Kara Zor-El soars back onto our screens next month as Supergirl joins the CW Arrow-verse for its second season. Starring Melissa Benoist as Kara, the show brings together some old faces from the DC Universe and a few new characters created specifically for the show, and it’s gaining Superman’s cousin a whole new fanbase.
Despite Supergirl’s long history in comics (she’s been around since the ’50s), this is her first real solo adventure in live-action (not counting the travesty of a movie from 1984!) and it’s only just begun to explore our favorite female Kryptonian. There’s a lot more to Kara than meets the eye, after all. She’s not just Superman’s cousin, she’s a powerful superhero in her own right. She even has some powers that the Big Blue Boy Scout doesn’t, although they share the same super-strength, super-speed, invulnerability and heat/x-ray vision.
Those may be the powers that everyone associates with Supergirl, but we’ve rounded up fifteen of her lesser known powers – how many of these did you know Supergirl had?
15. Super Hearing
Supergirl’s enhanced hearing, an ability that she shares with Superman, is due to her Kryptonian physiology. She is capable not only of hearing the smallest sounds from a distance, but of separating very specific sounds from afar. This allows her to “look” for a certain person’s voice or vital signs, and hone in on them so that she can hear a particular conversation from miles away.
It also allows her to separate cries for help from the general noise of the city, and to block out sounds that she doesn’t need to focus on. If she couldn’t do that, Supergirl would go mad after being bombarded with all the world’s noise, all the time!
Her hearing also extends to inhuman frequencies. Supergirl is able to hear radio frequencies, noises at any pitch, and sub and super-sonic noises as well. We’ve already seen a little of this in the series, although it’s sure to come in handy again in future – for more than just snooping on her boss!
14. Electromagnetic Spectrum Vision
Supergirl’s vision-based powers are more extensive than just the well-known X-ray and heat vision. On top of those, she has telescopic vision (the ability to see objects clearly in the far distance), microscopic vision (the ability to “zoom in” in on object to an extreme level), and infrared vision (which allows her to see at night.
Her least-known vision power, however, is her ability to see the electromagnetic spectrum. Using this power, Supergirl can see TV broadcasts, radio waves, and any device giving off any form of electromagnetic signal (very useful for tracking high tech bombs, etc). It is this power that Supergirl manipulates to (sometimes literally) fly under the radar – by spotting satellite surveillance and radio waves, she is able to avoid detection by her enemies. This can also allow her to see transmissions, which she can then decode or listen in on using her super-hearing.
13. Super Breath (Holding)
Many fans are aware of Supergirl’s super breath – her ability to exhale with such force that she can create powerful winds. Kara has used this power to create hurricane-force winds and small tornados, and can even cool her breath as she exhales to freeze targets. This power also works in reverse, allowing her to inhale with such force that she sucks the air out of a room.
A lesser-known advantage to this super-breath is that it allows her to take in a large amount of air and hold it – the Kryptonian version of holding her breath. This means that she can take in a lungful of air before spending extended periods of time underwater, or before flying into space. Unlike the average human, who would only be able to manage a minute or so before they needed to take a second breath, Supergirl’s super-lungs can keep her “breathing” (supplied with oxygen) for an impressively long time.
12. Solar Bomb
In the New 52, Supergirl was granted a new power – the ability to create a super solar flare. She’s able to do this by storing up the energy of the Earth’s yellow sun within her body, before releasing it to devastating effect. The explosion created when Supergirl does this is immense, and sufficient to take out heroes who are otherwise invulnerable (like Wonder Woman). Doing this does weaken Supergirl significantly though, making it something of a finishing move in a fight. After releasing a solar bomb, Kara remains conscious, but needs time to recover her full super-strength, speed, etc.
She can also control and release the solar energy in her body to raise her body temperature and to act as a human torch. Originally, this power was almost unique to Supergirl in the DC universe – one that only female Kryptonians were able to use. However, Superman was later given the ability to create a solar bomb as well.
11. Red Lantern Powers
For a brief period of time, Kara was chosen by a Red Power Ring, which gave her a whole set of new powers fueled by rage and the power of the ring. Many of these are the same powers granted to all Lanterns who wield a Power Ring, regardless of color. The main (and best-known) power of the ring is the ability to create constructs out of energy (in this case, out of rage). This also allowed Kara to create and project a red lantern costume over her own clothes, to animate and direct existing objects, and to create illusions.
The rings also acts as a computer and communicator, allowing her to stay in contact with other Red Lanterns. Some Lantern powers (like the power of flight) were abilities Kara already possessed, but she did technically gain them along with every other Power Ring power (invisibility, ring duplication, etc) given to all Lanterns.
10. Acid Spit
While acting as a Red Lantern, Kara was also granted some powers unique to the Red Power Rings. One of the more bizarre new powers she gained was the ability to shoot acid spit! The red rings discharge their energy as a weaponized liquid that is highly corrosive, an acid that can burn through almost anything (including the force fields generated by other Power Rings). This acid is incredibly powerful, and capable of burning even in the vacuum of space – obviously a helpful ability, given that the Lanterns are quite often battling in the space between planets!
While it’s possible for a Red Lantern to project this liquid from the ring itself, it’s also possible for them to shoot it from their mouths. When Kara wore the Red Power Ring, she chose the second option, spitting streams of acid at her opponents. Like her other Red Lantern powers, Supergirl lost this ability when she surrendered the ring.
9. Temperature Control
As a Red Lantern, Supergirl has the ability to control and change the temperature of almost anything – an extension of the rings energy and matter manipulation powers. This power allows Supergirl to increase or decrease the temperature of any object, no matter the size (even something as big as an entire star). She can also change the temperature of the air within a limited space, creating “bubbles” of heat or cold.
This power is so strong that she could even create temperatures reaching Absolute Zero, should she wish to. Combining this with her natural powers of heat vision and ice breath, and her ability in the New 52 to expel solar energy from her body in order to change her own body temperature, Kara could control and change the temperature of literally anything, in any way, including herself. Obviously, when she surrendered the ring, only her innate temperature control powers remained.
8. Rage Control
Because the Red Power Rings are fueled with the emotion of rage, as a Red Lantern, Kara became intimately connected to this powerful negative emotion. The Red Power Ring also allowed her to use this intense rage to manipulate the anger of others, not only her own. As a Red Lantern, Supergirl could even detect rage and fury in other people, homing in on it in order to manipulate the target. The ring can feed off the rage of others, as well as the rage of the wearer to become stronger, as well as infecting others with rage (or increasing existing rage to make others act out of character and become violent). Although most people chosen by the ring would become completely overwhelmed by it, Kara had some ability to control her own rage while wearing the ring, although it obviously does make her more violent and less emotionally stable.
7. Wormhole Creation
Like some other Power Rings, the Red Power Ring enables the wielder to create and travel through wormholes and warps in order to travel vast distances incredibly quickly. This is particularly useful for travelling through space, although it’s not always entirely necessary. Supergirl, who already has the powers of Super Speed and Flight (and the ability to travel for periods of time within space, thanks to that super-breath), this is definitely a less-than-useful addition to her powers.
Still, the ability to create and traverse wormholes using her own rage is an impressive power, if not a particularly practical one. Some other lanterns who also have the ability to create wormholes can even travel through black holes, if they are very experienced (like the Blue Lanterns), but there is no proof that Supergirl would be able to do this as a Red Lantern. However, it’s an interesting possibility, even though Kara gave up the ring.
6. Heart Replacement
As well as running on rage, the Red Power Rings run on the blood of the wearer. When someone puts on the Red Power Ring, the energy of the ring actually causes the wearer to lose all of their own blood (in a gory moment when it is vomited out), which is then replaced by the rage energy of the ring. This expands the wearer’s veins, and keeps them alive. The rage energy also replaces their heart – without real blood in Supergirl’s body, if anyone found a way to remove her heart (difficult, given her invulnerability as a Kryptonian!), she would be able to live without it. This also gives her the ability to battle Black Lanterns effectively, as the heart become unnecessary. Unfortunately, this also means that the majority of Red Lanterns are unable to ever remove their rings, although Kara was (obviously) able to do so and still live.
5. Red Sunburst (Cir-El)
A very different kind of Supergirl, Cir-El wears a black costume with a red S, rather than the traditional blue and red. Created by Braniac, she is a Kryptonian/Human hybrid made with the genetic material of Superman. Because she is part-Kryptonian, Cir-El has many of the same powers that Kara Zor-El is famous for, although many of these are less intense than they would be in someone who is purely Kryptonian.
Her powers include super-strength, super-speed, super-hearing, flight and invulnerability. Cir-El also has one power that is somewhat unique – the ability to project red solar blasts. Similar to Kara’s solar bomb ability, Cir-El can concentrate the solar energy in her body, directing it outward through her hands. These blasts strike with both heat and force, and are powerful weapons. Unlike Kara, however, she cannot release stored solar energy with the same kind of massive (almost nuclear) force, only in much smaller blasts.
4. Shapeshifting (Matrix)
Although the most commonly known Supergirl in the DC universe is Kara, there have been multiple others to use that name over the years. One of these other Supergirls is Matrix – created in an alternate universe by Lex Luthor (who is one of the good guys in her home universe). After coming to the primary DC universe, she became a new Supergirl with the Teen Titans, and she brought some new powers along with her.
One of these abilities is shapeshifting – rearranging her own molecular structure to appear as someone else. This was largely limited to humanoid forms of a similar mass to her own, so she is unable to become, say, a twenty story building or an ant. However, this power is incredibly useful for disguise, as well as to create and change clothing when changing shape. She lost this ability when she merged with Linda Danvers to become another version of Supergirl.
3. Psychokinesis/Telekinesis (Matrix)
The most powerful abilities that Matrix Supergirl has are her powers of psychokinesis and telekinesis (as well as her limited telepathy). She uses psychokinesis to emulate the powers of a Kryptonian and give herself the same abilities as her namesake Kara (super strength, super speed, flight, invulnerability, etc), although she doesn’t actually possess those powers in the traditional sense.
Matrix Supergirl is also telepathic and able to use telekinesis for defense and as a weapon. She can create telekinetic force fields to protect herself and others, as well as move objects with her mind to build barriers or act as shields. She can also turn this power into a weapon by using telekinesis to turn objects into deadly projectiles, or to create psychic blasts. Matrix Supergirl’s powers are primarily used within the physical world, rather than the more traditional applications of telepathy (mind-reading, etc). While she is telepathic, she doesn’t stretch that muscle as often, so to speak.
2. Invisibility (Matrix)
The final power granted to Matrix/Supergirl that Kara does not possess is the ability to make herself completely invisible. Like her other abilities, this comes from her extreme control over her molecular structure, energy, and her telekinesis. Matrix Supergirl creates invisibility by deflecting light waves away from herself, making herself invisible – even to other superpowered beings.
Matrix can also extend this ability to soundwaves – by deflecting sound waves at the same time as light, she is able to render herself truly invisible and inaudible, even to those with super-hearing. This incredibly powerful form of invisibility is capable of fooling anyone, and because she is actually reflecting light and sound, rather than becoming transparent, the usual means of finding an invisible person (colored powder, water, footsteps) become useless. Matrix has successfully used this power against Superman in the past, and could presumably successfully use it against any other superhero in the DC universe.
1. Angel of Fire (Linda Danvers)
When Matrix met Linda, she saved her from being sacrificed in a demonic ritual – but in the process of saving her life, Matrix merged with Linda. The two became the new Supergirl, with all of Matrix’s existing powers. However, this Supergirl also gained new powers – as an Earth Born Angel (because of her sacrifice in saving Linda’s life).
As an Angel, Supergirl battles a range of demons and other beings, and earns several new abilities. She can “shunt”, the angelic term for teleporting, which creates an S-shaped burst of flame. She also possessed wings of fire (and an impressive wing-span) and fire vision – similar to the heat vision that Kara had, but in this case, her eyes shoot actual heavenly flames. Her flaming wings also act as a shield for Supergirl, protecting her while she battles demons. These fiery angelic powers led to Supergirl also gaining the title of Earth Angel of Fire.