Superheroes obviously don’t age as we do, but as stories are retconned, characters die and, in some cases, superheroes grow old, we see a lot of superheroes pass the mantle down to a successor. Sometimes it’s even an important part of their mythos. Either they’re a symbol that must live on through the ages or they serve a specific purpose that needs to be fulfilled. Whatever the case may be, what we’re left with is a lineage of rich generational history that we could only wish to be a part of…
Here are 15 Legacy Superheroes You Wish You Could Be!
1. Black Panther
The Black Panther is the role given to the ruler of the technologically advanced African nation of Wakanda. It’s their duty to not only rule Wakanda, but also protect the nation as its greatest warrior. As such, the heir must train their whole life in order to bear this incredible responsibility.
When the time comes for them to step up to the plate, they consume a heart shaped herb that grant them powers similar to that of a super-soldier. This gives them powers such as superhuman senses, peak human strength, peak human speed, peak human agility and peak human durability.
The first Black Panther to appear chronologically was Mosi (a member of the 1,000,000 BC Avengers), who first appeared in Marvel Legacy #1 (2017). Since then, there has been many to take on the mantle. The most notable of all being T’Challa, who was the first to appear narratively and is the character most people think of when they think of Black Panther. He made his debut in Fantastic Four #52 (1966).
2. The Flash
The first man to be known as The Flash, Jay Garrick made his debut all the way back in Flash Comics #1 (1940). He was very popular up until the end of the golden age of comics. In Showcase #4 (1956), a new version of The Flash, Barry Allen made his debut marking what many regard as the beginning of the silver age of comics.
Over the years, many very different characters have taken on the mantle of the scarlet speedster, but the one thing that unites them all is their use of the extradimensional energy known as the Speed Force. It’s this mysterious energy that grants them their super speed and all the necessary abilities they need to be able to use it.
3. Iron Fist
Iron Fist is another legacy superhero whose title has been passed down from hero to hero for millennia. Hailing from the mystical city of K’un L’un, the Iron Fist is a title given only to the greatest of warriors. To earn this title and the powers that come with it, they must defeat the dragon, Shou-Lou the Undying, and plunge their hands into his molten heart.
Once this task is complete, it gives them the power to focus all of their chi into their hands and make them as strong as iron. It also gives them enhanced speed, reflexes, durability, senses, and healing. The first Iron Fist was Fan Fei (another member of the 1,000,000 BC Avengers) who first appeared in Marvel Legacy #1 (2017). However, the most iconic character to hold the title, and the first to appear narratively is Danny Rand Kai, the 66th Iron Fist, who made his first appearance in Marvel Premiere #15 (1974).
4. Blue Beetle
The Blue Beetle is a mantle that has currently been held by three different characters. Dan Garret was the first Blue Beetle, appearing in Mystery Men Comics #1 (1939). The exact publication history has changed since then due to his character entering the public domain, so we’re going to tell his current DC Comics backstory. In this story, he is an an archaeologist that discovers the mystical artefact known as Blue Beetle Scarab.
This alien technology bonded with him and transformed him into the Blue Beetle, giving him the power of flight, energy projection, superhuman strength and superhuman durability. Interestingly, the second Blue Beetle, Ted Kord, never managed to get the scarab to work for him. So he took up the mantle and fought crime without the powers.
The third Blue Beetle, Jaime Reyes is by far the most powerful and has unlocked powers that Dan Garret never could. These include the ability to track energy, energy manipulation, scarab sight and healing.
5. Green Lantern
The Green Lantern Corps are an intergalactic peacekeeping force hailing from many planets spanning all across the universe. That being said, when we talk about the Green Lantern, we’re talking about the Green Lanterns of sector 2814 (the sector where Earth is located).
The first Green Lantern was Alan Scott, first appearing in All American Comics #16 (1940), his story was very different and he was not a member of the Corps. This would be retconned much later but the idea of the Green Lantern Corps was created during the silver age of comics with the introduction of Hal Jordan in Showcase #22 (1959).
The user of a green lantern ring can harness the power of will which manifests itself as a hard bright green light energy. Using this energy they can create shapes, weapons and even entrap enemies. The ring also affords the user other powers including flight, invisibility (through light refraction) and phasing through solid objects.
6. Ghost Rider
Ghost Rider is the title given to the avatars of the Spirits of Vengeance. Each Ghost Rider has been possessed by a different Spirit of Vengeance. Some have been anti-heroes and some villains, but the one thing that unites them all is the powers they’re imbued with and their penchant for vehicles.
Every Ghost Rider has the ability to turn their vehicle into a steed of hell. This gives them a symbiotic like connection with their chosen vehicle. Other powers they have include superhuman strength, durability, speed and stamina, Hellfire manipulation, penance stare and many, many more different abilities.
The first Ghost Rider to appear chronologically was 1,000,000 BC Ghost Rider, another member of the 1,000,00 BC Avengers, he debuted in Marvel Legacy #1 (2017). However, the first to appear narratively, and definitely the most iconic is Johnny Blaze who first appeared in Marvel Spotlight #5 (1972).
7. Ant Man
The original Ant-Man, Hank Pym first appeared in Tales to Astonish #27 (1962) and is the person responsible for creating the Pym Particles that all of the subsequent Ant-Men/Wasps have used to shrink down to the size of an insect whilst still retaining the strength they have at their normal size.
The main reason Hank Pym hasn’t been the main Ant-Man since his successor took over was the famous incident that was depicted in The Avengers #213 (1981). In this story, Hank Pym lashed out and hit his wife Janet Van Dyne/The Wasp giving us a panel that went on to become one of the most iconic moments in marvel comics.
Scott Lang appeared years before this in Avengers #213 (1981), but this incident left a permanent mark on the character and prevented him from Marvel bringing him back as the main Ant-Man in the comics and also from debuting him as the main Ant-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (despite being superior in every way).
8. Captain Marvel
The first character to hold the title was a member of the Kree known as Mar-Vell. His debut came all the way back in Captain Marvel #1 (1968). The origin he was given back then is different to the one he currently has but in the current origin he was a Kree military captain that turned against his people to protect the earth.
The current and most well-known (mainly due the movies) Captain Marvel is the 7th character to hold the title, Carol Danvers. She first appeared in Marvel Super-Heroes #13 (1968), beginning her superhero career under the name Ms. Marvel. At the time she was just a love interest to Mar-Vell. It wasn’t until Avenging Spider-Man #9 (2012) that she became Captain Marvel.
Robin is a unique entry on this list due to the fact that it’s a legacy superhero mantle that is only passed down to sidekicks. But not just any old sidekicks, the sidekicks of Batman. This is also the oldest superhero mantle on the list with the first Robin, Dick Grayson, making his debut in Detective Comics #38 (1940).
Those who take on the role of Robin are highly trained by the Batman, and in most cases they have been either his adopted son or actual son. In essence, this basically means that he grooms kids that are under his care to fight criminals. This says a lot about the mental state of Batman and is something that has been the subject of controversy and debate, both inside and outside of the DC Comics Multiverse.
The two most iconic, Robin’s Dick Grayson and Jason Todd have changed quite a lot since their days as Robin and taken on new identities as Nightwing and Red Hood. With the latter being an extremely violent anti-hero that has no qualms with breaking Batman’s no killing rule.
10. Doctor Fate
The original Doctor Fate was Kent Nelson, a golden age superhero that debuted in More Fun Comics #55 (1940). He freed a magical being known as Nabu the Wise from suspended animation and to reward him the being taught him the secrets of the universe and handed him several artefacts including the Helmet of Fate, the Amulet of Anubis, and the Cloak of Destiny. All of these things combined to give Kent what was needed to transform into Doctor Fate.
As Doctor Fate, Kent has an incredibly wide range of different abilities. These abilities include flight, superhuman strength, telekinesis, photokinesis, chronokinesis & a laundry list of other powers. Since the golden age, many have taken up the mantle but none have proven to be as popular or iconic as Kent Nelson. The current Doctor Fate is Kent Nelson’s grandnephew Khalid Nassour who first appeared in Convergence: Aquaman #2 (2015).
Everybody knows Peter Parker, the friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man. Bitten by a radioactive spider and given superhuman powers that he uses to fight crime.
First appearing in Amazing Fantasy #15 (1962), Peter Parker has since become one of the world’s most popular superheroes. Although, despite being undisputed as the definitive Spider-Man, he is not the only one to have held the mantle of Spider-Man.
Peter Parker has multiple clones that have taken on the mantle including Kaine Parker, who became a much more violent version of Spider-Man that used his ability to stick to surfaces, as a way to rip the skin of his foes faces leaving “the Mark of Kaine” burned into their face.
The most famous character to hold the mantle (other than Peter Parker, of course) is Miles Morales. He first appeared in Ultimate Fallout #4 (2011) as part of the Ultimate Universe but was later brought into the main Earth-616 Universe.
12. Captain America
Captain America is a symbol of righteousness and hope that must be kept alive no matter what. It’s for this reason that since he first appeared on the scene, there has always been somebody donning the star-spangled suit.
Of course, we all know Steve Rogers, the super soldier created by Project Rebirth (which later became Weapon Plus). But during the time Steve Rogers was frozen near the end of World War II up until the time he was unfrozen in Avengers #4 (1963), there were over 8 other people that took on the mantle.
Others that have taken on the mantle include the forgotten black Captain America, Isaiah Bradley, Bucky Barnes, Jonathon Walker (who would later become Captain America knock-off, U.S. Agent) and most recently Sam Wilson (who was formally Steve Rogers’ partner, Falcon).
Venom is a title given to those who are bonded with the Klyntar Symbiote of the same name. Technically, the first to bond with this symbiote was Peter Parker but it was Eddie Brock who first bonded with the symbiote. Originally, Venom was a villain with a particularly obsessive vendetta against Spider-Man but as time has gone on, he has slowly become an anti-hero.
After bonding with Spider-Man the symbiote absorbed his powers and abilities (including spinning webs). So, alongside all the powers a symbiote usually gives to the user they also have the same powers of Spider-Man. The symbiote itself first appeared in Amazing Spider-Man #252 (1984) but the first time it joined with Eddie Brock and gave birth to Venom was in Amazing Spider-Man #300 (1988).
Since then, we’ve seen multiple characters become bonded with the symbiote including Flash Thompson, Mac Gargan and Dylan Brock.
The Nova Corps are an intergalactic police force hailing from the planet Xandar. They rely on an energy known as the Nova Force to give them their power. The amount of the Nova Force a Nova Corps member has access to heavily depends on their rank but the abilities the Nova Force can give them includes superhuman strength, speed, reflexes, perception, light-speed flight, energy projection and many other abilities.
There are 100s of members of the Nova Corps but when we talk about Nova we are usually talking about the members of the Nova Corps that are human. So far, there has been two. The first being Richard Rider, who first appeared in The Man Called Nova #1 (1976). He is Nova Prime, the leader of the Nova Corps. This means he has complete access to the Nova Force and is an extremely powerful individual.
The second to hold the title is Sam Alexander, much lower in rank but also much younger and just getting to grips with his responsibilities in the Nova Corps.
15. Captain Universe
Captain Universe is one of the most powerful characters in the Marvel Universe. But it’s not a title that can be held by any one character. Similar to the previously mentioned symbiote, Captain Universe is a title held by those who become host to the cosmic energy known as the Uni-Power.
First appearing in Micronauts #8 (1979), this cosmic energy seeks out those who need it the most. Those who are attempting to defy the odds and stop destructive forces who are much more powerful than themselves from wiping out life on a massive scale. If the host tries to use the powers for personal gain or evil, they are immediately abandoned by the Uni-Power and left to their own devices.
The powers it gives to its chosen user includes manipulating matter/energy and the ability to sense things on a subatomic level from great distances. The immense power afforded to its user transforms them into a god-like being. Many heroes have been bestowed this power including Spider-Man, Daredevil, Deadpool, Venom and Silver Surfer.