Over the last six years, the CW and Warner Brothers have done something that seemed impossible when it started; they have created an interconnected superhero universe on TV.
Sure, Marvel started the whole shared universe craze with Iron Man way back in 2008, and since then they have created roughly 40 hours of entertainment, but the DC TV universe, consisting of Arrow, Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, and Supergirl (with a fifth show, Black Lightning, coming this fall) has created – so far – just under two hundred hours of superhero TV excitement. That is no small feat.
The rise of superheroes on movie and TV screens has taken the “who is stronger?” argument that happens in comic book shops every day and brought it into the light of the regular world. Everyone, from forty-year-old men to seven-year-old girls, has a different opinion on these matters. Some people look at the surface – Superman can move the moon without breaking a sweat – while others go deeper – Flash can run back in time and stop someone from being born. The truth is, there is no right answer to that ultimate question. Much like arguing over the merits of Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair, no one will ever get a fan to change their mind when it comes to their favorite hero.
That doesn’t mean we’re going to stop talking about it though, does it? Heck no! We’re superhero nerds! This is what we do! So sit back and get ready to scoff as we leave your favorite character off this list of the fifteen toughest heroes in the CW superhero universe.
15. Speedy/Thea Queen
Thea Queen (Willa Holland) has not had the easiest of lives. Sure, she grew up richer than the Trump kids, but unlike Donald, Thea’s parents didn’t see the need in paying nannies or whatever to make sure their kid didn’t get into drugs.
After the apparent death of her father and brother, young Thea went down a bad path of partying. It took a lot of work, but Thea was able to overcome her addiction, and just in time too! After the death of her mother, Thea went off with her real pops, Malcolm Merlyn, to learn how to be a cool as hell ninja. Sadly, papa Malcolm was really just teaching Thea how to kill so he could drug her and turn her into an unwitting assassin.
To make up for her assassin days, Thea took on the costume of her former lover and became Speedy. She kicked lots of butts and even died once, but chose to give it up to help her brother (who is both Green Arrow and the mayor) run Star City as his Chief of Staff.
Mick Rory (Dominic Purcell) wasn’t always a hero, and he doesn’t seem to really like being one now, but as long as there is beer and chances to beat people up, the guy is likely going to keep hanging out with the Legends of Tomorrow.
A pyromaniac and thief, Mick isn’t a planning kind of guy – he chooses to leave the thinking to other people. Before he joined the Legends, he followed Leonard Snart’s lead. When Snart gave his life to save his teammates, Rory found himself in a rough spot – he didn’t have a partner anymore. Knowing that he would be lost without a group, Rory decided to stay with the Legends and his fighting and robbing skills have come in handy more than once. Heck, he single-handedly saved all of reality (after he kind of helped mess it up, but still) and showed his teammates that he wasn’t the same Mick Rory they first met when he stood up against a still evil past version of his closest friend.
13. Black Canary/Laurel Lance
Laurel Lance (Katie Cassidy) found out that her boyfriend was sleeping with her sister at the same time that she found out they were both dead.
Turns out they weren’t dead – both of them went through a few years of craziness to become super awesome fighters. When her sister returned as the Black Canary, Laurel was real happy. When her sister died for real (though she did come back – this is a comic book show after all) Laurel trained to take her place as Black Canary. That decision would cost Laurel her own life, but not before she made her mark as a hero both in and out of uniform.
12. Captain Cold
Leonard Snart (Wentworth Miller) was a brilliant thief, and when he got his hands on a gun that could freeze things to absolute zero, he became a serious problem for Flash. Lucky for the Scarlet Speedster, Snart went off and joined the Legends of Tomorrow, at first seeing it as an opportunity to steal priceless gems and artifacts from the past, but coming to find his inner hero.
Snart, with his dry wit and always cool attitude, instantly became an important part of the team. His past as the leader of a group of thieves gave him the tactical skills to plan out heists as well as breakouts when needed. In the end, Snart chose to give his life in order to save his teammates and free all of reality from the control of the Time Masters.
Amaya Jiwe (Maisie Richardson-Sellers) is arguably the most experienced member of the Legends of Tomorrow. A member of the Justice Society of America, Amaya joined the Legends after her JSA teammate and lover Rex Tyler – aka Hourman – was killed. With the Tantu Totem that she wears around her neck, Amaya is able to channel the strength of any creature in the animal kingdom, making her a formidable fighter.
Joining the Legends wasn’t easy for Amaya. The team had been working together for a while, and she blamed them for the death of Hourman. In time, she came to see that while the Legends sure do mess up a whole bunch, their hearts are in the right place.
Amaya is also the only member of the Legends who has a definite future that must happen – her granddaughter, Mari McCabe, will take on the mantle of Vixen in the future, battling alongside Flash and Green Arrow.
Ray Palmer (Brandon Routh) started off hanging around with Felicity Smoak and the Arrow team when he moved to Star City – then Starling City – to open a new branch of Palmer Technologies. Ray, whose fiance was murdered by Deathstroke’s henchmen, built his Atom suit to make sure no one would face the pain of having a loved one violently taken from them again. He was kinda like half Iron Man and half Batman.
Messing with his tech, Ray was able to shrink himself and his dwarf star powered suit, making him not just super strong and able to fly, but also able to become the literal size of an atom.
Looking to be a hero in his own right, Ray joined the Legends of Tomorrow. While the team is mostly made up of reformed thieves and assassins, Ray has acted as the steadfast heart of the team, his moral compass always pointing towards the right thing to do, even in times when it put his own life in grave danger.
Forever cursed to die and be reborn, Kendra Saunders (Ciara Renée) joined the Legends of Tomorrow to help them take out Vandal Savage, the man who had made her life… or lives… an endless and deadly game of hide and seek. With her generations of training and some very cool wings that let her fly, Kendra quickly became one of the best fighters on the team.
Kendra’s battle wasn’t just a physical one either. During her time with the Legends, Kendra fell in love with Ray Palmer, going against over two thousand years of her life cycles – in each life she is destined to fall in love with Carter Hall aka Hawkman. After the Legends defeated Vandal Savage, Kendra chose to leave the team, and Ray, in order to, for the first time ever, live a full, happy life with Carter.
8. Green Arrow
The man who started it all, Green Arrow has spent a whole lot of time getting stabbed, shot, kicked, punched, and tortured just to keep his city safe. His hero career started off as a crusade against those his father marked as evil but turned into something bigger as the lone vigilante slowly gained a team.
Through it all, Green Arrow, played by Stephen Amell, has lost family members, friends, and more than a little bit of blood. Still, he rises to every occasion, protecting his city, and the world, from madmen with drug-induced super strength, evil magicians, and a crazy as hell District Attorney with a serious hate for all things Oliver Queen.
Through it all, Green Arrow has also served as an adviser to the heroes who have come after him. Flash, Black Canary, Wild Dog, Mister Terrific… they all look to him for guidance when things get hard.
7. White Canary
Sara Lance (Caity Lotz) has gone from party girl who is sleeping with her sister’s fiance to deadly assassin, to dead, to back to life by way of a Lazarus Pit, to leading a team of time traveling heroes in just under a decade of her life. That is a hell of a resume.
As leader of the Legends of Tomorrow, Sara constantly has to fight her own instincts in order to keep all of time and space safe. Her time traveling adventures have cost her dearly – she wasn’t there to save her sister Laurel when Damien Darhk took her life, nor was she there to help her father grieve the loss of his oldest child.
The hardest moment in Sara’s life came when she was face to face with Darhk in the 1980s, some 30 years before the evil jerk would kill Sara’s sister. In that moment, Sara could kill Darhk and save Laurel, but the damage to the timeline would have been massive. It took every ounce of strength she had, but Sara let Darhk live.
6. Kid Flash
Wally West (Keiynan Lonsdale) grew up without his father and sister. Heck, they didn’t even know he existed! When they finally met, Wally was understandably cautious, but once he learned that his adopted brother Barry was actually the superhero Flash, Wally became a lot more interested in hanging with the fam.
When he gained super speed powers himself, Wally quickly went to work helping others despite the protests of papa Joe West. Unlike most of the heroes in the DC/CW shows, Wally doesn’t fight evil because of a dark past – he fights evil because he wants to be a shining light in an ever darkening world. While he’s still new to the whole speedster thing, Wally has shown signs of being faster than even Barry. Who knows, in a few years, he may be the fastest man alive.
Cisco Ramon (Carlos Valdes) was a smart as hell pop culture geek who found himself helping Flash save Central City on a regular basis. Along with Flash’s uniform, Cisco made uniforms and gadgets for other heroes, including Green Arrow’s lightweight armor, Black Canary’s canary cry device, and Captain Cold’s freeze gun.
When Cisco gained his powers and learned that he could open portals to other Earths, it didn’t stop him from being the fun loving, joke making nerd we all know and love. When he learned that the evil Reverse Flash had killed him before Barry changed a bit of the past, Cisco found it hard to trust the next Harrison Wells who showed up, but he moved on. When he found out that Barry’s decision to try and save his own mother’s life lead to the death of his brother, it took a while, but he finally forgave his best friend.
4. Martian Manhunter
The last Green Martian alive, J’onn J’onzz (David Harewood) spent years hiding his true self from humans, fearing that his alien features would freak us out. Lucky for the world, J’onn finally revealed himself when the world needed saving, joining Supergirl in her never ending battle for truth, justice, and the betterment of mankind.
As the head of the DEO, J’onn, disguised as Hank Henshaw, helps Supergirl keep tabs on evil aliens who are planning mean things for humanity. He also serves as a mentor not just to Supergirl, but to her adoptive sister Alex as well. Having seen his wife and children, as well as his whole race, be slaughtered by White Martians, J’onn has come to see the Danvers sisters, along with geek genius Winn, as his new family.
With his shape shifting abilities, super strength, telepathy, and flight, J’onn is nearly unbeatable. There’s just that pesky weakness to fire that gets in the way of J’onn being as powerful as Supergirl.
Martin Stein (Victor Garber) and Jefferson Jackson (Franz Drameh) make for a real odd couple. Stein is a genius nuclear physicist who prides himself on being a stodgy old white guy (even though we know that in the past he was a bit of a hound dog) while Jefferson saw his dreams of football stardom collapse after a career ending injury in high school. The two men have nothing in common, other than wanting to be the best heroes they can be.
When they come together through the Firestorm Matrix, Stein and Jackson form into a single being of immense power. With the ability to transmute molecules, Firestorm can pretty much do anything, and while the duo tend to use their amazing power for little more than flying and shooting fire from their hands, they did use their abilities to turn a world destroying bomb into water once, so they’re learning.
He hasn’t gotten there yet, but Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) is destined to become the fastest man alive. With his connection to the Speed Force and his endless belief in doing good, Barry has both saved the world and brought it to near destruction multiple times. Hopefully, he’ll learn to better hone his skills and stop mucking with time sooner rather than later.
When he pushes himself, Barry can move faster than the speed of light, but doing so comes at a great cost – trapping him within the Speed Force, the very thing that gives him his power. Luckily, Barry has Iris West, the woman he loves and who loves him, to act as an anchor to the real world. Whenever he gets lost, she’s there to pull him back home.
Sometimes, super speed won’t solve a problem, and Barry knows that – his compassion for all people has helped save lives on multiple occasions. Barry has, on occasion, used words instead of fists to save the day, and that makes him a true hero.
Cousin to the Man of Steel, Supergirl (Melissa Benoist) was sent off to protect the baby Kal-El, but ended up coming to Earth well after him. For years, Kara kept her powers a secret, but the inherent good within her finally forced its way to the front and National City – and the world – is better for it.
She can run faster than a speeding bullet. She can fly through space. She can shoot heat from her eyes. She can lift pretty much anything you ask her to. But beyond all of that, beyond her amazing powers, what makes Supergirl the strongest hero of them all is her belief in a better tomorrow. No matter what horrible things she has faced, from seeing the planet she grew up on explode, to the angry screams of Cat Grant, Kara has come away from every tragedy with an unending hopefulness that infects those around her.
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