“What makes a hero?” Asking a question like that at the beginning of a movie is a clear indication that things are only going south from here, but it’s an interesting question nonetheless. A hero is brave, noble, and willing to make the necessary sacrifices for the greater good. By that logic, an antihero must also be someone who is inherently good, but doesn’t necessarily possess the same minty-fresh qualities of a regular hero.
Thus, an antihero is a far more interesting study. Antiheroes are damaged, conflicted, and don’t always follow the politically correct route. Take a look at some of the antiheroes listed below for instance. Some of them kill their enemies without remorse, while others will do whatever it takes to reach their goal, even if it means leaving a trail of chaos in the process. In short, antiheroes are seriously messed up people, which is what draws us to them and helps us relate on some level, because we’ve all done things that we aren’t particularly proud of. The characters below are all fighting for a cause, be it justice or something more personal, and they get there by doing things that would never pass as heroic under normal circumstances.
By the way, you’ll notice that Wolverine isn’t on this list, and that’s because he isn’t an antihero. Wolverine’s tactics may be unconventional and violent, but he has always conducted himself as a soldier on a mission, doing whatever it takes to protect the innocent and assist his comrades.
15. The Punisher
He may not have any superpowers, but The Punisher is arguably Marvel’s most popular antihero, and for good reason. Frank Castle basically went batsh*t crazy after his family was brutally murdered and thus kick-started a never-ending mission to rid the world of villainous scum.
The problem, or lack thereof depending on how you like your heroes, are his methods. The Punisher is a special ops vet, which means he has an affinity for weapons and is a master at tactical warfare. Any place Frank visits on a mission ends up looking like a Jackson Pollock painting, with the “colors” provided by The Punisher’s victims. His use of violence is creative to say the least, and the fact that he has survived bigger and badder foes without the use of special powers makes The Punisher a true force to be reckoned with. While Frank Castle’s code only allows him to destroy those who have committed injustice, this antihero has shown on more than one occasion that he isn’t opposed to getting rid of the good guys if they ever came between him and his target.
14. Moon Knight
Much like the Iron Fist, Moon Knight’s source of power remains a mystery. Although he doesn’t claim any superpowers, Marc Spector has displayed feats of great strength and stamina while fighting crime as the vigilante Moon Knight. His accelerated healing has been attributed to an unprecedented control of his own “Chi”, while his ability to switch personalities on cue is said to be a side-effect of madness; a variation of mental trauma that came about when he “died” briefly.
In his pursuit of justice, Moon Knight has committed terrible acts of violence, something that has constantly haunted Marc Spector throughout his career as the crimefighting vigilante.
Expert combatant and marksman, trained actor, multilingual covert operative, rapid healing, and resistance to toxins and diseases are just some of Mystique’s listed powers. Oh, and she’s also a shapeshifter.
Mystique can psionically morph into anyone she sees regardless of gender, age, or build. Since he is technically naked all the time, the clothes she wears are merely extensions of her body and morph accordingly. Her metamorphosis is so accurate that she even embodies minute details such as fingerprints and retinal patterns. Also known as Raven Darkholme, Mystique is said to be at least 100 years old, even though she looks and feels no more than 30 thanks to her regenerative abilities. She may have started out on the dark side of things, aiding Magneto in his plans to rid Earth of all those who oppose mutantkind, but Mystique has more recently affiliated herself with the X-Men and X-Force, using her powers for the greater good. Whether or not those intentions were noble or merely to serve her own agenda remain unclear.
12. Drax The Destroyer
Drax The Destroyer has one thing on his mind and one thing only… kill the Mad Titan, Thanos. Created by Mentor and Kronos using Arthur Douglas’ cosmic consciousness, Drax was wired to seek out Thanos and end him for killing Drax’s former human family, although it’s unclear if Drax knows for certain why he hunts Thanos at all. This makes Drax an extremely valuable ally to Thanos’ enemies, but also a very dangerous rogue component in any team. Drax’s one-track mind sometimes forces him to ignore all other aspects of a mission, including the safety of others, when Thanos is in the vicinity.
Drax possesses superhuman strength and speed and knows a various lethal fighting techniques. But what’s more interesting is a power called “Aura” that allows Drax to reach magnified levels of strength for brief periods of time.
Eric Brooks, popularly known as Blade, inherited an immunity towards vampire bites when his mother was bitten by one while she was giving birth to him. Talk about a messy situation.
Apart from being an expert swordsman and highly skilled combatant, Blade also has superhuman strength, speed, and agility; all perks of being a vampire-human hybrid. A special serum that provides him with vital nutrients quenches his thirst for human blood, thus allowing him to focus on kicking some serious undead ass. Commonly seen with a vampire on the receiving end of his sword, Blade’s tactics and methods are freakishly violent and dark. He also has a one-track mind against the undead, meaning he would dispose of anyone, hero or villain, who stands in his way.
Much like Mystique, the mutant known as Copycat can morph into anyone she sees fit, with one additional perk: Copycat’s metamorphosis is on a genetic level, meaning she absorbs a certain amount of her target’s powers as well, making her a highly dangerous entity.
Born Vanessa Carlysle, she would fall into a life of prostitution early in her life before meeting and breaking up with the mercenary known as Wade Wilson AKA Deadpool. She would then become a mercenary herself, using her powers to serve whichever side offered her the bigger paycheck.
Elektra is a ninja assassin who has undergone peak physical conditioning. As if that isn’t formidable enough, she was also resurrected by an ancient cult called The Hand by linking her to a demon called The Beast. This is where Elektra gets her heightened senses from.
Elektra has the ability to perform a mind-switch, meaning she can go for days inside someone else’s head, stalking them and watching their every move without them even realizing it. It’s no surprise then that she has assassinated so many targets with such ease, probably with the knowledge of their precise whereabouts etched in her memory. She has also displayed episodes of precognition, which explains why Elektra Natchios is always one step ahead of her enemies. This femme fatale usually dabbles on both the good side and the bad, joining whichever team aids her current mission.
Although he’s currently known as Toxin, let’s go with Venom for the sake of popularity. Commonly known as – but not confined to – the alter ego of Eddie Brock, Venom is a conflicted symbiotic entity that latches onto a host and enhances his or her core emotions in an unstable and dangerous manner. While considered to be inherently violent and evil, Venom has shown that he is more vigilante than villain, tracking down criminals and bringing them to justice. Okay, so he rips their spleen out and hangs his victims for everyone to see, but maybe his heart was in the right place?
I guess not. Nevertheless, Venom is an antihero who possesses superhuman strength, speed, agility, and the usual array of superhero tropes. What makes him interesting are his Spidey-senses, the ability to absorb and mitigate the force of an attack, and also aid his host with rapid healing.
You’re probably thinking… Magneto is a bad guy, so why is he on this list!? Contrary to popular belief, Magneto’s position in the world is highly subjective depending on where you’re coming from. As a mutant, Magneto is basically a rights activist, although his methods are highly questionable. As a human though, Magneto is a living nightmare that could strike at any given moment. That being said, the “Master of Magnetism” has also helped his old friend, Charles Xavier, and the X-Men numerous times to take down common enemies. He even led the X-Men against Apocalypse when Xavier was gone.
Magneto’s uncanny control over any sort of metal makes him a frightening force to be dealt with. Basically anything, even of the smallest proportions, that contain metallic substances can be manipulated by this mutant. To make matters worse, his helmet is capable of blocking Professor X and Cerebro, which means Magneto is virtually invisible to his greatest foe and friend.
6. Namor the Sub-Mariner
Ah, Marvel’s Aquaman. Perpetually in defense of Atlantis, Namor the Sub-Mariner has waged war on the surface land many times, and on most occasions he is thwarted by either the Avengers or the Fantastic Four. Bringing new meaning to the term “it’s complicated”, Namor has made his feelings for Sue Storm abundantly clear over the years, at one time even offering to make her his queen. For the sake of Atlantis, Namor has willingly aligned himself with the likes of Magneto, albeit it being a temporary partnership.
Namor’s Atlantean physiology potentially makes him Marvel’s first mutant. Apart from being able to fly and possessing superhuman strength, speed, and reflexes, Namor is genetically amphibious, allowing him to adapt to life on both land and sea. His augmented vision allows him to see through murky water and trek the seven seas, while his unique physical makeup makes him a powerful protector to the underwater realm.
5. The Hulk
Bruce Banner may be an inherently good person, but the embodiment of his rage is an antihero in every sense of the word. The Hulk is pure chaos, destroying and even killing everything and everyone in its path without remorse or mercy. While more recent variations of The Hulk have shown signs of control and even sympathy towards those close to Bruce Banner, the character is basically a beast with a one-track mind who would silence the nagging voice of Banner in its head if it could. Director Joss Whedon explained it best when he compared The Hulk to a werewolf. There’s only so much you can do before instinct takes over and sh*t inevitably hits the figurative fan.
The Hulk’s powers range from super strength that’s unquantifiable, super speed, the ability to travel across vast areas of land in a single leap, rapid healing, and unprecedented, unwavering stamina. Simply put, unless Bruce Banner is in control and has allied himself with the good guys, The Hulk could bulldoze a lot of your favorite Marvel heroes without breaking a sweat.
4. Ghost Rider
Akin to The Hulk and Bruce Banner, the demon known as Zarathos inhabits the body of Johnny Blaze in order to roam the Earth as the Ghost Rider; Hell’s own bounty hunter, who was later revealed to be a creation of Heaven.
The Rider is a powerful entity that transcends the limitations of this world. His powers derive from sources that are both ancient and divine, meaning no earthly power is a match for Zarathos’ might. Wielding a chain that sears through anything and equipped with a “Penance Stare” that commits criminals to a mental prison of reliving their victims’ pain for all eternity, the Ghost Rider is an entity that serves justice while exacting merciless vengeance in the process. He has shown no signs of mortal damage, regularly coming back to life even after his skull has been smashed to bits, with no signs of discomfort. The only real way to inflict damage on the Ghost Rider would be to summon a weapon forged in either Hell or Heaven, or with magic such as that of Dr. Strange.
Seriously, does this guy need any introduction? The “Merc with a Mouth” has many abilities ranging from a regenerative healing factor to enhanced strength, making him a hilariously deadly antihero and overall force to be reckoned with. He’s also insanely annoying to be around, but very entertaining for those of us watching through the fourth wall… something Deadpool has broken on many occasions. Deadpool’s ability to regrow limbs and heal from any wound basically renders him immortal, meaning folks a thousand years from now will still have the pleasure of enduring his twisted sense of humor. Deadpool’s mind is in a constant state of flux and regeneration, which means any attempt to tap into his psyche is swiftly and automatically thwarted. This condition also makes Deadpool immune to the Ghost Rider’s “Penance Stare”. Woah.
While generally on the side of good, Wade Wilson AKA Deadpool is known to commit questionable acts in favor of a paycheck. His insatiable carnal perversions, lack of verbal boundaries, and perpetual thirst for violence makes him one of Marvel’s most prominent, and by far most deranged antiheroes.
One of the most powerful antiheroes may not be a relatively popular character, but his place on this list is well earned. The Sentry was created after a meth addict by the name of Robert Reynolds broke into the lab of Professor Cornelius and consumed a concoction that was supposedly a variation of the famed Super Soldier serum.
The result was a seemingly “omnipotent” force of nature with a serious case of “messiah complex”. His powers are described as that of a million exploding suns, and that doesn’t even include his super strength, super speed, rapid healing, psionic capabilities, and molecular manipulation. Basically, the only way to destroy the Sentry is if he allowed it, which is something he has done more than once in order to protect others. While normally on the side of the greater good, the Sentry’s actions have often been labeled as villainous; displaying frightening feats of violence, rage, and psychological meltdowns. The craziest part about the Sentry is the personification of his psychotic half called the Void, a demonic entity that he’s constantly in conflict with.
1. Scarlet Witch
I’m capping this list off with none other than the Scarlet Witch. Wanda Maximoff, the daughter of Magneto and sister to Quicksilver, has the ability to alter reality using Chaos Magic. Yes, she’s really a witch and she uses magic spells to spook her enemies. It’s one thing to be a mutant and have claws sticking out of your knuckles or wings sticking out of your back… but an actual, mind-bending, reality-warping witch? Get outta’ here!
In her early years, Wanda would cast simple spells to create an alternate reality in the eyes of her targets only. Eventually, she grew more powerful and was able to not only manipulate reality itself, but provide alternate realities for different people. Her powers transcend the bounds of this dimension and don’t abide by the laws of reality itself. And if that’s not enough, her mental stability is questionable, so good luck to any superhero talking her down once she’s in full-blown Gandalf mode. Her powers are so pure and abundant that even the likes of Dr. Strange and the Eye of Agamotto could only weaken her for an extremely brief period of time. Wanda started out on the side of evil but later turned her allegiance to the Avengers. Nevertheless, her powers and methods of making enemies yield are unorthodox and highly controversial, causing her opponents to suffer realities and mental torment for untold stretches of time.