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The House of Ideas. Talking Time's 50 Favorite Marvel Characters!

Patrick

Magic-User
(He/Him)
Florence Pugh is also the best reason to watch Little Women. With the possible exception of the scene where Bob Odenkirk randomly shows up dressed as a civil war soldier, which made me think that the movie was about to turn into a Mr. Show sketch. but even so, Florence Pugh is a very close second best reason to watch Little Women. She's great as Yelena too.
 

Violentvixen

(She/Her)
Oh dang I didn't even think of her. Her angry monologue to her dad about how brutally they sterilized her was fucking amazing and not something I ever expected to see.
 

Adrenaline

Post Reader
(He/Him)
#44 (tie): Red Queen
ktty_pryde_movie_tim_miller_x-men.jpg

AKA: Katherine "Kitty" Pryde, Sprite, Shadowcat, Star-Lord
Powers: Intangibility
First Appearance: The Uncanny X-Men #129, 1980
Created By: Chris Claremont, John Byrne
Portrayed By: Sumela Kay, Katie Stuart, Elliot Page
2 votes, 58 points (Top voter: Estragon)

Kitty Pryde is another character from Chris Claremont's influential run on the X-Men franchise, and has had a long, winding progression from teenage student at Xavier's school to leadership among mutantkind. She has the handy ability to phase herself and things she touches through walls and other solid objects. After earning a spot on the X-Men team, she ended up co-founding Excalibur with a few others after many of their allies apparently died. Later she returned to the X-Men, and saved the planet from a massive "bullet" launched by aliens by entering it and using her intangibility to cause it to pass through harmlessly, but she was stuck inside.

Later Magneto was able to use his powers to bring her back safely, and she took on a teaching role, including guiding younger versions of the original five X-Men when they were brought to the future by Beast in a funny role-reversal. This led to her meeting the Guardians of the Galaxy, where she started a relationship with Peter Quill and later became Star-Lord herself for a time. Eventually she returned to the X-Men again, and when she was mysteriously unable to use the portals leading to the island of Krakoa, took on a role captaining a ship that traveled the world, liberating mutants who were unable to freely travel to the new nation. She also joined Hellfire and took the name Red Queen.

Kitty is known for some of her various boyfriends, most notably Colossus, but fans have long read her as being gay or bisexual, and Claremont has said that that was his intention. This was finally made canonical recently when she kissed a woman who gave her a tattoo. Baby steps. Kitty appeared briefly in the first two X-Men movies, but she wasn't a real presence until Elliot Page played her in the third one, mainly as a romantic interest for Iceman (an idea which later made its way back to the comics) and to be called a bitch by Juggernaut in a recreation of a year-old meme. Page played her again in Days of Future Past, when she gained the ability so send people's minds into the past for some reason.
 

Kirin

Summon for hire
(he/him)
Why didn't I put Yelena on my list? The world may never know.

Also Kitty is a character who's always seemed cool, I just haven't watched/read much that featured her.
 

Peklo

Oh! Create!
(they/them, she/her)
Not a vote from me in fact but in spirit, absolutely. Kitty's publication history and personality is so rich that you can latch onto incredibly many things about her. She's a Jewish character whose heritage is (ideally) not ignored in the text; she starts out as an audience surrogate figure with an intense temper who is allowed to make mistakes because of it; she's a young character who has managed to visibly and narratively age even through decades of warped and relative Marvel Age treatment and have her characterization and written role evolve meaningfully as a result; she's one of the foremost queer mirrors in a line that's famous for such even if frequently obfuscated by subtext; she's intellectually a kid genius which is not written as automatically extending to social and emotional intelligence. Claremont got her, and Davis did too--for later depictions I'm less familiar but there's so much to her and the relationships she has with others, many such pairs of which are definitive to conceptions of both her and the other relevant party.
 
Icon:

TKrXuro.jpg


Kitty was the protagonist for much of the best period in all of Marvel comics in any medium (this role shifts to Storm when Kitty is injured and becomes one of the leads of the Excalibur spin-off after her recovery). The splash page above is iconic for its catchy line and extremely meme-able nature, but the rest of the issue is full of examples of what made her such a fun and effective audience surrogate character:

uO8r5wy.jpg


RhJRndY.jpg


erPSdeA.jpg
 

Adrenaline

Post Reader
(He/Him)
#43: Black Widow
The-Black-Widow-Comics-Reading-List-2.jpg

AKA: Natalia Romanova, Natasha Romanoff
Powers: Enhanced longevity
First Appearance: Tales of Suspense #52, 1964
Created By: Stan Lee, Don Rico, Don Heck
Portrayed By: Scarlett Johansson
4 votes, 59 points (Top voter: Kirin)

Black Widow is a product of the real world Cold War, a Russian woman who was turned into an elite undercover agent by the Red Room program and who worked for the KGB. After some early missions, mostly against Iron Man, her relationship with Hawkeye helped get her to defect from the Soviet Union. She ended up becoming a recurring member of the Avengers, as well as a frequent agent of SHIELD.

Natasha is also known for her various partnerships with male heroes like Daredevil and Captain America. When the latter apparently turned evil and conquered America during the Secret Empire event, Natasha led a resistance against him before he eventually killed her. Luckily, the Red Room had created a clone of her with her memories, and she basically picked up where she left off.

Black Widow has had a sporadic publishing history, having had several series over the years, but none that lasted more than 20 issues. Still, they're usually enjoyable spy capers and I'm glad whenever a new one shows up. The character appeared in the MCU frequently, played by Scarlett Johansson, again in a recurring supporting role before eventually getting her own movie taking place before her death. There were some ups and downs with this version of the character, but I enjoyed her presence in the series.
 

Beta Metroid

At peace
(he/him)
I was the other vote for Kitty. Her appeal has been covered pretty thoroughly: She's had a far more distinctive "evolution" and aging process than many of her Marvel peers, she was a major figure in one of Marvel's best and most well-known runs, and she's just generally a likeable hero. Shame she missed out on the animated series...and after featuring so heavily in the previous pilot that she got her name in the title!


Page played her again in Days of Future Past, when she gained the ability so send people's minds into the past for some reason.
This always felt like an "apology" for her starring role in the comic version of this story being victimized by the "needs more Wolverine" syndrome of the films (I mean, that syndrome has impacted the comics and several other media too, of course). But yeah, there really isn't an in-universe reason for it (I guess you can always shout "secondary mutation").
 

Adrenaline

Post Reader
(He/Him)
#42: The Kingpin
clean.jpg

AKA: Wilson Fisk
Powers: None
First Appearance: The Amazing Spider-Man #50, 1967
Created By: Stan Lee, John Romita
Portrayed By: John Rhys-Davies, Michael Clarke Duncan, Vincent D'Onofrio
3 votes, 61 points (Top voter: Johnny Unusual)

Despite being a normal (if alarmingly large) person, Kingpin is one of the most effective villains in Marvel history. He first appeared as a foe for Spider-Man and is best known as an archenemy of Daredevil, but in his role as de facto overlord of organized crime in New York City, he can easily end up antagonizing any of the many street-level heroes who call the city home. Every criminal enterprise in the city operates by his leave, and both heroes and other villains worry about getting on his bad side.

He has generally avoided the kinds of plans that get bad guys on the radar of the bigger entities like SHIELD or the Avengers, content to live a good life and run his criminal empire. During the previously mentioned evil-Captain-America-led takeover of the United States (the histories of all these characters are crossing over constantly), Manhattan was sequestered in a pocket of the Darkforce dimension to prevent its many heroes from fighting back. Fisk used this opportunity to become a leader in protecting people from the new dangers they faced, and he parleyed his new popularity into a successful bid to become mayor of the city. He used his new position to embolden his fellow criminals and make life harder for the heroes, but he lost control during the Devil's Reign event and is now licking his wounds outside the city.

Fisk has been depicted a few times in movies, but his most notable appearance is in MCU streaming series, mainly as an antagonist in Daredevil but also appearing in Hawkeye. He is played to great effect by Vincent D'Onofrio, who imbues the character with plenty of menace but also gives him an interesting, almost child-like sensitivity. I doubt we've seen the last of him.
 

Beta Metroid

At peace
(he/him)
Ooh, great pick who I missed out on!

Powers: None
I know that's canon, and it's one of several reasons why his switch from Spider-Man to Daredevil antagonist was a great call, because many of his fights with Spidey really beg to differ. I know they love to throw around the in-universe excuse of "Spidey's holding back so he doesn't kill/seriously injure people" for why his fisticuffs with physically-regular dudes last more than two seconds. And I buy it in terms of Spider-Man on offense. But it really doesn't explain to me why he can take several smacks from dudes like Venom, Scorpion, and even Rhino and even be bothered by a punch from "strong, but regular guy."

Like, if Pete doesn't want to cave Fisk's skull in, fine. But (ostensibly just very fit) Kingpin is bear-hugging and choking and arm-grabbing Spidey all the time, and it's presented like something actually worrisome to a guy who regularly takes punches from things (and sometime Things) who can lift dozens of tons.

I know...power levels don't matter, and it's a striking visual to have this giant of a man looming over our lean, underdog hero and threatening to squash him. But my dark, obsessive nerd side can't quite let it go.
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
The Kingpin is one of the great Marvel villains, who transitioned from Smart Strongo-Crime Man of the Spider-Man run to a much more operatic character in the Miller Daredevil run where is reputation and influence and ability to shut down opponents were his real abilities and there's a sadness to the character. Other creators took the ball and ran with it. Though he never deviated far from villain, even heroes often found themselves having to find other ways to shut him down than beating him up and sending him to jail. He's also a guy who knows the power of his reputation, which means while he won't shy from lying, when it matters, his word is generally his bond, though often it doesn't mean he won't bend the lettering of his word to his will.

One of my favourite stories is the Greg Rucka/Eduardo Risso story "Severance Package" that's not only about what happens when you fail the Kingpin, but the kind of loyalty he instills in his men as a man goes to meet the Kingpin and uses his wits not to escape but to understand his will before meeting his end.

tangled-web-spider-man-4-5.jpg
tangled-web-spider-man-4-6.jpg

TW.4.3-650x867.jpg
 

Issun

Avarice
#42: The Kingpin
clean.jpg

AKA: Wilson Fisk
Powers: None
First Appearance: The Amazing Spider-Man #50, 1967
Created By: Stan Lee, John Romita
Portrayed By: John Rhys-Davies, Michael Clarke Duncan, Vincent D'Onofrio, Liev Schreiber
3 votes, 61 points (Top voter: Johnny Unusual)
 

Vaeran

perfect world
(he/him)
D'Onofrio's Fisk is unquestionably one of the highlights of the Daredevil series, and I was thrilled to see him return in Hawkeye. Well, at first. He's just as physically imposing as ever, perhaps even more so, but his appearance in that series' finale doesn't really do him justice and he gets clowned on pretty thoroughly. Hopefully better things are in store in his future.
 
Shadow Cat goes by Red Queen now? That's weird. I love this character, they would have been a borderline person on my list. I don't have a lot of great things to say about Black Widow, but as far as I'm concerned, she was a good empty vessel for ScarJo to do fun ScarJo thing in the MCU so that's nice. Kingpin is a fun terrestrial villain when he's doing Spider-Man things, but he feels outclassed when you consider the broader shared Marvel Universe.

I'm curious what the breakdown/ratio will be for mutants/X-Men characters vs the rest of Marvel.
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
Shadow Cat goes by Red Queen now? That's weird.
Even better, she's a pirate.

1093-Kate-Kitty-Pryde-Red-Queen.jpg


And what I didn't realize until looking for a picture is actually a nod to the classic issue "Kitty's Fairy Tale", in which Kitty tells a fairy story with the X-Men in various roles.

latest


Her job is to free mutants who can't get to the living island of Krakoa, now an ally and mutant sanctuary, and bring them there as leader of the Marauders. Krakoa era is wild, man.
 

Adrenaline

Post Reader
(He/Him)
#41: Hawkeye
Hawkeye-Kate-Bishop-2-But-Why-Tho.jpg

AKA: Katherine "Kate" Bishop
Powers: None
First Appearance: Young Avengers #1, 2005
Created By: Allan Heinberg, Jim Cheung
Portrayed By: Hailee Steinfeld
3 votes, 62 points (Top voter: Patrick)

Kate Bishop is one of the few Marvel characters I can think of who have eclipsed or at least matched the popularity of the previous character from whom they take their superhero identity. She had an encounter with the Avengers when she was young, and was impressed by Clint Barton's Hawkeye, holding his own despite no super powers. Years later, she was (sigh) sexually assaulted and vowed to never be that vulnerable again, undergoing physical fitness and combat training, and learning to use a bow. When the newly formed Young Avengers showed up to help during a hostage situation at her sister's wedding, she proved her mettle and joined the team.

In addition to being a regular member of the team, Kate also met her namesake and befriended him. They later became occasional partners, with Kate matching Clint in fighting skill and being kind of a hot mess personally. While she grew up in New York City, she has also spent significant time in LA, starting her own detective agency there and also briefly reforming the West Coast Avengers. She was also a member of the Babysitters Club, a team that briefly formed during the War of the Realms to protect Thor's baby sister.

While Hulkling is currently sovereign of a combined Kree-Skrull empire, Kate has been the most successful of the original Young Avengers from a real world perspective, having had her own comic and appearing frequently in others. She appeared in the MCU Hawkeye series, played by Hailee Steinfeld. She brings a fun energy to the character, and helped make it a pretty enjoyable show.
 
I hope whatever Disney decides to do with the character next, that they do a better job of convincing me she's super hero material. Her whole origin story mini series was fun because the character is charming and has a lot of charisma, so there's a lot to work with here and a lot of potential. But she felt like a little kid completely out of her depth, and even beating up Kingpin wasn't very convincing when he's just a Large Man in this, versus Clint fighting off Alien Invasions and the like.
 

Adrenaline

Post Reader
(He/Him)
#40: Green Goblin
fortnite-green-goblin-skin.jpg

AKA: Norman Osborn, Iron Patriot, Super-Adaptoid, Red Goblin
Powers: Super-enhanced abilities
First Appearance: The Amazing Spider-Man #14, 1964
Created By: Stan Lee, Steve Ditko
Portrayed By: Willem Dafoe, Chris Cooper
3 votes, 63 points (Top voter: Adrenaline)

Spider-Man's archenemy and deadliest foe is also his best friend's father. That's just kind of how things go for him. Norman was an accomplished businessman and scientist who had more than his share of tragedy in his life, having an abusive father and losing his wife at a young age. He was exposed to an experimental formula that enhanced his intelligence and physical traits, but also drove him mad, sending his homicidal tendencies out of control. He clashed with Spider-Man many times, and after he learned his enemy was his son's friend Peter Parker, famously threw his girlfriend Gwen Stacy off a bridge, leading to her death. He died shortly after, but returned years later, orchestrating the infamous "Clone Saga" in which Peter lost his clone brother Ben Reilly and infant daughter.

Outside of fighting with Spider-Man, Osborn was often able to use his wealth and power to gain legitimacy he shouldn't have had. He became leader of the Thunderbolts during the battle over the Superhuman Registration Act, hunting down non-registered heroes, and after orchestrating Tony Stark's fall from grace during an invasion by the shapeshifting Skrulls, became the United States Secretary of Defense. He reorganized SHIELD into HAMMER, became the Iron Man-esque Iron Patriot, created his own Avengers squad, and turned the Thunderbolts into his personal black ops unit. He went too far in launching an attack on the city of Asgardia in Oklahoma (long story), losing his authority but continuing to cause trouble, briefly becoming the Super-Adaptoid and later merging with the Carnage symbiote to become the Red Goblin. I think he is currently in one of his periods where he is "cured" of the madness caused by the Goblin formula, but it's a matter of time before he breaks bad again.

In film, Norman was played by Willem Dafoe in Sam Raimi's first Spider-Man movie, which was a pretty straightforward adaptation of the character. After a forgettable minor role by Chris Cooper in Marc Webb's The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Dafoe came back to play the character in the MCU in Spider-Man: No Way Home, ruining Peter's plan to save all the villains he accidentally brought into his universe. Dafoe is one of the best character actors alive, and his Goblin is charming, creepy, or horrifying as required in a given scene. I like Norman as a villain because he's really just an evil bastard, and his complicated personal relationship with Peter and his friends makes all of their encounters even more harrowing. The "Dark Reign" era when he was in charge of things and superheroes everywhere were always looking over their shoulder is one I look back on fondly.
 

Vaeran

perfect world
(he/him)
Smashing that Power Rangers-esque Green Goblin mask early on in No Way Home is maybe the smartest move they could have made with the character, as Dafoe's own facial expressions are so much more effective and unsettling than anything the costuming department can convey. There's a moment that really stands out to me: right after everything goes sideways in Happy's apartment, and Goblin and Spidey are duking it out in the hallways. As Peter repeatedly punches him in the face, Goblin weathers the blows with a demonic grin of insane glee that's genuinely unnerving and always gets a reaction from anyone I watch the movie with. Great stuff.

Didn't know about the sexual assault in comic Kate's past, and am very glad they chose to omit that from her MCU counterpart's story. Hailee Steinfeld is super likeable as Kate, and I'm definitely looking forward to her return in a future MCU project. whether that's Young Avengers or something else.
 

Lokii

Administrator
(He/Him)
Staff member
Moderator
Outside of fighting with Spider-Man, Osborn was often able to use his wealth and power to gain legitimacy he shouldn't have had. He became leader of the Thunderbolts during the battle over the Superhuman Registration Act, hunting down non-registered heroes, and after orchestrating Tony Stark's fall from grace during an invasion by the shapeshifting Skrulls, became the United States Secretary of Defense. He reorganized SHIELD into HAMMER, became the Iron Man-esque Iron Patriot, created his own Avengers squad, and turned the Thunderbolts into his personal black ops unit. He went too far in launching an attack on the city of Asgardia in Oklahoma (long story), losing his authority but continuing to cause trouble, briefly becoming the Super-Adaptoid and later merging with the Carnage symbiote to become the Red Goblin.

Dang
 

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
(He/Him)
I always held Norman up to the standard of being a better take on The Joker; there’s a lot of thematic overlap but there’s the major difference that Norman is the phenomenally wealthy one, and has enough social clout that he genuinely can get away with anything; regardless of how many people he throws off bridges or tries to murder with grenades, and explains away the fact that nobody has managed to kill him in retribution for all his lifetime of evil.

Well that and the existing reason of “Then we wouldn’t be able to keep telling stories about this very popular villain”

Also Halloween-themed explosion crimes is much more visually interesting than Prank based clown murders
 

Peklo

Oh! Create!
(they/them, she/her)
He fit in well with--and helped define--the early Spider-Man themes of class and generational conflict. Ultimately the personal vendetta doesn't really do much to define the antagonism between the two for me, but Osborn's status as the richest of the rich evil adults does.
 
I always held Norman up to the standard of being a better take on The Joker; there’s a lot of thematic overlap but there’s the major difference that Norman is the phenomenally wealthy one, and has enough social clout that he genuinely can get away with anything; regardless of how many people he throws off bridges or tries to murder with grenades, and explains away the fact that nobody has managed to kill him in retribution for all his lifetime of evil.

Well that and the existing reason of “Then we wouldn’t be able to keep telling stories about this very popular villain”

Also Halloween-themed explosion crimes is much more visually interesting than Prank based clown murders
Honestly, the way you describe him, sounds more like "What if Lex Luthor was unhinged" than "What if the most famous comicbook villain of all time was more interesting"

Green Gobs was always a kind of mediocre/uninteresting Spider-Man villain to me, until Willem Dafoe came in and oh man.
 
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