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Strongest Superheroes In History Ranked

Much ink has been spilled attempting to determine which characters make up the most powerful superheroes in fiction, but this list seeks to answer a slightly different question. Which heroes are physically the strongest? Forced to compete in a powerlifting competition, who would come out on top? 

Most heroes have some amount of superhuman strength, even if it's just enough that they are capable of throwing and then catching a mighty shield made out of pure metal, but few make it into the upper leagues. Traditionally, Marvel Comics has classified how strong their characters are based on how many tons (2,000 lbs. or 907 kg.) they are capable of lifting. Rather than performing as a literal measurement, the system essentially functions as a simple comparison system used to establish how strong one character is in relation to all the rest. 

Spider-Man, for example, is commonly categorized as being able to lift around 10 tons, despite sometimes being shown to lift objects whose real-world equivalents weigh far heavier. That lets fans know that he is weaker than Luke Cage, who was classified as being able to lift 50 tons in 2007's "Civil War: Battle Damage Report." Every person on this list is capable of lifting at least 100 tons, and those near first place are capable of much, much more. 

14. Colossus

Introduced in 1975's "Giant-Size X-Men" #1 in 1975, Piotr Rasputin was born and raised on a farm in Russia until he discovered that he could turn his entire body into living metal. Already a towering and physically imposing man in his human form, Piotr found that his strength and durability was magnified a thousandfold when he turned to metal. 

Eventually, Professor Charles Xavier approached Piotr and offered him a place among the X-Men. He accepted and has been known as Colossus ever since, the traditional winner of the "Strongest Member of the X-Men" award. Though his strength increased over time as he grew from a teenager into a fully formed adult, there's no indication that he'll continue to get stronger, and 2008's "Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A-Z" #2 classifies the X-Man as being able to lift exactly 100 tons, placing him firmly at the bottom of our list. 

13. Captain Marvel

Carol Danvers is a special case. She began her career as Ms. Marvel in 1977's "Ms. Marvel" #1, after meeting the Kree warrior Mar-Vell in 1968's "Marvel Super-Heroes" #13 (while head of security at NASA) exposed her to energies that transformed her into a human-Kree hybrid. In this form, she could lift roughly 50 tons until future X-Men member Rogue managed to steal her powers permanently. When she regained them and became Binary, she was capable of lifting 100 tons, though she eventually returned to her original Ms. Marvel levels of strength. 

However, after experiencing several power boosts since becoming Captain Marvel, comics like 2018's "Avengers" #2 have shown that Carol has a "resting strength" of at least 100 tons that can be increased to unknown levels through her power absorption abilities. It's unknown exactly what her upper limits might be, but since Carol has to rely on her non-physical powers to achieve that lift, she ranks lower than some of the other competition she has on this list. 

12. Namor the Sub-Mariner

Born from the love affair of a human sailor and an Atlantean princess, Namor is often met with distrust by his blue-skinned people, but as their king, he strives to serve them and put their safety above his own. Despite serving as both an X-Man and an Avenger, Namor is nearly always an anti-hero and is infamous for his raging temper and extreme vanity. Though his skin is nearly indestructible, his pride and ego are easier to bruise than a peach. 

Created by Bill Everett in "Motion Picture Funnies Weekly" #1 in 1939, Namor the Sub-Mariner is one of Marvel Comics' oldest characters and is said to be the mightiest person on the planet when underwater, where he can easily achieve feats greater than 100+ tons. However, his strength decreases dramatically the longer he is exposed to open air and the more dehydrated he becomes. Thus, though he sometimes manages to outmatch other members of this competition, his strength is still only enough to earn him the 12th spot. 

11. The Thing

An expert pilot and the college best friend of the smartest man on Earth, Benjamin J. Grimm agreed to fly his pal Reed Richards' experimental rocket ship into outer space so it could be tested. In the end, the ship ultimately performed pretty well, until its radiation shielding failed to protect its crew from the cosmic rays that transformed Ben into the ever-lovin' blue-eyed Thing. 

The Thing's strength has steadily increased ever since through further mutation and near-constant strength training. It's not known if there's a limit to how strong he could become in the future, but he hasn't found it yet. He actually used to be weaker than the last person on the list, but during the "Avengers vs. X-Men" comic book event in 2012, Thing actually managed to defeat Namor in a fist fight while underwater in "Uncanny X-Men" #12. Namor may be the strongest thing from the seas, but he sure isn't the strongest Thing in them any longer. 

10. She-Hulk

Unfortunately for the Thing, he still has a long way to go if he ever hopes to catch up to the next hero — excuse us, heroine — on our list. Lawyer Jennifer Walters was visiting with her cousin Bruce Banner in 1979's "Savage She-Hulk" #1 when a gunshot wound forced Bruce to give her a blood transfusion in order to save her life. Though the procedure succeeded, Jennifer found that she could transform into the She-Hulk. Though not as strong as her cousin, she was able to retain both her intelligence and her sense of self while in "Hulk-mode." 

Her strength has fluctuated over the years, but like many others on this list, she's steadily grown stronger since her creation. In 2004's "She-Hulk" #9, she effortlessly lifted the Thing's weight-lifting machine at its maximum settings with one hand. In the same issue, she had to throw an arm-wrestling match with Hercules in order to spare his feelings. More recent stories like "Immortal Hulk" #7 in 2018, however, have shown She-Hulk begin to close in on her cousin's levels of strength.

9. Supergirl

When an infant Kal-El was rocketed to Earth to save him from Krypton's destruction, his 15-year-old cousin, Kara Zor-El, was sent in another rocket to follow him. They were meant to arrive at the same time so that Kara could help keep her baby cousin safe on their strange new world. However, when Kara finally woke up on Earth, she was shocked to find her cousin was now an adult named Clark Kent who also called himself "Superman." 

Eventually, Kara joined her older cousin in his fight for truth and justice as "Supergirl," and though she's still a teenager, she is one of the single most powerful people on the planet. Various stories throughout the years, like the second "Supergirl" season finale, "Nevertheless, She Persisted," on the CW, have postulated that Supergirl is, might be, or will become stronger than Superman, but in the comics where she is still currently a teenager, that is not the case. 

8. Martian Manhunter

Though many people don't realize it, J'onn J'onzz, the Manhunter from Mars, is one of DC Comics' most powerful superheroes. In addition to possessing all of the many powers of Kryptonians like Supergirl, he is also a shapeshifter who can morph his body however he wishes and is one of the DC Universe's most powerful telepaths. At the end of the day, there aren't many powers that he doesn't have.

He can turn invisible, effortlessly phase through solid objects, or make his fist as hard as a diamond as he punches someone in the face nearly as hard as Superman can. When it comes to this list, however, that "nearly" makes all the difference. The exact difference between J'onn's and Superman's strength is unclear, but it's likely that he's at least on par with Supergirl if not somewhat stronger since she's still growing into her full Kryptonian strength. 

7. Shazam!

In search of a new champion, the Wizard Shazam discovered an orphan named Billy Batson, brought him to the Rock of Eternity, and determined that the boy had the potential to be an incredibly good person. Knowing this, the Wizard decided to grant Billy Solomon's wisdom, Hercules' strength, Atlas' stamina, Zeus' power, Achilles' courage, and Mercury's speed. All Batson has to do is say the Wizard's name, and he will transform into a superhero. 

Taking on the name for himself as well, Shazam is one of DC Comics' most powerful heroes. By channeling the powers of literal gods through the Wizard, he is one of the few heroes who is almost capable of keeping up with the Flash and who can make Superman worry during an arm-wrestling contest. Nearly every time the two have squared off, however (which happens pretty frequently), Superman comes out on top. Shazam may have the strength of Hercules, but apparently that just isn't enough to break even with the Man of Steel.z

6. Marvel's Superman Analogues

Over the years, Marvel has created a number of Superman-like analogues and stand-ins. Hyperion is the most literal of these. He's from an alternate Earth whose premier superhero team is the "Squadron Supreme." It's filled with purposefully obvious stand-ins for the main members of the Justice League. One story in "Avengers" #147 from 1976, where the Avengers and the Squadron Supreme clashed, was even titled "Crisis on Other-Earth" in homage to DC's long history of using the word "crisis" to title its multiverse-heavy stories. 

Others are more ambiguous. Gladiator, for example, is an alien who merely has the same power-set as Superman, while another character, Blue Marvel, shares Superman's moral fiber and many of his powers, but also has energy powers that make him a bit more similar to Milestone Comics' Icon. One of the most famous examples in recent years is the Sentry, who is often serves as an "Evil Superman" analogue specifically. At this point in the list, the criteria is basically Superman-level strength and above, and since Marvel's Superman stand-ins are rarely quite as strong as Thor, they have collectively been placed here in 6th place.  

5. Icon

After crashing in the deep American South in 1837, the alien who came to be known as Augustus Freeman copied the form of the enslaved woman who rescued him and has lived on earth as an African American man ever since. By the present day, Augustus had become a wealthy lawyer who lost touch with normal people until a young teenager named Raquel broke into his home. During the incident, she saw what he could do and ultimately managed to convince him to become a superhero and an Icon for her community. 

Created by Dwayne McDuffie and Mark Bright, Icon was Milestone Comics' Superman. As such, he had many of the Man of Steel's standard abilities, but unlike Superman he also possessed the ability to create and disrupt energy fields and to fire concussive bolts that could stun or destroy in equal measure. He is likely as strong as Superman, but there are simply not enough interactions between Icon and the DC heroes to be able to confidently rank him above them.

4. Thor

Thor: God of Thunder, Son of Odin, and Prince of Asgard. He is all of these things and more, and he is mighty. With the mighty hammer, Mjolnir, at his side, Thor has few equals in the Marvel Universe and the strength to match. 

More than any other character on this list, Thor's strength is surprisingly complicated. To start, though it's not all that widely known, he is actually Asgard's "God of Strength," making him the strongest of that realm's gods. In addition, he wears a mystic belt named "Megingjord" that doubles his already incredible natural power. 

Thor is known for his insane physical feats, but it's not clear exactly how strong he is with or without the belt. In theory, removing the belt could throw him halfway down this list, or he might already be so strong that he would only move a few places. But the fact that his strength could be reduced by removing that belt is one of the key reasons he lands here in fourth place.

3. Wonder Woman

Whether she was made from clay and then given life by the gods or the result of a love affair between Zeus and Queen Hippolyta, Princess Diana of Themyscira still chose to leave her island paradise in order to travel to the world of men and fight to make it a better, safer place. Like Superman, most early versions of Wonder Woman were far less powerful than her modern counterpart (some even lacked powers altogether), but this Amazon changed with the times and has since become one of DC Comics' most powerful characters. 

Either a god herself or a mythical figure granted powers by them, Wonder Woman is easily the strongest woman in the DC Universe. She's fought Superman and Supergirl to standstills, and in one particular story from 2012, Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang's "Wonder Woman" #12, taking her indestructible bracelets off actually made her more powerful because wearing them helped her contain the more extreme elements of her godhood. It's not clear if this is still canon, but it paints a stark contrast with Thor's belt. 

Her most impressive feat of strength, however, came in 2000's "Green Lantern: Circle of Fire" #1. On a space adventure to save the people of Earth yet again, the Martian Manhunter became caught in the irresistible pull of a black hole. Even J'onn's insane amount of strength wasn't enough for him to escape it. Instead, Wonder Woman snagged J'onzz with her magic lasso, pulling him to safety by herself. 

2. Superman

Rocketed to earth as a small child to save him from his planet's destruction, Clark Kent grew up knowing he was different from everybody he'd ever met, but instead of letting that loneliness make him bitter, he used his empathy to realize that others felt the same way and chose to reach out to them and try to help. He became Superman, the world's — and often the universe's — premier symbol of hope. 

Though he was far weaker during his early days as the hero of the working class, Superman's strength has increased as dramatically as the rest of his powers over the last 80 years. Where he could originally leap tall buildings in a single bound, he can now fly beyond Earth's atmosphere. Where before he was more powerful than a locomotive, now he's strong enough to chain planets together and pull all of them through space at once. He's a powerhouse, and among the world's superheroes, he is almost without equal. 

1. The Hulk

From the beginning, you knew the end. Bathed in the radiation of a gamma bomb, Dr. Bruce Banner found himself transformed into a monster known only as "Hulk." The details of the pair's symbiotic relationship might change, but at the end of the day, superhero comic books have one unbreakable rule: Hulk is the strongest one there is, and that's really all there is to it.

Superman might be strong enough to move planets or bench-press the full weight of the Earth's core, but even his inhuman strength has its limits. Hulk's strength does not. It's a famous superhero equation: the madder Hulk gets, the stronger he gets, and there is no end to either. When Bruce Banner transforms, the Hulk wants to fight, and the more he fights, the angrier and stronger that he gets. It's a recursive loop, a self-fulfilling prophecy that ensures that in feats of strength, Hulk will always come out on top.