An Infinite Ten: A Somewhat Non-Random Assortment of Gods and Godlings in the Marvel Universe
As conceived by writer/artist Jim Starlin, Thanos' Infinity Gauntlet is easily the most powerful thing in the Marvel Universe. That is, of course, except for everything else that is the most powerful thing in the Marvel Universe. Woven together by many, many writers over many, many decades, the Marvel Universe is a bewildering place of paradoxically overlapping omnipotences. Here's a look at some of those sharing aspects of ultimate power in the Marvel Universe. This is by no means a comprehensive list. This list does not recognize, for instance, The One-Above-All as he is an exceptionally silly concept for an entity. Nor is the Cosmic Cube recognized as it lost all clout when it signed a contract with Kevin Feige to effectively become a prop in the MCU. Omnipotent beings do NOT sell out to make big budget Hollywood movies. They're above that. (Come on C.C.—you KNOW you’re better than that.) There's no universal accounting for this kind of power, but as long as every internet browser loves a list, it IS a numbered list. Here in no particular order are some of those with ultimate power in the Marvel Universe.
Back in the 1960s, comic legend Steve Ditko envisioned the abstract entity representing all the life in the Marvel Universe as a bald guy with a massive cloak whose entire corpus is filled with the stars, galaxies, nebulae and everything else. Eternity is everything. Pure and simple. Anyone who is manipulating reality in the Marvel universe is manipulating the substance of his body. Rarely have characters been conceived of as being truly omnipresent. Eternity is one of the few who was conceived of most likely by Ditko and Stan Lee as essentially being the Marvel Universe. He is the sum total of the collective consciousness of all living things in the universe. Everything that has ever happened in any panel of any Marvel comic book has, in a sense, taken place in somewhere within him. And a strike against him would be a strike against the fundamental nature of reality itself. (This has happened before.) That is nothing if not power. And it's a kind of ultimate power.
If you're thinking about a cute, little goth girl with an ankh around her neck, you're thinking about the wrong Death. As conceived by Starlin, Marvel's Death looks like the Grim Reaper without the scythe. That creepy, skeletal look didn't keep Thanos from falling in love with her. She is the physical embodiment of the end of life, which might not seem like much in the Marvel Universe when you really think about it. This is a place where characters can’t seem to stay dead. (Death is fickle in the Marvel Universe. She keeps getting bored with people and putting them in turnaround. The only thing that will genuinely kill off a prominent character in Marvel or DC is a lack of reader interest.) That being said, life cannot exist without Death and snapping the fingers of the infinity gauntlet wouldn't actually do anything if Death wasn't there to go to work. And Death IS the one major power entity in the Marvel Universe to be identified as female, so you KNOW she's working at least twice as hard as the rest of them.
Galactus got to be as powerful as he was by being in the right place at the right time. He survived the Big Crunch at the end of a universe. (That’s what astrophysicists call it. Galactus creators Jack Kirby and Stan Lee called it a “Cosmic Egg.”) The following Big Bang brought about the Marvel Universe and since he was there when it happened, Galactus became a really important part of the cosmic architecture. The planet devourer's power may be kind of minor in comparison to the others on this list, but this guy's entire existence is based on cataclysmic, geocidal hunger. There's a power in that hunger that forms some of the fundamental structure of the universe. If he were to die, there's a really good chance that he would take the universe with him. There's a power in that distinction that even the Infinity Gauntlet can't compete against. The gauntlet can be disassembled without doing damage to the universe. The same can't be said for Galactus. Try to disassemble Galactus and the whole universe comes crashing down around him. (This has happened before too.)
04. Master Order
Thanos creator Jim Starlin served as a significant architect of the cosmology of the Marvel Universe. He has much to answer for in this respect. (There is one hell of a lot of power just laying around out there, and it's only become more and more convoluted over the years. ) In addition to everything else that’s he did in building the universe, he's most likely responsible for the fact that the abstract embodiment of Order in the Marvel Universe takes the form of the disembodied head of a bald Caucasian guy. (I’m sure there's probably some sort of explanation to be had there.) The abstract manifestation of all the Order in the universe has power that must rule over anything that Thanos could do with the Infinity Gauntlet. He's fundamental to the basic structure of the Marvel Universe. Get rid of Order, and all hell breaks loose. (Honestly this might have happened before…it’s so difficult to keep track of these things…)
05. Lord Chaos
Created as a pairing with Master Order, Lord Chaos is the physical embodiment of complete disorder and confusion in the Marvel Universe. (Starlin was into a whole “balance of the universe thing” when he created a lot of this stuff.) The Lord probably isn't given nearly as much credit as it deserves for doing all that he does. He’s responsible for all the disorder in the Marvel Universe and that’s going to include all the errors that pop-up due to artist and writer error. Consider that whenever an inconsistent panel or plot point pops-up in the Marvel Universe, it's most likely a product of the substance of Chaos that the Lord represents. So every time Liefeld delivered a panel with questionable anatomy, Lord Chaos was there. The one time in the mid-80s that Captain America was missing a nose in a panel in Captain America #308 for no apparent reason? That was Lord Chaos too. She-Hulk and Deadpool regularly break the fourth wall, and you KNOW that's Lord Chaos doing his thing there. As he is the substance of every error and inconsistency in the Marvel Universe Lord Chaos might even be more powerful than any editor or writer Marvel's has ever had. His influence transcends the page.
06. The In-Betweener
Some of what the Starlin was doing in creating some of the cosmology of Marvel universe was a more accomplished version of what Jack Kirby was doing with the New Gods for DC. Kirby’s work was interesting, but it lacked the epic scope of what Starlin was working with for Marvel. Starlin was creating whole new mythology that was distinct from previous legends. The In-Betweener is the abstract embodiment of duality in the Marvel Universe, which is an incredibly clever concept even if the character wasn’t always executed all that well. Lord Chaos and Master Order created him. A being representing duality itself, the In-Betweener has immense power that recently got fused with Order and Chaos to become the trinity entity known as Logos, which is ultimately taken to justice by the Living Tribunal.
07. The Living Tribunal
Marie Severin and Herb Trimpe created the visual manifestation of one of the most iconic-looking cosmic level entities in the Marvel Universe with the Living Tribunal. A gold humanoid figure with a floating head served as the arbiter of balance and not just the Marvel universe but the whole multiverse. It could have been seen as playing the role of Eternity's immune system, maintaining homeostasis in a very volatile universe. Given how volatile the Marvel universe is, its apparent that either he's not doing a good job or the universe would be utterly chaotic without him. It even survived its own apparent Death at the end of the otherwise hopeless mess that was Al Ewing’s Ultimates vol.2 #100 back in 2017.
08. The Beyonder
Writer/editor Jim Shooter's contribution was a convenient way to bring all of Marvel's greatest heroes and villains together to sell toys that were being produced by Mattel. The original Secret Wars mini series was remarkably well-written for something with a wholly commercial origin. In-universe, the Beyonder wanted to collect all of the heroes and villains to get them to fight each other. He was kind of lazy about it, choosing to fuse pieces of a whole bunch of other planets to form a new one. Why not just create a new one? He's a member of an entire race of people every bit as powerful as he is. A whole race of omnipotents who are all precisely as omnipotent as each other? Why not? It makes about as much sense as anything else.
09. L. R. 'Skip' Collins
L.R. Collins was a middle-aged American guy who held down a regular job. He had a wife and a son. He also had the ability to alter reality. He coud manipulate time and space all over the planet if he wanted to. The catch: he didn't realize he can do these things. His one recorded glimpse into the full immensity of his power came in a business trip to New York where he helped the Fantastic Four repel Ego The Living Planet. That was back in 1981. (Fantastic Four #234.) He's since disappeared and hasn't been heard from since. (Or maybe he has. It’s hard to tell with a guy like him.) The fact that John Byrne created this guy as something of a throwaway character is a testament to just what kind of strange sense of humor he has. Probably the most powerful character in the Marvel Universe and he’s just some guy who doesn’t even know it. Clever stuff.
Skip has ability to manipulate time and space, without the awareness of that ability. (Like so many others in the Marvel Universe, his power came as a side-effect of experimentation by the U.S. military.) There's a kind of terror in the idea of someone who is totally unaware of the fact that they are essentially omnipotent. There's a kind of deep humor in it as well. And then…who knows where he is? It's been years since we've heard from him. He could be anywhere. He doesn't really know what he's doing when he's doing what he's doing there's a good chance he could be just about anyone as well. He might've accidentally slipped identities without remembering he’d done so. Who hasn’t idly considered being someone else? When you’re all powerful and you don’t know it, you could actually become someone else without knowing it. Anything is possible for someone with limitless power and complete ignorance of it. Most power is tempered by particular objectives and strategies. Abstract power without a consciousness behind it? L.R. Collins might be the most powerful person in the Marvel Universe. The fact that this really isn’t very important is part of Byrne’s genius in tucking him away in an issue of the F.F. as a throwaway joke.
10. Impossible Man
Possibly one of the most powerful characters there is in the Marvel Universe, but he'd only ever do anything with his power if he really felt like it. Just look at him up there about the bold print header. He’s GOT to be hiding something and there’s a good chance that it’s omnipotence. If he DOES have infinite power, there’s a good chance he’d never reveal it. He’s a powerful alien imp capable of taking on any form and instantly teleporting nearly anywhere in the universe without any regard for time and space. To a guy like that, fully-realized power means responsibility and responsibility has got to be a very boring proposition to someone who can go anywhere and be anyone so long as they’re green and purple. The central adventurer from the world of Poppup, Impossible Man is capable of great things. He can take on any form he cares to (within reason) and multiply himself. He shares a whimsical consciousness with a whole race of similar beings.
Granted, he's never shown himself to be a major power in the Marvel Universe, but it's distinctly possible that Impossible Man simply hasn't wanted to. It's far more fun to let Galactus eat a home planet he could essentially repopulate all on his own anyway or bother the FF or any of a host of other things that might appear to be signs of weakness. Anyone capable of rearranging all of the molecules in their bodies at will is probably hiding their true nature on many different levels. He looks harmless, but probably only because it's easier to play jokes when no one thinks you're a god.