As the saying goes “crime doesn’t pay,” but perhaps it should be amended to include “and neither does being a superhero.” In the comic book world, heroes often earn a great deal less than their villainous rivals. Sure, some heroes like Iron Man and Black Panther have more riches than they could ever hope to spend, a lot of others struggle just to keep a roof over their heads. Many of these superheroes don’t own a lot and never have. Some have day jobs that are on the lower end of the pay scale, while others live in complete squalor on the fringes of society. These are the 12 poorest superheroes struggling to get by in the Marvel Universe.
12. The Hulk
For a long time, the Hulk remained one of the poorest Superheroes. Sure, Bruce Banner had great job security when he was still working as a physicist. But his finances kind of took a turn for the worse after that freak accident that made him turn into a giant green rage monster every time he got a little worked up. Aside from constantly being hunted by the army and people who want to study him, every time that puny Banner would get angry and transform into the Hulk, he would ultimately be left stranded with literally nothing but the tattered clothes on his back. Not to mention the millions of dollars in property damage he causes when he goes on a rampage.
11. Power Man
When Luke Cage, a.k.a. Power Man partnered up with Danny Rand, a.k.a. Iron Fist, to form the Heroes for Hire, he managed to turn crime fighting into a paid full-time job. But even though the duo was able to charge for their crime fighting services, in a city with a profusion of heroes who will do the job for free, the business proved to be more or less unprofitable. Generally speaking, American small business owners make about $60,000 to $70,000 a year, yet, according to a study by American Express, close to 15% of those small business owners need to work a second job just to make ends meet. Which probably explains why Luke Cage decided to open up that bar.
10. Big Bertha
Ashley Crawford, better known as Big Bertha, is a mutant who can alter her body mass whenever she chooses. In her transformed state, she gains incredible strength and durability, but when she’s not using her mutant powers she’s an attractive, slender woman who works as a model in her hometown of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Though her supermodel career would no doubt earn her a fine living if she was providing merely for herself, since she’s also the primary financier of the Great Lakes Champions, she finds herself constantly emptying her savings account to support the team.
Born deaf, Maya Lopez was initially placed in special education. However, after demonstrating she had the ability to mimic anything she sees, including complex choreography and martial arts, she was placed in a gifted class and eventually became the superheroine Echo.
Following her father’s death, Maya is taken in by the Kingpin who is immediately impressed with her talents and sends her off to the best schools money can buy. As a result, she became very talented in many artistic fields. But as any fine arts major will tell you, passion doesn’t always translate to dollars and, as a performance artist, Echo brings in roughly $20 an hour.
8. Jessica Jones
As evidenced in her new Netflix series, Jessica Jones has hardly lived a life of luxury. The show portrays her as a worn out private investigator who spends the majority of what little money she has on alcohol to forget her troubles and cope with the post-traumatic stress disorder that she was left with after her time spent with Killgrave (a.k.a. Purple Man).
In the very first episode, when Jessica learns that Killgrave is back in the picture, she wants to buy a plane ticket to flee the city but finds she doesn’t have enough money and all her credit cards are maxed out. She then calls her lawyer connection Jeri Hogarth and asks for a pay advance on the case she’s been working, but gets flat out denied and has to resort to borrowing money from her adoptive sister and friend Trish Walker.
Though Jessica promptly pays Trish the money back, she still can’t even afford to fix her perpetually broken front door.
It should come as no surprise that Marvel’s flagship character is among the poorest superheroes. Peter Parker’s job as a freelance photographer could earn him about $40,000 a year. Typically, newspaper photographers are only paid $65 per photo assignment. When you consider that photographers are usually required to submit five to ten photos for the client to choose from, that would mean that the value of each photo is about $10.
If Peter Parker were serious about cashing in on his pictures, he probably should have forgotten about selling his pictures to the stingy J. Jonah Jameson and instead focused on becoming a paparazzi. One scandalous photo could probably net him more than a year’s worth of paychecks from the Daily Bugle.
Born a mutant, Angelica Jones was 13 years old when her powers began to manifest and she noticed she had the ability to generate great heat. After learning to control her mutant powers she worked with the Avengers for a while, but after the Superhuman Registration Act was signed into law she gave up being a superhero, choosing instead to continue her academic education.
As a college student, Firestar earns little to no income. On top of that, she’s likely got huge debts she needs to repay as a result of student loans.
When Elvin Haliday was just a boy he obtained super powers after jumping into a chemical-filled creek to escape a gang of racist thugs. Taking the name Rage for the incredible strength he displays while fighting, Elvin briefly fought alongside Captain America and The Avengers but was soon kicked off the team after it was revealed that he was only a teenager.
Feeling rejected, Rage joined the New Warriors and helped them steal one of Avengers’ Quinjets as part of his first mission. But after a while, the team grew apart and eventually disbanded, with Elvin deciding to go back to school and concentrate on his studies.
Much like Firestar, it’s assumed that Rage has no other job so his continued educations probably just place him further into debt.
4. Squirrel Girl
The thing with Squirrel Girl is her powers are completely laughable. Soon after she was born, Doreen Green’s squirrel-like abilities manifested predominately in the form of her tail. After her parents consulted with a doctor, it was determined that Doreen’s condition rsulted from modifications in her genes, but she wasn’t a mutant of the X-Men variety.
By all rights, she should be awful, but when you examine her checklist of defeated super villains you’ll find that she’s achieved more than anyone would have though possible, even besting the likes of Doctor Doom at a very early stage in her career. You might think that such credentials would warrant her a top spot in the superhero squad of her choosing, but she seems to be perfectly content being the brave protector of New York’s Central Park.
Though there’s never much mention given to her other occupations or sources of income, we do know that she briefly served as a nanny for Jessica Jones and Luke Cage, and considering those two heroes are also on this list, it’s safe to assume that Squirrel Girl is working for peanuts.
No other superhero name in the Marvel universe suggests more meager earnings than that of Doorman. As a mutant, DeMarr Davis has the ability to teleport anywhere in the world…just as long as he’s already in a room adjacent to the target location. Sure, it’s a great party trick, but not all that useful for fighting crime, save for escaping capture and breaking into the bad guys’ secret hideout.
Before joining the Great Lakes Avengers, DeMarr was an average American youngster, attending college where he completed three years of graduate school. Unfortunately, whatever he got a degree in likely didn’t do much to pay the bills, because all we really know from his backstory is that he became an experienced card player—meaning he probably gambled a lot to try and make ends meet.
Recently, Doorman and his GLA teammates participated in a charity superhero poker tournament hosted by the Thing. However, he didn’t even make it to the final round, which resulted in the Thing losing out to Flatman. So with little to no sources of income and a penchant for gambling, not only is Doorman penniless, he’s probably in crippling debt.
2. The Morlocks
Thanks to their teaching positions at the prestigious Xavier Institute, most of the X-Men never have to worry about their living situation or earning money through legitimate means. In fact, thanks to their scientific backgrounds and affiliations, many of them are actually pretty well-off. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said about the Morlocks. This group of sewer-dwelling mutant outcasts fight a constant struggle just to stay alive. They survive by raiding the surface for food, furnishings, clothing and the other basic necessities of life. Sometimes they even resort to kidnapping children, since many Morlocks are sterile or incapable of natural reproduction.
Before he became Man-Thing, Ted Sallis was also a prominent biochemist working on duplicating the “Super-Soldier Serum” that created Captain America. When his research team is ambushed by the terrorist group Advanced Idea Mechanics (AIM), Sallis destroys his notes and injects himself with the only sample of the serum in hopes of saving himself. However, he crashes his car into the swamp where chemical and magical forces transform him into Man-Thing.
Given that he’s a giant, reclusive, slow-moving swamp monster, Man-Thing doesn’t exactly have a whole lot of job prospects open to him. Hell, he can’t even function in normal society let alone hold a job. But at least all his needs are provided for him by his swampy habitat.