The debate over which superhero is superior has raged since roughly the dawn of comic book art. Is it Batman with his superior detective skills and wonderful toys; Superman with his incredible speed and superhuman strength; the Hulk with his immense strength; Wolverine with his ability to heal and his Adamantium frame; or Iron Man with his genius-level IQ and fantastical contraptions? Honestly, there is an endless cavalcade of extremely powerful superheroes out there such as Wonder Woman, Ms. Marvel, and Captain America, with a broad array of abilities that make it extremely difficult to choose the most powerful.
The University of Leicester recently announced the results of a seven-year study (h/t Gizmodo), to coincide with this upcoming Superman Day, June 12. Using simple equations, students were able to determine that Superman is the “best-equipped” superhero. The study ranked a number of popular superheroes (and villains), including Supes, Thor, The Flash, Silver Surfer, and Mystique among others. In it, the student-researchers used basic scientific principles to determine who was the most empowered to handle the crises that faced our world.
Here’s a little glimpse at their findings:
- "Superman could be the best-equipped superhero of all, with a number of abilities including the ‘Super Flare’ attack and possession of high density muscle tissue."
- "Wolverine, Thor and Mystique are also in the upper-tier of superheroes, having accelerated regenerative abilities, high energy output and being capable of gene manipulation."
- "Black Bolt is likely the single most destructive superhero based on a high energy output capable of resulting in planetary annihilation."
- "Student calculations suggest the most ill-equipped superhero could be Batman, who would struggle to survive a landing after gliding due to the velocity of his movement."
Among the criteria the university used to determine superhero functionality: their energy output, the ability to fly, the need to absorb power (Superman) to maintain their abilities, as well as super-healing (Wolverine) and increased metabolism (Flash). The students then weighed their equations against detrimental factors, including shoe leather (Flash), carcinogenic traits (Mystique), the tensile strength of spider silk (Spider-Man), and terminal velocity (Batman).
Although the study is entertaining and though-provoking, it’s fairly limited in scope. It only explores a handful of powerful heroes, failing to cover other extremely powerful champions like a Phoenix-fueled Jean Grey, Aquaman, and Cable, in addition to mystically powered heroes like Dr. Strange, Sandman, or Shazam. The study also primarily considers the scientific principles behind superpowers, condemning Batman to last place without considering his keen detection skills or spate of anti-superhero contingency plans. In essence, the researchers imply that the Dark Knight too much of an emotional wreck to be an effective superhero.
In the long run, superheroes run on more than just megawatts and caloric intakes. The most powerful characters take years to hone their full abilities and require in-depth backstories, which endear fans and casual readers alike. Comic book fangirls and boys are also powered more by loyalty than logic. Proclaiming Superman the most effective superhero, scientifically or otherwise, will probably only fuel the already heated debate.
What do you think of the University of Leicester’s findings? Do you agree or disagree? Let us know in the comments.
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