The Top Twelve Rich Guys in the Marvel Universe
Who do you think is the richest Marvel Character?
Brother, Can These Guys Spare a Dime?
When we think of money, there’s comfortable, rich, mega rich, and insanely rich.
The DC Universe has its share of rich guys. However, in the Marvel Universe, there are a plethora of them. So much so that I couldn’t narrow it down enough. Because when we justify wealth, we also need to look at heads of state versus the self-made rich guys and the industrialists.
And even then, we have to look at the successful industrialists versus the ones that failed. For example, the background stories of Tony Stark (Iron Man) and Simon Williams (Wonder Man) are almost a mirror image of each other – except Tony Stark was a successful businessman and Simon Williams was not so much. It also didn’t help that Simon’s older brother, Eric (The Grim Reaper), was embezzling millions of dollars of the Williams fortune and funneling it to his gangster friends.
That’s the way of money and business in the Marvel Universe.
The naturally wealthy characters needed mentioning and I think the best way to do this is to mention the characters that are heads of state first versus the guys who just have money.
I tried to get this down to five, but it was just impossible. Instead, there are twelve. Good news for you, the reader, bad news for me, who has to write about all these guys.
Let’s start with the richest monarchs.
T’Challa, the Black Panther
Royalty has its privileges and being the monarch of Wakanda is a huge priviledge indeed.
T’Challa is the latest in the royal line of Wakanda's Panther Tribe. The ruler of Wakanda prior to T’Challa was his father T’Chaka and before him it was his father. Kingship comes with a price. When the prince is old enough, he must go through his trials. The main trial is to defeat, in combat, the various champions of the Wakanda tribes. So, while his title is hereditary, he still has to earn it.
Wakanda has two main assets, its technological greatness which is generations ahead of most of the world’s countries and its mountain sized reserves of the rare metal, vibranium. These two assets alone make the country one of the richest in the world and, at the same time, the most secluded.
As head of this state, T’Challa has vast amounts of financial resources to draw from making him one of the wealthiest characters in the Marvel Universe – while he’s head of state.
Namor, the Submariner
Yes, he’s king of the sea, but… so what?
While it is true being an ocean monarch of three quarters of the Earth doesn’t have a lot of commerce in it, there is a lot be said about the natural treasures accessible to only someone who can withstand the very deepest of ocean pressure. And there are limits to where corporations can mine.
Is it a lot of money? It’s nothing to sneeze at – even for surface dwellers. Namor was able to finance the formation of a major ecological corporation called Oracle, Inc., a company dedicated to the protection of the Earth’s environment (specifically its oceans).
When you think of all of the wealth that falls into the ocean through shipwrecks, plutonium from sunken submarines, and the natural mineral and crude oil deposits that exist under the sea, Namor, as its sovereign, has a potential stranglehold on what most populations need to survive.
All he needs to do is convert it to cash.
A brilliant mad man with his own country where he is absolute ruler – That’s what Doctor Doom is.
You might think that this kind of megalomaniac would be the one person who’d be a cruel bastard to his own people. You’d be wrong. According to most accounts, Doom is a benevolent dictator (Sorry, um, “imposed monarch”). Oh sure, if you cross him, he’ll disintegrate you with a flick of his gauntlet. But no child goes hungry in his country.
Latveria, Doom’s kingdom, has a population of 500,000.
While Latveria is not a large country it is not poor. Doctor Doom has been able to support this entire country through his personal patents in electronics. Latveria is also free from industrial pollutants (usually caused by the presence of modern industry) and is considered by the presence of Doom’s technical might to be a superpower.
When you own a country and can sustain it through your own inventions, you’re pretty well off.
There are businesses and then there are corporations that keep countries alive. Silver Sable International is one of the latter.
Silver Sable, aka Silver Sablinova, is the CEO of Silver Sable International and the leader of the mercenary squad, the Wild Pack. The thing you should know about her and her company is that they are one of the primary revenue generators for Symkaria, a small country in the Balkans that is adjacent to Latveria.
Her corporation’s profits combined with the profits made from her mercenary group, The Wild Pack, are enough to keep the country (population 1,500,000) solvent. As compensation to her efforts, Silver Sable owns her own castle which she uses to track down Nazi war criminals.
She and Doctor Doom have a deep rooted diplomatic relationship.
Tony Stark, Iron Man
When I think of a rich guy in the Marvel Universe, this is the guy I think of.
Tony Stark got his money the old fashioned way, he inherited it. His father, Howard Stark, was a wealthy industrialist and Tony followed in his father’s footsteps. The advantage that Tony Stark had over his father is that he’s a bloody genius. Stark, who’s genius is second to only Reed Richards and Doctor Doom’s (no one is quite sure who is the smarter of the two), entered MIT at the age of 15 and earned his Master’s degrees in electronics and physics.
Under Tony Stark’s stewardship, Stark International has blossomed, making him one of the wealthiest and most powerful industrialists in the world.
He inherited his father’s corporation, after his parents were killed in a car crash, and brought the company into a new age and made a fortune designing and selling munitions. According the Forbes 25 largest fictional companies, Stark International is worth $20.3 billion. He is also the mind behind most of the weapons used by S.H.I.E.L.D. (Supreme Headquarters, International Espionage, Law-Enforcement Division), including its helecarrier and is a major sponsor.
Oh, and by the way, Stark owns the Avengers Mansion as well.
If you’re a superhero who needs some megabucks to save the world, Tony Stark is the guy you usually hit up for the cash.
Wilson Fisk, the Kingpin of Crime
Not everyone makes money the honest way – although, if you’re the Kingpin of Crime, you have resources in both the legitimate and illegitimate business worlds.
Those of you who are true comic book fans know that while most of the Marvel superhero community know that Wilson Fisk is the Kingpin of Crime, Fisk has never been convicted of any crime and has no criminal record. To this day, despite his wealth in various illicit affairs, he claims to be only a humble trader in spices – his legitimate enterprise.
Fisk has lost and regained his criminal empire multiple times. He has used his influence within major Marvel Universe corporations to leverage his might in rebuilding them. And his wealth and power make him a figure to be feared worldwide.
Norman Osborn, the Green Goblin, Leader of the Thunderbolts, and Head of H.A.M.M.E.R.
Some people use drugs as an excuse for their bad behavior – others were just rotten bastards beforehand.
Before Norman Osborn was involved in the accident that made him The Green Goblin, he had the reputation of being a ruthless businessman. Osborn studied both chemistry and electrical engineering and was partner to scientist Mendel Stromm. The two of them formed Osborn Chemical, which eventually became Oscorp. Then Osborn, in a power play, framed Stromm for embezzlement and took complete control of the company.
After Norman Osborn’s accident that caused his schizophrenic shift into the Green Goblin, his business acumen would either diminish or increase depending on whether he was suffering from his amnesia or not. Although his company has had its ebbs and flows, Norman Osborn became a wealthy man who has used his power to make life for Spider-man into a living Hell. By manipulating all agencies against the wall crawler to the point of buying a majority hold in the Daily Bugle and manipulating Parker’s status at ESU.
Osborn later became the star of the Secret Invasion by killing the Jessica Drew Skrull. In doing so, he was appointed as the new director of the S.H.I.E.L.D. group H.A.M.M.E.R. (acronym never revealed) and took the mantle of the Iron Patriot (using Stark’s armor design).
Osborn through the same insanity that made him the Green Goblin lost control at the end of his Dark Reign and was taken into protective custody. Whether he used his position in H.A.M.M.E.R for a professional advantage (likely) is unknown. What is known is that he could afford to build a special plant of Oscorp in Brooklyn specifically to see the bridge where he killed Gwen Stacey.
And speaking of a Hammer, here's a real tool.
Justin Hammer is Tony Stark’s number one competitor. Hammer Industries is probably one of the leaders in arming super-villains who like to fight Iron Man. He is a financier of criminal activities and has backed villains like Whiplash (or Blacklash, if you prefer), The Beetle, The Constrictor, Discus, Leap-Frog (a bad investment), Man Killer, Porcupine, Stiletto, and Water Wizard.
He really doesn’t play fair and his best most consistent way of competing in the technology industry is to kill his main rival, Tony Stark. This is all done secretly and maliciously.
He is a cunning adversary and has probably done more to injure Tony Stark’s fortune than any other force. Even when Stark lost his company to Obadiah Stane, Hammer bought much of the Stane Stock, which was tainted through Stane’s malfeasance – sold it back to Stark who assumed the majority of the damages.
Justin Hammer is evil, rich, and powerful.
As a major competitor to Tony Stark, he would need to have a lot of capital to not only compete with him but to foil him as well.
Reed Richards, Mister Fantastic
We all know that back in the day, the Fantastic Four had its financial ups and downs.
Reed Richards like Tony Stark got his money as a combination of inheritance and through hard work. While it is true that the Fantastic Four (and tangentially Reed Richards) have at points fallen on hard times – being broke once or twice. We also saw that when it originally came to hiring Spider-man (Spider-man #1), Richards said that all their money went to science and experimentation.
However, the regular rule of thumb is that Reed Richards is loaded.
Richards earns enough money to not only buy the Baxter Building and Four Freedom Tower, but also has an entire business within Fantastic Four, Inc. When Reed isn’t inventing things or off saving the world from Skrulls or Ronan the Accuser, he’s managing the affairs of Latveria when Victor Von Doom is away in the netherworld dimensions.
We also have to remember that Reed Richards comes from money as well. Nathaniel Richards, Reed’s father (also a soopah genius) had megabucks as well.
Reed's patents are so valuable that he is able to normally bankroll the Fantastic Four, Inc., without any undue financial stress.
Kyle Richmond, Nighthawk
Every superteam needs a rich guy to finance it, it seems. The latest incarnation of the non-team, the Defenders (Doctor Strange, the Hulk, Submariner, and the Silver Surfer), gets their share of money from one specific hero vigilante.
Just as there are some superheroes that are a distorted reflection of a DC counterpart, Nighthawk is Marvel’s version of Batman. Well, almost. Nighthawk is nowhere near as dark and moody as Bruce Wayne, yet he has all of the toys, money, and power. As a matter of fact, Kyle’s counterpart in the Squadron Supreme Universe (dimension 712) made a bid for the US Presidency and won. Being president, though, didn’t keep him out of the vigilante game… and it didn’t keep him from being killed either.
Kyle Richmond, like all of the big rich guys in the Marvel Universe, is a billionaire industrialist heir. He’s been known to bankroll more than the Defenders as per whatever team he’s a member of. When he’s not being a good guy, he’s a member of the Squadron Sinister. He is socially conservative as he sided with Tony Stark and his pro-registration side of the Marvel Superhero Civil War.
As in all dimensions, it’s good to be rich.
Daniel Rand, Iron Fist
Once again, if you have a superteam, you really need to bankroll it.
Daniel Rand was born into a good amount of money but did not grow up spoiled. How could he? He spent his formative years in the legendary extra-dimensional city of K’un-L’un. His father had also spent time there after saving the life of the city’s ruler, Lord Tuan. After coming back from K’un-L’un, Daniel’s father made his fortune in business and planned on returning as an expedition with his business partner Harold Meachum. Meachum betrayed Rand’s father by ensuring he fell from the mountain he was climbing.
Rand, after acquiring all the secrets of “the iron fist” from Shao Lao the Undying, returned to civilization and eventually was able to get the fortune of Rand-Meachum, Inc. Daniel Rand is now quite wealthy and has been able to bankroll Heroes for Hire, Inc. as well as the Secret Avengers.
According to Rand, he owns a few high real estate buildings within Manhattan and used one of them for the hideout for the Secret Avengers.
Warren Worthington the Third, the Angel
It doesn’t happen every day, but when a rich mutant comes out of the mutant closet, people should know about it.
Warren Worthington the Third had everything. Parents that loved him, bags of money, and a pair of wings to let him fly. What more could anyone ask for? Warren is the CEO and heir to Worthington Industries, a multibillion dollar corporation.
The Angel owns properties around the world and, like all rich guys that like to finance superteams, was the original backer for X-Factor.
Ironically, like many of his classmates, the Angel has died and returned to life. Unfortunately, he has currently lost control of his fortune. I believe that like most things in the Marvel Universe this state of affairs is somewhat temporary.
Money and power – where there’s one, you usually have the other.
Did I hit all the rich guys in the Marvel Universe? No. But the guys I mentioned are certainly worth remembering. Honorable mentions go to Professor X, the Red Skull, Magneto, Gregory Gideon, Baron Zemo, Ulysses Bloodstone, the original Union Jack, the original Baron Blood, and the Mandarin.
The Marvel Universe has some major financial players and heads of state fighting for and against justice. Some of the characters have used their powers for financial gain and have continued to use them to keep it. Others use intelligence, gumption, and even ruthlessness to get what they want.
What they got is a lot of money.
The funny thing is the quote, “With great power comes great responsibility”, is associated with one of the few characters that has not much financial power at all. We see what the good guys do with their cash. They make sure that other good guys continue to do what they do and have a safe place to hang their hat. They also make sure that they have the tools and equipment to wage war against the bad guys.
The bad thing is that we have an entire class of rich bad guys that use their cash to do nothing more than cause trouble and make more money – it’s sort of like real life. We hear that guns don’t kill people – people kill people. Yes, but the gun really helps. We also have a group that lobbies our government to ensure that people can kill people with ruthless efficiency in the guise of patriotism and rights.
You can’t make this up. It’s not the plot of a graphic novel, either.
However, what we do know in the end is with our Marvel characters is that money and power make a huge bit of difference to everyone involved.
© 2013 Christopher Peruzzi