I find that among characters in fiction that possess “elemental” powers, those that can wield lightning or electricity are, more often than not, depicted as the most powerful among those other “elemental” power users. That’s why you will find the adjective “powerful” mentioned here many times. In this top 10, I list who I think is the most interesting electricity/lightning wielders of fiction.
Blanka is one of the most popular characters of Street Fighter. He obtained the two things about him that make him a savage badass – his ferocious beast appearance and his electric powers – from being exposed to electric eels after a plane crash (yeah, kind of silly). He also knows capoeira (a Brazilian martial art) and developed his own style of this martial art by combining it with his feral nature and electric abilities.
9.) SUPERMAN BLUE
In the 90’s, there was a time when Superman’s powers become screwed up due to being temporarily deprived of solar energy. He became a form of pure electrical energy and his powers became electric-based. He gained the ability to turn “on” and “off” himself into Superman electric energy-form and powerless Clark Kent (thus, he was a vulnerable human when as Clark Kent) respectively. He was required to wear a blue-and-white containment suit developed by Dr. Emil Hamilton while in Superman electric energy-form so that his energy components won’t disperse.
Such major change of nature and identity might have traumatized anyone, but not Superman. He remained steadfast, made adjustments, and continued being a hero with his new electric powers. He became resourceful and creative in using his new electric-based energy powers to compensate for the disappearance of his super strength, heat vision, and other traditional Superman powers. But at this energy form, however, Superman discovered that he was able to travel faster than ever.
Of course, after some time, Superman’s iconic powers and tangible form returned. They had to.
Electro is the only villain in this list. He has an equally ridiculous origin story as Blanka – he gained his powers after getting struck by lightning while working on a power line. Nonetheless, Electro’s ability to store, absorb, manipulate, and generate nigh limitless amount of electricity makes him immensely powerful. However, despite of having tremendous power, Electro has always been outsmarted and defeated by Spider-Man and by other heroes he clashes with – who are mostly much less powerful than him – much to Electro’s constant embarrassment. But you know what? That’s what actually makes him entertaining, and thus, is on this list.
7.) BLACK LIGHTING
I love how IGN describes Black Lightning as “a true hero and a born badass that has more than earned his spot on the Justice League.” That, for me, nailed it. His best moment is probably when he restarted the heart of a near-dead Superman. This gives us an idea on the extent of Black Lightning’s electric might since it’s powerful enough to perform defibrillation on the Man of Steel. Moreover, he’s also Batman-trained in close-combat, adding another dimension to his badassery.
6.) LAXUS DREYAR
Laxus, being an S-class mage, is one of Fairy Tail’s most powerful members. He’s so confident in his great lightning-based magic that he even got arrogant enough to decide on taking over Fairy Tail from his grandfather’s mastership. He looks at himself as the most powerful mage in Fairy Tail and thought of his co-guild members as weak, and that there was a need for him to become Fairy Tail master to judge everyone. With just three loyal Fairy Tail lackeys, he would take on the entire guild, conducting a “purge” so that only those he thought is powerful enough should remain as members. During this time, it was as if Laxus was completely selfish, overbearing, and callous. Laxus would eventually be defeated and his attempt to take over Fairy Tail failed. His grandfather pardoned his lackeys, but Laxus however was excommunicated from Fairy Tail.
In his excommunication, Laxus was humbled and realized his wrongness. It was revealed that, deep inside, Laxus actually has the true heart of a Fairy Tail mage – the sincere value for comradeship. After some time, Laxus would return to Fairy Tail’s aid, and with a renewed sense of pride and love for his guild and his guildmates, he regained his membership.
In the quest to recover the honor and reputation of Fairy Tail (after it became the weakest guild because all major members of the guild – including Laxus – were in suspended animation for 7 years and thought to be dead) through the Grand Magic Games, Laxus was instrumental in Fairy Tail’s return to glory. His highlights were singlehandedly defeating his father’s dark guild, Raven Tail; and beating Jura, one of the world’s top ten most powerful magi.
Raiden is one of Mortal Kombat’s most popular characters. Being a thunder god, Raiden is immortal. He is very fond of Earthrealm (and humans) that he chose to be its protector. He would also be the one to gather human champions worthy to defend Earthrealm whenever it is in danger (i.e. during Mortal Kombat tournaments). When participating in a Mortal Kombat tournament, Raiden would take human form, donning a kickass costume highlighted by an iconic sakkat hat. Aside from his lightning powers, Raiden can also fly and teleport. My favorite depiction of Raiden in live action is by Christopher Lambert in the first MK movie.
4.) KILLUA ZOLDYCK
Killua comes from a family of deadly assassins, thus, at a young age, Kilua was trained to be a very capable and skillful killer. Though he failed in his first attempt to be a Hunter (because he killed his opponent, which was against the rule of the test), he was able to become the only to pass the Hunter Exam during his second attempt, for he singlehandedly eliminated all of his co-applicants on the opening test, which had a “battle royal” nature. Even when Killua was not yet familiar with Nen, he was already quite dangerous because of his assassin background; he can rip through his opponent’s flesh because of his very sharp fingernails, and he possesses superhuman speed, agility, strength, endurance, and intellect. As a Transmuter-type of Nen user, Killua developed a Hatsu that transforms his aura into electricity. One of the manifestations of his electric powers is an ability called “Godspeed”, which gives Killua the ability to travel and react at the speed of lightning. Killua can recharge his Nen by drawing electricity from electric sources like a power outlet.
3.) HATAKE KAKASHI
Having the reputation of being a copycat ninja, Kakashi is an expert in using a wide variety of techniques from different elemental origins. However, Kakashi’s natural aptitude is of the element of lightning. The most basic manifestation of Kakashi’s lightning power is the Chidori (which is already powerfully deadly on its own) and the more enhanced version is the Raikiri or the “Lightning Cutter” (which has better chakra control and has more forms). Kakashi has developed and drawn other lightning techniques from his Raikiri. While Kakashi is capable of using long-range lightning attacks, his most popular form of attacking is by thrusting the highly concentrated amount of lightning chakra into a target by close range.
2.) GINJI AMANO
Ginji is half of the Getbackers duo. He is a powerful electricity wielder, showing versatility in the use of his electric powers. Not only is he capable of calling down powerful lightning bolts to strike down targets, but his power extends to electromagnetism, too. Moreover, his extensive ability to manipulate electromagnetic waves gives him the power of some sort of pseudo-mind control. And by charging the earth with negative ions, and then magnetizing himself, he is able to repel himself off the earth, thus, replicating flight. Heck, he’s so powerful that he can even do some manipulation of reality! But it doesn’t end there. There’s more. He also has an alter ego named Raitei – the Lightning Emperor. While Ginji is bubbly and friendly, Raitei is the exact polar (no pun intended) opposite of Ginji for he is dark and vicious. Raitei is implied as Ginji’s former and actual persona. Ginji reverts to back to being Raitei whenever he is against extremely difficult situations or exposed to elements of his dark past. Raitei’s powers are god-like unlimited, monstrously amplifying Ginji’s electric powers that he can already control or annihilate as far as the subatomic levels, release immense amount of microwave radiation, discharge plasma blasts, create clones of himself from microwave radiation, manipulate photons, and manipulate and transcend space-time!
One of Marvel Comics’ most important achievements was successfully developing a god of Norse mythology into one of the most popular superheroes ever. The number one spot rightfully belongs to the God of Thunder himself (even if Raitei is more powerful than him). Wielding the mighty Mjolnir, Thor is the undisputed master of lightning and storm, and can summon them whenever and in any form he wants.
It can be argued that Thor is the Superman of Marvel Comics, because, like Superman, he is too powerful but has to consistently hold himself back from unleashing his full power to avoid causing too much destruction or collateral damage. Several times it was implied that the only time Thor can comfortably manifest his full power is when his Avengers teammates are out of the picture, because Thor fears of destroying his allies along with his enemies when he does unleash his full power.
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As what was mentioned in the intro and implied by the list, fictional characters that possess lightning-based powers are, more often than not, considered as one of the most powerful, if not the most, in their respective settings or story universes. And this perception of associating this kind of great power to lightning might be linked to Zeus’ status as the “god of gods” of Greek mythology, for Zeus is a lightning wielder.
The character of Zeus has been depicted or adapted on literature, movies, and cartoons, but none of those characterizations obtained the kind of pop culture iconization and branding that Marvel has done with Thor. Still, although he is not as successful in the commercial utilization as Thor, the mythological character Zeus equals Thor in popularity on being associated with lightning – and maybe even more so. Furthermore, the imagery of Zeus throwing lightning bolts as if they are javelins is too excitingly badass.
You can consider this “bonus” entry as an honorable mention or a supplement – or a tie – with the No. 1 entry (Thor). It’s up to you. Either way, it works for me. Zeus just begs to be acknowledged regarding this topic.