An important part of balancing out most superheroes – of humanizing them and making them relatable – is for them to have a weakness. It’s no fun if the heroes can win without a struggle, so they need to have an equalizer that can be used against them by their rivals. And some heroes have really logical vulnerabilities, like Superman being susceptible to magic— with everything else he’s impervious to, Superman needs something like the supernatural to actually give him a challenge.
Other heroes have vulnerabilities that are a bit less respectable, though, to say the least. Not being invincible is great for keeping a character balanced, but sometimes the weaknesses can cause a double take. When a character is getting defeated by things like sticks, water, or junk in your pockets, it certainly makes them less intimidating.
Whether the hero’s vulnerability is just really mundane, or if it is just plain bizarre, these are 15 DC Superheroes With Insanely Stupid Weaknesses.
15. CAPTAIN MARVEL JR.—HIS NAME
Everyone knows that when it comes to Shazam he says his own name to transform into his super-powered persona. But in recent years it’s been clarified that Shazam will only transform if he actually intends to do so while saying his name, so there are no accidental transformations for him. That’s definitely reassuring; he won’t lose power mid-fight through a silly mistake like introducing himself. Unfortunately Captain Marvel Jr. did not get off as lucky in that regard.
Captain Marvel Jr. has to rely on some strategic nicknames when introducing himself, otherwise he could accidentally transform into the wrong form at the wrong time. Not only would it be disastrous to lose his superpowers in the middle of a battle, but it would likewise be really bad if he blew his cover when he was walking around as a normal person. Avoiding your own name really can’t be easy to remember to do.
14. FLASH—SKIPPING LUNCH
We all know the Flash is a fast runner, and this can enable him to do incredible things, like power up an incredibly strong punch, or even go back in time. But depending on the story, the Flash can be fast in other ways that he might not like as much. In his everyday life, he moves externally at a normal pace if he wants to, but internally he can still be hyper-accelerated. This can even pertain to his metabolism.
Not having to worry about getting fat sounds cool at first, but not when it gets to the point that it could actually result in him starving to death.
With a hyper fast metabolism the body is going to be burning through fuel a lot quicker than normal. That means speedsters also need to eat more often to keep up their energy. Beyond just jacking up their grocery bills, this problem also means they probably don’t want to wander too far from the fridge unless they’ve eaten a big meal beforehand. We all skip breakfast now and then, but for someone like the Flash, skipping a meal could literally leave him starving.
13. COLOR KID—DARKNESS
Not every hero we’re talking about is some world changing powerhouse. For some heroes, even without being exposed to their vulnerability, they’re still not that special. Color Kid is a good example of this kind of hero since, as his name suggests, his ability is manipulating colors. This allows him to do things as unimpressive as changing an object’s color, to things that are a bit more useful, such as changing his own colors to camouflage himself.
The problem comes in with the fact that you can’t see colors in the dark, so that makes Color Kid a lot less useful if you just turn out the lights on him. Color Kid’s rather limited abilities actually have made even his fellow superheroes regard him as being not that useful for joining up with them. So with or without this flaw in his powers, he is not impressing a lot of people.
12. BLACK CANARY—A SORE THROAT
Though Black Canary can handle herself in hand-to-hand combat, it is her Canary Cry that she is most well-known for. When she screams, the sound of it can be so loud and piercing that it has even proven capable of making people’s ears bleed. Even the mightiest supervillains probably don’t enjoy having their brains drip out of their ears, so it’s a great move for debilitating enemies from afar. It’s also something very simple to counter.
With Black Canary, her opponents might not even have to do anything to impede her Canary Cry. If you do a lot of screaming it’s going to wear out your voice eventually, and pretty soon your default voice will sound like you’re trying not to disturb anyone at the library. Yeah, a sore throat is temporary, but that’s still long enough to take one of Black Canary’s most useful moves out of her arsenal.
11. RAINBOW GIRL—NOT BEING EMOTIONAL
Being an emotional hero is usually not seen as a good thing, but for Rainbow Girl, it’s a great thing. She is the human equivalent of a mood ring; her emotions produce different effects. This obviously isn’t very reliable since it’s difficult to make yourself feel sad or angry on cue, so tapping into the emotional powers she needs could already be tough for Rainbow Girl. But it’s especially tough if she matures into someone who isn’t very emotional.
During the early days of being a hero, emotions will naturally be running high. The first victory is a joy, the first defeat is crushing, the first betrayal is infuriating. But by the time you become as seasoned as people like Batman, that’s all old news. And for Rainbow Girl, less emotions means less power. She’d better not grow stoic as she becomes more experienced, otherwise she might have a short career.
10. AQUAMAN—GETTING THIRSTY
Though modern iterations of Aquaman have understandably downplayed this weakness a lot, in the old days Arthur was a bit too much like a fish when it came to leaving the water. It used to be that Aquaman could only stay out of the water for an hour before he would start to suffocate. That’s a pretty strict time limit for saving the world, and really hampered Aquaman’s adventures outside of the ocean.
Today, Aquaman is not at all an uncommon sight on land. As Arthur’s importance to DC has increased, having him be confined by such a limiting vulnerability became a nuisance. Nowadays he does still need to head down underwater to rule his kingdom and protect the oceans, but he’s not racing anywhere near as tight of a clock against suffocating. You know it’s bad when even the character’s writers know a weakness it too severe.
9. POWER GIRL—ANYTHING NATURAL
Some people are big on living organic, but it looks doubtful that Power Girl is one of them. With her connection to Superman, you might figure it would be Kryptonite leaves her vulnerable, but Power Girl is actually in the clear in that regard. Unfortunately her actual weakness is far more common— any kind of natural material. And in case you haven’t been outside lately, there’s a lot of natural stuff out there.
Power Girl is all good when it comes to dealing with bullets or anything made by people, but when out in mother nature, she needs to watch out for those trees. In addition to wood, Power Girl is also vulnerable to pretty much anything else in nature.
In that regard, she’s not too different from a normal human, since throwing a rock at a person would definitely hurt them. It’s just a surprising weakness to see in someone as supernaturally strong as Power Girl.
8. WONDER WOMAN—HAVING HER HANDS BOUND BY A MAN
One of the more notable and bizarre superhero weaknesses has long belonged to Wonder Woman. She’s incredibly strong, fast, can fly, can deflect bullet with her bracelets, and has a lasso that can force the truth out of people, but just getting tied up by whatever guy happens to be around is enough to leave her in jeopardy. Even totally normal men are capable of doing this, strangely enough; meaning Diana has reason to be leery when she’s around any man.
Honestly it is a pretty anti-climactic way for Wonder Woman to be defeated, though. We certainly can’t say we’re surprised this vulnerability hasn’t been featured very prominently in modern Wonder Woman comics, or in the movie. This ranks up there with Diana’s invisible jet as one of her hokier story elements. Fortunately for her, she’s so athletically gifted that men would have a tough time restraining her long enough to bind her hands.
7. GREEN LANTERN—THE COLOR YELLOW
One of the most well-known and embarrassing weaknesses out there for a hero is Green Lantern’s debilitation thanks to the color yellow. To be fair, this isn’t a weakness that’s limited to just Hal Jordan or Kyle Rayner. All members of the Green Lanterns Corps are weakened by the color yellow. It makes sense, what with the Yellow Lanterns being the home of the antagonistic Sinestro, but it’s still funny to see such powerful people getting left vulnerable by something as simple as a banana.
Probably the most famous and amusing examples of this is when the Green Lantern goes to confront Batman, but the Dark Knight has prepared for the occasion. Batman had painted the entire room, as well as himself, all yellow. To top it off, he even sits drinking a glass of lemonade, just to rub it in that he’s in total control, despite not having any powers.
6. NIGHT GIRL—DAYLIGHT
As Night Girl’s name suggests, her powers revolve around night time. Whether it’s actually night out, or even if she’s just in a place that is very dark, Night Girl gains incredible powers. She gains strength that puts her on par with members of Superman’s family, and also becomes far more resilient. If you catch Night Girl in the dark, she really is a dangerous opponent. The problem is, all that goes away come daylight.
To be fair, vampires have a long history of being scary nocturnal monsters that will die just from a little sunlight, so Night Girl isn’t the first to deal with this. That doesn’t make it any less steep of a downside, though.
With Night Girl it’s especially prominent since in the dark her power is so incredible that the drop off during the day is just staggering. It’s just pretty limiting for a hero to only be effective once the sun goes down.
5. SUPERMAN—STAYING INSIDE
While Superman does have some level of power, regardless of whether or not he is exposed to a yellow sun, to access his abilities that put him among DC’s elite heroes, he needs to be under the rays of a sun like the Earth’s.
This is true of other Kryptonians like Supergirl too, so you could count all of Superman’s family and several of his enemies as having this same dependency. The obvious flaw in this source of strength is, they need to be outside under the sun’s glow to function to their fullest.
Now while it’s true Superman is not likely to ever be foolish enough to just stop going outside of his volition, it is an exploitable weakness to keep him out of the sun. There have actually been numerous times when Superman’s opponents have either kept him underground, or placed a dome over a city to de-power Clark.
4. MARTIAN MANHUNTER—A MATCH
Martian Manhunter is one of the most powerful heroes in the DC universe. In some ways he parallels Superman, with them both initially being lone aliens coming to Earth. Whereas Clark was able to pass well enough for a human to blend in, J’onn was inescapably reminded of how much of an other he is to Earth.
Anyone who’s seen a monster movie knows what humans will do to people they view as monsters— out come the pitchforks and torches. In J’onn’s case, those torches would be deadly.
J’onn’s race is horribly vulnerable to fire as much as a human would be to acid. While it’s no laughing matter to picture Martian Manhunter being burned alive, it gets a bit surprising when you realize even the flame from a match is terrifying to them.
3. ZATANNA—BEING GAGGED
Honestly Zatanna has the exact same problem as Black Canary— her voice is her power. So really, getting any throat related health problems would be just as efficient for making Zatanna vulnerable, but we also can’t help but point out that simply getting gagged could (and has, on multiple occasions) undermine someone like Zatanna too. Someone sneaks up on her and clamps a hand down over her mouth? Say goodbye to the majority of her magic.
Zatanna is a great example of someone with immense power who has a stunningly exploitable weakness. She is one of DC’s most powerful heroes, someone who would even overpower Superman thanks to his vulnerability to magic. To be fair, she can still use some spells even without her words, but she’s obviously far more limited this way. All it takes is stopping her from saying her magic incantations, and Zatanna becomes nearly helpless.
Krypto is obviously quite far from just an ordinary dog. As a Kryptonian, he has super strength and speed, he can fly, and has a variety of other powers as well. While Krypto can’t exactly talk to humans, he can still understand them, and formulate intelligent and complex thoughts via thought balloons in the comics. You might laugh at the notion of a dog superhero at first, but given everything he can do, there is no denying he’s pretty capable. Unless there is food around, that is.
Despite everything, Krypto is still a dog and has a lot of the same instincts as an animal. He’s smart enough to plan things out, articulate himself to other animals, and save the world, but he still enjoys the same things as all dogs. He can get caught up in games of fetch, and isn’t immune to the temptation of tasty treats. Krypto has even gotten distracted from catching criminals before by a free hotdog.
1. ALAN SCOTT—WOOD
Though we have already talked about the Green Lantern Corps and their weakness to the color yellow, one of them in particular had an extra vulnerability that might actually be more pathetic and embarrassing than having to be scared of bananas and lemons. When it came to Alan Scott, his weakness was seriously wood, of all things.
While today’s Green Lanterns can shield themselves from pretty much anything, all wooden objects were impossible for Alan to use his ring on. Since a Green Lantern is pretty much completely dependent on their ring for defense, this made him vulnerable to things as trivial as a baseball bat.
Alan was the very first Green Lantern, so he deserves major props for introducing so much of the mythos and powers that would become attached to the identity for years to come. But it’s also understandable why he hasn’t been one of the more enduring characters to wear the power ring when his legacy also contains such a silly weakness.
What vulnerabilities do you think are the worst? Share your thoughts in the comments!
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