How Does Superman Fly? DC Comics & Science Explained


The Man of Steel is undoubtedly one of the most legendary superheroes out there, being a symbol of hope and justice for many years. He is infamous for flaunting some insane power and abilities, topped off with Superman’s unparalleled speed, but many fans are still curious to know exactly how Superman can fly.

Superman has a bioelectric/electromagnetic aura inside his body, but he can extend this aura outside of his body in order to defy the laws of physics within his environment. However, the ability to fly is granted by the “Photonucleic Effect”, whereby creatures born in an environment with a Giant Red Star (such as Kryptonites or Daxamites) are granted superpowers when exposed to an environment with a small G-Type Star, such as Earth.

Although Superman has specific weaknesses that can drain his power within seconds, he is still capable of accomplishing what most heroes cannot – and he uses his flight ability in almost every situation. Stick around to find out everything there is to know about Superman’s ability to fly, including DC Comic’s scientific explanation as well as why he cannot fly in every environment.

Superman’s ability to fly

The ability to fly within the context of Superman’s powers refers to the capacity to defy the laws of gravity. Superman’s flight ability is primarily due to the aura that resides within his body as a Kryptonian, which can be described as a bioelectric or electromagnetic aura.


Superman is able to extend this bioelectric aura to the spaces around his own body as well, altering the laws of physics within that space – which is why he is able to float, fly, hover, and everything in between. Anything that is held within that aura will be subject to the same conditions, which is why Superman is able to hold objects, people, and creatures during flight without causing them harm.


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However, while the leveraging of this Kryptonian aura is the foundation of Superman’s flight ability, the successful use of the ability relies on how his aura is impacted by the environment’s conditions. Superman has ultimately gained his ability to fly due to something known as the “Photonucleic Effect”, which is the very source of all Superman’s superpowers.

“The photonucleic effect is a very specialized astronomical phenomenon. It takes place when an object native to the influence of a red giant star enters the influence of a small G-type star. Every object in the Universe, organic or inorganic, has a distinctive signature based on the geological and cosmological characteristics of the environment in which it was formed.”

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The basis of the Photonucleic Effect is the specific nature of a creature born into an environment with a Giant Red Star (such as Krypton) and how their cellular composition would be altered once exposed to an environment with a small G-type star (such as Earth). As such, this effect revolves around the Earth’s Yellow Sun within the specific context of Superman.

superman sunlight

Superman and other beings of his heritage are granted superb powers by being exposed to the Earth’s sun. While the ability to take flight is a major bonus of the Photonucleic Effect, Kryptonians may be granted an array of extraordinary abilities in the process, such as Superman’s Super Strength, Heat Vision, X-Ray Vision, Super-Speed, as well as Super Breath.

It’s been discovered that other sources of energy and certain stars may also hold the potential to have the same effect on Kryptonians – of course, to different degrees. An example of this would be Blue Stars, which have an even greater Photonucleic Effect that grants exponentially enhanced superpowers as well as additional superpowers like “Superman Vision.”

How does Superman fly in space?

Since Superman’s ability to fly is based on his very aura resisting the laws of physics within his surroundings, he is able to fly in just about any type of environment – provided that he’s influenced by a small G-type star. Superman can fly through planetary atmospheres and open space as a result, and it’s been theorized that this ability also revolves around his bioelectric aura.


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The aura itself seems to cancel out Superman’s combined mass while defying the laws of physics and gravity around him. Since Superman is believed to be weightless during flight, he can push his own body through atmospheres of various types.

How does Superman fly faster?

Superman is able to control his body using his mind, much like how humans can control their legs for walking. He is able to his brain in order to determine his body and his supernatural abilities via a sense known as Psionic Energy, and must consciously decide how fast he wishes to fly at any given moment.

Why does Superman fly with his arms out?

There is no concrete answer as to why Superman flies the way he does, but many theorize that it has to do with how fast he needs to fly. It’s believed that Superman gains more traction and control over his movement in the air when he pushes his arms out in front of him when compared to flying with his arms tucked at his side.

superman speed

Unlike many flying superheroes, Superman has no wings to manipulate speed and motion when traveling via flight – instead, he could use different stances to achieve ‘Super Speed’ or ‘Fast Flight.’ It’s believed that Superman’s arms could theoretically slice through the air and cut back on wind resistance in order for faster movement.

Considering this theory may explain why Superman occasionally switches between putting both arms in front of him, holding one arm outward, or placing both harms firmly against his sides – all of these stances could have varying effects on his total speed and acceleration. However, it’s worth noting that many fans still believe that his chosen stance during flight has more to do with his comfort and style.

Can Superman fly without his suit?

Superman can fly without his suit, much like he could still use all of his superpowers without his special costume. His supernatural abilities are primarily due to his genetics, DNA, and how Earth’s conditions influence these traits – his outfit is merely present for the purpose of fashion, comfort, and utility.


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The main benefits provided by Superman’s gear are additional protection – or, more likely due to the fact that he simply cannot wear normal clothing during his travels. Superman is infamous for embarking on some crazy adventures and missions, many of which take place outside of Earth’s gravitational pull.

superman lois comics

His cape may contribute to flight to a degree, but it does not allow him to do anything more than he could in a regular outfit. Superman’s costume is made from invulnerable Kryptonian fabrics, making it useful for cases where he comes into contact with flames, bullets, and much more – all in all, it’s more useful for the sake of Superman’s convenience.

How does Superman fly at night when there is no sun?

Since Superman’s flight ability relies on the presence of Earth’s sun, many have questioned how he can still fly at night when the sun is not visible. Some believe that this is due to Superman still being close enough to the sun – based on the fact that Earth’s atmosphere is still subject to the sun, even at night.

superman cellular structure

However, Superman does have the ability to soak up the sun’s energy during the day, similar to a solar panel of sorts. This would allow Superman to hold an excess of solar reserves within his body, which would last for much longer than one night – he traveled effortlessly for 60 days without the sun on one occasion.


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Each of the cells inside Superman’s body acts like a battery, and it would take a really long time for all of his solar energy to be drained – meaning that a full day and night cycle would always leave Superman with an excess of stored solar power. Even when he needs to fly around and fight bad guys all night, Superman will automatically start recharging the second the sun comes out the following day.

superman no sunlight

In the worst-case scenarios, Superman still has the option to simply fly out to space and face the sun itself, something he routinely does in order to get a full recharge. But, it is true that Superman will become weakened if he goes without sunlight for too long – eventually, Superman would lose his superpowers without the sun.

Can Superman fly on Krypton?

Superman would not have originally been able to fly on his home planet, Krypton. However, DC Comics have revived the planet itself in more recent years, now creating conditions in which Superman can fly.

Why could Superman fly on Earth but not on Krypton?

When Superman was first introduced, it was made clear that he was far more powerful on Earth compared to on his home planet. Since the basis of his superpowers revolved around how his DNA was altered by Earth’s Yellow sun, it’s easy to see why he was more of a regular Joe on Krypton.

superman dead

Being on Krypton, in the presence of a Giant Red Sun, would automatically deplete all of the special powers and traits that Superman gains while being on Earth. As such, Superman was never able to fly on Krypton and would only be granted the same biological traits and benefits compared to every other Kryptonian on the planet.

Can all Kryptonians fly?

Although Clark Kent is certainly a special individual as is, the only reason why Superman was granted any of his superpowers is due to him being Kryptonian. The Photonucleic Effect applies to all creatures and individuals born on the planet Krypton – and presumably, Daxam as well, since Daxamites exhibit the same leaping and flying abilities resulting from the Photonucleic Effect.

With that being said, not all Kryptonians can fly in the same way that Superman can, although all Kryptonians have the potential to fly. For the most part, the people of Krypton develop an extraordinary Leaping ability as a precursor to their Flight ability.


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This leaping ability allows Kryptonians to jump to great heights and cover vast distances in the process. In fact, it’s believed that the original Superman, who first appeared in 1938, could not fly at all – he could only leap around an eighth of a mile at a time.

Although, this leaping ability is believed to be a direct result of their superb muscular structure as well as their low weight and not due to the Photonucleic Effect that results in their ability to take flight. Similarly, some special traits and abilities are not entirely due to the Photonucleic Effect either, such as Invulnerability, Super Strength, and Super Speed.

It’s believed that Kryptonians have gained these traits due to their unique and superior path of evolution (and possibly other influences such as genetic engineering, biotech, nanotech, and advanced crystal-based technologies). These traits are simply enhanced to unimaginable extents after being exposed to Earth’s sun or to viable stars that induce the Photonuleic Effect.

new krypton

While this general rule was set in stone for the first portion of Krypton’s history and nature, things changed with DC Comic issues released in more recent years. The revival of Krypton, dubbed “New Krypton,” saw a planet that orbits a Yellow sun rather than the former Giant Red Sun, granting all Kryptonians the ability to fly in addition to a variety of other awesome powers.

That’s everything there is to know about how Superman can fly in different situations, as well as how other Kryptonians have been granted their special powers. Superman may have been the only Kryptonian to rise above ‘normality’ at the very beginning, followed by plenty of other Kryptonians in more recent years – that being said, Clark Kent is still the Superman we all know and love, not just for his powers, but for his dedication to Earth and humanity as a whole.

What do you think about Superman’s ability to fly and his dependence on viable stars? Let us know in the comments below!

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