#38 – Star-Lord

I actually didn’t plan to have two Guardians of the Galaxy back to back but it works.

Peter Quill is one of those characters that changed a lot due to the films but I think it works very well for his character.

After losing his mother at a young age, Peter Quill is whisked away to the stars and becomes a pilot and smuggler all across the galaxy. His cavalier approach to situations is probably why I love him as a character. He always seems so calm and cool even if his own ship is blowing up around him. There’s never a point where you think that this is actually the end of Star-Lord.

The true core of his character comes from the love he has for those around him. Both him and Rocket put on these brave faces but when it ultimately comes down to it they just want to hang on to this new family they’ve found. A lot of times Quill can come off as a jerk but ultimately he has one of the biggest hearts around and that’s what makes him such a great character.

Of course we can’t mention him without talking Chris Pratt’s great performance and the wonderful addition of the classic rock songs. Honestly, together this all brought Star-Lord to the forefront of the company and it’s worked wonders for them.

#39 – Rocket Raccoon

Rocket’s always been a fun character but until recently he’s always been a character that wasn’t necessarily a joke but almost too strange of a concept to work. Of course, Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, James Gunn and Marvel Studios all helped to change that fact in recent years. There’s been two origins for Rocket cause in one he’s from a planet of anthropomorphic animals including a walrus named Wal-Russ and in the other he was a gentic experiment, which is the one we see in the films. I actually prefer the latter because it adds a bit of adversity to his character. He’s not someone who’s a perfect hero, instead he’s someone who’s overcome the challenges that were set before him.

Rocket’s actually a very sympathetic character due to the experimentation because just like he says to Drax in the first film “He didn’t ask to become this thing, to be put back together again and again.” It’s a great moment for someone who’s typically so hard-headed and ready to fight to have this rather emotional delivery of these lines that explain why he is the way he is.

Rocket really grew for me in the second film and I love that he ends up admitting that he loves the other Guardians because they’re his real family.

Rocket’s not only someone you’d want with you in a fight, he’s also just a good friend to have by your side.

#40 – Daredevil

Some heroes fight because of the tragedy surrounding them, Some fight because of Necessity but Daredevil’s always been different because he never stops fighting to save Hell’s Kitchen. As Matt Murdock, he became a lawyer and works to clean up crime using the full ability of the legal system but sometimes he has to do things that a courtroom can’t. That’s where Daredevil comes in.

Blinded by a chemical spill as a boy, Matt learned how to see using his other four sense which were heightened to a superhuman extent. He’s described how he sees in different ways in the comics but my personal favorite comes from the Netflix series where he describes it as “Seeing a World on Fire.” This isn’t just a cool visual, this is also how Matt sees the world around him and feels like he’s the only one that can do something about it. Major Hero Complex going on and it gets him in trouble quite a bit but that’s one of the reasons I love him as a character.

I love that Matt wants to be heroic no matter what. He chooses to fight in the legal system long before he becomes Daredevil and I think that’s why I like him so much. He won’t ever stop fighting no matter what and it’s because of this want to make things right for the city he loves.

Now obviously we have seen Daredevil in a few different forms of media but one of them was a film that was pretty horrendous. Affleck wasn’t terrible as Matt but he wasn’t great and the rest of the film was pretty awful anyways. We didn’t get to see a great version of Matt Murdock until 2015’s Netflix Series. This version did a great job of mixing the legal stuff with the heroics of the character.

Overall Daredevil is one of Marvel’s best because he chooses to keep fighting no matter what. There’s never going to be a point where Matt willingly stops helping people and that’s why he’s on my top 50.

#41 – Poison Ivy

Pamela Isley was one of those Batman villains that you could always understand due to their psychological state. I’ve never actually seen Ivy as mentally insane in the same way that Mr. Freeze isn’t insane. Both of these characters do everything just because of a singular drive…Just like Batman himself.

Isley’s origin has changed a few different times over the years but most of the origins involve her being a botanist and due to one of her college professors experimenting on her she becomes Poison Ivy. She had already had a deep love for her plants but after her transformation it became an obsession for her.

My personal favorite Poison Ivy story in the comics is the No Man’s Land/Gotham Central storyline. After a massive earthquake nearly destroys all of Gotham, Ivy takes residence in a park and takes in a group of kids that have all been orphaned due to the earthquake. She watches over them and teaches them how to cultivate the land and grow food for the people of Gotham. Following a fight with Clayface and the city being restored, Batman decides to let the kids stay with Ivy. A few months later, one of them is killed and Ivy takes her revenge on the crooked cops who did it. Poison Ivy always works best as a fellow protector of Gotham in my opinion. She’s technically a villain but she’s much more of an anti-hero to me.

Which leads me to my final point and why she’s on this list. In Batman : Arkham Knight Ivy is one of the earlier villains you apprehend but she’s different due to her refusal to work with Scarecrow on his big plan to ruin Gotham. When scarecrow does release his toxin it’s Ivy who chooses to make the ultimate sacrifice. By merging with an ancient tree beneath Gotham she is able to disperse the toxin and return clean air to the city. The strain is too much for her though but she died a hero with the unforgettable last words : “Nature Always Wins.”

Poison Ivy will always be one of my favorites because no matter what she does she always has a heart for the outcasts and downtrodden. Which is why she’s relatable and why she’s on my top 50.

#42 – Tim Drake

When Tim Drake was a boy, he was at Haly’s Circus when Dick Grayson’s parents were killed. Later he deciphered from pictures and from his photographic memory who Batman and Robin were. After Dick Grayson had become Nightwing and Jason Todd was killed, Batman became more erratic and less controlled. Tim realized this and found Nightwing and told him that Batman needed help. Tim and Nightwing explained to Batman that he needs a Robin to keep him grounded so that he wouldn’t take so many risks if he had someone else to care for out in the field.

Later Tim Drake became the third Robin and was shown to be an exceptional detective and an excellent hand-to-hand combatant. Tim has been considered by many to be the best Robin and that’s typically my opinion as well.I love that his origin begins by realizing that Batman needs a Robin; Tim steps up when one of our greatest heroes needs a hero himself.

He’s also had a prolific career with the Teen Titans; forming lasting relationships with Connor Kent and Cassie Sandsmark. It was always interesting to see these three be the new generation of the titans while following the likes of Dick Grayson, Donna Troy and Wally West, but I digress because my love of the titans is for another article.

One of the other things I love about Tim is that he fought to earn becoming Robin and that he was the only one who didn’t give up on Bruce when he was thought dead after Final Crisis. That’s why Tim is a great character, he’s very intelligent and always trying to understand the things around even when they don’t make sense. It’s his drive to discover and his will to work for it that places him in my top 50.

 

#43 – Sam Wilson

And we finally have a Marvel character on the list! I feel like were getting nervous that I was just doing DC but no, it’s a fairly even list all the way through.

 

Sam Wilson is the Falcon, a man who uses metal wings to fly and has an almost telepathic ability to connect with his bird, Redwing. Sam was a notable character in the late 60’s and early 70’s because at the time he and Black Panther were really the only two heroes of Color.(This was a few years before characters like Luke Cage, John Stewart and Black Lightning step up) But even beyond him being a symbol of diversity and the civil rights movement, Sam has always been a hero of the people such as : His very first appearance involves him stopping a group of Former Nazi’s from turning the natives of a tropical island into their serfs…So yeah, if you’ve got a problem then Sam has your back, no matter what.

The best part about Sam is his ability to take things as they come and keep pushing on. He’s always been a fighter like that and that’s why he and Steve Rogers are such good friends. They’ve each overcomed tragedy through the years but it never changes who they are.

That fact was made even more relevant in recent years. There was a point where Steve retired as Captain America and Sam stepped up to fill the role. Many people were angry with this development, even protesting with slogans like “Not My Captain America” and he just kept going on and doing what he did best : saving people. There were even a few times where he went against S.H.I.E.L.D. just so he could keep fighting the good fight and that’s what we can take from all of this is that Sam will take hits from every side but he’ll always remain that kind of person and that kind of hero.

Anthony Mackie has portrayed Sam in four different Marvel films and Each one has just gotten better, much like he does. They adapted his storyline a little bit to better fit in the films but every decision makes perfect sense and they do it in a way that doesn’t hurt his character.

#44 – Jason Todd

There’s a few characters that only got better with age…or whenever they became another character entirely. This was the case with Jason Todd.

Jason was the second person to carry the title of Robin, He was a troubled kid living on the streets when Batman found him trying to steal the wheels off of the batmobile. He was obviously a very different case than Dick Grayson, who was the first Robin. Jason had a chip on his shoulder due to the terrible things that had happened to him after his parents left him and he had to fend for himself. When Bruce found him he had hoped that he could help him to become a better and stronger person but Jason was never quite good enough. It’s difficult for someone to build themselves up and become this great hero when they’re full of rage and just want to kill the people they’re fighting.

In 1986, Jason was killed by the Joker and cause Batman to nearly go insane thinking that he led Jason into this death by not caring for him and not training him enough.

Years later, a Vigilante known as the Red Hood came out of nowhere and started taking out Criminals in Gotham. It was discovered by Batman and Nightwing that this man was none other than Jason Todd.

When Jason became Red Hood he became who he needed to be. He’s the perfect embodiment of what an Anti-Hero should be. He started out a villain for The Bat-Family(and still has his moments on occasion) then later he started working with them. Now, when I say working with them, what I mean is he shows up, gets his part of the job done and leaves. Jason is still full of a lot of rage and doesn’t always make the best decisions but he’s trying to do better and that’s what makes him an interesting character.

He’s only gotten better whenever people like Scott Snyder and Tim Seeley were able to use him as a side character in their respective runs on Batman and Batman : Eternal. I still believe that Seeley should be writing the Red Hood comic but hey, that’s just me.

As for his appearance in the DC Animated Feature, “Batman : Under The Red Hood.” Jensen Ackles voices him to perfection. Most of the time that I read Red Hood, I hear Jensen Ackles. Under the Red Hood is also a great adaptation of the comic it’s based on.

In closing, Red Hood is something that Gotham needs. He’s willing to use what Batman taught mixed in perfectly with what he’s learned on his own. He’s deadly, but he’s certainly not vicious and he’s is definitely good at heart.

#45 – Superboy

I have a few characters that when I see them I immediately get excited about them being in my comics. Superboy is one of those characters.

Now, I must clarify something, in the mid 90’s Superboy was a kid in a leather jacket, with an earring and a skin-tight, spandex supersuit. (Because it was the 90’s and of course he did.) I’m not a huge fan of that version.

In fact, that version would not have made my top 50 but then a few years later they changed up his look and his backstory a bit and Superboy is awesome.

Superboy was a clone of Superman made in Cadmus Labs. He joins up with Young Justice and after they disband he joins up with the Teen Titans. He wants to be like Superman, he even takes on the name Conner Kent and starts going to Smallville High. Jonathan and Martha Kent raise him and try to teach him the same way they did with Clark.

Everything’s fine for him until he and Tim Drake figure out that he’s only 50% Superman and the 50% is DNA from Lex Luthor. This obviously cause a dichotomy in Conner. He’s either the world’s greatest hero or it’s most intelligent villain. Conner worries about this for a long time and he even worries about if he has a soul while being a clone until Raven explains to him that he had a different kind of Soul, one that grew while he was among his family and friends.

Conner is the epitome of a solid redemption story. He starts out annoying and petulant but then he discovers what it means to be a hero and to work with a team.

Conner is also featured heavily in the show “Young Justice” and was one of the best characters on the show. He went through the exact same kind of emotional changes because he starts out as a jerk and then he becomes a true hero.

Connor’s true shining moment was like that of many heroes : A moment of true self sacrifice and a willingness to save as many people as he can.

Infinite Crisis was an event where Superboy Prime(From Earth Prime, I know it’s weird just stay with me here) and Alexander Luthor JR.(From Earth 3, Please don’t leave yet.) Decide that the modern day heroes are terrible heroes cause they’re killing people, they’re letting others die, their teams are falling apart. So their goal is to take parts from all the different earths and make them into one perfect earth. In the midst of all of this is the war between Superboy Prime and Conner. Conner has quit the Teen Titans and is just living on the Farm right now. Prime comes and calls him out and says that once he removes Conner then he’ll be the new Superboy. Naturally, he and Conner have a huge fight and the titans all get involved and then Superboy Prime goes insane and starts killing people.

But I told you all of that to tell you this. Conner has been wondering the entire time what it means to be a true hero. He hurt his teammates recently by being under Luthor’s control and quit the team because he felt terrible after the fact. When Conner realizes that he has to stop Superboy Prime he steps up and stops him from killing anyone else and he destroys The machine that would destroy the Earth. He does all of this while sacrificing his own life. He asked his girlfriend, Wonder Girl if everyone was alright and told her not to let the real heroes forget who and what they are, she assured him that everyone was saved because of him and she held him until he was gone.

In the end, Conner was just like Superman. Truly selfless and willing to sacrifice himself to save everyone. That’s why he makes my top 50.

#46 – Deathstroke

If you ask the right fan : Who’s the deadliest assassin in DC Comics and you might get a Deadshot answer here or a Lady Shiva answer over there but more often than not, you’re only gonna hear one name : Deathstroke.

Deathstroke has appeared in many different DC comics since his first appearance in 1980’s New Teen Titans #2 and has since become something of a primary villain for characters like Batman and Green Arrow. He’s a brilliant strategist that can hold his own against just about any foe and has even challenged the entire Justice League before. His code of honor is something that really separates him from a lot of other characters in a strange way : He will never reveal who hired him or who his informants are, even to the point of allowing his own son to be kidnapped and have his vocal chords cut to where he would become mute the rest of his life. So, yeah, he’s incredibly cold hearted and has a strained familial relationship to say the least.

Deathstroke has always worked for the best interest of only himself with his loved ones being mere puppets for him most of the time but honestly that kinda makes him interesting because who will this man not cheat? Even in his most famous story : “The Judas Contract” he uses Terra to destroy the Teen Titans and because she’s a mentally broken runaway she believes in him the entire time, which leads to a soul crushing finale and an epic showdown between Deathstroke and Nightwing.

Deathstroke has been adapted for other forms of Media such as his appearance in The Batman Arkham games and The Arrow T.V. Show but my personal favorite version of him will always be “Slade” from the original Teen Titans animated series. They did his role in such a great and mysterious way that he was always one of my favorite cartoon villains growing up. From the episode where he made Robin his apprentice to the episode where he’s a follower of Trigon, this version of the character will always be in my memory.

Deathstroke is the definitive assassin and that’s why he’s on my top 50.

#47 – Harley Quinn

Harley Quinn is a character that I’ve struggled with over the years. She’s annoyed me at different times throughout her history but recently upon further inspection into her character I discovered that I actually enjoyed reading about her a lot more.

For those of you that don’t know, Harley didn’t actually get her start in comics and instead was created for Batman : The Animated Series. She started out as a simple lackey for Joker until she really blossomed into her own character. When she was finally given an origin we discovered that she was a renowned psychiatrist named Harleen Quinzel that wanted to try and cure the Joker but in doing so she fell in love with him and became Harley Quinn.

Harley’s at her best when she’s fighting against him, her story arc involves her constantly going back and forth between her love for him and her attempts to return to normal. Much like some people do when they’re in a bad relationship. I’ve always had the belief that even though Comics are supposed to be fantastical versions of our world with Heroes that are nearly perfect and Villains that are pure evil that when a complex character like Harley sneaks in is when you get some of the most interesting stories. We as readers want her to leave and we want her to stay because we know that she’s crazy but we love her because of that. That’s why Harley worked in the Animated series and has in many of the various comics.

In the latest DC Film : Suicide Squad, Harley is portrayed by Margot Robbie and although I was not a fan of this movie I was very pleased with Robbie’s portrayal of the character…not so much with the character design but hey that’s just me. Robbie brought her to life in a way that exceeded my expectations and I genuinely loved the scene where she’s just so dejected after thinking that Joker has died and then immediately goes back to her “Normal” self when the team returns. It’s a great and very personal scene that the film could’ve used a lot more of.

In conclusion, I’ve changed my thoughts on Harley Quinn in the past few years and I’m happy to add her to my top 50.