Superheroes are cool, and while it took nearly a hundred years since Superman first showed up in the pages of Action Comics and introduced the concept to the world, humanity as a whole finally figured this out.
These days superheroes have jumped off the four color page and entered the multiplex where audiences dish out billions each year to see the latest live action adventures of their favorite Marvel and DC characters, from Iron Man, the Guardians of the Galaxy, and Captain America to Superman, the Suicide Squad, and Wonder Woman. And in the days between movies, we watch TV shows about the heroes, be it on CW where we can see the many adventures of Flash and Supergirl in their DCTV universe or on Netflix where Luke Cage and Punisher beat up the baddies with the Marvel shows.
With all this live-action fun filling our eyes with feats of superheroism, it is certain that every one of us now has a superhero crush – a character who makes us perk up when they show up on screen, a character who maybe we Google during the less exciting moments of life, a character that, if we were going to be saved from fictional aliens by a fictional being, this is the one we would want to show up above all others.
Here, to help you pass some time and maybe find a new crush, are fifteen of the coolest, cutest and sexiest live-action superheroes around.
15. Black Widow
Chances are, you had a thing for Scarlett Johansson before she showed up in 2010’s Iron Man 2, but if you somehow had missed out on her beauty and acting skills before then, her role as Black Widow must have blown your mind.
The actress, who was once married to the bad boy of comic book movies Ryan Reynolds, wasn’t Marvel’s first choice for the role of Natasha Romanoff – they offered the part to Emily Blunt who was forced to turn the role down due to prior commitments.
It seems weird to think of anyone but Johansson in the role – the character, who has now shown up in five movies, has become a fan favorite with people crying out for a Black Widow solo movie. Despite the audience love for Johansson and Black Widow, Marvel has yet to greenlight that solo film, choosing to keep Natasha as a secondary character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
14. Wonder Woman
This summer, Wonder Woman broke box office records left and right. With a box office take of over eight hundred million, the movie has made director Patty Jenkins and star Gal Gadot into two of the biggest names in Hollywood, and with good reason – Jenkins directed the rare summer blockbuster that connects with both critics and audiences (something Warner Brothers really wanted after the dismal reviews for Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad) and Gadot, who was best known for her minor role in the Fast and Furious films, showed everyone that she has the acting chops of a serious pro.
But Gadot wasn’t the first woman to successfully play the Princess of Themyscira, that honor went to Lynda Carter, who played Wonder Woman on TV for four years. Sadly, Carter didn’t get a cameo in the Wonder Woman movie, but we can all hope she’ll show up in the sequel.
The last of the Zen-Whoberis, Gamora was found by Thanos the Mad Titan and raised as his adopted daughter. Instead of milk and cookies, Thanos gave Gamora pain and suffering, looking to turn her into a weapon of destruction, one that he could aim at his enemies whenever the mood struck. In time, Gamora came to see her adopted father for just how evil he was and turned against him.
In the Guardians of the Galaxy films, Gamora is played by the fantastic Zoe Saldana. In the role, Saldana not only has to be an awesome fighter but also a major part of the drama that drives the movies – Gamora’s relationship with her sister (who is also on this list!) is touched on in the first Guardians film and better examined in the second. Meanwhile, Gamora’s growing love for Peter Quill, played by Chris Pratt, is the heart of both movies.
12. White Canary
For a character who was supposed to just show up for a few episodes before dying, White Canary has had quite the impact on the DCTV Universe.
Sister to Laurel Lance, Sara Lance was with Oliver Queen when his yacht sank, sending them both on some crazy adventures that turned them into assassins and heroes. When Sara returned to Star City, the Lance family reunion didn’t last long – she went and got killed by an unknown assailant. Lucky for us all, Sara was brought back from the dead with the help of a Lazarus Pit. Since then, she’s been traveling through time as the leader of the Legends of Tomorrow.
The role of Sara Lance is played by Caity Lotz, who along with some serious acting skills is a trained dancer who has toured with Avril Lavigne and Lady Gaga, and a martial artist who can kick your butt using Taekwondo, Wushu, Krav Maga, and Muay Thai. In her free time, Lotz practices parkour.
While in the movies Nebula is another of Thanos’ adopted and tortured kids, in the comics she has a much different story. Nebula, a nasty as nails space pirate, used to go around claiming that Thanos was her grandpappy, and when the Mad Titan heard about her boasts, he was not happy.
Thanos found Nebula and, using the Infinity Gauntlet, turned her into a living corpse – unable to die, but not truly alive. It was Nebula, in her zombie like state, that was able to get the Infinity Gauntlet from Thanos, taking away his power and fixing all the death and destruction he had caused.
The movie version of Nebula, played by everyone’s favorite redheaded Doctor Who companion Karen Gillan, is mostly robotics and circuitry, and while she sneers and growls with every sentence, it’s hard not to have a bit of a thing for her.
The troubled sister of Oliver Queen, Thea Queen spent a whole lot of time addicted to drugs before she cleaned up and took on the role of Speedy, sidekick to Green Arrow. After dying and being brought back to life by way of a Lazarus Pit, Thea found that she was being overcome by a blood rage. She studied with her true father, Malcolm Merlyn, to learn to control her urges, but found that putting on the red suit and fighting bad guys made it hard to control her rage, so Thea quit the vigilante life and settled into the role of chief of staff to the mayor of Star City, who happens to be her brother.
Considering Marvel’s newest show, The Inhumans, hasn’t aired yet, this one is kind of cheating, but one look at Serinda Swan in the role, and it is obvious that she’s going to be a fan favorite.
Queen of the Inhumans – a race of superpowered beings who live on the dark side of the moon – Medusa, whose full name is Medusalith Amaquelin Boltagon, has full control of her red hair, allowing her to make it change length at will, as well as move around as she pleases. Adding to the power is that Medusa’s hair is stronger than steel, so it really can be a bother for any evil jerks who mess with the queen.
Joining the Legends of Tomorrow in the second season, Vixen is a hero of World War Two who now travels through time to battle more evil than she could have ever imagined. Lucky for her, and for her teammates who really needed someone with superhero experience to help them out, Vixen has the Tantu Totem which lets her connect to the “Red” and take on the traits of any animal. Need some help lifting a truck? Vixen can call on the strength of a silver back gorilla. Need to get somewhere fast? Check out Vixen as she uses the speed of a cheetah.
Played by Maisie Richardson-Sellers, Vixen quickly became a favorite of viewers of Legends of Tomorrow when she joined the series in the second season, and with good reason – Richardson-Sellers mixed in with the rest of the cast with ease! It almost feels like her character was always meant to be on the team.
7. Jessica Jones
Pretty much every hero on this list wears a bright costume and runs around being heroic all the time. That just isn’t the way Jessica does her thing. Empowered with super strength, invulnerability, and flight – or as Jessica calls it, “controlled falling” – Marvel’s street tough detective spends her days nursing hangovers, drinking enough to create new hangovers, cursing, and wearing as much black as possible.
While we would love to be saved by Jessica Jones, we can’t help but think about how annoyed she would be by us. Sure, Jessica will always do the right thing, but unlike your usual goody-goodies, she won’t enjoy it.
Played by Krysten Ritter, Jessica Jones has gone from a fairly new comic book character known only to die hard fans to a TV sensation almost overnight, and with good reason – Ritter’s take on the character, along with showrunner Melissa Rosenberg’s handling of the material, has made Jessica Jones stand out as something very different and very exciting.
While there have been a few women who called themselves Batgirl in the comics, the best known is the daughter of Gotham City’s police commissioner James Gordon, Barbara.
Barbara Gordon took on the role of Batgirl when she was just a teenager when she got her start in the crime fighting business after she beat up c-level Batman baddie Killer Moth while on the way to a costume party. In reality, Barabara Gordon was created when the Adam West starring Batman TV series wanted to introduce a female hero to try and boost ratings. Because of that decision, comics gained a new iconic character and many a kid got their first crush.
Yvonne Craig, who played Batgirl in the third season of Batman, wasn’t able to save the show – it was canceled at the end of the season – but the image of her in her Batgirl costume riding a motorcycle became ingrained in the minds of many a kid. When the Batman TV show resurfaced in the 1980s, Craig once again became the object of affection to many of us.
First introduced in Action Comics 252 way back in 1959, Supergirl was an instant hit with readers. Still, it wasn’t until 1984 that the older cousin of Superman would make her live action debut in Supergirl, the critically panned box office bomb that starred Helen Slater.
After that debacle, it would be 23 years before Kara Zor-El would return to the live action scene, this time on the hit series Smallville and played by Laura Vandervoort. This version of Supergirl was less into the “superhero costume” look and more into the “wearing as little as possible” look.
Today, Supergirl has her own hit series starring Melissa Benoist. The character, clad in her classic costume, is quickly becoming an idol to kids around the world, showing them the strengths that come not just from super powers, but from family and friends.
4. Agent Carter
As the woman who stole Captain America’s heart, you know that Peggy Carter isn’t your normal British spy in World War Two. Carter would go on to be a founding member of S.H.I.E.L.D., but not before saving Howard Stark, and the world, many times over.
While Agent Carter failed to make it as a TV series, lasting just 18 episodes across two seasons, fans of the show, and of Captain America: The First Avenger, quickly fell for Hayley Atwell who brought the character to life in a way no one else could have.
There is a sadness to the character of Peggy Carter that doesn’t show up in superhero stuff all that often – believing that Steve Rogers died saving America from the Red Skull’s attack, Peggy will forever have space in her heart for the super soldier. While she was still alive when Captain America was found and revived, her mental capacity had deteriorated a great deal, making her forget much of her life.
3. Scarlett Witch
In the comics, Scarlet Witch is the daughter of Magneto. Well, she was the daughter of Magneto – it was revealed in 2014 that she and her brother Quicksilver were actually not mutants but regular kids who were experimented on by the High Evolutionary who then made everyone think Magneto was their pops for some reason (that reason being that in 2015, Avengers: Age of Ultron would have Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver in it and they couldn’t be Magneto’s kids).
In Avengers: Age of Ultron, Wanda Maximoff, played by the wonderful Elizabeth Olsen and her brother Pietro gained their amazing powers when the evil Baron Strucker used one of the Infinity Stones to experiment on them, creating two amped up siblings who really didn’t like the Avengers.
Sadly, Pietro died, but Wanda turned good and joined the Avengers so it wasn’t all bad. Now, as one of the most powerful members of the team, Wanda will surely be one to watch out for when Thanos comes around.
Before she was an orphan and skilled thief in Cairo, Ororo Munroe was the daughter of a tribal princess from Kenya. When she headed to the Serengeti to get away from some trouble in Egypt, Ororo discovered her mutant ability to control the weather and used it to help those in need. In turn, the people she helped saw Ororo, with her white hair and blue eyes, as a goddess. Ororo left the life of goddess to join the X-Men and help other mutants.
None of that is covered in the six X-Men movies that Storm has been in, but it really is her background. That whole story is why Halle Berry has that terrible accent in the first movie.
1. Jean Grey
Best known for her red hair and destroying of planets, Jean Grey is a whole lot more than just a vessel for the Phoenix Force. A founding member of the X-Men, Jean Grey is an Omega-level mutant (that is as high up as they get) with telepathic and telekinetic powers. When she is combined with the Phoenix Force, Jean can create “cosmic fire” and has the ability to rise from the dead.
Played by Famke Janssen in the first three X-Men movies (as well as in Wolverine and a brief bit in X-Men: Days of Future Past) and Sophie Turner in X-Men: Apocalypse and the upcoming X-Men: Dark Phoenix (guess what that one will be about), Jean Grey has appeared in more superhero movies than almost any other comic book character, and she’s bound to show up in more as time goes on.
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