Black superheroes were first recognized by Marvel-Master, Stan Lee in 1966. However, Marvel did not create the first black superhero in existence. In 1947, Black reporter Orrin Cromwell Evans founded All-Negro Comics and created Lion Man.
Although Lion Man didn’t have a long run and only featured in one comic, some believe this opened the comic market to have some of the greatest Black superheroes of all time.
Here are the best Black superheroes to date.
Created in 1966, Black Panther, whose real name is T’Challa, was the first to appear in Marvel’s Fantastic Four. He was the African King of Wakanda. In 2018, Black Panther hit the big screen, winning many significant awards and ranking number nine of the Highest Grossing Movies of All-Time.
Spawn was created in 1992 and published under the same title by Image Comics. There were several spin-offs over the years, including two DC Comics crossovers with Batman. In 1997, a feature film got nominated for three Blockbuster Entertainment Awards. However, a sequel has been unsuccessfully ‘in the works’ since 1998.
Eric Cross Brooks is also known as Blade, whose first appearance was in the Marvel comic book, The Tomb of Dracula in 1973. The vampire hunter was later featured in his own storyline comics, movies, and video games. In 1998, Wesley Snipes began to portray Blade in the film’s live-action trilogy.
Also known as Ororo Munroe, a tribal princess of Kenya, Storm was raised in Harlem, NY, and Egypt. She abruptly became an orphan. Nevertheless, she became a high member of the X-Men and has worked with Avengers and the Fantastic Four. Storm was once married to the Black Panther, but sadly, the two eventually divorced. Storm’s character was featured in six live-action films.
Jericho Drumm, also known as Brother Voodoo or Doctor Voodoo, replaced Doctor Strange as the Sorcerer Supreme in The New Avengers. He starred in his own storyline comic series Strange Tales in 1973. In 2003, the Sci-Fi Channel announced the development of Brother Voodoo into a series and live-action movie but later abandoned it. Since then, there have been no plans to try to bring the Sorcerer into the live-action realm.
Calypso Ezili is a Marvel voodoo priestess who appeared in The Amazing Spider-Man in 1980. She has been the on-again, off-again lover of Kraven the Hunter. Unfortunately, her ongoing grudge with Spiderman spawns from the feud between him and Kraven. Well, that’s love for you. A live-action film, Kraven the Hunter, is scheduled to be released in 2023.
Karen Beecher-Duncan didn’t officially become Bumblebee until three issues later in the Teen Titan series in 1976. However, she counts as the first Black female superhero, although Nubia, Wonder Woman’s estranged sister, was created first. As for live-action films, Bumblebee appears in Justice League.
John Hancock is a film superhero introduced in 2008. Vy Vincent Ngo wrote Hancock in 1996, but it took several years for this reckless hero to make it into live-action. Will Smith portrayed Hancock as an alcoholic jerk with super-strength who requires an image makeover. Hancock won several awards for Best Actor and Choice Summer Action Movie. In 2012, there were talks of a sequel, but it has yet to come to fruition.
Captain Universe isn’t a single identity. Instead, it is the persona of Eternity. In 1979, Captain Universe got introduced in Marvel’s Micronauts. Captain Universe has taken on entities over the years, taking a break and returning every so many years. Captain Universe’s Spider-Man costume began to feature in video games in 2008.
Lucas Bishop first appeared in 1991 in Marvel’s X-Men as a member of Xavier’s Security Enforcers, who joined the X-Men when traveling into the 20th century. Bishop has been featured in animation, film, books, and video games. In 2014, Bishop appeared in the live-action film X-Men: Days of Future Past.
Victor Stone is better known as the genius, Cyborg in DC Comics, appearing in 1980 as an insert and part of Teen Titans. Part man and part machine, Cyborg made his live-action debut in the early 2000s on the show Smallville. Since then, he has been featured in animation, film, video games, toys, and the Lego Batman movies.
John Stewart is one of many superheroes known as Green Lantern. He was the backup for Hal Jordan, and when Jordan retired, Stewart rose to the challenge. Stewart featured as the main Green Lantern in the animated Justice League and DC Animated Universe. Green Lantern’s first appearance was in 1940 when he fought criminals in Capitol City.
Jefferson Pierce, better known as Black Lightening, appeared in DC Comics Black Lightening in 1977. In 2000, the introduction of Black Lightening daughters Thunder and Lightening reached the scene with metahuman abilities. In 2018, the CW introduced the live-action series, which ran until May 2021. He was also included in the animated Teen Titans Go! to the Movies.
Sam Wilson appeared as the Falcon in Marvel Comics in 1969. In 2015, when Steve Rogers retired, Falcon became the new Captain America in All-New Captain America. Wilson featured in several live-action films, including the high-grossing movies Captain America, Avengers, and Ant-Man.
Prowler has been used by several superheroes over the years, including Hobie Brown and Aaron Davis. Prowler appeared in the Marvel Comic, The Amazing Spider-Man, in 1969. Over the decades, Prowler featured in animation, live-action films, video games, and The Amazing Spider-man comic strip.
Benjamin Turner is the Bronze Tiger, the best kung fu artist in the DC Universe. The Bronze Tiger first appeared in 1975 alongside The League of Assassins, The Suicide Squad, and long-time girlfriend, Vixen. He hit live-action in the CW series Arrow. Bronze Tiger is also featured in animation, films, video games, web series, and toys.
Monica Rambeau was introduced as the second Captain Marvel in 1982 in Marvel Comic The Amazing Spider-Man. As a black female marvel character, she was part of The Avengers for five years, including being the group’s leader for a period of time. In 2019, Rambeau was included in the live-action film Captain Marvel. An adult Rambeau was also in the award-winning series WandaVision in 2021, which streamed on Disney+.
Charlie Bullock got introduced in 1981 in DC Comics Wonder Woman. Bullock was a super fan of Batman. He grew up in Gotham City, Earth-2, where Tim Grant took him in. Grant mentored Bullock as he learned martial arts and other training before creating a costume like Batman’s. Blackwing appeared in five issues of Wonder Woman.
Mile Morales is better known as Spider-Man, following the death of Peter Parker. Morales got featured in Marvel Comics Ultimate Fallout. In 2018, he got featured in the animated film Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. It won an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. In addition, Morales as Spider-Man has been featured in animation for television, film, video games, and the novel Miles Morales: Spider-Man.
Dr. William Foster is also known as Black Goliath, Giant-Man, and simply Goliath. He first appeared in Marvel Comics The Avengers in 1966. He starred in the five-issue series Black Goliath in 1976. In 2018, Foster was in the live-action film Ant-Man and the Wasp, which got nominated for several awards, including the Teen Choice award for Choice Action Movie. In addition, foster has been featured in film and video games.
Born Carl Lucas, Luke Cage is also known as Power Man. He initially appeared in Marvel Comics Luke Cage, Hero for Hire, in 1972. In 2016, Luke Cage became a live-action part of Netflix’s third streaming series for MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe). Although the live-action film has had much interest, it has not been made yet. Luke Cage has been featured in animation, television, motion comics, and video games.
John Henry Irons, known as Steel, wears a steel suit that resembles Superman. Steel was introduced in DC Comics The Adventures of Superman in 1993. It seemed Irons would replace Superman when he was killed, but after a resurrection, Steel became Superman’s ally. In 1997, Steel was featured in a live-action film by the same title. Steel also got featured in animation, film, video games, and radio programming.
Ultimate Nick Fury
Marvel Comics introduced General Nick Fury in Ultimate Marvel Team-Up in 2001. Later, Ultimate Nick Fury was in Ultimate Spider-Man and the general of S.H.I.E.L.D. in the Ultimates. Nick Fury was introduced to live-action in 2008 with Iron Man. Nick Fury features in eleven MCU films.
Virgil Ovid Hawkins is a metahuman, better known as Static, introduced in 1993 under the same title for DC Comics. Static later became a member of Teen Titans. Static Shock is a more-suitable version for younger viewers in animation. Several Live-action projects have been in the works for Static over the years, but none have been made yet. However, Static still appears in animation and video games.
James Rhodes is a Lieutenant in the Marines and known as War Machine. War Machine first got introduced in Iron Man in 1979. He filled in for Tony Sparks after Sparks had a relapse and remained Iron Man’s ally. In 2008, War Machine was featured in the live-action film Iron Man and went on to seven other movies and a handful of series.
Mari McCabe, who can harness the spirits of animals, is better known as Vixen. She appeared in DC Comics Action Comics in 1981. DC introduced a live-action version of Vixen with Amaya Jiwe, McCabe’s grandmother, and the original Vixen in the series, Legends of Tomorrow. Vixen has been seen in animation, television, film, and video games.
Amazing-Man was used by four characters over the years, starting in 1983 in DC Comics All-Star Squadron. The next Amazing-Man featured in the Justice League America, Justice Society of America, and OMAC. However, the first Amazing-Man, Will Everett, was a 1930s Olympian turned Janitor who was exposed to an explosion and gained the ability to turn into anything he touched. In 2014, Everett was mentioned in the CW series The Flash.
Lucius Best is better known as Frozone in Pixar’s The Incredibles franchise. Frozone is the best friend of Bob Parr and a sidekick to the Parr family. Like Marvel’s Iceman, Frozone can turn air or water into ice and skate around quickly while saving the planet. He holds rank #16 of the Top 20 Pixar Characters in Empire Magazine.
Garth and “Kaldur” Kaldur’ahm have both been known as Aqualad in DC Comics. Garth debuted in 1960 in Adventure Comics. Kaldur made his appearance in 2010 in Young Justice animated series. As for live-action, Garth appeared in the series Titans, which aired in 2018. Aqualad has been featured in television, film, and video games.
Tyrone “Ty” Johnson is the other half of the male/female duo, Cloak, and Dagger. In 1982, the interracial couple initially appeared in Marvel Comics, Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man. The black and white duet declares war on crime and drugs. In 2018, Cloak and Dagger made it to live-action in the series named after them. It ran for two seasons before their characters were introduced again in the third season of The Runaways series.
Nubia is known as the authentic, first Black female superhero, as opposed to Bumblebee, who appeared four years after. Nubia was introduced in 1973 in DC Comics Wonder Woman as Princess Diana’s fraternal twin sister. The storyline of Nubia changed along with the spelling of Nu’Bia. The Nubia doll was created for the Wonder Woman series, although Nubia never appeared in the show.
Adam Bernard Brashear, also known as Blue Marvel, who appeared in Adam: Legend of the Blue Marvel in 2008. The series ran for five issues where Brashear was a Marine Vet who had the ability of super-strength and flight, amongst other gifts. Blue Marvel is featured in several Marvel video games.
Jefferson “Jax” Jackson is also known as the other half of Firestorm. Several characters have been named Firestorm, but Jackson appeared in the series Vixen as well as CW’s live-action, Legends of Tomorrow, in seasons one through three and seven. The first Firestorm debuted in Firestorm, the Nuclear Man in 1978.
Considered the black Batman of Africa, David Zavimbe is known as Batwing. He appeared in 2011 but was replaced with Luke Fox, the son of Batman’s close associate, Lucius Fox. Zavimbe appeared in CW’s live-action series Smallville Season 11. However, Fox was a regular on the later live-action series Batwoman.
Jeffrey Mace, Eli Bradley, Rayshaun Lucas, and one other have been known as Patriot in Marvel Comics. The first Patriot appeared in 1941 in The Human Torch. The next debuted in Young Avengers in 2005. In 2013, he was only known as Patriot in Young Avengers. Finally, in 2017, Lucas was introduced in the Secret Empire storyline. Bradley appeared in the live-action film Black Panther but was removed during post-production.
Mercedes “Misty” Knight first appeared in Marvel Premiere in 1975 but was initially an unnamed character in Marvel Team-Up in 1971. Tony Stark gave her a bionic arm after losing her arm in a bomb attack. Knight has been featured in several live-action series, like Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and The Defenders.
Terry Sloane and Michael Holt have both been known as Mister Terrific in DC Comics. Sloane first appeared in 1942 in Sensation Comics and Holt in Spectre in 1997. Sloane was featured in the live-action series Smallville, but only as a painting. In 2015, Arrow debuted a character named Curtis Holt, who took on the name Mister Terrific after his favorite wrestler, Terry Solane.
Deathlok the Demolisher first appeared in Marvel Comics as Luther Manning in Astonishing Tales in 1974. Since then, at least three other characters have used the name Deathlok, including Mike Peterson, who is in the live-action series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Deathlok was rumored to be an action film. However, it was never created.
Augustus Freeman IV or Arnus is an alien who crashes to earth and pretends to be human. However, after years of hiding in plain sight, he uses his powers on a female intruder who then convinces Freeman to become a superhero and her sidekick named Icon. Icon first appeared in DC Comics Icon in 1993. Icon appears in the animated series Young Justice and is a three-time winner of the Parent’s Choice Awards.
Best Black Superheroes, Final Thoughts
There you have it! The top black superheroes throughout the decades. Not all characters started out as Black heroes in the 40s and 50s, but thanks to the vision of creators like Stan Lee, Black legends were born and continue to develop over the years, proving we are all capable of being heroes.