Top 10 Comic Book Captains

Today, we’re taking the lead and assembling our list of the top 10 comic book Captains. These high-ranking heroes (and villains) are at the top of their game, taking charge of entire teams or striking out on their own with the skills and strength to earn their Captain title.

And this year really is the Year of the Captain! Shazam! Fury of the Gods hits theaters this month and this summer, Carol and Monica will take back space in The Marvels. Without further ado, find out below which fictional captains from Marvel and DC Comics take command of our countdown.

10. Captain Boomerang

George Harkness, also called Digger, is Captain Boomerang — a notable villain of both Barry Allen and Wally West as The Flash. He is an expert marksman and combatant, and utilizes a variety of trick boomerangs, including bladed, explosive, incendiary, and electrified boomerangs. Crikey!

His son Owen Mercer once took on the role as well, when Digger found himself ineffective in a world of metas and super-villains. Owen utilized trick arrows that included bladed and acid-spewing arrows, but also had limited metahuman abilities. Captain Boomerang appeared in Arrow seasons 3 and 5, and both Suicide Squad films.

9. Captain Metropolis

Captain Metropolis, civilian alias Nelson Gardner, is one of the Minutemen introduced in Watchmen. Created by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, this comic book Captain never appears alive in the 2009 film adaptation, seen only in flashback narrative. He was a sickly child who trained rigorously to overcome his weakness, going on to serve in the military.

In the Minutemen, and later the Crimebusters, Captain Metropolis served as the de facto leader and the strategic brain behind the teams — but he was timid and easily flustered by trouble.

8. Captain Universe

Captain Universe is more of a persona than one singular hero, as the role has been undertaken by various hosts. Most notably, Captain Universe is the guardian and protector of Eternity, the leader of Marvel’s Cosmic entities. Captain Universe gets their powers from the Uni-Power, which possesses and empowers a person, granting them strength, flight, Uni-Vision, telekinesis, and it also amplifies their natural powers.

Ray Coffin was the first Captain Universe, a retired astronaut, but other heroes who have been Captain Universe include Doctor Strange, the Hulk, Daredevil, X-23, and Spider-Man.

7. Captain Atom

It’s a tale as old as time. Man in hopeless situation, government in need of testing subject — throw in some dangerous nuclear conditions and a little time travel and POW! You’ve got Captain Atom. After he volunteered to test a nuclear bombs effect on an alien ship, Nathaniel Adam forever became Captain Atom. His powers are infinitely impressive. As Captain Atom, his skin fused with an alien metal called Dilustel. This symbiosis grants him flight, superhuman stats, and chronokinesis, plus manipulation of matter and energy through the Quantum Field.

Before his accident, Nathaniel Adam was in trouble with the government. Once he had served some time as a government-controlled super hero, he cleared his name. Then Batman trained him in basic heroics and he even sacrificed himself to save Superman! Later, he would again be displaced within the universe. This time, he ended up in the Wildstorm universe with The Authority. He developed a romance with the Engineer before returning to his own universe.

6. Captain Carter

MCU fans immediately took a shine to Agent Peggy Carter, a bold and brave British woman who later founded S.H.I.E.L.D. Margaret “Peggy” Carter first debuted in Marvel Comics, however, in 1966. Over the years, Peggy has fought alongside the Avengers, gathered vital intelligence behind enemy lines, and, of course, fallen in love with Captain America.

Though she did not originally have any super powers on Earth-616, one of Peggy Carter’s most iconic forms is Captain Carter — an alternate universe Peggy who took the Super-Soldier Serum in Steve Rogers’ place. Imbued with the Serum’s superhuman enhancements, Captain Carter is a champion of the oppressed. During her five-issue solo comics run in 2022, Captain Carter found her place in the modern world with the help of allies like Tony Stark and Lizzie Braddock (more on her 616-counterpart next!).

5. Captain Britain

Brian Braddock, brother to Betsy Braddock, was originally created as a British-market exclusive character from Marvel Comics, starring in the Captain Britain Weekly serial. His powers of strength, speed, force fields, and flight came from the magician Merlyn, and he has led teams like the Knights of Pendragon and Excalibur.

Despite being intended for a European audience, Captain Britain made the leap to the main Marvel fare and is remembered for series written by Chris Claremont, Alan Moore, and Alan Davis. In addition to his fantastic powers, Braddock holds a doctorate in physics and is immune to his twin sister’s telepathic powers.

A New Captain Britain

Betsy Braddock is a telepathic mutant. She debuted alongside her brother and later joined the X-Men. For many years, Betsy was involved in a traumatic identity swap with Kwannon, a Japanese assassin. This new persona, Psylocke, established herself as a key member of the X-Men. Eventually their independent selves were restored. Both women moved to Krakoa, the island nation for mutants.

On Krakoa, Kwannon worked with the Hellions while Betsy assumed the mantle of Captain Britain. She became the leader of the newly formed Excalibur team, bridging a cultural gap between Krakoa and Otherworld. Captain Britain now has her own solo series and a long-awaited romantic relationship with Rachel Summers, an avatar of the Phoenix.

4. Captain Cold

Leonard Snart, also known as Captain Cold, is the leader of the Rogues and a notorious villain of The Flash. He is also the older brother of villainess Golden Glider. While he is best known as a villain, some depictions of him have posited him as more of an antihero. He has an expert knowledge of cryonics and is a master thief and tactician.

While he has appeared in many Flash-related comic stories, as well as live-action shows like Smallville, one of the strongest depictions of Captain Cold has been in the CW’s Arrowverse — both in The Flash and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. In the Crisis on Earth-X storyline, Snart prefers to go by the name “Citizen Cold.”

3. Captain Marvel (Marvel Comics)

Captain Marvel is a mantle that has belonged to seven characters in the Marvel Universe, including the original Mar-Vell, Monica Rambeau, Genis-Vell, Phyla-Vell, Khn’nr, Noh-Varr, and Carol Danvers. After Fawcett Comics stopped publishing their own Captain Marvel comics, Marvel gained the copyright in the ’60s. To retain the trademark, Marvel has had to publish a Captain Marvel title at least once every two years, explaining some of the breadth of Captain Marvel characters, ongoing series, oneshots, and more.

Each Captain Marvel has had slightly different powers depending on their DNA and how they inherited the powers. Mar, Genis, and Phyla-Vell are all a part of the same Kree bloodline, Khn’nr is a Skrull sleeper agent, Monica Rambeau is a human woman, Noh-Varr is also a Kree, and Carol Danvers is a Kree-human hybrid.

2. Captain Marvel/Shazam (DC Comics)

Created in 1939 by CC Beck and Bill Parker, Captain Marvel debuted in Whiz Comics #2 from Fawcett Comics. Over the years, there have been several legal disputes involving the character — first with DC Comics, who claimed the Fawcett character too closely resembled their Superman. The second was with Marvel Comics, after which Captain Marvel was rebranded as Shazam in 1972. As Zachary Levi, star of the Shazam! films, says, “Let’s not pit Captain Marvels against one another.”

In the character’s origin, young Billy Batson summons the abilities of six Immortal Elders named Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles, and Mercury. Each elder grants him a trait befitting their own legendary powers: wisdom, strength, stamina, power, courage, and speed. While Shazam is a formidable and strong member of the DC Comics pantheon, one of his most heroic traits is the childhood morality and unique worldview he possesses when compared with his adult peers. Unlike other heroes, he’s unafraid to call on the strengths of others to help him win the fight.

1. Captain America

Of course, the #1 spot on our list goes to Captain America — a mantle that has been made most famous by Steven “Steve” Rogers. Created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby for Timely Comics in 1941, Captain America donned the red, white, and blue to defend his country from super-villain threats as a patriotic super soldier in World War II. Following the war, the character was put on ice in 1950, discontinued until a brief revival in 1953, and then a full Marvel revival in 1964. His books have been published regularly since then, and the shield has become an iconic symbol the world over.

Steve Rogers embodies some of the most classic and true elements of super hero comics: the idea that anyone brave enough can take a stand and become a hero, no matter their background. The Super-Soldier Serum took Rogers from a scrawny man to a strong and powerful hero, but at the end of the day, he always fights for the little guy. Captain America’s shield has also been passed to a number of other heroes over the years (including Bucky Barnes, Sam Wilson, and Danielle Cage). Each added their own significance to the legacy of this star-spangled Avenger.

Sam Wilson’s Captain America

Sam Wilson debuted in 1969, adopting a super hero persona known as Falcon and giving support to Captain America. As Falcon, Sam quickly rose in heroic stature. Black Panther even crafted technology that allowed him to fly like his beloved pet falcon, Redwing. Over the years, his loyalty to Cap never wavered. He filled in for Steve when Captain America was believed to be dead and he supported Cap’s rebellion during Civil War.

Finally, in 2014, Sam officially inherited the title of Captain America. Of course, being a Black man from the U.S., this was a rocky process. Alongside Mighty Thor, his own sidekick Joaquin Torres, and other Avengers, Sam uncovered a devious plot involving Steve Rogers. After some time travel and introspection, Sam abandoned the Captain America mantle for some time. Recently, he’s taken it back as his own. Sam Wilson is now a man secure in his identity and all the more powerful for it.

Who is your favorite comic book Captain? Connect with other fans in our Local Comics Society Facebook Group, and don’t forget to Let Your Geek Sideshow!