Superheroes have been around for at least a century or so, if we include characters such as Zorro, who first appeared in 1919 and became a precursor for later masked avengers with secret identities. The rise of the superhero began in earnest in 1938 with the debut of Superman and the start of the golden age of comic books. A year later, Batman arrived, followed soon after by the Flash, Green Lantern, Captain America, and many more. Popular culture would never be the same again.
More recently, movie franchises set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) have brought superheroes back onto the main stage. Comic books are still going strong, but Hollywood has introduced — or reintroduced — superheroes to a whole new audience, and they are as beloved as ever. Here are 12 of the best quotes from some of the most famous superheroes that ever graced the page — or the big screen.
We all know the truth: More connects us than separates us. But in times of crisis, the wise build bridges, while the foolish build barriers.
— Black Panther, "Black Panther"
The king and protector of Wakanda first appeared in Fantastic Four #52 in 1966 and was the first superhero of African descent in mainstream American comics. The line above was spoken by Black Panther in the 2018 movie starring the late Chadwick Boseman.
Faith is my sword. Truth is my shield. Knowledge my armor.
— Dr. Stephen Strange, "Shadows & Light Vol. 2"
This is one of Doctor Strange’s most famous quotes, and though many people assume he said it during the eponymous 2016 movie, it actually comes from a comic book published in 1998.
Just because someone stumbles and loses their path, doesn't mean they're lost forever.
— Charles Xavier, "X-Men: Days of Future Past"
As the founder and sometimes leader of the X-Men, Charles Xavier (Professor X) imparts plenty of wisdom in both the comics and movies. This line comes from the younger Xavier, as played by James McAvoy.
With great power comes great responsibility.
— Spider-Man, "Spider-Man"
This has become one of the most famous superhero quotes, in large part due to the 2002 movie Spider-Man. It’s said early in the film by Uncle Ben, and then repeated by Tobey Maguire’s Peter Parker (Spider-Man) during the movie’s emotional final scene. But the quote first appeared in a comic in 1962 and has been in existence in various forms since at least the French Revolution.
Now I know. Only love can save this world. So I stay. I fight, and I give… for the world I know can be. This is my mission, now. Forever.
— Wonder Woman, "Wonder Woman"
Wonder Woman first appeared in All-Star Comics #8, published in 1941, and she soon became a feminist icon and an inspiration to young girls around the world. She’s a warrior, but never afraid to speak of love. The lines above are from the closing scene of 2017’s Wonder Woman, starring Gal Gadot.
When the mob and the press and the whole world tell you to move, your job is to plant yourself like a tree beside the river of truth, and tell the whole world — “No, you move.”
— Captain America, "Amazing Spider-Man #537"
Captain America says this to Spider-Man in Amazing Spider-Man #537, published in 2006. A similar version of the quote appears in the 2016 movie Captain America: Civil War, but the lines are spoken by the character Sharon Carter, not by Captain America.
Life doesn’t give us purpose. We give life purpose.
— The Flash, "Blackest Night #8"
At least four different characters have assumed the mantle of the Flash, the most famous being Barry Allen, who appears as the Flash in the most recent TV series and DC Extended Universe movies.
Dreams save us. Dreams lift us up and transform us. And on my soul, I swear… until my dream of a world where dignity, honor, and justice becomes the reality we all share — I'll never stop fighting. Ever.
— Superman, "Action Comics #775"
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