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Superman Man of Steel's Strength and Durability

Christina Thomas

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The hero most singularly-associated with strength – and after whom countless heroes have been modeled – is the Superman. Although we've seen him display his vast powers over the years, his strength, invulnerability, super-speed, flight, breath and heat vision have probably been the most significant. They make him master of hot and cold, lord of the skies and a wielder of planets. Just how capable is he with each of these most significant abilities? Can Superman be drowned? Can he temporarily melt the Arctic regions? Fall from great heights without taking (much) damage?

Superman's most important attribute is his vaunted strength. Although various writers have toyed with the peak of this ability, it remains understood that it must be awesome and surpassing in scope – relative to everything else around him. Consider for just one moment a few of the other uber-powerful superheroes from other publications – like Marvel Comics, for example. The Mighty Thor, as strong as he is, probably wouldn't be your first choice to save an out-of-control Boeing 747.

The Hulk is strong enough, but isn't always stable enough. Hercules, the Prince of Power, moved Manhattan and held the splitting island together against geological forces. Besides, neither of these beings can fly effortlessly – the Hulk and Hercules can't fly at all, and Thor needs one hand free. The Hulk once supported the weight of a mountain (billions of tons) to save the Avengers and others, while Superman once towed a planet slightly out of orbit (and since there was no Normal force acting, that means he did purely with arm-strength). Superman takes the W here.

As for flight, Kal does this very easily and with tremendous speed and agility. For example, you wouldn't expect Thor to be able to hover, given that he must swing his hammer in order to launch himself into the air. Superman can fly forward, backward, hover, float and swim in the air if he likes. He has traversed the earth in mere minutes – or even seconds – and has acknowledged that he limits his speed to protect the atmosphere from the effects of a being that can flirt with light-speed. As per our requirements of a savior, Clark can be anywhere we need him to be at a moment's notice.

Superman's resistance to injury is almost matchless. While other ultra-beings take monstrous hits sometimes without registering much damage, Clark routinely takes hits without showing any effect whatsoever. Even the Incredible Hulk, when struck with heavy gun-fire, reacts with anger and attacks. You rarely ever see Thor take gun-fire. Superman takes heavy weapons to the eyeball – as seen in the movie Return of Superman – and the bullet flattens with no effect on his person.

The Man of Steel withstands exploding missiles regularly; even his post-Crisis depowered version emerges from nuclear explosions with merely a sustained headache. Perhaps the greatest example of his surpassing durability was in the titular Death of Superman, when the perfect monster Doomsday hit him with a mountain-crushing punch, and Superman took the hit with a grim smile. Up to that point, everything Doomsday had struck had folded – included some of Superman's Justice League compatriots.

Lastly, there's his heat vision. Capable of incinerating just about anything, it is his most taxing ability. He can cause it to rain like divine fire from far above, or turn it on a nearly 180 degree wide-beam to inflame a battlefield. He can make it invisible, and focus it like a medical scalpel to penetrate an outer surface without harming it, destroying whatever lies beneath. Truly, Clark's power is greater than the gods of old.

Of all the heroes that have ever lived and fought, Superman vs Hulk is by general consensus the greatest battle of all the lot. Sporting powers considered godlike even by other superheroes, Kal-El was sent to earth as our protector. To learn more about this great fictional hero, be sure to be in theaters for the Superman movie this summer 2013.


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