initially displaying the ability to create “Hexes” to alter the probability of events happening in her immediate vicinity, her powers grew to the point where she didn’t merely alter probabilities, but reality itself.
Coming into contact with the “life force,” Wanda’s powers grew to the point where she was able to manipulate reality across the galaxy and create an alternate universe in place of the regular 616 Marvel Universe. While using this power as a source, she telepathically manipulated every sentient mind in existence as well as alter the matter of reality itself. The only two beings in the universe who were seemingly immune to the effect were Layla Miller and the mutant Wolverine. Wolverine’s mind having been so fractured that the telepathic effect seemingly restored his lost memories instead of replacing them.
Despite losing her ability to access the “Life Force” for the time being, she was shown to be able to manipulate the powers of The Phoenix Force in order to undo the spell that had robbed mutants of their powers. Given the multitude of cosmic power sources in the Marvel Universe, it’s only a matter of time before she is able to use another source and achieve these power levels again.
5 Doctor Strange (at his original power levels, not as he is now)
Whereas the Scarlet Witch was born with a genetic mutation that enabled her to manipulate magic and cosmic power, Doctor Strange earned these abilities through years of intense study. As a result, he is able to achieve the same power levels as she is, but has greater control over them due to his superior knowledge and skills. While in recent years his power levels have been written as being considerably diminished, his classic power levels have been such that he is capable of telepathic feats equivalent to those of Charles Xavier or X-Man and has been able to astrally project his consciousness across the astral plane to communicate with entities such as Eternity.
During the Civil War, he chose not to take a side, merely meditating in hopes that there would be a peaceful resolution. At this time, The Watcher observed that Doctor Strange could have ended the conflict with a whisper or a gesture, implying that he had power greater than that of the combined heroes of earth. Much like The Scarlet Witch, Doctor Strange doesn’t so much generate power as serve as a conduit for it. Given that he is well-respected by the greatest mystical forces in all reality, his potential to channel great power may be limitless.
4 Thor (When in possession of the Odin force)
Like many others in this list, Thor’s power levels are inconsistent. At his classic power levels, he is fractionally less physically powerful than The Hulk but has energy manipulation powers thanks to his ownership of Mjolnir.
While physically in the same league as Hulk and Juggernaut, it’s his magical abilities that make him generally more powerful. Being the son of Odin, he has on occasion been in possession of the Odin force. The Odin force is one of the greatest powers in the universe and in an alternate timeline Thor used it to subjugate humanity and all the powered beings on Earth. At this power level he was beyond the abilities of the other Gods of the Marvel Universe. In this near-omnipotent state, he undid several centuries of history without much more than a thought.
He is also the son of Gaea, which grants him certain magical abilities on Earth. While he is rarely shown to use these abilities, he has been seen to open a chasm between two nations in order to make their conflict harder, giving the peacemakers a chance to end the conflict.
3 Adam Warlock (At full-power)
Created artificially by a collective known as The Beehive, Adam Warlock was created to be the perfect human, a being at the very peak of human evolution. The result was a being of near godlike power, but with no life experience. Eventually coming into possession of the Soul Gem, and later the Infinity Gauntlet, Adam Warlock has at times been the undisputed “God” of the Marvel Universe.
Even without these additional items of power, Adam Warlock has shown himself to be a being of incredible power. He has used his abilities to generate energy blasts capable of disabling The Silver Surfer and Nova without effort. He has also demonstrated the ability to manipulate matter and transmute objects at a greater level to most entities within the Marvel universe.
2 The Avatars of the Phoenix
Be it Jean Grey, Rachel Summers, or Hope Summers, the Phoenix force has imbued its hosts with incredible power. Initially the Phoenix force wandered the universe as a largely passive entity, but over the years the force of nature took the form of a giant firebird and began to achieve sentience. Coming into contact with sentient beings, the Phoenix began to have desires and thoughts of its own. Eventually it would encounter Jean Grey, the X-Man known then as Marvel Girl.
During their shared history, they have taken many forms, including the “Dark” Phoenix a force of destruction, the “Good” Green Phoenix, and their ultimate form a “White” Phoenix which transcended good and evil. Jean’s daughter from an alternate timeline, Rachel, bonded with the Phoenix and served as her mortal avatar for many years. During their time together, the Phoenix was a force for good and enhanced Rachel’s already impressive telepathic and telekinetic powers. Even after separating, Rachel was shown to still possess enough of an imprint of Phoenix power to pull the minds of her parents two thousand years into the future in order to raise her brother, Cable.
Possibly the Phoenix’s ultimate form is the mutant Hope Summers. The adopted daughter of Cable, Hope was the first mutant born after the M Day event. It’s possible that the Phoenix created Hope to balance out the need for mutants and restore balance after the Scarlet Witch used the power of the Life Force to eradicate them. Eventually, Hope would team up with Wanda and allowed the two primal forces of nature to balance themselves as a yin and yang, restoring the mutant gene on Earth. While this has seemingly burned out the Phoenix, it’s unlikely that it will be gone for long.
It’s also worth noting that as an ability duplicator, Hope possesses the potential to duplicate and permanently retain the powers of everyone she comes into contact with. Potentially, she may one day match the powers of everyone in the Marvel Universe, making her the top of this list.
1 Franklin Richards
The son of Mr. Fantastic and The Invisible Woman, Franklin Richards is potentially the most powerful being in all creation. Gifted with extreme powers from birth, Franklin once used his abilities to create a pocket universe within our own to house the beings seemingly killed during the Onslaught event. He was a child at the time, and didn’t realize what he had done, and it took the intervention of The Celestials to guide the lost heroes home.
Given that the pocket dimension housed entities such as Galactus, it seems that Franklin has powers far beyond those of the Planet Eater. The Celestials, some of the most ancient and powerful beings in existence, once claimed that Franklin was the first mortal being that rivaled their power. While he has yet to reach adulthood, and therefore his full potential, Franklin’s powers already dwarf those of the rest of the Marvel Universe. Potentially, his powers are utterly without limit and could exceed, or at the least match, those of an Infinity Gauntlet wielding Thanos.
Can you think of any other Marvel heroes who should be on this list? Let us know in the comments!