Lots of articles exist on the internet that set out to rank Marvel Comics powers or mutations according to strength. This isn’t one of those articles.
I’m playing by the rule of cool, which is itself extremely flexible. Some of the powers below are cool because I think they have an incredible amount of utility. Others are cool because I think they have interesting mechanics or are subject to neat rules and creative applications. Some of these are cool because I want them, and others are cool despite the fact that I wouldn’t care to have them myself.
Your list will probably look very different than mine, and that’s cool! It gives us something to talk about and is a means by which we can learn a bit about each other. So drop one or more of your favorite powers in a comment to this post in our Nerds on Earth 616 Facebook group or hit us back with a reply on Twitter. Let’s talk about it!
Taskmaster’s Photographic Reflexes
If I’m ever asked the question, “If you could have any superpower, what would it be?,” my answer is always Taskmaster’s.
His power allows him to instantly and perfectly perform any action he sees, from the moves of other super heroes (which he shows off multiple times in the newest Black Widow trailer!) to culinary skills as he watches Iron Chef. He watched one pro football game on television and then went on to be the star quarterback of his high school team!
He’s very rarely the “final boss” of any run for two reasons:
- He’d rather stay out of the limelight. Being the big bad means he’s out front and at risk. He’s not a fan.
- As a result, he prefers to hire himself out for training purposes. You pay one individual but gain the benefits of the skills of hundreds. That’s a heck of a deal!
His power is the absolute coolest in all of Marvel Comics and you’d have a hard time convincing me otherwise. There are even some really interesting wrinkles to it exposed in the miniseries Unthinkable, which I highly recommend you check out! I’ve written about it here.
Forge’s Mechanical Intuition
Forge’s power would make him either the world’s greatest entrepreneur or philanthropist. Or both; why limit the guy? He’d make a clean sweep of every season of Shark Tank, for sure!
His power is one of invention. He can invent, design, construct, disassemble, reverse-engineer, upgrade, or disable any mechanical device. It doesn’t even matter if it is alien or even future technology! Maybe not the flashiest power on the battlefield, but who would make for a better support team character than him?
As I watch and comment on My Hero Academia, I see Forge as the very embodiment and exemplar of the Support Item architects like Power Loader and Mei Hatsume. They wish they were as good as Forge. In fact, given Kōhei Horikoshi’s love of Western comics and superheroes, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn he took a lot of inspiration from Forge for the Support class.
Nico Minoru’s Staff of One
The Staff of One is a magic item that casts spells based on the uttering of a single word or short phrase. That by itself is not why it makes the cut for this list. It is the Staff of One’s limitations that make it super, super interesting!
The Staff of One cannot cast the same spell twice. If a word or phrase is repeated, the result is a random effect. So while it is super powerful, the wielder also has to be super creative!
I like to think that being excellent with synonyms or possibly even multiple languages would allow its wielder to cast the same spell multiple times. Even if that isn’t the case, imagine how quickly you have to think to be effective with this thing. I mean, Nico can’t exactly practice with it, or she loses the efficacy of a potentially useful word or phrase. Talk about pressure!
Domino’s Probability Field
I mean, who doesn’t want to be lucky, amirite? Her luck is only in effect when she’s in a “stressful situation,” but if we’re willing to be flexible with the definition of that phrase, we can have some big fun!
I’m a youth pastor and play a lot of dodgeball with my students. I’m already pretty good, but I’m not unbeatable. With Domino’s powers, though, I would be.
The power also goes a long way towards general survivability. I may not always come out unscathed, but I’ll take alive. Car wrecks, natural disasters, and the like all get reduced to near misses.
I only choose Domino’s powers over Longshot’s because hers doesn’t have the “flip side” drawbacks that co-creator Ann Nocenti says comes with his:
“Longshot has access to probabilities and luck. He’s lucky…the problem is that he finds out that there’s a flip side to luck. There are repercussions. If you pull probabilities towards yourself, you’re probably taking them away from other people, so it’s actually something that he shouldn’t even be doing.”
So really I’m choosing Domino’s power for your sake. You’re welcome.
Darwin’s Reactive Evolution
“Life…uh…finds a way” with Darwin, whose body evolves to survive any situation it is subjected to. Submerge him in water and he grows gills. Eject him into outer space and he no longer requires oxygen. As a result, he’s believed to be immortal or very nearly so.
That scene from X-Men: First Class? GARBAGE. I remember being so mad as I watched that. I wanted to see them flex their creativity muscles and show his adaptations and evolutions visually in cool and exciting ways. That said, I can understand how having a (for all intents and purposes) invulnerable character in your movie would lessen the tension here and there. So just leave him out! Don’t bring him in, get me excited, and then rather unceremoniously kill a guy whose power is specifically designed to keep such things from happening.
Rant aside, Darwin’s power appeals to the survivor in me. I’d probably do a lot less disaster prep if I had his abilities.
Ink’s Power Tattoos
While not technically his power, I still super dig the concept. Ink’s body is covered in tattoos imbued with power by their tattoo artist (the real mutant, Leon Nunez). The symbols are capable of different effects, such as:
- Illness Inducement: A tattoo on his right palm in the shape of a biohazard symbol can be used to make people become extremely ill.
- Superhuman Strength: Granted by a tattoo on his left arm which appears to mimic the texture of Colossus’ flesh when he becomes metal.
- Telepathy: A set of two lightning bolt tattoos in Eric’s temples gives him low-level telepathy, though it can be blocked by psi-shields.
- Flight: Bestowed by tattoos of wings on his back.
- Selective Detonation: An “explosive” symbol tattooed on his right bicep allows Eric to blow up objects and punch through walls.
- Healing Touch: Granted by a caduceus symbol on Eric’s left palm, allowing him to heal the injuries of those he touches
- Regenerative Healing Factor: Bestowed by a cross symbol on the back of his neck.
- Optic Blasts: Eric has been shown using eye beams similar to those of Cyclops. (1)
I like this power for its emphasis on creativity and its limitations, just like the Staff of One. The body can only hold so many tattoos, so you’ve got to be selective. Maybe he can get some removed and replaced? Who knows. If not, the fun or challenge lies in finding new applications for his static powers – which is true of every power ever.
Cypher’s Language Comprehension
Last but not least, I have another just supremely useful power in Cypher’s language comprehension. He’s like Forge, but with any and all languages instead of machines. This includes computer code, by the way!
It has also expanded to include other nonverbal forms of communication, such as body language and even combat (which I think is a bit of a stretch, but whatevs).
Far from the flashiest power out there, but perhaps among those with the widest range of application which is what makes it cool to me. Wolverine’s claws are always going to cut things. That’s what he’s always going to be seen doing. Not so with Cypher.
Also I wonder…could Cypher create a language (given his intuitive grasp of linguistics and philology), and if so, could he ever create one so complex that even he couldn’t decipher it? Even if the silly second part of the question is thrown out, I think it would be cool to see him used to encode instead of just decode.
(1) List taken from Ink’s entry on Marvel.Fandom.com.