It’s amazing how the word “kryptonite,” a fictional item that was introduced in a radio program just so the voice actor who plays the protagonist could go on vacation, has become synonymous with “weakness.” But that’s how popular Superman is; even non-comic book readers know that the irradiated remnants of Kal-El’s home planet can weaken the superpowered Man of Steel.
However, not all superhero weaknesses are created equal. Some other superhero’s version of “kryptonite” can be downright strange and kind of dumbfounding why the writer’s thought they would be great weaknesses. So, with that in mind, let’s take a gander at just five of those rather lame superhero weaknesses.
Any Kind of Pollution (Captain Planet)
Let’s start this list with a superhero that isn’t from the comics… and who probably has one of the most ironic weaknesses ever.
Captain Planet is basically a superpowered being that is formed by five kids called the Planeteers who have magic rings. When a great environmental catastrophe happens, the children summon him from the rings via the power of earth, fire, wind water and… heart? Whatever, it’s a cartoon from the ’90s. Anyway, each episode, he’s summoned to take care of pollution problems plaguing the planet.
Which makes it weird that Captain Planet’s only weakness is pollution. Yes, his only weakness is the very thing he’s designed to combat!
If he falls into a pile of garbage, breathes in too much carbon emissions or someone spills oil on him, Captain Planet becomes incredibly weak and loses all of his strength, forcing him to return to the rings of the Planeteers to recharge. I guess it’s supposed to show how terrible polluting the planet is but it’s like designing a bulletproof vest that can only be pierced by bullets! It’s just a really dumb weakness.
Speaking of ironic weaknesses…
Very Loud Sounds and Strong Smells (Daredevil)
Unlike Captain Planet, at least Daredevil’s weakness makes sense.
Thanks to a radioactive chemical accident, Dadedevil lost his eyesight but, in turn, all of his other senses have been heightened to superhuman levels. His touch is so sensitive, he can “read” a newspaper by feeling for the miniscule bumps the ink leaves on the paper. He can even taste the particles in the air. His most popular heightened sense is, of course, his hearing. He can detect his surroundings as sound waves bounce back to him, enabling him to “see” all around himself. While this is a great power, it’s also one of his greatest weaknesses as, because of his formidible ability to hear, Daredevil can get overwhelmed when there is too much noise in the area. Essentially, too much loud ambient noise overloads his brain.
One other weakness Daredevil has is also linked on another elevated sense of his. This time, it’s his sense of smell. It’s basically the same with super loud noises; incredibly powerful smells can overload his brain to a degree. And it doesn’t have to be terrible smells necessarily. Any powerful odor can do it.
The Color Yellow or Wood (Green Lantern)
Same name. Different weaknesses. Same level of idiotic weakness. It’s a tie!
There have been so many people who have taken up the Green Lantern mantle. The most well-known is still Hal Jordan, who was given the Power Ring by Abin Sur after crash landing on Earth. The ring allows Hal Jordan to pretty much will anything into existence and do incredible feats that will astonish the imagination. But he can still get beat up by an insane guy in a bat costume and a kid wearing underwear as long as they’re painted head to toe in yellow.
Because of an “impurity” of the original Power Battery, Hal Jordan’s Green Lantern Power Ring cannot do anything to the color yellow. Which is weird because green is a mixture of blue and yellow. This was reconned to be the entity known as Parallax, who was imprisoned in the Power Battery. It modified this version of the Green Lantern’s weakness into fear.
While being weak to a very bright color is stupid, being weak to anything made of wood is just as dumb. This was the weakness given to the original Green Lantern, Alan Scott. Like Hal Jordan, Alan Scott’s Green Lantern ring can do all sorts of magical feats. However, the source of his power is different as it comes from the mystical “green flame” that resides in his lamp. The green flame is, apparently, linked to “green, growing things” such as trees, this version of Green Lantern cannot do anything to items made out of wood. So, if you need to take out both Hal Jordan and Alan Scott, all you need to do is paint a wooden spear yellow and you’re golden.
Not Holding onto his Favorite Weapon (Thor)
Despite being an actual god, Thor’s over-reliance on his hammer, Mjolnir, borderlined on the ridiculousness in his original stories. The origins of the God of Thunder in Marvel comics and the movies are pretty much the same. Odin, tired of his son’s arrogance, banishes Thor to Earth and strips him of his powers. Unlike the films, however, the comic version of Thor starts him on Earth an a mild-mannered doctor named Donald Blake. The good doctor finds a walking stick, which just so happens to be a disguised Mjolnir. With the stick in hand, Donald Blake is now able to transform in the Mighty Thor.
But for some strange reason, the original comics gave Thor one of the weirdest weaknesses of a mighty god. If Mjolnir leaves Thor’s grasp for a minute, he’ll revert back to the powerless Donald Blake. Why? Isn’t he the Mighty Thor first and foremost and an ordinary human second? I guess this is part of Odin’s orders but I do question why, after Thor proving himself to be a less arrogant god over and over again, is he still burdened with this weird hamstringing of his powers?
Oh, yeah. Because they just gotta give Thor a dumb weakness.
Being Tied Up by a Man (Wonder Woman)
Imagine being strong enough to be able to lift a tank over your head, agile enough to deflect bullets with your wrist guards and fast enough to outrun the fastest car of the time. Now imagine that someone tied your arms together and, because of this, you become a mere mortal. This was the case for Wonder Woman during her early comic book outings.
This weakness of being bound is a little more nuanced than simply tying her up. There are two prerequisites for it to genuinely work. First, her bracelets (known as the Bracelets of Submission, natch) have to be linked together in some fashion, like by looping a simple rope around them. Second, the binding has to be done by the male of the species or else Wonder Woman will stay powered up. This is known as Aphrodite’s Law and it works because… comics.
While it’s usually demonized to show Wonder Woman’s creator, William Moulton Marston, having a bondage fetish (which is, by all accounts, true), it does go a little bit deeper than just showing kinky stuff. Because Wonder Woman is never rescued and always has to find a way to liberate herself from bondage, it’s also supposed to illustrate how women have the power to escape their own figurative subservience to men. And you thought it was just there to titillate young boys…
Well, yeah. Kinda.
BONUS: People using more electricity (Automan)
During the ’80s, no one really understood what a computer can do or how powerful it was. Which is why, at the time, we had the notion that video games can accurately simulate a high-tech spaceship like in The Last Starfighter, sentient computers that can bring us to the bring of nuclear war like in WarGames and machines that can digitize, not only a adult’s mental state, but their entire body as well like in Tron.
Not only that, computers at the time could create, not just one, but two, count them, two, whole thinking creatures who can do unimaginable stuff like create things out of thin air. This was the premise of the 1983 television series, Automan.
Automan is more than just powerful. He has super strength, nigh indestructibility, incredible speed, amazing reflexes, among other powers. He also has a “pet” named Cursor who can make anything materialize into reality, such as a variety of vehicles and even clothing to cover Automan’s highly illuminating silhouette while fighting crime during the dead of night.
Oh, nighttime is the only time Automan and Cursor can actually do so as he can only materialize when there’s enough power to suck out from the city’s grid. This means that, when the morning comes and more people start using more electricity, Automan just fades into nothingness. Honestly, with the power consumption needs of today, I don’t think there’s ever going to be a moment when there would be enough electricity surplus for Automan to come out, be it day or night.
Know about any other superhero who has a rather laughable weakness? Let me know in the comments section below!