We like our superheroes to be flawed. Just look at literally any comic book character who's managed to stick around for a while and you'll see them built up, deconstructed, built up again, deconstructed and again and again in an endless cycle that exposes their greatest weaknesses and shows them as barely clinging to the ideal of heroism even as they're viciously beaten. Because sometimes, heroes fail. They aren't strong enough.
Yeah, so, anyway, this list isn't about them. They might have their flaws, and even glaring weaknesses, but these superheroes can boast of power on an Earth-shattering, even cosmic scale. Here are the 15 Most Overpowered Superheroes... and most of them have a pretty good reason for it.
15 The Sentry
The Sentry is Marvel’s answer to Superman, if Superman was a deconstructed angst-ball with crippling mental illness whose very existence threatened the Earth.
So he’s essentially Henry Cavill’s Superman with longer hair and some brighter colors. The Sentry was inserted into the comics as part of a major event, one that saw him living an ordinary life and apparently erased from history. In bizarre twist, it turned out that the Sentry was actually a close friend of many major Marvel heroes, with an almost comical list of credits that included him teaching X-Man Angel how to overcome his fear of heights (seriously) and turning the Hulk into a force for good. He’s also best friends with Reed Richards, because we all know how much of a people person Reed Richards is.
Long story short, the Sentry was sealed away due to his ultra-evil alter ego, the Void, who would always exist to destroy as many lives as the Sentry saved. Given that the Sentry’s abilities involve ‘the power of one million exploding suns’, that’s a pretty dire threat. Practically, this guy has more or less any power he needs at the time, including the standard superhero package: super strength, speed, flight and invulnerability. On top of that, he can also regenerate after any injury, teleport, manipulate energy, play around with people’s minds, resurrect the dead and pretty much anything the writer needs him to do, since the entire character is a running gag at this point.
Weakness: That aforementioned equally-powerful evil side, as strong as him in every way and nigh-unkillable so long as the Sentry is alive. It really puts a crimp on his career, basically.
Yeah, well, he just has to be here.
Superman has met his match on multiple occasions, but compared to more or less every hero and villain on Earth, he’s right at the top of the food chain. He vastly outclasses even super-strong individuals with his raw power, and when strength fails, Superman has a veritable arsenal of other powers to make up for any shortcomings.
It’s up to you as to whether you consider this to be ‘unfair’. Many writers would certainly agree, as writing a Superman story often boils down to basing the entire thing around finding a way to challenge him. Either they zap him down to human, square him off with a super-strong alien or… kryptonite. There’s always kryptonite. Or sometimes magic.
In fact, Superman is strong enough that his stories often fall into a category all by themselves, with The Man of Steel struggling with having to live in a world where he has the power to save so many, but not everyone. With great power comes great responsibility, which works just great if you can stick to walls and swing from buildings. When you can bench-press a skyscraper and circumnavigate the globe in a matter of seconds, that responsibility just shot up to a whole new level. And he’s still only one man.
Weakness: Kryptonite, magic and legions of writers who refuse to write for him because he’s ‘too boring’.
13 Martian Manhunter
He might not do all that man-hunting, but he is a Martian… and one with a plethora of powers that makes even Superman jealous.
Along with the standard set (strength, flight, durability) MM possesses a host of slightly more off-kilter powers that make him ready for practically every situation. These include density shifting/phasing, shape-shifting, regeneration and even invisibility, on the odd occasion when that becomes useful. His senses are also on par with those of Superman, able to shift his vision to view the world in different spectrums and generally having more senses than humans.
However, his powers go deeper than the physical, as MM is also able to use telepathy and telekinesis. Because just being able to lift heavy stuff wasn’t enough, he also needed to be able to do it with his mind. Throw in some ‘Martian Vision’ that allows him to fry people at a distance, and you’re left wondering why an entire Justice League is even necessary when the Martian Manhunter is on the case.
Oh, right, so they can all stand around and make him look good while pretending to help.
Weakness: Fire, which is fair enough. Humans are weak to that too. However, sometimes this is simply pyrophobia rather than a physical weakness, which at least gives it a bit of nuance.
12 Professor X
X-Men comics and movies have long been involved in a chronic struggle against one major obstacle. No, it’s not Magneto. That obstacle would be one Professor Charles Xavier, who’s so unbelievably powerful that he can switch off the brains of half the planet if he wanted to.
That’s with Cerebro, of course, but his powers are still immense even without technology. Along with every hero his powers vary according to the writer, but Professor X has repeatedly shown the ability to freeze an entire room, put thoughts into the heads of huge crowds and render someone a gibbering vegetable with nothing more than a frown and a couple of fingers to the temple. 99% of the time, there’s no defense against this, either. Exactly why he needs the X-Men to do much more than run to the supermarket for milk is unknown, and even this is only because he has enough scruples not to just mind control some poor bag boy to deliver it to the door.
In fact, despite the years causing his powers to fluctuate, Professor X has consistently remained the most powerful mind in the world, able to control thoughts at a vast distance…an ability you’d hope he accompanies with a bit of moral fortitude. But not always.
Weakness: Anyone resistant to mental attacks, mostly. The movies have gone above and beyond to remove Professor X from the equation to stop him from solving all the plots in seconds, which include tampering with Cerebro, sleep gas, neural inhibitors, violent death, anti-telepath helmets and turning him into a mopey recluse.
Speaking of super-teams and individuals who render everyone else window dressing… meet Thor. You know Thor, right? He's had a few movies.
Chris Hemsworth’s version might be portrayed as slightly more down-to-Earth (ha hey!), but the version from the comics is an absolute beast, constantly having to play nice with all these squishy humans. Being practically invulnerable, able to heal from any injury and even resistant to magic simply isn’t enough for the god of thunder, who can also boast of limitless stamina, hyper-enhanced senses and massive strength, enough to topple buildings with a gentle push.
Then, of course, we have his powers over the elements, mostly lightning (leaving the actual god of lightning feeling very much jilted, probably), wind and sometimes the earth if the story calls for it. Thor is able to use Mjolnir to enhance his powers, able to sweep away entire cities on a whim.
But sure, whatever. Black Widow has martial arts. Yeah, Thor has those too, since he’s been around for literally millennia and has mastered pretty much every weapon and martial art that he could ever need.
Weakness: Previously, letting go of his hammer for a brief period of time, after which he’d be transformed back into mild-mannered Donald Blake. Someone eventually realized that was stupid, leaving Thor’s primary weakness as… uh… other Asgardians? It’s that, or a whole lot of magic.
10 Phoenix/Jean Grey
For a universe that’s supposedly more grounded than DC's, Marvel sure have a lot of cosmically-empowered heroes who only serve to make everyone else look bad by comparison. Next up is Phoenix, AKA Jean Grey in possession of the Phoenix Force (sometimes a villain... we're ignoring that). Their joint history has been steadily developed over the years to the point where it’s not simply Jean Grey possessed by an evil cosmic force, but instead Jean herself being the Phoenix. Thus, while a few other folks have got their hands on some nutritious Phoenix juice, Jean is the rightful owner; the ‘White Phoenix of the Crown’.
The perks of this position include enough cosmic power to wipe out galaxies, play pool with planets, manipulate black holes, change the past and the future, absorb vast amounts of energy and rewrite the fabric of space-time. Phoenix has been seen going up against heavyweights such as Galactus and coming out on top, and that’s not even mentioning its most famous ability: resurrection. Even when defeated, the Phoenix will always rise from the ashes in some form, meaning it can never truly be killed.
Weakness: Brett Ratner.
Also, the Phoenix Force is only as good as its host, and even as Jean Grey, it was still prone to needing to consume energy and being swayed by her emotions. While the Phoenix Force itself is practically invulnerable, its hosts are a different story.
You might not think of Goku as a superhero, but the dictionary definitely does: ‘a benevolent fictional character with superhuman powers, such as Superman.’
Wow, way to utterly sideline Batman and all tech/martial arts-based heroes, dictionary. Seriously.
Goku is definitely a benevolent guy, with powers that could easily be described as super. He’s definitely far stronger than your average human, and he saves the world on a regular enough basis. But wait, hang on… does he really belong on a list of overpowered heroes? Goku is outclassed by pretty much every major villain he faces: he dies in the fight against Raditz, is outmatched by Vegeta, barely manages to scrape a win against Freiza (via Saiyan ex machina), is unable to beat Cell, only beats Majin Buu with the energy from everyone on Earth (and even then, he would’ve failed if it hadn’t been for the Dragon Balls)…and that’s not counting all the movie villains, who tend to trounce Goku at every turn, at least when it's dramatic.
But still, in comparison to his ‘allies’ (that is, the talking props who exist to get beaten), Goku is a bona-fide demigod. Even before his very first Super Saiyan form he outclasses all of his friends by several orders of magnitude. That gap has only grown wider as he attains more and more transformations, from Super Saiyan 2, to 3, to Super Saiyan God, to Super Saiyan BEYOND God, and it’s not stopping any time soon.
So to put things in perspective, we’ve got Yamcha (previously a credible threat), an enormously powerful and skilled human, and then Goku… who could knock the planet out of orbit with nothing more than a wistful sigh.
Weakness: Heart failure.
8 Dr Manhattan
Meet the occasionally referenced third member of the ‘who would win if Goku fought Superman?’ debate, mostly whipped out when someone just wants to be contrary. But then, Doctor Manhattan isn’t overpowered by some oversight on the part of the writers, or because he’s a jacked-up Marty Stu. No, the good doctor is that way by design, as is the case for most characters in Watchmen.
Essentially Superman with added brains and nihilism, Doctor Manhattan is functionally immortal, able to reform himself after any injury. His other powers are practically limitless, including energy manipulation, teleportation, mass destruction, complete control over his own biology (including phasing, creating clones and sick abs) and the ability to see all of time happening at once. This has given him a highly advanced mind that causes him to become isolated from the rest of humanity…which can also be explained by the fact that he’s hardly human any more.
Combined with the fact that Doctor Manhattan is the only super-powered being in a world of costumed vigilantes, it would all make for a pretty boring story if it was all about him trying to stop the bad guys. Instead, Manhattan’s story focuses on his growing apathy with the human race, and his status as a government weapon.
Weakness: Tachyons, which slow him down a little bit. That’s as good as it gets.
7 Nate Grey
As one of the many shell-shocked-freedom-fighter-from-a-nightmare-dystopia children that Scott Summers has not yet had (and never will, because comics), Nate Grey has been described as the ultimate telekinetic. While technically Scott and Jean Grey’s son, his birth was all down to genetic tampering from Mr Sinister, causing him to gain enormous amounts of power that would supposedly burn themselves out due to their magnitude.
Though this is currently what happened, Nate Grey at his full strength was a psychic juggernaut with every mind-related power under the sun: psychometry, telepathy, precognition, teleportation and astral projection. However, these pale in comparison to his telekinesis , which is strong enough to flatten cities, manipulate energy on a subatomic level, give himself supersonic flight, create indestructible shields and mess around with the Earth’s magnetic field, which is totally stealing Magneto’s thing.
Nate’s fully-realized power has been compared to that of the Phoenix, and indeed, the two have shown that they’re pretty much on par when it comes to lifting really heavy stuff.
Weakness: Himself. Nate Grey’s powers weren’t built to last, as he was genetically modified to burn himself out, making his entire existence a ticking time bomb. Oh, and speaking of unimaginably powerful children with famous parents…
6 Franklin Richards
…here’s lil’ Franklin, son of Mr Fantastic and the Invisible Woman. He could rewrite reality with a temper tantrum.
He never has, mind you, because most of Franklin Richards’ existence has had his powers dormant and inaccessible. Still, behind that innocent guise lies power that classes him as beyond Omega level, enough that it catches the attention of the most powerful beings in the universe and puts him on par (or above) such entities as the Phoenix and Galactus himself. Because that guy just has to have his fingers in all the cosmic pies.
Franklin’s powers are simply that of reality warping, rewriting the fabric of time and space to his whims. Essentially, he has any and all powers and access to the building blocks of the universe, which is a power that even most Marvel writers can’t claim to possess. It’s left up in the air as to how Franklin was born with such abilities, particularly since his parents aren’t mutants themselves and don’t have anything close to that level of power. However, as with Nate Grey, it can probably be boiled down to being the child of a premium comic book star couple.
Weakness: Comic book time, since Franklin was born in 1968 and has barely made it to his teen years. It’s more interesting to have him as a naïve, innocent child with mostly-dormant power, along with the occasional tease of his time-traveling adult self. Don’t expect him to ever actually grow up, though.
5 The Silver Surfer
The Silver Surfer isn’t your average superhero, mostly serving as a sort of proto-Dr Manhattan who agonizes over his role in the universe while wielding enough power to decimate a solar system. Originally scoring himself a gig as Galactus’ herald, he soon became jaded to the act of arriving on various worlds and giving them seven business days to clear out, because a cosmic giant with a wicked case of the munchies was about to tuck into their planet.
The Fantastic Four helped him see why this wasn’t the greatest career path, and the Silver Surfer turned against his boss and became exiled to Earth. A lot of Silver Surfer comics tend to focus on his redemption and path to repentance, with a whole lot of justified angst over his former actions. Not having him as a straight-up hero is probably for the best, given that he possesses a fraction of the ‘Power Cosmic’. This gives him a vastly more powerful standard superhero bundle, along with a huge pile of other abilities that make him practically unbeatable when not up against other cosmic foes. Apart from being able to manipulate or destroy the physical world in any way he could ever need, the Silver Surfer also has the use of his board, which is nigh-indestructible, responds to his mental commands, can travel faster than light and even time travel when it’s convenient.
Weakness: Almost nothing, barring those who have more of the Power Cosmic and are thus just straight-up more powerful. Or a hungry Hulk.
4 Squirrel Girl
Just look at that ruthless visage of churning power and majesty. Look at it.
Okay, yeah, Squirrel Girl probably couldn’t blow up a planet. She can’t travel through time, bend the fabric of reality or manipulate black holes. Her creator didn’t even have the decency of giving her some honest-to-goodness super-duper-strength, enough to pummel her way through steel doors. At this point, that’s a superhero staple.
What Squirrel Girl does have are squirrels. Just so many squirrels. Also, a metric ton of cunning and creativity that have allowed her to go toe-to-toe with major villains and come out on top. Perhaps it’s simply the unexpected nature of Squirrel Girl’s abilities, or how her fights often have her exploiting a weakness rather than relying on strength. Her own abilities are fairly useful: agility, a prehensile tail, hand spikes, great strength and powerful teeth, as well as an understanding of squirrel language. That’s the same superpower as Kronk from The Emperor’s New Groove, in case you were wondering where you’d heard that before.
And with these amazing powers, plus her own ingenuity, Squirrel Girl has become a powerful force for good, soundly thrashing various ultra-powerful villains as soon as they’re able to stop snickering at the sight of her.
Weakness: Not all that many, since Squirrel Girl is a mostly a gag character, fun personified and thus basically invincible. Though maybe you could distract her with acorns.
Once again, God-Man (created by Tom the Dancing Bug) isn’t the most typical of superheroes. In fact, his entire existence centers around the fact that he has no enemies, no threats, no drama and no real story beyond a few panels, because God-Man is able to solve any problem in the space of a couple of seconds.
The entire existence of the superhero is something of a parody of the concept of drama itself, with God-Man’s preferred method of solving problems being to rewrite the universe so it was never a problem in the first place. His ‘villains’ therefore don’t seem to give him much trouble beyond furrowed eyebrows. While he does occasionally find himself in dire straits, the whole thing turns utterly parodic when all such problems are solved by God-Man simply wishing himself out of the situation, changing the course of the story to suit his needs or simply lobotomizing his enemies to remove all thoughts of opposition.
Weakness: Sheer, mind-numbing boredom. God-Man has no opposition, except if he brings it into being himself or allows it to happen. Case in point: When Strikes…Destructo!, when God-Man makes a baby, hand-crafts it a miserable life, gives him no choice but to grow up to be a villain and then jumps in to sock his twisted social experiment in the jaw and save the day. Wait… who’s the hero here?
2 The Hulk
Plenty of heroes have super strength, because it’s one of the most visually impressive powers. We marvel at folks in real life with the raw power to lug planes behind them or do push-ups with people sitting on their backs, so super strong individuals are just a continuation of that, magnified many times over.
Then we get to the Hulk, one of Marvel’s flagship heroes, whose powers are mostly strength. Bruce Banner was blessed with the incredibly sucky power of growing into a giant green rage monster whose first victims are always his shirts, and the destruction only gets worse from there. The Hulk is one of the physically strongest characters in the Marvel universe, able to ignore the laws of physics and mass entirely as his anger makes him stronger. Most prominently, Hulk’s strength has never reached a limit, and it’s been stated multiple times that he doesn’t even have one. More anger equals more strength, until he could probably punch planets around like beach-balls if he was so inclined. And even then, he could still become stronger.
Hulk is also incredibly resistant to injury, a trait that also increases with his level of rage, and can regenerate from impossible levels of harm. His endurance is practically limitless, and his frenetic mental structure makes him resistant to even psychic attacks.
Weakness: Squishy Bruce Banner, and the Hulk knows it. This one comes on two fronts, however; Bruce Banner is liable to be hurt and killed, and he also doesn’t often want to transform into the Hulk. It’s a power struggle that has kept the character going for decades.
Superman may have the title of "boy scout," and be known as the sunny side to justice and defender of the American way… until you meet Shazam/Captain Marvel. There’s a pretty good reason for him acting like a goofy child, and that’s because he actually is. Billy Batson uses the magic word SHAZAM to transform into Shazam - formerly referred to as Captain Marvel until Marvel Comics got involved.
Unlike Superman, whose invulnerability doesn’t extend to magic, Captain Marvel is created by the stuff. His name spells out the various powers he gets, such as the wisdom of Solomon and the courage of Atlas, but it all adds up to an almost never-ending package of unstoppable might. Strength, speed, endurance, hyper-intelligence and wisdom, courage, resistance to both physical and magical attacks… this guy has it all, complete with a winning smile and a flashy transformation sequence that looks visually stunning every time.
Weakness: Once again, his squishy human form, Billy Batson. The magic lightning also zaps Captain Marvel back into his child form whether he wants it to or not, and there’s also the fact that he has an impressionable child brain diluting all that wisdom.
-The Blue Marvel, whose power levels apparently approach the levels of the Sentry. You’d be forgiven for thinking that he perhaps lacks the nuance of most of the characters on this list, however, since there’s not much holding him back. He’s powerful, he’s a superhero and kind of a massive, idealized Marty Stu because of it.
-Saitama, the titular One-Punch Man. He tends to finish his fights in (you guessed it) one punch, is obscenely strong, nigh-unbeatable and spends much of his time unintentionally making all the other heroes look bad.
Any more ultra-powerful heroes that belong on the list? Let us know in the comments!