(Warning - MAJOR SPOILERS to be found below for Avengers: Age of Ultron and the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe thus far - proceed with Black Widow-level caution if you're not all caught up...)
With the recent release of Avengers: Age of Ultron, the Marvel Cinematic Universe was shaken by the arrival of not only the villainous Ultron, but by a whole bunch of new heroes. What wasn't really addressed, however, was just how those new arrivals will fit in - and match up - alongside the already-established superheroes they've now joined.
Which, it just so happens, got me thinking. Y'see, a few weeks back, MP-er Derder Sammy wrote a great piece about which Marvel villains are the most powerful - one which reached some intriguing (and unexpected) conclusions about the respective strength of Marvel's comic-book villains.
What, though, if we were to take a look at only the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and at its heroes? Could we finally answer the question of:
Which Marvel Movie Hero Is the Most Powerful?
Now, there are obviously a few limitations that come with that, of course. The heroes need to have appeared in a Marvel Cinematic Universe movie (meaning Iron Man on), that has already appeared in theaters (so no Ant-Man, Black Panther, or Spidey). Similarly, supporting characters, who arguably aren't superheroes, don't count - so Thor's pals over in Asgard are excluded.
Moreover, we're not talking simply about physical strength here - but rather about the slightly more subjective idea of 'powerfulness,' meaning there's more at stake here than simple brute force. Which, sadly, still wasn't enough to earn most of the MCU's human heroes a spot in the line-up...
In at number 10, though, is:
Sneaking into the top 10 by virtue of his surprise non-human ancestry (Quill is, as it turns out, half...something), which allowed him to survive a barrage of cosmic energy that should have killed him, as well as more time in outer space than would be viable for a regular human, Star-Lord wins a spot at number 10.
Were this a list of glorious snarkiness, though, he'd be a shoe-in for the top 3...
9. Captain America
Finishing lower down the list than I originally expected to have him end up, Cap found himself being gradually forced lower by the introduction of newer MCU characters to the equation. Being at the pinnacle of physical human ability (and surviving 70-odd years frozen in ice) gets him in at number 9, though.
Just don't tell Peggy he didn't make the top 5...
The next of our Guardians contingent to make the top ten, Drax makes it in my sheer force of will (and what seems to be a ridiculous level of strength). His inability to take down Ronan single-handedly, though, keeps him well out of the top 5.
Though, as Drax would surely argue, that may not really be fair, since he did actually use both hands...
He Is Number 7, partly because of his imposing physical strength and fighting ability, but in larger part due to his ability to survive being completely blown to pieces. It's not the most obvious form of power, but 'not really ever dying' is a pretty solid indicator of outstanding ability in my book.
It's probably best no-one tells Rocket he didn't make the list, though...
6. War Machine
A surprise inclusion in some ways, Rhodey almost cracks the top 5 with his War Machine armor not because of any particular feats of daring (though there's always that too), but due to the sheer adaptability of his suit. Sure, it might not match up to a certain someone's, but there's enough raw power and exotic weaponry in that thing to make him a match for almost anyone.
Except, perhaps, his new Avengers team-mate...
5. Scarlet Witch
Yup, that's right - Wanda makes it into the top five, despite likely being unable to bench-press those boxes she's holding up with her mind there. Which, in fact, is precisely the point - she can lift things with her freakin' mind. Even without the ability to completely mess with people's heads, there's something inherently awesome (and powerful) about telekinesis...
Don't expect to see her brother in the next four spots, though - speed's great and all, but to make the top 10 you've got to be a little more bullet-proof.
4. Iron Man
A respectable placing for Tony and his ever-shiny Iron Man armor - though one that relies on his ability to call in the Hulkbuster armor for any particularly tough scrapes. After all, the versatility (and range of weaponry) that the standard armor offers is great and all, but it can't do this:
That being said, there's also something to be said for endless ingenuity playing a part in power, and Tony's got that by the helmet-load...
3. The Vision
Another new arrival to the team, Vision has already proven himself a hero of possibly limitless possibility. Between his control of his own density, ability to fly, and the distinct possibility of laser-ing opponents to death, Vision may well have no equal (which is kind of what you get for having an Infinity Stone in your forehead).
The emphasis there, however, is on the "may" - until we get a better chance to see him let loose, he's not getting any higher than number 3.
2. The Hulk
Possibly the biggest shock of the list (even to me, and I wrote it), the ever-incredible Hulk doesn't actually make it to number 1. The reasoning? Sure, he's the strongest one there is, and capable of throwing a Norse God around like a ragdoll - but that's about the limit of his abilities.
Strength, y'see, isn't the only measure of how powerful a hero is, as our winner has proven time and time again...
Yup, that's right - Thor. The long-haired, love-struck Thunder God makes it all the way to number 1, for one crucial reason: He's ridiculously powerful.
Not only is Thor incredibly strong and fast, and possessed with lightning quick-reaction times - but he also has use of actual lightning...and a magical hammer...which lets him fly.
Now, that doesn't mean he's a match for Hulk in a straight punching contest, but in any kind of un-fair fight? The bet's going back to Asgard.