BLACK VOICES
03/22/2018 05:15 pm ET Updated Mar 22, 2018

17 Badass Black Superheroes Everyone Should Know

More of them need the silver screen treatment, please and thank you.

Black Panther became the first black superhero when Marvel introduced him in 1966, but he was only the beginning. 

Since his premiere, Marvel, DC and others have churned out a number of amazing black superheroes that embody black excellence.

The smartest person ever in the Marvel Universe is a young black girl. One of the few to outrank Wonder Woman is a literal black queen. Meanwhile, in Harlem, one black man fights corruption and takes bullets while in his signature black hoodie.

Since 1966, the list of black comic book icons only continues to grow. And while one could probably spend years getting to know them all, you can begin with this list of black superheroes doing it for the culture. 

  • 1 Miles Morales
    This Afro-Latino teen was written into Marvel comic canon after being bitten by a radioactive spider and taking over Peter Parker's Spider-Man mantle. He's Brooklyn-born and after being abducted by S.H.I.E.L.D  on his first night of fighting crime, he gained the approval of both the notorious Nick Fury and Spider-Woman. He also has a show on Disney XD that premiered in 2017.
  • 2 Luke Cage
    The only black superhero that predates Luke Cage in Marvel canon is the Black Panther himself. Cage, a Harlem native, debuted in 1972 and after a government experiment, he became completely indestructible. In his original Netflix series, he's even shown clad in nothing but a black hoodie and watching as bullets bounce off of him. In short, he's doing it for the culture. Season 2 of the show premieres this summer but you can watch the first season on Netflix now.
  • 3 Jongo
    At the site of his father's death, Eli King discovers a crystal that gives him supernatural powers and abilities. He then vows to find whoever killed his father and stop a team of villains powered by similar crystals from fulfilling a potentially devastating ancient prophecy. This South African series aired in 2016 and was shot primarily in Johannesburg.
  • 4 Misty Knight
    Before there was the Winter Soldier and his bionic arm there was Misty Knight and hers. Knight, a Marvel hero, first appeared in 1975 as a native New Yorker and cop who loses her arm while on the job. She then becomes a superhero after Tony Stark designs a bionic arm with special abilities. She's also a reoccurring character in Netflix's "Luke Cage," and is rumored to have a bigger presence in the show's second season.
  • 5 Black Lightning
    Black Lightning debuted in 1977 as DC's first black superhero with his own origin and storyline. He hails from the fictional Suicide Slums, an allegory for modern inner cities and ghettos. With his ability to create electricity, he vows to better his neighborhood and fight for justice. He's also an Olympic gold medal winner. The CW recently premiered a show in which he is the main character.
  • 6 Storm
    In 1975, Marvel created Storm, a literal goddess and its first ever black heroine. Ororo Munroe was born into a line of ancient African priestesses with signature white hair and magical abilities. Using the Earth's magnetic field, she has the ability to control the weather both on and off the planet, making her an Alpha-Level Mutant, outranking most other heroes in the X-Men canon.
  • 7 Vixen
    DC, perhaps in response to Marvel's 1966 debut of "Black Panther," introduced Vixen in 1981. Alias Mari McCabe, Vixen is an American businesswoman born in the fictional African nation Zambesi. By wielding her ancestor's Tantu Totem, she can take form of any animal. The comic also draws influence from the Yuruba, Ashanti and Swahili cultures.
  • 8 Blade
    This classic Marvel hero debuted in 1973 as a badass vampire hunter with a complicated origin story. His mother was bitten by a vampire at birth, making him a hybrid with superhuman abilities and a mission to be the best vampire slayer out there. In 1998 there was even a movie made about him.
  • 9 Nubia
    Meet Nubia, Wonder Woman's twin sister who, in the most literal of terms, is a black queen. She's guarded the River Styx, and she ruled over an island of all men. According to DC lore, she shares ranking with Queen Hippolyta, queen of the Amazon and Wonder Woman. When she debuted in Wonder Woman Vol. 1 #204 she even bested her sister in combat. In short, do yourself a favor and read up on this legend.
  • 10 Bishop
    Lucas Bishop, first announced in 1991, was born in an alternate version of Earth (Earth-1191 in the Marvel Multiverse) where most of the X-Men are dead and mutant-hunting robots, called Sentinels, have taken over. Marking mutants as dangerous, they've placed them into "mutant relocation camps," where Lucas was born. Decked out with nearly every super ability out there, Bishop fights for the rights of mutants and follows Professor X's beliefs encouraging mutants and non-mutant humans living peacefully.
  • 11 Batwing
    Batwing, secret identity David Zavimbe, is a Congolese-born superhero with an intellect and ability that rivals Batman. Introduced to the DC world in 2011, Batwing fights alongside both "Batman Incorporated" and the Justice League. 
  • 12 Spectrum
    In 1981, Marvel introduced Monica Rambeau, a New Orleans Harbor Patrol lieutenant who gained her powers after criminal scientists blasted her with extra-dimensional energy. After the incident, she gained the ability to transform into and control any form of energy within the electromagnetic spectrum. She was trained by and fought with the Avengers in her early hero career.
  • 13 Static Shock
    As many recall from the iconic cartoon series, Static Shock is a superhero fighting crime with his ability to control and create electricity. Introduced to the DC world in 1991, Virgil Hawkins gained his abilities after his town's police exposed him to a deadly tear gas during their "tough on crime" campaign. After the incident he decided to become a superhero. While he's been left out of DC canon for a while, the comic giant announced at 2017 New York Comic Con that it would bring the hero back with a new series.
  • 14 Iron Heart
    Chicago native Riri Williams is a super genius teen who went to MIT at age 11 and created her own supersuit at age 15 in hopes of helping heroes. Soon after, Iron Man took her in and chose her as his successor when he went into a coma in the second superhero civil war.
  • 15 Moon Girl
    Black girls are everything, and that goes for the Marvel Universe, too. Lunella Lafayette, aka Moon Girl, is a 9-year-old Manhattan inventor and human/Inhuman hybrid. She's also the smartest person in the Marvel Universe. In a battle of intellect, she bests everyone from Iron Man to Bruce Banner (aka Hulk). The comic kicks off when a schoolteacher accidentally activates one of Lunella's experiments, opening up a portal in space and time and giving Moon Girl her dinosaur sidekick.
  • 16 Shuri as Black Panther
    As princess of Wakanda and her nation's smartest inventor, Shuri is nothing if not badass. Her accomplishments, while a driving force in the recent movie, are even more pronounced in the Marvel comic universe. In fact, she goes on to become the first woman to hold the Black Panther mantle. And after literally coming back from the dead, she's able to turn her body into stone (making her bulletproof) and to transform herself and those nearest into a flock of birds. That's in addition to bearing the powers from the sacred heart-shape herb. In short, Shuri is vibranium-grade black girl magic.
  • 17 Ngozi
    In 2017, Marvel introduced their first Nigerian superhero in the comic "Blessings in Disguise," which is also written by Nigeria-American Nnedi Okorafor. The comic tells the story of Ngozi, a young girl who is inspired by Nigeria’s kidnapped Chibok girls to become a hero. After being paralyzed from a bus accident, the Venom Symbiote binds with her, giving her amazing powers. She's soon noticed by the Dora Milaje and they name her T'Challa's official successor.
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