Superheroes come in all shapes and sizes. Some are more powerful than others. Some have weaknesses to be exploited. Yet others have more debilitating flaws, such as recklessness or plain psychosis. Those heroes don’t tend to last too long. But there’s a whole other group of superheroes who are unmatched among the ranks of masked and caped do-gooders: those who are ridiculously overpowered. These heroes can get themselves out of any bind, no matter the odds. They’ve thought of every possible outcome and variable. They may be able to accomplish impossible feats, such as turning back time by flying in the opposite direction of the Earth’s rotation. (That was totally a Superman: The Movie reference.) And that’s not even mentioning their physical strength or attributes. These characters are as close to gods as they can get.
Of course, the all-powerful hero isn’t always the most interesting. You hear this criticism lodged at Superman quite often. Every time it seems that Supes is down for the count, he pulls out another power or invulnerability to fight the bad guys. And he’s not the only one. CBR has gone through the ranks to pick out 15 of the most RIDICULOUSLY overpowered superheroes of all time in no particular order:
Jean Grey was already pretty powerful to begin with, so when she called upon the Phoenix Force during a moment of desperation and fused with it, she became stronger than she could have ever imagined. As Phoenix, Jean’s telekinetic and telepathic powers grow exponentially, plus she can manipulate matter at the subatomic level, as well as cosmic and electromagnetic energy. She can survive in even the most hostile of environments, such as the core of a star, and can travel to anywhere in the universe instantaneously. Not enough? Okay, she can resurrect herself and others.
It’s unfortunate that Jean is ultimately unable to control her powers, and eventually transforms into the Dark Phoenix, an almost omnipotent villain who can devour stars and destroy entire galaxies. The X-Men are no match for the former companion’s ultimate form. They’re lucky that she manages to destroy herself in a moment of clarity.
14. SILVER SURFER
The Silver Surfer started out as a villain who worked for Galactus. His mission was to scout planets for his cosmic master to devour. It wasn’t until he came face to face with the Fantastic Four that he chilled with the whole “finding my boss his lunch” thing. From that point on, the Silver Surfer became one of the Marvel Universe’s coolest looking superheroes.
Galactus gave Silver Surfer a tiny portion of his Power Cosmic, bestowing his herald with great power. Silver Surfer can absorb cosmic energy, traverse the universe at hyperspace speed, and can destroy entire planets by producing a bolt of immense energy. He can also create portals to other dimensions, as well as heal living organisms. Surfer has the ability to see through time and has even shown that he can read minds. Good thing he’s on our side.
13. MARTIAN MANHUNTER
Martian Manhunter is the underrated superhero badass of the DC Universe, perhaps only matched by Superman himself. J’onn J’onzz has all the basic powers a hero could possibly want, including super strength, the ability to fly, regeneration, and durability. But there are also a couple of things that set him apart from the world’s greatest heroes.
For one thing, he can shapeshift into any form he wishes as well as alter his density and size. He can manipulate objects with his mind at will. In fact, he’s one of the most powerful telepaths on Earth. Manhunter also has “Martian Vision,” which allows him to see through the entire electromagnetic spectrum, from x-rays to gamma rays. In case you want more, he can also make himself invisible. There’s just not much this Martian can’t do.
12. SWAMP THING
Swamp Thing has a very unique set of abilities that allow him to manipulate plant life and vegetation. Considering that the DCU is covered in greenery, this is a huge advantage for Swamp Thing, who can basically rise up from any plant life in the universe. That’s including alien plants. This allows Swampy to construct himself anywhere and at any time, traveling the globe by transferring his consciousness from one plant body to the next. This is particularly handy when he’s seemingly destroyed. Swampy doesn’t really bat an eye at physical damage.
He can also manipulate all plants and accelerate their growth. This power was very useful in the famous DC Comics Presents #85 by Alan Moore and Rick Veitch. In this issue, Swampy saved Superman from a Kryptonian fungus that was driving the Man of Steel mad.
11. BLACK BOLT
Blackagar Boltagon, the ruler of the Inhumans, is so powerful that he can’t speak. While he has all of the signature abilities of the conventional superhero, such as super strength and agility, he also has one of the most devastating powers of any Marvel hero: his Quasi-Sonic Scream, which allows him to level a city with a whisper. A shout could destroy an entire planet. Therefore, Black Bolt has to mentally train himself not to utter a sound, even in his sleep, so as not to demolish anything. Imagine what a single snore in the night would do…
Black Bolt first appeared in Fantastic Four Vol. 1 #45 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby as an antagonist. He doesn’t speak in his early appearances, but the reason wasn’t revealed until #59, when he used his scream to shatter a Negative Zone barrier keeping the Inhumans from the outside world.
10. FRANKLIN RICHARDS
Franklin Richards is the ridiculously overpowered son of Mr. Fantastic and Invisible Woman. There’s really no reason that little Franklin is as powerful as he is besides… well, besides comic books. Reed Richards and Sue Storm are nowhere near as powerful, yet they had a kid who can rewrite reality and manipulate time and space at will thanks to his individual mutation. Beyond even the Omega class of mutant, this little dude can basically make any thought that comes into his head come true!
It’s been insinuated over the years that Franklin is easily more powerful than Galactus himself. In Fantastic Four #604 by Jonathan Hickman and Steve Epting, a future adult version of Franklin is able to defeat two Mad Celestials, as well as resurrect Galactus with energy taken from his younger self. He then makes Galactus, Devourer of Worlds, his herald. Dude!
9. IMPOSSIBLE MAN
This Poppupian shape-shifter first appeared in Fantastic Four Vol. 1 #11 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1963 as a comedic villain who is simply on vacation on Earth. He nonchalantly robs a bank when he finds that he needs money for food and eventually gets into a fight with the Fantastic Four. It’s revealed that the Impossible Man is starved for attention and is acting out because people are reacting to his shenanigans. The Fantastic Four manage to defeat him by convincing all of New York City to ignore the alien. It’s really bizarre.
Impossible Man, who has the ability to shapeshift into absolutely anything and teleport through great distances, would later appear as a hero, often helping the Fantastic Four when they were in a bind. In Fantastic Four Vol. 1 #175, he tricks Galactus into consuming his homeworld of Poppup, which gives him “cosmic indigestion.”
8. THE SPECTRE
After hardboiled cop Jim Corrigan is murdered by thugs, he goes up to heaven only to discover that he’s being refused entry. He’s returned to Earth as The Spectre, an avenging spirit on a mission to destroy all evil. He’s aided on his quest by his god-like abilities that are matched by few in the DCU. Among his powers are invulnerability, unlimited strength, and the ability to manipulate time and space.
The Spectre’s greatest power is his thirst for vengeance. In the Day of Vengeance miniseries by Bill Willingham, Spectre is left without a human host and goes on a murder spree, punishing all that break the law without properly judging their crimes. During his rampage, he completely demolishes some of the DCU’s most powerful beings, such as Black Adam, Doctor Fate, and Captain Marvel. He even turns the Phantom Stranger into a mouse! The dude needs a friend.
There comes a point where a superhero is so powerful that he becomes satirical. Such is the story of the omnipotent G0d-Man from the Tom the Dancing Bug comic strip by Ruben Bolling. God-Man can rearrange the universe whenever and in any way he wants. He can stop bad things from ever happening instantaneously and can even retcon his own stories so that he was never in them to begin with. With powers like these, a reader may ask, “So who can possibly challenge God-Man?”
The answer is pretty much no one, which means that God-Man’s always a bit bored. In a superhero universe where he can defeat even his most powerful arch-nemeses, such as Nietzsche-lad, Dr. Moral Relativism, and Blasphemy Boy, within seconds, God-Man’s feats become all the less remarkable.
6. THE PHANTOM STRANGER
The Phantom Stranger’s origins are almost as mysterious as his powers. Some stories say he’s a former angel who fell from Heaven. Other tales place him as a man caught in a time loop who acquired his powers at the very end of the universe. Regardless of his true origin story, the Phantom Stranger is one of the most powerful beings in the DC Universe. He has god-like powers that include immortality, eternal youth, the ability to travel vast distances in seconds, and time travel.
Interestingly enough, the Phantom Stranger often acts more like a guide for other DC characters and doesn’t interfere in certain situations. His omniscience allows him to know everything about the DC Universe, and at one point during the 2003 JLA/Avengers crossover by Kurt Busiek and George Perez, it was established that he also knew everything about the Marvel Universe.
Okay, so while many of the other superheroes on this list have unfathomable cosmic powers, the Hulk’s abilities are mostly physical. His super strength and invulnerability to most damage make him one of the toughest heroes in the MCU, but it’s really his rage that’s pulling the power strings. In fact, the angrier the Hulk gets, the stronger he becomes. It’s been established several times that there’s no limit to how strong the Hulk can get. One day, he might get angry enough to punch a planet into oblivion. Not for nothing was he once called the Worldbreaker!
His rage is honestly what makes the Hulk such a captivating character. His greatest strength is also his greatest weakness, as there’s always the risk that he might completely lose control and hurt innocent people. Bruce Banner struggles with this and often fears transforming into the green monstrosity. More often than not, though, the Hulk gets the job done.
Good ol’ Superman with his heart of gold, was the original overpowered superhero who won’t even stay dead. Some readers would say that the Man of Steel’s greatest weaknesses are his seemingly ever-expanding repertoire of abilities, as well as his vanilla sensibilities. While there’s a reason Superman is the most iconic superhero of all-time, you could definitely make the case that he’s just too powerful to really enjoy.
The Last Son of Krypton has super strength, the ability to fly, heat vision, and super speed to start. He also has superhuman senses, such as x-ray vision and incredible hearing, and is invulnerable to most damage, including bullets, electricity, fire… and prety much anything else you can think of. Christopher Reeve could also totally turn back time. His most recent power was the Solar Flare, which allowed him to expel a huge amount of energy to defeat even the most powerful enemy. Even though that iteration of the Man of Steel died, it’s probably not the last power the character will ever gain.
While many of the other characters on this list have god-like powers, Odin is actually a god; king of the Norse gods, to be exact, and Thor’s father. He’s stronger than all of the other Asgardians and has even stripped the Mighty Thor of his powers on several occasions. (Odin’s particularly testy about his son’s preoccupation with Midgard.) Many have had to learn the hard way that it’s not a good idea to piss of this god, who derides his power from the Odin Force.
The Odin Forces allows Odin to do just about anything imaginable, such as striking his enemies from incredible distances and teleporting the entire human race to an alternate dimension beyond human reason. He’s even used the Odin Force to kick Galactus’ planet-eating butt.
2. DR. MANHATTAN
A nuclear physicist named Dr. Jonathan Osterman suffers a terrible accident in an Intrinsic Field Subtractor and is transformed into Dr. Manhattan, a being with incredible god-like powers. He originally appeared in Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. Dr. Manhattan is set to face off against Superman in Doomsday Clock by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank. Poor Supes.
Dr. Manhattan is WAY more powerful than the Man of Steel. The blue anti-hero is impervious to all harm and can manipulate all atomic and subatomic particles, teleport, and subsist without any food or water. He also sees past, present, and future at the same time, giving him the ability of almost complete clairvoyance. Oh, and he’s basically immortal, as he can reconstruct and repair himself at will. Sometimes you just have to smile and run the other way.
The Dark Knight is the walking and punching deus ex machina of comic books. Able to outsmart any adversary and plan for every possible outcome, Batman is perhaps the most intelligent human in the DCU. Sure, as Ben Affleck says in the Justice League trailer, it helps that he’s also impossibly rich, but money doesn’t account for his incredible problem-solving and detective skills.
Bats also fought his way through time in order to reclaim his mantle after Darkseid seemingly killed him in Final Crisis. There’s also that time Bruce was driven mad by the Black Glove and had his mind wiped, but he had a backup personality known as the Batman of Zur-En-Arrh to combat the loss. Batman also has incredible luck, like when he was going to die in a fiery plane crash in a recent Tom King story, surfing on a plane, only to be saved at the last minute by two new heroes.
What other ridiculously overpowered comic book characters can you think of? Help us complete our list in the comments!
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