User:Jamdav86/Strength level (comics)

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Strength level is a concept sometimes applied to comic book characters (particularly those published by Marvel Comics) to define and compare the physical strength of characters.

Strength level is an unofficial form of classification, as due to the nature of comic book fiction, such standards are loose and writers are given a wide latitude for interpreting them. There is marginal evidence that writers and editors at Marvel Comics actively use a strength level system to maintain continuity, except in only the broadest sense of the concept. And strength level ratings will never answer longtime fannish debates such as "Who's stronger, The Hulk or Thor?"

Support of the concept of strength level ratings was increased by the success of role-playing games in which characters' attributes are numerically rated. In the 1980s, Marvel published the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe which loosely codified the nature and extent of characters' powers. It was roughly contemporary to the role-playing game Marvel Super-Heroes, which used a rating system derived from the Official Handbook. However, even these handbooks didn't correlate well with many of the creaters conceptions of the what the characters were supposed to be as they were only written by a few editors and it is difficult for two or three people to be familiar with all of the characters. The more obscure the character, the less accurate the depiction in the Handbook was. And as obscure characters became more popular the inconsistancies became more obvious.

A difficulty that frequently arises in episodic fiction, especially fiction that is long-running and written by multiple authors, is "power inflation." Over time characters tend to be given greater and greater strength as each new crisis they face presents a challenge greater (and therefore more suspenseful and exciting) than previous ones. A classic example of power inflation is Superman. In his initial appearance his powers were relatively limited; he was stronger than a locomotive, faster than a speeding bullet, able to leap tall buildings with a single bound, and able to withstand the force of a bursting shell. But over time writers kept increasing Superman's powers until he was able to fly faster than light, push entire planets through space, emit various types of radiation from his eyes, and other special abilities. Power inflation can occur in any genre, not just superhero comics; E. E. Smith's Skylark and Lensmen series provide other examples. Retconning away increased powers is a method that is sometimes used to reverse power inflation. (Note: The beings possessing non-superhuman strength in the Marvel Universe must be stronger than beings in real life. For example, the average human male isn't able to lift (military press) 60 kg (130 lb). Also, as demonstrated in different comic book universes, such as the DC Universe, physical strength is measured by how much weight a being can lift above his or her head, this is referred to as a military press. Until the 1950s, the military press was regarded as the premier test of overall strength. Differing from a push press (in which one uses the legs to help propel the weight upward), the military press requires a strong core, shoulders, legs and posterior chain. With the popularity of the bench press, the military press was sidelined. However it still remains a truer test of overall strength than the bench press. A person who can strictly military press 225lbs can easily bench 225lbs, but the interchangability cannot be applied to the bench press. Someone who benches 225lbs is most likely not going to be able to military press 225lbs. The military press used to be an olympic event along with the snatch and clean & jerk, but the competitors began to bend their backs to simulate a bench press, thereby making the lift easier, and the weightlifting federation decided to strike the military press from the olympics.

Artistic license[edit]

The limits of a comic character's physical strength often depends upon the writer of the comic in which the character appears, even though "The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe" have provided clearly-defined standard levels of physical strength.

A particular writer may decide to either increase or decrease a comic character's physical strength above or below that of a prescribed level, such that it falls somewhere between two standard levels.

Broad displays of artistic license have often led to debates among fans of particular comic book characters that have superhuman strength, such as The Incredible Hulk, Thor, Thing etc., as to which comic characters are stronger, or exactly which level their strength is. This debate among fans is certainly less common, except for those involving characters possessing great superhuman strength.


"The Marvel Universe" is a library of over 5,000 proprietary characters, created by "Marvel Enterprises, Inc.", a U.S.-based entertainment company.

According to The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe, "strength" is "the ability to lift weight above one's head with arms fully extended". The Handbook provides a listing with which the characters of the Marvel Universe would fall:

  • Below Normal: cannot lift one's one own body weight
  • Normal: able to roughly lift one's own body weight
  • Athlete: able to lift one to two times one's own body weight
  • Peak Human: able to lift from two times one's own body weight to 800 pounds
  • Enhanced Human: able to lift between 900 pounds and 2 tons
  • Superhuman Class 10: able to lift between 3 and 10 tons (weight of a car or a truck)
  • Superhuman Class 25: able to lift in the range of 15 to 25 tons (the weight of a semi truck)
  • Superhuman Class 50: able to lift in the range of 30 to 50 tons (weight of a Panzer tank)
  • Superhuman Class 75: able to lift in the range of 60 to 75 tons
  • Superhuman Class 90: vast superhuman strength in a range greater than 80 tons, but not exceeding 100 tons (the weight of a small jet airliner)
  • Superhuman Class 100: vast superhuman strength enabling a being to lift well over 100 tons (the weight of a submarine or small building)
  • Incalculable: vast superhuman strength enabling a being to lift thousands or even millions of tons (the weight of a mountain or more)
  • Totally immeasurable: strength enabling a being to lift weights on a planetary scale

Strength level descriptions[edit]

Here are the levels as used in the Marvel Universe, a brief description of what they mean, and some typical examples of characters who exemplify this level. These lists are not meant to be exhaustive. These statistics were taken from the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Master Edition (Vol.3) with some updates from the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Master Edition (Vol.4) published in 2004 and 2005.


A normal human being can lift (military press) between 70 and 130 lb (30 and 60 kg) This person engages in moderate regular exercise.


A human being who has Athletic physical strength can military press the weight of the average human being or greater; roughly 175–350 lb (80–175 kg). In the real world, the vast majority of the population isn't capable of military pressing 175 pounds or more. A person is considered physically strong (athletic) if they can bench press their own weight. This requires intensive regular exercise.

Peak Human:[edit]

A person capable of lifting double their body weight to 800 pounds (360 kg). A person can also be placed into this category of the weight they lift is considerable and much heavier than they are (for example, the Kingpin weighs 450 pounds (200 kg) but can press 700 pounds (320 kg)). (Note: In the Marvel Universe, 360 kg (800 lb) is the most a human being can lift without being considered superhuman.)

  • Daredevil 180 kg (400 lb)
  • Kingpin 320 kg (700 lb)
  • Captain America 360 kg (800 lb) Has been seen benchpressing 500 kg (1100 lb)
  • Colossus (in his normal state) (550 lb)
  • Angel (500 lb)
  • Wolverine (without Adamantium skeleton) (800 lb) He has been depicted breaking steel chains and lifting several men above his head with one arm and throwing them through a wall

Enhanced Human:[edit]

A person capable of lifting between 900 pounds (410 kg) and 2 tons (1,800 kg). (Note: Enhanced Human is considered to be a low level of superhuman strength.)

Superhuman Class 10:[edit]

A person capable of lifting between 2 and 10 tons.

Superhuman Class 25:[edit]

A person capable of lifting between 10 and 25 tons.

Superhuman Class 50:[edit]

A person capable of lifting between 25 and 50 tons.

Superhuman Class 75:[edit]

A person capable of lifting between 50 and 75 tons.

Superhuman Class 90:[edit]

A person capable of lifting between 75 and 90 tons.

Superhuman Class 100:[edit]

A person capable of lifting between 90 short tons and 100 short tons.


A person capable of lifting far in excess of 100 short tons (91 t), with no given upper limit.

  • Superman (As portrayed in All-Star Superman) (Was shown lifting a hydraulic weight, weighing 200 Quadrillion tons with one arm, said to be 3 times his normal record.)
  • The Incredible Hulk (Has supported the weight of a 150 billion ton mountain.)
  • Thor (Has been able to lift part of the Midgard Serpent's body, whose circumference is greater than that of Earth itself.)
  • Kurse (Has had his strength enhanced to a degree said to be double that of Thor.)
  • Hercules (Hercules has lifted and hurled giant Sequoia trees, has carried the full weight of a starship, and pulled the entire weight of Manhattan.)
  • Apocalypse (Apocalypse has shown that he possesses sufficient strength to physically restrain the Hulk, while the Hulk was in an enraged state.)
  • Gladiator (Has lifted and supported the weight of the headquarters of the Fantastic Four, the Baxter Building. The building is approximately 35 stories high.)
  • Beta Ray Bill (incalculable when using enchanted hammer)
  • Galactus
  • Juggernaut
  • Silver Surfer Has boosted his strength to well beyond 100 class to combat The Champion as well as other opponents