From DC to Marvel comics and Image to Dark Horse, there are dozens of superheroes and villains that have inspired the world for the past couple of decades. However, the same high number of heroes and bad guys is what makes some of them fall through the cracks. Let’s review 10 of the most underrated superheroes from both movies and comic books.
1. Captain Marvel (Shazam!)
Even though the vast majority of people view Captain Marvel as a poor copy of Superman, the truth is that Shazam! is one of the most powerful heroes in the DC universe. Introduced in 1940, Captain Marvel is in fact a grade-school boy who earns a multitude of abilities simply by uttering the word Shazam! Although a well constructed superhero, he did not receive half the attention he deserves and the various attempts of DC to revive the interest in this character failed miserably. Shazam! experienced the same fate in the animated series, as he only briefly appears in a fight against Superman on the Justice League Unlimited series.
2. The Black Panther
With Wolverine-like senses and an outstandingly sharp intelligence, Black Panther is among the few Marvel characters that actually has a very interesting background story. However, it seems that most comic book fans are not very impressed with either the story or the abilities of the hero that are coming from the technologically advanced African nation of Wakanda. In fact, they see this as a poor attempt of Marvel to get black people to read their comics. Nonetheless, looking beyond the controversy, you will discover an incredible character who married X-men member Storm and later on, got the chance to replace the Invisible Woman and Mr. Fantastic from the Fantastic Four.
3. Elongated Man
Perhaps the most reasonable explanation for the limited popularity of Elongated Man resides in the fact that he was introduced in the 1960, a decade when any character with these abilities was easily overshadowed by incredible superheroes such as DC’s Plastic Man or Marvel’s Mr. Fantastic. Sadly, the world has lost a great superhero who was also an excellent detective besides being able to stretch, change his shape and withstand the amount of firepower that would destroy a building in a matter of seconds. Similar to Shazam!, Elongated Man appeared several times in the Justice League series.
The best way to describe Nightwing is that he is Robin, but only after he stopped acting like Robin. In a way, he is some sort of a Batman Jr. without the family fortune. As you probably guessed, he is not blessed with incredible super powers, but is very skilled in advanced fighting techniques and extreme agility. Although he had his own series (highly recommended), Nightwing also plays a central role in The Dark Knight Strikes Again movie and has been part of almost every series associated with Batman. However strange, this DC hero didn’t manage to draw the attention of the fan community either.
5. Iron Fist
Granted, Iron Fist does not have a dramatic or exciting back story. However, the whole idea around this superhero is special: he has an incredible strength and agility, he is a master in martial arts, he has the ability to heal himself and others and he is immune to danger (at least for a short while). Iron Fist was not greatly received by comic book fans, meaning that Marvel’s ongoing series – the Immortal Iron Fist – is far from being big hit. On the other hand, everyone is waiting for the movie, which is rumored to hit the box office in 2012 and that will feature Ray Park (Darth Maul).
6. Squirrel Girl
In spite of her rather ridiculous name, Squirrel Girl is mutant fighting evil with her two best friends: Tippy-Toe and Monkey Joe. And, if that didn’t impress you enough, then you should know that her evil-fighting resume includes the defeat of Dr. Doom and Deadpool. Although she practically mopped the floor with two of the most loved comics’ characters, she is still underrated and only appears briefly in the new Fantastic Four TV show.
7. Captain Comet
A subtle combination of the Human Torch (lacking the Flame On!) and Flash Gordon, Captain Comet first made his appearance on DC’s series, Mystery of Space. At the same time, Captain Comet co-starred with the Man of Steel in DC Comics Present #22 and put on quite an impressive performance. The reasons for his apparent unpopularity cannot really be explained, considering his evil-fighting experience, style and overall CV.
8. The Freedom Fighters
Even though the Freedom Fighters count as a team and not an individual superhero, most comic book fans do not see anything wrong with it. After all, the current trends all seem to point out that teams are the next hype of the comic world, if you were to think about Avengers, the Fantastic Four or the X-Men for instance. One of the explanations for their little appeal to the public could reside in the fact that the members of the team, namely Phantom Lady, Doll Man, Uncle Sam, Human Bomb and Black Condor have not changed one bit ever since they were introduced, back in 1973.
One of the founding members of the Outsiders and with several incarnations in the Justice League series, Metamorpho is a great superhero that everyone seems to have forgotten. And, he even has a very interesting and spicy back story: a traveler hired to retrieve an ancient Egyptian artifact, he is betrayed by his employee’s bodyguard and exposed to a highly radioactive meteorite. What is interesting about Metamorpho is the fact that he is among the few DC Comics superheroes who is unable to assume a full human form, as he is no longer made of flesh and bones.
10. Black Lightning
Black Lighting is another noteworthy member of the Outsiders who did not get the recognition he deserves. A rather impressive mix of the Black Dynamite and Shaft, Black Lighting is also the first major African-American superheroes in the DC Comics universe. Similarly to Metamorpho, DC tried to revive the public’s interest in this hero with a six-issue miniseries, an attempt which obviously did not succeed.