The top 5 badass superheroes

March 12, 2009

I caught Watchmen in IMAX on opening night last Friday, and harrysaxon wasn’t too far behind me. Not surprisingly, both of us thought it was a pretty impressive film. And, with it fresh in our minds, it’s not surprising that this week’s list is about superheroes. Now, there are lots of different categories you can group your costumed vigilantes into, but there’s that certain class of recklessly ultra-violent types who’s behaviour would be otherwise deplorable, but who tend to get healthy nods of respect (and fear) in the superhero world because their explosions of id are channeled through righteous indignation, making them effective tools in the fight against evil, even if their methods are distasteful and given their cause only marginally acceptable as good. In any case it’s almost alwasy a guarantee that they’re fan favourites in the comic and book stores, and definitely audience favourites during the summer popcorn movie season when folks are hankering for big explosions, bone-crunching fights, and droll one-liners. And we put our heads together to give you the Top 5 Badass Superheroes:

5) Ghost Rider
A demon with a flaming skull (and motorbike) and a thirst for vengeance against the wicked, Ghost Rider generally has very little to say, preferring to tenderize the badguys with a chase and thorough pounding before administering the soul-crushing Pennance Stare. And if that doesn’t work, he’s not above killing. Not a superhero to be messed with. However, his overall B-grade status in pop culture reputation relegates the Spirit of Vengeance to the bottom of the list.

4) The Punisher
An ex-cop with a vendetta against badguys, an absolute sense of justice, and a huge freaking arsenal of big-ass guns is a force to be reckoned with. More importantly, Frank Castle has earned his ultra-tough-guy reputation despite a lack of super powers in a world notable for its legions of meta-humans. The Punisher doesn’t rank higher on the list though because he seems incapable of hitting the target for success in the movies.

3) Wolverine
Weapon-X has been through the ringer more times than you can count, but this tough little guy always comes back to pop the adamantium claws and slash his way through anything and anyone in his path. Always a scene stealer, Logan’s only weakness is his propensity to use the word “Bub”.

2) Batman
The Caped Crusader, the Dark Knight, Bruce, whatever you call Gotham’s protector, you’ve gotta give him credit for being the first of the superhero badasses, confronting badguys in a costume with an array of gadgets but no superpowers and pounding justice into them. As the decades have marched by, we’ve seen Batman portrayed in darker and darker situations illustrating not only how bad his world can be, but how the hero himself is pretty damaged. For all his venerable status though, Batman can’t get the number one spot because of one critical failing: The Batusi.

1) Rorschach
Come on, with a lead-in gushing about Watchmen, it had to be obvious! Sure, his failings are obvious: he’s a stinky,  paranoid, right-wing sociopath who’s suspicious and derisive of his allies and incapable of compromising his sense of justice even at the cost of his own life. That being said, with no powers and no significant gadgets (aside from the grappling hook), Rorschach has made himself into the nightmare of the criminal underworld, even demonstrating that in prison, where he’s vastly outnumbered by the thugs in general population, he’s still a very real threat to all of them – the criminals are locked in with him. That’s badass.

Honourable Mentions:

  • the Hulk – sure, as harrysaxon points out, the big green guy is almost more of a force of nature, but he tends to focus his rage on the badguys (when not being harassed by the army) and has done so for a long time, and his signature line is about as badass as it gets: “Hulk smash!”
  • Blade – killin’ vampires makes him pretty tough, but not as tough as the IRS apparently.
  • Fortunato (from Wildcards) – the pimp who charges up his powers through tantric sex has been known to take down supervillains and is definitely not someone to mess with.
  • X-Man (from From the Notebooks of Dr Brain) – cool powers and very smart, a man to be reckoned with. Too bad he’s shackled by his prejudices and insecurities.
  • Carmine the Bowler (from Mystery Men) – a tough guy in life, and still plenty tough in death as a skull in a bowling ball. Nothing prevents him from striking down evil.

Okay, so who did we miss? Who are your nominations for the badass superheroes of note?

Your Nominations:

  • Elektra

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  1. Check out this Watchmen marquee. The Squid is all in your head:



  2. Interesting site, fullbodytransplant! The SQUID mention in the movie is pretty cool. Not entirely sure about squid night at the theatre though – as much as I love calamari, I think I’ll stick to popcorn at the cinema!

  3. Cool site 🙂

  4. Great list, though I reluctantly agree with Ghost Rider. I never really got into his character, though that might be why I didn’t hate the movie nearly as much as I thought I would… no expectations going in.

    Another one that falls into the Badass but lousy movie category, at least in my book, is Elektra. She really lost some cred when the movie hit the screen.

  5. I was a collector of Ghost Rider comics (second generation, not the original, kinda cheesy 70’s version where it seemed like he was fighting clowns all the time) many years ago and he was undeniably harsh back then. It was a fairly gritty comic in the first year or two of its revival at least. The movie, unfortunately, while I didn’t hate it, didn’t do much to sell the character to a wider audience.

    Not a bad choice of Elektra. I never followed her comic and didn’t watch the movie, but she’s certainly got enough street cred in the comic world as being pretty badass.

  6. I like the Punisher and Batman on the list. My first response was, “Where’s Superman?” Then I thought about te articles name, BAD ASS Superheroes. While Superman does occasionally save the world, he always goes about it politely.

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