CULTURE & ARTS
11/12/2018 07:54 pm ET Updated Nov 12, 2018

Stan Lee's 100 Most Important Characters, Ranked Scientifically

A journey to the center of the Marvel Universe.

It goes without saying that Stan Lee, who died Monday at the age of 95, had a phenomenal impact on our world. Our cultural imagination is richer for his having lived, and so are Disney’s shareholders. But this is only part of his story. Lee was also one of the masterminds of the Marvel Universe, the interlinked fictional world in which Marvel comics — and now Marvel movies and TV shows — unfold.

And this made us wonder: Which of Lee’s creations have had the largest impact? Not on our world but on his. Which characters’ actions have been felt the most widely across the Marvel’s multiverse, all the way from Earth-1 through Earth-616 (the main continuity in which the comics take place) to Earth-555326? Who sits at the center of the Marvel Universe?

We decided to figure it out.

To do so, we took the Marvel Database — think Wikipedia but for people who spent their adolescent Wednesday nights at Weasel’s Comic Vault — and downloaded data on all 54,000 characters included there. It turns out that Lee is listed as having created or co-created 1,082 of them.

But how can we figure out who is important? To do this, we stole a trick from Google. The way Google decides the importance of a page is by looking at the number of other pages linking to it. Likewise, we counted the number of connections each character has to other characters. So, for example, if Peter Parker went on a trip to Titan with Tony Stark and it merited a mention on his character biography, that would count as a connection. From this we derived an impact score, i.e., the number of other character pages linking to a character, plus the number of links on that character’s page linking to other characters.

To be clear, this was a text-based analysis and obviously relies on the precision of detail in the Marvel Database; some errors may have slipped through, despite the admirable rigor that has gone into the site’s maintenance. Another potential limitation of the data is that characters are either tagged as a Lee co-creation or not — which explains some of the more unexpected appearances on the list, such as Jessica Jones, in whose creation Lee was only a relatively peripheral figure. The Tony Stark of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (Earth-199999) doesn’t factor in our list because that iteration of the character wasn’t created by Lee, at least not in the eyes of the Marvel wiki.

With those caveats out of the way, here is our list of the 100 most important Lee characters in the Marvel Universe, ranked in ascending order of importance. (The full list can be found here.) If you have an issue with the ranking, well, take it up with Lee and Google. 

Name

Impact 

Debut

100. Stranger (Cosmic Being) (Earth-616)

96

1965

99. Emil Blonsky (Earth-616)

97

1967

96 (tied). Hades (Earth-616)

98

1966

96 (tied). Dmitri Smerdyakov (Earth-616)

98

1963

96 (tied). Volstagg (Earth-616)

98

1965

95. Samuel Sterns (Earth-616)

100

1964

94. Frederick Dukes (Earth-616)

102

1964

93. Galan (Earth-616)

103

1966

92. George Tarleton (Earth-616)

105

1967

90 (tied). Kevin Plunder (Earth-616)

106

1965

90 (tied). Maximus Boltagon (Earth-616)

106

1966

89. Lockjaw (Earth-616)

107

1965

88. Annihilus (Earth-616)

108

1968

86 (tied). Taneleer Tivan (Earth-616)

109

1966

86 (tied). Karnak Mander-Azur (Earth-616)

109

1965

84 (tied). Quentin Beck (Earth-616)

112

1963

84 (tied). Esteban Corazón de Ablo (Earth-616)

112

1964

83. Ivan Kragoff (Earth-616)

114

1963

82. Carl Creel (Earth-616)

117

1964

81. Ares (Earth-616)

118

1949

80. Jane Foster (Earth-616)

119

1962

79. Timothy Dugan (Earth-616)

120

1963

77 (tied). Amora (Earth-616)

123

1964

77 (tied). Curtis Connors (Earth-616)

123

1963

75 (tied). May Reilly (Earth-616)

126

1962

75 (tied). Mandarin (Earth-616)

126

1964

72 (tied). Phillip Masters (Earth-616)

129

1962

72 (tied). Hela (Earth-616)

129

1964

72 (tied). Adrian Toomes (Earth-616)

129

1963

71. Morgan le Fay (Earth-616)

130

1955

70. Aleksei Sytsevich (Earth-616)

132

1966

69. Elizabeth Ross (Earth-616)

135

1962

68. Attuma (Earth-616)

136

1964

66 (tied). Sergei Kravinoff (Earth-616)

138

1964

66 (tied). Zeus Panhellenios (Earth-616)

138

1949

65. Mar-Vell (Earth-616)

139

1967

64. Impossible Man (Earth-616)

139

1963

63. Crystalia Amaquelin (Earth-616)

147

1965

62. Dormammu (Earth-616)

150

1964

61. Dragon Man (Earth-616)

154

1965

59 (tied). Wolfgang von Strucker (Earth-616)

155

1964

59 (tied). Adam Warlock (Earth-616)

155

1967

58. Peter Petruski (Earth-616)

162

1963

57. Kl’rt (Earth-616)

166

1963

56. Mary Jane Watson (Earth-616)

167

1965

55. Mad Thinker (Julius) (Earth-616)

169

1963

54. Thaddeus Ross (Earth-616)

172

1962

53. MacDonald Gargan (Earth-616)

181

1964

52. Maxwell Dillon (Earth-616)

184

1964

51. Herbert Wyndham (Earth-616)

185

1966

50. Jessica Jones (Earth-616)

186

1963

49. Uatu (Earth-616)

187

1963

48. Medusalith Amaquelin (Earth-616)

188

1965

47. Bentley Wittman (Earth-616)

194

1962

46. John Jonah Jameson (Earth-616)

201

1963

45. Harvey Elder (Earth-616)

204

1961

44. Richard Jones (Earth-616)

205

1962

43. Eugene Thompson (Earth-616)

212

1962

42. Nathaniel Richards (Immortus) (Earth-6311)

213

1964

41. Simon Williams (Earth-616)

218

1964

40. Cain Marko (Earth-616)

223

1965

39. Blackagar Boltagon (Earth-616)

231

1965

38. Mephisto (Earth-616)

238

1968

37. Samuel Wilson (Earth-616)

243

1969

36. Nathaniel Richards (Kang) (Earth-6311)

252

1964

34 (tied). Pietro Maximoff (Earth-616)

258

1964

34 (tied). Odin Borson (Earth-616)

258

1962

33. Franklin Richards (Earth-616)

266

1968

32. Janet van Dyne (Earth-616)

269

1963

31. Loki Laufeyson (Earth-616)

281

1949

30. Wilson Fisk (Earth-616)

296

1967

29. William Baker (Earth-616)

305

1963

28. Hercules (Earth-616)

324

1965

27. Natalia Romanova (Earth-616)

342

1964

26. Norrin Radd (Earth-616)

346

1966

25. Robert Drake (Earth-616)

352

1963

24. Warren Worthington III (Earth-616)

370

1963

23. Jennifer Walters (Earth-616)

379

1980

22. Otto Octavius (Earth-616)

396

1963

21. T’Challa (Earth-616)

408

1966

20. Nicholas Fury (Earth-616)

432

1963

19. Jean Grey (Earth-616)

436

1963

18. Clinton Barton (Earth-616)

440

1964

17. Wanda Maximoff (Earth-616)

441

1964

16. Henry Pym (Earth-616)

469

1962

15. Norman Osborn (Earth-616)

496

1964

14. Henry McCoy (Earth-616)

505

1963

13. Max Eisenhardt (Earth-616)

513

1963

12. Jonathan Storm (Earth-616)

564

1961

11. Charles Xavier (Earth-616)

573

1963

10. Scott Summers (Earth-616)

610

1963

9. Matthew Murdock (Earth-616)

654

1964

8. Stephen Strange (Earth-616)

705

1963

7. Victor von Doom (Earth-616)

777

1962

6. Benjamin Grimm (Earth-616)

790

1961

5. Thor Odinson (Earth-616)

811

1962

4. Reed Richards (Earth-616)

874

1961

3. Bruce Banner (Earth-616)

941

1962

2. Anthony Stark (Earth-616)

1078

1963

1. Peter Parker (Earth-616)

1325

1962

 
James O’Malley tweets as @Psythor.

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