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Famous Superheroes Whose Powers Don’t Work The Way You Think

March 22, 2021 853 votes 177 voters 33.8k views15 items

List RulesVote up the heroes with power origins you didn't know about.

The 18 superhero films that come out each year should maybe focus a little less on the origins of these superheroes and a little more on how superhero powers actually work. Seriously, does anyone not know how Peter Parker got his powers at this point? Yet, almost no one knows exactly how Peter is sticking to those walls. Luckily, even if the movies haven't delved into the details quite yet, the comics certainly have. There have been decades upon decades of pages to fill at this point, so just about all the good hero superpowers have been fully explained. 

To be fair, some of these misconceptions about heroes' powers come from the constantly in-flux nature of superhero comics. A power that started one way may later be explained to function entirely differently. There's a ton of misconceptions about superhero abilities, and it's about time they finally got cleared up. 

  • What You Thought His Superpower Does: Just like an actual arachnid, Spider-Man can stick to walls. It has long been believed Spider-Man sticks to walls through his incredibly sticky hands, although after putting a little bit of thought into this, how would he touch everyday objects without them sticking to him? There's also the Sam Raimi approach, wherein small hairs on Peter's palms allow him to cling to surfaces. 

    What His Superpower Actually Does: Spider-Man can consciously control the "flux of interatomic attraction between molecular boundary layers." Basically, in general, the outer electron shells of two objects repulse each other. Parker can manipulate his particles so the electrons attract instead of repulse. He's able to do this with all parts of his body, as well, not just his hands and feet. If he wanted to, Spidey could climb up a wall on his elbows and knees, or even hold himself up by his face if his hands got tired. 

  • Photo: DC Comics

    What You Thought His Superpower Does: Superman, AKA Clark Kent, has more powers than the original X-Men put together. Clark is super strong, super fast, shoots lasers from his eyes, and has freezing breath (we could go on). Yet, even with all of those abilities, Superman's most iconic power remains his most simplistic. Superman can soar through the air with the grace of a bird and the power of a jet. 

    What His Superpower Actually Does: Superman's Kryptonian physiology allows him to absorb energy from solar radiation emitted from yellow stars. One of the powers this energy gives Superman is the ability to manipulate gravity particles. Basically, Clark doesn't need to propel himself to fly because he's able to manipulate the very thing fighting against him (gravity) and make it stop. 

  • What You Thought His Superpower Does: Daredevil, AKA Matt Murdock, is completely blind. Regardless, he's able to fight for justice due to his mastery of martial arts and incredible hearing that allows him to perceive a sonar readout of a room through a method similar to a bat's echolocation. 

    What His Superpower Actually Does: All that and more. The same radioactive substance that blinded Matt also blessed him with incredible powers. Not only did Matt's sense of hearing increase exponentially, but so did his sense of touch, taste, and even smell. Matt can distinguish between twins 20 feet away from him through smell alone and can read by feeling the slight impression of ink on paper. 

  • Photo: DC Comics

    What You Thought His Superpower Does: It's a common misconception that Flash is fast in the sense that his muscles propel him at incredible speeds. Many fans believe Barry Allen earned the title of the fastest man alive because he, himself, is quite literally fast. 

    What His Superpower Actually Does: Barry Allen's fortuitous lab mishap made him a conduit of the Speed Force. The Speed Force is the literal cosmic force that controls all movement in the universe and is responsible for pushing time and space forward. The Speed Force generates a lot of excess energy, and Allen can tap into that excess and act as a release valve for the Speed Force, giving him incredible abilities.