A Baker's Dozen of Comic Book Heroes

Recent years have seen unprecedented success for comic books and the companies that publish them. Every year, multiple blockbuster movies are released that chronicle the exploits of classic (and maybe not so classic) heroes and villains. Indeed, comic book movies seem to exist solely to fatten up the cash cow of which they are a part. But which heroes reign supreme? Who are the best of the best? It is a heated debate that has been going on for more than half of a century now, and just like the characters themselves, it is constantly changing. With that being said, here are Tae-Kwon Doughnuts' Baker's Dozen.

13. The Flash

Barry Allen is the fastest man alive.

Barry Allen is the fastest man alive. No, really. He is the fastest speedster in an ever-expanding roster of heroes and villains with super speed. However, running fast is probably the least important reason he makes a list such as this. Aside from Superman, it can be argued that The Flash might be the most powerful (and absurd) hero in the D.C. universe. Not only can he run quickly (he's reached speeds of over 6 billion mph), but he has accelerated healing, increased perception, superhuman brain activity (since his brain moves fast too, of course), can phase through objects by vibrating the individual molecules in his body to certain frequencies, can steal kinetic energy, and can throw lightning. The Flash draws his power from The Speed Force (even though he its source [?]), and can pull other people into it to fight them in a plane of existence that amplifies his already ridiculous strength/speed/power (it is almost like a separate dimension of speedster power). More loony still is a recent feat of The Flash's: running on clouds (we'll skip the explanation for this because it is an affront to science).

These powers do not make The Flash one of the greatest super heroes of all time however. If you keep up with comics in general, you have probably heard of something called The New 52 in the D.C. comic universe. Basically, Barry ran back in time to save his mother from being killed by Reserve Flash. Upon succeeding, he completely altered reality for the worse. Realizing his mistake (thanks to some convincing by Thomas Wanye as Batman), he ran back in time again so that his mother would die and reality would be set right again. Reality returned to a relatively normal state, but with a few changes. Not only does this make The Flash incredibly important to the D.C. universe as a whole, but it also shows something of his character. Barry abused his absurd power in an attempt to create some happiness for himself, but allowed himself to experience that tragedy anew in order to insure the greater good.

Besides being selfless, Barry is intelligent and a generally decent person. He has far fewer demons than many superheroes, and while the list of villains he has fought aren't quite as iconic as say, Batman or Superman's, there should be no doubt that the Justice League, the D.C. universe, or comic books in general are better off with The Flash as one of the good guys.

12. Spawn

"It is her face that keeps haunting you."

Al Simmons was a trained special government operative (a.k.a. a glorified assassin) that was betrayed and murdered by his superiors. In hell, he made a deal with the devil (at least, a devil named Malebolgia) to serve him in exchange for a new lease on life. A smoking hot wife and a burning desire for revenge can cause one to make some fool hearty decisions. Fast forward more than two decades and Spawn (short for hellspawn, Al's former position in the army of Hell) has not only defeated the devil, but also managed to usurp God (he was granted unlimited power by The Mother of All things and banished God and Satan from the earth, which he completely remade in his own image. He would later sacrifice his own god-like power and return to his hellspawn form). He can teleport, alter matter, open portals to heaven and hell, fly, talk to animals, read minds, transform his body (or individual parts of it), and control the elements. He can only be killed by being beheaded, and even that is almost impossible unless attempted with a blade forged in heaven.

Not only has Al accomplished more amazing feats than just about any super hero, but Spawn has arguably become the most famous independent comic series of all time (albeit recent sales are not at peak Spawn levels). Spawn was published by Image Comics, a company was formed by author and artist Todd McFarlane and a few others after he became disillusioned and upset at Marvel Comics for various reasons. Spawn was the first character and comic created by the new company and would cause Image Comics to rival Marvel and D.C. comics for a stretch during the latter half of the 1990s and early 2000s. He has had his own (fairly) successful movie, video games, impressively detailed action figures, and even critically-acclaimed animated HBO series. Even now, fans await the news that Al Simmons will be returning to the big or silver screen. Not bad Todd.

11. Raphael

COWABUNGA!

Let the fanboy outcry begin. No, Raphael is not as smart as Donatello, as funny (perhaps) as Michelangelo, or as skilled as Leonardo, but he is the most interesting and compelling member of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, a group that appeared in a black and white comic series in 1984 that grew into a global phenomenon. The turtles have been featured in five live action films (even though they most recently have been rendered in CGI), animated films, and 5 cartoon series (with a sixth announced to start in 2018). They have sold approximately the same amount of toys as the likes of Batman, Superman, or Spider-Man since 1984. They even had a (regrettable) concert tour.

The reason Raphael makes it over the rest of his siblings because he is the most complex and fleshed out character of the bunch. Leonardo has proven to be the greatest warrior out of the bunch, but he is one-dimensional compared to Raph. Yes, the anger issues by this point have gotten a little stale, but getting angry is not what makes him interesting. He is the physically strongest of his brothers, he is probably the second best martial artist, and he has the best one-liners ("A Jose Canseco bat...Tell me you didn't pay money for this."). In most instances, the turtles are at their most vulnerable without him and at their strongest when he is in full harmony with them, often making him the keystone to their fullest functionality. In addition, he single-handedly made the sai popular. Yes, it is a real weapon that was used anciently, but nobody in popular culture made kids want to buy fake ones before Raphael came along.

Some notable accomplishments of Raphael include punching out Hitler in the Archie comics run of the Ninja Turtles, becoming a new iteration of the Shredder as a ploy to psychologically dominate bad guys and render the Foot Clan kaput, and becoming a bartender on the island of Turtleco (formerly Manhattan). He also is the first turtle to befriend a human in Casey Jones, though it could be argued that the turtles only really have two human friends throughout the series. He is somehow able to shred (excuse the pun) robots and metal objects with his sai, push down brick walls, crack a solid stone pillar by punching it softly, throw a motorcycle, knock over a car, and jump at least 20 feet into the air, on top of being a ninja. "Turtle power" right?

10. Daredevil

The Man Without Fear

Oddly enough, the next hero in our box was, in a way, the inspiration for the previous crime fighter. That's correct, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were originally meant to be a sort of parody of Daredevil, among other heroes. While the turtles became much more popular than Daredevil has ever been (aside from perhaps the last few years), it is hard to place many characters above the Devil of Hell's Kitchen.

Matt Murdock was the son of a boxer that was rendered blind and bequeathed superhuman senses in a tragic accident with some sort of radioactive material. Tragedy accounts for about 94% of all hero origin stories, but little Matty was robbed of his sight when he saved an older man's life. Talk about irony. You would be hard pressed to find anyone that would argue that he came out the worse for it, however. Because of his accident, Daredevil's senses have become so acute and powerful that they rival almost any other heroes besides Superman's (which are just bonkers). Murdock can read words on a page from the impressions of the ink (who needs braille?), feel a person's body heat from five or six feet away, and manipulate his inner organs and nervous system (um, total body control?) to allow him peak human physical strength, enhanced agility beyond human capabilities, and numb himself to pain. He has shown himself capable of reaching Olympic sprinter-level speeds and throwing his billy club hard enough to break concrete. He can dodge gunfire and detect odors of an atmospheric concentration of thirty parts per million, which basically allows him to remember a person he has spent five minutes with forever by how they smell and let him follow them through a crowd from a distance of 50 feet. His sense of hearing enables him to "detect an acoustic pressure change of one decibel at a pressure level of seven decibels (whereas the lowest threshold for average human hearing is twenty decibels)." All of his senses, especially his sense of hearing, work together to grant him his famous "radar sense," which amounts to complete, three-dimensional awareness of his surroundings, including other people and inanimate objects. The last power mentioned here will be his ability to identify every ingredient in the food he eats.

Daredevil cracks the top ten in our Baker's Dozen, however, because his series has been responsible for some of the best stories in the Marvel universe (thanks Frank Miller). He battles ninjas and psychopaths as a blind man, revealed his identity to the public in an attempt to earn the trust of non-super people, and even had a romantic history with an assassin the Kingpin hired to kill him (Elektra). Many of the Daredevil comics are quite contemporary, reflecting the unrest of the 1970s and the Cold War concerns of the 1980s. Matt Murdock battles with anger, falls out of touch with his humanity more than once, and even found himself in jail at one point, housed right next to criminals that Daredevil had put behind bars. He is one of the few religious comic book characters, and the sense of Catholic guilt that drives him to fight crime causes him to doubt and question himself constantly. On top of all of that, it helps to have the best-ever ongoing television (Netflix) series based on a comic book character. Daredevil is one of the most complex and compelling superheroes in the world.

9. Jean Grey

"Jean Grey could have lived to become a god. But it was more important to her that she die...a human."

If this Baker's Dozen were based solely on these heroes powers, Jean Grey would be close to the top of the list. When first possessed by the Phoenix Force, Jean accidentally destroyed solar systems. It is not just a large chest, signature red hair, a near-romance with Wolverine, or a fiery bird entity that put Mrs. Grey-Summers at the ninth spot on our Dozen. Really, it is the impact that her character has had on comic storytelling, the marvel universe, and on female super heroes.

Ask any knowledgeable comic book fan about the best stories in comic book history and you will be hard-pressed to find many people that do not mention The Dark Phoenix Saga. What they are referring to are the events surrounding Jean Grey first being possessed by the Phoenix Force. Basically, the X-Men believe Jean to be dead after sacrificing herself to save them in outer space. She does not die, but telepathically attracts the attention of a cosmic fiery bird that saves her life, gives her temporary amnesia, and grants her near-unlimited power. After being telepathically manipulated by Mastermind, the X-Men must convince her of her true identity and stop her from obliterating all of them. The Phoenix, you see, was enraged at Mastermind and caused Jean to drive him insane, fly into space, absorb the energy of an entire star (ending life in that solar system), and decimate Shi'ar vessel. In the end, she decides to disintegrate herself with a Shi'ar weapon in order to prevent the possibility of a Dark Phoenix rampage that could, you know, wipe out galaxies.

Since that time, the Phoenix has successfully resurrected Jean multiple times, with each story arc more or less resulting in Jean sacrificing herself or imprisoning her body in such a way that prevents the Phoenix from inhabiting her. The Phoenix has proven to be an overwhelming and insatiable power source that seemingly cannot be controlled by anyone apart from Jean. In a sort of Promethean form of torture, she has been forced to endure immense mental and physical torment for the betterment of the world.

8. Robin

The Boy Wonder

Robin. The name has practically become synonymous with the word 'sidekick.' Indeed, Dick Grayson (as Robin) would become the greatest sidekick in the history of comic books (if you say Bucky Barnes, your opinion warrants no consideration). What other character has had three other people assume his identity/position?

Dick Grayson tops the other Robins not necessarily because of ability, but because he was the original Robin and would end up being the only Robin that separated himself from the persona and became a different hero (Nightwing). It was this Robin that was part of some of the most famous stories in Batman history, this Robin that would become a founding member and leader of the Teen Titans (not to mention The Outsiders and even the Justice League, briefly), and this Robin that would pave the way for the rest of the Batman crime-fighting family, whose members are all awesome (the three Robins and Batgirl/Oracle). What's more, he was the only Robin to don the cape and cowl of Batman on a few occasions (purely out of necessity). Eventually, he would refuse after becoming Nightwing, believing that he was a capable enough hero on his own. No disrespect Brucey, but he was right (not that Bruce Wayne disagrees really).

Dick, like Bruce, has no supernatural powers and yet outwits and outfights superhumans, aliens, mutants, and monsters constantly. The Justice League leaves him alone regarding his leadership of the Teen Titans, even calling upon the team on occasion to save/assist the more famous group of heroes. He speaks French, Spanish, Russian, Mandarin, Cantonese, Japanese, American Sign Language, and even the alien language Tamaran fluently. He is a skilled spy, can resist telepathic attacks, and is the greatest acrobat in the D.C. universe, the only person alive capable of completing a quadruple somersault.

7. Captain America

The first avenger

How would you begin to describe Captain America? He was not only the first Avenger, but he was the first super hero of the Marvel universe, with an ongoing series beginning in 1941. Created originally as a sort of flashpoint for American patriotism during World War II, he became what is most known for in the 1960s when Jack Kirby and Stan Lee made him the leader of the Avengers. Cap's series and stories suffered during the Vietnam War and subsequent conflicts, but picked up in a post-9/11 world when the world has steadily seemed to be heading to hell in a hand basket.

In recent years, Cap's powers have been magnified slightly, perhaps as science concerning human development continues to evolve. He is capable of lifting 800 lbs without completely straining himself, leaping over 10 feet into the air with a running start, kicking down steel doors with a single kick, break tank weapons by throwing his shield, and break through chains or handcuffs with little effort. He has reached peak speeds of 70 mph over short distances and has a reaction time of 20 kph. On top of it all, his brain functions at a higher capacity than that of the average human. He has an eidetic memory and an accelerated learning aptitude, which have made him the greatest military tactician in human history.

Captain America continues to resonate among fans, both hardcore and casual alike, because of his moral rigidity. He is proof that even when the rest of the world speeds toward complete moral relativism, it still needs people to take a stand for the truth and freedom. Steve Rodgers has almost literally become the American flag, wearing it on his body as if the flag itself was leading the world's greatest heroes into battle. As anti-American sentiment grows, he represents everything the country, and really the world, should be. Unlike Superman, Rodgers more realistically represents the peak of humanity, with the super serum giving him the perfect, but still human, body. He runs as fast as the human body possible could, is as strong as a person could possibly be, does not get drunk, does not smoke, and does not age. It is metaphorically fitting that he is over 80 years old and still in his super soldier prime. He has gotten more interesting with time because he now struggles as a man out of time, constantly wondering what his place is in the new world, much like the flag and the values he upholds.

6. The Incredible Hulk

"Hulk is strongest there is!"

The Hulk's limitless strength is only matched by his will power. It's one thing to transform into a green behemoth when you get angry; it is an entirely different matter to be constantly hunted, feared, and rejected by most of mankind. While some have reduced the Hulk to merely a physically strong character that is good for nothing besides smashing things, he has shown to be an immensely complex psychological character. Bruce Banner and the Hulk part of his psyche have constantly fought over control of his mind and body. Yes, he was originally created as Marvel's wall-smashing version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Hulk has shown himself to be far more compassionate, brave, and selfless than a man with purely scientific motives. After all, the Hulk was born when Bruce was saving stupid little Rick Jones' life from a gigantic explosion.

Every bit the equal of Tony Stark and Mr. Fantastic intellectually, Bruce Banner becomes far more than the Avengers great big bulldozer when he transforms. He has the potential for limitless strength, durability, stamina, healing, and adaptability, according to the Beyonder, a Marvel cosmic entity. Not only does he grow stronger the angrier or more excited he gets, but also by the radiation and magic he catalyses. Yes, the Hulk, at one point, produced magic. He can escape Earth's gravitational pull in one jump and reach running speeds topping Mach 5. He once pulled a planet's tectonic plates together and created an earth quake felt for hundreds of miles by stomping his foot once as world-breaker Hulk. His reaction time is so fast that he can keep up with Sentry (essentially Marvel's Superman) and even the Silver Surfer. Incredibly (ha!), the Hulk's body makes an "oxygenated per fluorocarbon emulsion", which "creates pressure in the Hulk's lungs and effectively lets him breathe underwater and move quickly between varying depths without concerns about decompression or nitrogen narcosis," according to Marvel.com.

It is nice to see the Hulk at his current height of popularity. Though Bruce Banner was recently killed in Marvel comics, it is surely only a matter of time before he is resurrected. With Amadeus Cho becoming the newest version of the Hulk, fans have been shown that those best equipped to handle gamma-fueled rage creatures are those with the most powerful minds and character. While Bruce's personality has changed a bit over the years, he is perhaps the most selfless character on this list, constantly refusing to allow the contempt he receives on a daily basis to drive him to destroy anything and anyone that offends or attempts to hurt him. The Hulk is the embodiment of the pain and anger that Banner has experienced, even as a child with an abusive father. The Hulk is most powerful coping mechanism the fictional world has ever seen.

5. Wonder Woman

Princess Diana of Themyscira

Easily the most famous woman superhero of all time and one of the most recognizable heroes in the world, it is basically a no-brainer to have Wonder Woman in the top 5 of this sort of a list. She had her own live action television program, was the the first female superhero to have her own ongoing series, and was one of the founding members of perhaps the most famous superhero team of all time. She was even officially named an ambassador for the United Nations. As in, the actual United Nations that exists in the real world. Oh yea, and she just happens to be one of the most powerful heroes in the D.C. universe. She is as relevant as she has ever been, a strong woman character that didn’t take any malarkey from anyone, male, female, or alien.

Wonder Woman is a demigoddess raised by Amazons as a princess on the island of Themyscira. She was sculpted by earth and given life by Athena, as well as various divine gifts and attributes by other Greek gods. Demeter bestowed upon her superhuman strength and durability, while Hermes granted her the abilities of flight and super speed. Other blessings include heightened senses and animal rapport. She is the finest warrior an island of warrior women has ever produced (with some additional training by Ares, the god of war himself), and it its first to live among the rest of humanity in centuries. Most bizarre is her arsenal of weapons, which includes a tiara that is razor sharp and possesses boomerang-like properties, wrist guards that are seemingly indestructible, and a lasso that causes people to tell the truth when it ensnares them (ooh! glowy!).

Diana is one of the most powerful members of the Justice League, and yet her "secret" identity as Diana Prince reflects the dichotomy of her character. She will never back down from a fight or challenge, and yet she is still a diplomat, preferring peaceful resolutions to open conflict. She has been a symbol for feminist ideas for decades (amidst a few small heated attacks by the media and fans), showing that women are just as capable as men when it comes to solving large-scale problems. Never seeking the spotlight but never shying away from an opportunity to inspire others, she has always encouraged peace, respect, and honor among humans and super humans alike, even when other heroes and coworkers like Batman reject such attention. Even under scrutiny, it is difficult to find many weaknesses with Wonder Woman.

4. Wolverine

The best there is at what he does

John Howlett (ugh), a.k.a Logan, a.k.a The Wolverine, a.k.a. Weapon X, is the most famous mutant of all time. During a decent chunk of the 1990s, he even deserved serious consideration for the most famous and beloved superhero period, at least in the United States. Kids would hold everything from pencils and rulers to glow sticks between their fingers and pretend they were brandishing adamantium claws. And why not? Wolverine was the best there was at what he did.

Wolverine's powers have remained fairly consistent throughout his publication existence, with the exception of maybe the strength of those abilities. He has super senses, an adamantium-laced skeleton, claws housed in his forearms that emerge from between his knuckles, and a remarkable "healing-factor" that allows him to recover from injury much more rapidly than a human and grants him extreme stamina and durability. This has also slowed the aging process in his body. He still largely appears as a man in his physical prime even though he was born in the early 1880s. These abilities have seen him accomplish some of the more hardcore feats of the Marvel universe. He's been an X-Man, and Avenger, and even a horseman of Apocalypse. He's been the headmaster of a school for mutants, fought off dozens of ninjas at one time, and is incapable of getting drunk or high from addictive substances. He has lifted/pressed about two tons, has moved faster than the human eye can track, and Forge once described a training session of James' in the Danger Room as "equivalent to an Olympic-level gymnast performing a Gold-medal-winning routine whilst simultaneously beating four chess computers in his head." He is an expert mechanic, being the longest-standing Blackbird repairman the X-Men have had, and he speaks 14 languages. He once regenerated his entire body (excluding his adamantium skeleton and brain) in a matter of hours after being completely immolated by Nitro and somehow performed a similar feat in the Old Man Logan series after being chewed apart and eaten by the Hulk (he reformed inside of the Hulk's stomach and clawed his way out, killing the green rage beast).

His powers were not the biggest reasons he was beloved, however. For one, he was afraid of nothing and no one. He never backed down from a fight, and he usually won. Another reason could be that he looked like the most manly superhero ever, with tons of body hair, long sideburns, thick eyebrows, and limbs like tree trunks. One of the most obvious reasons was that he had an amazing and mysterious backstory to boot. At 5’3”, he was the baddest dude around, an expert assassin, martial artist, samurai, tracker, and even ladies man. Oh yea, and in case you forgot, he was introduced to comic books as someone that fought the Hulk to a stalemate. Only the likes of Thor can also claim that. He kicked butt and took names, and yet he earned more sympathy than almost every other Marvel character due to his horrible and tragic past. Unfortunately, Marvel would eventually give him a past and origin story that was far less than what he deserved, and the Fox live-action movies have largely bastardized him (though his latest has offered him the slightest bit of redemption). If you are a comic book fan, you have fond memories of reading Wolvy's exploits.

3. Superman

The Man of Steel

What can you say about Superman that hasn’t been said? He is basically God walking among mortals, an idea that has been explored more recently in the D.C. universe, both in comic form and video games. Being the first notable comic book superhero obviously helps, but even after about 80 years, that ‘S’ is still as ubiquitously known as it ever was. While he started with a crusade to fight for “Truth, justice, and the American way,” he has become a global icon that has become a symbol for hope and justice for the entire world.

Is a description of Kal-El's powers necessarily? Aside from telekinesis and maybe teleportation, Superman has shown signs that he can accomplish just about anything (remember, he did cause the earth to travel back in time). Perhaps it would suffice to list some of the more ridiculous things he can do. He can hear in the vacuum of space, can see a person's soul, and can spot objects moving faster than the speed of light. Think those are crazy? Superman once spent 15 minutes in the sun absorbing its radiation. When he emerged, he could easily move planets. His heat vision can be expanded to his entire field of view and can reach temperatures hotter than the sun. This has allowed him to burn entire planets to a crisp. He can vibrate the molecules of his body, much like The Flash, at speeds bordering the speed of light, which somehow allows him to turn invisible and punch things with a force of ten octillion megatons (or the force of a supernova). He has held a black hole in his hand and has patched up holes in reality using nothing but static electricity created from his body.

Why he’s not number 1: We need to add this extra explanation for Superman. To many fans, historians, or even scholars, Superman is the definitive greatest superhero of all time. It’s easy to make that argument if you’re talking about impact, recognition, etc., but the world has changed quite a bit since 1938 (it’s changed quite a bit since 1998). Whereas Superman was once designed as a symbol of mankind’s highest potential, that idea has slowly faded as his powers have amalgamated into the ambiguous infinite (e.g. he’s held a black hole in his hands, held up infinity, etc. Um...what?). Originally, Superman couldn't even fly, but now there is literally nothing Superman cannot do. That is all well and good for comic books to be sure, but it’s not a realistic aspiration for the average human. He has become devoid of relatability, something that has become more important to the average fan. His only weakness is supposed to be kryptonite, and yet he seems incapacitated or injured all too often (mentioning a susceptibility to magic seems ridiculous at this point). Quite the conundrum for creating drama or raising stakes in a story. For these reasons, Superman does not top our list.

2. spider-man

With great power comes great responsibility

The argument for Spider-Man being the second greatest superhero of all time isn’t as far-fetched as it might seem. He is just about as famous as any superhero has ever been, with new movies and cartoon series being released every year. He is the definitive hero that is famous not because of his superpowers (though those certainly help), but because of his personality. Before, and even for a while after, gaining superpowers, he was just like many of the kids that read comic books (this is not to say that all comic fans were nerds, but let’s face it, a lot were). For years, he was the only superhero that had to worry about saving lives, stopping crime, and passing exams.

Always a wisecracking jokester, Spider-Man has always run his mouth, much to the delight of his fans and the chagrin of his enemies. However, if one were to really dive into the character deeper, he does so as a coping mechanism for an underlying sense of self-doubt, self-consciousness, and even failure. The Spider-Man persona was born from tragedy, but it was a tragedy that was indirectly caused by Peter Parker. Sure, Bruce Wayne lost his parents, Superman’s home planet blew up, Wolverine lost his memories, but those were all circumstances and events largely out of their control. Peter Parker had superpowers, did not save his uncle, and couldn’t save his first girlfriend. The Death of Gwen Stacy is still one of the most important stories in all of comic books not just because his significant other died (which was something that hadn’t really happened up to that point in comic books), but because his own webbing very well could have broken her neck as he attempted to save her. Talk about haunting ambiguity. Ouch.

Until recently, he never had the resources of any of the main Avengers or members of the Justice League, and yet he managed to create his famous web shooters in his bedroom. He’s stopped some of the best and most iconic villains time and again on his own (and yes, great villains means a greater superhero), and he’s even saved the world (Consider the fact that the Kingpin, Daredevil’s most famous nemesis, is basically a Spider-Man throwaway baddie). He provided the world with one of the most famous taglines in popular culture history. Oh, and in case you have not been paying attention, Spider-Man has gotten himself laid by more Marvel characters with names than any other hero (Tony Stark surely holds the record for unnamed conquests). *Thwip!*

1. Batman

The Dark Knight is the greatest superhero of all time

The best live-action superhero film of all time (The Dark Knight), the best animated superhero film of all time (The Lego Batman Movie), and the best animated superhero television program of all time (Batman: The Animated Series) all center themselves on one fictional man.

Bruce Wayne has studied 127 martial arts, earned 12 master's degrees, and perfected escape artistry. He can bench press 1000 lbs, catch arrows fired from The Green Arrow, has a genius-level intellect, and is an expert detective. He can anticipate attacks merely by paying attention to opponents' muscle movements. He is a founding member of the Justice League whose contingency plans against its members were used in a plot that nearly took them down by Vandal Savage. He somehow survives repeated fights with foes tough enough to stand toe-to-toe with the League, and has even fought Superman himself. He even manages to sneak around super beings, being including Superman. You know, that other hero that can hear in the vacuum of space. On top of his abilities, he has the greatest arsenal of gadgets and tools in comic book history (besides maybe Tony Stark). With enough preparation time, Batman can conceivably construct a gadget to get him out of any situation or defeat any foe.

Batman is the greatest superhero of all time, however, in large part due to his stories. Without question, he has faced many of the greatest super villains of all time repeatedly, such as Bane, Ra's al Ghul, and the Joker. Whether you consider The Dark Knight film, The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller, The Killing Joke, the "Hush" story arc, The Birth of the Demon, "A Death in the Family," or "Year One," Batman has provided comic readers with some of the best tales in comic book history.

Aside from these, Bruce represents the peak of human willpower. He has pushed himself to physical and mental levels high enough to compete with gods. The reason he is number one is because he should technically lose to almost everyone else on this list in a fight, and yet almost no one would predict him to do so. He doesn't kill anyone (for the most part), and yet always manages to find a way to defeat any opponent against whom he is pitted. No matter what happens to a person, be it witnessing his or her parents being murdered, being drugged, having his or her back broken, living a life largely deprived of love or intimacy, or watching the world literally crumble, Batman inspires all to adapt, cope, and persevere in the most hardcore and respectable way.

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