Blue Marvel isn’t the most mainstream Superman copy, but his combination of similarities and differences from DC’s hero make him the best.
Marvel Comics may not be responsible for the creation of Superman, but they certainly have several heroes seemingly based on him. From twisted takes on the Man of Steel to outright ripoffs, Marvel is no stranger to cribbing capes from its distinguished competition. Sadly, the publisher’s best Superman stand-in is somewhat overlooked in the wider Marvel Universe.
Blue Marvel has existed for less than two decades, but his history in the Marvel Universe goes back for decades. Preceding many of the major Marvel heroes, Blue Marvel’s power is only eclipsed by the sacrifices he’s had to make in the past. In the end, however, he knows how to best these abilities for the protection of humanity, making him a far cry from other Marvel “Supermen.” Here’s what makes him Marvel’s real Man of Steel.
Blue Marvel Is the Most Unique Superman Stand-In
Blue Marvel was introduced in 2008’s Adam: Legend of the Blue Marvel #1 (by Kevin Grevioux and Mat Broome). After being exposed to powerful radiation, he would use his newfound powers, don a costume, and become a hero for an entire generation. He would protect the defenseless against all danger and fight his former classmate turned nemesis, Anti-Man. Born Adam Brashear, he was a brilliant Black man in a time of institutionalized racism and segregation within America. This forced him to retire when his ethnicity was exposed, with the U.S. President fearing how the country would react to an African American man being the world’s most powerful human. Years later, a conflict with Anti-Man would finally bring Brashear out of retirement, with Blue Marvel reasserting himself as a hero – this time, making his race clear for all to see.
Blue Marvel had the powers and grandeur of Superman, but he works so well due to how little he takes from the Superman mythos beyond that. He’s not an alien from a lost world or a mild-mannered reporter, with the cosmic scope of his powers making him closer to heroes such as the mighty Captain Marvel. Likewise, the fact that he was once a scientific colleague of Anti-Men makes them similar to Reed Richards and his nemesis Doctor Doom, showing that Anti-Man wasn’t anything in way of a Lex Luthor ripoff. These aren’t the only narrative elements that make Blue Marvel stand out, however.
Blue Marvel Is Marvel’s Least Dysfunctional Superman
Though racism and the Anti-Man have both vexed him in the past, Blue Marvel is a largely well-adjusted individual. This actually makes him far closer to DC’s original Superman than other Marvel characters based on him. Those Superman copies are many times dark and cynical takes on the Man of Steel, deconstructing the king of superheroes and leaving his hopeful nature in the shadows. Squadron Supreme member, Hyperion, namely the version from Supreme Power, was unsure of his requirement to act in humanity’s defense.
On the other hand, there’s the psychologically disturbed Sentry, who was an obvious mixture of Captain Marvel and Shazam. Blue Marvel is a far more successful version of this hero, as he shares his origins. The Sentry constantly fights with his other self, the Void, making his actions all incredibly dangerous. He’s also many times gripped by self-doubt, making him just as ineffectual at times as he is powerful. Blue Marvel has no such limitations, and once he finally left retirement, he became a valuable asset to other heroes by joining teams such as the Ultimates. While Blue Marvel still hasn’t gone mainstream, some suspect that he might have a role in the upcoming film The Marvels. Hopefully, that’s the case, as it would allow Marvel’s best take on the Superman archetype to flourish on the big screen.