secret wars
Image via Marvel Comics

The 15 strongest characters in the Marvel universe

You won't believe how low Captain Marvel ranks.

“Who would win in a fight between…?” Variations on this question have been asked by comic book nerds and superhero movie fans since the Marvel universe was created back in the 1960s. Hilariously, Stan Lee himself couldn’t care less about such debates. “There’s one answer to all of that; it’s so simple,” the late Lee said back in 2017. “The person who’d win in a fight is the person that the scriptwriter wants to win!” 

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Of course, that’s done nothing to quench the Marvel fandom’s hunger to determine who the strongest characters in the franchise really are. You might think that the MCU can’t possibly introduce even more powerful entities than it already has, but actually Kevin Feige and company have only scratched the surface of the strongest heroes, villains, and other beings in the pages of Marvel Comics.

So, sorry about this, Stan, but let’s attempt to uncover the 15 most powerful characters in the Marvel universe.

15. Captain Marvel

Carol Danvers as Captain Marvel
Photo via Marvel Comics

Captain Marvel may well be the strongest hero in the MCU, but in the overall power rankings of the whole wide Marvel universe, she unfortunately only just makes the top 15. Nevertheless, this isn’t to take away from Carol Danvers’ immense strength. As we know from the movies, Carol can absorb and project photon energy, but she’s even more powerful in the comics. Just look at how she used her abilities to create an energy being with its own mind called Binary.

14. Scarlet Witch

Scarlet Witch Marvel Comics
Image via Marvel

Again, it’s up for debate whether Captain Marvel or Scarlet Witch is stronger in the MCU, but in the comics we think the tiara has to go to Wanda Maximoff. But not just because that’s her signature accessory. On top of her formidable mystical abilities and occasional reality-warping, like nearly wiping out mutantkind, Wanda is classified as a Nexus Being, which basically makes her the most important individual in her universe, with a knack for altering the flow of the Universal Time Stream.

13. Legion

Legion_X-Men
Image via Marvel Comics

Is it controversial to place Legion above Scarlet Witch? Perhaps, but it’s hard not to shake the feeling that David Haller could either be the greatest hero the Marvel universe has ever seen or its greatest villain if he could get out of his own head for a minute. The son of Charles Xavier, Legion has virtually unparalleled psychic powers, making him one of the rare Omega-level mutants. In fact, David is officially classified as only having one power: power manifestation. Which means he can generate any power he wants.

12. Molecule Man

Molecule Man Marvel Comics
Image via Marvel Comics

If Avengers: Secret Wars really does adapt 2015’s comic book event of the same name, as we’re all expecting, then get ready to meet Molecule Man. After an accident at a nuclear plant, Brooklyn native Owen Reese was bombarded with energy from the Beyonder’s dimension — more on him in a moment — and gained the ability to manipulate molecules on a multiversal level. During the Secret Wars arc, Doctor Doom showed what Reese could do if he was diabolical enough, by stealing his powers to remake reality in his image and become God Emperor Doom.

11. Sentry

Sentry Marvel Comics
Image via Marvel Comics

Sentry is often viewed as merely Marvel’s answer to Superman, but really he’s even more powerful — and certainly much more unhinged — than DC’s Man of Steel. The Golden Sentry Serum was not only designed as Canada’s answer to the Super-Soldier program, it was intended to magnify its effectiveness by a hundred thousand times. So when meth addict Robert Reynolds ingested the serum, he gained the power of a million exploding suns. Other comics have suggested the Sentry is a sentient power from another universe that was merely unlocked by the serum. Regardless of his origins, Sentry is believed to be near omnipotent and has even defeated Molecule Man in battle.

10. Cyttorak

Cyttorak Marvel Comics
Image via Marvel Comics

No, that’s not Vecna. Cyttorak is perhaps most famous for his connections to iconic Marvel characters, like Doctor Strange’s use of the spell the Crimson Bands of Cytorrak or Juggernaut bonding with the Crimson Gem to become Cyttorak’s avatar, rather than being an iconic character himself, but he still deserves to be mentioned here. As a demonic overlord of the Crimson Cosmos, Cyttorak is easily one of the most mystically powerful beings in Marvel lore. In his own dimension, specifically, he’s essentially unstoppable and has even defeated the Phoenix Force.

9. Galactus

Image via Marvel Comics

There’s a reason Marvel lovers can’t wait for Galactus to enter the MCU once the Fantastic Four get here. Alias the Devourer of Worlds, Galactus is known for eating entire planets. The whole wide world we’re living on? That’s just the yummy filling for a cosmic sandwich for this guy. The first and oldest being in the universe, Galactus was forged at the moment of the Big Bang and is described as the “embodiment of the cosmos.” We know Stan Lee hated power-ranking characters, but when drawn on the matter on Twitter in 2014, he declared Marvel’s most powerful being was “probably Galactus.” As the man himself would put it, ’nuff said.

8. Phoenix Force

Jean Grey - Marvel comics
Image via Marvel Comics

It isn’t always as simple as one person being powerful in Marvel Comics as is the case with the Phoenix Force which has powered a variety of hosts over the years. The cosmic entity has the ability to harness omnipotent power, tap into the life force of future generations, resurrect the dead, and accomplish a laundry list of other incredible feats. Jean Grey is the most notable host for the Phoenix Force, but perhaps the most powerful is actually Hope Summers, who even managed to best the Scarlet Witch.

7. Franklin Richards

Franklin Richards Valeria Richards Marvel Comics
Image via Marvel Comics

By far the most powerful mutant on Earth-616, Franklin Richards is the son of Reed Richards and Sue Storm and, despite his parents merely being stretchy and shy, he boosts the ability to warp reality. Franklin has used his incredible power to create an entire universe in the past and is said to be on par with the Eternals. The one knockback that the character does have is that he can burn out after overusing his powers which can cause problems against a few tougher foes.

6. The Celestials

Which Marvel heroes could defeat a Celestial
Image: Disney Plus

The Celestials often dwell in the background of Marvel stories, but don’t let that distract you from the fact that they are essentially the most important and influential race in the entire universe. Tantamount to gods — true gods, not just Asgardian ones — the Celestials have shaped the multiverse before it was even conceived and are known as the “architects of creation.” While they come in many different forms their powers remain mostly the same, boasting both omnipotent power and immortality.

5. Infinity, Oblivion, Death, and Eternity

Eternity Marvel Comics
Image via Marvel Comics

Is lumping these four uber-powerful cosmic deities together a cheat? Hmm, maybe, but they are a family so it seems fair to make them a package deal. Arguably akin to DC’s Endless, these four siblings — who are more formally known as the Cosmic Pantheon — are the embodiment of life and death in the multiverse. Truly immortal, they reincarnate any time the multiverse reboots. As abstract cosmological deities, the Pantheon are incorporeal and can bend reality to their will as they see fit. When Thanos was armed with the Infinity Gauntlet, he was able to perceive that the Pantheon were just about as powerful as each other, but they weren’t quite as powerful as our incoming #4…

4. The Living Tribunal

Screenshot via Marvel Studios

The Living Tribunal is so powerful that the MCU has been two frightened to feature him properly yet, outside of a brief cameo in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. The three-headed cosmic entity is tasked with safeguarding the multiverse and serves as the ultimate judge of all reality. Omnipotent, omniscient with virtually limitless power — he can neutralizes all the Infinity Stones at once — the Living Tribunal only answers to one being; the one above all, you might say, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

3. Protege

Protege Marvel Comics
Image via Marvel Comics

Protege may look like a child, but this cosmic entity is the all-powerful ruler of the Universal Church of Truth. Thanks to their nifty skill of power mimicry, Protege almost became the single most powerful, unstoppable being in all of existence. He’s copied the abilities of the Guardians of the Galaxy, the Eternals, and even the Living Tribunal, and if the latter — with the help of the Celestial Scathan the Approver — hadn’t been able to stop him, he would’ve achieved his goal of becoming the new One Above All. Again, though, bear with me on that one…

2. The Beyonder

Beyonder Marvel Comics
Image via Marvel Comics

Yes, I know, I said the Living Tribunal was the second most powerful being in the Marvel multiverse and then all these other characters come along and are said to be even stronger. Hey, what can I say? Stan Lee called it. In the case of the Beyonder, we have one of the most dangerous villains the Avengers and their allies have ever faced. As the big bad of the original Secret Wars arc, his MCU debut is surely imminent. A cosmic being with the ability to augment reality on a practically infinite scale, he’s even beaten the Living Tribunal. How? Because the writer wanted him to. Stan knew what he was talking about, kids.

1. The One Above All

The One Above All
Image via Marvel Comics

By whatever metric you use, though, there can surely only be one choice when it comes to the number one most powerful being in the Marvel multiverse. It has to be the One Above All, the ultimate ruler and creator of, well, everything. Residing in the House of Ideas, aka Heaven, the One Above All rarely pops up in the comics or takes an active role, preferring to operate through others. e.g. the Living Tribunal, but being God means that we can safely say their superiority cannot be beaten thanks to their unlimited pool of power.


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Author
Christian Bone
Christian Bone is a Staff Writer/Editor at We Got This Covered and has been cluttering up the internet with his thoughts on movies and TV for over a decade, ever since graduating with a Creative Writing degree from the University of Winchester. As Marvel Beat Leader, he can usually be found writing about the MCU and yet, if you asked him, he'd probably say his favorite superhero film is 'The Incredibles.'
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Ryan Galloway
Assigning Editor for We Got This Covered, avid moviegoer and Marvel enjoyer.