Whenever people talk about what superhero's abilities they'd like to have, it's always the ones who can fly, or lift a tank, or run super fast. That's because the term super-hero kind of implies by that there is something "extra special" about the person. We have every day heroes like doctors or firefighters, so a superhero needs to have something that sets them apart from what a normal person could accomplish. But that doesn't necessarily have to entail having powers.
We have seen many characters with prominent roles in comics rub shoulders with super-powered individuals, despite not having any powers themselves. But these powerless characters can still be classified as superheroes because they are nonetheless able to hang with their peers. These are characters who might not have anything that separates them from us, but have still done things we could never dream of. These are 15 Powerful Superheroes With No Powers.
Batman is the most obvious candidate for this topic since he has been around for so long, and has done so well without ever regularly having powers. There have definitely been times Bruce has put some supernatural abilities to use for special occasions, but the majority of the time he's willing and able to take on any threat just using his wits and his gadgets. It's actually become a point of irritation for some comic fans because now there are endless debates about how Batman might be able to eke out a win over villains that can destroy the universe.
Over the years Bruce has gained numerous victories over Superman, managed to take down the Hulk, and even mortally wounded Darkseid. Even in the toughest fights, Batman is not an underdog. He's proven time and time again he can plan out a route to victory in the battles that seem impossible. Batman is part of DC's trinity alongside Superman and Wonder Woman because he has endured through the greatest challenges.
14 HIT GIRL
The only child we have on this list is someone who has more than demonstrated that she can do what it takes to win a fight. When Kick-Ass first hit theaters, it shocked viewers with how brutal and violent it was, especially for a movie featuring kids in the primary roles. Hit Girl was the youngest character of the bunch, played by a then-13-year-old Chloë Grace Moretz, so naturally she received a lot of the attention from fans and critics alike.
Hit Girl was trained from a very young age how to be an effective killer, and she doesn't even need any powers to do it. She's skilled in guns, hand-to-hand combat, and has no qualms about ending the life of her opponents in gory fashion. Her young age might not make her an equal to some of the others on this list, but figuring how good she is now, just imagine how much better she would get when she's older.
In the world of comics it’s honestly hard to feel too bad for characters who wind up losing their body parts because we know they always have a way to get them back if the writers want to go in that direction. Like dying, getting maimed has lost a lot of its impact in comics since it’s so frequently undone. But what makes characters who get injured fortunate for bouncing back is that a lot of them wind up getting replacement body parts that are far superior to organic appendages and organs.
While someone like Cyborg might not make the cover of fashion magazines, he does have the advantages of being super strong, durable, and being armed with weapons at all times. That’s a pretty fair trade. Sure, Cyborg would probably be happier to have gained all those attributes without losing any body parts, but at least he got some cool substitutes to make up for it.
12 THE BAT FAMILY
Batman really is in a category all on his own when it comes to what he has accomplished without superpowers, but we can't discount the ability of his allies either. None of them are exactly beating people on the power threshold of Superman on a regular basis like their patriarch does, but they still hold their own in Gotham. Batgirl, Damian Wayne, Tim Drake, Dick Grayson, and Jason Todd have all made significant names for themselves outside of Batman's shadow.
Despite Damian's age, he has tangled with the Court of Owls and come out on top. Batgirl has used her mind as an asset when she was Oracle, and also returned to showing off her athletic prowess once her paralysis was reversed. Tim Drake is the definitive Robin to many, but went on to make a strong name for himself as a solo hero. Even Jason Todd has bounced back as the Red Hood, including proving capable of defeating the Joker.
11 BUCKY BARNES
Like we talked about with Cyborg, the Winter Solider is another case of a character’s injury winding up making them even stronger than they were before. Admittedly, Bucky doesn’t seem so enthusiastic about it, what with how much of a loner he can be, but it has made him a better fighter. And it’s not like Bucky was exactly a slouch in combat before. He’s a trained fighter, so even without his cybernetic arm, he is quite capable of defending himself.
Even from an aesthetic standpoint, it’s not like the mechanical look is ugly or anything -- in fact, it's even become a fashion accessory you can buy in the real world! Spider-Man also thought it was pretty cool in the Civil War movie, and many fans would no doubt agree. So Bucky gets a cool accessory and enhanced abilities in compensation for the horrible injury he endured? Not bad restitution.
10 KARATE KID
Mr. Miyagi doesn’t have a thing on this Karate Kid. Sure, Daniel has a mean Crane Kick, but this Karate Kid knows numerous forms of martial arts. Actually that’s putting it pretty lightly. The Karate Kid knows every form of martial arts across the galaxy up to the 31st century. Who needs super powers when you have those kinds of fighting abilities? This is a fighter that would be able to put even Bruce Lee to shame.
It’s highly common for comic book characters to know some form of martial arts, so Karate Kid might not sound that special in that regard. But a lot of those characters just know a few different fighting styles, which is admittedly still impressive, but pales in comparison to the tons of moves Karate Kid must know. Batman himself is known as a master martial artist in many different forms, and just look how effective he is. So the Karate Kid would be leagues beyond even one of DC’s best fighters.
While Wildcat is not totally without any supernatural qualities, he doesn't have any abilities that make him a better fighter outside of his natural skills. He does have nine lives, so if he does wind up being defeated and killed then he is able to recover, but he's not any more difficult to kill than normal. So in terms of his physical capabilities, all Wildcat has to rely on is whatever he brings to the table as a "mere" human. Fortunately for him, Wildcat is very good with his hands.
A lot of superheroes are called martial artists, but it's not specified too often what those fighting styles are. That's not the case with Wildcat, who makes no secret that he is a boxer. You might not expect to be punched out by a guy using a cat motif, but Wildcat is good enough with his hands to KO the best around, even Batman on one occasion.
8 MOON KNIGHT
Moon Knight is an odd hero to discuss because depending on what period in his story you're talking about, he has had legitimate superpowers. Of course, Moon Knight's powers were never anything visually impressive, since he simply gained increased physical attributes depending on what cycle the moon was in. That's no doubt an advantage for when the moon aligns with Moon Knight needing a boost in power, but it's also pretty inconvenient when he has to take out a tough opponent during the wrong moon phase.
The powerless version of Moon Knight actually works just as well since he's so well-equipped that he doesn't really need supernatural benefits. Moon Knight has plenty of money, is armed with all sorts of high-end weapons including ones made of adamantium, and he's a martial arts master. There's a reason that people say Moon Knight is basically Marvel's Batman.
7 BLACK WIDOW
We've covered several heroes who are known for their martial arts skills in addition to other signature weapons, but Black Widow keeps things even more basic. She will utilize gauntlets while in combat, but otherwise does not really have a trademark weapon. Black Widow is just a skilled fighter who will happily make use of whatever comes to hand, be it a hard kick or a hand gun.
It's Black Widow's history that has made her endure rather than her fighting techniques, but that doesn't mean the Russian spy can't hold her own. She has defeated Spider-Man before, and even taken Iron Man to his limit. And because Natasha was given a serum that slows down her aging, she'll be sticking around to beat down her opponents for quite some time.
6 LEX LUTHOR
Your first instinct might be to discount Lex since he has such a long history as a villain, but in recent years he's shown more of a heroic streak. You can't discount that he's done some good work with the Justice League since the events of DC Rebirth. The truly impressive thing is that he manages to make himself an equal to the Earth's mightiest heroes and villains simply by using his brains. Time and again Lex has created inventions to make himself a rival to Superman, like in Rebirth, when Lex took on Superman's symbol to become a hero.
The modern version of Lex is a bit like Tony Stark, relying on a battle armor to give himself increased strength and durability. There's no denying the results, since Lex's time as a hero immediately kicked off with him and Superman having to deal with Doomsday. Sure, Lex will no doubt return to villainy eventually, but for now he's doing good work as a hero.
5 THE PUNISHER
Guns might not be the most fancy way to make your name as a superhero, but there is no denying their effectiveness. Even heroes who actually do have powers, like Deadpool, are still very reliant on guns. You might leap into assuming that most heroes are bulletproof, but even characters like Wonder Woman and the Flash have proven that a piece of metal propelled at a high velocity can be debilitating to them.
Admittedly, the Punisher is more typically defeating street criminals and mafia members, but he's been able to hold his own against full-fledged superheroes too. Frank put up a good fight against Batman, and dominated Wolverine to the point of flattening him with a steamroller. And let's not forget how the Punisher once killed the entire Marvel universe, because that definitely happened. Suffice it to say, Frank Castle can hold his own just fine with firearms.
4 BLUE BEETLE
The Blue Beetle is yet another hero who does not have powers, but has managed to use his high intellect to compensate to the point that he can compete with almost any gifted hero out there. Blue Beetle might not have had the success of someone like Cyborg or Lex Luthor, but his persona continues to endure today despite first showing up in the ‘30s. Having a nearly 80-year career isn’t so bad!
Ted Kord is many people’s most well-known Blue Beetle, and with good reason. Kord stuck around in the role from the ‘60s all the way until he was shot and killed by Maxwell Lord in “Countdown to Infinite Crisis.” That doesn’t make Ted weak, though, since even Superman and Wonder Woman struggled to defeat Lord during this period. Kord’s suit might not be bulletproof, but his weapons and technology did give him a long run as a hero.
As Katana's name would suggest, her specialty is using a sword. She's very good at it, too, and is able to make it her primary form of defense. But she doesn't limit herself to just a sword, also carrying other forms of weaponry. She's no fool, of course, and has trained in various forms of martial arts, so she can continue to defend herself without her weapons. Based on those traits alone, Katana might not sound that distinct, but her sword does have one other capability that sets her apart.
Katana's Soultaker sword is what she is really known for, and its ability is pretty self-explanatory. Using this sword, Katana is able to steal the souls of people who she kills with it. The advantage of this is that Katana can communicate with these captured souls, most notably that of her husband. But the souls taken by the Soultaker can also be revived, making it a pretty useful weapon.
2 GREEN ARROW
You would think a guy relying on a bow in an age filled with guns would not fare so well, but Green Arrow makes it work. For one thing, he's not as confined to using a bow as unfamiliar fans might think, since Oliver does also use more technological weapons as well as having extensive knowledge of how to wield a sword effectively. Plus, one advantage the bow has is Green Arrow can use a variety of trick arrows, while with a gun people are typically limited to one kind of ammo.
If you need any further proof that Oliver's bow makes him an equal for anyone with a gun, he even fought Deadshot to a draw, and everyone knows Deadshot is so good with a gun that he's said to never miss. Green Arrow has held his own against Deathstroke as well, and even played a pivotal role in defeating Superman in The Dark Knight Returns.
1 IRON MAN
We're finishing this list the way it kicked off, with a reminder that one of the perks of being rich is you can also be a superhero if you want. Tony Stark has not built up quite the reputation that Bruce Wayne has for being able to stand toe-to-toe with any opponent he comes across, but Tony is still up for fighting whomever threatens the world. And he actually seems to have fun doing it, unlike Bruce.
Another difference between Iron Man and Batman is that the former also seems to have the better regular arsenal. Iron Man can fly without having to use a plane, so that's already a pretty big advantage. Plus, Tony's suits give enhanced durability and strength. Not enough to defeat the Hulk or Thor without a lot of assistance and luck, but an impressive equalizer nonetheless.
Which non-powered superheroes are your favorites? Let us know in the comments!