As Uncle Ben famously said: With great power, comes great responsibility. This has been something Spider-Man has utilized to keep himself centered for years. The responsibility element keeps Spidey accountable, using his powers for the greater good. However, not all restrictions are self-imposed or through the wisdom of a role model. Sometimes heroes don't have a choice in how or when they use their great power. Everyone has their limitations, and it would appear superheroes are no different. This can become an issue for heroes in the Marvel Universe, as these caveats directly affect their efficiency. A hero must be able to rely on their powers, so ensuring they can circumvent factors limiting their powers is a must.
Limitations can be from a weakness, a hero could be susceptible to a certain mineral or energy type. They could also be limited by a side effect of their power, only being able to use it in a small capacity or with the right environment. Restrictions can even be put on powers by psychological trauma, deeply affecting one's psyche. There are even instances where superpowers can be affected by illnesses or physical ailments. A lot of the heroes in the Marvel Comics Universe with power difficulties have used tech to overcome their situation, others found alternative ways to utilize their skills and some still struggle with the intricacies of their abilities. CBR delves into Marvel's roster of heroes to find out whose powers are dependent on circumstance and just what affects these heroes!
20 THE HULK
The Hulk is one of the most powerful entities in the Marvel Universe. Some theorize that his power is actually limitless, but circumstances are rarely that cut and dry. While Hulk can get more and more powerful the angrier he gets, he is often held back by himself, more specifically, by Bruce Banner.
In the past, Bruce and the Hulk have been separated several times, but it rarely lasts. With Bruce's apprehension to use his power and his fear of the Hulk, he's worked to be an obstruction to the behemoth. From neglecting to let the Hulk out at all to even giving his friends the means to put the Hulk down, Banner is the Hulk's most consistent restriction.
Cyclops has several restrictions on his powers, some out of his control and some that are self-imposed. The first, is the inability to control his optic blasts due to a head injury. Sustained in the accident that seemingly claimed his parents, it prevents him from turning his blasts off.
To contain his power, Scott wears Ruby Quartz glasses in his down time or a visor in the field. This allows him to control his power and limit the output of his concussive energy. For a short time, his powers were unreliable and restricted further following his exposure to the Phoenix Force after Avengers Vs. X-Men.
Cable is an incredibly powerful mutants when it comes to psionic abilities. His mental proficiency supplements his unparalleled ability to adapt to nearly any situation. This brilliant tactician is nowhere near his full potential, however, and there's a very good reason for that.
Unfortunately for Cable, he is infected with a techno-organic virus. This virus is slowly consuming his body, so he has to use a constant portion of his power keeping the virus from spreading. If the virus manages to overtake enough of his body, he will perish. Thanks to this virus looming over him at all times, a large fraction of his power is siphoned away.
Kurt Wagner is the heart of the X-Men, a friend to all and a veteran on the roster. He's even managed to crack through Logan's tough exterior and become one of his best friends. His teleportation powers also allow him to protect and rescue his friends when needed. However, his teleporting is limited by quite a logical caveat.
Kurt can only disappear and reappear somewhere if he knows the location. If he didn't, he'd risk teleporting into solid rock, which would be bad news. He also uses an alternate dimension to teleport, so if they dimension was destroyed for any reason, his powers wouldn't work any more!
16 RED HULK (GENERAL MAVERICK)
When Sunspot formed his U.S.Avengers team, they needed a powerhouse. Like the Avengers proper, they decided to bring in a Hulk. This incarnation of Red Hulk wasn't Thunderbolt Ross, but another overly aggressive U.S. Military top brass, General Maverick.
To reduce the stress of the transformation on the older gentleman's body, he had an implant put in that restricted his time as the Red Hulk. sometimes referred to as his "hour of power," Maverick was able to become Red Hulk for sixty minutes at a time. This limitation would later be removed by a corrupt A.I.M. scientist, resulting in Maverick doing permanent damage to his body.
15 THE SENTRY
Bob Reynolds is an incredibly powerful superhuman. Having fought with some of the most powerful beings in the Marvel Universe and survived, Sentry's power is almost infinite. He's defeated Molecule Man, someone who has control over matter itself and he stopped Worldbreaker Hulk.
It's hard to imagine limiting a man like Bob, but he has limits for a good reason. Should Reynolds lose control of his power, he would unleash a darkness within him. This darkness is called The Void and it is a malevolent being only interested in destruction. During Siege, it took crashing a whole helicarrier and Thor's might to stop the Void, which was still powering up.
14 CAPTAIN MARVEL
Carol Danvers has gone through many power level changes. From being drained by Rogue to taking on the power of a White Hole as Binary, she's had experience of power on vast and smaller scales. Her powers, however have had several limitations, even after graduating to Captain Marvel. The first limitation was displayed during Dark Reign.
Norman Osborn managed to overload Carol's power by forcing her to absorb too much energy at once. More recently, she was found to have lesions on her brain, which could cause extensive damage if her powers were exerted too much. The lesions would act up particularly while she used her flight capabilities, causing memory loss.
The All-Father of the Nine Realms rarely answers to anyone. Odin has power on an incredible scale, literal god-like power. He is responsible for the tentative peace between the realms as well as the creation of Mjolnir. He was even part of the first incarnation of the Avengers, eons ago, who fought back a whole host of Celestials.
Even Odin has his limitations, though, as his vast power enacts a tole on him. After utilizing a large well of his power, Odin needs time to regenerate from it. Odin goes into an almost coma-like state known as the Odinsleep. Once completed, he can use the full bore of his Odinforce once more.
Jubilee's yellow coat and pink shades enter this list in a most unusual way. Under regular circumstances, the only limitations on her power is her normal upper limit. However, after a biological attack from a rogue faction of vampires, Jubilee was given limitations she wasn't ready for. The bio-attack turned her into a vampire, adding complications to her life.
Although she enjoyed enhanced strength, healing and reflexes, she also gained the classic vampiric weaknesses. She would later be given an amulet by Dracula for assisting in taking down his rogue son, allowing her to resist sunlight. However, if she forgot the amulet at any point, she'd be dust during the day!
Imperius Rex! Though he would be far too proud to admit it, the King of Atlantis has his restrictions. Incredibly strong, Namor's able to hang with the likes of Wolverine, Iron Man and even Nimrod Sentinels. However, the Sub-Mariner, for all his power, is still beholden to the lifeblood of his people, water.
Though he can survive on land, unlike a large number of Atlanteans, it is not good for the marine monarch. If Namor is away from a source of water too long, his powers begin to deteriorate rapidly. Namor needs consistent contact with water in order to unleash his potential.
10 NICO MINORU
Nico Minoru proved herself early on as the reluctant leader of the Runaways. In the power vacuum left by Alex's passing, she developed into a figurehead for the team. A magic user, she used the artifact known as the Staff of One to channel her spells and enchantments. However, Nico is limited by her vocabulary.
That isn't to say Nico isn't smart at all, but due to the nature of her power, she needs to be like a thesaurus. Once she uses a word or phrase to conjure a spell, she can't ever use that phrase again. So, if she wants to cast consistent ice spells, she'd need to know lots of words and phrases linked to ice.
9 MULTIPLE MAN
Jamie's had a bit of a revival in recent years, no pun intended. After perishing from M-Pox, he returned via time-travelling shenanigans. His ability to duplicate has been a help and a hindrance to the X-Men. In order to spawn duplicated, Jamie needs a kinetic impact to trigger their appearance.
One issue with his power is that his duplicates sometimes take on lives of their own. These dupes break from his control and are sometimes sinister or selfish, unwilling to work with Madrox prime. To prevent unwanted duplicates, Jamie used to wear a kinetic limitation suit, which prevented the creation of dupes from external impacts.
8 BLACK BOLT
Black Bolt is the king of the Inhumans, a benevolent and commanding presence among his people. Due to the immense power of his voice, he elects to remain quiet. His queen, Medusa, often speaks on his behalf, the understanding between the two is unparalleled even in silence.
Owing to the fact his voice can shatter planets if fully unleashed, a mere whisper can crack a moon. As a safety measure, Black Bolt has a self imposed limitation, electing not to speak if he can help it. In What If?: World War Hulk his voice was powerful enough to destroy The Sentry with ease.
7 MOLLY HAYES
Molly is the heart of the Runaways, a bright-eyed and understanding young hero with a lot of power. A mutant whose power manifested far before her teenage years, they impose an automatic limitation on Molly. Molly has enhanced strength, strength she once used to punch the Punisher and have him paralyzed with pain.
However, whenever she exerts herself too much, the toll on her body is immediately apparent. Likely due to her powers manifesting at such a young age, using her powers fatigues her. It's not uncommon for Molly to fall into a deep sleep after a fight or a feat of strength.
6 NORTHSTAR AND AURORA
Northstar and Aurora are two mutant twins from the Great White North, Canada. These French-Canadian twins don't work as closely together as they used to, but they were once quite inseparable. While Northstar currently resides on the X-Men roster, his sister Aurora is more commonly associated with the Canadian super-team, Alpha Flight.
The reason these two twins used to work so closely, is due to a former limitation in their powers. At one time, neither of the mutant siblings' powers would activate without the other. Without each other in close proximity, their powers wouldn't respond, making teamwork between the pair a necessity.
Sunspot is a powerful individual both in ability and business acumen. The would-be playboy uses his extreme wealth to buy out his enemies, re purposing them for good. He turned around the sinister A.I.M. to serve the Avengers' agenda and was appointed the leader of the U.S.Avengers. His mutant powers, however, are limited.
After being exposed to M-Pox, Da Costa thankfully survived. Unfortunately, it had an odd ramification on his powers, restricting his use of them. Every time Sunspot uses his powers, his body deteriorates. It's thought that if he does not regulate his power use, he could take years off of his own life.
4 KAROLINA DEAN
Another of the Runaways, Karolina isn't actually from planet Earth. The daughter to the royal family of a greatly diminished alien race, she was being groomed to marry their opposing faction's prince, Xavin. Xavin also became one of the Runaways later on. Her powers lie in otherworldly energy, that shines like a spectrum of colors when used.
If Karolina was in her true form all of the time, the radiant energy would be consistently visible. However, in order to blend in with humanity, her powers are limited. She possesses a bracelet that restricts her powers, preventing the energy from being displayed outwardly and allowing her to appear as a normal human girl.
3 WHITE TIGER
There have been more than one White Tiger, though the Amulet that affords a person the White Tigers' power has remained largely in the same family. Already gifted martial artists, those who wield the White Tiger Amulet are given enhancements. Enhanced speed, strength, durability are among the benefits of the amulet.
The amulet can even sustain the wearer, removing the need for food, water and sleep. The issue is that when its powers are fully unleashed, the combatant is at the beck and call of the White tiger Spirit. Selfish and fickle, the powerful being often acts through its avatar in its own self interest.
2 POWER MAN
Victor Alvarez isn't the first Power Man, that honor belongs to Luke Cage. Along with not being the original, his powers are very different. Victor uses energy, rather than augmented strength as a result of an experiment. The way Victor acquires this energy, is also the thing that limits his power.
Alvarez gains energy through how well he knows his surroundings. If he knows the history of the location he's in, he feels a deeper connection to it, drawing energy from it. It's definitely one of the stranger ways to absorb power, but that's how Victor gets his juice! However, if he doesn't know a thing about where he;s located, his abilities' upper ceiling is limited.
Luckily for Gentle, his powers are no longer limited. Although, for a long time, he was unable to enjoy the full extent of his amazing physical abilities. Due to a large amount of psychological trauma from his childhood, Gentle's power caused him pain. A self-imposed subconscious limit he put on himself as a defense mechanism, using his powers caused him actual physical pain.
During his time with the X-Men, Nezhno would be reluctant to activate his powers due to the pain they caused him. Working with Jean Grey, the powerful telepath was able to help remove the deep-seated trauma within the young man. Now, Gentle is able to use his power without fear of causing himself harm.