10 Weirdest Superman powers you didn't know about

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Superman is the quintessential superhero, and one of the reasons is because of his dynamic - and abundant - powers. Superman's weirdest powers but some of his peers to shame, however. While some superheroes have one, maybe two powers tops, the DC icon has everything from flight to super-strength, near-invulnerability, X-Ray vision and super senses - and that’s not all. No, not even close.

Here's a countdown of of some of the Man of Steel's most the obscure and oddest superpowers writers have given him over the decades.

10. Super-Breath

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Superman isn’t a blowhard by any means, but he’s frequently shown himself in comics, movies and television to have the amazing ability to inhale and exhale enormous volumes of air; enough to extinguish fires, suck the air out of a room, and even push large-scale objects, and even a tornado once.

Another aspect of this power is his Freeze Breath, in which he exhales cold air so extreme it can freeze steam into ice. In the season nine episode of Smallville entitled “Rabid,” Clark uses it to cool a cup of coffee — no small feat if you've ever been on the wrong end of a scalding cup of joe.

9. The Superman Diet

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It seems modern culture is inundated with one fad diet after another, but one diet that won't catch on — hopefully — is the Superman diet. In various instances both in comics and film, Superman has said that his body doesn’t need food or drink like humans do; instead, his body receives all the energy he needs from light of the Sun.

On occasion he has been shown to eat things — including a mountain of hamburgers in Action Comics #454 — Superman’s excuse is that although his body doesn’t need it he sometimes mentally wants to, perhaps a vestigial function of his Kryptonian physiologically since they don’t normally live in sight of a yellow sun. This was followed up on in episode 36 of Superman: The Animated Series, where he states that he eats out of habit. One can only imagine how good Ma Kent’s cooking was to start that habit.

8. Telekinesis

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It turns out telekinesis isn’t just for the women of the X-Men over at Marvel, as DC’s poster boy has shown the ability to move objects with his mind on more than one occasion.

In John Byrne’s 1980s run on Superman, the writer/artist explained that Superman’s ability to fly was a form of “self-telekinesis” in which an invisible field envelops him and anything he touches to float by the force of his mind. Byrne went further to explain that this telekinesis also supplements his invulnerability.

And just a few years later in the 1987 film Superman IV: The Quest For Peace, Superman whips out the ability to use a telekinetic beam emitted from his eyes to lift people and even repair some damaged buildings — namely, the Great Wall of China.

One more reason not to step on Superman’s cape.

7. Telepathy

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Over in Marvel Comics, telekinesis often goes hand-in-hand with telepathy, and that's held true for DC’s Man of Steel as well.

In 1947’s Superman #45, the Man of Steel uses a heretofore unexplained ability to read his enemy’s mind and implant thoughts — thoughts to release Superman from the restraints that the enemy just placed on him.

Skip forward a couple decades to the television series Lois & Clark, and that show reveals that all Kryptonians can communicate with each other wordlessly via telepathy. While most likely wouldn't want their relatives to have the ability to read their thoughts (or vice versa), it could come in handy, too.

6. Trapping People in his ‘S’ Symbol

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It’s hard to say something negative about the 1980 classic Superman II, but if there’s one thing that must be said, it’s this: What’s up with the scene where Superman throws his “S” symbol from his emblem to form some sort of plastic-wrap trap over his enemies?

No one before or since has come up with a logical explanation for that never-before seen power, and it was unsurprisingly never used again in movies, television or comics.

5. Self-Duplication

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What’s better than one Superman? Two Supermans. (Supermen?)

It might seem like a strange notion, but it’s something that’s happened several times in Superman lore. The storied Superman Red/Superman Blue days of 1990s DC Comics come to mind, but that was due to outside forces. Decades before that, the Man of Steel did it on his own, without any explanation before or since.

Very early on in the life of Superman in a 1938 episode of the live-action series Adventures of Superman, Lois and an crusty old prospector are trapped in a Pennsylvania mine shaft. Thankfully Superman comes in to save the day, but in order to save the duo he must become a duo himself. Out of nowhere, Superman splits himself into two identical Supermans in order to save the distressed humans.

And that's not counting the recent "New 52"/"Rebirth" Supermen hijinks...

4. Super-Kiss

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For all you Don Juans out there, Superman’s got you beat. We’ve seen in both film and comics that Superman has the unexplainable but envious ability to give amnesia-inducing kisses on command.

In the final moments of 1980’s Superman II movie, Clark Kent gives Lois Lane a big wet one and in the process manages to wipe out the confusing truth that Clark is also Superman. That might seem strange, but when you stack it up against other heroes' attempts to keep their identity secret, then you might think it’s not so crazy. But it is.

3. Super-Hypnosis

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The Silver Age was like the Wild West for Superman in terms of his powerset. Many of the previously documented strange powers come from that time, and the one we’re focusing on now is positively perplexing — mesmerizing, even.

Way back inside the pages of Action Comics #38 from 1941, writer Gardner Fox shows DC’s Man of Steel hypnotizing an errant psychologist named Harold Morton, and forces him to turn himself into the police. You don’t see that happening on Law & Order, do you?

This mind-based power popped up again in 1978’s Superman #330 by Martin Pasko and Curt Swan, where Superman beats a villainous hypnotist named Spellbinder at his own game by hypnotizing the entire population of Metropolis via a hastily constructed television screen that floats over the city.

If that wasn’t enough, even Krypto the Super Dog has the ability. Don’t ask.

2. Super-Ventriloquism

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Ventriloquism, or the ability to throw your voice, may not require superpowers — but the distance for which Superman’s shown himself able to do it makes it near impossible without them. This Super Ventriloquism was used repeatedly in various DC Comics in the 1950s and 1960s, but it’s even been seen in more modern comics like the 2005 miniseries The Question.

Like the previous entry, even Krypto the Super Dog has shown the ability to throw his voice and impersonate others — including Superman — through walls even!

1. Shapeshifting

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Shapeshifting might seem far out for the real world, but in the world of comics its an all-too-common superpower possessed by heroes in virtually every universe, with Marvel even possessing an entire race of shapeshifters in the Skrulls. So the fact that Superman too possesses this power may not be strange enough in its own right to earn the number one spot, but how he does it earns the top spot on our list.

In 1947’s Superman #45 (the same issue that introduced his telepathy), Superman manipulates the muscles in his face and his entire body to assume the form of a pale yellow-skinned alien, with pointy ears and no hair, no less. This brings up a litany of questions, but let's limit it to two:

1. How can a hero with nearly impervious skin stretch and contort it to such a degree?

2. Why doesn’t Superman use this ability to concoct a better secret identity for himself, rather than wearing a pair of over-the-counter reading glasses as Clark Kent?

Chris Arrant

Chris Arrant covered comic book news for Newsarama from 2003 to 2022 (and as editor/senior editor from 2015 to 2022) and has also written for USA Today, Life, Entertainment Weekly, Publisher's Weekly, Marvel Entertainment, TOKYOPOP, AdHouse Books, Cartoon Brew, Bleeding Cool, Comic Shop News, and CBR. He is the author of the book Modern: Masters Cliff Chiang, co-authored Art of Spider-Man Classic, and contributed to Dark Horse/Bedside Press' anthology Pros and (Comic) Cons. He has acted as a judge for the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards, the Harvey Awards, and the Stan Lee Awards. Chris is a member of the American Library Association's Graphic Novel & Comics Round Table. (He/him)