Superman is often considered to have only one vulnerability, Kryptonite, but over the years, DC has revealed the Man of Steel to have several exploitable weaknesses. Clark Kent draws his superpowers from the energy of the yellow sun, meaning depriving him of sunlight will diminish his strength and abilities, making him more susceptible to attack; of all his various abilities, Clark’s super-hearing is the most easily overwhelmed by savvy opponents; most notably, Superman has shown a perennial weakness to the forces of magic in the DC Universe. As a massively powered character, Superman writers continuously have to find ways to make antagonists legitimate threats to the Man of Steel; in part, giving the character exploitable weaknesses works toward this end.

Superman is known for living up to his heroic moniker, as the character is depicted as being “super” in just about every way imaginable. In addition to a long list of powers, the Man of Steel is often considered invulnerable. While most people are aware of his susceptibility to Kryptonite, many don’t realize that Superman has a number of exploitable weaknesses.

Superman is incredibly difficult to defeat because of his absurd strength and durability, in addition to his powers of flight, super speed, and offensive capabilities like laser vision. Most enemies try to resort to Kryptonite to defeat Superman – it’s the quickest and most effective method. However, it’s not the only way to beat him. Over the years, DC has introduced several new ways to defeat Superman; below are his ten most notable weaknesses, things that have been used to defeat him in the past.

10 Electricity

The Dark Knight Returns #4 [written by Frank Miller, with art by Klaus Janson, John Costanza, and Lynn Varley]

One major weakness that Superman has is electricity – and it’s also one of the easiest to exploit. One of Superman’s recurring villains is a woman called Livewire, who can manipulate electricity to devastating effect. Not only that, but Batman also relies on electricity to try and bring down Clark in The Dark Knight Returns #4. If Batman thought about using it as a potential way to at least deal some damage to Superman, then there’s no doubting the fact it must be effective on some level.

9 Telepathy

Wonder Woman #219 [written by Greg Rucka, with art by a number of contributors, including Rags Morales, David Lopez, Tom Derenick, and Georges Jeanty.]

While Superman is definitely resistant to telepathy and mind control, he’s not outright immune to it. Characters like Poison Ivy or Scarecrow have shown the need to use Kryptonite in the past for their abilities and toxins to affect Superman, but this isn’t the case for everyone. As seen in Wonder Woman #219, after years of research and practice, Maxwell Lord finally finds the exact right combination of mental suggestions he needs to bend Superman to his will, and Superman nearly kills Wonder Woman because of it.

8 Disease

All-Star Superman #1 [written by Grant Morrison, with art by Frank Quitely, Jamie Grant, and Phil Balsman]

While Superman is completely immune to most forms of disease, this isn’t true for all forms of disease. This proves critical to the plot of Superman: Doomed, when Superman is infected with a Doomsday virus, in DCeased when Superman is infected with a zombie virus, and was most famously seen in All-Star Superman #1. In All-Star Superman, the Man of Steel is tricked into absorbing far too much solar radiation, which ends up giving him cancer. So, while Superman is immune to almost every disease, there are still a few out there that could end his life.

7 Radiation

The Dark Knight Returns [written by Frank Miller, with art by Klaus Janson, John Costanza, and Lynn Varley]

While it doesn’t happen often, Superman has been shown to not be able to handle radiation well. After taking a direct hit from a nuclear warhead in The Dark Knight #4, Superman is left almost entirely powerless, and on the verge of death. The only reason Superman is able to survive this is due to him absorbing the sunlight from a nearby field of flowers, immediately replenishing his cells with solar energy. While the idea of hitting the Man of Steel with a nuclear warhead may seem a bit impractical, it has certainly been shown to be effective if all else fails.

6 Super-Hearing

Action Comics #1058 [written by Phillip Kennedy Johnson, with art by Rafa Sandoval, Matt Herms, and Dave Sharpe]

Superman has tons of abilities, such as heat vision, cold breath, super speed, and most famously, super strength. However, none of his other abilities have been consistently portrayed as a weakness like super-hearing has. This ability has been used against Superman several times, mostly by Batman, but Superman has even used it against himself once. During the events of Action Comics #1058, when a villain copies Superman’s powers, Superman is able to turn the tables by making the villain acutely aware of his new super-hearing, which promptly overwhelms him, allowing Superman to go for the knockout punch.

5 Nerve Pinch

Batman #130 [written by Chip Zdarsky, with art by Jorge Jimenez, Tomeu Morey, and Clayton Cowles]

This surprising weakness was first seen in Batman #130. While Superman is fighting the android Failsafe, a brand-new, and somewhat shocking, weak point for the Man of Steel is exposed. Failsafe reveals that Kryptonians have pressure points just like humans do, and Failsafe uses his knowledge of Kryptonian anatomy to exploit this, causing Superman’s heat-vision to go out of control and be reflected into his own face. This completely disorients Superman, allowing Failsafe to quickly knock the Man of Steel unconscious.

4 Lack Of Yellow Sunlight

Flashpoint #3 [by the creative team of Geoff Johns, Andy Kubert, Sandra Hope, Alex Sinclair, and Nick J. Napolitano]

Superman’s powers come from Earth’s yellow sun. Without regular exposure to sunlight, Superman would slowly lose his powers, along with his muscle mass. While this takes a long time to happen, if Superman can be chained up somewhere for long enough, he will continue losing his powers until his escape is impossible. The best example of this was featured in Flashpoint #3, featuring a version of Superman that could barely control his powers, and was remarkably thin and sickly looking.


1 Superman Power Could Drain His Other Abilities if He Used it Too Much

Superman has many different powers, with many different applications – but overusing one particular power can potentially drain the others.

3 Red Sunlight

Batman / Superman Annual#1 [written by Joshua Williamson, with art by Clayton Henry, Dale Eaglesham, Gleb Melnikov, Alejandro Sánchez, and John J. Hill]

While a lack of yellow sunlight will certainly remove Superman’s powers eventually, red sunlight will do itimmediately. Krypton originally orbited a red sun, and on their homeworld, Kryptonians had power levels akin to human beings. When Superman is exposed to red sunlight, he immediately loses all the powers that he once had, putting his strength on par a normal human. Because of this, several stories have placed Superman on Earth during the period when the yellow sun has changed to a red one. In several instances, antagonists have sought to change Earth’s sun, in order to thwart the Man of Steel.

2 Overwhelming Physical Strength

Superman: The Man of Steel #18 [written by Louise Simonson, with art by Jon Bogdanove, Dennis Janke, Glenn Whitmore, and Bill Oakley]

While not technically a weakness, brute force is the only entry on this list that has successfully killed Superman in the past. Superman is typically seen as being invulnerable to conventional harm, including hand-to-hand, but Doomsday proved when he killed Superman that enough physical strength can certainly put the Man of Steel down. This is likely one of the main reasons Superman has admitted that of all his villains, he fears Doomsday the most. Doomsday proved that Superman can be physically beaten way back in Superman: The Man of Steel #18, though he remains one of the few to do it so completely.

1 Magic

(Frequently Used)

Superman has absolutely no defenses against magic; his traditional invulnerability is completely bypassed by it. This makes characters who use magic especially dangerous to him, and even his own allies have employed it against him in the past. In several alternate timelines and futures, Batman has used magic against Superman, with great effect. A popular hero for Superman to fight is Shazam, since Shazam has just about all the powers of Superman, but his are magic-based. Because of this, despite how dangerous everything else on this list is, the biggest weakness outside of Kryptonite that Superman has will always be magic.

“}]] Superman more weaknesses than people think.  Read More