Superman’s Top 10 Superpowers

“It is a remarkable dichotomy. In many ways, Clark is the most human of us all. Then…he shoots fire from the skies, and it is difficult not to think of him as a god. And how fortunate we all are that it does not occur to him.” – Batman, Superman/Batman #3

Christopher Reeve in Superman IISuperman is pretty scary when you stop to think about him. He’s a Kansas farmboy, a mild-mannered reporter, and an alien capable of going a few rounds with God. Despite it all, he’s Earth’s greatest champion, the archetypal superhero. He seems invincible, but that begs the question “just how powerful is he?” Let’s find out Supe’s most powerful powers. Scroll down and away!

List Criteria: No Kryptonian technology

#10 – Super Senses

Superman: (pissed) “Let me ask you one question. Do you know what radio waves look like?”
Toyman: “Huh? No, why?”
*cut to Superman smashing into Toyman and Prankster’s hideout*
Superman: “BECAUSE I DO!” – Superman: Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?

For all his strength and speed, Superman’s most useful powers are his senses. He has telescopic vision that let’s him see things hundreds of miles away, microscopic vision that makes even infinitesimal things visible, and his famous X-Ray vision which can see through everything except lead. Jeepers Creepers, where’d he get those peepers? Oh right, Krypton.

He has a ridiculous sense of hearing. He can hear even the tiniest noises and even hear through the vacuum of space. That’s right, in space, Superman can hear you scream.

All this sounds crazy, right? It gets worse. He is able to sense numerous forms of energy, waves and particles. Hell, he can even see your soul. Your freaking soul! You can’t hide from Superman.

How do criminals escape? Even Superman can only process so much information. He ignores most of what he senses to avoid driving himself mad.

#9 – Super Flare

“It looks like your heat vision is a precursor to another ability you possess. You unleashed the energy stored in every one of your cells. You created a Solar Flare, Clark. A Super Flare.” -Batman, Superman #38

Superman’s newest power is one of the most devastating in fiction. During a battle with the villain Ulysses, he pushed his heat vision to the limit. The overwhelming power he summoned exploded out of him like a supernova. This ability was named the Super Flare and became his trump card. He became a walking, talking, solar bomb.

How do criminals escape? The Super Flare causes too much destruction to use as anything except as a last resort. In addition, using Super Flare makes Superman lose all powers for 24 hours.

#8 – Super Breath

Superman: “With every step…an earthquake! With every breath…I could create a hurricane! This is my burden. Be thankful it isn’t yours.” – Death Battle, Goku vs Superman 2

Superman is capable of inhaling vast amounts of air, allowing him to breathe even when moving at hypersonic speed. Depending on the writer, he might even be able to breathe in outer space. He can pressurize and exhale the air at gale force levels. He also possesses freeze breath, air that is cold enough to freeze tidal waves.

How do criminals escape? Using Super Breath at full strength would destroy buildings, so Superman reins it in.

#7 – Super Intellect

Superman: “The killer used a sheep’s tongue knot with a Dutch Marine twist.”
Green Arrow: “How do you know that?”
Superman: “It’s a standard Boy Scout’s knot.”
Green Arrow: (internal monologue) And in one sentence I can both love and hate the man. – Identity Crisis

Superman is a genius although he is often portrayed as having average intelligence. He has a photographic memory and has learned to understand most languages. He is also able to think and process information far faster than humans.

Before becoming Superman, Clark Kent spent years traveling and studying foreign cultures. He also studied Kryptonian technology that was left in his Fortress of Solitude.

How do criminals escape? Supe doesn’t want humanity to become a copy of Krypton. He’ll protect the Earth, but he won’t just let them become Krypton 2.0.

#6 – Super Speed

Superman: “One minute ago, I saw a little girl screaming because she was staring down the barrel of a gun. She was nine, and she will remember it for the rest of her life.”
(Shoots at an arms trafficker and catches the bullet)
Superman: “Now you will, too.” –  Superman: Birthright

Superman is really fast. He can fly at hypersonic speed and has been known to reach the speed of light. His agility allows him to avoid crashing into things despite his speed. Before his powers were reduced in “The Crisis on Infinite Earths”, Superman was able to travel through time by flying fast enough. That said, he is not able to rewind time as shown in Superman: the Movie.

By moving at light speed, Superman is able to use the Infinite Mass Punch. This lets him hit a target with an incomprehensible amount of force and would surely kill almost anything it hits. He learned this technique from The Flash. There have been countless debates over whether Superman or the Flash is faster. This was finally settled in Flash: Rebirth, which revealed that The Flash is much faster.

How do criminals escape? They usually don’t. Superman can’t always focus on crooks while trying to protect people, but he can catch up quickly.

#5 – Invulnerability

“Y’know, I remember watching the old Superman TV series with George Reeves, and the bad guys would always shoot at Superman when he showed up. I used to ask myself, why? They know it’s not going to hurt him, at most, it’ll piss him off, so why shoot at him?” –Pyre, Rising Stars

Superman is basically indestructible. He projects a one molecule thick energy field that protects him from almost everything. He survived a hit from Darkseid’s Omega Beams, which even gods thought was impossible. He has also survived being hit by multiple supernovas. To give you an idea of how crazy this is, NASA describes a supernova explosion as equal to “a few octillion nuclear bombs”.

How do criminals escape? This sounds insurmountable, but Superman can be stopped. He has no special resistance to magic and requires sunlight to power himself. The monster Doomsday managed to kill him by beating the hell out of him faster than he could absorb sunlight. And of course, there’s always Kryptonite.

#4 Super Strength

“I feel like I live in a world made of cardboard… Always taking constant care not to break something… To break someone. Never allowing myself to lose control even for a moment, or someone could die. But you can take it, can’t you, big man? What we have here is a rare opportunity for me to cut loose and show you just how powerful I really am!” – Superman to Darkseid, Justice League: Destroyer

Superman is one of the strongest beings in fiction. His strength fluctuates depending on who is writing him, but he is always able to lift several tons minimum. In the what-if story “All-Star Superman”, he was able to lift 200 quintillion tons with just one hand. That sounds like a lot of tons. In all fairness, this was after being exposed to a large amount of sunlight. He also has held a miniature black hole and lifted the Book of Infinite Pages with Captain Marvel’s help. He is a strong dude. The writers should have called Strongman.

How do criminals escape? It’s generally accepted that Superman is as strong as he needs to be for a story. If he needs to have trouble fighting some random supervillain, he’ll be weakened. If he needs to fight gods or do the impossible, he will.

#3 Flight

“You’ll believe a man can fly!” -Tagline, Superman: The Movie

Well, we sure do now.

Flight is arguably Superman’s most iconic power, but he couldn’t always fly. When he was first created, he could leap tall buildings in a single bound. Fleischer Studios was creating Superman cartoons in the 1940s, but realized that the jumping animation looked silly. They asked DC for permission to let him fly instead. DC agreed and gave him the power to fly.

He can use super speed while flying, and you know how fast he can go. Lex Luthor, Superman’s archenemy, once theorized that Krypton’s gravity was so intense that Kryptonians evolved anti-gravity organs to survive. If he is correct, then any Kryptonian would be able to fly in Earth’s lesser gravity.

How do criminals escape?: Narrative convenience? With all his powers, Superman should be inescapable.

#2 Heat Vision

Mongul: “Happy Birthday, Kryptonian. I give you oblivion.”
Superman: “Burn.” – For the Man Who Has Everything

Superman’s deadliest power is heat vision. He can emit beams of solar energy from his eyes. The beams can be adjusted, making them big enough to incinerate armies or precise enough to lobotomize people. This is not a power he uses lightly and he will not use it on anyone he doesn’t think can survive the hit. When angry, solar energy tends to gather in his eyes. If you see a red-eyed Superman, he’s barely holding himself back. Push him any further and you too will burn.

How do criminals escape?: They pray he’s in a good mood.

#1 Solar Absorption

“Sunshine came softly a-through my a-window today
Could’ve tripped out easy a-but I’ve a-changed my ways” -Donovan, Sunshine Superman

Solar Absorption is the key to Superman’s powers. His body is a solar battery that absorbs and metabolizes sunlight. He only needs sunlight to survive. Red sunlight is incapable of giving him his powers, yellow gives him his powers, and he becomes even more powerful if exposed to blue sunlight.

During the series “Our Worlds at War”, Superman realized he needed more power to save Earth and flew into the heart of the sun. He emerged 15 minutes later, burning with solar energy. This new form, called Sun-Drenched, made him unstoppable. He was even able to push Warworld, which had previously been Pluto. At the end of the story “DC One Million”, he emerged from the sun after millennia with the power to warp reality.

How do criminals escape? They don’t. Not from that.

Didya get all that?

Hot Damn! This guy is way too powerful!

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