Can Superman tear his own head off?

As long as we’re on the superhero kick, this is something I’ve always wondered for a while. On the one hand, Superman is very strong. On the other, he’s damn-near invulnerable. It’s tough to pick which aspect is greater. What do the Dopers think?

I would say no, on the grounds that I can’t tear my own head off. If you assume that Superman’s strength is based on proportionally greater physical strength, then the stronger muscle and connective tissue he has will resist being pulled apart by a proportionally greater amount.

This reminds me of the age-old conundrum,

“Can god make a stone that’s so heavy that even he can’t lift it?”

Are you sure? Have you tried? I mean, really, really put your all into it?

Kidding aside, I agree. I believe it’s all supposed to be proportional.

Ooh…nice geeky twist to the classic paradox: “Can God be omniscient and omnipotent at the same time?”

If he’s all powerful, he can change his mind any time he wants and do something different, so events will run a different course. But if he’s all-knowing, he should know what is going to happen in all eternity. But he can’t because his own free will makes the future uncertain.

Damn. DarrenS types faster then I do.

Well, doing so would be super-stupid, and Superman is not super-stupid. Even if he IS a dick.

I got it!! I got it!!1! Supes is an irresistible force, and his head is an immovable object!

No, waait…that’d mean he couldn’t ever move his head. OK, never mind. :smack:

Given that when he needed to have surgery he would use his own fingernail to open his skin, I extrapolate that to say that his invulnerability is less than his strength.

Therefore, he could tear his head off if he needed to.

Yes, but I could open my skin with my fingernail if driven by desperation. I could not tear my head off under any circumstances. I could possibly break my own neck, but that’s the extent of it.

Superman used to be able to burn his own whiskers off using a mirror fashioned from a fragment of the spaceship he was in when he came to Earth, so at he is at least partially vulnerable to his own powers. I’m not sure if this power was retconned away.



Probably not, but he can use his heat vision to heat a burrito to the point where even he cannot eat it.

Aside from the issue of raw physical strength vs structural properties of tissue, there’s also motor control to consider; even if you were technically strong enough to rip off your own head, it’s unlikely you’d be able to complete the task because partially ripping off your own head would cause you to lose control of your arms, stopping you from following through; a bit like crucifying yourself; you just can’t get the last nail in.

I can’t add much else to the topic, but I would like to say that this may very well be my favorite thread title ever.

Batman could. Because he’s prepared.

At least one non-super person in the DC universe has torn off his own head: Niles Caulder of the Doom Patrol.

Nail gun?

Batman doesn’t use guns.

I applaud. Good show, sir. :smiley:

There’s a theory–Alan Moore used it in Marvelman–that Superman isn’t really all that strong, but his feats of power come from telekinesis and manipulation of force fields. Once Superman damagd himself seriously enough, the energy fields would cut out and the head ripping would cease. It’s a little like trying to strangle yourself with your bare hands. You’d pass out midway through the task.