There was a time when superheroes were not very popular. They were not grossing $1 billion at the worldwide box office. They were not inspiring Pulitzer Prize-winning novels. They were not getting attention for their sexual orientation. In the late ’90s, following the catastrophic burst of the comic book bubble, the whole industry that created superheroes seemed to be flailing towards extinction.
But in the last decade, costumed crimefighters haven’t just become popular again. They have colonized the mainstream. Once pure geek fodder, the tropes of superherodom — the origin story, the superpowers, the costume(s), the various conflicting interpretations — have all entered into the average citizen’s lexicon. Which means that now is the perfect time to throw all our favorite superheroes into the ring for an epic cage match and try to answer a decades-old question: Who is the greatest superhero… of all time?