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Super-Powered Or Super-Lucky?

You can divide superheroes into two categories. The first are humans, mutants, or aliens endowed with special powers that seem magical to us. The Flash's speed, Storm's weather control, Superman's...everything. These abilities are part of their genetics, whether they were born with them or acquired them through science. Only special circumstances or elements -- like kryptonite -- can block these powers or turn them off.

I'd like to examine the other type of superhero. The kind that have no innate powers and rely on technology to fight crime. How would these champions fare without their hardware? In my personal analysis: Not so good.

Iron Man

With the Tech

According to SHDb, the Superhero Database, Iron Man's suit gives him incredible strength (lifting 100 tons), high-speed flight (up to Mach 8), and lethal repulsor ray energy weapons in his hands. The armor can generate magnetic fields, which can attract or repel metal objects at will. The suit is a self-contained environment that makes Tony Stark impervious to toxins, gas, or radiation. The onboard computer lets him track opponents in 360 degrees. Besides being immensely durable, the suit can generate an energy shield. SHDb says "At 2% power, the shield is strong enough to withstand a nuclear explosion." 

Without the Tech

"Big man in a suit of armor," Steve Rogers says to Stark in The Avengers. "Take that away, and what are you?" Stark's reply: "Genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist." A nice comeback, but how skilled is Stark in combat? He's a businessman first. He's also an engineer, which gives him advantages in overcoming traps and using his surroundings to his advantage. SHDb also gives Stark "an indomitable will," citing his victory over two bouts with alcoholism. That's admirable, but may not be much use against Ghost or Madame Masque. In recent canon, Stark has turned to his frenemy Captain America for training in unarmed fighting. Still, a decent villain would probably make short work of Tony Stark if he caught him off-guard, without his suit nearby.

Green Lantern

With the Tech

SHDb says the Green Lantern Power Ring is possibly "one of the most powerful weapons in the known universe, has the ability to affect and use fundamental forces, including electromagnetic energies such as gravity, radiation, heat, light, and powerful blasts of concussive force." The ring taps into interdimensional energies, which look to most people like magic. The ring can fire energy blasts, create protective force fields, lets the wearer walk through walls, and produces "constructs" of energy that can do the wearer's bidding (and fighting). It can also make Green Lanterns invisible and allow them to fly.

Without the Tech

Hal Jordan was an Air Force test pilot who discovered the crash site of a dying member of the Green Lantern Corps, an interstellar police force. That Green Lantern gave Jordan the Power Ring, making him one of their own. As far as I can tell, he has undertaken no special training in hand-to-hand combat or weapons, and doesn't follow any sort of exercise regimen to stay in fighting condition. Why bother, when the Power Ring can do just about everything? Take that ring away, and Parallax would undoubtedly kick Hal Jordan's ass.

Ant-Man

With the Tech

It's pretty straightforward: Ant-Man's suit lets him change size, from an ant to a giant. When he's tiny, he retains his human strength, allowing him to slam opponents to the ground while they're still trying to find him.

Without the Tech

The original Ant-Man, Henry Pym was certainly intelligent -- he's a biochemist and created "Pym Particles" and the suit to control them. But the mantle has now fallen to Scott Lang, a pretty ordinary thief with some electronics skills. (As he points out in the film, he's a burglar, not a robber.)The Superhero Database doesn't describe any special training or fighting competence. Though Lang has certainly figured out how take advantage of being either tiny or huge, I wonder how he would fare as just a normal-sized guy without his suit? Maybe he could match up with garden-variety bank robbers, but anyone with super-powers or high-tech weapons would almost certainly overwhelm him.

Batman

With the Tech

Batman's equipment includes the bullet-resistant Batsuit, the Batmobile, the Batarang, and a utility belt full of tools and weapons. His gloves have blades on their sides and his cape allows him to glide. In some storylines, his mask gives him sonar, night vision, and enhanced hearing, and can and record video. He has his own full-time weapons and engineering expert, Lucius Fox, providing him with military-grade hardware.

Without the Tech

Unlike the other heroes on this list, Bruce Wayne actually spent decades training to fight. He has supposedly mastered 127 different martial arts and is in peak physical condition. The Batman Capability Website notes that Wayne has specifically learned boxing and kung fu in the comics, and studied various fighting techniques from League of Assassins member David Cain, martial artist Richard Dragon, and Zen warrior monk Shihan Matsusa. Superman calls Batman "the most dangerous man on Earth," which is probably the highest compliment imaginable. In addition, navigating the Batmobile at high speeds requires impressive driving skills, and flying the Batplane requires a pilot's license. So if bad guys stumbled upon Bruce Wayne, without any of his gear, he would still probably defeat them.


Agree? Disagree? Throw a punch in the comments.

 


Jason ginsburg

Jason Ginsburg

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