"Jingle bells, Batman smells..." It's been chanted by kids at Christmastime for generations — does he, though? Any worse than his Justice League colleagues?
Comic books and movies are visual mediums, and even 4D theaters won't give you a full sensory experience; Hollywood executives may not know much, but they know that a nostril-full of mutant stank won't sell many tickets. But we're here to break it down and give your favorite heroes the sniff test.
Yeah, yeah, Marvel licensed some official Avengers colognes awhile back, but do you really trust a massive corporation to admit the truth about its fetid mascots? Take a deep breath of fresh air, because not all of the Super Friends have super fragrances.
Let's rank them, starting with the rankest:
28. Swamp Thing
His goddamn name is "Swamp Thing," which connotes toxic algae, duck poop and whatever else festers in extreme humidity. We applaud his environmental crusade — from a distance, like we do with our college student cousin who believes that showers are wastefully problematic.
As Daredevil explains above, the Merc with a Mouth has "at least a dozen noxious odors flowing off his corpse-like body." Wake up and smell the chimichangas.
Kurt Wagner is a heroic member of the X-Men, but whenever he uses his teleporting "BAMF!" ability, he leaves a sulfuric cloud in his wake like a refrigerator full of rotten eggs. We hate to see you leave, and we also hate to smell you go.
25. Aquaman & Namor The Sub-Mariner
To quote the wise crustacean Sebastian the Crab, "Darling, it's better down where it's wetter, take it from me."
24. The Hulk
C'mon, you know he smells like an elephant's ballsack. Have you ever seen Dr. Bruce Banner's alter-ego take a bath? His catchphrase is "Hulk smash," not "Hulk splash!"
23. The Flash
When you go running at the gym, do you smell like a dozen roses afterward? Now imagine that you could run faster than light. Damnit, Barry, you don't need to use the Speed Force — you need to use Speed Stick.
22. Harley Quinn
The above scene from the animated movie Batman and Harley Quinn proves that you wouldn't want to be stuck in a Batmobile with her ... and gives a whole new meaning to her favorite pet name, "Puddin'."
Thor may have the powers of a Norse god, but — with all of that meat and ale — he smells more like a frat boy. A little less Asgard, a little more Right Guard.
20. Jessica Jones
Speaking of ale, Jessica Jones is a badass hero and a key member of the Defenders, but she's gotta smell like the worst dive bar ever.
Logan has a well-honed sense of smell, which should alert him to any personal hygiene issues — but his healing factor is like instant chemotherapy, so he's a proud cigar chainsmoker. And besides, he's not too worried about how other people feel about him.
18. Cyborg, The Winter Soldier & Cable
"Grease" is the word.
17. The Punisher
Frank Castle smells just as metallic as Cyborg, the Winter Soldier and Cable, but it's from the A) guns and B) iron content of human blood.
Peter Parker is a teenage boy. He smells like Axe Body Spray, acne spot medication and self-discovery. Ew.
15. The Human Torch
Is that the delicious wafting of barbecue? Mmmm, you think, beginning to drool. Unfortunately, your mouth is watering for the taste of human flesh. Flame off, Johnny, please.
14. Scarlet Witch & Doctor Strange
These masters of the mystic arts don't smell bad, per se, just a little bit much — like the candle shop at your local mall. Is there a spell for neutralizing patchouli oil?
13. Wonder Woman
Wonder Woman may be stronger than any man, but does she smell stronger too? Is it antifeminist to even ask that question? After all, a Twitter outrage erupted when Warner Bros. shaved Diana's armpits via CGI — but shaved pits do tend to collect less sweat.
We're not getting in the middle of this. Let's just say Wonder Woman's invisible jet is undetectable and so is her aroma.
12. Luke Cage
Mike Colter plays the Hero for Hire in Netflix's series Luke Cage, but Old Spice spokesman Isaiah Mustafa played him in Marvel's above 2010 video short, and that endorsement is good enough for us.
Clint Barton would have coffee breath for sure, but who doesn't? He smells like any dorky suburban dad.
10. Ant-Man & The Wasp
Scott Lang and Hope van Dyne are too tiny to smell — in other words, they're not stinkbugs.
Cats may not always show affection, but they keep themselves groomed. As long as Selina Kyle remembers to scoop her litter box every day, she's golden.
Superman has always posed a challenge for comic book writers: he is so overpowered that he's almost not interesting. His Kryptonian musk is likely just as bland. At least, Lois Lane never seemed grossed out in Superman's embrace, and she has quite a nose (for news).
7. Black Widow
We're not talking about Scarlett Johansson, because ScarJo probably smells like marshmallows and lilacs. We're talking about her MCU character, Black Widow, a master spy who can sneak up on (and kill) anyone. You'll never see — or smell — her coming until it's too late.
6. Captain America
Captain America smells like your grandfather's aftershave. He smells like Old Spice back when it was artisanal and small-batch. He smells like freedom and goodness and a lost, gentlemanly age when Americans didn't hesitate to punch a Nazi in the face.
As Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) says in the trailer for Justice League, he has the greatest superpower of all: "I'm rich." And when you're rich, you can afford the most exquisite colognes. Yeah, he must sweat a lot underneath that cowl of his, but Alfred knows to have the Bat Bath drawn when Master Wayne returns.
4. Black Panther
You know the king of Wakanda smells as regal as he looks sitting on his throne. To quote Paul Rudd in Anchorman, "It's called Sex Panther by Odeon. It's illegal in nine countries... Yep, it's made with bits of real panther, so you know it's good." And T'Challa is the realest panther around.
Like Wolverine, Matt Murdock has a superhuman sense of smell. Unlike Wolverine, he's a clean-cut professional. Whether it's fighting crime in the streets or fighting for justice in the courtroom, Daredevil knows the millisecond that it's time to hit the shower.
Speaking of showers, Ororo Munroe's mutant power is to pour water on herself wherever she desires. And whenever her lunch contains garlic and raw onions, she can make damn sure that nobody is standing downwind.
1. Iron Man
Iron Man has the same power as Batman — specifically, billions and billions of dollars — but he's also way more vain. If Bruce's vibe is Ralph Lauren, then Tony's is Giorgio Armani. His armor probably has some kind of essential oil dispersal system to soak into his pores.
Tony Stark is the greatest-smelling superhero (and probably the greatest-smelling man) on the face of the Earth. He may or may not live past 2018's Avengers: Infinity War, but he definitely wins the Avengers Olfactory War.
Who do you think would be the best-smelling superhero? Share your thoughts (and your scents) in the comments below!