Back in this post, I was talking about a countdown of the top 100 DC and Marvel characters (i.e. the top 50 from each company) that was underway, based on votes from "nearly 1400" fans.
At the time, the list was still counting down and listed the 15th to 50th most popular characters from Marvel and the 15th to 50th from DC, based on the voting. Since then the countdown has concluded and the lists are now complete.
How did I go in my prediction of the final 14 Marvel characters? Not that badly. Here is my prediction, from the earlier post:
3. Captain America (Steve Rogers)
4. Iron Man
5. The Hulk
7. Doctor Doom
9. Professor X.
11. The Thing
12. Mary Jane Watson
14. Doctor Strange
And here is the actual list:
2. Captain America (Steve Rogers)
5. The Hulk
7. Iron Man
8. Doctor Doom
10. Hawkeye (Clint Barton)
11. The Thing
14. Doctor Strange
Some observations. First, I totally forgot about Daredevil (I knew I was forgetting someone important), who certainly should be in the top 10. On the other hand, I'm surprised to see Hawkeye and Nightcrawler ranking in the top 15 - both are important characters, but I wouldn't have said they were all that iconic or all that important from an in-world viewpoint. So I've learned that those two characters are more popular than I would have thought.
Second, I'm surprised and a bit concerned that Professor X has not only not made the top 10 or 15 characters - he has not made the top 50 at all! Yet, he is surely one of Marvel's most iconic characters and is very important from an in-universe viewpoint as well, as founder of the the X-Men (and their leader through much of Marvel's history). Something has gone wrong if such an important character is not getting ranked highly in a poll like this (conversely, his arch-rival, Magneto, ranks 12 ... not quite as high as I predicted, but still very high, and despite being primarily a villain; this disparity suggests that something really is askew in the marketing of a major character).
Third, a couple of wild-cards that I threw in didn't make the overall list at all. One was Mary Jane Watson. Well, she's Spider-Man's main (over the decades) love interest: though she's a somewhat iconic character, MJ is not a superhero or a supervillain, so perhaps it's not a great surprise that she doesn't make the list. Moreso since Marvel retconned away her marriage to Spider-Man. I'm actually a bit more surprised to see the important and iconic villain Galactus not make the top-50 list at all. I still think he should be up near Doctor Doom and Magneto.
Some of the X-women have done quite well, with Kitty Pryde at 19, Jean Grey at 20, Storm at 21, and Rogue at 23. But She-Hulk is at 26, Ms Marvel languishes at 29 (despite getting lots of push from Marvel on an ongoing basis), the Scarlet Witch is at 31, Invisible Woman at 47 ... and the Wasp, who is one of the great classic superheroines from the Silver Age, does not appear at all.
A few others - the Black Widow, X-23, She-Hulk, Psylocke, and Spider-Woman - appear on the lower half of the list, but it's a poor showing overall for female characters. Worse, so many of those who do make the list are female variants of more popular male characters (She-Hulk is a variant of the Hulk, Spider-Woman of Spider-Man, and X-23 of Wolverine). And female villains do very poorly indeed - even Mystique does not make the top-50 list, despite her considerable exposure (in more ways than one) in the X-Men movies.
I'm not sure what Marvel can do about this. You can't force the readers to adopt a character and give it the sort of popularity that makes the character iconic. Marvel sometimes seems, to me, to be trying to force things with Ms Marvel, who clearly has a great name from the company's viewpoint, as well as a cool costume design and a classic power set - but with only limited success.
There's a limit ... but I can't help feeling that Marvel has made some bad decisions with female characters. Think about it.
The Wasp has been sort of dead for some time now, and there's no real push to bring her back. The Scarlet Witch was rendered unusable some years ago, when she was turned into an overpowered deus ex machina type character, though Marvel seems to be doing something about that problem in the current Children's Crusade mini-series. Jean Grey (a.k.a. Phoenix) has been considered dead for years, but still manages to hold down position 20. It seems crazy that Marvel has not yet found a way to bring her back to centre stage.
The move to destroy the Spider-Man/MJ marriage may have made commercial sense, restoring the Silver Age status quo of a bachelor Spider-Man with a troubled love life. I'm not so critical of that, though many others are (many fans are almost obsessed about it). But MJ is a well-loved character, and surely there are better ways to use her than as a relatively unimportant member of Spider-Man's support cast, i.e. just as an ex with whom he broke up amicably and who is still his friend.
As I say, this sort of thing can't be forced, but some of Marvel's decisions look, well, almost like the company has gone out of its way to sideline its great female characters. I'm sure that's not true, but it could also put a bit more thought into avoiding these bad scenarios.
Finally, my list doesn't look very different from the list as it actually eventuated. I had a few characters in exactly the same slots (the Hulk, the Thing, Dr Strange) and some others very close. I was a bit surprised at little things such as Wolverine coming out at number 4 rather than number 2, and at Thor doing quite so well (and I thought Iron Man would have done slightly better, given the success of the Iron Man movies), but all in all the outcome was fairly predictable.