Not every superhero is created equally. Some are created after an accident. Some are created after a life-altering event. And some are created by the tides of war. Although the first two examples are interesting in their own right, for the purpose of this top 10 I’m only interested in the third. Nothing changes the world or a character quite like war. It ravages societies, feeds hatred, creates love, and places people in extraordinary situations. It forces all who are involved to continuously make split-second decisions that can change the course of history.
War isn’t for everyone. Some people, myself included, don’t have the intestinal fortitude to participate. Although most comic books see the superhero battle the supervillain, I’d be willing to argue that most characters don’t have what it takes to serve. With that being said, there are a few Marvel superheroes that do have what it takes and have served their time. Let’s see what Marvel superheroes are also military veterans.
10. Professor Xavier
As a young man studying in England, Charles Xavier was drafted into the U.S. Army to fight in the Korean War. Once in the war, Xavier and the future father of Kitty Pryde, Carmen Pryde created a sort-of partnership and specialized in search and rescue missions. While dispatched to Korea, Xavier received a letter from his former love interest, Moira Kinross. The letter informed him that she had found new love and was set to marry Joseph MacTaggert.
Disillusioned with the military and life, Xavier left to pursue traveling the world. While traveling, he met his best friend/enemy Magneto, lost the use of his legs, and came to the realization that he was put on Earth to help mutants of all shapes and sizes. This realization led him to form the X-Men and the Xavier School for the Gifted.
9. Dum Dum Dugan
Dum Dum Dugan was created by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee. He first appeared inside the pages of Sargent Fury and His Howling Commandos # 1 back in 1963. During the middle of the Second World War, Dugan found himself looking for work. After a considerable search, he landed work at a local circus. As a man of considerable size, the circus hired him on the spot and advertised him as their “strong man”.
While performing for the circus, he aided “Happy” Sawyer and Nick Fury during their escape from a group of Nazis Wanting more out of life, Dugan enlisted in the British Military and was assigned to the British Howling Commandos. Once back on American soil, he transferred to the U.S. Military and became Fury’s Second in Command.
Deadpool was born Wade Wilson and Wade Wilson was born in Vancouver, Canada. At the age of 17, Wade enlisted and was accepted into the Canadian Army. Eventually, Wade was drafted into the Canadian Special Forces. However, due to an unwillingness to follow orders, he was discharged. Shortly after his discharge, Wade developed lung cancer.
After hearing about an experimental program that could cure his cancer (Weapon X Program), Wade joined it. The program put Wade through multiple experiments, each one worse than the other. By the time he was finished, his cancer has spread and scarred most of his body. Considered a reject, the Warden of Weapon X began to torture Wade. Just as he was brought to the brink of death, his mutation manifested and he started healing quicker than he was being harmed. Now called Deadpool, Wade became a mercenary, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Because his ability to heal slows his aging, Wolverine is as old or older as most characters in Marvel Comics. As a result, Wolverine has lived through and fought in countless wars. Not only has he fought in both the First and Second World Wars, but he has also fought alongside Bucky Barnes and Captain America.
Wolverine is arguably the most famous comic book character ever created. He first appeared in cameo form in The Incredible Hulk #180 and was fully realized in The Incredible Hulk #181. As he aged, so too did the way his mutation worked. When he burst onto the scene, he was able to survive fatal wounds. Over the years, however, the wounds have become more than just bullets and knives. They now include nuclear blasts, being run over by a steamroller, a trip to the sun, having the skin ripped from his body, and being torn in half by the Hulk.
6. Agent Venom
After the events of “One More Day”, former military man Flash Thompson re-enlisted in the military. He was quickly dispatched to Iran. Once there, he and his platoon were ambushed by their enemy. The ambush left Flash with multiple bullet holes in his legs. With no way to save his legs, the doctors were forced to amputate.
In 2011, Flash agreed to an experiment that bonded him to the Venom Symbiote. He agreed to do this because bonding would grant him a new set of legs. Together, the two became known as Agent Venom and began their work as a military operative. As a military operative, Agent Venom has become one of the Marvel Universe’s most successful countermeasures against its deadliest villains.
5. Carol Danvers
After her father refused to pay for her college education, a frustrated Carol Danvers joined the United States Air Force. Once in the Air Force, she used her intelligence, know-how, and willingness to do whatever it takes attitude to rapidly rise through the ranks. Eventually, she achieved the rank of Colonel and was recruited by the C.I.A. as a field agent during the Cold War.
Carol Danvers has gone through multiple character changes with each one either augmenting her current power or giving her new powers. No matter which form she is (Captain Marvel, Ms. Marvel, Warbird, or Binary) one thing remains the same…she is one of my Marvel superheroes who are military veterans.
4. Bucky Barnes
After losing his parents at a very young age, James Barnes was adopted as the resident mascot of camp Lehigh and given the name Bucky. Due to his impressive skills, he was sent to England for training for two months. At its conclusion, he was sent back to the United States for an additional month of training. With all the training and his natural skill set, Bucky quickly became the best natural fighter the military had ever seen.
While at Camp Lehigh, Bucky “accidentally” stumbled into Captain America’s tent. Upon entering, he learned that Steve Rogers is Captain America. Rather than trying to cover it up, Steve took Bucky on as his sidekick. As his sidekick and with his natural skill set, Bucky is sent out to carry out the tasks and jobs that Captain America can’t. This includes assassinations, torture, and other violent acts…all of which ironically prepared him for his next life as the Winter Soldier.
3. Nick Fury
Thanks in part to the success of the MCU, Nick Fury is one of the most recognizable field commanders in the history of comics. Nick Fury is a trained marksman, an expert in martial arts, and one of the greatest tacticians alive. Due to the Infinity Formula, he remains forever young. Different from a few others on this list, Nick Fury gained rank within the military.
After the attack on Pearl Harbour, Fury pledged revenge against both the Nazis and the Japanese. His dedication to the cause resulted in him being promoted to Sargent. As a Sargent, Fury was given a ragtag group of soldiers known as the Howling Commandos. He and his commandos fought alongside Captain America and Bucky during the War and battled villains such as Hitler, Baron Strucker, and the Red Skull.
2. Frank Castle
Frank Castle (The Punisher) is perhaps the most obvious choice for this Marvel superhero who are on the military list. The Punisher is a retired member of the United States Marine Corps. As a Marine, Frank was charged with high-level assignments and carrying out the most violent of missions. Once out of the Marines, Frank used his extensive training to wage his war on crime.
Frank is most known for his violent nature and his willingness to do whatever it takes for justice. He has killed, maimed, brutalized, and tortured his opponents to get what he wants. While his popularity is not what it once was, Frank Castle is a mainstay in the Marvel Universe.
Not only did he rewrite the book on what being a superhero means, but he also changed how readers view and accept anti-heroes. Without him, characters like Deadpool, Moon Knight, and Blade would never have become as popular as they are today.
1. Captain America
Captain America is a soldier through and through. He lives and breathes the military as much as you and I live and breathe oxygen.
Captain America made his triumphant first appearance on the cover of Captain America #1 in 1941. On that cover, Captain America is illustrated doing the one thing the entire world wanted to do…punch Adolf Hitler in the jaw. The cover set the tone for who Captain America was, what he stood for, and what he was destined to become.
Captain America is the living definition of a patriot. He has done, continues to do, and will always do whatever is necessary to defend his flag and the freedom it represents. As such, including him on this list of Marvel superheroes who are military veterans was as easy as eating a good pizza.