Superpower (ability)

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Comic book superhero Shazam uses magic to gain superpowers to apprehend criminals (left) and fly over pedestrians (right) in Shazam: Power of Hope (November 2000). Art by Alex Ross.

A superpower is a currently fictional superhuman ability. Superpowers are typically displayed in science fiction comic books, television programs, video games, and films as the key attribute of a superhero. The concept originated in American comic books and pulp magazines of the 1930s and 1940s, and has gradually worked its way into other genres and media.[1]

Definition[edit]

There is no rigid definition of a "superpower." In popular culture, it is often associated with unusual abilities such as flight, enhanced strength, invulnerability, or enhanced speed. However, it can also describe natural abilities that reach peak human potential, such as enhanced intelligence or weapon proficiency.[2][3][4]

Generally speaking, superheroes like Batman and Iron Man may be classified as superheroes even though they have no actual superhuman abilities beyond their exceptional talent and advanced technology. Similarly, characters with superhuman abilities derived from artificial, external sources, like Green Lantern's power ring and Tony Stark's Iron Man armor may be described as superpowers, but the wearer is not necessarily superhuman.

In fiction, superpowers are often given scientific, technological, pseudoscientific, or supernatural explanations. They come from sources such as magic, technology, or the character's own physiological nature (being an alien, a supernatural being, or a mutant).[2][5]

In manga and anime[edit]

Superpowers are a commonly used concept in manga and anime, particularly in the shonen genre. They are often featured in popular manga and anime such as Dragon Ball Z, Saint Seiya, YuYu Hakusho, One Piece, ' ' Black Clover' ',Naruto, Fullmetal Alchemist, Bleach, Code Geass, Fairy Tail, Hunter × Hunter, Attack on Titan, and My Hero Academia.[6]

The types of powers featured vary from series to series. Some, such as Dragon Ball and Fullmetal Alchemist, feature many different characters who have the same types of powers. Others, like One Piece and Bleach, feature characters with a wide range of different powers, with many powers being unique to only one or a few characters.[6]

List of common superpowers[edit]

Below is a list of common superpowers depicted in fiction. This list is not exhaustive, and only covers the most frequently depicted powers from the most well-known superheroes.[7][3]

Almighty powers[edit]

Powers that can manipulate, control, create, or reshape everything and anything.

Power Description Example from Marvel Comics[3] Example from DC Comics[3]
Energy manipulation The power to manipulate, generate, absorb, and convert energy. Captain Marvel Green Lantern
Immortality The power to live eternally and never die. Deadpool Deathstroke
Magic The power to utilize supernatural forces to potentially achieve any effect one desires. Doctor Strange John Constantine
Matter manipulation The power to manipulate anything in the universe that has substance and physical form. Jean Grey Darkseid
Omnipotence The power to be supremely almighty and invincible, holding infinite power with almost no limitations. One-Above-All Presence
Omnipresence The power to be absolutely anywhere and everywhere. Eternity Dream
Omniscience The power to possess absolute and infinite knowledge of everything. Eternity Spectre
Probability manipulation The power to manipulate probability, luck, and even the course of destiny itself. Scarlet Witch John Constantine
Reality warping The power to manipulate all of reality. Phoenix Force Spectre
Telekinesis The power to move, manipulate or otherwise interact with objects with one's mind. Jean Grey Raven
Time manipulation The power to manipulate, stop, reverse, accelerate, or alter time. Quicksilver Flash

Superpower manipulations[edit]

Superpowers that interact with other superhumans' powers.

Power Description Example from Marvel Comics[3] Example from DC Comics[3]
Power absorption The power to absorb or steal powers from others. Rogue Parasite
Power augmentation The ability to enhance the powers of oneself or others. Apocalypse Saint Walker
Power bestowal The ability to bestow powers upon another. Galactus Shazam
Power negation The power to nullify other powers. Leech Metallo
Power replication The power to replicate the powers of others. Rogue Amazo

Personal physical powers[edit]

Powers that affect the user's physical body.

Power Description Example from Marvel Comics[3] Example from DC Comics[3]
Animal morphing The power to transform into animals. Mystique Beast Boy
Aquatic breathing The power to breathe underwater. Namor Aquaman
Bone Manipulation The power to manipulate the bones within one's body. Wolverine Doomsday
Density manipulation The power to manipulate one's density. Vision Martian Manhunter
Elasticity The ability to stretch, deform, expand, or contract one's body into any form imaginable. Reed Richards Plastic Man
Elemental mimicry The power to transform into or have a physical body made up of inorganic elements. Ben Grimm Killer Frost
Enhanced accuracy The ability to achieve complete and utter accuracy on distant targets. Hawkeye Green Arrow
Enhanced agility The ability to possess agility and reflexes beyond that of peak human potential. Beast Superman
Enhanced durability The power to possess durability beyond that of peak human potential. Captain America Superman
Enhanced hearing The power to hear sounds far beyond that of peak human potential. Daredevil Superman
Enhanced longevity The power to possess a long lifespan and decelerate aging. Wolverine Wonder Woman
Enhanced senses The power to possess extremely accurate senses. Daredevil Superman
Enhanced speed The power to possess speed beyond that of peak human potential. Quicksilver Flash
Enhanced stamina The power to possess stamina and endurance beyond that of peak human potential. Spider-Man Superman
Enhanced strength The power to possess a level of strength beyond that of beyond that of peak human potential. Hulk Superman
Healing The power to heal physical injuries or diseases. Wolverine Superman
Illusion manipulation The power to create and shape illusions. Doctor Strange Scarecrow
Intangibility The ability to phase through physical matter. Kitty Pryde Flash
Invisibility The power to render oneself unable to be seen. Invisible Woman Martian Manhunter
Invulnerability The power to be completely immune to all forms of physical harm. Thor Superman
Replication The ability to create clones of oneself. Loki Mirror Master
Shapeshifting The power to completely change and reshape one's physical form. Mystique Martian Manhunter
Size manipulation The power to increase or decrease the size of oneself. Ant-Man Atom
Weapon proficiency The power to possess proficiency, capabilities and knowledge in weapons beyond that of peak human potential. Black Widow Rorschach
X-ray vision The power to see through practically anything. Star-Lord Superman

Mental powers[edit]

Powers that manipulate the mental capabilities of the mind.

Power Description Example from Marvel Comics[3] Example from DC Comics[3]
Empathy The power to fully interpret and replicate the emotions, moods, and temperaments of others. Jean Grey Mento
Enhanced intelligence The power of extremely heightened and enhanced intelligence and other mental abilities. Iron Man Batman
Mind control The power to control the minds of others. Professor X Gorilla Grodd
Precognition The power to perceive future events. Spider-Man Doctor Manhattan
Telepathy The power to mentally communicate with other minds. Professor X Martian Manhunter

Spiritual powers[edit]

Control over supernatural forces including ghosts, demons, or the astral plane.

Power Description Example from Marvel Comics[3] Example from DC Comics[3]
Astral projection The power to separate one's spirit from the body. Doctor Strange John Constantine
Chi manipulation The power to manipulate the flow of vital energy in the physical body. Iron Fist Kong Kenan
Clairvoyance The power to acquire information using sight outside the normal range of detection. Doctor Strange Shazam
Mediumship The power to perceive and communicate with spirits and those who are in the afterlife. Doctor Strange John Constantine
Possession The power to inhabit the bodies of other beings. Phoenix Force Parallax
Resurrection The power to bring the deceased back to life. Ghost Rider Ra's al Ghul

Elemental powers[edit]

Powers related to manipulating the elements of nature.

Power Description Example from Marvel Comics[3] Example from DC Comics[3]
Air manipulation The power to manipulate air. Thor Red Tornado
Animal manipulation The power to manipulate animals. Namor Aquaman
Darkness manipulation The power to manipulate darkness. Mandarin Shade
Earth manipulation The power to manipulate earth. Thor Terra
Electricity manipulation The power to manipulate electricity. Thor Shazam
Fire manipulation The power to manipulate fire. Human Torch Lucifer Morningstar
Gravity manipulation The power to manipulate gravity. Nova Geo-Force
Ice manipulation The power to manipulate ice. Iceman Mr. Freeze
Light manipulation The power to manipulate light. Jubilee Green Lantern
Metal manipulation The power to manipulate metal. Magneto Doctor Polaris
Plant manipulation The power to manipulate plants. Groot Swamp Thing
Water manipulation The power to manipulate water. Namor Aquaman
Weather manipulation The power to manipulate the weather. Thor Zatanna

Transportation powers[edit]

Powers that are mainly used for transportation.

Power Description Example from Marvel Comics[3] Example from DC Comics[3]
Dimensional travel The power to travel between different dimensions. Thor Flash
Flight The power to fly without any outside influence. Wasp Hawkman
Portal creation The power to create portals for transport between two non-adjacent locations. Silver Surfer John Constantine
Teleportation The power to move instantaneously from one location to another without physically occupying the space in between. Nightcrawler Raven
Time travel The ability to travel through time. Cable Booster Gold
Wallcrawling The power to fasten onto and climb vertical and horizontal surfaces without falling. Spider-Man Catwoman

|- |Web manipulation |the power shoot webs or ropes from hand and swing,trap | Spider-man | Batman

Other powers[edit]

Power Description Example from Marvel Comics[3] Example from DC Comics[3]
Energy blast The ability to discharge energy onto a specific target. Iron Man Starfire
Energy constructs The power to create solid constructs from pure energy. Gambit Green Lantern
Force field generation The ability to project powerful fields of manipulated energy. Captain Britain Booster Gold
Heat vision The power to generate beams of heat from one's eyes. Cyclops Superman
Radiation manipulation The power to manipulate radioactive decay and radiation spectra. She-Hulk Captain Atom
Sonic scream The power to emit a highly enhanced scream of a high amplitude. Banshee Black Canary
Technology manipulation The power to manipulate technology. Iron Man Blue Beetle

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The Golden Age Of Comics". www.pbs.org. Retrieved January 11, 2018.
  2. ^ a b Lovece, Frank (July 16, 2008). "The Dark Knight". (movie review) Film Journal International. Archived from the original on November 7, 2014. Retrieved February 5, 2009. Batman himself is an anomaly as one of the few superheroes without superpowers…
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r "Top 100 Comic Book Heroes". IGN. 2011.
  4. ^ "Superhero | Definition of Superhero by Merriam-Webster". Merriam-webster.com. March 22, 2016. Retrieved March 26, 2016.
  5. ^ Gesh, Lois H.; Weinberg, Robert (2002). "The Dark Knight: Batman: A NonSuper Superhero" (PDF). The Science of Superheroes. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-0-471-02460-6. Archived (PDF) from the original on November 6, 2015.
  6. ^ a b "Superpowers Characters | Anime-Planet". www.anime-planet.com. Retrieved 2016-07-13.
  7. ^ Johnston, Ben (January 24, 2021). "What Is The Most Common Superpower In Comics?". ben-johnston.co.uk.

External links[edit]