10 Best time-travelling superheroes of all time

Time travel is having something of a moment in current superhero media, and that’s not just because Avengers: Endgame (opens in new tab) used time travel as a key plot device. But none of that would be possible without the help of the best time-travelling superheroes of all time.

So what better time than now to look at the best time-travelling superheroes ever?

10. Waverider

(Image credit: DC Comics)

The almost-forgotten hero from the alternate timeline of DC Comics’ 1991 event Armageddon 2001, Matthew Ryder escaped a dystopian dictator and certain death by traveling into the past with the ability to “read” potential futures of people just by touching them.

Unfortunately, while he prevented his future from happening, he did so by accidentally causing the creation of his dictator nemesis a decade early, setting in motion events that led to the Zero Hour crossover years later.

In recent years, Waverider has returned in spirit as the namesake of Rip Hunter’s time ship in DC’s Legends of Tomorrow – a unique live-action transition, to say the least.

9. Iron Lad

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

The Young Avengers’ first leader sought to balance the scales for things that he’d do later in life – time travel can get weird, when it comes to cause and effect, remember – by adopting the guise of Iron Lad before he grew up to become the villainous Kang the Conqueror.

As Iron Lad, he managed to lead the team’s short-lived first incarnation before fate – or the time-traveling equivalent – asserted itself, taking him to his destiny as one of the Avengers’ most famous, and most deadly, foes. His career may not have been the longest, but his aim was true…

8. Deathlok

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

The original Deathlok was Luther Manning, a man from the post-apocalyptic future world of 1990 – well, he was created in 1974 — who traveled back to the present to find himself teaming up with the Thing and Nick Fury (after earlier clashes, of course) to try and undo the world from which he came.

Since most of us will recall that 1990 was not the year society collapsed into dystopian ruin, we’ll have to assume he succeeded.

Good job Deathlok!

7. Guardians of the Galaxy

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

No, not the current team, but the original 1969 lineup which decided to try and save the world of the 31st century by travelling back to our time and recruiting some more heroes to the cause.

Along the way, they had numerous chances to accidentally screw up things, but always managed to avoid it – even when that meant avoiding spilling the beans to Vance Astrovik, the future New Warrior known as Justice, that one of their members was… Well, an alternate version of himself. All that and they defeated the Badoon invasion that was the reason behind their formation.

Members of this version of the team even appeared in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, with writer/director James Gunn pointing to the potential of future film stories featuring the characters.

6. Bishop

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

One of the two most time-travel-y X-Men, Lucas Bishop didn’t really intend to be a time traveler; instead, it was more a matter of doing his job as one of the XSE (Xavier’s Security Enforcers) and following a bad guy through a time portal.

Like Rachel Summers, he watched as the future he’d arrived from became more and more likely, but unlike Rachel, he decided to do something about it… Namely, try and kill Hope, even if that meant traveling through time again and hunting down Cable to make sure it happened (actions that got him on our time-traveling villains list, as well). He failed, of course, and realigned himself with the X-Men once again.

5. Green Lantern

(Image credit: DC Comics)

What’s that? You don’t tend to think of Green Lantern as a time-traveler? Clearly, you’ve never heard of Pol Manning, Earth’s Greatest Hero in the year 5700 — better known, perhaps, as Hal Jordan. The surreal existence of Manning is one of the stranger pieces of Green Lantern lore: When in need of a hero to save the world, the governments of the Earth of 5700 would simply kidnap Jordan from his own time, wipe his memory and give him the temporary (fictional) identity of Manning before returning him to his rightful time, place and mindset.

Sure, Jordan may not have been in control of – or even fully aware of – his time traveling double life, but that doesn’t mean that he didn’t serve as a Time Cop as well as a Space Cop when the situation demanded it.

4. The Flash

(Image credit: DC Comics)

With the creation of the wonderfully-named Cosmic Treadmill, The Flash mythos gained a whole new dimension as the speedy superhero was suddenly given the ability to travel through time, meaning that his adventures could take place any when as well as any where.

Of course, it was only a matter of time before this ability would end up being exploited in the wrong way, leading to a butterfly effect mix up that created Flashpoint and the New 52, but for that brief period before everything went wrong, the Flash could be relied upon to clean up messes all through time.

Time travel has even played a significant role as a plot element in CW’s The Flash too.

3. Superboy

(Image credit: DC Comics)

For a teen who’d grow up to become the world’s greatest superhero, it’s almost disappointing to discover that it took three time-traveling teens from the 30th (later, 31st) century to introduce Clark Kent to the mysteries of the timestream.

Once the Legion of Super-Heroes entered his life, Superboy became a regular passenger on the cross-time express, either by Time Bubble or under his own steam but somehow always managing to stay away from any knowledge of his future self’s actions, which may end up being his most impressive feat, considering just what Superman ended up accomplishing during his long career.

Now, the current Superboy, Jon Kent, looks to be the latest inheritor of the mantle to adventure alongside the Legion of Super-Heroes.

2. Cable

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

To try and get into the reasoning behind Cable and his various time-travel escapades would be both exhausting and confusing, so let’s just leave it at this: At no point during his entire decades-long career as the X-Men family’s favorite techno-organic enforcer has he managed to entirely undo the time stream by needlessly slaughtering another superhero, even with the amount of heavy artillery he carries around at all times.

Cable was played by Josh Brolin in Deadpool 2, a movie that hinged on his time-traveling nature (and provided the fuel for an all-time-classic mid-credits stinger scene).

1. Booster Gold

(Image credit: DC Comics)

Perhaps comic books’ top time-traveling superhero, Booster Gold may have started off his superheroic career with one simple time jump, but since then, he’s teamed with Rip Hunter – who may or may not have been Booster’s son – to protect the timestream from unwanted changes, only to fall victim to the rewriting of all DCU history via the New 52, where he’s traveled into the past to meet Jonah Hex, and later went back to the future as part of Justice League 3001.

Booster recently returned to the DC Universe as part of Heroes In Crisis – another story in which time travel played a role. He’ll next appear in the era-spanning Legion of Super-Heroes: Millennium this September.

It might be dangerous, but is time travel one of the most useful super powers?

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