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.
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. So, if you’ll permit me a minute or two, here are the top traditional superhero powers.
There are a lot of superheroes in the comics that are extremely durable can regenerate, or have healing factors. Some are even long live to the extent that they are able to live for thousands of years, but rarely is a hero immortal in every sense. Not even Thor can live forever. Still, despite being relatively rare, immortality is a traditional superpower, considering that it appeared so far back; Comics didn’t exist when humans were fascinated with the concept of eternal life.
19. Force Fields
Whether you have a healing factor or not, shields always come in handy. Force fields can be used both defensively and offensively, and most energy-manipulators have some form of this superpower by either creating powerful force barriers or devastating blasts of destructive force energy.
If it seems that the character sometimes pulls out information about something out of thin air, it’s likely that he has clairvoyance. This superpower is often attributed to magic-users, demons, and masters of mystical arts such as Doctor Strange, Wanda, and the like, but you would be surprised that some of the more grounded types like Black Panther and the Punisher, also have some forms of Clairvoyance, and this is what makes it iconic.
Why run fast or fly when you can teleport? Some of the most popular characters in comics have this ability, like Cable, Nightcrawler, Blink, Magik, etc. And even though this superpower is generally nowadays replaced by portals or technology, it still frequently appears on “powers and abilities” sections of character profiles.
16. Enhanced Senses
This superpower is kind of vague since comics and fiction, in general, did introduce several other types of senses beyond what humans are capable of. Still, this doesn’t change the fact that enhanced senses show up fairly often both in the older and newer generations of superheroes. Think about Spider-Man’s spider-sense, Daredevils’ radar sense, and Wolverine’s enhanced senses in general. Yup, this superpower is more commonplace than you’ve realized.
15. Time Travel / Time Manipulation
Time traveling might not be the most often used superpower on this list, but it’s fascinating enough that it has stayed as a trope almost since the inception of the comics.
Time Travelin and or manipulation also was at the center of some of the best stories (‘Flashpoint’ anyone?). It allows writers to fix plot holes, it allows you to create various versions of characters, and arguably, every character that has some form of control over time is bound to be extremely powerful.
14. Energy Manipulation
Energy Manipulation can be vague at times since there are plenty of known types of energy in the comics that can be manipulated. And even though most superheroes are limited to only one form, the most powerful beings in both Marvel and DC can manipulate almost all known forms of energy at the same time.
Due to this versatility, it’s often used, and I can’t see it going away soon.
13. Superhuman Durability
It’s easy to be a superhero when you have enhanced durability and are practically invulnerable to most forms of physical damage. There’s a reason why durability is among the “standard” package of superpowers since the beginning because it allows for a quick “plot repair” when you’re obviously inferior character survives something that he shouldn’t.
It’s rare nowadays to find a superhero without at least some form of superhuman durability, and this is why it’s among the most popular tradition superpowers.
Magic in comics can mean a lot of things, but the fact that it’s the oldest superpower in fiction, in general, still stands. Some of the most popular characters in both DC and Marvel are known magic users, and it’s not a coincidence that they are also among the most powerful ones.
Magic can manifest through several means as well, making it all the more interesting to work with.
11. Superhuman Intelligence
Superhuman intelligence might not seem like your first choice of superpower but think about it, some of the biggest and most powerful supervillains attained their status through intelligence. Intelligence is what makes Batman so much more powerful than most other characters in DC comics because it allows him to stay one step ahead at all times.
Very few of the traditional superhero powers 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, more superheroes can fly than I can probably name. I’d like to give you a really good reason for this, but the reason isn’t that good. Simply put, flight is synonymous with superheroes because flight is something we all wish we could do.
If shapeshifting isn’t how you want to escape from the world around you, then perhaps invisibility is more your 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, seamlessly blending into any environment is something I dream about. Unfortunately, for me to do this, I need to be a shapeshifter… which I’m not.
Of all the heroes who can shapeshift, none are as well-known as Mystique. Because Mystique can shapeshift, she has 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 it expedite the time for wounds to repair, but it also greatly increases the length of life of a hero.
And how? Simple.
If a body heals quickly externally, it also means that it 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 has been done repeatedly…and for a 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.
70% You may not agree with me, but a superhero who controls 70% of the Earth’s surface makes that superhero one of the world’s most powerful. Therefore, putting underwater control on this traditional superhero powers list is a no-brainer.
Very few of the traditional superhero powers have transcended comic books quite like telekinesis. 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 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 one could control the minds of everyone around them. Mind control is incredibly old, like many of the other superpowers on this list. 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 their actions, 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?