Long before Marvel’s characters took over all of pop culture, Marvel Comics was nicknamed the House of Ideas. Generations of creators helped build and maintain that house on the foundation of Marvel’s rich history. Since Marvel has never really done a universe-wide reboot, a clear line can be drawn from 1939’s Marvel Comics #1 to their newest ongoing comics. Even with Marvel’s complex sliding timeline, characters who were introduced as teenagers have aged into adulthood and had their own children. As the family trees of Marvel’s heroes and villains have grown, super-powered dynasties have emerged from all corners of the Marvel Universe. While the time-traveling and dimension-hopping nature of comics have given most of these trees fairly odd branches, they’re still a tangible way to chart the endless expansions to the House of Ideas. Even if a family’s members don’t interact much or battle one another, their relationships are tangible reminders of Marvel’s hyper-connected universe.
Now, CBR is counting down Marvel’s most powerful families. For this list, we’ll be ranking these families according to their collective raw power and influence within the Marvel Universe. Beyond a family’s core members, we’ll also be looking at siblings, spouses, ex-spouses, clones, adopted relatives and adopted children from alternate realities as pertinent.
Wolverine and his children might not be the most powerful family in the Marvel Universe, but they’re certainly the scrappiest. In addition to being the X-Men’s most savage member, Logan has fathered several children in between his famous memory wipes. Despite that, his most famous offspring is his cloned daughter, X-23. Originally created by Craig Kyle and Chris Yost for the cartoon X-Men: Evolution, Laura has played an ever-increasing role as comics’ current Wolverine, and in 2017’s Logan.
Logan’s most famous son, Daken, has clawed his way into trouble with groups like Norman Osborn’s Dark Avengers and the Brotherhood of Evil mutants since his 2006 debut. While Logan unintentionally killed them, several of his other children formed the Mongrels, a little-seen group of assassins. Beyond those savage children, Logan’s wider family includes his vicious half-brother Dog, his criminal mastermind ex-wife Viper and his first cousin James Hudson, Alpha Flight’s Guardian.
Despite the Green Goblin’s history as Spider-Man’s most threatening enemy, the Osborn family’s real power lies in their corporate influence. Since Norman Osborn’s early days as the Green Goblin, Osborn Industries or Oscorp has been a big corporate player in the Marvel Universe. After Norman’s death, Harry Osborn inherited his father’s wealth, business acumen and mantle as the Green Goblin.
In between his slips into villainy, Harry married longtime Amazing Spider-Man supporting character Liz Allan, whose family founded Allan Chemical. In addition to their son Normie, Harry also had a child with his fiancée Lily Hollister, who turned out to be the Goblin-esque villain Menace. As a result of a much-derided storyline, Norman also had another son, Gabriel Stacy, who became the Grey Goblin. After decades of Goblin-related trouble, Harry took his mother’s maiden name to become Harry Lyman, and Liz acquired Oscorp to form the world-conquering mega-corporation Alchemax.
Collectively, Tony Stark and his adoptive family make one of the greatest groups of technological geniuses in Marvel’s history. Over the years, various details about the life of Tony’s adoptive father, Howard Stark, have trickled out. After working on the Manhattan Project during World War II, Howard worked with an early incarnation of S.H.I.E.L.D. and helped a young Nick Fury protect the world from cosmic threats.
While Tony’s roles as the founding Avenger Iron Man and a titan of industry eclipsed his father’s legacy, the truth about the Stark family wasn’t revealed until Kieron Gillen, Dale Eaglesham, Greg Land and Carlo Pagulayan’s run on Iron Man. In that 2013 storyline, Tony learned that he was adopted, and that he had a foster brother, Arno Stark. Thanks to some alien genetic tampering, Arno has an even greater technological genius than Tony, and the foster siblings quickly became robosuit-wearing allies.
Even though Magneto’s family is a lot smaller than it was a few years ago, his lineage could pretty much control all of Earth’s magnetic fields. Originally born Max Eisenhardt, Magneto took the name Erik Magnus Lehnsherr and had an ill-fated daughter named Anya after WWII. While Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver haven’t been Magneto’s children in comics since 2015, Polaris, the longtime X-Man and X-Factor member, was confirmed to be his daughter in 2003.
While Magneto and Polaris have both helped each other learn to control their magnetic abilities more fully, the pair may have another family member in the forgotten villain Zaladane. Created by Gerry Conway and Barry Windsor-Smith in 1970’s Astonishing Tales #3, the sorceress was allegedly Polaris’ sister and ruled much of the prehistoric Savage Land until she was killed by Magneto. The precise relationship, if any, between Zaladane, Polaris and Magneto was never definitively addressed.
While some titles are simply passed down, T’Challa had to prove that he was worthy enough to be the Black Panther and the King of Wakanda. Like his father T’Chaka and the rest of his ancestors, T’Challa held both roles in service of Wakanda, a technological paradise in the heart of Africa. As Wakanda’s leader, he also controlled the country’s vibranium, a fictional metal that was used in Captain America’s shield.
On occasion, T’Challa’s half-sister Shuri has filled in for him as an equally competent Black Panther. In 2018’s Black Panther, Letitia Wright is set to portray Shuri in her cinematic debut. In sharp contrast, T’Challa’s half-brother Jakarra hasn’t appeared too much since he became a purple monster in the 1970s. While their marriage was later annulled, T’Challa was briefly married to the X-Men’s Storm, and the pair still stands of one of the most powerful couples in Marvel’s history.
While they may have started out as a humble farming family, Colossus and the Rasputin siblings eventually became frighteningly powerful dimensional travelers. After Colossus’ mutant power to turn his skin into organic metal emerged, Piotr Rasputin left the farm to become one of the X-Men’s most iconic members. A few years later, his little sister Illyana joined him in America, discovered her mutant teleportation abilities and took over the hellish Limbo dimension.
Their older brother, Mihail, was introduced in 1992’s Uncanny X-Men #285, by John Byrne, Jim Lee and Whilce Portacio. With ill-defined matter-manipulating and dimension-hopping powers, the former cosmonaut has been a leader in other worlds and to groups like the sewer-dwelling mutants, the Morlocks. While he might be the most naturally powerful Rasputin, Colossus and Magik received major power boosts during the 2012 crossover Avengers vs. X-Men, when they both hosted parts of the Phoenix Force.
Even without Magneto as their father, the Maximoff twins, Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, have formed a large expanded family during their time as Avengers. The super-speedy Pietro Maximoff was married to the element-controlling Inhuman princess Crystal for decades, and their daughter Luna inherited empathic abilities. Likewise, the chaos-controlling Wanda Maximoff was had a long-running relationship and marriage with the Vision, the Avengers’ android with a heart.
After Scarlet Witch and Vision’s children were revealed to be magical constructs in a complex West Coast Avengers storyline, their souls were reincarnated as the Young Avengers Wiccan and Speed. In 2016, Pietro and Wanda’s mother was revealed to be Natalya Maximoff, a sorceress and previous Scarlet Witch. Given the Maximoffs’ former ties to Magneto, Crystal’s Inhumans and the Vision’s unique relationships with Ultron, Wonder Man and Hank Pym, the siblings have been related to a decent chunk of the Marvel Universe.
Since their earliest adventures mainly took place in the pages of Captain Britain, the full history of Psylocke and her brothers might even mystify the most die-hard X-Men fans. Once she was introduced in Uncanny X-Men, Betsy Braddock went on a deeply strange journey from posh British psychic to telepathic Japanese ninja and the world’s third most powerful mutant telepath.
Her brother Brian Braddock has worn the Union Jack for years as the mystical, multiversal hero Captain Britain. After years of adventures with the X-Men’s British affiliate Excalibur, he married his shape-shifting teammate Meggan. Captain Britain and Pyslocke also have another sibling, Jamie. Despite severe mental illness, he had immense mutant abilities that allowed him to control the fabric of reality. When a corrupt version of him threatened the whole multiverse, Betsy forced Brian to kill their brother in 2012’s Uncanny X-Force #23, by Rick Remender and Greg Tocchini.
Even though Bruce Banner’s mean, green alter ego is famous for wandering off on his own, the Hulk has amassed a surprisingly large extended family during his travels. Years after he was bombarded by gamma radiation, Bruce gave his cousin Jennifer Walters a blood transfusion. This transformed her into She-Hulk, who kept her intelligence and continued her law career. Bruce’s ex-wife, Betty Ross, and her dad, General Thunderbolt Ross, went through a process that turned them into the violent Red She-Hulk and Red Hulk, respectively.
After marrying the Hulk during 2006’s Planet Hulk, the alien Caiera had two children, the potentially powerful Hiro-Kala and Skaar, Son of Hulk. In 2008’s Hulk: Raging Thunder, by Jeff Parker and Mitch Breitweiser, the Hulk also had the genetically engineered daughter Lyra with the alternate reality hero Thundra. Altogether, the gamma-irradiated Hulk family includes many of the strongest characters in the Marvel Universe.
While it’s still not clear how powerful the Inhumans will be on their upcoming show Inhumans, the Royal Inhuman Family has changed the course of Marvel’s history. Usually, the secretive Inhumans have followed their silent king Black Bolt, who can level mountains with a whisper. His hair-controlling queen, Medusa, has led the Inhumans and also served on the Fantastic Four. Medusa’s sister Crystal also served with the Fantastic Four and the Avengers.
Black Bolt’s brother Maximus the Mad has been both a friend and foe to the other Inhumans. The rest of the Royal Family is made up of the cousins Gorgon, Triton and Karnak. With Black Bolt and Medusa’s son Ahura, the next generation of Inhumans has also been introduced. The Inhumans have taken over the once-mighty Kree Empire and given powers to thousands of latent Inhumans on Earth, and they show no signs of slowing down.
Although the Black Order/Children of Thanos will play a central role in 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War, Thanos doesn’t need those cinematic additions to have one of the most feared families in the Marvel Universe. As mentioned in 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy, his adopted daughter, Gamora, shared Thanos’ ruthlessness and became one of the universe’s most feared assassins. Thanos’ granddaughter Nebula became an equally dangerous foe and even wielded the Infinity Gauntlet briefly.
Despite his reputation, Thanos’ other family members aren’t all that bad. His son Thane possessed an Inhuman death touch and fought his father before becoming the most recent host of the Phoenix Force. Thanos’ brother Starfox and cousin Sersi both used their considerable cosmic abilities for good as full-fledged members of the Avengers. Like those two, many of Thanos’ distant family members are Eternals, a race of ancient immortals with extraordinary abilities.
While Thor might be one of the Avengers’ strongest members, the Thunder God isn’t even close to being the most powerful member of his Asgardian family. Thor’s roughly as powerful as his step-siblings like Balder the Brave, Tyr and Angela. Thor’s adopted brother Loki has used his extensive knowledge of magic and trickery to cause all kinds of trouble. Thor’s other relatives like his step-mother, Frigga, and grandfather, Bor, have easily taken command of Asgardians on occasion.
Despite all that, Thor’s father Odin stands as one of the most powerful beings in the Marvel Universe. In addition to the ability to channel all of the powers of every other Asgardian, Odin plays a key role in the cosmic order of the universe. He can also channel the Odinforce, a kind of all-powerful magic that can effectively do anything, though he must rest after using it.
Charles Xavier might be an Omega-level mutant and the most powerful telepath on Earth, but the rest of his family aren’t exactly pushovers. His half-brother, Cain Marko, usually holds the Gem of Cytorrak, which gives him the power of the unstoppable Juggernaut. His evil psychic twin Cassandra Nova used her considerable abilities to kill the entire nation of Genosha.
Xavier also used to be married to Lilandra Neramani, the alien leader of the Shi’Ar Empire and one of Marvel’s largest intergalactic armies. Still, the most powerful member of Xavier’s family might be his son David Haller, Legion. While his powerset is more subdued on Legion, Legion has access to an unlimited number of powers, each with a separate persona he struggles to control. While he has unlimited potential, Legion’s most notable act so far has been the creation of the alternate reality, “Age of Apocalypse,” in that beloved 1990s crossover.
Scott Summers and Jean Grey are mutant royalty. After helping found the X-Men, Cyclops and Marvel Girl led several X-teams and hosted all or part of the Phoenix Force, an all-powerful cosmic entity. Like his brother Cyclops, Havok also became a respected mutant leader. While their dad Corsair led a band of space pirates, their other brother, Vulcan, became a mad intergalactic tyrant. Cable, the time-traveling son of Scott and Jean’s clone, Madelyne Pryor, formed X-Force and raised Hope Summers, who helped restart the mutant race.
Like Jean, Rachel Summers, Scott and Jean’s daughter from an alternate reality, is an Omega-class mutant who’s also hosted the Phoenix Force. Nate Grey, Scott and Jean’s genetically-engineered son from another alternate reality, barley contained all of his psychic power in his body. With all of those leadership skills and world-ending psionic powers, the Summers family has exemplified the cosmic potential of mutantkind.
In 1961, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby kickstarted the Marvel Universe with Fantastic Four #1. With their inseparable bond, the Fantastic Four have lived up to their nickname, Marvel’s First Family. Reed Richards, Mr. Fantastic, and Sue Storm, the Invisible Woman, have one of the longest lasting marriages in comics. With the help of Sue’s brother Johnny Storm, Human Torch, and the kids’ surrogate uncle, Ben Grimm, the Thing, they’ve raised two children, Franklin and Valeria Richards.
While Valeria’s genius will surpass her father’s immense intellect, Franklin may very well grow up to be the most powerful being in the Marvel Universe. Limited only by his (admittedly limitless) imagination, Franklin already used his mutant reality warping abilities to create pocket universes as a small child. In the wake of the 2015 crossover Secret Wars, Franklin and his family took on the task of rebuilding the Marvel multiverse one world at a time.
Keep it locked to CBR for all the latest in comics and pop culture news. Let us know which Marvel family you think is the strongest in the comments!
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