The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines superhero as a fictional hero having extraordinary or superhuman powers; also: an exceptionally skillful or successful person.
Not all superheroes have superhuman powers; in fact some rely on skill and intelligence. Masked vigilantes and masked crime fighters are all considered superheroes despite their lack of superpowers. Superheroes first exploded onto the scene in the 1930s. There was a massive surge in superhero popularity between the late 30s and the 1950s. It was known as the Golden Age of Comic Books and featured some of the most popular superheroes. There have been times when it seemed that superheroes would soon be extinct but they always made a comeback. Superheroes transited from comic books to television and movies. Superhero movies have become so common that several superhero movies are released each year. Superheroes continue to be a dominant force in entertainment regardless if it’s a movie, TV show or comic book.
Some superheroes are beloved and held in high regard. However, some fans feel there are a few superheroes out there that might be getting a little bit more credit than they deserve. Despite their high rankings in the comic book world some fans actually find several of the most popular superheroes to be overrated. In some cases it's because they’re one dimensional or so powerful it's hard to believe they can be defeated. Other times it’s because of overexposure. Here is a look at 15 of the most overrated superheroes.
Daredevil, Matt Murdock, is a masked crime fighter that was blinded as a child. He’s one of the most popular superheroes. He has no superpowers but is highly skilled in martial arts and is very intelligent. Due to his blindness he has learned how to rely on his other highly heightened senses. As Matt Murdock he works as a lawyer and tries to help out the less fortunate. Some fans consider the character overrated but that seems to be because of the 2003 film Daredevil, starring Ben Affleck. The film was a disappointment at the box office and was heavily criticized by fans of the comic book. However, recently the character has been featured in the Netflix series Daredevil, played by Charlie Cox. The character at one time was considered edgy and had a dark side to him. In recent years some fans point out that the character has become more of a typical hero. Regardless, Daredevil remains one of the most beloved characters.
14 Captain America
Captain America is the ultimate good guy. He participated in experiments during World War II, which have given him his powers. He has super strength and a shield. The character was introduced during World War II in 1941 and instantly connected with fans. He rivalled Superman in sales. Some fans feel that the character is overrated because of his one-dimensional super power. Captain America will always do the right thing regardless of the situation. He’s loyal and trustworthy but due to this is sometimes disliked for it. Superheroes such as Wolverine and Batman, have a dark side to them and often struggle with doing the right thing. They’ll always do the right thing but sometimes go to extreme measures to do so. Captain America will never go to those lengths and will always do it right. Some fans regard this as being boring and predictable. This causes some fans to view him as being overrated. However, Captain America remains one of the most popular and famous superheroes. Chris Evans plays the role of Captain America in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
13 The Flash
The Flash is one of the most popular superheroes in comic books. He’s known for his red costume and super speed. The Flash was first introduced in the 1940s. The character became popular amongst fans upon his debut. There have been several incarnations of the Flash, including Jay Garrick, Wally West and Bart Allen. During the Silver Age of Comic Books the most famous version of The Flash, Barry Allen, was introduced. In addition to having super speed, he also has super-speed reading and super-speed speech. Besides the super-speed abilities, he lacks super strength like his friends and many enemies. Despite his incredible speed some comic book fans find the character to be slightly overrated. The main criticism is that he’s a cool character but for the most part is one dimensional. He can run really fast but that’s about it. He rarely struggles with inner conflicts and rarely would go to extreme measures to overcome evil, which has become an appeal with anti-heroes in comic books. Regardless, The Flash is still one of the most beloved superheroes.
The character appeared in a TV series in the 90s and currently has a show on the CW, which began airing in 2014. The Flash will also star in a solo film and the Justice League film.
The Hulk is one of the most famous and popular superheroes of all time. He is known for his trademark green skin color and catchphrase, “Hulk Smash”. Hulk's alter ego is Bruce Banner, a highly intelligent scientist. Despite his popularity many fans find the character to be slightly overrated. Much of the criticism is based around the fact that he cannot control his powers. He causes much destruction and often fights his own allies and friends. He has super strength, which appears to increase the angrier he is but it’s not focused and innocent people can become his victims. Also, most storylines regarding The Hulk are similar with the same result. Regardless, he remains one of the most iconic superheroes. Hulk had his own TV series in the 70s, The Incredible Hulk, which starred Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno. He was also featured in the films Hulk and Incredible Hulk (in which Eric Bana and Edward Norton played The Hulk respectively). He also appears in The Avengers film played by Mark Ruffalo.
Elektra is a Marvel character mostly associated with Daredevil. Elektra is a highly trained assassin with a dark past. She is the love interest of Daredevil but their different opinions on crime keep them apart. The character has violent tendencies, which might be apart of her appeal. However, many comic book fans question the true nature of her popularity. Despite that the character has proved popular and has done well in the comic books. Elektra has appeared in live action on several occasions. Elektra first appeared in the 2003 film Daredevil, starring Ben Affleck. Jennifer Garner played the role of Elektra. The film was heavily criticized. Jennifer Garner also starred in a solo Electra film. Recently, the character appeared in the Netflix series Daredevil, portrayed by Elodie Young.
Batman is one of the most iconic superheroes of all time. He has no powers and relies on his incredible skill, intelligence and weaponry. His alter ego is billionaire Bruce Wayne. He witnessed his parents get murdered, which pushed him into a life as a masked vigilante. Many fans feel the character is possibly one of the most overrated. One of the main reasons for this is overexposure. Batman is featured in several comic books, including solo stories and crossovers. Additionally, Batman has appeared in several TV shows and films. His origin story is constantly retold with every introduction of the character. Another complaint fans have against the character is the perception that he could challenge Superman. Most fans point out that Batman is a regular person while Superman is an alien. Also, many fans take issue with the character going back and forth in terms of personality. At times, he’s dark, brooding and wants no allies or friends. Other times he’s hanging out with a teenager, Robin.
9 Mister Fantastic
Mister Fantastic, Reed Richards, is the leader of the Fantastic Four. He is highly intelligent and is an expert of chemistry, aerospace, mechanical and electrical engineering. He’s married to Susan Storm (Invisible Woman), his brother-in-law is Johnny Storm (Human Torch) and he is best friends with Ben Grimm (The Thing). He has the ability to stretch his body into any shape. His character often comes across as one-dimensional and some fans find him to be overrated as a superhero. Asides from his ability to stretch, he lacks any other superpower.
Recently, his character has been further developed showing him to be cold and distant towards his teammates. However, possibly because of the films that have not done well, it has caused some fans to see him in an unfavourable light. He does remain one of the most popular Marvel characters. Business Week listed him as one of the top ten 'Most Intelligent Fictional American Comic Characters'.
Batgirl was first introduced in the 1960s. She is the female counterpart to the Dark Knight, Batman. There have been several incarnations of Batgirl, including Betty Kane, Helena Bertinelli, Cassandra Cain and Stephanie Brown. However, the most famous Batgirl is Barbara Gordon. She is the daughter of Gotham City Police Commissioner, James Gordon. She is one of the most popular characters, but many comic book fans feel the character has been overrated at times. One of the appeals of Batman is his tragic backstory and dark side. He often struggles with his inner demons. However, Batgirl, for the most part, doesn’t have the darkness and anti-hero attitude that makes Batman so popular. Later, she becomes paralyzed and is known as the Oracle. DC rebooted its universe and Barbara Gordon resumed her role as Batgirl. Despite the criticism she sometimes receives, Batgirl is still one of the best known and most popular superheroes.
7 The Huntress
The Huntress is a well-known character to comic book fans but mainstream fans might not be aware of her. There have been several incarnations of The Huntress, including an early version that was a supervillain. The modern version of the character is more in line with the typical masked vigilante. Her alter ego is Helena Bertinelli, who was born into a crime family. She donned the mask in order to gain revenge against those that hurt her family. She has no superpowers and relies on her skill and intelligence. Some fans find the character to be a bit one-dimensional and at times boring. She does have a darker side to her and can be an edgier character. She is usually associated with Batman, who is one of the darkest superheroes. However, many comic book fans find it hard to believe that someone without any powers can be a challenge to some of the superhuman enemies she battles. However, she does often battle villains that lack superpowers.
Victor “Vic” Stone is the superhero known as Cyborg. After a science experiment gone horribly wrong, Vic has parts of his body replaced with metallic prosthetics. This includes his face. He is highly intelligent, has super strength, quick recovery and several weapons. Some fans feel the character has been pushed too intensely, too fast. He was originally a member of Teen Titans but fans criticized his addition to the Justice League in 2011. One of the main criticisms is that he is treated as if he was always a member of the Justice League. Many fans praised his role with Teen Titans, so there seems to be no issue with the character personally, just the way he’s pushed. Most fans feel that his character needs to be developed further and needs to have a larger and deeper roster of villains to battle. Ray Fisher will play Cyborg in the Justice League films and in a solo Cyborg film.
There are several powerful superheroes and vigilantes. However there is only one God, actually there are several gods in the Marvel Universe, but Thor is the most popular. Thor is the Asgardian God of thunder and lighting. His greatest strength is his hammer, Mjolnir, which allows him to manipulate the weather and fly. Some fans feel the character is overrated and a bit predictable. He’s a God, so it makes it difficult to weaken him. Also, his only real power is his hammer and without it he struggles. Many fans feel that it's hard to believe that anyone besides another God or Hulk can be a challenge to Thor. However, many of his storylines included other characters that are similar to him. Chris Hemsworth plays Thor in The Avengers films and in the solo Thor films. Regardless of some of the criticism, Thor is one of Marvel’s most popular characters.
Supergirl is a superhero in the DC Universe. She is the female counterpart to Superman. There have been several incarnations of Supergirl but the best known is Kara Zor El, the cousin of Superman. She is also from the planet Krypton. This version of Supergirl first appeared in 1959. She has all the same abilities as Superman, such as flight, heat vision, super strength and feels no pain. She is one of the best known and most popular heroes in comic books. However, the criticism she receives in based on the fact that she has too many powers and is simply good. Now there is nothing wrong with being good, but unlike other heroes there is no inner conflict. For the most part she has no weakness, which makes her storylines predictable. Due to the fact that she is so powerful, some fans find it hard to believe that anyone can be a challenge to her unless they are superhuman as well. Regardless, she remains one of the most popular female superheroes.
Cyclops, Scott Summers, is the leader of the X Men and one of Marvel’s best known superheroes. He can shoot heat beams from his eyes but he can’t control his powers and needs the aid of special glasses. He is one of the most popular superheroes but is presented as the ultimate good guy. This is in sharp contrast to one of the most famous anti-heroes, Wolverine. This has led some fans to find the character one-dimensional and predictable.
Some fans point out that because he’s unable to control his power, that makes him less of a superhero. However, that can be applied to many other beloved heroes. The character was introduced at a time when being the ultimate good guy in comics was held in high regard. However, fans have become more attracted to characters that are anti-authority with a darker side and edge. Although he only has one real power he does have strong leadership qualities. He remains one of the most popular superheroes.
Without doubt Superman is one of the most iconic superheroes of all time. However, many fans consider him to be one of the most overrated superheroes as well. Superman has the ability to fly, has super strength, super speed, invulnerability, super hearing, super intelligence, super breath and vision powers. Superman debuted in 1938 for DC Comics and instantly became the most popular hero. However, over time his character has been overexposed and many fans consider him to be somewhat boring. The main reason is he has too many powers and therefore cannot be defeated. He has one weakness, which is Kryptonite, but that is from a foreign planet. Most villains must go to great lengths to find Kryptonite. Despite having a weakness to Kryptonite, he still manages to overcome it.
Some fans find it hard to believe that anyone could defeat him or even be a challenge unless they too are superhuman. Additionally, he has no inner conflict and is the ultimate good guy. In comparison, Batman has a dark backstory and struggles with trying not to kill anyone. Superman will always do what’s right and rarely struggles with inner demons. Also, one of the biggest criticisms against the Man of Steel is when he’s his alter ego, Clark Kent. He simply puts on a pair of glasses and becomes unrecognizable to everyone. Regardless, he remains one of the most beloved superheroes.
Robin is the trusty teenage sidekick to Batman. There have been several incarnations of the Boy Wonder, including Jason Todd, Tim Drake, Stephanie Brown and Damian Wayne. However, the most well known Robin is Dick Grayson. The Robin character was added in 1940 in order to appeal to a younger audience. With the introduction of Robin, the Batman comic book doubled in sales. Unlike Superman, Batman has no superpowers but relies on his skills and intelligence. Robin also has no superpowers but doesn’t appear to have the skills or intelligence Batman has. Some fans find him to be overrated and feel that he ruins the character of Batman. On the other hand, he brings much needed light to an incredibly dark character. However, several of the Robins have played an important role in the series. Jason Todd’s death haunts Batman and his relationship with Dick Grayson becomes complicated as Grayson becomes an adult. Grayson later leaves to become The Nightwing.