I love a good superhero movie as much as the next person. The action scenes are what really make up a majority of these movies. What even is a superhero without some super awesome powers?
There are two main superhero movie franchises: the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and DC Extended Universe (DCEU). Arguably, MCU is winning the box-office and overall marketing game. Also, I love Deadpool and I’m super excited for Captain Marvel. So even though I appreciate the dark and gritty DCEU style, MCU is my current favourite.
As I watch MCU movies and especially the Avengers movies, one question constantly nags me – who is the most powerful MCU superhero?
An analysis based on personality AND powers doesn’t mean much when when the superhero is going up against Thanos. Powers trump everything so the best superhero should also be the most powerful superhero. But the bigger question is – do the number of powers matter or does the type of power matter more?
Let’s look at the data.
I. The data
This analysis uses the Super Heroes Dataset uploaded on Kaggle. The data was scraped from Super Hero DB in July 2017. This analysis will rank superhero powers amongst the 20 most popular MCU superheroes. I have used this article as a reference ranking and see if I can come up with an alternative based on the data. The article has ranked the following 18 superheroes from best to worst:
- Captain America
- Black Panther
- Doctor Strange
- The Hulk
- Winter Soldier
- Scarlet Witch
- Black Widow
- War Machine
- Iron Man
The ranking in this analysis includes all 18 from the article plus Deadpool and Captain Marvel to the list.
II. The Analysis
The 20 superheroes in this article have a total of 46 distinct powers. Powers have the following characteristics:
- Each power has a bonus point
- They can be ‘Extreme’
Immortality has the highest number of bonus points and powers like Intelligence and Reflexes have the lowest number of bonus points. Standards are definitely high for superheroes and I love them all the more for it.
There are fewer Extreme powers which is great because not all superheroes are created equal. My guess is that the superheroes with the most Extreme powers will do better in a fight than those with fewer Extreme powers.
2. Superheroes and their Powers
Number of powers
Captain Marvel has by far the most number of powers…
…but Doctor Strange has the most number of ‘Extreme’ powers amongst the superheroes that have ‘Extreme’ powers. Captain Marvel drops to no. 3 and Iron Man drops to no. 6 in the Extreme power ranking. We saw Iron Man get destroyed in Infinity War while Thor kept fighting so I’m going to go with the hypothesis that Extreme powers matter more than just any power.
3. Superheroes and Bonus Points
Each power has a bonus point. If Extreme powers are best powers, they should have more bonus points. Let’s take a look at the Extreme vs Not Extreme bonus point quartiles.
Extreme powers have way more points than not Extreme powers. I’m convinced that points are the way to rank overall superhero strength.
III. Final Ranking
From best to worst, the following superheroes are ranked according to the total number of bonus points associated with their powers:
- Captain Marvel
- Thor (#3)
- Doctor Strange (#4)
- Scarlet Witch (#11)
- Iron Man (#17)
- War Machine (#15)
- The Hulk (#5)
- Quicksilver (#18)
- Vision (#8)
- Spider-Man (#12)
- Black Panther (#2)
- Captain America (#1)
- Black Widow (#14)
- Star-Lord (#13)
- Hawkeye (#16)
- Falcon (#10)
- Winter Soldier (#9)
- Valkyrie (#7)
- Ant-Man (#6)
Thor and Doctor Strange have jumped up 1 spot each while Captain America and Black Panther have fallen down the list.
This is mainly because a high number of powers don’t mean anything if a superhero has mainly fluff powers like ‘Intelligence’ and ‘Agility’. Also, in the plot below, it is pretty clear that superheroes like Thor that have just an average number of powers compared to the rest of the 19 superheroes are at combat time, wayyy more powerful than the others.
What does come as a surprise is that Hulk is ranked below War Machine. This is because while they both have the same number of Extreme powers, War Machine has more powers overall. So, Extreme powers are better than simply more powers. But if Extreme powers are held equal, the superhero with the higher number of powers wins.
There is much talk about how Captain Marvel is the strongest Avenger yet. While that is true according to this ranking, if superheroes are scored based on the value of their powers, Captain Marvel isn’t very much more powerful than Thor. But ultimately, we will only know who the strongest Avenger is when they’re up against Thanos.