How you feel about your favourite superhero depends largely on their superpowers. Whether you think a character’s powers are awesome (such as Superman’s ability to fly and shoot heat rays from his eyes) or lame (like Aquaman’s ability to… umm… talk to fish), powers make the superhero. However, there are many superheroes out there that actually have no powers at all. Many of the most popular and kickass superheroes of all-time have no superpowers to speak of. And that hasn’t stopped many of them from becoming insanely popular in comic books and movies. Here’s a list of the 10 best superheroes who have no real superpowers at all.
10. Nick Fury
He’s the leader of S.H.I.E.L.D, is in incredible shape, is a weapons expert, and can fight with the best of them. Yet, Nick Fury has no discernible superpowers. In fact, given that Nick Fury has only one eye, one could make an argument that this Marvel character is actually handicapped in some ways. Of course, the eye patch has never slowed Nick Fury down or stopped him from saving the day or helping out many of the Marvel heroes who do have superpowers – notably The Avengers and Spider-Man. He’s also got his gruff demeanor and take no prisoners attitude, and these traits help to explain the character’s enduring popularity despite not having any real powers of his own. It also helps that he’s played by actor Samuel L. Jackson in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
9. Howard the Duck
He’s hilarious, apolitical and practices a form of martial arts called “Quackfu,” yet the Marvel character Howard the Duck has no real superpowers. Unless, of course, you count the fact that he is a talking duck. But in the world of Howard the Duck, a talking animal is not so strange. And being able to speak does nothing to help Howard get out of trouble or fight crime. Like many heroes on this list, Howard has to rely on his quick wit and instincts to save the day. Like others on this list thought, he is not in the best of shape or overly strong. He does, after all, smoke and drink. Still, there’s no finer talking duck that we’d want in our corner in an hour of need than Howard. He makes the grade.
8. Green Arrow
He’s the greatest marksman with an arrow ever, and his quiver holds many different types of arrows – exploding ones, gas ones, arrows that cut through steel. Yet the DC Comics hero Green Arrow (real name Oliver Queen) taught himself marksmanship and builds his arsenal of arrows with his own two hands. He has no actual superpowers. He can’t fly, is not indestructible, and does not possess super strength. Like his Marvel counterpart Hawkeye, Green Arrow is simply good with a particular type of weapon – a bow and arrow. And while cool, it is not a legitimate superpower. This doesn’t mean Green Arrow is not a compelling character or that his comics and the TV show Arrow are not worthy. It just means he doesn’t have cool powers like the ability to turn invisible or heal himself when shot.
7. Black Widow
The Marvel character Black Widow is a Russian assassin. She’s an expert in martial arts, hand-to-hand combat, and can use almost any weapon you give her. But unlike other Avengers such as the Hulk or Thor, she has no true superpowers. Instead, we have to watch her dismantle aliens, robots, and evil government agents with nothing more than her wits and rage. Fortunately, that is good enough for most comic and movie fans. Watching Black Widow kick ass in all forms is highly entertaining and earns her a well-deserved spot on this list. It would be interesting to imagine what this character would do if she did have superpowers? She would probably be almost too powerful, right?
6. Robin/Nightwing (Dick Grayson)
We’ll get to Robin’s mentor later on this list. But for now, consider the backstory of one of the most popular sidekicks of all-time. Dick Grayson, aka Robin the Boy Wonder, would grow up to become Nightwing in the Teen Titans. As a boy, Dick Grayson was part of a family of acrobats and trapeze artists. He watched his parents plunge to their deaths one night at the circus, and, orphaned, was taken in by none other than Bruce Wayne. Trained to fight and use his acrobatic skills to fight crime, Dick Grayson has proven himself more than capable as both Robin and Nightwing. But outside of his dexterity and human strength, he has no superpowers. Good thing he got his training from one of the best vigilantes of all time!
5. Jonah Hex
He’s a cowboy who was later transported to a Mad Max-like post apocalyptic future, yet the DC Comics character Jonah Hex has absolutely no powers. His face is scarred and distinctive and he is good with a rifle. But beyond that, Jonah Hex is a regular dude who never hesitates to take on a fight. He’s tough as nails and can seemingly adapt to any environment he’s thrown into, but that doesn’t equate to any real superpowers. Nevertheless, the character of Jonah Hex has endured many incarnations and remained very popular among comic book fans who appreciate a good cowboy when they see one. The character was even been featured in a 2010 movie starring actor Josh Brolin as the titular cowboy.
4. Iron Man
Tony Stark is a genius and he built and developed the Iron Man suit(s) that he uses. He also developed the electromagnetic sphere in his chest that keeps metal shrapnel from penetrating his heart. Yet beyond being super smart (and super rich, thanks to inheriting his father’s company), Tony Stark has no powers. He relies on the Iron Man suit for all of his powers – from the ability to fly and deflect bullets to shooting plasma blasts and exploding rockets. Without the suit, Iron Man is, well, Robert Downey Jr. This is a case of a regular person adorning himself with superpowers through technology. But it doesn’t change the fact that without the suit, Tony Stark is a regular mortal human being. He is also one of the most popular superheroes in comics and movies, owing to his personality and the powers that come with the Iron Man suit.
3. Conan the Barbarian
He’s a barbarian who is big, strong, and fearless. He also knows how to wield an axe and sword. But Conan has no superpowers. To be honest, he’s not even known for being that intelligent. He’s just a really brave barbarian who has an appetite for adventure. And that seems to be enough for most comic book and movie fans who relish his bloody escapades and the medieval setting of this character. Having Arnold Schwarzenegger play him in two films didn’t hurt either. But like all barbarians, Conan is not possessed of any superpowers. He’s just a little stronger and more determined than his enemies. And he never hesitates to follow through with his sword.
2. The Punisher
He’s super pissed off following the death of his family, shows his enemies no mercy, and has an arsenal of weapons behind him, but Frank Castle, aka The Punisher, has no superpowers at all. He’s a regular guy, just like the rest of us. A former Marine-turned-vigilante following the death of his family, The Punisher is a marksman, demolitions expert, and totally fearless. He would welcome death if it came. He’s a survivalist in the truest sense of the word. Yet underneath it all, he’s skin and bones like everyone else. And he is frequently injured while trying to clean up the streets of New York City. Still, he remains one of the most popular Marvel characters due to his dark story lines and merciless pursuit of justice after his family is senselessly murdered.
Is there any cooler superhero without real powers than Batman? If there is, we can’t think of who that might be. Like Tony Stark, Bruce Wayne, has learned to use technology to help him in his fight against crime – from the Batmobile to his utility belt. Yet without that expensive technology, Bruce Wayne is a regular billionaire in a suit. He has no superpowers. In fact, he has even resorted to using guns and rifles in certain situations – remember the Dark Knight Returns comics? Nevertheless, Batman remains one of DC Comics marquee characters and one of the most compelling comic book superheroes of all-time. Perhaps it is the fact that Bruce Wayne is a real person who has simply chosen to take matters into his own hands that makes the character so relatable? Or it could be that he’s just a really cool, dark character who kicks ass at every opportunity. Either way, Batman is the best of the non-superpowered superheroes.