Superman's Powers: A Complete History And Catalog | SYFY WIRE

WATCH: A complete history and catalog of Superman's powers

Contributed by
Apr 27, 2018

Superman is such an influential archetype for all of the superheroes who followed him that it's easy to forget that he wasn't fully formed when he made his debut in 1938. Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster created a hero whose extraordinary abilities didn't include heat vision, X-ray vision, super senses, super-breath, or even flight. All of those powers came later. Instead, Superman was simply "faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive," and "able to leap tall buildings in a single bound."

The Man of Steel has come a long way since his debut in Action Comics #1. To celebrate 80 years of Superman, SYFY WIRE has tracked the history and catalog of Clark Kent's superpowers from his debut to the present. Even the explanation for Superman's abilities has changed over time. Originally, it was Kal-El's superior Kryptonian genes that gave him powers. But over time, that gave way to Kryptonians gaining their abilities from the solar energy of yellow suns. 

Through the decades, writers and artists have occasionally shifted Superman's powers as needed. This gave way to several bizarre one-off stories, including the time Superman could create tiny duplicates of himself that shot out of his hands. Superman even became so powerful that later creators actually had to tone down his abilities to make things more challenging for him. John Byrne's 1986 reboot of Superman powered down the Man of Steel to a more human level, but subsequent creators couldn’t seem to wait to restore some of those lost abilities. 

It's become rarer for Superman to suddenly spawn a new ability. The most recent one was Superman's solar flare, which unleashed all of the solar energy in his body as a powerful blast before rendering Clark Kent all too human for 24 hours. That power has largely been abandoned since the beginning of the DC Rebirth era. There are more fun details in the video, which you can watch below.