Dresden: “My name is Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden. Conjure by it at your own risk. When things get strange, when what goes bump in the night flicks on the lights, when no one else can help you, give me a call. I’m in the book.” – The Dresden Files: Storm Front
Magic has fascinated humans since they first emerged on earth. With some words, potions, or sheer willpower, they believed it was possible to reshape the world to their desires. Belief in magic has faded over the ages, but it’s alive and well in fiction.
Magic is the simplest origin for supers–heroes and villains. No need for a random chemical spill or radiation-induced mutations when you can literally pull powers from the ether. These 5 magical supers are the wiz of a wiz if ever a wiz there was.
Honorable Mention: Abra Kadabra
Played by Jeff Bennett and David Dastmalchian
[Young Justice is trying to get into a wizard’s tower]
Kid Flash: “This isn’t simple camouflage.”
Artemis: “So what do you think? Adaptive micro-opto electronics combined with phase shifting?”
Klarion the Witch-Boy: [hiding behind an illusion] “Hey, Abra Kadabra, aren’t you using adaptive micro-opto electronics and phase shifting?”
Abra Kadabra: [petulant] “…Yes.” – Young Justice, “Denial” (Season 1, Episode 7)
Abra Kadabra is the logical outcome of Clarke’s Third Law. Citizen Abra was born in the 64th century, when individuality was outlawed and conformity was the law. Abra craved attention and developed a fondness for the stage magicians of the 20th century. He stole a time machine, traveled to the 20th century, and used futuristic technology to become the famous magician Abra Kadabra.
While people enjoyed Abra Kadabra’s magic tricks, it wasn’t enough for him. He snapped and became a supervillain to force people to acknowledge him. This led to a run in with The Flash, who managed to beat the malevolent magician. Abra didn’t take the defeat well and has since become one of the only Flash villains who actively tries to kill him.
Abra Kadabra would be on the list if he used real magic. Unfortunately, sufficiently advanced technology is distinguishable from magic on this list. Either way, don’t turn your back on Abra Kadabra, or he might reach out and grab ya.
Played by Jennifer Hale and Lacey Chabert
Red Volcano: “Tornado’s memory files and my superior processing speed allow me to anticipate your every move.”
Zatanna: “Emoks, emoceb a dlofdnilb! [smoke becomes a blindfold that wraps around Volcano’s eyes.] Tornado never knew my moves.”
Robin: “And I bet you’ve got some good ones.” – Young Justice, “Humanity” (Season 1, Episode 15)
Zatanna is one of DC’s most powerful sorcerers. Zatanna’s father, the hero Zatara, taught her a powerful style of magic that involves speaking the incantations backwards. She also learned several bits of dark magic from her erstwhile lover, John Constantine. Her spells border on reality warping, but can be stopped if she can’t talk.
Sadly, Zatanna isn’t completely sugar, spice, and everything nice. She is addicted to using magic, once describing herself as a “spellaholic”. In the series Identity Crisis, readers learned that Zatanna was part of an Orwellian cabal in the Justice League. The group brainwashed villains into forgetting heroes’ secret identities and altered their minds to make them less dangerous. She even mindwiped Batman when he tried to stop them.
Zatanna is a grade-A sorceress, but loses points for the constant mind-raping.
#4 Doctor Fate
Played by Oded Fehr and Kevin Michael Richardson
[poison gas surrounds the Justice League]
Doctor Fate: “Fear not! [banishes the poison] Fate has intervened!” – Young Justice, “Revelation” (Season 1, Episode 14)
Doctor Fate is one of DC’s oldest superheroes. Archeologist Kent Nelson was exploring an Egyptian tomb and discovered an artifact called the Helmet of Fate. He was compelled to put the helmet on and was transported to a magical realm where he encountered Nabu, a Lord of Order.
Nabu believed the world had become too chaotic, but could not interfere without disrupting the balance between Order and Chaos. He convinced Nelson to become his agent on Earth, granting him magical powers and the title of Doctor Fate.
Doctor Fate is also the most powerful sorcerer in the DC universe. He’s got illusions, shapeshifting, conjuration, transfiguration, and anything else you’d find on Harry Potter’s homework list. He can even use magic to copy Superman’s powers at full strength.
The only downside is that Nabu cares about order instead of good. Nabu will gladly allow catastrophes if they help bring order to the universe. He’s even possessed Nelson several times, wearing his body like a coat. Doctor Fate is a hero, but his benefactor is a monster.
Played by Tom Hiddleston and Troy Baker
[a spaceship arrives to evacuate Asgard]
Loki: “Asgard! Your savior IS HERE! Did ya miss me?” – Thor: Ragnarok
There are many magicians in Norse mythology, but you’d be hard pressed to find one more skilled than the Frost Giant trickster and heir to the throne of Jotunheim. Loki’s father Laufey was slain by the Asgardian King Odin, who brought the sickly prince home with him.
Loki studied magic and politics as he grew older. This ostracized him from the Asgardian warriors, who considered magic a coward’s weapon. Despite their jeers, Loki learned to conjure objects, shapeshift, time travel, and a lot more. His most potent discovery was realizing he was a comic book character. Loki has since enacted countless meta schemes that rely on the nature of storytelling.
There’s a lot more to this Norse god’s story, so check out our Loki backstory.
Played by Tara Strong and Teagan Croft
Raven: “Don’t come any closer.”
Dr. Light: “What’s the matter? Afraid of the light? [Raven turns into a demon and lashes out with tentacles] AH! My suit! [the tentacles drag Light into darkness] What are you...No, stop! You win! I surrender!”
Raven: [echoing voice] “What’s the matter? Afraid of the dark?!”
Dr. Light: [disappearing] “I surrender! Nooo…!” – Teen Titans, “Nevermore” (Season 1, Episode 6)
The most tragic wielder of magic on this list, Raven is the daughter of a human woman and the demon lord Trigon. She was raised by monks in the realm Azarath, where she learned to control her powers. Unfortunately, the monks decided that teaching Raven to suppress her emotions was best. Raven lost control and inadvertently summoned Trigon to Azarath.
Raven traveled to Earth for help, but the Justice League refused. She formed a new team of Teen Titans to defeat Trigon. But where does the story go from there? Our Raven backstory has the answers.
#1 Doctor Strange
Played by Benedict Cumberbatch and Liam O’Brien
Thor: “So Earth has… wizards now.”
Doctor Strange: “I prefer the term “Master of the Mystic Arts.”
Thor: “Alright, wizard. Who are you and why should I care?” – Thor: Ragnarok
The greatest magical super is Doctor Strange, Marvel’s Sorcerer Supreme.
Doctor Stephen Strange (yes, that’s his real name) was a brilliant neurosurgeon. He was also an arrogant jackass who only cared about money. After a car accident wrecked his hands, Strange threw away his fortune unsuccessfully trying to repair them.
Strange heard rumors of a miracle worker called The Ancient One who might be able to fix his hands. He found the Ancient One, but the geezer refused to help. After several trials and a massive slice of humble pie, The Ancient One fixed Strange’s hands and began teaching him magic.
Doctor Strange’s story could fill several grimoires, but this Doctor Strange backstory works as a handy primer.
Who is your favorite Magical Super? Let us know in a comment.
Jared Bounacos has written for Movie Rewind since 2017.