Published March 11, 2019

Why Captain Marvel Is the Most Powerful Hero in the Marvel Universe: An Infographic

Walt Hickey delivers a breakdown of Carol Danvers' super power skill set compared to the rest of the Avengers!

In cinemas this past weekend, audiences got their first look at the one and only Captain Marvel—the tour-de-force, most well-rounded super-powered hero in the Marvel Universe.

Compared to the Avengers, the balanced power set and all-around strength of Carol Danvers makes her one of the mightiest of the mighty. Her secret? Some heroes max out on just one talent, being the fastest or strongest or most durable.

Danvers diversifies.

How do their skills stack up?

Hulk has more durability than any other Avenger on the block. Doctor Strange’s energy manipulation is second-to-none. Captain America has forgotten more about tactics and strategy than anyone else in the mansion has ever even known. Iron Man, despite his many flaws, is a smart cookie. Few people have raced or tried to out-bench Thor and lived to tell the tale. Hawkeye? Hawkeye’s got his thing, don’t be rude.

But what makes Captain Marvel so captivating is that she’s all-around strong. She can endure a nuke and duke that energy out in turn; she’s served at every level of the military from trainee to commander of the combined Earth defenses; she’s quicker than the speed of sound, sharp as a tack, and can lift a hundred tons.

So just to put her power set into perspective, we wanted to go a step beyond the iconic Marvel power grid settings. Based on what we’ve seen from Danvers, how does she stack up against Earth’s Mightiest?

Captain Marvel

We pored through the archives to track down different heroes' greatest power, then saw how Carol Danvers stacks up in comparison. The findings? Captain Marvel in a Binary state is one of the most fearsome entities in the universe alone, and the Avengers are lucky she’s on their side. Here’s what we found.


This we calculated in joules, or forces of energy, and what we wanted to know was how much energy these heroes have withstood in the past.

Some of the more down-to-earth heroes—like Ant-Man, the Wasp, or Scarlet Witch—can take a punch just as hard as the rest of us can. When falling, a human being’s survival gets dicey at about 20 meters, which would come with about 17,640 joules of energy just before contact.

Scarlet Witch

For characters like Black Panther or Captain America, they’re still mortal, but you’re looking at a skyscraper fall being conceivably survivable, or an impact with about 588,000 joules of energy going into it.

Black Panther

But for some of the more robust heroes, we’re talking much, much higher.

Iron Man, Captain Marvel, and Hulk can and have survived hits with nukes, at which point you’re looking at 4.2 quadrillion joules. But Thor has the best resumé here, having survived being at the heart of a star, which is more in the nonillion joule territory.


Energy Projection

This is where Danvers truly shines.

When fully into the fight, she can put out nuke-tier energy levels, and she stacks up on the higher end of the spectrum. Clearly, Doctor Strange has functionally limitless energy projection ability, but Danvers punches on the same weight of petawatt-output Iron Man and thunderstorm-made-flesh Thor; a single thunderstorm contains staggering amounts of energy, and still, Danvers manages to at least hang in there alongside the Asgardian.

 Iron Man

Fighting Skills

How does one figure out how to quantify fighting skills when Captain America is basically the tutor to everyone else on the list? You’ve got to go to the resumés...

Several Avengers are grunts, a number of them have taken on squad-level leadership in the past (Barton’s got his West Coast Avengers and Strange led the New Avengers), and some—like T’Challa, Thor, or Iron Man—have commanded entire armies. But the level of strategic expertise required to run a planetary-tier force is a rare skill set.

Captain America

Of those we analyzed, only Captains Marvel and America have, at one point or another, ran S.H.I.E.L.D., Alpha Flight, or an entire military infrastructure all by themselves. Conveniently, the U.S. Military uniform pay grade system lets us get some solid rank data when it comes to where they all stand in the tactical pecking order.


Regrettably, a proposed heist where Black Widow raids the S.H.I.E.L.D. database of super heroic SAT scores went unfulfilled, so we don’t have a ton to go on here besides what’s been published already.

Black Widow

For this, we lean on the classic Marvel power grid. We can estimate how many known individuals in the Marvel Universe belong to each Intelligence score. That’d let us at least figure out where our heroes stack up against the competition, percentile-wise.

Your assorted super-geniuses and omniscient heroes—Stark, Richards, Banner when he’s not smashing—make up only about 5% of Marvel characters. Your run-of-the-mill geniuses, eggheads, and gifteds—Doctor Strange, the Vision—round out the top third of characters when it comes to proper book learning.

the Vision

Danvers, with her elite schooling to become a pilot plus her galaxy-spanning background, is brighter than approximately 40% of the universe. Danvers stands in the middle of a pack that, at one extreme, is stocked with super-geniuses and, on the other extreme, is Hulk and Thor...who don’t really see their talents best demonstrated through standardized testing.



There are strong or durable characters who have some movement limitations...and then there’s Danvers.

She can’t outrun notorious teleporters like Thor or Strange, but based on a lickety-split 240,000 mile journey in no time at all in THE MIGHTY CAPTAIN MARVEL #1, we estimate her speed to be hundreds of times the speed of sound, which is truly impressive. Besides Iron Man—who can fly multiple times the speed of sound—and the leap-prone Hulk, most of the Avengers are fairly terrestrial, and can hang (at best) with top-tier competitive runners.

Doctor Strange


Captain Marvel can lift 200 tons when in Binary mode—a hefty 400,000 pounds that is well over the combined lift of Cap, Iron Man, Widow, Black Panther, Scarlet Witch, Vision, Ant-Man, the Wasp, Doctor Strange, and Hawkeye.

the Wasp

Hawkeye is not really adding all that much here: Danvers can bench approximately 1,481 times as much as our arrow-loving friend.


Truly, only Thor—who picked up a trillion-ton world serpent when the situation called for it, and Hulk, who’s hauled a star, can really claim to have Danvers beat.


So where does that leave us?

Danvers could spar with Hulk, take a beating like Iron Man, blast out energy with the best of them, careen through space at dizzying speeds, and is Captain America’s peer when it comes to running an army. Danvers’ competence underscores her toughness and her ability to take a beating and keep going. Her story is compelling not because she’s talented or gifted—and she really is—but because she earns it, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the best of them and holding her own against the most tenacious threats in the galaxy.

Marvel Studios' "Captain Marvel" is in theaters now! Get tickets on Fandango:

Stay tuned to, follow @CaptainMarvel on Twitter, and Like "Captain Marvel" on Facebook for the latest on "Captain Marvel".

"A.I.M. Intern" Walt Hickey

"A.I.M. Intern" Walt Hickey is a data journalist and writes the daily morning newsletter Numlock News. His work has previously appeared on FiveThirtyEight and Business Insider.


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