Ranking the MCU: The Powers

In continuing my look back at the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I wanted to throw together a ranking of the powers shown by the heroes, from my own perspective. Like my other lists, this one is just for fun, so it’s not serious and it isn’t a ranking of who’s stronger. Just my own thoughts on what I like better.

12. TIE Black Panther/Captain America/Winter Soldier

Captain America, Black Panther, and to an extent, Winter Soldier, have all received different upgrades to become superhuman in the most basic sense.

Captain American and Black Panther before the Battle of Wakanda in “Avengers Infinity War.”

All of the characters have strength, speed, agility and stamina well past any normal person. A great example of just how strong these characters are was when Captain America was able to stop a helicopter from taking off by holding it down.

The Winter Soldier during the Battle of Wakanda in “Avengers Infinity War.”

Again, the powers are fairly basic, but with the assistance of the characters’ combat experience and skill, they are quite formidable.

11. Quicksilver’s speed

Quicksilver fighting in the final battle of “Avengers: Age of Ultron.”

Quicksilver is a powerful character for sure, but whether it’s him or the Flash, I’ve never found speed powers all too fascinating. Quicksilver also isn’t helped by a major lack of screentime compared to some of the other heroes in the Marvel films.

10. Mantis’ mind powers

Mantis uses her power to stall Ego in “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.”

Mantis’ powers aren’t the type used in combat, but they’re very strong and important regardless. Mantis is able to read and feel another being’s emotions. She is also able to manipulate another’s emotions, along with the ability to put a being to sleep and/or wake them up.

The latter is where Mantis has shown her true strength. In two battles against arguably some of the strongest beings in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, she was able to use her power to make both of them sleep, helping in critical moments.

9. Doctor Strange’s Portrals

Dr. Strange summons a portal in “Thor Ragnarok.”

Another non-combative power, but useful still. By the time the events of “Thor Ragnarok” take place, Strange is able to create and maintain portals to seemingly anywhere on Earth because of his Mystical Arts mastery.

The ability was shown to be immensely useful in both “Doctor Strange” and “Avengers Infinity War.” In the latter, Strange even incorporated it into the battle strategy to fight Thanos, allowing others to land hits and retreat by going through the portals. There does seem to be some range, as Strange didn’t choose to make a portal to get back to Earth right away in “Infinity War,” but it’s a very useful power.

8. Spider-Man’s powers

Spider-Man climbs the Washington Monument in “Homecoming.”

The Spider-Man in the MCU has all of the classic powers. He can climb structures, has immense strength, incredible reflexes and the spider-sense allowing him to become aware of danger before something strikes.

The best showing of Spider-Man’s raw powers was in the third act of the film “Homecoming,” where the young hero was without his more advanced suit and had to rely only on his abilities. Several times in the series so far, he’s proven to be one of the stronger Avengers.

7. Groot’s natural abilities

Groot in “Guardians of the Galaxy.”

Groot’s natural ability to regrow and manipulate his limbs into weapons at will to fight enemies is fantastic and portrayed very well in both “Guardian” movies and “Infinity War.” So far he’s been shown to create a shield to block gunfire as well as just use his brute strength to overpower opponents.

Combined with his regenerative abilities, Groot is easily one of the strongest Guardians when fully grown. Even in his small form, shown in “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” Groot was still shown as being rather powerful for his size.

6. Bruce Banner’s Gamma Radiation (Hulk)

Bruce Banner in Hulk form about to challenge the demon Surtur.

Bruce Banner as the gamma powered Hulk is 100 percent pure strength and has shown it off several times throughout the series, taking on enemies large and small. Hulk isn’t invincible, the Hulkbuster armor and Thor have held their own against him. However, he usually is able to defeat any nearly any opponent.

Yes, he lost to Thanos in one-on-one combat, but this was because of Hulk’s lack of martial arts training, more so than just being physically weaker. In the fight, Thanos exposed Hulk’s lack of fighting style, rather than simply being stronger.

In that sense, by raw strength scale, Hulk is the strongest Avenger. One of the best examples of his power is when he stops one of the giant alien ships during the Battle of New York in the 2012 “Avengers” film.

5. Scarlett Witch’s powers

Scarlet Witch preparing to use her powers in “Avengers: Infinity War.”

Described by Agent Maria Hill as “neuro-electric interfacing, telekinesis and mental manipulation,” Scarlet Witch’s powers are definitely more complex than most.

She can manipulate energy, using it to blast opponents or control the elements around her. She’s also been shown to have telekinesis, able to bend structures to her will, and her powers have even shown to give her limited flight.

Additionally, given that her powers were born from the Mind Stone, she has telepathy and can manipulate a person’s mental status, such as showing them visions or controlling thoughts.

On top of her powers having variety, they are also very strong. In the climax of “Infinity War” she was able to hold back Thanos who had a mostly filled Infinity Gauntlet while also destroying the Mind Stone.

4. Star Lord’s Celestial Powers

Star Lord learning his celestial powers in “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.”

In the second “Guardians of the Galaxy,” Star Lord learned his father was an ancient being called a Celestial. In the final battle against his father, Ego, Star Lord was able to use his own celestial powers to fly, manipulate the materials around him and showed superhuman strength.

Along with the superhuman abilities, Star Lord was able to summon and manipulate pure energy and was able to partially control the Power Stone for a short amount of time. While his celestial abilities were short lived, there’s no doubt they made Star Lord one of the more powerful MCU beings for a time and he hadn’t even fully mastered them.

3. Captain Marvel’s Energy Manipulation

Captain Marvel shooting an energy blast in her first film.

In just her first film, Captain Marvel proved herself to be in the higher tier of the MCU’s characters, power-wise. In the film’s climax when she reached her full potential, Captain Marvel was basically unstoppable, destroying space war ships and stopping an alien invasion by herself.

Even before she reached 100 percent power, Captain Marvel was shown to be incredibly powerful, with her ability to manipulate energy and cause a lot of destruction with it. While she’s only appeared in one film, there’s enough evidence to see she’s one of the stronger characters.

2. Thor’s Lightning

Thor mastering his lightning power in “Ragnarok.”

Throughout his entire time in the MCU, Thor has not only shown incredible brute strength, but the ability to summon lightning as well. The latter ability has only gotten stronger over the years, too.

This was especially the case in “Ragnarok” when Thor truly mastered lightning manipulation, even without his trusty hammer.

Thor’s lightning powers took another step up when he was able to manipulate it through his new axe Stormbreaker. Combining the two powers looked incredible and resulted in one of my favorite scenes in the MCU.

1. Dr. Strange’s mystical arts weapons

Strange power
Dr. Strange, Master of the Mystic Arts, preparing to fight the Black Order in “Infinity War.”

I love the idea of weapons that can be created by at will with glowing energy. It’s why Green Lantern has always been a favorite of mine and why I really enjoyed Strange’s combat in his film, as well as the third “Avengers.”

Dr. Strange creates a sword fighting Thanos.

In both film, Strange was shown to make whips as well as arcane circles that can be used for offensive and defensive purposes. He even created a sword to do battle with Thanos in “Infinity War.”

Strange multiplies himself for a stronger attack.
Strange uses the Mystic Arts to blast Thanos.

Additionally, in the battle against Thanos, Strange was able to multiply himself for an even more powerful attack, while also using the power of the mirror dimension to stall the titan. Considering Thanos had four of the six stones, Strange wasn’t able to overwhelm him, but he proved to be a very powerful character.

He may not be the strongest, but Strange’s unique and creative powers are my favorite to see on screen.

All photos courtesy Marvel Studios

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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