Short people get short shrift in Western culture, and the same holds true for small superheroes. Studies show that taller people hold better jobs and earn more money than shorter people and, whether consciously or unconsciously, that same sort of real-world "heightism" is often applied to fictional comic book characters as well - both by the readers and by other fictional characters around them.
In an art form dominated by superheroes with statuesque, freakishly muscular physiques and gargantuan villains, small characters frequently end up marginalized, undervalued, and underutilized. Just as short people are more frequently bullied than taller people in the real world, short comic book characters are typically mocked for their height and rarely will you find one in a position of power or leadership.
But the small, tiny, and microscopic comic book characters should not be underestimated. Even if complicated mathematics hadn't already proven that isometrically scaling down a creature makes it stronger, the characters on this list make a good case that vertically challenged heroes are every bit as powerful and important as their full-sized counterparts.
Excluding super-pets like Krypto and Tippy-Toe, we've compiled a list of the shortest characters in comic books, be they dwarfs, anthropomorphs, "floating potatoes," or only the temporarily tiny. Read why we think these small-but-strong characters deserve their due - then rank them yourself.
- Photo: Franklin Richards - Heroes Reborn / Marvel Comics
How Small Is He? The size of a young boy, from baby size to a modest 4'8".
What Are His Powers? The son of the Fantastic Four's Reed Richards and Susan Storm, Franklin Richards was born with superhuman mutant powers due to his cosmic-irradiated DNA. While mutant abilities in the Marvel Universe typically trigger with the onset of puberty, Franklin began manipulating reality as a toddler. His powers grew exponentially.
His Strongest Feat: While still a grade-school boy, he was able to create an entire "pocket universe." The Earth in this dimension had an alternate history where his family in the Fantastic Four, the Avengers, and the Hulk had not met their demise in battle against Onslaught, the insanely powerful psychic aberration that nearly destroyed the entire Marvel Universe.Surprisingly strong?
- Photo: Rocket Raccoon / Marvel Comics
How Small Is He? Four feet tall.
What Are His Powers? Genetically- and cybernetically-enhanced, Rocket is faster, stronger and more resilient than a typical Earth raccoon, and also has improved senses. However, the real strength of this four-foot dynamo lies in his incredible tactical mind and his ability to adapt to any given situation.
Writer-director James Gunn was wise to sidestep Rocket Raccoon's origin when he brought the Marvel Comics character into the MCU in Guardians of the Galaxy because, even by comic book standards, everyone's favorite "trash panda" has a bizarre background. Originating from 10,000 years in the future, Rocket is one of a planetful of sentient animals created by sentient service robots to replace them as caregivers for humanoid "Loonies" on a quarantined asylum planet in deep space. Really.
His Strongest Feat: Rocket proved his heart was bigger than his height, becoming instrumental in saving the galaxy from Blastaar while leading the Guardians in Quill's stead. He later helped prevent the resurrected Thanos from once again altering reality with a Cosmic Cube.Surprisingly strong?
- Photo: Bat-Mite / DC Comics
How Small Is He? Two feet, eleven inches. Like his fellow 5th Dimensional being Mister Mxyzptlk, Bat-Mite for some reason manifests in our universe as quite small.
What Are His Powers? All of the denizens of the 5th Dimension in the DC Universe are immortal "imps" or "mites" with reality-warping powers that make each and every one of them a god-like being, but they rarely put their powers to any real use; when they do, it's primarily to pull pranks on 3rd Dimension superheroes. Superman has been forced to use skills to trick Mister Mxyzptlk into returning to the 5th Dimension countless times, and Batman is always quick to rid himself of Bat-Mite whenever he appears to "help" the Caped Crusader.
Over the course of their adventures, both diminutive 5th Dimensioners have used their powers to affect reality in all manner of ways, whether to aid or vex the objects of their obsessions or even in conflict with each other. But it's much easier to underestimate the pint-sized Bat-Mite in his floppy homemade batsuit because he looks like a cherubic cartoon character come to life, whereas Mister Mxyzptlk gives off more of a creepy-uncle, Clockwork Orange vibe.
Besides being smaller and cuter, Bat-Mite edges out Mister Mxyzptlk because his powers may even exceed Mxy's. They can both turn invisible, project energy rays, teleport between dimensions and alter reality.
His Strongest Feat: Bat-Mite once managed to leave the printed pages of the DC Multiverse and break the fourth wall. In one solo adventure, he traveled to the "real world," the world that we, the readers of comic books as fiction supposedly inhabit, to pester Al Milgrom, Michael Golden, and other real-life DC comics creators into giving him his own story.Surprisingly strong?
- Photo: Ant-Man / Marvel Comics
How Small Is He? By using Pym Particles and a specialized suit, Lang can will his body to shunt excess body mass into the Kosmos dimension to make himself half-an-inch tall at the speed of thought. During one adventure on behalf of the Fantastic Four, Lang even shrunk to subatomic size and journeyed to "micro-world," one of several subatomic universes he would eventually explore.
What Are His Powers? Even though he has used Hank Pym's size-changing powers to fight crime and assist the Fantastic Four and the Avengers in foiling the plots of countless supervillains, aliens and interdimensional threats, Scott Lang as Ant-Man II is easily one of the most overlooked and underestimated heroes in the Marvel Universe. When he shrinks down, he retains the strength of a full-sized man. Next to a living legend like Captain America or a living god like Thor, Ant-Man's size-changing abilities seem rather inconsequential, but Lang's heart and drive are what really make him a force to be reckoned with.
His Strongest Feat: When Dr. Doom killed his size-changing superhero daughter, Cassandra, aka Stature, during the "Children's Crusade" storyline, Lang set his sights on destroying the maniacal Latverian sovereign and then did just that. As the temporary leader of a version of the Fantastic Four dubbed "FF," Lang led a team of female heroes in defeating Doom's forces, then thoroughly trounced the notorious supervillain in one-on-one combat.
Honorable mention: Ant-Man I (Hank Pym).Surprisingly strong?