Super Hero Strength Question.

I was reading thru a couple of the comic book threads in Cafe about various heroes strength and a question came to mind.

If Superman, or Hulk or any Ultra Powerful hero of villian were to lift, say, an aircraft carrier in each arm, which these 2 heroes should be able to do, would it or would it not drive the heroes bodies into the ground as soon as they put leverage on the ships? Since all of the wieght of the 2 objects are focused on there 2 little feet I would think that it would push them into the ground.

Is this a correct assumption or is there some material on earth that would be able to support that amount of weight being “lifted” by a person.

Well, if you could “fly” with enough force you could exert enough upward pressure to keep from sinking into the ground, but you still couldn’t lift it at all. If you put enough pressure on an aircraft carrier to lift it on an area the size of your two hands, you would simply punch through the hull. There’s no place on an aircraft carrier strong enough to support the weight of the entire thing, except the whole hull in general.

Too Much Coffee Man[sup]TM[/sup] would say: This is still a Café society thread.

But I would say that in the case of the Hulk: yes, he will sink. In the case of Superman that is not the case because, he has the power to fly. But that still has problems: the ship would break apart, or the super hero would tear a hole in the craft before it becomes airborne, like pravnik said.

You know, expecting comics to follow the laws of physics sort of kills some of the fun. You’re not supposed to think that hard when reading escapist fiction.

I agree, but when the action (through intelligent and creative storytelling) agrees with what you know of physics it makes the “willing suspension of disbelief” easier, and that’s fun too.

I never figured why that bad guys after emptying their gun at superman, will throw their gun at him.

They figured it couldn’t hurt - the gun wasn’t exactly helping them much. :slight_smile:

you forget his super breath which he uses to equalise the pressure along the hull. Doh!

And more importantly, why did George Reeves duck?

Sometime, just sometime, when the bad guys throw their gun at the hero, the hero should catch it and shoot them.

Hero: [shrugs apologetically] Guess there was one bullet left…


I don’t think that you’d get to that point, because AFAIK there isn’t a fist-sized spot on an aircraft carrier that would support the weight of the whole thing. ‘Realistically’, I’d expect the pieces being used to lift it to break apart before the hero could get it off of the ground. After all, you don’t tow a car using the door handle, because the handle would just snap off.


They hope it will distract him for even a few seconds so they can get head starts running away. Also, carrying an empty gun is probably a liability when trying to flee, so even if the distraction is a millisecond, it beats dropping the thing on the floor, which will be none.

Yeah, like that’ll do much…still, hope is hope.

I highly suggest reading the Wild Card novels. They tend to deal with powers more “realistically”.

In one book, a hero with super strength is pointing out that he has a hard time doing “superman” stuff. He tries jumping in front of a moving car. It plows through him. Sure, he’s unhurt, but it has WAY more momentum.

He also tries making a prezel out of a tank barrel. that also is hard because of leverage…so he just changes to flipping them over.

Because the original Superman was only invulnerable on the emblem on his costume. He survives the bullets by using his super-speed to block them with that invulnerable spot.

Ditto on recommending Wild Cards. I sure wish they’d put out more of those.

They postulate that those heroes seen lifting ships and buildings and such are not really doing it with their arms. They are actually telekinetics, so they lift the whole thing with their minds. This gets around both the sinking into the earth thing and the punching through the hull thing.

The same thing was once used in a Fantastic Four comic. Mr. Fantastic realized that if Gladiator could lift the Baxter Building by one corner without breaking it, he must actually be manipulating it mentally. So he just had to break Gladiator’s concentration and confidence to make the Purple-Mohawk-Man vulnerable (if you’ve never seen what Gladiator looks like, think of Superman with lavender skin and an 18-inch-tall crest on his head).

Holy Masking-Tape-Repaired Hornrims, Batman! That Saltire is a complete nerd!

What I wonder about are the other untalked-about physiological changes necessary for “super strength” to be a reality. For example: skin.

An ordinary shmuck like you or me finds it pretty easy to get cut. Hell, I tore open the knuckle on my thumb yesterday when it dragged against my desk wrong, and it didn’t take very much pressure to do it.

Now, take lifting, say, 80 tons, which the Hulk can do quite easily. Unless you’re positioned perfectly directly underneath that sucker, there’s gonna be some “pull” on your skin somewhere. And your skin has to resist tearing against 80 tons of apartment building (or whatever) tugging it off your heroid frame. Basically, your skin would have to be diamond-hard and virtually compression-proof to accommodate your super-strength, which would make a superhero pretty darn conspicuous in everyday life. I mean, if I poked Clark Kent and his skin didn’t indent in the slightest, I’d get suspicious, ya know?

For that matter, to remain mobile, the fluid in the hero’s joints would have to remain uncompressed under all that weight, as well. And neglecting the size of the hero’s feet, think about how much pressure that weight is putting on his relatively small spinal column.

All bets are off if you’re a god like Thor or you have powers that only appear when the magic’s on like Golden Boy in Wild Cards. They can get by, I suppose. And actually, it’s thinking about stuff like this that allows me to forgive some stuff in hero movies and comics, like Spider-Man enduring a pumpkin grenade blast at close range; I just figure his skin’s harder than a normal person’s, to allow his super-strength to function.

Gladiator was what you got after John Byrne stole Superman, filed off the serial numbers, and gave him a new paint job and a couple’a racing stripes.

(I preferred B’ny and C’cil, myself, just for the names…)

Actually, rjung, the entire Shi’ar Imperial Guard was a ripoff of the Legion of Super-Heroes, courtesy of Dave Cockrum, who had come over from that book to the X-Men, bringing with him a whole bunch of intended Legionnaire costume designs. Gladiator represented Mon-El or Superboy, take your pick.

And in using Gladiator as he did in Fantastic Four # 250, John Byrne was clearly telegraphing his desire to get his hands on the real Superman…

Chaim Mattis Keller

Minor nitpick: it was B’nee and C’cil. I happened to be reading the “Imperial Guard” entry in my old copies of the Deluxe Handbook to the Marvel Universe last night. (what are the odds?)

Zev Steinhardt

Not according to the original Action Comics #1. However, Superman has been around long enough and gone through enough authors that this statement was probably ‘true’ at some point. Superman’s powers grow and wane dependant upon who is writing him at the time and their own personal views. It’s probably learned behavior, a reflex action. Superman has no reason to dodge bullets, but Clark has been teaching himself since his powers developed during puberty to continue to dodge things thrown at him. People look oddly at people who don’t react to a shoe or stapler or book being thrown at them. The obvious question to that theory, though, is “Why not just catch it?”

However, that answer almost fits with the question “Why does Batman dress all in black but have a big yellow bat on his chest?” the response being “Not in the face! Not in the face!” The yellow is a draw to the criminal, and in the dark of night with an all black costume, the bat emblem may be the only part that can be clearly made out. The yellow is then reinforced more than the rest of the suit, the hope being the criminal will aim at the yellow bat 9 times out of 10.