Marvel Characters That You Thought Had Superpowers - But Don't

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Vote up the Marvel characters you didn't realize were powerless.

The Avengers, Fantastic Four, X-Men, and other major groups are chock-full of impressively superpowered individuals, but it’s those powerless Marvel characters who really stand out as Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. It’s one thing for aliens or mutants or cybernetically enhanced folks to battle it out with supervillains on a daily basis, but it’s quite another for Marvel’s entirely human superheroes, who don’t have the benefit of super-strength, energy blasts, or healing factors to help them out.

Though their ranks are small, there’s a dedicated group of Marvel heroes and villains without any superpowers to speak of who are still just as involved in the “business” as any powered individual. Some of them get by on well-honed skills and the sort of weaponry that would certainly make them stand out in the real world. Others are entirely ordinary by any standard - other than the strength of their determination and the spirit of their will.


  • At various points since becoming the Fist of Khonshu, Marc Spector has believed himself to be in possession of various superpowers. At one time, he was thought to become stronger under the light of the moon, and it’s also been suggested that he’s immortal. But what Spector believes to be true and what is actually true are often two very different things.

    At this point, it’s safest to say that, if Moon Knight ever had any true superpowers, he doesn’t have them anymore. He’s just a very skilled, uber-violent vigilante with access to massive stores of weapons and technology, along with a connection to an Egyptian god who steps in to resurrect Spector and his various alters whenever necessary. Usually, however, it’s Moon Knight’s opponents who are in need of revival. His armored suit, crescent darts, truncheon, and penchant for excessive force have all made sure of that. 

    Moon Knight regularly does battle with werewolves, vampires, and all manner of supernatural beings, and he does so as - if not an ordinary human being - a human being with no real superpowers. He’s even taken down the entire Avengers roster on one occasion, proving himself to be among the more dangerous nonpowered individuals in the Marvel Universe - and in more ways than one!

    533 votes
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    286 VOTES

    Shang-Chi Doesn’t Have The Ten Rings, Or Any Powers, In The Comics

    The Shang-Chi of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is an exceptionally powerful character. Not only is he the son of the Mandarin and a Ta-Lo goddess, but by the end of his first solo adventure, he’s also in possession of the Ten Rings, amazing weapons of unknown origins. 

    The Shang-Chi of Marvel Comics fame, however, is just The Master of Kung-Fu, and nothing more. Fortunately, he’s never needed to be more.

    As was also the case in the MCU, the comic book Shang-Chi was trained in martial arts from a young age at the behest of his villainous father, named Zheng Zu in this telling. And while Zheng Zu was a powerful sorcerer, Shang-Chi did not inherit any of his magic.

    But make no mistake: Shang-Chi is still a formidable foe. He might just be the single best hand-to-hand combatant on Earth-616, which has allowed him to go toe-to-toe with all manner of supervillains - and occasionally with his own allies in the Avengers. In fact, at one point Shang-Chi temporarily received the power of body duplication, and all involved agreed that it made him too much of a force to be reckoned with. 

    These days, he’s back to being the singular Shang-Chi, but that’s more than enough.

    286 votes
  • The supervillain Bullseye is one who certainly lives up to his name. Whether he’s torturing Daredevil, impaling Elektra, or impersonating Hawkeye, Bullseye’s game is always exactly the same: In addition to being an expert hand-to-hand combatant, he can turn any object into a projectile and launch it with lethal force and pinpoint accuracy. This has led many to believe that the man known only as “Lester” possesses some sort of innate marksmanship-based superpowers, but he’s just naturally skilled and exceptionally well-practiced.

    Bullseye came up as a professional baseball pitcher, but had to quit the game after he killed a batter with a fastball to the head on purpose. He soon moved on to freelance assassin work, where he developed his iconic costume and a few trademark projectiles, such as playing cards. But Bullseye doesn’t really need anything special in order to slay someone, and he’s taken lives with paperclips, toothpicks, and even his own fingernails. At one point, he had his spine laced with adamantium after a great fall, but other than that, he remains an entirely ordinary human being. 

    Even up against an opponent with radar-sense, no one can hit a target quite like Bullseye, which stands as a powerful reminder that practice really does make perfect. 

    261 votes
  • The Red Skull has been terrorizing Marvel Comics, and Captain America specifically, since 1941. And amazingly enough, he’s done it all without any metahuman abilities, unless one counts the inhuman amount of hate that resides within his heart.

    In his earliest days, Johann Shmidt was just a regular ol’ Nazi with a mask that made his face look like a Red Skull. That visage was later made permanent via chemical experimentation, but at no point did the comic book Red Skull ingest any form of Super Soldier Serum or anything like that. His physical abilities remained those of a skilled and well-trained human being, which is why he often challenged Steve Rogers through schemes and mind games instead of direct combat. 

    Instead of being frozen in ice, the Red Skull survived into the modern age via a series of resurrections and clones. Some of these clones went on to live rich, evil lives of their own, and some of them did obtain superpowers at various points - one even stole Professor Charles Xavier’s brain and briefly became the world’s most powerful psychic. But it’s never too terribly long before the original article comes back to the forefront, and he’s still the most terrifying of all, not because of any powers, but solely because of his genius intellect and his willingness to use it in the most heinous ways imaginable. 

    214 votes
  • When it comes to naming Marvel Comics’ biggest villains, the Kingpin makes the list in both the literal and figurative sense. Wilson Fisk tips the scales at 6 feet 7 inches and 450 pounds, but there are no Pym Particles or magic involved in his prodigious size. To make matters even more impressive, the Kingpin’s frame contains hardly any body fat at all. He’s pure muscle, and that’s why he’s able to throw down with the likes of Spider-Man and Luke Cage without any special abilities.

    The Kingpin’s strength may be super, but it’s not super-strength.

    There have been times at which Fisk has borrowed various abilities, like the time he stole the Purple Man’s persuasive powers and used them to convince the people of New York to support his bid for reelection as mayor of New York. Most of the time, however, he relies solely on the muscle mass he earned the hard way - through untold hours in the dojo and the gym. Folks may not like it, but this is what peak performance looks like. 

    225 votes
  • At some point in the not-so-distant past, Marvel Comics regained the rights to publish the adventures of Conan the Barbarian - and not long after that, they transported the Cimmerian from his own timeline into the wild world of Earth-616. In the Hyborian Age, Conan was known to battle sorcerers and half-gods, and now in the present day, he has palled around with Wolverine and Thor and even joined a band of Savage Avengers.

    And through it all, Conan the Barbarian has remained little more than just a dude in a loincloth with a big sword. Though he’s described as being one of the strongest human beings of any age, he’s just at the peak of human potential, and not beyond it. Conan doesn’t even wield an especially impressive sword - it’s usually just a broadsword without any enchantments or runestones or anything like that. He’s just strong, and it’s just sharp. That’s all Conan has ever relied on, and it has served him well throughout the centuries.

    153 votes