?Today’s list was suggested by Quixotico, one of the winners of the TR Daily List Suggestion Contest!
To you commenters who are already cracking your typing fingers, yeah, we know that the overwhelming majority of superheroes have more than one weakness. Most of them are human, just like you and me, and are vulnerable any number of things, from cancer to stabbings to being ironically smothered by your supposedly amorous RealDoll. So before we go any further, I’ll just say this for you: “You forgot Spider-Man’s greatest weakness: Bullets!” We know. We’re not interested. We’re talking about unusual superhero weaknesss in this list — the ones that are actually cool, and make the heroes more interesting, or are so stupid and/or nonsensical as to at least be entertaining. So let’s take a look at those superheroes who really do have some well-known greatest weaknesses — some of which make sense, others…. not so much.
5) Martian Manhunter – Fire
?One thing we know for sure is that Martian Manhunter is vulnerable to fire. In fact, it more or less killed him during Final Crisis. There’s some disagreement, though, on exactly how the whole thing works. Are all Martians vulnerable to fire? Is J’onn J’onnz just scared of it, like he’s Frankenstein’s monster or something? Does it simply mess up his telepathy power? Or does it take his powers away? Nobody really knows. Oh, and sometimes he’s not vulnerable to it. But then he is again! So, you know, whatever.
4) The Human Torch – Asbestos
?It doesn’t get mentioned much anymore, but at one point in time asbestos – that insulating mineral builders used for decades until it was discovered to be a deadly carcinogen – was the Achilles’ heel of both Human Torches. They even both had supervillains who used the stuff to fight them. The original Torch had Asbestos Lady, while Johnny Storm had the infinitely goofy Asbestos Man. Of course, we know now that it wouldn’t take a superhero to defeat those dastadly villains. Just mesothelioma.
3) Wolverine – The Muramasa Blade
?So there’s the sword, right? And it just happens to have been made with part of Wolverine’s soul. So, you know, it hurts him. Ruins his healing factor. And, you know, instead of like, locking it up somewhere in some impenetrable chamber where no one can ever get the one sword that could completely kill him, Wolvie just kind of keeps it around, lets Cyclops look after it, whatever. You know, in case he needs it. ‘Cause you certainly can’t find another sword just lying around somewhere. Better use the one that can really fuck you up in battle, because Lord knows nobody’s every taken someone else’s sword away from him in a fight!
2) Green Lantern – Yellow/Wood
?The original Golden Age Green Lantern, Alan Scott, can’t get wood (I had to do it). His ring’s power comes from “green, growing things” or something like that, and so he can’t use his powers against them. In particular, wood deflects his powers and makes him look his real age. So watch out for that dresser, Alan! His successor, Hal Jordan couldn’t do much against yellow. That’s apparently because the emotion(?) connected with the green power rings is willpower while the yellow represents fear. They’re opposites, I guess? But if the Green Lanterns “accept fear,” they don’t have that vulnerability anymore. Sounds easy enough. (Also of note: Alan Scott has yellow in his costume.)
1) Wonder Woman – Rendered Helpless by a Man Binding Her Bracelets Together
?Dr. William Moulton Marston: Creator of Wonder Woman, feminist, guy who thought it was okay to make his creation’s weakness the act of being tied up by a man.
The greatest superhero weakness — or, at least the most interesting ones — are listed on the next page.
5) Luke Cage – Adamantium
?Luke Cage has skin that’s as strong as titanium. So the only thing that can puncture it is a fictional, indestructible metal that is stronger than any other metal. Pretty straightforward. Kinda boring, but it makes sense, at least.
4) The Flash – Running Too Fast
?Barry Allen is a fast dude. So fast, in fact, that he can pretty much just jump around in the time stream however he wants (though he isn’t too good at changing events to his benefit). He’s so fast, in fact, that one time, during the Crisis on Infinite Earths, he ran so fast that it killed him by pulling him “permanently” into the Speed Force, the energy field that gives speedsters their power (he came back, because, you know, comics). It just seems appropriate somehow that a hero’s very own power is the same thing that kills him. Especially when it’s speed.
3) Daredevil – Noise Pollution
?Daredevil sees with his ears. So it only makes sense that the thing that would incapacitate him is the auditory equivalent of wool over the eyes. But instead of wool it’s white noise or a bunch of babies crying or being right next to a huge ringing bell. Or, I guess for a really creative villain, just some super glue and a nice thick set of earmuffs.
2) Adam Strange – Earth Withdrawal
?If Adam Strange stays on Rann – the planet he goes to so he can have superhuman strength, go on awesome space adventures and hang out with his hot space-babe wife – for more than a year, he dies. Yeah, it sounds kinda arbitrary and weird that he would have to leave Rann once a year to avoid dying. But as far as story is concerned, it’s beautiful. It keeps Adam Strange from ever getting too far away from his humanity. No matter how much time he spends on Rann, he’ll never be a native. It keeps Adam Strange’s story going, which is just what a weakness should do.
1) Superman – Kryptonite
?People love to rag on kryptonite. They say it’s stupid that Superman is vulnerable to stuff that his own planet was made of (but see, the problem with that is that it’s the stuff that’s the result of the planet being destroyed, kind of like nuclear waste). They think the different color variations of it, like the red kryptonite that has a different effect on Superman each time he comes in contact with it, are silly. They think it’s dumb that something so rare could pop up so often and just happen to fall into the hands of Superman’s villains. (Okay, maybe I’ll give that one to them.) But like it or not, kryptonite is the quintessential superhero weakness. It is the weakness upon which all other weaknesses are built. It has become a synonym for weakness. Just ain’t no denying it, folks. No matter how many terrible songs Three Doors Down makes about it, kryptonite will be number one.