Marvel’s heroes run the gamut from amazingly powerful beings to non-superpowered vigilantes. For years, the A-list heroes have fronted books and teams, their names becoming a part of the pantheon of greatest superheroes of all times. However, there are plenty of heroes who never got the chance to shine. These underrated heroes have vocal fans and always seem to be on the cusp of stardom.
Sometimes Marvel’s underrated heroes have been relegated to team books. Other times they’ve vanished for inexplicable reasons, hile other heroes are rarely seen outside of event books. Regardless, these good guys deserve their chance in the sun and they could easily become stars with the right kind of attention.
Updated on 12/20/2022 by David Harth:
Marvel has no end to great characters who aren’t A-listers. Their fans love these characters like few others, but the publisher sometimes has a problem with how they’re portrayed. B-List characters aren’t as iconic as their top-tier counterparts, so sometimes they’re taken in directions that aren’t right for them. This is probably why they’re on the B-list in the first place.
17/17 Elektra Doesn’t Need To Be Joined At The Hip With Daredevil
Elektra is now Daredevil, sharing the mantle with Matt Murdock. The two are hanging out together, fighting crime together, and living life as a couple. However, Elektra is leading the Savage Avengers as well, showing off what she can do when she’s not connected to Matt Murdock’s hip. Independent Elektra has always been the best version of the character.
Elektra as Daredevil is cool, and her costume is amazing, but she doesn’t need Daredevil or his identity to shine. She’s simply a better character when she’s on her own away from Murdock. She’s better than just the Man Without Fear’s second fiddle.
16/17 No One Has Known What To Do With War Machine In Years
War Machine is one of those rare cases where the MCU’s version is actually better than any comic book version of the character. It feels like comic creators have never known what to do with James Rhodes, although his early ’00s miniseries got him right. The thing about War Machine is that he’s a wrecking ball.
War Machine is a soldier at heart. He knows how to fight, and the armor gives him the ability to tear through everything in front of him. Too often, he’s basically used as Iron Man with a machine gun and less scientific knowledge. However, he’s still a genius, but in combat instead of technology. Using his tactical brilliance would show readers why he’s so great.
15/17 Beast’s Amorality Has Gone Way Too Far
Ruthless Marvel heroes are nothing new, but it can be surprising when a wholesome character takes a turn in that direction. Beast is a great example of a character who went from a fun-loving hero with a heart to a pragmatic spy chief ready to commit any atrocity to keep Krakoa safe. Many of his fans have cried foul on this.
Beast has always been a layered character, but the complete loss of his morals has been a shock. The pragmatic Beast was fine because he always regretted what he had to do. This new Beast is completely different, and many fans would rather see a more nuanced approach.
14/17 Luke Cage Grew Beyond His Mercenary Roots
Marvel’s B-list hasn’t been served well in many ways, and Luke Cage proves this fact. The former Hero for Hire and partner to Iron Fist joined the New Avengers, got married, had a child, and became a leader in the superhero community. He led the New Avengers post-Civil War, fighting against both Iron Man and Norman Osborn. He’d also take over the Thunderbolts.
His time with the Thunderbolts was his last real star turn. Since then, Cage has been either regressed and made to hang out with Iron Fist or writers have tried to find new things to do with him that are kind of boring, like him as mayor of New York. Cage is a butt-kicking superhero leader and that’s how he should be portrayed.
13/17 Cyclops Is Boring Again
Few X-Men are as reliable as Cyclops. He’s the team’s greatest leader, the mutant Captain America. However, for years, most fans thought of him as a boring stick in the mud. However, during the post-House Of M era, he became the leader of the mutant race, and it showed a whole new side of the character.
Cyclops became dangerous. He was willing to go to any lengths to protect and save mutants. He even went full-on terrorist post-AvX. Krakoa Era Cyclops is basically the old boring, squeaky-clean Cyclops. Gone is the mutant who will do anything to keep his people protected, and many people who became fans of Cyclops are back to hating him.
12/17 Patriot Got Lost In The Young Avengers Shuffle
The original Young Avengers was full of stars, but Patriot never got the chance his teammates got. While Wiccan, Hulkling, and Hawkeye have all gone on to stardom, Patriot has just about vanished from the Marvel Universe. As the team’s Captain America analog, he was the team leader but also struggled with his place as well as being the grandson of Isaiah Bradley, the forgotten Captain America.
Patriot was always one of the Young Avenger’s more entertaining members and had a lot of story potential, but he was overshadowed by his co-stars. Now would be the perfect time for him to come back so he could remind readers just how great he is.
11/17 Spider-Woman Was Destroyed By Her Pregnancy Arc
Spider-Woman is about to become a big deal again in Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse, but Jessica Drew hasn’t been important at Marvel in a long time. The biggest speed bump is actually being adapted in the film as well: the pregnancy arc. After getting a second chance at stardom with the New Avengers, she was given several solo series. In the last one, they decided to go in a strange direction, turning her into a pregnant superhero.
This was a strange direction for Spider-Woman and it really didn’t work for readers. There’s nothing wrong with a superhero with a kid, but there was something offputting about having her fight while she was pregnant. That was basically the last time she was popular, so it’s weird that the movie is using the exact same idea.
10/17 Havok Is Constantly Defined By His Brother, Cyclops
.Havok is Cyclops’s younger brother and that’s basically been his main characterization through the years. Havok is usually either Cyclops Jr., leading X-Men teams like his brother, being mentally manipulated, or mad that everyone compares him to Cyclops. He’s quit the X-Men several times over the years, which has basically become his defining character trait.
Havok has shown he can be a unique hero in books like Mutant X. Too many creators just go in the same direction with his stories, which is a shame. He clearly can be his own hero without being Cyclops Lite.
9/17 Sunspot Has Long Been One Of The Most Entertaining Mutants
The original class of New Mutants has gotten a lot of spotlights lately, but some of them have been missing, including Sunspot. It’s very bizarre because he was seemingly on the path to stardom. Sunspot was given a chance to shine again in Hickman’s Avengers books, headed his own team of Avengers, and appeared again in the inaugural story arc of the Krakoa era New Mutants before being shunted off to the Shi’Ar Empire.
Sunspot has it all. He’s funny, powerful, and rich, which is a great combination for any comic character. He should be a major player, but his background status in the resurgent X-Men books has hurt his standing.
8/17 Quicksilver Is Just As Interesting As His More Popular Sister
Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch were always a package deal, but eventually, the two separated. Quicksilver joined X-Factor and got to be his own character, finally free of his role as Wanda’s protector. However, as Scarlet Witch waxed thanks to Avengers Disassembled and House Of M, Quicksilver was relegated back to his position as Wanda’s second.
This is unfair to Quicksilver, as the arrogant speedster’s just as interesting as Scarlet Witch. He’s a formidable hero, and there’s so much room to develop and explore who he is. He was Marvel’s premiere speedster for a long time, and he could easily slide back into that position.
7/17 America Chavez Is An Underrated Powerhouse
Some Marvel heroes have too many powers, but few of them can hold a candle to America Chavez. The breakout star of the second Young Avengers series, she was on the cusp of big things, but her solo books floundered, and she was relegated back to team books. She shined again in The Ultimates, and with her upcoming star turn in the MCU, it’s time to take another look at her.
America has top-tier superpowers and the kind of great personality that could easily carry a solo book. She has a lot of fans who want to see more of her and giving her a push in a big book would put more eyes on her.
6/17 Falcon Never Recovered From His Captain America Stint
Falcon was one of Marvel’s best-kept secrets. From his time as Cap’s sidekick to his Avengers membership to his stint as Captain America, Falcon has starred in some great stories. His time as Cap put a lot more eyes on him, but since then, he’s been squandered and pushed into the background when he deserved to be a star.
Falcon has everything it takes to be an A-lister. He’s a great character, and he has enormous name recognition. He doesn’t need to be Captain America to be a star, as he’s always been a top-tier character. Taking him out of the spotlight was a huge mistake.
5/17 Fantomex Is Coolness Personified
Fantomex debuted during Grant Morrison’s New X-Men run as a painfully cool super thief/assassin. The latest supersoldier from the Weapon Plus Program made a splash before being relegated to limbo with many of Morrison’s other Marvel creations when the writer left the publisher. Fantomex got a second chance as a member of Wolverine’s Uncanny X-Force and was made into a more well-rounded character, gaining even more fans.
Since then, Fantomex has been horribly misused. He was in Charles Soule’s Astonishing X-Men and wasted there before getting a Giant-Size X-Men one-shot. With the waxing of the X-Men titles, he would fit perfectly into one of the many team books and give more fans a chance to love him.
4/17 Cannonball Is Always The Bridesmaid, Never The Bride
Cannonball is the most well-known member of the Guthrie clan and has been around in the X-Men books for years. Cannonball started in the New Mutants, led X-Force after Cable left, graduated to the X-Men, and eventually became an Avenger. He got married there to Imperial Guardsman Smasher, has a kid, and has been hanging out in the Shi’Ar Empire for a long time.
Cannonball has always been a beloved character, and his powers are way more flexible than they seem. He has all the potential in the world but never gets to show it off. He’s not exactly solo material, but he very well could be with a little bit of work and character development.
3/17 Monica Rambeau Is The Most Unsung Captain Marvel
Monica Rambeau was the second Captain Marvel and is probably the most powerful person to ever hold that mantle. Her heyday in the ’80s saw her as a primary member of the Avengers, even leading the team. She eventually got shunted into the background of the team, and when Mar-Vell’s son Genis took up the Captain Marvel name, she went through her first name change.
Since then, Rambeau has been overshadowed by other Captain Marvels, but she’s still one of the most accomplished, as she’s the only one who has led the Avengers. She’s such a great character, and her energy-controlling powers give her many different offensive options as well as unmatched sci-fi story potential. With the electromagnetic spectrum at her disposal, the universe is the literal limit.
2/17 Wolverine Needs Her Own Book Again
Laura Kinney’s time as Wolverine made her a fan favorite, but things haven’t been as good since then. While she’s a member of the X-Men, she’s kind of wasted in that book and deserves way better. Wolverine is a legitimate solo star, and putting her back on team books is wasting her.
Making Laura Wolverine again was a great thing, but she hasn’t done much since then. Hickman set her up for stardom before he left X-Men, but that hasn’t been followed up on. Giving her a solo book again is the way to go; the market can easily support two Wolverine books, especially since Laura and Logan are so different.
1/17 Magik Is Marvel’s Best Magic User
Magik has a long and storied history. A member of the powerful Rasputin family, Magik’s teleportation abilities allow her to travel through space and time, but it’s her magic powers that have made her so formidable. She’s conquered the magical realm of Limbo and is a fearless combatant. She looks great, with her anime-inspired costume and giant swords making her a memorable visual.
The magic side of Marvel is pretty much dominated by Magik, Doctor Strange, and Scarlet Witch, and she’s more fun than either of them. Magik has got it all: she’s powerful, entertaining, looks cool, and can handle herself in battles against supervillains, demons, and dark gods. She’s the literal key to new worlds filled with stories and she needs to be put to good use.
NEXT: 10 Marvel Villains Who Deserve A Comeback