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Top 20 Superheroes Of All Time

VO: Riccardo Tucci WRITTEN BY: Justin Giglio
Welcome to WatchMojo, and today, we’re counting down our picks for the Top 20 Greatest Superheroes of All Time. For this list, we’re looking at the greatest caped heroes of all-time based on their cultural significance and staying-power, both in the comics and beyond.
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Welcome to WatchMojo, and today, we’re counting down our picks for the Top 20 Greatest Superheroes of All Time.

For this list, we’re looking at the greatest caped heroes of all-time based on their cultural significance and staying-power, both in the comics and beyond.

#20: Deadpool


Wade Wilson was originally conceived as a parody of Slade Wilson, AKA DC’s villainous Deathstroke. Deadpool first appeared as the villain in 1991’s The New Mutants #98 before distinguishing himself as a one of a kind character. This disfigured gun for hire no doubt owes his popularity to his unique sense of humor and unstable behavior, giving him the nickname of the ‘Merc with a Mouth.’ Wade Wilson is also one of the few characters to regularly break the fourth wall, addressing the reader directly.

#19: Supergirl


This superhero is the female counterpart and cousin to the man of steel. She first appeared in 1959’s Action Comics #252. Hailing from Argo City, which survived the destruction of Krypton, she came to Earth when her home finally became unable to support life. Though she started out as a supporting character, she eventually got her own adventures and gave the DC line up some much-needed girl power in the process. Though her backstory post-Crisis on Infinite Earths was subject to many retcons, what Supergirl stands for has remained crystal clear in the years since her introduction.

#18: The Punisher


Frank Castle was first introduced in 1974’s Amazing Spider-Man #129. A death-loving vigilante that was hired to kill Spider-Man, he was later recast as a standalone anti-hero. Out to get vengeance for the death of his family, he takes it upon himself to punish those who would harm others. Along with his trademark skull logo, he’s distinguished for his use of conventional firearms and brutal violence. When it comes to superheroes, the Punisher is anything but conventional, but he’s as relevant and iconic as any of his cape-wearing, less deadly peers.

#17: Green Arrow


When Mort Weisinger and George Papp created The Green Arrow, AKA Oliver Queen, they obviously took a page from the book of Bruce Wayne. Namely, he’s a multi-millionaire playboy and owner of a corporation by day and a crime fighter by night. The major difference is that he has a Robin Hood complex and uses trick arrows as his gadgets. Debuting in 1941’s More Fun Comics #73, Queen became the Green Arrow after he was betrayed and stranded on a desert island. The Emerald Archer has since gone on to become on the most recognizable heroes in DC’s roster thanks in large part to his television series.

#16: The Human Torch


The Fantastic Four is rightly credited for reigniting the superhero genre in the early 60s, but the Human Torch actually pre-dates Marvel’s First Family by a few decades. The original Human Torch was an android that debuted in 1939’s Marvel Comics #1. Sure, that was technically a different character, but since taking on the mantle in 1961’s Fantastic Four #1, Johnny Storm’s fiery appearance and magnetic personality have made him among the most recognizable comic book characters of all time.

#15: Martian Manhunter


J'onn J'onzz, who first appeared in 1955’s Detective Comics #225, is among the most bizarre yet fascinating characters in comics. After teleporting from Mars to Earth, this green-skinned alien policeman became a founding member of the Justice League, using his super strength, speed, telekinesis, telepathy, and shape-shifting abilities to help protect the people of earth. As a core member of the Justice League, he keeps the team united through thick and thin, and while he comes off as cold at first, there’s much more going on beneath the surface than he lets on.

#14: Aquaman

Although this superhero has been mocked for years for his campy powers and origin story, he has recently become recognized as a strong character with solid stories and a deep mythological backstory as the son of Atlantis. Aquaman first appeared way back in 1941’s More Fun Comics #73. Arthur Curry is the half-human King of the Sea with powers that allow him to communicate with every aquatic creature, and as a result, he frequently finds himself fighting those who would pollute or harm his home, as well as those who would like to see Atlantis and the surface world go to war.

#13: Daredevil


The Man Without Fear first arrived in 1964’s Daredevil #1 in a wildly different outfit from the one he’s best known for. Blinded by a radioactive substance as a boy, Matt Murdock in exchange acquired heightened sonar-like senses. A lawyer by day, by night he uses his gift to protect the citizens of Hell’s Kitchen from the scumbags who regularly slip through the cracks of the justice system.

#12: Robin / Nightwing


If there’s one sidekick who can match his partner’s recognition, it’s Robin. Best known as the Batman’s Boy Wonder, he first appeared alongside the Caped Crusader in 1940’s Detective Comics #38. Though many characters have inherited the position of the pants-less acrobat, it was the original, Dick Greyson, who ultimately took on the independent crime-fighting persona, Nightwing, becoming an extremely popular character in his own right.

#11: Hulk


The comic book equivalent of doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, this green anger fueled Gama ray behemoth made his debut in 1962’s The Incredible Hulk #1. The product of a lab accident, Bruce Banner has to keep his cool at all times - otherwise, he becomes this raging creature of limitless strength that likes to smash things. Though a member of the Avengers, his usual exploits involve running from authorities that wish to contain the damage he causes when he falls off the wagon.

#10: The Flash


Like many of the other superheroes on the DC Roster, there have been several characters to inhabit the role of the Scarlet Speedster. A hero best known for his super speed, the first Flash, Jay Garrick, appeared in 1940’s Flash Comics #1, and like the other iterations to follow, gained his powers after an accident in a science lab. Since then, the mantle was passed on to Barry Allen for years until his death during Crisis on Infinite Earths, at which point his young sidekick Wally West became the new Flash. Using the Speed Force to break every known law of physics, every version of the Flash is someone’s favorite.

#9: Thor


This superhero gets his power from being an actual frickin’ Thunder God! Making the transition from mythological being to comic book superhero thanks to Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1962’s Journey Into Mystery #83, the hammer-wielding royal immortal took it upon himself to defend Earth, namely from his half-brother Loki. Exploiting the richness of Norse mythology to create a hero unlike any other, Thor finally achieved mainstream appeal thanks to Chris Hemsworth’s pitch-perfect performance as the God of Thunder.

#8: Green Lantern


A superhero with a lifetime JLA membership, the Lantern is yet another DC superhero to be inhabited by several characters, the most popular being Hal Jordan. Handed an alien power ring and the lantern to power it, he is one of many intergalactic guardians that fight with pure willpower manifested into physical form. While the first Green Lantern, Alan Scott, made his appearance way back in 1940’s All-American Comics #16, Hal arrived on the scene in 1959. The position of Earth’s Green Lantern has also been filled by John Stewart, Guy Gardner, Kyle Rayner, and more, each bringing their own unique traits to the classic character.

#7: Captain America


You won’t find a more patriotic hero in Marvel’s lineup. Debuting in 1941’s Captain America Comics #1, Steve Rogers was a soldier during World World II that was enhanced with super soldier serum and made into a symbol for the free world to rally behind. Best known for his invincible shield, Rogers crashed into the Arctic and became a Popsicle for several decades. When discovered, he got a warm reception and was made a member of the Avengers, reintroducing this Golden Age hero into the Silver Age and the Marvel Universe as we know it.

#6: Wonder Woman


This feminist icon has been fighting evil since her debut in 1941’s All-Star Comics #8. Also known as Diana, Princess of the Amazons, she possesses super strength, invincible bracelets, a magic lasso, a boomerang tiara, and an invisible jet. Clad in the American flag’s design in order to pay respect to the nation she sought to aid, she has exceptional combat skills and is also one of the core members of the Justice League.

#5: Iron Man


This billionaire playboy philanthropist made his debut in 1963’s Tales of Suspense #39, before overhauling his look in issue #48. Starting out a weapons manufacturer, he had a change of heart after he suffered a severe injury and was kidnapped. Using his know how, he builds incredible suits of armor that he uses to protect the world, both solo and as a major player in the Avengers. His popularity skyrocketed thanks to his 2008 solo-film and a pitch-perfect performance from Robert Downey Jr. The film also kick-started the MCU, and the rest, as they say, is history.

#4: Wolverine


He’s the best there is at what he does. But what he does best isn't very nice. There are countless fantastic X-Men heroes, but the most iconic and popular among them is an unapologetic Canadian named Logan. Making his debut in 1974’s The Incredible Hulk #181, this regenerating immortal with retractable Adamantium Claws has seen inexplicable amounts of popularity throughout the years. His unshaven look and abrasive persona ensured that he has remained the ultimate badass of the Marvel universe.

#3: Superman


The caped hero who started it all, Kal-El of Krypton stands for truth, justice, and the American way. The co-creation of an American writer and Canadian artist, Superman did not appear in comic form until 1938’s Action Comics #1. The surviving son of Krypton, this alien became mankind’s greatest protector due to the superpowers imbued to him by earth’s yellow Sun. Equally famous is his alter ego Clark Kent, the mild-mannered reporter for the Daily Planet. Superman is synonymous with heroism and created the mold from which every other modern superhero was formed.

#2: Spider-Man


Our highest ranking Marvel character, Spider-man, bucked a major trend when he debuted back in the Silver Age, namely that teenagers were always stuck playing the side-kick. Created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, Peter Parker arrived in 1962’s Amazing Fantasy #15, and his radioactive spider-bite allowed him to not only take on incredible supervillains, but also to explore the themes of power, loss, and responsibility, all while being a character that was relatable to younger readers. He is one of the most unique characters in comics, and one that still resonates with fans both young and old.

#1: Batman


It was a tough decision, but taking the top spot is the Dark Knight. Created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger, the Caped Crusader arrived on the scene in 1939’s Detective Comics #27. The secret identity of Bruce Wayne, an orphaned billionaire, Batman is the masked defender of Gotham City, sometimes working with the assistance of his sidekick Robin. Though he is best recognized for his solo adventures, he has sometimes teamed up with Superman and the other DC heroes that form the Justice League. A dark, compelling and complex superhero, despite the fact that he has no superhuman powers, Batman takes the top spot for being the most consistently popular and timeless of all the golden age superheroes. And, best of all, he gets to take on the greatest Rogues’ Gallery in comics.
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