Over the last 75 years, there have literally been thousands of superheroes created. It started with Superman and has grown to include the likes of Batman, Wolverine, Deadpool, Captain America, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, and more. With thousands of superheroes come millions of superpowers.
Yes, literally millions.
Superpowers have transformed from simple and easy-to-understand abilities into complex, pull out your Ph.D. abilities that no one understands. Unlike decades ago, superpowers now affect their user and enemy on the molecular level, subatomic level, astral plane, and more.
Although I’d love to delve into the more complex powers (and one day I will), it’s the simpler ones I’m interested in…or as I’d like to call them, the traditional superhero powers. Traditional superhero powers are exactly that, traditional powers. They’ve been around for decades and are always leaned on when new characters are created.
Because they were the building blocks that built the comic book medium.
So, if you’ll permit me a minute or two, here are the top traditional superhero powers.
List of the best traditional superhero powers
Of all the traditional superhero powers, very few are as easily named as flight. I mean, flight and superheroes go hand in hand. Go ahead, try to name ten superpowers without naming flight. Even though it’s not impossible, it is really hard.
In truth, there are more superheroes who can fly than I can probably name. I’d like to give you a really good reason as to why this is, but the reason isn’t that good. Simply put, flight is synonymous with superheroes because flight is something we all wish we can do.
If shapeshifting isn’t the way that you want to escape from the world around you, then perhaps invisibility is more you’re style? The invisibility trait is one as old as superheroes. Invisibility does exactly what it sounds like it does. It allows the superhero to disappear from plain sight.
Over the years, invisibility has allowed the heroes to do more than turn invisible. Just look at Sue Storm. Sue has perfected her power so much that she can create invisible force fields and turn the objects around her invisible.
Oh boy…what I wouldn’t give to be able to look like anybody in the world. I mean, being able to seamlessly blend into any environment is something that I dream about. Unfortunately, in order for me to do this, I need to be a shapeshifter…of which I’m not.
Of all the heroes who can shapeshift, none are as well-known as Mystique (who by the way I wrote an in depth article on).
Because Mystique can shapeshift, she had been able to infiltrate high levels of government, conceal the fact she’s a mutant, and align herself with whomever she chooses.
Shapeshifters are dangerous not because they can be anybody. No, shapeshifters are dangerous because nobody can tell if they are looking at one or not.
Of all the traditional superhero powers, none can give a hero the longevity that increased healing can. Not only does expedite the time for wounds to repair but it also greatly increases the length of life of a hero.
If a body heals quickly externally, it also means that heals quickly internally. Think about it like this. A superhero who can heal never has to worry about a heart attack, kidney failure, infection, or the like. In addition, due to their power to heal they also age very slowly. This trait is most commonly linked to Wolverine but can also be found on Midnighter, The Flash, and Martian Manhunter.
6. Super Speed
In the early days of comics, there was a literal race going on between Marvel and DC. In DC’s corner stood Barry Allen, The Flash and in Marvel’s stood Quicksilver. Although it’s hard to create an argument showing Quicksilver to be the superior of the two, it doesn’t take away from how important both are.
As one of the original traditional superhero powers, super speed is something that’s been done over and again…and for good reason. Being able to move quickly means that a hero is also one step ahead of the villain.
5. Super Strength
Wouldn’t it be amazing to be able to pick up a car and throw it the length of a football field? Although I can’t think of too many instances that this would be useful, just being able to do it would be awesome.
Super strength is one of the most basic traditional superhero powers. From the early days of comics, most heroes typically came with it. Superman, Thor, Captain America, and Wonder Woman. The reasoning is simple. Aside from being easy to write, when a hero is stronger than any who oppose them, it makes victory a near certainty.
4. Under Water Control
For decades, jokes have been made about being able to breathe underwater. For decades, jokes have been made about being able to talk to fish. And for decades, jokes have been made about being able to swim extremely fast.
However, over the last many years these jokes have begun to disappear. Being able to breathe underwater, talk to underwater animals, and swim at high speeds means that any superhero who can do these has control of 70% of the Earth’s surface.
You may not agree with me, but a superhero who can control 70% of the Earth’s surface makes that superhero one of the world’s most powerful beings. Therefore, putting underwater control on this traditional superhero powers list a no-brainer.
Of all the traditional superhero powers, very few have transcended comic books quite like telekinesis. Actually, of all the superheroes who possess telekinesis, very few have transcended comic books quite like Jean Grey. Love her or hate her, Jean’s impact on comic books is unrivaled.
Jean is the character at the heart of the Dark Phoenix Saga. The story sees the unknowingly powerful Jean Grey sacrifice herself for the protection of the X-Men. Although nobody knew it at the time, when she sacrificed herself, she bonded with the Phoenix Force. Once bonded, her telekinesis went from being able to move simple and large objects with her mind to moving entire planets if she desired.
2. Elemental Control
If living in Canada has taught me anything it’s that if you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes and it’ll change. Just last week my city had a foot of snow dumped on it and two days later, it’s practically gone.
Waiting five minutes for the weather to change is one thing, but being able to change the weather when you want to is another. Some superheroes can do exactly this. In fact, some superheroes have such a control over the weather that they can make it snow across an entire continent that never sees snow.
Being able to control the weather might very well be the best of the traditional superhero powers.
1. Mind Control
Imagine how much power one could attain if they could control the minds of everyone around them. Like many of the other superpowers on this list, mind control is incredibly old. Of all the superheroes who can do it, arguably the most important, Professor X, debuted over 50 years ago.
I know that I said weather control might be the best of the traditional superhero powers, but if any rival it, it’s mind control. If you don’t agree with me, remember this. It doesn’t matter what superpower a hero has. If they have no control over what they’re doing, their power is useless to them.
And that’s it. The best traditional superhero powers. What do you think? What traditional superhero powers would make your list?