If you have a history of comic book fandom, you’ll know that… well, things get all kinds of weird around here sometimes. Whether we’re talking about Marvel, DC or somebody else entirely, the major concern is not what’s realistic and logical. Which is totally fine. It’s all about entertainment, after all.
When you venture back through Arnold Schwarzenegger’s back catalog of movies (Predator, Commando, The Last Action Hero, Conan The Barbarian, countless others), you’re not in it for the realism. If you’re being persnickety about the fact that he only reloaded once in the whole two hours of non-stop guntastic, you’re doing it wrong. Just leave your brain at the door and enjoy the explosions and awful one-liners.
The same’s true of comic book superheroes. We’re talking about a magical medium where supervillains have the power to transform into ice cream and melt to fit through the cracks under doors (well, one does). The laws of physics and logic do not apply here, and everything we think we know can be rewritten in a moment.
Some of the best-known heroes (the Avengers, for instance) have abilities you may never have heard of. We’re going way beyond the Hulk’s strength and Spider-Man’s web-slinging here. Did you know he can talk to spiders? Do you know which superhero has explosive sweat? Or which has toxic blood? From the truly iconic to the most obscure, no super-stone is left unturned in this investigation of some of the most hilariously bad (and just plain OP) superpowers you may never have known about.
30 Stupid: Doop Has A Brain WHERE?
Let’s kick this party off the right way, with one of the most peculiar creations in comic book history (which not a claim to make lightly). Just what in heckola is Doop? It’s tough to say. Just imagine Slimer from Ghostbusters fell from the ugly tree and hit every ugly branch on the way down, and you’ve just about got it.
This enigmatic floating blob made its debut in Marvel’s X-Force vol.1, #116. Supposedly results of Cold War-era experimentation, it has all kinds of powers. Not only does it have the usual superhuman strength, flight, regeneration and such, but it has a second brain in its hindquarters, which it can use when the one in its head is out of commission (it was once removed from its body and used as a psychic weapon).
29 OP: The Black Panther Doesn’t Only Rule Wakanda
With the great success of his recent movie, as well as his long-established comic career, you might think that you’ve got the Black Panther’s abilities and powers down pat. We all know the basic stuff: strength, agility, enhanced senses, a fancy vibranium outfit with retractable claws, immunity to all diseases, more money than anyone...
It’s quite a skillset, that’s for darn sure. That’s just the start of it, though. Following the 2015 “Secret Wars” series, he gained stronger powers to support his lesser-known status as King of the Dead. He can now reanimate the departed, and summon them to the physical world with a tangible form.
28 STUPID: Walk With The Animals, Talk With The Animals
In a similar fashion, Spider-Man’s USPs are pretty well-established at this point. After that fateful bite from the radioactive spider, he developed his famous ‘Spider-Sense,’ as well as all the web-swinging and wall-crawling abilities we know and love him for.
These powers are probably the reason he’s my favorite superhero. They’re a little less vanilla than the usual flight, regeneration and so forth. That stuff’s like so last century, as the cast of Mean Girls, will tell you. After the “Other” storyline, though, he developed another ability that’s totally out there: he can talk to spiders.
27 OP: Hulk DASH!
Come on, now, Hulk. The sun’s getting real low, so sit down here. We’ve got to have a conversation. You can’t keep pulling this kind of stuff, you really can’t.
If the world of video games has taught us anything, it’s that strength and speed are generally polar opposites.
Regardless of genre, you tend to either specialize in one or the other or be average in both departments. The Hulk doesn’t care about any of this, as in the comics, he’s as famous for his lightning speed as he is for his strength.
Nobody tell The Flash. He’s going to have all kinds of feelings of inadequacy about that.
26 STUPID: Wait, Fireworks?
A lot of huge ensemble super-movies have been assaulting our eyeballs in the most wonderful of ways lately, haven’t they? The main takeaway from these, I feel, is that it always helps for a superhero to have a hook. A unique ability or set of such that their allies don’t (see: Spider-Man).
It helps even more when said hook isn’t… well, all kinds of questionable. The rather obscure Jubilee is a mutant who can generate pyrotechnic energy from her hands (or, if you prefer, big ol’ angry fireballs). She’s able to alter their intensity at will, from bright fireworks to briefly dazzle a foe to huge, building-consuming explosions.
Which is nothing to snark at, but… bright spangly fireworks? It’s like the equivalent of a clown asking you to smell their water-squirting flower.
25 OP: It’s Aquaman’s Party And He’ll Be OP If He Wants To
Poor old Aquaman. For far too long, he’s been considered the runt of the super-litter. The guy who was never allowed to play tag with the others at recess. Even The Big Bang Theory snarks on him, like the snarky snarksters of snark that they are.
Why? Because being able to talk to fish does not a superpower make, apparently. Suddenly, though, the guy’s morphed into Jason-dang-Momoa, and with a flash of his long, lush hair and chiseled… well, everything, the character is relevant again.
Aquaman’s much more than just a fish-whisperer, friends. Did you know he can teleport? And fly? He’s much more (much Momoa, you might say) than just a one-trick pony.
24 STUPID: I Don’t Know, What’s The MATTER With You?
As I say, then, the worlds of Marvel and DC are vast, far-reaching places. This is mostly due to the fact that there are so many different worlds. We’re hopping from multiverse to cross-over to experimental story arcs about just about everyone here.
The further out you go, the more obscure and peculiar things get. On that note, one of my personal stand-outs would be Matter-Eater Lad. You might not know about the Legion of Superheroes, so I’ll just leave you with the knowledge that Matter-Eater Lad (Tenzil Kem)’s superpower is the ability to eat any substance super quickly.
23 OP: Thor’s ‘TARDIS Tongue’
What with his prominence in the MCU, you might think you already know all there is to know about Thor. Well, the essentials, at least, if not the teensy insignificant details that keep comic fans arguing on forums until 4am.
It turns out, though, there are some things we haven’t learned from watching Chris Hemsworth growl at his foes in that flowing wig of his. One of the more interesting of these is his ability of All-Tongue.
Sci-Fi fans will recognise this talent as being similar to the telepathic field of the TARDIS, which allows the Doctor to instantly translate any language he hears or speaks.
It’s just, in Thor’s case, it's natural rather than technological.
22 STUPID: Kiss Me, Superman!
Ah, yes. Now we’re playing with the big boys, friends. When it comes to the ‘strongest’ superheroes, a lot of people would tend to plump for Superman. After all, the Son of Krypton has a whole range of impossible powers, which have been gradually embellished over the course of his long comic book career.
Superman has been repeatedly buffed over the years. He’s still got his share of embarrassingly bad powers on the down low, though. The worst offender, in my eyes, would have to be the super amnesia kiss which he planted on Lois Lane at the end of Superman II.
Well, it’s one way to make somebody forget about discovering your secret identity.
21 OP: The Joker Has Toxic WHAT?
If you’ve seen the Alien movies, you’ll know that the xenomorphs are probably the most vicious and downright angry creatures the universe has ever seen. After all, it takes a special kind of chutzpah to actually develop acidic blood. Anybody that actually succeeds in taking you out is going to be… well, in one heck of a grisly situation themselves.
Needless to say, this is just the sort of thing that a seasoned supervillain like the Joker would be all over. He has a long history with developing toxic stuff and his patented ‘Joker Venom,’ and judging by the mosquito that bit him in Batman #663 and promptly keeled over, there’s a connection there.
20 STUPID: He’s Far Too Much Of A Goody-Goody For That
Of the whole Avengers team, The Cap strikes me as the incorruptible do-gooder. A kind of ‘roided up boy scout, with a unshakable sense of justice and a compulsive need to help grandmas cross the street right in the midst of an alien incursion.
He’s just got that air about him, you know? He’s the innocent one. As such, it’s no surprise that, as a result of the Super-Soldier Serum, he’s essentially immune to the effects of drinking. That’s what a super-metabolism will do for you. I mean, it’s quite niche as superpowers go, but I suppose it’s a thing.
19 OP: The Tiny Terminator
Of the many villains in the Marvel repertoire, one that always seems to take a lot of flak is Yellowjacket. There are several factors that contribute to this, including his limited screentime in the blockbuster movie and Darren Cross’s clichéd smarmy jealous businessman persona.
You don’t want to sleep on the guy, though. He’s much more than just a 90s Mortal Kombat style palette swap of Ant-Man.
He has the rare ability of technoforming, which allows him to enslave and control every piece of technology he comes across. It’s similar to the T-X’s powers in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, and… well, that’s dang scary.
18 STUPID: To Be Fair, They’re VERY Sharp Teeth
See, the trouble with creating a new superhero or villain is, you never quite know what you’re going to get. More specifically, they never quite know what they’re going to get. You could have a fantastic concept and a whole host of powers based around it (Magneto, say), or you could really, really not.
Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes is one of the less-fortunate villains. While he has super-strength to rival that of Luke Cage, what’s he most known for? His super sharp and intimidating teeth, that’s what. I mean, come on, guy. What are you, a two-bit Bond villain? Get out of here, Jaws.
17 OP: Don’t Mess With An Elf
As we saw with Yellowjacket, it can be tough to really assess what a hero or villain can do from the movies alone. As flashy and Look ma, I blew up an entire island as the MCU tends to be, there’s only so long a movie can run for. You’ve got to pick and choose what you show.
Malekith was another unfortunate victim of this, for me. Thor: The Dark World didn’t really do his Dark Elf magic justice. Malekith the Accursed can fly, teleport, project energy attacks and even transfigure the appearance of other beings and objects.
16 STUPID: Hey There, Bouncing Boy, Bouncing Through The Sky So Fancy Free
I know Homer Simpson has already parodied that song, but heck. I like that subtitle, and I’m sticking with it.
When it comes to obscure super-people, DC’s Legion of Super-Heroes is just an embarrassment of riches. And embarrassment. We’ve already met Matter-Eater Lad, who can eat matter really dang fast, but this is probably a new low. Step forward, Bouncing Boy.
Also known as Chuck Taine, Bouncing Boy is a superhero who can… inflate himself like a beach ball and bounce around. He was born on Earth without any powers, but gained these dubious ones after drinking a super-plastic formula (he thought it was a soda).
Granted, he’s invulnerable and dang dangerous while rolling around, but does that make all this sound any less ridiculous? It does not.
15 OP: The Cap's (Almost) Equal
Now, see, this is the tough thing. Throughout Marvel’s history, the Zemo name has meant all kinds of things; all kinds of people and all kinds of powers. The take on the character that we’re probably most familiar with is the Helmut Zemo of Civil War.
In the movie, he wasn’t a fighter himself, resigned to the fact that the Avengers would pound him into broken hunks of spam if he tried any of that.
Instead, he tried to break the team apart psychologically.
In the comic books, however, he’s a close-combat specialist, and he also has all manner of augmented abilities (flight, strength, gravity/energy manipulation, warping space itself and more) thanks to the Moonstones.
14 STUPID: When Your Arm Falls Off, Just As You Planned
Do you remember classic PS1 action adventure Medievil? The character played as skeletal knight Sir Daniel Fortesque, who was armed with swords, axes, bows, the usual fantasy weaponry. As a last resort, though, he could remove his own arm (being a skeleton and all) and use it as a primitive club.
Is that a good idea for a superhero? It sure as heckles is not. Nonetheless, Arm-Fall-Off-Boy was an actual character that DC found somewhere in the depth of Beelzebub’s underworld lavatory and foisted upon us.
His power? Yep, he can detach his arms and use them as blunt weapons (only one at a time, you understand, we’re being totally logical here). Apparently, nobody explained to the poor guy that it’s much more practical to simply get yourself a club and hold it in both of your existing arms.
13 OP: Hey, We Need That Water!
As a Brit, I’m fully aware of the great power of water. Around these parts, the rainy season began in the year 1549, and has been going on non-stop ever since. So, yes, I can totally appreciate the potential of a superhero made from water.
A lesser-known nemesis of Spider-Man, Morris Bench became Hydro-Man when he was knocked off of the U.S.S Bulldog into the ocean, where an experimental generator was being tested. As is always the case, exposure to the radiation gave him all kinds of quirky powers, such as transforming his body (partly or wholly) into water.
Most frighteningly, he can absorb almost all the moisture in his opponents’ bodies. Considering that human bodies are two-thirds water, that’s not really a fun thing to think about.
12 STUPID: I Shall Call Him… Mini Me
I’m sorry, Superman. I really am. I don’t want you to feel victimised or anything. I’m only double-dipping with some of your more humiliating abilities because… well, two reasons. The first is that it’s hilarious, and the second is because I’m still feeling totally bitter about the abomination that was Superman 64.
On that note, I feel obligated to remind everyone about that time Superman learned to fire a tiny version of himself out of his hands. This slice of amazement occurred in Superman #125’s “Superman’s New Power.” If this is coming totally out of the blue for you, you’re probably going to need the full story, which you can check out here.
11 OP: The Time Spider-Man Became Captain Universe
As I’ve already stated, Spider-Man is the cream of the superhero crop as far as I’m concerned. He’s relatable, he’s unique, he’s got a skillset all his own. In a nostalgic sense, too, he’s my superhero, the one I fondly remember as my favourite. The movies may have been a little questionable over the years, but my loyalty has never wavered.
I wouldn’t have said he was OP, generally speaking, but there was that time that the uni power granted him the abilities of Captain Universe and he became Cosmic Spider-Man.
Does he sound like a hero to mess with? That’s because he wasn’t.
10 STUPID: Colour Kid- Does Exactly What It Says On The Cape
So, yes. From the almost entirely limitless powers of Cosmic Spider-Man, to a hero that even the Legion of Super-Heroes thought was useless. Look out, here comes Colour Kid.
You’ve probably already surmised what Colour Kid can do. If not, suffice it to say that if you ever need a superhero who can change the colours of objects, this is your man. Sadly, though, that’s not something you’ll ever need, which is exactly what the Legion told hm when they denied him entry to their ranks. The Legion of Substitute Super-Heroes took him on, though, so he’s got that (and only that) going for him.
9 OP: My Speed Is Your Speed!
Oh, Zoom. You leave me feeling all kinds of conflicted, because I’ve never been quite sure what to make of you. There’s just something about the whole concept of the Reverse-Flash that seems a little lazy to me. I’ve already made the Mortal Kombat palette swap joke, so I’m not going to go that way again, but still.
When you give the villain the (more or less) same abilities as the hero, you still need a little somethin’ somethin’ that sets them apart. In Zoom’s case, it’s the fact that his speed derives from slowing time relative to himself, rather than the usual way with speedsters. He can also, crucially, grant others the same ability temporarily, by letting them control their own timelines through himself.
As we saw with the Hulk, we’re not supposed to be super fast and super strong at the same time. The laws of video games frown upon that. Stop it, Zoom, that’s the definition of OP.
8 STUPID: When You Don’t Think Your Superpower All The Way Through
Now, it’s not Stone Boy’s power as such that irks me. After all, with a name like that, you kind of know what you’re signing up for. Can he turn his body to stone at will? You’re darn skippy he can. Dag Wentim was born on the planet Zwen, the inhabitants of which all have this ability. It’s just the way it’s implemented that’s awful.
Originally, he couldn’t move in this form (until the “Five Years Later” arc), and had to concentrate intensely to petrify only part of his body (fists and feet for fighting, say). It was just laughably impractical, and Stone Boy was one of the founding members of the Legion of Failure… I mean, Substitute Super-Heroes, having also been denied a place in the cool kids’ club on account of his uselessness.
7 OP: When You Are NOT Playing Games
Unsurprisingly, over the course of their long ‘rivalry,’ the DC and Marvel companies have created some rather similar characters over the years. It’s like any company competition: you drop a successful new product, and suddenly everyone else wants in on the action with their own take on it.
On that note, let’s take a look at DC’s Enchantress. Marvel have their own Enchantress (who we’ll get to later), but the DC sorceress is notable for something you may not remember:
an ability to animate the Great Sphinx of Giza and making it attack tourists.
Now that’s resourcefulness on a whole new level.
6 STUPID: Because Superheroes Do Not Like Sharing Their Toys
In all of superhero-dom, there are few iconic artifacts quite as controversial as Thor’s beloved hammer. Mjölnir is the thunder god’s faithful companion, the twirly, returny weapon that has seen him through countless battles. The crux of its legend is that only the worthy are able to wield it. This has lead to all kinds of if the Hulk picks up Thor while he’s holding the hammer, is the Hulk then worthy? Snarky talk.
Through various technicalities, several members of the DC and Marvel universe have ‘lifted’ the hammer. Did you know that Magneto wielded it for a brief period? This occurred during The Ultimates 3, following the loss of Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch.
5 OP: Just Hela Being Hela
Whether you’re well-versed in comic book lore or not, Cate Blanchett’s star turn as Hela in Thor: Ragnarok was a revelation. Here was an archvillain who wasn’t the usual hulking, masculine mountain. While not physically imposing, Hela is fantastically powerful, able not only to effortlessly catch Thor’s hammer but to crush it into dust in her hands.
One thing we do not see in the movies is the extent of Hela’s command over life… and its counterpart. She can steal a living being’s life simply with a touch. Considering the kind of strength that even the regular Asgardians wield, to be able to do this to them is… well, I’m going to go with uncool.
4 STUPID: Pucker Up, Boys
So, we’ve already seen DC’s Enchantress, bringing the sphinx to life and suchlike. That’s quite a party trick, whichever way you slice it. So, your move, Marvel. How are you going to top that with your own Enchantress?
In the Marvel world, there are two characters by this name. The first is a powerful Azgardian sorceress called Amora, an enemy of Thor. The other is Sylvie Lushton, who was created by Loki and given great havoc-razing powers.
What’s Enchantress’s greatest power of all? Well, it’s not her magical lips, that’s for darn sure. By ‘enchanting’ them, she is able to put (almost) any man she kissed under her spell for a week (unless the spell is re-applied).
3 OP: When Hawkeye Gets Serious
If there’s any Avenger who tends to get the (arrow)shaft a little, it’s going to have to be Hawkeye. Next to his superhuman, flying, thunder-commanding companions, his ability to you know, shoot arrows pretty dang accurately doesn’t quite cut it. Or so you’d think.
The interesting thing is, Hawkeye is a lot stronger than he might seem.
In New Avengers volume 2, issue 9, he’s seen casually flipping a car off of himself with one hand. On top of that, his bow has a 250lb draw weight, while Hunter’s Friend reports that the strongest archers in real life use bows with a draw weight of around 75lb. The message is clear: don’t sleep on Hawkeye.
2 STUPID: When You Just Don’t Have Enough Limbs
We’ve touched on this before, but Spider-Man, as far as I’m concerned, is the man. That doesn’t mean he hasn’t made his missteps over the years, though, as that whole talking to spiders thing demonstrated.
There’s more to it than that, though. What happens when you take your enthusiasm for all things arachnid too far? You grow extra limbs to emulate them, or something. There’s got to be some reason for the Six Arms Saga. Whatever was going on here, it also saw the introduction of Morbius, the Living Vampire, which is equally inexcusable. Dang it, Spider-Man, what’s this all about?
1 OP: You Won’t Like Him When He’s Really, REALLY Angry
Even on a good day, the Hulk tends to have a certain vibe about him. You know, that whole I’m huge and I’m green and I’ll crush you into insignificant specks of sadness and failure thing he’s got going on. Dr Bruce Banner’s volatile alter ego is never somebody you want to mess with.
Then there was that time that he became of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse. The aforementioned villain promised to help the Hulk with the mental torment he endures, while actually transforming him into War. This take on the Hulk (as seen in Incredible Hulk I#456) was perhaps even more frighteningly powerful than the beast we already know.