With the recent release of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law on Disney+, the Marvel universe continues to expand. More than two dozen films into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, we've met a host of superheroes from Spider-Man to Captain Marvel. While their superpowers are varied, they share one trait - they all have seemingly normal alter egos with ordinary lives and jobs.
What if She-Hulk had continued her ‘normal' career as a lawyer or Doctor Strange as a neurosurgeon? New analysis reveals the Marvel characters who would be earning the most money had they stayed on their career path and not become superheroes.
The research, conducted by online casino experts AskGamblers, took the job role of each Marvel character before their superhero status and discovered the average salary for their choice of career.
The Highest Paid Marvel Superheroes
Iron Man, played brilliantly by Robert Downey Jr., was CEO of Stark Industries prior to becoming an Avenger. Tony Stark's empire, passed down by his father, specializes in weapon manufacturing. Tony's net worth is estimated at $12.4 billion, with an average US salary of $920,006, making him the wealthiest member of the team.
Placing second is Dr. Strange, with his prior career choice as a neurosurgeon. Neurosurgeons perform surgery on disorders affecting the nervous system, the brain, and the spinal cord. The average salary for this role is $642,301, after around 16 years of higher education, including four years for a bachelor's degree, four years for a doctorate, a one-year internship in surgery, and a seven-year residency. Currently, in the US, there are only 3,500 practicing Board-certified neurosurgeons.
Jennifer Walters, otherwise known as She-Hulk, comes in third with her job as a lawyer. Jennifer now specializes in superhero law, but the average US lawyer's earnings are $126,930 annually. She-Hulk is is an attorney at Goodman, Lieber, Kurtzberg & Holliway, and the talented cousin of Bruce Banner.
Black Widow, Natasha Romanoff, was a spy before becoming an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. The average known salary for this type of career choice is $103,816, ranking as the fourth wealthiest Marvel character before holding superhero status.
The Incredible Hulk ranks under his cousin in wealth with his role as a nuclear scientist, making him the fifth richest character. Before undergoing a transformation into the Hulk, Doctor Robert Bruce Banner was a renowned scientist and founding member of The Avengers. He worked in biochemistry, nuclear physics, and gamma radiation, with an average salary of $102,028.
Nick Fury's job as a Colonel in the United States Army makes him the sixth wealthiest. The average salary for this role is $85,664. Fury was honorably discharged from this role, where he went on to be Director of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Coming in as the seventh wealthiest Marvel character would be Ant-Man, had he stayed in his role as an electrical engineer. The average salary for this career path is $87,174, which is much more lucrative than the $20,389 he made as an ice cream scooper at Baskin Robbins after a stint in prison for petty theft.
The eighth richest member of The Marvel Universe in their prior career path is Captain Marvel. Carol Danvers was an officer in the United States Air Force. The average salary for a pilot in the military is $80,247.
Superheroes With Less Than Super Salaries
While many of the careers chosen by Marvel superheroes would have led to a nice pension and relaxing retirement, some would not meet the same fate. With the median household income in the US hovering around $67,500, these superheroes would fall below average when it comes to earnings at their ordinary jobs.
Peter Parker, A.K.A, Spider-Man, had a role as a freelance photographer during his school years. He was a contributing photographer to The Daily Bugle, where an average salary for this line of work is $42,770, or $33.53 per hour.
Clint Barton was a circus performer before his time as an agent in S.H.I.E.L.D. and as Hawkeye. The average salary for this role is $35,360.
Rounding out the bottom of the list with the least lucrative career paths are the Falcon, earning an average salary of $32,422 as a US Air Force Pararescue Airman, and Shang-Chi, a hotel valet earning a paltry $25,425 a year.
A spokesperson for the study commented on the findings:
"These superheroes took on roles that promised to save the world, but before that, it is fascinating to see the paths their lives could have taken. Had they not become superheroes, the Marvel characters had a whole range of jobs, such as a neurosurgeon, Army personnel, and scientists. Some would say that these roles would have given the characters superhero status anyway due to the talent, dedication, and intelligence needed."
It is no surprise that Tony Stark surpasses his colleagues with his prior wealth. He and his wife Virginia "Pepper" Potts would surely make the list of richest celebrity couples even without superpowers. She-Hulk, as a lawyer, winning in the wealth department against The Incredible Hulk's career as a nuclear scientist is intriguing. At the same time, Ant-Man could have had a lucrative career choice had he stayed at Vistacorp as an engineer, albeit with a moral dilemma.
It goes to show that superheroes can come from all walks of life, from a simple hotel valet to the CEO of a powerful company.