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Top 10 – Powerless Superheroes

GeekOut Top 10s

A little bit of an oxymoron, a powerless superhero is probably not what you’d call a superhero. However, as time has gone on, the superhero genre has changed and we call some of the key heroes who, by all means, are as powerless as the rest of us. Sure, they might be well trained, in fact you could argue they’re trained to superhuman levels, but if we were put through the same conditions as them, we could possibly achieve this too…

… Naaah. Too much effort for my liking. However, these men and women are here to show us how cool it is to be a powerless superhero, fighting villains, supervillains and more. Be it technology, be it strategy, or be it just through sheer determination, these are our Top 10 Powerless Superheroes.

Top 10

10) Darkwing Duck

A bit of an odd start to this list, but 80s and early 90s kids will probably appreciate this one. Darkwing Duck was a spin off of Duck Tales, a show about three young ducks and their misadventures. Darkwing Duck was more focused on the one duck, Darkwing himself. He had a daughter who played a major plot device, as each episode, he would have to weigh up if he wanted glory, or to look after his daughter more. Needless to say, he nearly always made the right choice. He wasn’t infallible, mind you!

Darkwing Duck however was really the first time that Disney embraced the combat, action-oriented elements of their shows. Going to show that they could get in on the superhero craze the world was in, they made one hell of an unforgettable show in the process. Go back and watch an action scene in any of their movies, then compare it to the beating that Darkwing used to put on his foes, funny or otherwise. We never said a powerless superhero had to be a human, but what makes this entry better is the sheer comedic brilliance that the show had. It changed Disney, allowing more action packed shows, (hello Teen Titans!) It really made them evolve as a company.

9) Katana

Don’t worry, we appreciate that you might not have enjoyed last year’s Suicide Squad and that’s fine. What many people don’t seem to realise is that Katana was a relatively minor superhero in the world of DC Comics. She was always portrayed as a goodie, as the film might have given you a helping hand towards. Whatever you made of the film, Katana is one tough lady, who you really wouldn’t want to mess with at the best of times.

Her past is rather tragic; She was a Japanese girl, who had two brothers fall in love with her. She chose one of them, marrying him. The other became rather angry, joining the Yakuza. The brother in the Yakuza rose the ranks, before indulging in his liking for exotic weapons, especially those with special properties. The two brothers fought, with Tatsu as the ‘prize’ and, sadly, her husband was killed. She disarmed the brother and the sword spoke to her, as her husband telling her to run. She fled, keeping the Soultaker katana and trained in martial arts and the way of the Samurai.

Her story is that of grief, anguish and determination. A very, very cool character indeed. There’s only one series out right now, which started and ended in 2013, so go pick them up if you can! Stunning artwork.

8) Green Arrow

Oliver Queen, better known as Green Arrow, is a billionaire businessman (A theme you’ll see often in this list). He uses his unwieldy wealth to protect the city from villains… And you know what? As you’ll discover later, this is a very common occurance in superhero backgrounds. Still he has a really cool bow and arrow set, so he has that going for him!

If you strip this character to its core, Green Arrow is nothing more than an expert marksman, firing arrows from his bow like it’s nobody’s business. He can hit effectively everything, which makes him impressive as hell. Possibly a slight exaggeration on the abilities of a marksman, but I like to believe all Team Fortress 2 snipers get this good as well. Who needs lasers when an arrow to the throat will suffice?

7) Rorschach – Watchmen

Guns and violence, unforgiving relentless pursuit of the scum of the city. “Hero” may not be wholly applicable to Walter Kovacs, he gets low and dirty with the criminals he takes down and has a monologue as noir as his heart, immersing himself in the worst side of humanity, embracing it, and killing it. He has no mercy for those who inflict pain on others, no patience for those who try to understand or rehabilitate the scum of the earth, and he has no superpowers.

In fact there’s only one super-powered individual amongst the Watchmen, the semi-divine Dr. Manhattan. Nite Owl, Silk Spectre, and Ozymandius are all just people with the kit and the training working to make a difference in the world, but the world changed Rorschach first. Not everything is black and white, but Kovacs feel he has a very simple answer to an immensely complex problem.

6) Star Lord

One might argue that alien tech is a superpower of sorts, being as “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic” but he’s just some poor little kid, abducted and dumped in a hostile galaxy learning to make his way, survive and thrive against all odds. I suppose in a universe full of aliens then human psychology could be considered a “super power” of sorts, although most would not deem it of any use.

Utilising stolen and acquired tech, cunning strategy and sweet dance moves, Peter Quill has saved every life in the galaxy repeatedly, granted as part of a team you might be familiar with, many of whom have powers of their own that a human might consider “super”.

5) Nick Fury

It’s hard work having to turn your neck a lot, and being a superb marksman is difficult when you have no depth perception, although so far as powers go perhaps Fury’s best is the ability to stare down super-egos and make them blink first. As head of S.H.I.E.L.D and coordinator of the Avenger Initiative Nick Fury has a daunting task ahead of him, and a role that holds the fate of the world in its hands. Had he not vanished then the Sokovia Accords would have never become necessary, and the war would never have escalated past Tony and Steve posturing at one another.

In the comics… actually Fury has been through a lot of what he’s been up to in the films, most notably the Dark Reign and Siege stories; maybe come Ragnarok we’ll find Samuel L. Jackson standing behind Thor advising him to find a new Hammer in Asgard. Even thrown in amongst demi-gods and apocalypse scenarios I can’t imagine Fury would struggle to much, he and Odin have a lot to bond over, like taking several attempts to grab something at medium range.

4) Kick Ass

Just to prove the point that anyone can become a super hero, Danny Lizewski tries, and gets beaten up by the first criminals he attempts to apprehend. A wet-suit, balaclava, and pair of tonfas do not a super-hero make. As he learns it requires extensive training, sacrifice, experience, a willingness to do what must be done, and better stuff. After a few faltering starts at standing up for the hard-done-by and down-trodden he’s picked up by a father and daughter duo who mean business and are willing to add another name to the roster.

Maybe Hit-Girl would have been better placed at number four on our list, but could Hit-Girl have united a city of vigilantes to stand against a real super-villain? She’s trained from youth to be a relentless fighter, Danny’s just a kid who’s sick of being pushed around and watching others suffer the same. He may not be quite so lethal as she is, but he has a real heart of gold, and numbed nerve endings that make it harder to feel pain! He’s an inspiration in green spandex.

3) The Punisher

A vigilante who isn’t afraid to murder, maim, punish and humilate criminals to bring justice to an otherwise unjust world? If you like things to be explained to you in a very black and white way, where bad people are nothing but bad people who are there to be punished, then you’ll love The Punisher. He’s brutal, he’s simple and he’s absolutely hellbent on vengeance. The joy of him being such a simple character though is the fact you can do a lot with him.

The Punisher might not be the prettiest candidate on this list, bringing up a really dark, gritty sense of reality. But what we get out of The Punisher, as well as a lot of violence, is a pretty understandable character. Trained by the military, skilled in so many martial art styles that it’ll take too long to list, but most interestingly with him, he’s been commented on about his pain tolerance. All with no pain killers. Screw that, I’ll have some paracetamol, please..!

Oh and don’t forget, Netflix will have a Punisher series coming up!

2) Batman

I’m Batman!” – Everyone ever.

Bruce Wayne is a multi-billionaire and like all multi-billionaires, he spends his time, his research and his money on fancy equipment for tracking and taking down the supervillains of Gotham. He’s a physical specimen, supremely strong, perhaps to a near superhuman level, tough as nails, resilient, but most importantly, he’s an idea. He represents what we all want in a hero: Someone to stand up, when the law turns a blind eye.

With his butler Alfred, his sidekick Robin (sometimes) and his vast array of friends in important places, he’s really a perfectly good person in intentions, but sometimes lets his aggression get the better of him. Batman is beaten out of the top spot, possibly to the chagrin of many who read our Top 10s. Oh trust me, it was close, but there’s one factor our number one spot has over the Bat, … Man!

1) Iron Man

After six films that actually nailed the character of Tony Stark I’m sure we don’t have to explain why we wanted Iron Man near the top, the first ever suit of power armour with more weapons than a swiss army gun, and he’s got hundreds of the damn things. Why give him the number one slot over Batman?

The simple fact is that Batman’s power is the fact that he’s an insufferable Mary-Sue, capable of anything and not displaying any real flaws other than his hurt feelings. That may be a little mean, but Tony’s catalogue of flaws make him more human. His ego, his obsessive behaviour, and his alcoholism bring him down to our level, and give the amazing power of the suits he has designed a fatal flaw, the pilot.

Tony’s obsession created Ultron (along with Hank Pymm, didn’t happen like that in the film!), his ego created even more of his enemies before he turned his life around, and earned him more afterwards. But on the positive side he has changed the world for the better. Stark Industries actually helps fund a lot of projects that are making the world a better place, because that’s all Tony really wants to do.

If money is a superpower then Stark is certainly using it more effectively than Wayne, or Queen, or Palmer, or Veidt, or … there are a lot of rich superheroes! I feel indoctrinated.

Honourable Mentions

Not all heroes are born equal; some revel in what makes them stand out from the crowd. If it’s joining the winning team at the right time, or if it’s just by being different, these two make a difference in their collective comics. Or, they think they do. They might not make any difference at all, but hey, it’s the participation that counts, right?

Bob, Agent of Hydra

Oh no, we couldn’t complete this list without the only humanising factor of Deadpool making some kind of appearance now, could we? “Heil Hydra!” he screamed out, until he was semi-abducted by Deadpool for reasons only the fourth-wall breaking anti-hero could ever understand. Even then, I question whether or not he actually understood why he kidnapped poor Bob. I question if Bob really understood he was kidnapped, considering he considers Deadpool to be a friend!

But there’s very little we can say about this strange anti-hero. He’s completely powerless, which is part of what makes Deadpool so humanising, perhaps endearing? I don’t think he had a reason for abducting Bob, more so than to have a companion. Bob is nothing if not loyal to his friend. He’s really just a super friend, but we don’t mind. He’s helped Deadpool in a pinch,which makes him pretty super to us!

Syndrome – The Incredibles

Suffice to say that Syndrome has been pushed down here for being a villain not a hero, but he’s got to have a mention because he’s really here to make our point for us. As a powerless kid he was turned away from the sidekick gig he’d always dreamed of as Mr Incredible had concerns for his safety and no time to babysit, so as a highly intelligent adult he set about making himself the superhero he’d always wanted to be, and taking revenge on the group that had cast him aside.

And when I’m old and I’ve had my fun, I’ll sell my inventions so that everyone can be superheroes. Everyone can be super! And when everyone’s super… no one will be.

It’s not enough for him that the superheroes of the world have been reduced to mundane humans in hiding, he works to destroy them all, make them pointless. He may very well be the best super-villain who has ever been, wiping out heroes by the score with his incredible technological knowledge and insatiable hunger for glory.

Incredibles 2 won’t be the same without him.

We’re going to stop rising to the occasion now; time to put away our Batarangs. Now it doesn’t matter if we’re fighting the good fight against all of the roughest and toughest villains and villainesses, or if we’re just coming to terms with the fact that we might be mortal after all. But it doesn’t take a hero to get involved with our Top 10 choices. Put down your weapons, put down your fists, it’s time for you to choose one from our list.

That’s all for this week – We’ve finished searching the land for the men and women who risk their lives for the greater good. So now we leave it all in your capable hands to decide the fate of this week’s list. What do you think of our choices? Did we forget any powerless heroes that you’d have liked to have seen on here? Did we get the order right? Let us know in the comments below, or over on Facebook, Twitter or Reddit.


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