Superman is quite possibly the greatest hero of them all, and shares comic book company DC’s mantle as the flagship with his sometimes-partner Batman. Whether the Man of Steel is using his incredible, world-moving strength to burrow hundreds of meters into concrete to stop a gas explosion deep underground, or using his vaunted powers of flight to explode skyward and safely catch a careening jet full of people, he awakens in us our loftiest dreams of having a powerful and benevolent savior.
No superhero really compares to Superman – in terms of the sheer variety of his abilities and the level of power each one can reach. As the ultimate good guy, he is capable of taking on an entire legion of supervillains singlehandedly; many of which would defeat scores of Superman’s fellow superheroes. Kal-El is widely acknowledged as the last stand when it comes to global or galactic threats; for, when all other heroes have fallen, he alone often takes the enemy’s best shot and remains capable of returning his own devastating retort. The fact that he is also the purest of the heroes – with the possible exception of the almost naïve (but immensely powerful) Captain Marvel, is a telling tribute to his simple, Midwestern upbringing at the hands of his foster parents.
Superman’s given name is Kal-El; although his birth parents died long ago when their home planet exploded. They sent their only begotten son (there’s a lot of that going around in various mythologies, it seems) – via starship – to the planet earth, where they understood he would manifest the powers of a god under the native yellow sun. In truth, Kal-El would manifest powers greater than the gods, themselves; he would later beat down gods to protect his adopted planet from their plans for domination or destruction. Discovered as a baby by Jonathan and Martha Kent in a wheat-field, Kal-El was taken in by the child-less couple and raised as an All-American with strong and righteous ideals – long before his powers would become a reality.
When Clark Kent – the name given to the young Kal-El by his adoptive parents began to grow, he was only a child when the power most singularly-associated with the future Superman would manifest itself. One day, as the theretofore powerless kid played with his ball, it rolled out of his reach underneath Pa Kent’s huge tractor. Not knowing any better, Clark simply lifted the… trailer and reached under to get the ball. This otherworldly strength must also have been coupled with a degree of invulnerability to harm; otherwise his arm would have been bruised by the weight.
Depending on the particular origin story, his powers of flight manifested itself next, as he streaked across the endless plains of wheat around the Kent farm. Then came his super-speed; Clark is capable of traveling around the entire Earth in seconds, and has even bested the light-speed limit in more ridiculous storylines (this necessarily means he can time travel). In more reserved stories, the pinnacle of his speed means Superman can actually vibrate through barriers he cannot break – although you’d be hard-pressed to find a barrier that doesn’t succumb to the world-mover’s strength.
Superman has a super lung-capacity too; he can create gale-force winds and f-5 hurricanes – or greater – by blowing out his breath. He also has a freeze-breath that encases objects in blocks of ice. He’s used it to defeat super-powerful enemies, just to give you an indication of the power level of this ice-storm. Although Superman has a wide assortment of other powers, his final, most significant ability is also his most draining – it actually taxes him to use it. Kal-El’s heat vision is something to behold; he doesn’t even use it on threats that he deems less significant, because of its power. He is able to shoot wide laser-like beams from his eyes – which reach temperatures surpassing those in a nuclear holocaust – to strafe enemies out of existence. Depending on how much he unleashes, Kal can feel significantly weakened after using it. The beam can be fine-tuned with laser-like precision to perform surgery, and turned into an invisible beam that passes harmlessly through several layers to evaporate what lies beneath.
As you can see, the Man of Steel’s powers are jaw-dropping and many in number; but make no mistake – these three form his most powerful and identifiable abilities: his strength, his invulnerability and his heat vision. In any of the many Superhero battles of which the Kryptonian is a part, he calls upon these powers with abandon to defeat any foe. Check out the latest news on Superman Man of Steel, which is opening this summer in theaters near you.