You wouldn’t believe how many discussions I had with people about the 50 superhero movies they’d seen or would want to see. Since I can’t count the number of times I’ve brought up that the list is not exhaustive, but that your favorite superhero movie is missing from the list, I’m going to give you a chance to put it on it.
With superhero flicks dominating the box office and drawing millions of fans, it’s no wonder that filmmakers are taking a look at why we love these characters so much. While Batman, Superman, Iron Man, and Captain America are all well-known to us all, the world of superheroes is a huge one, filled with many different types of characters. From those who are genetically altered to think they are human, to time-traveling scientists, to suave secret agents, we look at the top 5 Time Traveling Superheroes.
Jonah Hex: “Fancy gun belts ya got there. I’m thinkin’ you folk’re time travelers.”
Bruce Wayne: “Where would you get a crazy idea like that?”
Hex: “Experience. I’ve had an interestin’ life.”
Justice League: Unlimited “The Once and Future Thing” (Season 1, Episode 12)[ZORC] See! I told you time travel was that easy! Wait, you don’t know what I’m talking about? Sonova- I did it again! I keep trying to tell you about the top 5 time traveling superheroes, but my attempts to prove it’s real leave me talking to you before I explain it. Rassa-frassen, [inhales] once more from the top.
Time travel is one of the most versatile powers in fiction. You can visit the far-flung future, alter the past to change the present, and redo any day that doesn’t go right. Or you could just travel back a few hours to get some more sleep. There’s a reason time travel made our list of the top 5 superpowers we want.
Naturally, any power this overwhelming will be used by many heroes and villains. Conquerors with blisteringly advanced weapons seeking to take over the world. Champions who will do anything to protect the flow of time. These are the Top 5 Time Traveling Superheroes!
Heat Wave: [guarding The Beatles] “I’ve never met an Englishman I haven’t wanted to punch in the face.”
Steel: “Relax, Mick. If it weren’t for the British Invasion, there’d be no Rolling Stones, no Led Zep, no Black Sabbath.”
Heat Wave: “Black Sabbath? Well… then we need to protect these mopheads from whatever’s screwing up history!” –
Legends of Tomorrow “The Virgin Gary” (Season 4, Episode 1)
Most time traveling superheroes do anything to protect the timestream. The Legends of Tomorrow are happy if they haven’t screwed up too much.
A Time Master named Rip Hunter lost his family to immortal supervillain Vandal Savage. Unable to stop Savage and his armies alone, Rip traveled to the past to recruit a team of heroes and villains. He claimed that their future selves were remembered as legends to convince them to help. In truth, they were a bunch of schmucks whose disappearance wouldn’t affect the timestream.
The Legends killed Vandal Savage, but accidentally broke time doing so. They began traveling the timeline, fixing their mistakes and making new ones. Protecting Elliot Ness from the Legion of Doom? A normal Tuesday. The Hindu god of love starts a Bollywood musical in Regency England? No big deal. Genghis Khan leading a scooter-mounted cavalry charge in Hong Kong? Now that one might be a problem.
The Legends would have ranked below, but most of them aren’t normally time travelers. Most versions of these characters, except Rip, are normal heroes and crooks who don’t go cavorting through history. If you want to know more about the team, then check out our Legends of Tomorrow reviews.
Iron Lad: “Kate… if you found out you were going to become… Adolf Hitler, wouldn’t you do everything in your power to make sure it never happens?”
Young Avengers Vol.1 #4
As The Dark Knight taught us: you learn you become a villain, then time travel to stop it. I may be paraphrasing a bit. Either way, Iron Lad is our number five time traveling superhero.
Nathaniel Richards was a young genius living in the 30th century. He was bullied for his intelligence. There was even an incident where a bully tried to maim him before a soldier intervened. This was Kang the Conqueror, a time traveling despot and Nathaniel’s future self.
Kang gave Nathaniel a suit of high-tech armor and showed him his future conquests, hoping to start his trans-temporal empire ahead of schedule. Nathaniel was horrified to see the tyrant he would become and traveled to the 21st century to get help from the Avengers. The team had disbanded, so Nathaniel organized a team called the Young Avengers, fashioning himself as Iron Lad.
Iron Lad fought crime alongside his team, hopeful that his heroics would prevent him from becoming Kang. He even fell in love with his teammate, Stature. Unfortunately, she died due to his timestream changes and after the team wouldn’t help him. Iron Lad left the Young Avengers and returned to the future, taking his first step to becoming Kang the Conqueror.
Deadpool: “Oh, so you’re from the future? I have a question then. What Sharknado are we on? Is dubstep still a thing? And when do we stop saying “Enough with the robotic arms?”
Cable: “Dubstep’s for p*****s!”
Deadpool: “So dark. Are you sure you’re not from the DC Universe?”
Have you ever wondered what The Terminator would be like as a psychic Mutant? I doubt it, but it’s a decent metaphor for our next time traveling superhero: Cable.
Nathan Summers was the son of X-Men Cyclops and Phoenix. He was prophesied to kill an all-powerful Mutant called Apocalypse. The villain learned of the prophecy and infected Nate with a Techno-Organic Virus. The only way to save Nate was to send him into the future where a treatment existed.
Nate traveled back to the present as an old soldier called Cable. He joined the X-Men to hunt down Apocalypse, but never managed to kill his enemy. When he wasn’t hunting Apocalypse, Cable was fighting crime with psychic powers, advanced technology, and his favorite power: really big guns.
There’s still more to Cable’s story. Check out our Cable backstory for the details.
Flash: [trapped in a post-apocalyptic world] “I saved her. I saved mom.”
Thawne: “That’s right.”
Flash: “No. No! It wouldn’t have changed all this. It wouldn’t have changed what happened before her murder. Bruce’s parents, Clark’s landing!”
Thawne: “Oh, but it did. Break the sound barrier and you get a sonic boom. You broke the time barrier, Flash. Time boom. Ripples of distortion radiated from that point of impact, shifting everything a tiny bit, but enough.”
Justice League: the Flashpoint Paradox
Most time traveling superheroes are fast, but none of them can hope to keep up with The Flash.
Time travel has shaped Barry Allen’s life. His archenemy, the Reverse-Flash, traveled back in time, killed his mother, and framed his father. Barry grew up and became a forensic scientist to track down the killer. Lightning struck Barry and knocked him into a shelf of chemicals, giving him superhuman speed that he used to become The Flash.
Barry learned that he could time travel by running fast enough. Einstein is rolling in his grave, but the Speed Force is just that overpowered. The Flash has trouble pinpointing when he’ll reappear, forcing him to use a device called the Cosmic Treadmill to fine-tune the voyage. Flash’s time travel has helped him solve many cases, but also forced the DC Universe to reboot following the event Flashpoint.
If you want more temporal shenanigans with The Flash, how about checking out our Flash backstory?
Booster Gold: “It’s like…it’s like when you have rats in your attic, and you call a guy to get rid of them. But, nobody ever sets out to be the rat guy. But somebody’s gotta do it anyway. And that’s me. I’m time’s rat guy.”
Justice League Action “Time Out” (Season 1, Episode 27)
A lot of time traveling superheroes are overly serious, constantly worrying about potential paradoxes and deviations. Good thing we have our penultimate hero, Booster Gold.
Michael Carter was a 25th century college football star who was caught betting on his games. He was barred from the sport, and his friends abandoned him. He got a job at a superhero museum and became enamored with the Age of Heroes. Michael reprogrammed a robot named Skeets to help him steal advanced tech from the exhibits, including a time machine. Suitably armed, he traveled to the past to become a hero.
Michael saved President Reagan from an assassination attempt and accidentally gave his football nickname “Booster” in addition to his planned hero name “Goldstar.” He was introduced as Booster Gold, and the name stuck. Booster became wealthy after using his fame to create a business empire, but other heroes saw him as a sell-out and a braggart, especially those who learned his origin.
Fighting alongside his heroes eventually humbled Booster. His time travel has saved the world several times. He realized that being a major hero would get him killed by evil time travelers and decided to help heroes behind the scenes, using his arrogant image as a disguise. Despite his flaws, Booster Gold is a hero at heart who will do anything to help his friends, even throwing himself at fixed points in time until they change or he dies.
Captain Adelaide: “You said we’d die. For the future, for the human race!”
The Doctor: “Yes. Because there are laws. There are Laws of Time. And once upon a time there were people in charge of those laws, but they died! They all died! Do you know who that leaves? ME! It’s taken me all these years to realize the Laws of Time are mine, and THEY WILL OBEY ME!”
Doctor Who “The Waters of Mars” (Season 30, Episode 16)
There’s one time traveling superhero you cannot escape. They can track you anywhere in time and space. They can outsmart almost any obstacle. Kill them, and they won’t stay dead. The ultimate time traveling superhero is The Doctor.
The Doctor is a Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey who thought his species was decadent and stole a time machine called the TARDIS to explore the universe. The Doctor eventually found his way to Earth, where his granddaughter befriended some of the locals. He reluctantly brought them along and was convinced to help people through all of time and space.
The Doctor deals with very inconsistent laws of time travel. Sometimes he can’t alter history at all, other times he can go hog wild. He has made thousands of enemies across time, from the genocidal Daleks to Queen Elizabeth I. Even so, The Doctor’s time travel has saved all of reality countless times.
Traveling through time isn’t The Doctor’s only temporal trick. He can slow his perception of time, sense changes to history, and even bring himself back to life through Regeneration. This handy trick also changes his appearance and personality, so The Doctor could be anyone. A charming cricket enthusiast? A manipulative trickster? A blunt female engineer? The possibilities are endless.
Who do you think is the best time traveling superhero? Is there one even better than these? Tell us in the comment- wait, what do you mean you don’t believe in time travel?! I just gave you six bloody examples! What, you want proof?
I’ll give you proof! [ZORC]
Photo Credit: James Pardon/BBC America
Jared Bounacos has written for since 2016.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which super hero can time travel?
Which Marvel superhero can control time?
The Marvel superhero who can control time is Doctor Strange.
Who are the top 5 strongest superheroes?
1. Superman 2. Wonder Woman 3. Thor 4. Captain America 5. Iron Man
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