Transforming Superheroes: Ranking the Top 5

A Change is as Good as a Rest

Captain Blue:The V-Watch is responding to your hero instincts, deep down inside. When the V-Watch starts to glow, say the word [poses] Henshin!
Joe:Henshin a Go-Go, baby!” [transforms]
Viewtiful Joe:You want some? Well, come and get it!

Viewtiful Joe

Superpowers are awesome, but they aren’t always inherent. Some heroes haven’t studied magic, been exposed to radiation, or emigrated from Krypton. If their normal human body doesn’t have powers, why not upgrade to one that does? That doesn’t make sense? [pulls out a Morpher] Let’s explain it this way. Movie: Rewind! [transforms and poses]

The Genre of Heroes! Action Red Ranger!

Many heroes can’t use their powers without transforming into an alter ego. Their power may come from bestowed magic, advanced armor, or alien technology. Transformations are also good for secret identity stories because of plots when the hero can’t risk outing themselves or stories when their catalyst is lost. So who are the Top 5 Transforming Superheroes? Let’s find out!

#5 Transforming Superhero: Etrigan

Played by: Dee Bradley Baker, Ray Chase

Etrigan:Greetings, child, and apologies for my human’s physical lack. But Jason Blood is offstage now, and Etrigan is back! I’ll fight all you want me to, against friend or foe or lover! I’ll fight for hours, days, or weeks – until Hell freezes over!

Eclipso: The Darkness Within

When discussing transforming superheroes, there’s one dark figure everyone knows. He’s a hero, a villain, rampaging or chillin’. Once he sheds the form of man, you’ll meet the demon Etrigan.

Etrigan is the half-brother of Merlin who was summoned to fight Morgan le Fay’s army. The sorceress escaped, and Etrigan wanted to wreak havoc. Merlin trapped him in a young knight named Jason Blood. The knight traveled the world, unleashing Etrigan with a rhyming incantation when his own skills weren’t enough to save the day.

Fusing with Etrigan made Jason ageless. He eventually settled down in Gotham City to work as an occult consultant. Etrigan often faces villains and mystic threats, but he also fought heroes and ran for president.

There’s more to tell about this demon from Hell. For more tales of havoc and glory, you should read Etrigan’s Backstory! If you find you’re lacking time, we have an abridged version in rhyme!

#4 All Might

Played by: Christopher Sabat and Kenta Miyake

[students are training in a gym when a wounded All Might walks in]
Eraserhead: [concerned] “All Might.”
All Might:Yeah, [bulks up] I am here on my day off because I didn’t have anything else to do today!”
Eraserhead:Well, focus on your recuperation for the next semester.”
All Might: [deflates] “Hey, hey, don’t act so cold!”

My Hero Academia “Create Those Ultimate Moves” (Season 3, Episode 14)

The human side of a transforming superhero is often ignored. Some fans only care about cool things that the hero can do and view everything else as unimportant. So what happens when the hero falls into that mindset? 

Toshinori Yagi was one of the few people in the world to not have a superpower called a Quirk. He met a Pro Hero named Nana Shimura and asked her to help him become a hero. She trained Toshinori until he was ready, then revealed that she had a transferable Quirk called One For All. She gave it to Toshinori, who became Japan’s greatest hero: All Might.

Shimura was killed by her archnemesis, All For One. All Might avenged her, but lost several organs in the fight. Yagi’s normal form became emaciated and constantly coughed blood, but the damage wasn’t evident while he was transformed as All Might and assuming his herculean appearance. All Might fought through the pain and served as “The Symbol of Peace” for five years while hiding his condition.

All Might eventually found his own apprentice in Izuku Midoriya and transferred One For All to him. Toshinori retained some of its power, but his wounds, advancing age, and lack of the complete Quirk rapidly shortened his transformation’s time. Several battles culminating in a rematch with All For One drained the remnants of All Might’s power, leading to his reluctant retirement. Toshinori came to terms with his loss by teaching a future generation of heroes at his alma mater, U.A. High School.

#3 Transforming Superhero: Ultraman

Played By: Bin Furuya, Hisashi Kondo, and Susumu Kurobe

Alien Mephilas:What are you, Ultraman? Are you an alien… or a human?
Ultraman:I am both. I was born to fight those who break universal laws, like you.

The Forbidden Words, Ultraman (Season 1, Episode 33)

You can’t throw a stone in Japan without hitting a transforming superhero. There are Magical Girls, armies of Sentai and Kamen Riders, reincarnated pharaohs playing children’s card games, all sorts of goofy stuff. Luckily, one transforming superhero stands head, shoulders, and everything else above the competition.

Ultraman is an energy being who fights intergalactic crime. While pursuing a criminal on Earth, he accidentally killed a soldier named Hayata. Ultraman fused with the corpse to bring Hayata back to life and created the Beta Capsule to allow him to regain his true form if needed. The reborn Hayata transformed into Ultraman whenever a kaiju attacked.

If you want to know more about Ultraman, check out his backstory.

#2 Ben 10

Played by: Yuri Lowenthal and Tara Strong

Ben:No way am I ever becoming Alien X again.
Kevin:Why not? When it was working, you kicked massive butt.
Ben:Yeah. My most powerful transformation ever. But it isn’t worth the price.

Ben 10: Alien Force “X = Ben + 2” (Season 1, Episode 11)

Most transforming superheroes only have one alternate form. They can be their usual human self or some superpowered being. Our penultimate pick has more than one million forms, but favors ten for simplicity’s sake.

Ben Tennyson is a child who went on a road trip with his grandpa Max and cousin Gwen. A meteor crashed near their campsite. The space rock contained a mysterious bracelet called The Omnitrix that attached itself to Ben’s arm. He quickly learned that it could transform him into multiple aliens, and he became a superhero.

Ben’s aliens run the gamut of abilities. Four Arms gives him super strength, XLR8 is super fast, Upgrade can enhance technology, and so forth. The forms also come with their own personalities, like the cruel Ghostfreak, self-aggrandizing Brainstorm, or constantly angry pro-wrestling tiger Rath.

When Ben wants to end a fight, he’s got two almost unstoppable forms. Way Big pays homage to fellow transforming superhero Ultraman with several allusions to his show. The other is a reality warper called Alien X, whose only downside is having to convince two diametrically-opposed personalities to work together.

Ben 10 makes a strong case for our number one slot, but lost because of two weaknesses. Ben over relies on a few powerful aliens over creatively using weaker forms. The Omnitrix can also glitch, giving Ben a form that would be useful instead of what he wants, forcing him to stay on his toes.

Fun Fact: Ben 10 was inspired by a DC series called Dial H for Hero, where children could become 1000 different superheroes at random with a rotary phone dial. I doubt DC has any plans to adapt Dial H for fear of being seen as derivative.

#1 Transforming Superhero: Shazam

Played by: Asher Angel and Zachery Levi

The Wizard:You must say it with purpose. With belief. With good intentions. With thoughts of your parents and your family. Say it and you will be transformed into your greatest potential. Say Shazam!

Justice League #0 (2012)

The only transforming superhero that could be number one is the great granddaddy of them all. You want to hear his story? Just say the word.

Billy Batson was an orphan working as a radio announcer. While riding the subway, he was transported to another dimension where he met the wizard Shazam. The wizard was in need of a champion and knew Billy’s heart was pure. He gave Billy the ability to call upon several gods for power by saying the word Shazam and transforming into Captain Marvel.

Captain Marvel was incredibly popular, even outselling Superman’s Action Comics at one time. Unfortunately, he couldn’t beat the tag-team of Superman and DC’s lawyers. He was acquired by DC and renamed Shazam after Marvel snapped up his original name. You can find him these days alongside the Justice League and the Justice Society of America.

Want to hear more about the boy champion? We’ve got Shazam’s backstory right here.

Who is your favorite transforming superhero? Is there one better than these? Tell us in the comments.

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