Religious Superheroes: Ranking the Top 5

Holy Superheroes, Batman!

Hawkgirl: “[Solomon Grundy] was happy at the end. I still don’t understand why.
Aquaman: “It’s faith, Hawkgirl. You’re not supposed to understand it. You just have it.

Justice League “The Terror Beyond” (Season 2, Episode 8)

Superheroes being religious is strange. So many of them can move at amazing speeds, tear mountains apart, or even alter reality with a thought. It is easy to view these heroes as gods. And yet they choose to put their faith in higher powers.

So who do these devout defenders follow? Let’s find out.

Our criteria are no superhero gods (Thor, Hercules, etc.) and no superheroes based on religion (Bibleman, Shaloman, The 99)

#5 Religious Superhero: Ms. Marvel

Religion: Islam
Played by Kathreen Khavari, Iman Vellani

Kamala: “There’s this ayah from the Quran that my dad always quotes when he sees something bad on TV. A fire or a flood or a bombing. ‘Whoever kills one person, it is as if he has killed all of mankind — and whoever saves one person, it is as if he has saved all of mankind.’ When I was a little kid, that always made me feel better.

Ms. Marvel #2

Marvel struck pay-dirt in 2014 with the premiere of Ms. Marvel, a Pakistani-American Muslim superhero. Kamala Khan was your everyday nerdy teenager until she was exposed to Terrigen Mist.  She emerged from the mists with an elastic body.

Kamala, a lifelong fan of superheroes, became one herself and used the name of her favorite Avenger, Ms. Marvel. Kamala often receives advice from a local sheikh and her older brother, who is studying to be a mullah.

Ms. Marvel is the most popular Muslim superhero in comics. She has appeared in the animated Avengers Assemble and will star in Marvel Rising: Secret Warriors.

Fun fact: Stickers of Ms. Marvel were used in San Francisco to deface racist posters comparing Islam to Nazism.

#4 Wonder Woman

Religion: Hellenism
Played by Gal Gadot and Lynda Carter

Hermes: “You must defeat Faust and restore Hades to the throne of Tartarus.”
Wonder Woman: “So far as I’m concerned they deserve each other! Why should I care about this?”
Hermes: “You mean, other than the direct-order-from-the-gods thing?”

Justice League “The Balance” (Season 4, Episode 5)

Wonder Woman has good reason to be devout. She was crafted from clay and given life by the Greek pantheon. She would later be empowered by said gods with strength, speed, beauty, and flight. Her weapons were created by Hephaestus, God of the Forge, and she often fights Ares and Hades.

Wonder Woman’s backstory has changed in recent years. Instead of the born of clay origin, she is a demigod. Her father changes with the story, but is usually Zeus or Hades. Even before this retcon, the other gods offered Wonder Woman the role of Goddess of Truth.

#3 Religious Superhero: The Thing

Religion: Judaism
Played by Michael Chiklis and Josh Trank

Sheckerberg: “All these years in the news, they never mention you’re Jewish. I thought maybe you were ashamed of it a little.”
The Thing: “Figure there’s enough trouble in this world without people thinkin’ Jews are all monsters like me.”

Fantastic 4 #56

You probably know The Thing as The Fantastic Four’s resident monster. His story is a bit more complex. Benjamin Grimm was born into a Jewish family and lost his faith when his older brother died. When Ben transformed into The Thing, he avoided bringing up his religion for fear of making Jews seem like monsters. Ironically, The Thing resembles the Golem, a creature from Jewish mythology.

The Thing’s Judaism was revealed when a childhood friend was seemingly killed during a fight. He recited the Shema Yisrael prayer to give his friend peace, only to learn his friend was still alive. He later had a Bar Mitzvah to celebrate thirteen years since becoming The Thing.

#2. Daredevil

Religion: Christianity (Catholic)
Played by Charlie Cox and Ben Affleck

Matt: “I’m not seeking penance for what I’ve done, Father. I’m asking forgiveness…for what I’m about to do.
Lantom: “That’s not how this works. What exactly are you about to do?

Daredevil “Into the Ring” (Season 1, Episode 1)

You wouldn’t think a devout Catholic whose mother is a nun would dress like the Devil. Matt Murdock was a normal child until he was blinded by radioactive waste. His other senses were strengthened and he gained a “radar sense”. Borrowing from his faith, he became a demonically garbed vigilante called Daredevil.

Author Frank Miller made Daredevil Catholic as a joke, claiming “Only a Catholic could be an attorney and a vigilante.” Joke or not, it was a smart move and Daredevil’s faith became an integral part of the character. But Daredevil isn’t the only Catholic superhero with a demonic appearance. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, we submit for your approval:

#1 Religious Superhero: Nightcrawler

Religion: Christianity (Catholic)
Played by Alan Cumming and Kodi Smit-McPhee

Gambit: “Guess there’s no peace for the wicked looking.
Rogue: “Gambit!”
Nightcrawler: “No, he’s right. Though all people are flawed and struggle with their capacity for sin, none like to be reminded of our shared human weakness. My appearance does not make it easy.
WolverineDoesn’t it make ya crazy?”
NightcrawlerIt did once, but then I found peace by devoting my life to God. He guided me to [an abbey], where they value the character of my heart, not my appearance.

X-Men “Nightcrawler” (Season 3, Episode 18)

Nightcrawler of The X-Men is our pick for the #1 Religious Superhero. He looks like a demon, but has the soul of a saint.

Kurt Wagner is the son of mutant terrorist Mystique. While fleeing from an angry mob, she accidentally dropped Kurt into a river and thought he died. Kurt was fished out of the bulrushes by a kindly couple called the Wagners. They raised him and didn’t seem troubled by his demonic appearance and Moses-like story.

Kurt’s natural agility landed him a spot in the local circus as an acrobat. Audiences were thrilled by the incredible Nightcrawler… until they realized he wasn’t wearing a costume. A superstitious mob tried burning Kurt at the stake, only to be stopped by Professor Xavier of the X-Men who used his psychic powers to knock them out. After rescuing Kurt, Prof. X offered to teach him how  to use his recently awakened powers. An indebted Nightcrawler agreed.

Nightcrawler is covered in blue fur, has yellow eyes, fangs, a demonic tail and teleports through clouds of brimstone. Anyone would take one look and scream “demon!” Despite appearances, Nightcrawler is the most pious member of the X-Men. He is often found praying or helping others with their faith. He has even attempted to become a priest more than once.

Which religious superhero do you like? Leave a comment.

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