9 Superheroes Who Got Cocky and Paid The Ultimate Price

Hulk Thinks He Can Easily Defeat Thanos In 'Avengers: Infinity War'

When someone gets superpowers, it’s normal to think they can do anything. Folks get bitten by radioactive spiders and waste no time throwing on some spandex and kicking a criminal’s butt all over the city. Of course, it’s not exactly like that, and in the more realistic stories about flying gods with immense power, jumping in head-first isn’t always a good idea.

The Dunning-Kruger effect comes into play with superheroes of the DC Universe and the MCU more often than you think. Just because they’re powerful, they get it in their heads that they have what it takes to take on the big guns. Many bruised faces and egos have made them rethink their expertise, and every hero on this list overestimated their abilities and paid the price.

1. The Illuminati Think They Can Take Down Wanda In ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’

The Illuminati Think They Can Take Down Wanda In 'Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness'

One of the best scenes in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness comes when the Illuminati, consisting of Mr. Fantastic, Black Bolt, Captain Carter, and Captain Marvel, faces off against Wanda Maximoff. The fight doesn’t go well for any of them, but they believe they’re more than capable of taking her on because they defeated Thanos on Titan. Mr. Fantastic makes the mistake of explaining Black Bolt’s powers to Wanda, and she uses her powers to destroy him.

She turns her attention to Mr. Fantastic, ripping him apart until he’s nothing before setting her sights on the remaining members. She uses Captain Carter’s shield to cut her in half and drops a massive statue on top of Captain Marvel. The fight was over very quickly, and it would have gone very differently had the Illuminati not overestimated their abilities. They had the power and skills to defeat Wanda but handled the situation very poorly.

2. Tony Thinks He Can Solve The World’s Problems By Creating Ultron In ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’

Tony Thinks He Can Solve The World’s Problems By Creating Ultron In 'Avengers: Age of Ultron'

Avengers: Age of Ultron is about Tony Stark’s belief that he can solve the world’s problems, mostly on his own. He has help from Bruce Banner, but Bruce isn’t as enthusiastic about their program as Tony, and it’s clear that Stark is driving the creation of Ultron. He does so by taking part of the Mind Stone and incorporating it with his artificial intelligence. Instead of creating an AI capable of saving the world, he creates the exact opposite.

Ultron is born with the realization/belief that his creator’s comment, “Peace in our time,” can only be implemented through mass destruction. The fault in his programming is that he believes peace can only be achieved if there aren’t any humans left alive on Earth, and he enacts a plan to make that happen. The Avengers mobilize to stop Ultron, and the nation of Sokovia is destroyed as countless citizens are killed. It’s a horrific lesson, and Stark later realized how his mistake impacted the world, which is why he chose to sign the Sokovia Accords.

3. Thor Is Losing To The Frost Giants When Odin Comes To The Rescue In ‘Thor’

Thor Is Losing To The Frost Giants When Odin Comes To The Rescue In 'Thor'

When he’s first introduced, Thor is a brazen and reckless “child” who thinks he’s far more capable than he truly is. As a result (and with Loki’s machinations running behind the scenes), Thor and company head to Jotunheim to confront the Frost Giants about the recent incursion into Asgard. Instead of heeding Laufey’s advice to head home, Thor decides to do the opposite, and he begins breaking things (and people) with his hammer. 

This quickly blows up in Thor’s face as one of his allies finds himself on the wrong end of some sharp icicles. They take off as a giant beast pursues them, and just before an all-out war can unfold, Odin comes out of nowhere to crash Thor’s party. He confronts Laufey, explains the situation, and calms things down. Odin isn’t pleased with his son’s behavior, and he strips him of his powers and title before banishing him to Midgard for the rest of the film.

4. Mark Thinks He Has The Strength And Skills To Stop His Father, Omni-Man, In ‘Invincible’

Mark Thinks He Has The Strength And Skills To Stop His Father, Omni-Man, In 'Invincible'

You don’t name yourself “Invincible” without thinking you can take on a challenge. That’s what Mark does when his superpowers kick in, and for the most part, he’s not too far off. As a half-Viltrumite, Mark is incredibly strong and durable, but he isn’t actually invincible. When his father reveals the truth of who he is, what the Viltrumites want with Earth, and his place in the planet’s conquest (after he kills everyone on his team), Mark chooses to fight his father.

A million memes were created from the picture above because it spells out one thing: Mark is nowhere near powerful enough to take on a full-born Viltrumite. His father defeats him with ridiculous ease, but he also destroys half a city doing it, killing an untold number of civilians. To be fair, Mark gives it his best shot, but even at full power, Mark is completely outmatched by Omni-Man, who leaves him broken and bleeding in a crater before taking off into space.

5. Batman Thinks He’s A Match For Bane In ‘The Dark Knight Rises’

Batman Thinks He's A Match For Bane In 'The Dark Knight Rises'

Batman is probably the best fighter in the DC Universe, and that’s made clear through his continued butt-kicking of Ra’s al Ghul and everyone else he’s gone up against in the Dark Knight trilogy. When he faces off with Bane, he has no concern about his ability to fight the monstrous man, so he goes for it with everything he’s got. Unfortunately for Batman, he’s not as good a fighter as he thinks, and Bane makes this painfully clear.

The two face off on a long platform, with Batman being the initial aggressor. Every hit bounces off Bane, who deftly grabs Bats’ fist from the air. Batman continues to wail at Bane, but he barely fazes him. After Batman is knocked over the railing, Bane meets him below and takes five hits for every one he delivers. Despite this, each hit against Batman is a debilitating blow, and after about a minute, Bane clearly has the upper hand. He grabs him and lifts him overhead before slamming him down on his knee, breaking the Bat’s back.

6. Hulk Thinks He Can Easily Defeat Thanos In ‘Avengers: Infinity War’

Hulk Thinks He Can Easily Defeat Thanos In 'Avengers: Infinity War'

Just when it looks like the Asgardians are going to be defeated by Thanos, Loki faces the Mad Titan with the Tesseract (Space Stone). Loki makes a quick joke/reference to The Avengers, and the Hulk comes at the Mad Titan with 100% of his energy. Instead of helping Thanos face off against the Incredible Hulk, his minions stand by watching. It turns out Thanos doesn’t need their help, and he and the Hulk pound on one another.

In very little time, Thanos manages to block the Hulk’s attacks, injure him with his counters, and beat him to unconsciousness. At the time, Thanos had the Power Stone, which effectively made him infinitely stronger than the Hulk. While he had it, he didn’t need it. At no point in their fight does Thanos activate the Power Stone, proving that he’s more powerful than the Hulk in a hand-to-hand fight. Had he used the Power Stone, he probably would have killed him. Instantly.

7. Peter Has To Be Saved By Tony After Vulture Drops Him From The Sky In ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’

Peter Has To Be Saved By Tony After Vulture Drops Him From The Sky In 'Spider-Man: Homecoming'

In many ways, Spider-Man: Homecoming is about Peter Parker overestimating his abilities. He receives a great suit from his mentor, Tony Stark, and he thinks it makes him invincible. He has Ned disable the suit’s training program and quickly realizes he’s in way over his head. In several interactions throughout the film, he finds himself in near-death experiences he should have avoided had he listened to his mentor.

When Spider-Man meets the Vulture, he’s snatched from the air while tracking a van, and before he knows what’s happening, he’s thousands of feet in the air. An automatic system engages, and a parachute pulls him away to fall into some water. Before he has a chance to get himself out, Stark sends an Iron Man suit to save him via a remote feature. He gets a talking-to from Stark and is told to stop investigating the Vulture and his goons, further emphasizing his rookie status as a superhero.

8. Thor Doesn’t Go For Thanos’s Head In ‘Avengers: Infinity War’

Thor Doesn't Go For Thanos's Head In 'Avengers: Infinity War'

Thor goes on a quest to replace his beloved hammer, Mjolnir, and through his adventure, he creates Stormbreaker. The new weapon is arguably superior to his hammer, as it can open up the Bifrost and transport him anywhere he wants to go. More than that, it’s capable of withstanding an incredible amount of energy, which is apparent when Thor finally meets up with Thanos for the second time in Avengers: Infinity War.

Thor arrives on the battlefield in exceptional glory before defeating scores of Thanos’s minions. Ultimately, he joins the fight against the Mad Titan to stop him from snapping away half of all life in the universe, but he makes one critical error. He wants to look Thanos in the eyes once more to make him pay for what he’s done, so he hurls Stormbreaker at Thanos, pushing it through the full energy of the Infinity Gauntlet. Unfortunately, he “should have gone for the head” because Thanos has just enough life left in him to snap his fingers.

9. Superman Believes He Can Take On Zod And A Host Of Kryptonians In ‘Man of Steel’

Superman Believes He Can Take On Zod And A Host Of Kryptonians In 'Man of Steel'

In Man of Steel, Clark Kent is only beginning to come into his Superman identity, and he’s yet to face a challenge capable of endangering his life. That all changes when a band of Kryptonians comes calling, looking for the son of Jor-El and the Codex he stole. Zod is hellbent on preserving the Kryptonian people, while Superman is less interested in wiping out all life on Earth to make that happen, so they fight.

Superman may have been on Earth for most of his life, and while he does have more power from sun exposure than the Kryptonians, he’s not able to fight and defeat all of them. In each of his engagements with the Kryptonians, Superman’s desire to protect humans gives Zod and his minions an advantage. He’s able to defeat them in the end, but the cost is insanely high. Most of Metropolis is destroyed, killing thousands of people, and Superman is left standing over the body of the only remaining Kryptonian.