The superheroes of the Marvel and DC universes are known for their amazing superpowers. And thanks to the movies and TV shows, more people than ever know what those superpowers are capable of. If someone sees Superman or Captain America, they have a pretty good idea of what that character can do. Neither one of those guys is suddenly going to sprout wings or shoot rainbows out of their hands. But you see, the thing is they might. The versions of these classic heroes we see on screen are the distillation of decades worth of stories, and some of those stories gave them some curious new powers.
With many of these superheroes being around for over seventy years, it's no surprise that they've gone off in some odd directions. While some of these powers and abilities have been retconned away since, some of them still remain. Waiting for someone like us to remind people of them. The reason why the heroes never utilize these unique powers more than varies. Sometimes they are a last resort, only to be used if the situation is dire. Sometimes they aren't even aware they have these powers. And sometimes writers just forget they have them.
The connecting thread is that these heroes don't use these powers as often as they could. Some of them could be really useful too. We've looked at characters from the biggest teams of both universes. From the Avengers and Justice League to the X-Men and Suicide Squad.
These are 25 Superpowers Marvel And DC Heroes Have (But Don't Use).
25 Thor (Weather Control)
He's not called the God of Thunder for nothing. While Thor usually gets by with nothing more than his strength and his magic hammer Mjolnir, he does have a few more tricks up his sleeve. That title isn't just ceremonial.
Thor can create and control storms if he wishes too. Think back to Thor: Ragnarok when he started throwing lightning bolts around after his hammer was destroyed. He even created a hurricane to mourn Captain America after he perished (Cap got better). On a funnier note, this power has led to a kind of rivalry with Storm of the X-Men.
24 Wonder Woman (Flight)
Can Wonder Woman fly? That's actually a really good question no one seems to have an answer for. After all if she can fly, then what's the invisible jet for? Well, it depends on which version of Wonder Woman we're talking about.
After the 1985 Crisis storyline, Wonder Woman got a reboot where the Greek God Hermes gave her the power of flight. But even that was more like riding wind currents than actually flying. Since the New 52 reboot, Diana has been grounded. And with Gal Gadot's DCEU version from the movies unable to fly, looks like she'll stay that way.
23 The Hulk (Healing Factor)
The Hulk is the strongest one there is. But he might be the healthiest one there is too. It doesn't come up often because the Hulk is so hard to hurt in the first place, but he has a ridiculous healing factor.
Once, his skin was vaporized down to the bone by a villain and it grew back within seconds. He's taken the force of one million exploding suns to the face and lived. It's incredibly hard to finish off the Hulk. Heck, given that any significant injury to Bruce Banner will unleash him, the Hulk might even be immortal.
22 Scarlet Witch (Reality Warping)
Her name might be "Witch" but there's nothing magic about the Scarlet Witch's powers. Her hex bolts are actually her altering the probability of events around her. Usually this is just garden variety telekinesis, but if she wants she can actually warp reality. Like on a huge scale.
During the House of M storyline, she created an entire alternate dimension where Magneto had won. Then after it was destroyed, she turned most of the Marvel Universe's mutants into normal humans with just a word. That's why she uses it so rarely. The consequences are frightening if used wrong.
21 Black Panther (Controlling Zombies)
Yes, Zombies. You read that right. This is a relatively new power of Black Panther's. After some extenuating circumstances led T'Challa to giving his sister Shuri the throne of Wakanda, he lost his connection to the past Black Panthers.
But after traveling into Wakanda's necropolis, he forged a new pact with the Panther God to become King of the Dead. Now he can summon the spirits of past Black Panthers to access their wisdom. He can also raise the deceased to act as a zombie army and create a spear of spirit energy. So yeah, magic panther zombies. Comics y'all.
20 Black Widow (Immortality)
Okay, so it's not quite immortality. Black Widow's life can still end at some point. But it's pretty darn close. See back when she was being trained as a spy, the Soviet government gave Natasha a knock-off Super Soldier Serum. You know, the stuff that turned Steve Rogers into Captain America.
Hers didn't go that far, but was still a success. Because Black Widow doesn't age, her body is always in peak physical shape, and she's tough as nails. She's only a few years younger than Cap and yet they look about the same age, and she was never frozen.
19 Falcon (Talks To Birds)
Here's one of the weirder ones. Back when he first appeared in the comics, Captain America's partner the Falcon wasn't alone. He had a pet falcon named Redwing that fought alongside him. But Redwing wasn't just a trained bird. Oh no. The two had a literal psychic connection.
Professor Xavier confirmed it and everything. What's more, the Falcon could extend this psychic link to other birds to talk to and control them. He was bird Aquaman. Yeah, we can see why this was cut from the MCU. Redwing did appear in Civil War as Falcon's new drone though.
18 Wolverine (Animal Senses)
His claws and his healing factor might get more attention, but Wolverine has one more superpower. Much like his namesake, Logan's senses are heightened to extreme levels. His heightened sense of smell is the one we see most often, but his hearing and eyesight are enhanced as well. These are what helped him survive in the wild like an animal for so long.
Believe or not, the reason behind this power ties into the original plans for his backstory. Wolverine wasn't going to be a human mutant. He was a real wolverine mutated into a human by Avengers villain the High Evolutionary.
17 Winter Soldier (EMP Blast)
Bucky's metal arm is probably the most iconic part of his design since his resurrection. But it's more than just a shiny prosthetic. In addition to super strength, his arm can also emit an EMP blast. EMP stands for ElectroMagnetic Pulse and shorts out any electronics nearby.
Handy tool for an anonymous spy and assassin. On the same token, Bucky's arm can blast out electric shocks too, perfect for stunning opponents. But we have to wonder how those EMPs effect the arm itself. It wouldn't be very useful if they shorted out all the electronics in that too.
16 Superman (Super Intelligence)
Superman is super in way too many different ways. He's super strong, super fast, and super nice. But super smart? Isn't that more Batman's thing? Well bad luck Caped Crusader, because Superman is super smart too. He's an inventor in his spare time in fact.
The Fortress of Solitude is filled with gadgets, mixes of Earth and Kryptonian technology, that he's tinkered with. He also processes information at super-speed, has a photographic memory, and is a prize-winning journalist in his secret identity. He probably doesn't show off his super smarts more often because he's super humble too. What a guy.
15 Flash (Phasing Through Objects)
It's not just that the Flash runs fast. His whole body is fast. Like on the molecular level. Barry Allen can actually make his molecules vibrate at such high speeds that he can phase through solid matter. He can move so fast that he walks through walls.
It's not just himself either. If the Flash concentrates hard enough, he can speed up the molecules of other things too. He did this to an airplane and its passengers once. Also, this somehow makes things explode. The reason he doesn't do this more is because it puts a huge strain on his body.
14 Aquaman (Mind Control)
For years, Aquaman was maligned as the guy who talks to fish. Little did the haters know there was way more to it. Aquaman doesn't just talk to fish, he psychically controls them. And he can extend this control not just to marine life, but to any life that evolved from the ocean. Like humans for example.
Granted, the amount of control he can exert shrinks the less fish-like something is. But that's more than enough, because Aquaman can still trigger a stroke in most people if he wants to. But he's a chill dude, saving that for only the worst villains.
13 Cyborg (Shapeshifting)
Ever since joining the Justice League back in 2011, Cyborg's gotten a major upgrade to his powers. He used to just be half-robot with a sonic cannon in his arm. Now, his cybernetic body is capable of all kinds of things. It's a lot more adaptive for one. Cyborg can now transform his body into different shapes and vehicles. Even complex stuff like a tank.
He's basically a human Transformer. Cyborg can also take new tech into his body for bigger transformations. The best use of this power is in the Lego DC games, where he turns into a washing machine.
12 Martian Manhunter (Martian Vision)
One problem the Martian Manhunter has always had is differentiating himself from Superman. They're both the last survivors of alien planets with similar powers remember. So his having powers like Martian Vision didn't help. It's like heat vision, only Martian.
Okay, there is a difference. Martian Vision is a blast of telekinetic energy shot from the eyes, kind of like what Cyclops of the X-Men has. There's no actual lasers or anything. Still, as writers have separated Martian Manhunter from Superman, Martian Vision was dropped for the most part. It's why his shapeshifting and psychic powers get more attention.
11 Iceman (Ice Clones)
Iceman of the X-Men always had a lot of potential with his powers. He creates ice and controls temperature and that's pretty versatile. But it wasn't until recent years that he really started experimenting with his powers. One of his newer tricks is creating ice clones of himself. Well, ice puppets might be more accurate.
The clones aren't alive, just ice and snow he's formed into copies of himself. Like living snowmen that Iceman can control. There is a downside though. If Iceman makes too many clones, he'll get worn out much faster. It helps if other snow is around.
10 Storm (Magic)
Is it weird that some of the X-Men can use magic? But of all the magic X-Men, Storm is the one with the strongest connection to it yet uses it the least. It comes from her mother's family. For years they were worshiped as Goddesses in Africa because of their ability to control the weather.
Storm did this through her mutant powers, but her ancestors used magic. Because of this, she could too if she wanted. Her family's magic comes from one of the Vishanti, the same gods Doctor Strange gets his magic from. Storm was also Thor in an alternate timeline.
9 Kitty Pryde (Levitation)
Many of the more interesting powers our favorite heroes develop come from writers thinking about how those powers work. Take Kitty Pryde for example. She phases through solid objects. But how? Some X-Men writers think it's because she reverse the polarity of her electrons.
Because of natural repulsion, she'll pass through electrons of opposite polarity. So in theory, she can do the opposite to. That's how she levitates, by reversing the polarity of the air around her. Well, levitate isn't quite right. It's more like walking on air. Usually it looks she's going up an invisible set of stairs.
8 Rogue (Absorbing Everybody's Powers At Once)
Of all the X-Men, it probably took Rogue the longest to get full control of her powers. Her own anxiety about touching people was just as big a hurdle. But once she did get past these, Rogue almost became too powerful. Instead of just copying one person's powers at a time, she absorbed all of her teammates' powers and used them simultaneously.
Wolverine's claws, Colossus' metal skin, Psylocke's telepathy, and Nightcrawler's teleportation. That's a force to be reckoned with in a single person. Might be why the writers nerfed Rogue afterwards, explaining away the loss of powers with psychic strain.
7 Magneto (Mind Control)
As the man once said, "Magnets, how do they work?" Clearly Stan Lee and company didn't know when they were writing X-Men back in the 1960s. In those days, they gave Magneto all kinds of one-off powers and abilities that they hand waved away as "because magnets". One of the more infamous of these was his "magnetic personality" which allowed him to command and dominate people's minds.
Later writers did, kind of, try to justify this by saying Magneto was manipulating the iron flowing through people's brains, but that's pretty thin. Maybe Stan Lee didn't know much about magnets.
6 Raven (Turning People Into Demons)
Not only is this a "Doesn't use" power for Raven, it's a "won't use." Mainly because she's only shown using this power while turned evil by her father Trigon. While in this state, she'll infect a person with a Seed of Trigon containing the spirits of his demonic minions. Those spirits will then take over the person's body and drive them mad.
It's called Seeding, which makes it sound way worse. The kicker? The person Raven infects has to be superhuman to even survive the Seeding. Anyone normal will explode during the process. Thank goodness Raven escaped her father's influence.
5 Beast Boy (Animal Poisons)
Beast Boy is rather predictable in the kinds of animals he turns into. It's almost always something like a gorilla, a lion, or an elephant. Considering he can turn into any kind of animal, he's limiting his options a bit. He gets all the abilities of the animal he turns into.
If Beast Boy turns into a snake or a scorpion, he'd be able to use their venom and poison. That'd be a much quicker way to dispatch villains, isn't it? Of course, that's not really Beast Boy's style. Especially given that most of those animals' poison is, you know, fatal.
4 Harley Quinn (Immunity To Poisons)
We're not even certain if Harley Quinn is aware she has this ability. Thanks to her gal pal Poison Ivy, Harley was given a serum that makes her immune to all poisons and toxins. It also gives her a small healing factor and increased durability. Given her usual boyfriend, it's good she has this power.
If the Joker gets bored or angry with Harley, there's not really much he can do to hurt her physically. That's the whole reason Poison Ivy gave her that serum. She had the idea after the Joker tried blowing Harley up in a rocket.
3 Shazam (Hypnosis)
Each of the letters in Shazam's name stands for an ancient god he gets one power from. The S right at the beginning stands for Solomon (not a god, but whatever) who gives the hero the Wisdom of Solomon. In most cases, this would manifest as regular super intelligence.
But Shazam is not most cases. In addition to smarts, the Wisdom of Solomon lets him hypnotize people. Bad guys can be swayed by his influence to surrender, though it's ineffective on those with a strong mind. How hypnosis falls under the category of Wisdom, we're not entirely sure.
2 Supergirl (Solar Energy Manipulation)
Kryptonians are living solar batteries. They're constantly absorbing yellow sun radiation, which their bodies transform into enhanced strength and physique. While that's usually enough for Supergirl and her famous cousin, they can manipulate that solar energy in many other ways. The most powerful is the Solar Bomb.
This is where Supergirl releases all the solar energy stored in her body in one massive explosion. The blast is strong enough to even hurt Wonder Woman, who's almost indestructible. Supergirl and Superman avoid using the Solar Bomb though. Letting out all that solar energy leaves them without any powers for 24 hours afterwards.
1 The Atom (Traveling Through Phone Lines)
It's always the lesser-known heroes whose powers get weirder. Before he starred on Legends of Tomorrow, Ray Palmer (the Atom) was a B-list DC hero. He could change size and alter his body's mass. But this was illustrated in some strange ways. Like his preferred method of travel.
The Atom would shrink to the size of a subatomic particle and ride through telephone lines, popping out the other side. He got so small he traveled on sound. He'd usually punch bad guys on the other end. Of course, those were landline phones. One wonders what the Atom would do nowadays.