The term “superhero” is almost exclusively associated with costumed, superpowered fictional characters, often adapted from comic book publications. But after a quick Google search, one can see that the definition of superhero is more vague. The most agreed upon definition I could find marked a superhero as, “a benevolent figure possessing extraordinary powers or skill.”
By that definition, there are many (and I mean MANY) fictional characters we can call superheroes. And that’s just what we’re going to do.
A quick note: this list does not include proto-superheroic characters like the early pulp figures or fictional characters known to inspire the creation of superheroes such as Robin Hood or Sherlock Holmes (a top ten list of these characters is forthcoming). A big thanks to the entire Gotham City Memes team for helping me with the list!
Neo’s story of mild-mannered geek turned supercool, super-powered badass who saves humanity from an apocalyptic, AI-controlled future is equal parts Spiderman, Superman, and X-Men. This film is often noted as Avengers director and superhero aficionado Joss Whedon’s favorite movie.
9. THE TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES
Due to their comic book origins, the Turtles were almost excluded from this list. However, nearly three decades of Turtle media have moved their place in the zeitgeist so far from that source material that they are rarely, if ever, counted in with the cape and cowl crowd. But their bright masks, cool gadgets, underground lair, hidden identities, and nightly war sprung on the criminals of New York make them much more "superhero" than some actual superheroes.
8. SOLID SNAKE
A genetically engineered super-soldier who rebels against corrupt government institutions and fights as a soldier for good all around the world. Solid Snake is basically Captain America with a headband, a cigarette, and a whole lot more killing.
7. THE GHOSTBUSTERS
Take the Fantastic Four. Strip them of their money, good name, and competency. Have them fight ghosts. ‘Nuff said.
On any given day, Mario must save a kidnapped princess from an evil dragon for little reward (save the occasional cake) utilizing a variety of superpowers via super mushrooms, fire flowers, super leafs, frog suits, tanooki suits, bee mushrooms, rainbow stars, propeller mushrooms, p-wings, cape feathers...well, you get the point. The dude has superhero tools and gadgets that help him conquer a big baddie. He's a superhero.
5. HARRY POTTER
Parents murdered in front of him, gaining mysterious powers at a young age, traveling to mystical lands to learn ancient arts from wise masters, becoming the savior of the world... yeah, the story of Harry Potter at times sounds more suited to the comic book store than the children’s section of Barnes and Noble.
4. THE JEDI
Replace the brown robes and lightsabers with green unitards and power rings and “The Guardians of Peace and Justice in the Old Republic” suddenly become The Green Lantern Corps.
The tale of Detective Alex Murphy, murdered on the job only to be resurrected as an armor-clad crime fighter who wields cutting-edge technology is all the best parts of Spawn, Ghost Rider, and Iron Man rolled into one awesome film.
2. BUFFY SUMMERS
Into one generation there was a chosen one born. She alone fought supervillains, slayed demons external and internal, died and came back to life (twice), and beat back at least six apocalypses. She was The Buffy. Give her a cape.
1. THE DOCTOR
An anonymous, altruistic figure, operating under a theatric alias, adventures his way through time and space, helping and saving trillions of souls in the name of peace, reason, and open-mindedness. All while doing so without violence. The Doctor is the ultimate superhero, arguably living up to the title more than any Marvel or DC character.
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