Power is a funny thing. When considering who is the most powerful in a given comics universe, we often think of things like raw strength, mystic ability or cosmic energy. We also think most often about men in these conversations. But, as we have all come to realize in the past several months, there are many different kinds of power and many different forms of empowerment.
The Marvel Universe has always been a place where the impossible is made possible, where power comes in myriad forms and is used for countless different ends. But let’s not forget that in a world full of invincible Iron Men and Mister Fantastics, some of the most powerful beings in the 616 are women. In celebration of International Women’s Day, we’ve compiled a list of the most powerful women in the Marvel Universe.
SPOILER ALERT! Spoilers ahead for numerous stories published by Marvel Comics.
It seems like every time there’s a little bit of upheaval in the Marvel Universe, She-Hulk gets caught in the crossfire. Whether we’re talking “Avengers Disassembled” or the more recent “Civil War II,” it seems like She-Hulk must pay a price. Jennifer Walters was created in 1980 by the legendary Stan Lee and John Buscema, debuting in the eponymous series “Savage She-Hulk.” Walters transformed into a female version of the Hulk after her cousin Bruce Banner saved her life with a blood transfusion. She-Hulk has been an integral part of the Marvel Universe, often pushing the boundaries of mainstream superhero comics in the process.
Her second ongoing series was notorious for breaking comics’ fourth wall years before Deadpool made it a thing, and dealt with a wide array of social issues. A former member of the Fantastic Four and onetime leader of A-Force, She-Hulk is also a practicing lawyer specializing in cases of a superhuman nature. Although she currently struggles with anger issues in the wake of the aforementioned “Civil War II,” she remains a strong symbol of female empowerment in the Marvel Universe, predating later heroines such as America Chavez by over 30 years.
The newest member of our list, Singularity was created only a couple of years ago in 2015 by Marguerite Bennett, G. Willow Wilson and Jorge Molina. She first appeared in the inaugural issue of “A-Force,” an all-female squad of Avengers led by She-Hulk. During “Secret Wars,” Singularity ultimately sacrificed her life to save her new friends from a zombie invasion from the Deadlands. She reappeared in the reborn Marvel Universe with her memories intact, but had a difficult time reconnecting with her friends, who had no memory of their time on Battleworld.
Singularity aided this new version of A-Force in defeating her polar opposite, Antimatter, who was created when she emerged in the new 616 reality. Essentially a quantum singularity in human form, Singularity possesses a wide array of powers that include teleportation over vast distances (and possibly between realities), telepathic tracking, flight and the ability to absorb people into her body via her quantum shroud.
Emma Frost debuted as the White Queen of the Hellfire Club in 1980’s “Uncanny X-Men” #129. A powerful telepath who specializes in mental manipulation and mind control, Frost turned over a new leaf and joined her former adversaries during Grant Morrison’s inaugural run on “New X-Men,” supplanting Jean Grey as Cyclops’ telepathic paramour. During this time, her secondary mutation emerged, allowing her to transform her body into living diamond, granting her superhuman strength, invulnerability and immunity from psychic attacks.
Her love for Scott Summers knew no bounds and after his death during the lead-up to “Inhumans vs. X-Men,” drove her mad. In retaliation, she declared all-out war between the two superhuman races, using the mutant-killing Terrigen Mists as a scapegoat for her quest for vengeance. Her ruse was recently uncovered by both sides and her plan was ultimately thwarted when Medusa used a device created by Moon Girl and Forge to destroy the Terrigen Cloud enveloping the Earth. She was last seen in hiding plotting her revenge, a villain once more.
Crystal is the younger sister of the former queen of the Inhumans, Medusa, and first appeared in 1965, in the pages of “Fantastic Four” #45. She served as a member of the Fantastic Four and the Avengers and for a time was married to Quicksilver, with whom she had a daughter named Luna. The Inhuman process of Terrigenesis granted her an arsenal of elemental powers, allowing her to manipulate the classical elements of earth, air, fire and water. She often uses these abilities in tandem to create multi-faceted attacks, making her a formidable combatant in any situation.
A true force of nature, Crystal most recently wielded a new form of power as the Inhuman ambassador to the nations of Earth, leading a roving embassy around the globe in an effort to improve her maligned race’s diplomatic relations with the rest of the world. During the war with the X-Men, Crystal used her elemental abilities to help break the Royal Family free of their prison in Limbo and take the fight to the mutants. She is currently set to appear in the upcoming “Royals,” alongside her family, as they set out for the stars in a desperate race to save their people.
A member of Marvel’s iconic First Family, Sue Richards was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby and first appeared in 1961’s “Fantastic Four” #1. As a crew member of Reed Richards’ fateful mission testing an experimental starship, she was bombarded by cosmic rays and granted the powerful psionic abilities that allow her to become invisible and create transparent force fields capable of withstanding virtually any assault. In this respect, her powers resemble telekinesis but without the typical telltale glow that usually accompany such abilities. Dependent on her willpower, these force fields are so strong they allowed her to protect the Fantastic Four, Dr. Doom and Annihilus from the cosmic pressures exerted by a black hole.
However, her true power lay in the love for her family, particularly her children Franklin and Valeria, for whom she would sacrifice virtually anything to protect. Sue was last seen in the company of her family as they set off across the multiverse in an effort to reconstruct those realities destroyed by the Incursions that preceded “Secret Wars.”
The female incarnation of Dr. Spectrum first appeared in 2014, in the pages of “New Avengers”Vol. 3 #16, by Jonathan Hickman and Rags Morales. She is the last survivor of her Earth, saved by the Inhuman Black Bolt after the Illuminati sacrificed her reality to save their own. A former oceanographer who discovered a strange glowing gem of Kree origin at the bottom of the ocean, she bonded with the so-called Power Prism and was transformed into what is essentially a pastiche of DC’s Green Lantern. In the aftermath of “Secret Wars,” she found herself stranded in the 616 along with a handful of other superhuman refugees and formed the current incarnation of the Squadron Supreme.
As a member of the Squadron, Dr. Spectrum helped unleash a new, more brutal and proactive brand of justice on the world and was present when her teammate Hyperion executed Namor for his role in destroying their worlds. The Squadron Supreme eventually came to their senses and succeeded in resurrecting Namor in a bid to undo at least a portion of their villainy. Dr. Spectrum recently discovered a hidden Inhuman heritage and was last seen in New Attilan, prior to the war with the X-Men.
Originally created by Neil Gaiman and Todd McFarlane as a bounty-hunting angelic assassin, Angela was introduced into mainstream Marvel continuity after the publisher bought the rights of the character from Gaiman, after he, in turn, won full ownership in a now-infamous legal battle in 2012. She was first rumored to exist during the events of “Original Sin,” when Angela was revealed to be Thor’s long-lost sister, but didn’t actually appear until “Age of Ultron” #10. Billed for a time as Asgard’s Assassin, Angela eventually rose to the position of Queen of Hel, but abdicated her throne to Balder the Brave.
An immensely powerful Asgardian, who once bested Thor in combat (after he fought a horde of invading Angels), Angela possesses superhuman strength, durability and an increased lifespan that effectively makes her immortal. She also uses numerous weapons and artifacts in battle, most notably her trademark axes and ribbons, and the magical Wedding Dress of Siriana of the Aesir, which transforms into a suit of impregnable armor capable of clouding Heimdall’s superhuman sight.
Created by Roger Stern and John Romita Jr., Monica Rambeau first appeared as the second Captain Marvel in 1982, in “Amazing Spider-Man Annual” #16. A former officer of the New Orleans Harbor Patrol, she was bombarded with extra-dimensional energy while attempting to thwart the plans of a would-be dictator. The accident granted her the ability to transform her physical body into any form of energy found on the electromagnetic spectrum. Monica was subsequently introduced to the Avengers by Spider-Man so that she could learn to use and control her vast powers.
Over the years, she grew into the role of superhero, even leading the Avengers on several missions until her forced retirement, after losing her abilities for a time. Over the years, her abilities returned stronger than ever and she once again took up superheroics, first as Photon and then as Pulsar, before finally settling on the codename Spectrum. Monica currently serves alongside the Ultimates, where it was revealed by Blue Marvel that she is actually a being composed of living energy and now possesses a form of cosmic awareness that allows her to foresee cataclysmic events of universal scope.
Created by Len Wein and Dave Cockrum, Ororo Munroe first appeared in 1975, in the now-classic “Giant-Sized X-Men” #1 as one of Charles Xavier’s new team of mutants. Born with the ability to manipulate weather, Ororo became an integral part of the X-Men for several years, even usurping leadership of the team (sans powers) from long-time leader Cyclops. She also has the distinction of serving on both the Fantastic Four and the Avengers, and for a short time was married to the king of Wakanda, Black Panther.
Considered an Omega-level mutant by anybody with even a tiny bit of sense, her ability to manipulate the weather is virtually unparalleled in the Marvel Universe, the only exception being the Asgardian thunder god, Thor. Even still, she has shown a precision in the use of her powers typically lacking in Thor’s bombastic approach to using his. Think of it this way, if Thor is a hammer, then Storm is a scalpel. She has been shown to affect major weather events in localized areas, call down powerful lightning strikes, manipulate Earth’s electromagnetic field and sense the movements of various climatic phenomena.
No matter what version of Jean Grey we’re talking about — whether infused with the cosmic power of the Phoenix Force or not — one thing is certain: she is one of the most powerful telepaths in the history of the Marvel Universe. Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kriby, Jean first appeared in 1963’s “X-Men” #1. Jean was born with a wide array of psionic abilities including (but not limited to), telepathy, telekinesis, astral projection, psychic blasts and mind control. As Phoenix, her abilities attained cosmic levels, allowing her to manipulate matter on a molecular level and lay waste to entire planets.
After a couple of in-continuity deaths resulting from an inability to control her vast powers, a younger version of Jean was brought forward in time along with the other original X-Men by Hank McCoy, in a misguided attempt to save the future of mutantkind. An integral part of Marvel’s upcoming “ResurreXion” event, Jean is set to star in both “X-Men Blue” and her own self-titled ongoing series. A passionate advocate of Xavier’s dream of peace between mutants and humans, Jean remains ever vigilant in the use of her powers, refusing to allow herself to become the potential vehicle of the X-Men’s destruction for a second time.
Jane Foster was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby and first appeared in 1962’s “Journey into Mystery” #84. After several years as Thor’s earthly paramour, her memories of her experiences were temporarily removed by Odin, after she failed an unfair test as an Asgardian goddess. She would subsequently marry another man, a doctor by the name of Robert Kincaid. However, the marriage ended in divorce and Jane opened a medical practice with the revived Donald Blake near the site of the recently resurrected city of Asgard.
Jane was later diagnose with breast cancer and for a time served as Earth’s representative in the Congress of Worlds, while undergoing treatment. After Thor was deemed unworthy to lift the uru hammer Mjolnir, Jane picked up the oversized mallet, noting that there “must always be a Thor.” As the new goddess of thunder, Jane enjoys all of the abilities of her former lover, including vast superhuman strength and the ability to call down powerful storms. Although still terminally ill with cancer in her mortal form, Jane continues to fight her illness without the benefit of magic, proving her worth as the new bearer of Mjolnir, in ways the Odinson never could.
Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Wanda Maximoff first appeared as the Scarlet Witch way back in 1964’s “X-Men” #4 as a member of Magneto’s Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. In the years since, she’s vacillated between hero and villain, serving alongside the Avengers for several years yet also causing reality-shattering events such as “Avengers Disassembled” and “Decimation,” during which she selfishly culled the world’s mutant population. Her unpredictable hex powers, which allow her to alter probability on a massive scale, position her as one of the most dangerous beings in the Marvel Universe.
During the “House of M” storyline, she was able to rebuild reality according to her deepest desires, creating a world where mutants reigned supreme under the leadership of her father Magneto. Because her hex powers are tied to chaos magic, Wanda is also a formidable magic user and her role as the Nexus Being of the main Marvel Universe means she is the focal point and personification of the 616’s overriding character. As such, she is one of the most powerful beings in existence and remains a constant threat to the fabric of reality.
Currently billed as Earth’s Mightiest Hero, Carol Danvers’ path to the spotlight hasn’t been easy. Created in 1968 by Roy Thomas and Gene Colan, Danvers first appeared as NASA’s Cape Canaveral security chief in “Marvel Super-Heroes” #13. She became Ms. Marvel after several adventures alongside the first Captain Marvel, finally gaining her own super powers from a damaged Kree device called the Psyche-Magnitron, which turned dreams into reality.
Over the years, Danvers served with the Avengers and was exiled into space, where she joined the Starjammers as Binary, before returning to Earth for another stint in the Avengers as Warbird. She finally took up the mantle of Captain Marvel, after her recently resurrected mentor sacrificed his new life to save the Kree homeworld Hala. As Captain Marvel, she is blessed with cosmic awareness and vast energy absorption and manipulation abilities. And she isn’t afraid to cut loose with her powers, either. Just ask Tony Stark, who was killed during “Civil War II,” after duking it out with an enraged Danvers in her hyper-powerful Binary mode.
Truth be told, any of one of the amazing women featured here could claim first place on our list, but this may hold especially true of Rogue, who on top of possessing Carol Danvers’s vaunted Ms. Marvel power set, also has the ability to absorb virtually any superhuman ability (and accompanying personality) with the merest touch. Created by Chris Claremont and Michael Golden, Rogue first appeared as a member of Mystique’s Brotherhood of Evil Mutants in 1981’s “Avengers Annual” #10. She quickly gave up her villainous ways and became a standout member of the X-Men shortly after her debut, serving alongside Marvel’s Merry Mutants for most of her superhero career.
Over the years, Rogue has evolved into a competent and respected leader whose abilities even garnered the praise of Captain America, who relies upon her judgement and keen insight into mutant affairs as a member of the Avengers Unity Division. In this respect, she’s come full circle, progressing from misguided mutant terrorist to one of her race’s most respected spokespersons as a member of the first superhero team she ever fought.
She’s fierce, she’s gay and she can literally punch holes in reality. And yet, her greatest power may just be her ability to broaden our horizons. Created in 2011 by Joe Casey and Nick Dragotta, America has come a long way in the four years since her first appearance in “Vengeance” #1. A breakout star of the Young Avengers, America has recently graduated to the big leagues as a member of the Ultimates, an ultra-powerful team of Avengers dedicated to finding constructive, non-violent solutions to the Marvel Universe’s biggest problems.
Recently promoted to leader of the Ultimates, America’s bold, unorthodox leadership style may rub some of her colleagues the wrong way, but there’s no doubting her qualifications. She’s been saving the multiverse since she was a child and is a hero to countless worlds that have no idea what an Avenger is. She also happens to be one of the most powerful beings in the entire Marvel Universe, with off-the-charts strength, speed and durability. Even long-established heroes like Captain Marvel are in awe of her abilities. And well, they should be, or she might just punch their lights out.