Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Top 10 Fictional Characters That Have Super Strength


Super strength is the most cliché among superpowers.  The power of flight is its only rival for the title of “most unoriginal power there is.”  So with super strength being the most common of superpowers, there are tons of fictional characters that have this as his power.  My ten here are the characters who I think brought something novel about super strength and whose character developments and portrayals were significantly helped made interesting by it.  That’s how the characters are ranked in this list and not by who is the strongest.

Moreover, to limit the characters evaluated for the list, I excluded characters with super strength that have other super powers besides it.  So no Superman or Spider-Man in this list.  Also, I excluded those that gain super strength by increasing size like Giant-Man and Maul.  However, those who have super strength as primary power and have secondary powers that can be somehow related to or were off-shoots of the main super strength power were still considered.        

10.) WRECK-IT RALPH

I have two to three others in contention for the tenth spot but I finally gave it to the new guy (since the movie was of this year’s offerings), the title character of the great movie Wreck-It Ralph.  Ralph is the bad guy of an arcade game called Fix-It Felix, Jr.  The game is set on an apartment building where Ralph uses his super strength wrecking the apartment building with his large fists while his adversary, the game’s hero, Fix-It Felix, Jr., fixes all the damages Ralph does with his magic hammer.  This was only as far as the game goes, but behind it all, once the arcade closes, it’s all a job for Ralph and Felix, and the two are in good terms.  However, while Felix is revered and beloved by the apartment’s inhabitants, only fear and loathing are bestowed on Ralph for being the “bad guy” of the game.  After 30 years of this, Ralph finally gets tired of being the disliked bad guy.  And to prove to the inhabitants of his game that he has what it takes to be a hero, Ralph game-hopped to another game called Hero’s Duty in order to win a hero’s medal. But due to an accidental detour, he found himself in the game Sugar Rush, and it was during his time there where he finally learned that being a real hero is more than about getting a medal.                   

9.) MR. INCREDIBLE

Mr. Incredible, real name Robert “Bob” Parr, is the main protagonist of the classic Pixar film, The Incredibles.    During his prime, the super strong Mr. Incredible was one – if not the greatest – of the greatest superheroes in the world.  He even had a cool car loaded with gadgets named “the Incredible”, which was a throwback to the Batmobile or the cars that 007 drives.  But because of major collateral damages due to superhero activities, the government created a “Super Relocation Program” which forced superheroes to abandon their superhero identities, stop using their powers, and fit in and live a life among the civilian populace.  Bob got married with his sweetheart, Helen (who was the superhero “Elastigirl”), raised children (who have superpowers due to having superhero genes from both parents), and took a white-collar job in an insurance company.  However, Bob is bored with this tedious lifestyle that he still secretly sneaks out with his bestfriend, the superhero Frozone, to fight crime.  Bob would be manipulated by the villain Syndrome to return to his Mr. Incredible persona, in which he does, so that he will be able to destroy him.  But Syndrome’s plan would backfire since the return of a Mr. Incredible – with the help of his superhero family – would lead to his defeat.  The best, unforgettable memory I have of Mr. Incredible’s display of super strength in this film was when he used trains for his workout (e.g. using a train car to bench press) to get back in shape. 
 
8.) LUKE CAGE

 
Due to being experimented on while in prison, Cage gained superhuman strength and an impervious skin.  He is an adept fighter – being an exceptional athlete and street fighter even before gaining superpowers, and obtaining some knowledge of martial arts due to years of hanging out with Iron Fist – and has learned how to successfully utilize and combine his powers and skills to increase his combat efficiency, even allowing him to fight more powerful opponents.  What I like most about him is that he is a superhero that refuses to wear a costume, which adds to the street grittiness to the character.     
    
7.) JUGGERNAUT

 
He is the only villain in this list, and is the earliest villain with super strength that greatly appealed to me.  He is referred to as “the unstoppable Juggernaut” and there’s a reason for that.  Cain Marco (Prof. X’s half-brother) has been given tremendous superhuman strength by the Crimson Gem of Cyttorac.  Moreover, he also has a mystical force field that greatly enhances his durability.  He is “unstoppable” since, once in motion, he is physically impossible to stop.  However, he is very vulnerable to mental attacks, thus, he wears a trademark helmet which protects him from such.          

6.) CAPTAIN HAMMER

 
Captain Hammer is the nemesis of Dr. Horrible, the... anti-hero? Villain? Anti-villain?... of the epic short movie Dr. Horrible’s Sing-A-Long Blog (if you haven’t seen it yet, you should!).  Despite being a superhero, Captain Hammer is very much unheroic.  He is narcissistic, reckless, and self-centered.  The public, though, adores him and perceives him as a real hero.  Captain Hammer possesses super strength and invulnerability, thus, he had never been familiar with pain until Dr. Horrible’s damaged death ray gun exploded in his hand and sent him flying across the room.  The explosion never really gave Captain Hammer any physical damage at all, but it made him feel pain for the first time in his life.  Being unfamiliar with pain throughout his life gave Captain Hammer a very low tolerance for pain that when he experienced it for the first time, he was greatly traumatized.  The last time we saw him, he was wailing in a session with a psychiatrist.  I find it brilliant how it was explored through the character’s super strength and extreme durability the idea that there can be a disadvantage when one has been shielded from pain throughout his life, that when he finally experiences pain – whether serious or minor – he won’t have the mechanisms to deal well with it which would lead him to fold.

5.) STRONG GUY

 
The X-Factor Guido Carosella has one of the laziest superhero names ever conceived.  Nonetheless, I found him one of the most interesting characters out there that has super strength.  His super strength power is somewhat unique since it is dependent on kinetic energy.  Strong Guy’s mutant power is the ability to absorb kinetic energy and then use it to enhance his physical strength.  Example, if he gets hit by a bus, he can absorb and store the amount of force from the impact, and then release the energy through – let’s say – a punch and that punch will have the same amount of power as the force of the bus’ impact.  Pretty cool, eh?  The downside, however, is he needs to physically release the energy within 90 seconds of absorbing it or the stored energy will permanently distort his body.  That’s the reason why his body shape is unusually top-heavy.  He is constantly in pain from the distortions happening inside his body, but because of having a cheerful disposition, he is able to hide the pain very well.  He is very witty and smart, and is very fond of making jokes, probably as a way of coping with the physical pain.   
 
4.) POPEYE

 
In the comic strip, I can find no indication that Popeye has super strength in that version.  But in the animated TV series, super strength is a recognized characteristic of Popeye.  The climax sequence of each episode is almost always the same: first, the villain – usually Bluto – beats up Popeye; second, a weakened Popeye eats a can of spinach which gives him super strength; third, a recovered and greatly empowered Popeye turns the tables on his foe, overpowers him, and saves the day (“the day” – more often than not – pertaining to Olive Oyl).  Sometimes, it is established that Popeye already has super strength prior to eating up his can of spinach, and after he consumes spinach, his super strength significantly increases.  Watching Popeye’s ridiculous depiction of super strength – which includes turning a raging bull into an entire meat market with one punch or even clobbering inanimate and intangible things, like storms, into submission – was a lot of fun to watch.   
  
3.) THING

 
The Thing is arguably the Fantastic Four’s most popular member (Or I’m just being biased since the Thing is my most favorite FF member?).  Aside from possessing super strength, the Thing is also extremely durable because of his rock skin.  Also, it was mentioned that when the Thing is in his rock form, he doesn’t age, thus, making him immortal!  He is also known for his catchphrase “It’s clobberin’ time!” which is one of the catchiest catchphrases ever coined.   

2.) HERCULES

The half-god Heracles, son of Zeus from a mortal woman, is the greatest among all heroes of Greek mythology, though he is more famously known by his Roman name, Hercules. Through the centuries, the name “Hercules” has been synonymous to super strength.  And in modern times, he has been many times depicted in different media.  But three notable reinterpretations of Hercules are my favorites (as suggested by the accompanying image above): the struggling hero-in-training from the Disney animated movie (and its TV series spin-off), Kevin Sorbo’s portrayal in the awesome Hercules: The Legendary Journeys TV series, and the Marvel superhero (who was even able to absurdly pull Manhattan Island!).      

1.) HULK

 
If there’s someone that rivals Hercules as the epitome of super strength, then it is the Hulk.  Hulk is potentially the strongest among all the characters in this list – or among all characters with super strength for that matter.  I say “potentially” since the Hulk’s strength is proportional to his rage.  The angrier he is, the stronger he is.  When the Hulk’s rage is at its peak, the Hulk’s super strength is limitless!  Still, even when calm, the Hulk is still capable of lifting or pressing up to 70 tons.  He uses his powerful legs to leap long distances and he can create a shockwave through merely clapping his hands together.       

The Hulk’s entire characterization is incredibly interesting.  His human alter ego, Bruce Banner, is extremely the Hulk’s antithesis.  Banner is wimpy and meek, while the Hulk is savage and tremendously vigorous.  Banner has one of the most brilliant minds in the world, while the Hulk speaks in broken English and has the intelligence comparable to that of a toddler or a retard.   However, this doesn’t mean that the Hulk is dumb, gullible, and dim-witted because it is shown that he can be scheming, cunning, creative, and capable of reasoning.  The “Dr. Jekyl-Mr. Hyde” relationship between Banner and the Hulk is a major factor of the character’s awesomeness.   
 
The most interesting thing that I find about the Hulk is, in spite of being considered a superhero and generally recognized to be aligned with good, the Hulk is nonetheless a menace and a major threat to people and property.  He is susceptible to going uncontrollably berserk when greatly enraged; and with no consideration to collateral damage, safety of others, and conditions of his environment, he would brutally pour out his wrathful power until he destroys his target.  He is as much danger to his allies as to his enemies.  He is an unpredictable, difficult to control weapon of mass destruction.  However, despite of these things, he is more frequently inclined to save the world than destroy it.    

The Hulk is handily number one to me.  And no matter how catchy “It’s clobberin’ time!” is, nothing can beat “Hulk smash!”    

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Where is PITT? He fought the Hulk to a draw.