The Marvel Cinematic Universe is a vast, sprawling world of heroes and villains, and with all of these super-powered good guys, we have to ask the question: who is the most powerful? Whether it's super strength, the ability to warp worlds, or someone who can fly, these heroes have some seriously impressive talents. While we won’t know who wins in a battle royale (until Captain America: Civil War comes out, anyway), we can still have some fun ranking these MCU powerhouses.
The Rules: All of these heroes have to have already appeared in the MCU (no upcoming characters), and they have to have powers rather than really cool technology. Suits, wings, anything that can be taken off and worn by someone else disqualifies them from the list. We’re also basing these rankings on what we have seen in the MCU – comic book abilities and strengths don’t count if they haven’t made it on screen. Finally, we are going for heroes rather than villains (although anyone who has ever been on the side of good gets a pass).
10 Luke Cage (Jessica Jones)
We’re just starting to get to know the incredible Luke Cage (Mike Colter) in Jessica Jones, where his strength has been downplayed in favor of invulnerability. His skin is shown to be (as yet) unbreakable, making him more than a match for anyone in a straight-up fist fight. He’s also got at least a little of the super-strength that he is famous for in the comics, or at least enough normal human strength to do some serious damage.
At the moment, Mr. Cage isn’t too far up there in the power stakes, but hopefully when he gets his own Netflix series, we’ll see him come into some more strength and maybe even a few new powers of his own.
9 Quake (Agents of SHIELD)
Quake, aka Daisy Johnson (Chloe Bennet), came into her powers quite recently, but is already using them to good effect. Since realizing her Inhuman heritage and undergoing Terragenesis, she has discovered the ability to sense the vibrations of everything around her, and manipulate them to create shaking and explosions.
At first, her powers were completely out of her control, and came out only when she was extremely emotional. Now, with training, she has learned to control the things that she manipulates, creating targeted explosions and damage. Despite this useful talent that can have the power to create something as large as an earthquake, she is still training and her powers are both limited and have the potential to be suppressed.
8 Lincoln (Agents of SHIELD)
The second Inhuman on the list, Lincoln Campbell (Luke Mitchell) is both more in control of his powers than Daisy, and has powers with greater scope. He has the ability to manipulate electrical charges on the molecular level, which in practical terms means that he is able to levitate, cause objects to burst into flame, and shoot energy blasts that can stun or even kill. In addition, he is able to divert his power through electric circuits, damaging electronics.
He’s also a skilled fighter and martial artist and incredibly intelligent, although he lacks the kind of durability or strength that would let him take on some of these other heroes.
7 Jessica Jones (Jessica Jones)
One of the newest additions to the MCU, Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter) finds her main strengths in, well, strength. She’s super-strong, and far more durable than a normal human (although she definitely still gets injured when hit hard enough). In Jessica Jones, this strength is what gives her the ability to “fly”, although it’s really just jumping very high and controlling her fall.
She’s also an incredible fighter, mentally strong enough to take on Purple Man (David Tennant), smart and resourceful as a PI. She may not be the most powerful of the MCU heroes, but she would at least have a decent shot at drinking some of them under the table.
6 Groot (Guardians of the Galaxy)
Definitely the largest Guardian (and one of the largest inhabitants of the MCU), Groot (Vin Diesel) is almost proportionately strong, making him a serious contender in the strength stakes. On top of that, he’s got some pretty impressive powers as a result of his tree-like species. He can grow at will as well as re-shaping his entire body, as we saw to life-saving effect in Guardians of the Galaxy, and is incredibly difficult to harm. Even cutting off a limb will just lead to him re-growing it.
Despite all this, Groot is often not seen as a major threat, probably because he is usually very restrained and relatively slow, as well as having a limited vocabulary. However, he’s definitely one to watch in a fight!
5 Captain America
One of the biggest names in the MCU, Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) gained his powers through the super-soldier program in the 1940s, when a serum was injected to make him the ultimate weapon for the US Army. The serum primarily made him super strong, but had some additional benefits in making him harder to hurt, faster to heal (although by no means invulnerable), and generally enhancing his skills and senses.
As a soldier, Captain America is trained in combat, physically incredible fit and weapons-trained. His fighting is enhanced with the use of his signature vibranium shield, which he uses for both protection and as a weapon.
4 Scarlet Witch (Avengers: Age of Ultron)
While the original comic book Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) was a mutant, the MCU version is an enhanced human, her powers and abilities created through a series of experiments at the hands of HYDRA. Her primary powers are telepathy and telekinesis. Her telekinesis is wide-ranging, allowing her to manipulate both objects and energies (including gravity) with her mind, while her telepathy allows her to not only read minds but project thoughts and visions into them. She is capable of sending psionic bolts and using energy as a shield, as well as levitating.
Scarlet Witch’s powers are sure to develop further as she is trained as an Avenger, and her world-warping abilities from the source material will hopefully develop fully as the MCU continues to expand.
Many of Thor’s (Chris Hemsworth) incredible powers on Earth come from his Asgardian race, but even among his own people he is one of the most powerful. His primary power as an Asgardian is his super strength, and with it, enhanced speed, durability, agility and stamina. He heals much faster than a human, and has a longer lifespan. These powers and his fighting ability alone make him one of the most powerful superheroes in the MCU.
On top of these is his use of the mystical hammer Mjolnir, a gift from his father (and the focus of his first film). With this weapon (which can be used as a straight forward blunt object in a fight) he can call down lightning and the base elements of storms, create whirlwinds, and fly. He is linked to the hammer with a kind of telepathic ability, so that he is able to call it and control it over vast distances. When he has his hammer with him, he is nearly invincible (although it can be lost to him, and even taken from him and wielded by another).
2 Vision (Avengers: Age of Ultron)
One of the most recent additions to the MCU, Vision (Paul Bettany) was originally created as a body for Ultron when he wanted to be more powerful – which should give us no little insight into why he has the potential to be so powerful.
With the Mind Stone embedded in his synthetic body, Vision has a huge range of abilities, from flight to phasing through objects, to shooting energy blasts. He is virtually invulnerable due to his vibranium-enhanced body and his ability to manipulate it allows him to access huge reserves of strength. As partially AI, he can also connect to computer systems, giving him the ability to hack without a computer. Finally, he is worthy of wielding Thor’s hammer, which is an incredible power in and of itself.
There is little doubt that his powers and abilities are vast, and we have thus far only seen him once within the universe – there is a lot of potential to see him become even more powerful.
1 Hulk (The Incredible Hulk, The Avengers franchise, Iron Man 3)
A clear winner for the strongest superhero in the MCU, the Hulk’s (Mark Ruffalo) power comes with the price of uncontrollable rage that can cause as much damage to friends as to enemies. Having gained his powers through a recreated version of the Super Soldier Serum and excessive Gamma radiation, he can now transform from the mild-mannered Bruce Banner into the Incredible Hulk, a massive green beast with some serious anger issues.
His primary power is his strength, but with it comes enhanced speed, endurance, and durability. His Hulk transformation also increases his ability to heal and allows him to survive damage that would kill him otherwise (even in human form, as a severe injury can trigger a transformation, at which point he can recover from the damage). He is easily one of the most powerful characters in the MCU, and although he can now be returned to human form with the help of Black Widow, he is still one of the least predictable or controllable.
Did we miss any superheroes who should be on this list? Let us know in the comments!