Which superhero is the strongest? Study tries to answer heated debate

Batman vs. Superman. Captain America vs. Iron Man. This year, this year’s cinema is packed with several superhero showdowns, and moviegoers are eagerly watching to find out which of their favorite caped crusaders would have the grit and gadgets to come out on top.

Now, students at the University of Leicester have taken a more analytical approach to the whole discussion, performing a series of simple calculations to determine just how feasible the powers of our favorite heroes are – just in time for Superman Day on Sunday, June 12, 2016.

As they reported in a series of paper appearing in the Journal of Physics Special Topics and the Journal of Interdisciplinary Science Topics, the researchers have found that DC’s iconic Man of Steel, Superman, is the best-equipped superhero of all, followed closely by Marvel’s Wolverine, Mystique, and Thor, based on an evaluation of each individual’s set of special powers.

While not the most destructive comic book character – the Leicester team gave that honor to Black Bolt of the Inhumans – Superman was found to have the widest array of superpowers in his arsenal and the fewest limitations, making him the most likely victor if all of the DC and Marvel characters analyzed were to throw down in a battle royal, they said in a statement.

Why Superman? And what about Batman?

Clearly, the decision was not made lightly, as the researchers spent seven years, from 2009 to 2016, analyzing various superheroes, and found that Superman not only benefited from having high-density muscle tissue on Earth, but could also use a powerful Super Flare attack capable of a calculated stored solar energy output of 7.07×105 Joules per second.

Following closely behind are a pair of X-Men, Wolverine and Mystique. The former benefitted greatly from his regenerative abilities and the latter scored highly for her use of genetic alteration in order to disguise herself. Thor, the superhero version of the Norse thunder god, finished fourth thanks to his high energy efficiency and explosive powers, they explained.

Fans of Batman may be distressed to learn that the Gotham Knight scored last, earning the title of the least well-equipped superhero. As the authors explained, while his cape has proven to be a tremendous asset when gliding in the movies and in comic books, in reality, Batman would reach velocities of nearly 80km/h while doing so, which would likely prove fatal when he attempted to land – meaning that his efforts to save the day would probably end quite tragically.

As Dr. Cheryl Hurkett from the University of Leicester’s Centre for Interdisciplinary Science explained, the research is in good fun, and designed to improve the students’ scientific aptitude: “An important part of being a professional scientist… is the ability to make connections between the vast quantity of information students have at their command, and being able to utilize the knowledge and techniques they have previously mastered in a new or novel context.”

“I encourage them to be as creative as possible with their subject choices,” Dr. Hurkett added, “as long as they can back it up with hard scientific facts, theories and calculations!”


Image credit: Marvel/DC