Students spend 7 years scientifically proving which superhero is strongest

Students have finally settled an age old debate - which superhero is strongest.

Science students at the University of Leicester have spent seven years conclusively proving which superhero is the most effective of all superheroes, using scientific principles.

The researchers have finally settled the debate once and for all. And there's bad news for Batman fans.

Batman? More like broken back man

The student-led research took place between 2009 and 2016 looked scientifically at the strengths and weaknesses of superheroes from the Marvel and DC comic book universe, and concluded that yes, Superman has the greatest chance of winning a fight.

The student science papers suggest Superman is the best-equipped superhero, with a number of abilities including the "Super Flare" attack and possessing high-density muscle tissue (the type that stops bullets).

Wolverine, Thor and Mystique were also proven to be some of the strongest superheroes, with their accelerated regenerative powers, high energy output, and being capable of manipulating their genes (in Mystique's case).

Batman, meanwhile, would probably injure or kill himself whenever he went for a bit of a glide. Due to the velocity of his movement as he flies through the air in his little bat cape, he probably wouldn't survive hitting the ground, even if he landed on the Joker or the Penguin.

"Though his cape proves to be a vital utility when gliding in comic and media depictions, the research suggests that when gliding Batman reaches velocities of around 80km/hr - which could be fatal upon landing." The University of Leicester said.

"This inability to perform even the simplest of superhero feats suggest Batman would struggle to get off the ground, let alone save Gotham from the likes of The Joker and Bane."

The brilliant and important research was published in a series of papers published in the University of Leicester’s Journal of Physics Special Topics and Journal of Interdisciplinary Science Topics.

Planetary annihilation

The students looked at the feasibility of superheroes powers, as well as the energy they would require to power them if they were real.

The research had some bad news for conspiracy theorists who think that Superman is real. If he was real, he wouldn't be able to fly very far.

"In the comics, Superman can fly for over 8 hours at constant altitude (+). But, assuming he absorbs energy like a solar cell, Superman couldn’t possibly take in enough sunlight to power this flight (-) - unless disobeying the law of conservation of energy and having a staggeringly impossible solar cell efficiency of 656000% were within his superhero capabilities."

And assuming Clark Kent's laser vision was modelled on a carbon dioxide laser, even if he was 100% efficient, he would still need to bask in sunlight like a lizard for seven minutes and two seconds in order to use his laser power. Lex Luthor would have to wait around for him to charge.

They also concluded that Black Bolt, the ruler of the Inhumans, a reclusive race of genetically altered superhumans in the Marvel Universe, is the most destructive superhero. His power (he can shout really loud and create a shockwave that can level a city - like Brian Blessed but in latex) would be capable of destroying the entire planet.

Analysing powers vs weaknesses, they put Black Bolt as having no real weaknesses whatsoever, compared to Batman's two - the weakest of all the superheroes.

Batman's weakness is that he's basically just a rich guy playing dress-up. Wolverine was the second strongest superhero, with his main weakness being that he's incapable of fighting anything magnetic.


The scientific look at superheroes probably won't stop people from debating who is the strongest of the superheroes, even though it was obviously Superman all along.

But at least now people can scientifically say that Wolverine is better than The Flash.

The students presented their findings in a series of short articles for the Journal of Interdisciplinary Science Topics and the Journal of Physics Special Topics, peer-reviewed student journals run by Leicester’s Centre for Interdisciplinary Science and Department of Physics and Astronomy. The journals are designed to give students practical experience of writing, editing, publishing and reviewing scientific papers.

Dr Cheryl Hurkett from the University of Leicester’s Centre for Interdisciplinary Science said:

“An important part of being a professional scientist (as well as many other professions) is the ability to make connections between the vast quantity of information students have at their command, and being able to utilise the knowledge and techniques they have previously mastered in a new or novel context.

"The intention of this module is to allow students to experience what it’s like to be at the cutting edge of scientific research."

"I find it a very rewarding module to teach and I am always pleased to see my students engaging so enthusiastically with the subject. I encourage them to be as creative as possible with their subject choices as long as they can back it up with hard scientific facts, theories and calculations!”

Well, they certainly did that.

You can check out their many volumes of research here, including Vol 2 (2013), JIST, ‘Spidey Motion’ and Vol 4 (2015), JIST, ‘Modelling the mutation rate of The Flash in context’.

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