Religion isn’t exactly a go-to theme in comic books. I mean, writers and creators aren’t lining up to tell stories that include it…and justifiably so. It’s kind of a hot topic in the world. While it’s done a ton of good and saved countless people, it’s also started wars. Religion is a tough one and in a medium filled with super-powered beings, it’s probably best to leave it out.
This doesn’t mean that it hasn’t popped up from time to time. Quite the contrary actually. There are a few characters in Marvel Comics who have embraced religion so much that it’s now central to their character.
But who are they? Who are the Marvel superheroes who are religious? Great question and if you’ll give me a few minutes I’d like to tell you. Here are the top 8 Marvel superheroes who are religious.
List of the best Marvel superheroes who are religious:
8. Moon Knight
Created by Doug Moench and Don Perlin, Moon Knight quickly become one of the most diverse characters in all of Marvel. Not only does he suffer from dissociative identity order, but he’s also extremely wealthy, highly trained in combat, and religious. Unfortunately, as is the case with a few others on this superheroes who are religious list, Moon Knight wasn’t revealed to be religious until well after his creation.
Moon Knight (Marc Spector) is the son of a rabbi. His father fled Europe for America in an attempt to escape the Holocaust. One of the most interesting things about the character is that he’s a Jewish character chosen by an Egyptian God to be his Avatar of Vengeance. That is, he was chosen by a God to beat up and make criminals atone for their mistakes. If this doesn’t scream ironic, then I don’t know what does.
7. Ghost Rider
First appearing in Marvel Spotlight #5 back in 1972, Ghost Rider is ironic when it comes to superheroes who are religious. Ghost Rider is, for a lack of a better description, Satan’s pet dog. He carries out the will of Satan in exchange for incredible power. The ironic thing about him is that he actually doesn’t worship Satan and instead, seeks out forgiveness for what he has done. Better still, his most powerful ability (Penance Stare), forces those whom he uses it on to confront and feel pain for their sins.
Ghost Rider is one of the most recognizable characters in comics and one that readers flock to. He’s violent, brutal, and everything that shouldn’t be thought of when religion is mentioned. This is precisely why he works.
6. Captain America
Captain America is one of the greatest superheroes ever created. He debuted long before superheroes were cool, disappeared for the better part of two decades, and came back just when comic books needed him most. Throughout his history, writers have explored his religious beliefs. While his faith isn’t exactly known, many, myself included, believe that he is either Christian or Protestant.
Captain America has called upon and referenced his beliefs on more than one occasion. His most famous reference isn’t one that happened inside the pages of a comic book.
His most famous reference actually happened on the Big Screen.
Black Widow: “These guys come from legend, Captain. They’re basically Gods.”
Captain America: “There’s only one God ma’am, and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t dress like that.”
5. The Thing
Like Kitty Pryde and Magneto, The Thing is also Jewish. Unlike Kitty Pryde and Magneto, The Thing wasn’t revealed as Jewish until four decades after his creation.
In Fantastic Four volume 3, number 56 Ben Grimm visits his childhood neighborhood. While there, he comes across an old friend, Mr. Sheckerberg. Their connection takes the reader on a series of flashbacks that relive Ben’s Jewish upbringing. The exchange is pleasant, easy to read, and ends with Ben reciting to his friend the Shema. The Shema, for those who don’t know, is a traditional Jewish prayer said for those who are living their final moments.
And that’s not all.
The Thing can often be found inside a synagogue reading from the Torah and has even had a Bar Mitzvah.
4. Kitty Pryde
Kitty Pryde is one of the most famous and popular X-Men ever created. Alongside Emma Frost, she first debuted in January of 1980 in X-Men #129. Kitty is different from most other mutants. While most mutants have a power set that’s more offensive than defensive, hers is more defensive rather than offensive.
Like a couple of others on this superheroes who are religious list, Kitty Pryde is Jewish. From the Star of David she wears around her neck to the Yahrzeit she held for Colossus when he fell in battle, there’s no mistaking her religion. This has allowed writers to use her as a voice for religion. In fact, there was a time when she and Magneto put their differences aside to reflect on issues bigger than their own. The two met at the Washington National Holocaust Memorial. Together, they, Magneto as a survivor of the Holocaust and Kitty as a descendant of survivors, reflected on the destructive force of hatred. The moment was both powerful and beautiful.
Speaking of Magneto…
At the most simple level, the character of Magneto is an exploration of the Jewish identity. His character has become synonymous with trauma, tragedy, and the worst that humanity has to offer. The character reads like a journal from Auschwitz. He was beaten, tortured, maimed, and brutalized for what he was. Not because he did anything wrong and not because he was a bad person. But simply because he was Jewish.
Magneto is a living example of everything that’s wrong in the world. His tragic history was shaped by his religion and different from Kitty Pryde, he uses it to fuel his goal of mutant supremacy. It’s tough not to look at him and Kitty and wonder who’s right and who’s wrong.
Nightcrawler is an exceptional character and unique study. He’s a mutant who, unlike most other mutants, isn’t able to hide his mutation. As a result, Nightcrawler has spent his lifetime vilified for who he is and how he looks. He’s been hunted, hated, and unable to escape those who fear him. Through it all, however, he has remained patient and compassionate to all beings on Earth.
In order to do this, Nightcrawler leans heavily on his faith. Whether it’s in comic books, television adaptations, movies, or the like, Nightcrawler can always be found praying and asking his God for forgiveness. This doesn’t just apply to him either. If he sees someone that needs saving, he prays on their behalf. More than for his appearance, Nightcrawler is known for his devotion to religion. Because of this, he was an easy inclusion on this list of superheroes who are religious list.
Although he’s always been a Catholic, it wasn’t until Frank Miller’s legendary run that his religion was really explored. Since Miller’s run, everything about Daredevil screams religion.
- His mother is a nun
- He’s often found confessing to a priest
- Many of his most famous comic covers have him seeking forgiveness around a cross
His most famous storyline, Born Again, provides no better example of this. In a metaphorical sort of way, Born Again took the readers on a religious journey. As the name implies, after losing everything (career, girlfriend, home, friends, etc), Matt Murdock (the metaphorical Jesus Christ), rises from the “dead” to defeat his enemy and slowly gain his life back. The story is pain, misery, and crushing defeat at its finest. If you haven’t read it, you should. Born Again is the quintessential Daredevil story and because of it, the reason that A) Daredevil is as popular as he is today and B) he makes this superheroes who are religious countdown.
And that’s it. The top 8 Marvel superheroes who are religious. What do you think? Who would make your Marvel superheroes who are religious list?