The 20 Most Powerful Superheroes Ranked

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Marvel and DC Comics have been creating superheroes and gods for decades. DC Comics is one of the largest and oldest American comic book companies in existence, with Marvel on its heels (having begun in 1939 as Timely Publications). According to 2017 statistics, Marvel and DC Comics shared approximately 70 percent of the American comic book market combined. That’s a ton of superheroes, villains, and gods. Of all the most powerful beings and entities within the Marvel and DC universes, who reigns supreme, and who will fall short?

RELATED: 10 Classic Marvel Heroes And Their Modern-Day Counterparts

It’s easy to get confused or even present an argument unlikely to be resolved due to the many adaptations, rebirths, and crossovers a character might go through. To make things simple, we took all the complicated flow charts of powerful superheroes in Marvel and DC (from comics to film) and separated them out in a neat and orderly ranked list. Rankings were conceived through power obtained and held by each character. If a character is currently gone or missing in action, they may have still made the list due to being able to return with the same powers previously held. Much like separating out the most powerful within the entire Dragon Ball franchise, there’s likely to be some disagreements over our rankings.

Updated November 12th, 2021 by George Chrysostomou Marvel and DC fans are constantly comparing the heroes from their respective franchises. Each series of comics boasts a number of compelling and powerful characters, with every new installment to the cinematic universes expanding upon their range of skills and abilities. Ultimately one brand features a roster even stronger than the other! But which one?


20 DC: Flash

Captain Cold shooting ice rays at Flash in a comic

The Flash was created by writer Gardner Fox and artist Harry Lampert. He first appeared in Flash Comics #1 (1940) and took on the nickname of Scarlet Speedster. Over time there have been 4 individuals who have claimed the title of Flash: Jay Garrick (college athlete), Barry Allen (forensic scientist), Wally West (Barry’s nephew), and Bart Allen (Barry’s grandson).

Also known as the Fastest Man Alive, the Flash uses powers such as super-speed, intangibility, and superhuman agility. Flash can also move at speeds that alter time, allowing him to travel backward or forwards through it proving him to be one of the most powerful superheroes.

19 Marvel: Heimdall

Heimdall is an Asgardian god who first appeared in Marvel’s Journey Into Mystery #85 (1962). Known as a protector, Heimdall can see and hear just about everything within the Nine Realms. He is a brother to Sif and is a member of Vanir.

Heimdall’s powers include superhuman strength, senses, stamina, and durability. It is said about Heimdall, that he can, “hear sap running through trees and see events occurring miles away.” He stands over 7 feet high and weighs almost 600 pounds. Heimdall prefers to fight with a two-handed longsword. He also possessed the Odinpower for a short time, which allowed him to channel cosmic energies.

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18 DC: Shazam

Shazam wallpaper

Not to be confused with Marvel’s Captain Marvel, Shazam was created by Artist C. C. Beck and writer Bill Parker and first appeared in Whiz Comics #2 (Fawcett Comics, 1940). DC bought the rights to Captain Marvel in 1973 and he was re-introduced with the publication of Shazam! #1. This superhero is the alter ego of Billy Batson. Billy speaks the magic word SHAZAM (an acronym of six immortal elders: Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles, and Mercury), transforming into a powerful god-like superhero (Shazam!) to fight against villainous criminals.

Shazam’s powers include the usual superhero strengths and durability along with divine empowerment, transformation, electrokinesis, magic, flight, and even immortality while in his transformed state. Shazam (Captain Marvel) can use power distribution too, allowing him to share his magical powers with anyone in his family that he so chooses. This creates similar and different powers within those individuals based on their personalities.

17 Marvel: Deadpool

Wade Winston Wilson, also known as Deadpool or Merc with a Mouth, was created by writer Fabian Nicieza, along with artist and writer Rob Liefeld. Deadpool first appeared in Marvel The New Mutants #98 (1991). Known for his obnoxious personality, Deadpool also uses the aliases Chiyonosake (the Wolf of the Rice Wine), Rhodes, Corpus, Lopez, Hobgoblin, Thom Cruz, and Peter Parker.

Deadpool’s greatest superpower is his healing, derived from Wolverine which allows him to quickly regenerate damaged or destroyed areas of his cellular structure.  The healing factor allows for his musculature to generate fewer fatigue toxins than the muscles of an ordinary human. This gives him superhuman levels of stamina in all physical activities while enhancing his natural strength, agility, and reflexes which helps the argument that he is one of the most powerful superheroes.  Deadpool’s agility and reaction time surpass even the best human athlete.

16 DC: Martian Manhunter

Martian Manhunter Alien Original Form

J’onn J’onzz (Martian Manhunter) was created by writer Joseph Samachson and designed by artist Joe Certa. J’onn J’onzz first appeared in the comic titled The Manhunter from Mars in Detective Comics #225 (1955). Martian Manhunter is one of the founding members of the infamous Justice League of America and is considered to be one of the most powerful beings in the DC Universe.

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Throughout his history, Martian Manhunter has gone by 21 different aliases. One of which was Mrs. Klingman, a high school civics teacher of none other than Clark Kent. He is often referred to as “the Swiss Army knife of superheroes,” although, Martian Manhunter’s powers and abilities are common to other members of his race. A handful of his many powers include shapeshifting, invisibility, phasing, regeneration, flight, speed, and superhuman strength.

15 Marvel: Thor

Thor's first appearance in Marvel Comics.

Thor is the Asgardian god of thunder and easily one of Marvel’s most powerful superheroes. Created by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, and Jack Kirby, Thor first appeared in Journey into Mystery #83 (1962) as part of the Silver Age of Comic Books. With the passing of Odin, Thor is currently the most powerful Asgardian within the Nine Realms.

On top of normal superhero powers, Thor’s abilities also include elemental powers such as weather and electricity manipulation. He also learned how to take flight without the use of Mjølner’s Hammer and has regeneration powers.

14 DC: Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman fighting off apes on a comic book cover

Diana the Amazon Princess, better known as Wonder Woman was created by psychologist and writer William Moulton Marston, and artist Harry G. Peter. Her character was inspired by Marson’s wife, Elizabeth, and their lover, Olive Byrne. Wonder Woman is unique because she was sculpted from clay by her mother Queen Hippolyta and given life by Aphrodite. She was also given superhuman powers as gifts by the Greek gods. DC recently changed her backstory, though, as now she is the daughter of Zeus and Hippolyta.

Wonder Woman’s powers include super-strength, invulnerability, flight, combat skill, combat strategy, superhuman agility, healing, and magic weaponry. She also has the wisdom of the goddess Athena, along with 7 powerful pieces of equipment that enhance her abilities further. Most notably her Lasso of Truth and Bracelets of Submission.

13 Marvel: Hulk

Smart Hulk at Avengers facility

Created by writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby, Robert Bruce Banner first appeared in the debut issue of The Incredible Hulk (1962). In terms of strength, the Hulk is truly a green beast. With a height of almost 8 feet tall and weighing in at close to 1,400 pounds, he is not a superhero one wants to fight in close quarters with.

The angrier the Hulk gets, the stronger he becomes. He can jump several hundred miles in one bound and can run at super speeds. Although, at some point, he begins to destroy the surrounding ground while running that fast which is why he prefers to jump. The Hulk also has regeneration powers, along with an oxygenated perfluorocarbon emulsion. This allows him to breathe underwater and can move between varying depths without having to worry about decompression or nitrogen narcosis.

12 DC: Spectre

The Spectre - DC Comics

With multiple versions attached to his name, Spectre was first introduced in More Fun Comics #52 (1940). More Fun would eventually become part of DC Comics. The Spectre is not a normal superhero. It’s a cosmic entity and the physical embodiment of god’s vengeance on Earth. Spectre normally assigns itself to a human host, starting with cop Jim Corrigan and followed by Hal Jordan.

Spectre has Divine Empowerment, which gives him unlimited power thus resulting in him becoming one of DC’s most powerful superheroes.  At various times, Spectre has been considered one of the most powerful beings in existence, second to One. He can warp and control reality, along with time and space. Spectre also has access to all the knowledge in the universe, including events altered through distorting time. A Spectre host manifests a unique Spectre form. Sometimes the Spectre form is recognizable by those who knew the host in life.

11 Marvel: Hercules

Based on Greek mythology and premiering in the Silver Age of Comic Books, Hercules was created by writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby. He received his own series titled The Incredible Hercules in 2008. Hercules is simply known for his superhuman strength. Hercules is so strong, he can lift or press more than 100 tons, making him one of the strongest superheroes in the Marvel Universe. Hercules is also an Olympian god, meaning he’s immortal. He can be wounded in battle, but he won’t die by conventional means.

RELATED: 10 Marvel Heroes That Would Make Great DC Sidekicks

His weapon of choice was forged by the god Hephaestus from enchanted adamantine called Golden Mace (not made from gold). Hercules’ mace has survived attacks from Thor’s hammer in the past. Hercules also exists in an alternate universe where he is the sole survivor of the Olympians. He leaves Olympus to become the father of a new race of gods.

10 DC: Supergirl

Created as a female counterpart to the superhero Superman, Supergirl made her first appearance in Action Comics #252 (1959). Otto Binder and Al Plastino are the creative geniuses behind her character in DC Comics. Known also as Superman’s cousin, Kara Zor-El has the same abilities as Clark Kent including his 5 enhanced visual abilities. Areas in which she stands out on her own include being trained in hand-to-hand combat by Batman, first-level Klurkor, multilingualism, genius intellect, and even artistry.

Supergirl’s powers include super-strength, flight, invulnerability, super speed, heat vision, freeze breath, X-ray vision, superhuman hearing, and healing factors. Kara was a fierce, impulsive, and sometimes immature teenager. When she landed on Earth Supergirl was suffering from undiagnosed Kryptonite poisoning. Being trapped with a chunk of Kryptonite for 30 years damaged her brain, making her prone to wild mood swings.

9 Marvel: Silver Surfer

Silver Surfer Wallpaper

Created by Jack Kirby, the Silver Surfer first appeared in the Marvel comic book Fantastic Four #48 (1966). Born Norrin Radd on the planet Zenn-La, he’s known as one of the noblest and tormented entities in the universe. The Silver Surfer wields the power cosmic, allowing him to absorb and manipulate the universe’s ambient cosmic energies. He’s almost totally indestructible and can navigate space, hyperspace, and dimensional barriers.

The Silver Surfer can reach hyperspace speeds on his board and has even time traveled before. Like Hercules, his strength level is 100 plus.  He also converts matter into energy, meaning he never has to eat or drink for survival resulting him in becoming an immensely powerful superhero.

8 DC: Captain Atom

Captain Atom (Nathaniel Adam) first appeared in Space Adventures #33 (1960), created by writer Joe Gill and artist/co-writer Steve Ditko. His powers include enhanced senses, better known as his quantum senses. Captain Atom perceives time differently than most, being able to see the past and future as one single entity. He essentially knows everything and can remember it too.

Because Captain Atom has an enhanced mental capacity, allowing him to process information like a super-powered computer. He once interfaced with a PC and read 100 yottabytes (one septillion or 1024 bytes) of information in an extremely short amount of time. Other abilities include telekinetically restructuring matter, levitating, changing size, along with creating clones via quantum superposition. Captain Atom has quantum armor, disintegration, molecular reconstruction, and is invulnerable.

7 Marvel: Grand Master

A portrait of the Grand Master from Thor Ragnarok

Created by Roy Thomas and John Buscema, the Grand Master first appeared in The Avengers #69 (1969). He is one of the ageless Elder of the Universe, sometimes depicted as the Collector. The Grand Master is the king of manipulation, mastering most civilizations’ games that require skill. His powers include a virtually immortal body, levitation, energy blasts, and being able to manipulate reality by time traveling through space.

One of the Grand Master’s greatest powers includes being able to wish someone’s early termination simply by wishing it. And he’s able to maintain a psychic link with the most advanced computers of his base world. In Thor: Ragnarok he was portrayed in a more comedic fashion, barely showing off any of his powers or abilities. He did have a cool Melt Stick, however, which happens to be his weapon of choice.

6 DC: Superman Prime

A Golden Superman Prime in DC Comics

Featuring a vision of a future DC Universe in the 853rd century (85,201–85,300 AD), Superman Prime was introduced in 1998 through the DC One Million crossover series. Superman survived into this time by essentially becoming an extension of the sun. Superman Prime has all the powers Superman had while being increased exponentially. As the story goes, he remained in Earth’s sun for 15,000 years, giving himself a solar charge. This increased his abilities to immeasurable levels.

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He can also share his power with descendants, creating a mini-army of the most powerful metahumans ever to exist. Superman Prime remains forever young, not having visibly aged at all since the early 21st century. Also, like Superman, he has a massive amount of willpower which allows him to operate a Green Power Ring. Ultimately its hard to argue against him being one of DC’s most powerful superhero.

5 Marvel: Phoenix

Phoenix Force Amber Hunt

The Phoenix Force is a child of the universe and was first introduced as a Jean Grey impersonator (Phoenix) X-Men #101 (1976). According to legend, in the dying moments of the previous universe, the Force saved all existence from eternal damnation.  It was reborn from the cosmic fires of the Big Bang and become one with Freron, displaying itself as a giant fiery bird.

After having a portion of its essence ripped out by Necrom, the Force went into hiding and would later become one with Jean Grey. The Phoenix Force is a mutable manifestation of life, coming to be through the psyches of all living beings. It is immortal and completely indestructible. For the Phoenix Force to manifest, it must possess a limitless source of energy provided by the life force. It can project energy beams, fold time and space while causing black holes. Any powers the host has are brought to much higher levels.

4 DC: Guardians of the Universe

Guardian of the Universe Ganthet

Commonly associated with Green Lantern, the Guardians of the Universe first appeared in Green Lantern vol. 2, #1 (1960). Created by John Broome and Gil Kane, they are a race of extraterrestrials who evolved on the planet Maltus. They currently act as the leaders of the Green Lantern Corps.

Unlike other superheroes, they don’t use super strength or abilities to fight their battles. They use brains. Officially the nerds of all things living, the Guardians of the Universe experiment with worlds and universes, always learning and adapting. Their battles are called campaigns because they orchestrate rather than lead through brute force. In modern DC comic history, they were almost wiped out, with the only survivor being Ganthet. Their sacrifice created a power ring that is possibly more powerful than any ring they have created prior.

3 Marvel: The Twins: Infinity/ Eternity

Infinity was created by Mark Gruenwald and Greg Capullo, appearing for the first time in Quasar #24 (1991). Eternity was created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko and is first mentioned in Strange Tales #134 (1965) and then appeared in Strange Tales #138 (1965). Infinity is a cosmic entity that functions within the entirety of space and its occupants. Together with Eternity, it encompasses all of creation, representing both time and space.

Infinity obtains its energy from all that exists in the spatial axis. Infinity utilizes an M-Body (manifestation body) when having to interact with physical beings. When merged with Eternity, Infinity possesses the combined power of the space-time continuum. Since Eternity is the embodiment of time. Both came to be at the time of the Big Bang and are some of the most powerful cosmic characters in Marvel.

2 DC: Elaine Belloc

Elaine Belloc is the first being created by birth from an angel. Her biological father is Archangel Michael. She regularly fought in battle with Michael and Lucifer, which would result in Michael giving her his demiurgic power after being mortally wounded. Upon his death, the demiurgic power would essentially erase all of existence. Elaine would go on to acquire more powers, allowing her to take charge of Lucifer and Yahweh’s creations.

Literarily stepping into existence as the God of Creation. Like any all-powerful superhero or all-being god, Elaine Belloc possesses the powers of omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience. In simple terms, Elaine Belloc can’t become any more powerful or godly than she already is. No superhero – or villain for that matter – would be victorious in a one-on-one battle.

1 Marvel: One-Above-All

According to Marvel Comics legend, One-Above-All is solely responsible for the existence of all life in the Multiverse. The One-Above-All is the master and cosmic overseer of the entity known as the Living Tribunal. The One-Above-All made its first appearance in Eternals #13 (1977).

Much like DC’s version of Elaine Belloc, the One-Above-All is omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient. It is above and beyond all powers and entities, even the Living Tribunal. Marvel does additionally list One-Above-All’s powers to include cosmic energy control and armor able to withstand strikes from nuclear warheads.

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