Superhero Power Sources Ranked

By the Power of Greyskull, They Have The Power!

Obi-Wan:The Force is what gives a Jedi his power. It’s an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us, penetrates us, and binds the galaxy together.

Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

Humans have always told stories of superpowered beings; people who could run faster than lightning, move mountains with their bare hands, or even fly like birds. These myths evolved over millennia, eventually finding the perfect home in the superhero genre. Soon there were more superheroes than stars in the sky, each with their own array of powers.

These powers come from somewhere. It might be a serum created by a mad scientist, strength bestowed by gods or demons, or inherent abilities they always had. Whatever its source, this power elevates the wielder from hero to superhero. These are the top five superhero power sources.

#5 X-Gene/ Metagene

Debuted in: X-Men #1 and DC’s Invasion!

Professor X: [narrating] Mutation: it is the key to our evolution. It is how we have evolved from a single-celled organism into the dominant species on the planet. This process is slow, normally taking thousands and thousands of years. But every few hundred millennia, evolution leaps forward.

X-Men (2000)

Step right up, folks! Who’s ready to play the superpower lottery?!

Superhero writers struggled for decades to create ways for heroes to gain their powers until Stan Lee developed the perfect solution: the X-Gene. Mutants born with an extra gene developed superpowers that usually activated during puberty, but might need a dangerous situation or traumatic event to kickstart.

DC copied that strategy in 1988 when they introduced the concept of “Metahumans” powered by the Metagene to explain why humans could spontaneously develop superpowers. The term Metahuman was created by George R.R. Martin for his tabletop campaign Superworld and his book series Wild Cards.

The X and Metagenes are great superhero power sources, able to give any schmuck a random superpower. The downside is that the power could be anything from rewriting reality to turning their skin lilac every other Thursday. If the X/Meta Gene were consistent in what powers they gave, we would rank them higher. As it is, this is the superhero power source with the most potential.

#4 The Enigma Force

Debuted in: Micronauts #8

The hero who could be YOU!

Marvel Spotlight #9

The powerful Enigma Force is relatively unknown. This superhero power source is a sentient energy field that protects a border between the Marvel Universe and The Microverse. When the Enigma Force senses a threat to either realm, it sends the Unipower to a random individual, transforming them into a hero called Captain Universe.

Captain Universe has Superman-level strength, speed, durability, lasers, and a host of other powers. The Unipower usually bonds to random people, but has been wielded by superheroes, including Spider-Man, The Hulk, and the Invisible Woman. The Unipower once bonded to X-23, with the Enigma Force musing that she was the perfect host and might become its permanent wielder in the future.

The Enigma Force is arguably the best superhero power source in the Marvel Universe, but loses points because it abandons its hosts after they destroy whatever threat required intervention. This makes the Enigma Force seem more like an overpowered cop out than an interesting plot device.

#3: One For All

Debuted in: My Hero Academia

Nana Shimura:This power has been passed on from hero to hero, each praying that it will bring joy and peace to humanity. That One For All would give the world hope. And now it is your turn.

My Hero Academia “One For All” (Season 3, Episode 10)

In the world of My Hero Academia, eighty percent of humanity has superpowers called Quirks. The sheer prevalence of powered individuals leads to the rise of supervillains and professional superheroes with powerful Quirks. The strongest Quirk is known as One For All, but its story began with a villain called All For One.

All For One possessed a Quirk with the same name, allowing him to steal Quirks from other people to use himself. He also had the ability to transfer powers, quickly gaining an all-powerful army of villains. 

Unbeknownst to the public, All For One had a seemingly-Quirkless brother. As a cruel joke, he gave the brother a Quirk that allowed him to stockpile power. No one realized that the brother actually had the ability to transfer Quirks to other people. This ability merged with the power stockpiling ability to create an evolving Quirk he called One For All. 

The Brother could not defeat All For One and gave One For All to an unknown hero. This pattern repeated throughout history until One For All was given to a hero called All Might, who managed to defeat All For One. The public lauded All Might as “The Symbol of Peace”, unaware that he had been grievously wounded and would not remain a hero for long. All Might bestowed One For All to a Quirkless young man named Izuku Midoriya, the starting point of the plot of My Hero Academia.

One For All lacks the Enigma Force’s sheer power, but makes up for it by being more versatile and easier to retain. It grows exponentially more powerful with each new wielder. Even better, recent events have shown that One For All’s wielder can learn to use the Quirks of every previous wielder. It may not be the flashiest power source, but One For All can snowball like no one’s business.

#2 Speed Force

Debuted in: Showcase #4

Zoom: [about his gunshot wound] “I never saw it coming. But I felt it. I tried to vibrate my inner molecules to save my brain even as the bullet was tearing through. And in that moment, that very infinitesimal split-second before death, I drew the Speed Force into me with every ounce of will I had left and literally bought time. I’d expanded my moment of dying to days, maybe weeks.

Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay (2018)

The BS abilities of The Force from Star Wars has nothing on DC’s Speed Force.

The Speed Force is an extra-dimensional energy field that people can access to gain super speed. The Flash created the Speed Force as part of a predestination paradox. More forces like the Still Force, Strength Force, Sage Force, and the Negative Speed Force were added later, but we’ll stick to the basic Speed Force for now.

The Speed Force gives speedsters superhuman speed, agility, awareness, and reflexes as its starter package. Training provides powers like phasing through objects, creating clones called Speed Mirages, the ability to remove or add inertia to objects, lightning and vibrational powers, time dilation, and even time travel. But the killer app has always been the ludicrous speed.

In one Justice League story, The Flash had to evacuate a city of over 500,000 in the microsecond before a nuke exploded. He managed this by grabbing the citizens, one or two at a time, and running them to a hill thirty-five miles away. The narration claims this was done at “a hair’s breadth the speed of light,” but that simply isn’t true. The lower end of fan estimates put his speed at several trillion times the speed of light.

Not crazy enough for you? How about in The Human Race, when Flash outran a version of Death that specifically targets Speedsters before outrunning the Big Bang? To do that, The Flash had to run 32 sexvigintillion times the speed of light. Flash Fact: That’s a one followed by eighty-one zeroes.

Wait… how is this guy ever supposed to lose? Even Superman would have trouble taking down someone using this insane superhero power source.

#1 Love

Debuted in: N/A (Too Prevalent)

Black Mage:Love is a very powerful force. Even more so when it is focused into a coherent beam of destruction.”

8-Bit Theater

The Power of Love is a curious thing. It makes one man weak, another man strong. It’s the ultimate cliche, but there’s no better power source in any world.

Love inspires people to fight harder, do things they otherwise would be unwilling or unable to do, and even make an ultimate sacrifice. In fiction this extends to healing people, removing brainwashing and other psychic ailments, enhancing attacks, and even resurrecting the dead in some more schlocky stories.

Nearly every hero has used the Power of Love at least once. Trying to list them all would be a fool’s errand. If nothing else, know that it is a power that even you have. It’s strong, sudden, and can be cruel sometimes, but it can help you save a life.

Which superhero power source would fuel your heroics? Let us know in the comments. And take a look at our other superhero power articles ranking the 5 superpowers we want and five superpowers we don’t want.

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