10 Underrated Superheroes to Appreciate on Superhero Day
In an era defined by superheroes, it’s easy to get lost in arguments over which one reigns supreme. Last year, Avengers: Endgame became the highest grossing film of all time, and the internet was filled with debates over who’s the best superhero. Is it Captain Marvel or Thor? Captain America or Iron Man?
Whatever your answer may be, we can all agree that there are more heroes out there than The Avengers or the Justice League. To celebrate World Superhero Day (28 April), we’re looking at some of the most underrated superheroes out there.
10. Wanda Maximoff (Scarlet Witch)
“I used to think of myself one way. But, after this… I am something else. And still me, I think.”
You may be surprised to see a character as prominent as Scarlet Witch on this list. Truth be told, she may be one of the most powerful characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. That being said, she’s often overlooked when discussing the MCU’s greatest heroes. Hopefully, her upcoming Disney+ show WandaVision and role in the Doctor Strange sequel, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, will change that.
In an effort to get revenge on Tony Stark after her family was killed using Stark Industries weapons, Wanda Maximoff joined the villainous organisation H.Y.D.R.A along with her twin brother Pietro. After undergoing experiments using Loki’s sceptre, which contained the mind stone, Wanda received abilities including telekinesis, telepathy, and energy manipulation.
After a brief encounter with The Avengers, during which she was able to incapacitate several members including Iron Man and Thor, Hawkeye was able to successfully convince her that she was going down the wrong path and to switch sides. In the years since, she has become one of the most powerful heroes and was even able to go head-to-head with the Mad Titan himself, Thanos.
9. Oliver Queen (Green Arrow)
"I need to believe that no matter what happens in our lives, no matter how much darkness infects us, I need to believe that we can come back from that.”
Oliver Queen was a billionaire playboy who, after being shipwrecked on an island for five years, returned home to Star City as a hooded vigilante named Arrow. Unlike other heroes, Oliver began his journey as a vigilante with an endgame in mind. He knew what had to be done and did not allow for half-measures.
Oliver’s quest to save his city took on many forms, including becoming mayor. He was not a metahuman and did not have any powers to boast of similar to the Legends of Tomorrow or The Flash, Oliver was only a man who wanted to keep his city safe. Despite that, his drive for justice could rival heroes like The Caped Crusader himself, Batman.
“Just because something works, doesn’t mean it cannot be improved.”
The Princess of Wakanda and 16-year-old sister to T’Challa, Shuri is one of the smartest characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. When she’s not assisting her brother on missions and creating new gadgets to for him to use, she’s leading the Wakandan Design Group and Science and Information Exchange.
During the Battle of Earth, Shuri was tasked with removing the Mind Stone from Vision’s head so Wanda Maximoff could destroy it. Not only was she able to work on a what seemed to be an impossible task under immense pressure, she was able to easily take out enemies in the process.
While her intellectual counterparts Tony Stark and Bruce Banner are more action oriented, Shuri takes a more pacifistic approach. She protects while they attack. Shuri, along with T’Challa, aren’t just defending their nation, they’re improving it as they lead Wakanda towards a better tomorrow.
7. Bucky Barnes (The Winter Soldier)
“I’m with you ‘til the end of the line, pal.”
Bucky Barnes’ life has been anything but simple. After being presumed dead in World War II, he was brainwashed and tortured by H.Y.D.R.A until he turned into a ruthless killing machine that was responsible for the deaths of Tony Stark’s parents, Howard and Maria Stark. Nothing but Captain America’s unwavering loyalty and love towards his best friend was able to wake him up from years of processing.
When he realised what Bucky had been through, Steve Rogers went to whatever lengths necessary to protect him. So much so, that he waged war against Iron Man and several members of The Avengers. Eventually, Black Panther offered to help Bucky recuperate in the technologically advanced Kingdom of Wakanda. He was one of the first outsiders welcomed into the country.
The portrayal of Bucky’s post-traumatic stress, anxiety, and overwhelming survivor’s guilt by actor Sebastian Stan was strongly praised for raising mental health awareness in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
6. Helen Parr (Elastigirl)
“Leave the saving of the world to the men? I don’t think so!”
In the 1950s, Helen Truax was a superheroine under the pseudonym Elastigirl. She was single-handedly fighting crime with the aim of bringing justice to Metroville and breaking the glass ceiling that kept women down in the Supers profession.
After marrying Bob Parr (Mr. Incredible), Elastigirl became a mother of three and an advocate for Supers following a chain reaction of events that lead to them being outlawed by the US government. Over the course of the two Incredibles films, we’ve seen Elastigirl overcome obstacles using her wit, intelligence and skills. Whether it’s thinking on her feet to save her children during a plane crash or outsmarting the cyber-terrorist Screenslaver, Elastigirl has proven time and time again that she is not defined by her role as a mother or her marriage to Mr. Incredible.
5. Miles Morales (Spider-Man)
I never thought I’d be able to do any of this stuff, but I can. Anyone can wear the mask. You could wear the mask. If you didn’t know that before, I hope you do now. ‘Cause I’m Spider-Man, and I’m not the only one. Not by a long shot.”
Spider-Man has always been synonymous with one name – Peter Parker. In 2011, however, the world was introduced to Miles Morales. Born to an African American father and a Puerto Rican mother, Miles was only 14 years old when he was thrust into the world of superheroes. Bitten by a radioactive spider, he was given abilities similar to his predecessor Peter, along with new ones like invisibility.
Initially, Miles was afraid of his new abilities and wanted to live a normal life. Unlike Peter, who was quick to welcome the superhero lifestyle. However, after witnessing Peter’s death, Miles realised that New York needed a friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man protecting it and took on the mantle himself.
Being one of the younger superheroes, Miles had the difficult task of balancing his life as a hero with his school life, family life, and emotional growth. Nevertheless, he managed to emerge on top as one of the best new heroes out there.
4. Matt Murdock (Daredevil)
“I’m not seeking penance for what I’ve done, I’m asking forgiveness for what I’m about to do.”
After being blinded as a young boy in a freak chemical accident, all of Matthew Murdock’s remaining senses were heightened to superhuman abilities. When his father was murdered, Murdock took it on himself to bring justice to the streets of Hell’s Kitchen in New York City as the crime-fighting vigilante Daredevil.
When he’s not busy fighting crime bosses on the streets, he’s bringing them to justice through the legal system as an attorney. What makes Matt different than other vigilantes, however, is his struggle with faith. As a lawyer, he has taken an oath to uphold the law. As Daredevil, he constantly breaks them. To Matt, his actions are justified through his Catholicism. He believes Daredevil to be his divine calling and that he is acting out of necessity.
The Devil of Hell’s Kitchen’s appeal as a character comes from his relentlessness. He can’t always beat them. He’s knocked and defeated time and time again, but always finds a way to get back up. Whether it’s to save one man, or a thousand, Matt will do whatever it takes to ensure that justice prevails.
“I guess, in the end, there really is no end; just new beginnings.”
Perhaps best known as a member of the Teen Titans, Raven is one of the most beloved DC Comics heroines. A half-human half-demon sorceress, Raven is often portrayed as an introverted, book-loving, sarcastic teenager with a dark and twisted past.
Believed to be one of the most relatable characters in DC Comics’ roster, Raven has amassed a large fandom, particularly with teenagers. Her growing popularity notwithstanding, however, the character is yet to gain mainstream popularity or make her live action debut on the big screen.
Her relatability isn’t the only thing that makes her great, though. Her constant internal struggle and unparalleled strength among her peers make her a hero in her own right. Despite being a half demon who appears to be destined to destroy the world, Raven always tries to use her powers for the betterment of humanity, all while having to avoid displaying any extreme emotions to keep her demonic side at bay.
2. Rocket Raccoon
“I didn’t ask to get made! I didn’t ask to be torn apart and put back together over and over and turned into some… some little monster!”
In some ways, the Guardians of the Galaxy films can be perceived as Rocket’s stories. Director James Gunn has openly talked about how he has had big plans for Rocket from the start, and how he will be a key character in the next phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Genetically modified and abused for years, Rocket constantly had his DNA rewritten by scientists, which led to his vain, chaotic, and self-destructive personality. It wasn’t until he met a creature named Groot that Rocket experienced true friendship. Soon after, he crossed paths with Star Lord and helped form the Guardians of the Galaxy. In 2018, The Decimation rendered him the sole survivor of his team, and for the next few years, he joined forces with The Avengers to help defend the galaxy and bring the team he had come to call his family back to life.
Despite being a Frankenstein’s Monster-esque creature in his own eyes, Rocket is ironically the most human member of the Guardians. He puts on a cold exterior in front of his friends and enemies to hide his vulnerability. He’s experienced loss and trauma to a degree that most of his friends cannot understand, and yet, he’ll always be there for them.
1. Dick Grayson (Nightwing)
"Who do I think I am? Good question, really, and I'll answer like this: I've seen too much to be Robin, but I'm still too optimistic to be Batman. I'm Nightwing.”
Born into a family of acrobats, Dick was the youngest in a trapeze group known as “The Flying Graysons” who were all murdered at the hands of a mafia boss.
Following the tragic event, Bruce Wayne adopted Dick and trained him to become his crime-fighting partner under the alias Robin. They fought side-by-side for years, until as a young man, Dick retired his Robin persona to take on his own superhero identity and assert his independence from Batman. He became the vigilante Nightwing.
While Dick has often been on the receiving end of jokes, especially as Robin, he’s proven himself to be Batman’s equal on countless occasions. He’s just as brilliant as his mentor and, while Batman relies on fear to defeat his enemies, Dick is more respected due to his morals and leadership. When he told Superman that he trusted him, Superman felt that he had received the highest honour due to the level of respect and admiration Dick holds among the superhero community.
While these heroes may be fictional, we witness real life heroes in our day-to-day lives on a regular basis. Right now, there are millions of front-line workers around the world putting their lives on the line to ensure our safety. Whether it’s the doctors and nurses working non-stop to fight Covid-19 or delivery drivers bringing you your essentials , we’d like to take this moment to say THANK YOU.