With great powers comes great weaknesses and Kal-El, also known as Clark Kent or Superman, is no exception. Despite being able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, fly like the wind, blast rays of heat from his eyes or gusts of icy cold wind from his mouth, the man of steel has a list of vulnerabilities that make him just as killable as any mere mortal on Earth (if applied correctly).
How many weaknesses does Superman actually have? There are more than people think, providing super villains with enough raw material to defeat the last son of Krypton and realize their dreams of world domination. So what are they? Here are ten weaknesses you never knew Superman had.
Like the rest of us mere mortals, Superman is vulnerable to psychotropic hallucinogens, making manipulating or potentially killing the Man of Steel as simple as a dagger infused with Kryptonite. Of all the powers bestowed unto the Man of Tomorrow by the sun, none of them protect him from something as simple as a little plant-based scratch.
A primary example of this can be found in the Injustice: Gods Among Us series where Joker uses Scarecrow’s fear gas to incite Clark Kent to violence. The plan works as Superman murders his pregnant wife Lois Lane during the psychotic trip, leading to a nuclear explosion in downtown Metropolis. As fans well know, Superman later slays the Joker for this heinous crime and then sets out to conquer the human race.
While it’s true Superman has acquired some psychic defenses in the past, in his natural form, Kal-El possesses no resistance against psionic attacks. That’s right, Superman is indeed vulnerable to telepathy, and those with the ability to control the mind (such as Professor X) would have an easy time dismantling the Kryptonian.
This is evident in Clark Kent’s battle with Roger Hayden, the Psycho-Pirate. Wearing the Medusa Mask, the pirate is able to penetrate Superman’s mind and wreak havoc. The Man of Steel would have been ultimately defeated, to,o if it weren’t for the help of Darkseid‘s estranged son, Orion, who taught Superman how to defend himself against Hayden’s mental mayhem.
For all of his defenses, powers, and perfections, Superman is just as vulnerable to magic as any other non-mystical DC character. Luckily for him, magic users are few and far between in the DC Universe. But if someone like, say, Zatanna were to take on the Man of Steel, he could find himself on the ropes (provided she managed to avoid Kent’s melee attacks).
A great example of magic’s effect on the Man of Tomorrow can be found during his battle with Skeletor in the cross over event, Superman and the Masters of the Universe. In this issue, Skeletor dominates Kal-El using his magical abilities, tossing Superman about the battlefield like a petulant child.
Just like magic, Superman is also weak against electricity, which seems a little odd considering he can withstand immense heat and explosive forces. Nonetheless, electricity brings the Last Son of Krypton to his knees, allowing for an enemy to strike in a far more devastating way such as using a kryptonite blade.
Superman’s encounter with Livewire at a hydro-electric power plant in Superman: The Animated Series highlights this point perfectly. Even while wearing rubber gloves, Clark Kent was still tossed about when Livewire’s lightning powers got a hold of him, causing the Kryptonian to cry out with screams of agony.
Superman is a biological lifeform and like all biological lifeforms, he is still susceptible to sickness and disease. All it takes is the right virus at the right time, and the Man of Steel is bedridden like any normal human during flu season.
The Doomsday Virus is just one example of Superman being infected, albeit it is an extreme one. After defeating Doomsday at long last, Clark Kent is infected by a disease present in Doomsday’s virulent corpse, which transforms him into a hideous monster as well.
5 Atomic Radiation
Contrary to what one might think, Superman is indeed weak against atomic energy. Now, this might seem contradictory since the Man of Steel gets his powers from the literal sun, but that energy is solar, and therefore different from atomic or nuclear radiation.
Where do we find Superman’s vulnerability to nuclear attack? It all happens in the Batman: The Dark Knight Returns animated feature when Clark Kent tries to stop a nuclear missile launched courtesy of Moscow, Russia. In the film, Superman crashes head-on with the rocket, but the fallout from the blast changes the robust Kryptonian into an emaciated old man sick with radiation poisoning.
4 Red Sun Radiation
As previously discussed, it’s no secret that Superman gets his powers from Earth’s yellow sun. His cells drink in the star’s rays, making him stronger, denser, and outright better than his human counterparts. But what happens when the man of tomorrow relocates to a different solar system with a different kind of sun?
Krypton, Superman’s home planet, actually circles a red sun. Because of this, Kryptonians appear as normal humans with frail bodies despite their highly advanced intellects. Putting New 52 Superman aside, if Clark were to find himself in the presence of a red sun, the results would be the same: all of his powers were cease to exist.
3 High Pitched Frequencies
Along with super strength and supervision, Superman also enjoys the perks of super-sensitive hearing, along with all of its drawbacks. This puts the Man of Steel at risk for sonic attacks from tech geniuses like Lex Luthor, Batman, and Brainiac
Superman has been on the brunt end of sonic weaponry more than once, and more than once it nearly stopped the Kryptonian dead in his tracks. One such instance occurs in Zack Snyder’s Batman v. Superman where Bruce Wayne also known as Batman deploys a pair of frequency guns that almost puts Clark Kent down for the count.
Perhaps the most well-circulated item on this list, but an important one nonetheless, is Superman’s inability to see through lead. That’s correct, Superman’s powers of x-ray vision are indeed hampered by lead, allowing an enemy to conceal himself or herself from Kal-El when needed.
While lead is not lethal to Kryptonians like it is Daxamites, it can still block heat vision rays as well. Lead is a powerful tool in the hands of an enemy, one that, like magic, could easily give Superman’s foes the upper hand in a fight.
1 Suffocation And Drowning
This one pertains only to the DC Animated Universe, but as such, it’s still worth noting. Superman can indeed suffocate or drown, and in the DCAU is shown wearing an oxygen suit when working in outer space. This means without the process of respiration, Kryptonians cannot survive.
In this version, Superman needs to breathe air in order to live, making him as vulnerable to suffocation or drowning as any normal human on Earth. All one needs to do is subdue the Man of Steel and drop him in the ocean to sleep with the fishes.
Superman is best known to be weak against kryptonite, but he has other weaknesses. Here are 10 you didn't know Superman had.