The world of comic books is full of super powered people with abilities and powers that push them toward God-like status. Saving the planet on a daily basis from all the unspeakable evils of the universe, these heroes possess super-human strength that goes beyond any limit that a normal person could ever hope to achieve. As well as this, some of these heroes can even control the weather, the elements and even transcend time as well as the dimensional barriers.
With this in mind, it’s difficult to imagine a “normal” person being able to compete with these heroes, let alone fight crime on an equal level. However, there are a few heroes that possess no super powers whatsoever and not only do they equal some of the most over-powered heroes, but in some cases they actually surpass them. Whether it’s with the use of their superior intellect or their athletic prowess, this list looks at the 15 best non super-powered heroes.
15. Adam Strange
The first entry on our list comes from the DC universe. When Adam Strange was suddenly and unexpectedly transported from Earth to the planet Rann via a Zeta Beam, he soon became fond of the people that inhabit the planet and it wasn’t long before he became the ultimate space hero as he protected Rann from anyone that wished to do it or its people harm. He would later be returned to Earth but Strange would still protect Rann as he traveled the world and intercepted any Zeta Beams that people could use to get to Rann.
Strange himself doesn’t have any special abilities or super powers; with the use of Rann technology Strange uses a spacesuit that can sustain flight and travel across galaxies, as well as allow him to see the whole electromagnetic spectrum. He also carries energy blast guns and other such weapons.
The ultimate martial arts master in all of the Marvel universe, Shang-Chi’s skill is greater than most, even highly trained heroes such as Iron Fist and White Tiger. However, unlike Iron Fist, Shang-Chi doesn’t have the use of magic to achieve his goal. Trained since childhood, Shang-Chi learned everything he needed to on his own with nothing but outstanding mental and physical discipline. Not only has Shang-Chi fully mastered the ancient martial arts, he has also brought them to a new level, meaning he can go toe to toe with a lot of super powered beings such as Spider-Man.
No one really knows just how great and powerful shang-Chi’s skills are. But as he has complete mastery over chi, this enables him to surpass normal human abilities, including strength and stamina. He has also been known to deflect bullets and even dodge them with his great speed and reflexes.
13. The Bat Family
Batman has been protecting the streets of Gotham for many years, and many will say that Batman is great enough by himself. However, over the years the Dark Knight has taken several people under his wing in order to train them in the ways of crime fighting. The two most famous are Dick Grayson and Barbara Gordon. However, as they went on to become heroes in their own right, they get their own entries.
Over the years there have been many people to have the handle of Robin, Batwoman and Batgirl. From Tim Drake to Jason Todd, Damien Wayne to Stephanie Brown. Each one possess the skills, stealth and intelligence to take on the crime in Gotham City. Each trained by the Dark Knight himself, the Bat family also helps out on the wider scene as well, with such groups as the Justice League, Young Justice and Teen Titans. Catwoman has also been in the extended Bat family from time to time.
The very first incarnation of Robin and a member of the Bat family that became a super hero in his own right, Nightwing broke out from the shadow of Batman and has practically become his equal.
After Dick Grayson’s parents were killed by the mafia, Bruce Wayne took Grayson in as his ward and it wasn’t long before he taught the young Grayson the ways of crime fighting.
Already a talented acrobat, Grayson quickly picked up martial arts and hand-to-hand and became an expert with high-tech gadgets. After many adventures along side the Dark Knight, Grayson wanted to break out on his own and took on the mantle of Nightwing.
Going solo gave Grayson the chance to mature and become an important hero in the DC universe and a critical member of the Justice League, Young Justice and the Teen Titans.
Barbara Gordon is one of the most interesting characters in the DC universe. As Batgirl, the young Barbara Gordon picked up the ways of crime fighting and became an expert in martial arts, hand-to-hand combat and the use of an array of weapons and gadgets. She quickly fit into the Bat family and kept the streets of Gotham City safe.
However, in the Killing Joke story arch, the Joker shoots Gordon through the spinal cord which leaves her paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair. After this, many other women would take up the mantle of Batgirl, but Gordon herself didn’t let her disability stop her from protecting the world.
Renaming herself Oracle, Gordon used her genius-level intellect and computer skills to assist her fellow heroes. She also went on to become the leader of The Birds of Prey. In her own way, Barbara Gordon not only showed us what a female hero could do, but she also redefined what it means to be a hero.
10. The Winter Soldier
Born James Buchanan Barnes, “Bucky” became great friends with a small and clumsy soldier named Steve Rogers. Watching out for his friend, Bucky took care of Rogers. Until Rogers got a boost from the Super Serum.
Once Captain America came onto the scene, Bucky became his trusted sidekick as the two of them fought in World War II and battled the Red Skull and Hydra. However, while Captain America was frozen, Bucky was thought to have died in a plane crash, but he didn’t. Being kidnapped, brain washed and having his arm replaced with a mechanical one, Bucky became known as the deadly assassin The Winter Soldier.
As the Winter Soldier, Bucky is an expert in hand-to-hand combat, has advanced military training and possesses extensive knowledge of all weapons. Being frozen between missions means that the Winter Soldier can pass through the decades without aging much and is considered one of the most deadly characters in the Marvel universe.
9. Black Widow
Natasha Romanova is the ultimate spy and assassin. Over the years Black Widow has undergone many changes and modifications. Although she doesn’t possess any super powers, Black Widow has been exposed to several treatments in her life that make her immune system stronger than most, making her resistant to most diseases and infections. She has also had her life span slowed down dramatically, which keeps her in her prime for a longer time.
As well as this, Black Widow was trained as a ballerina as a child, which was a cover for her actual training as an assassin. This training however, gives her flexibility and reflexes that put her on par with many super-powered heroes. Black Widow is also an expert in hand-to-hand combat and martial arts and she is an expert marksman.
8. Green Arrow
A cross between Batman and Marvel’s Hawkeye, the Green Arrow is the alter ego of billionaire Oliver Queen. Following similar heroes’ backstories, Queen’s parents were both killed when he was younger; a death that Queen could have actually stopped as they were mauled by lions on a safari trip. Queen picked up a bow but hesitated and his parents suffered.
As an adult, Queen inherited his family’s wealth and business and chose the life of a rich playboy, until a boating accident left him stranded in the middle of the ocean. Washing up on an island, Queen was left alone and without food. He used this time to master his skills with the bow as well as hone his hunting skills and instincts.
Once back in his home town of Star City, Queen adopted the name Green Arrow and used his skills to defend the common man and rid the streets of crime. Although Green Arrow might not be as skilled or as affective as superheroes such as Batman and Hawkeye, he is still a powerful asset to the comic book world. With his bow skills, martial arts and use of technology, Green Arrow is one tough hero.
There are a few characters within the comic book world who not only choose to use a bow and arrow, but are also said to be expert marksmen. The list includes the likes of Green Arrow, Trick Shot and Bullseye, but many will argue that they all pale in comparison to Hawkeye.
After his parents died, a young Clint Barton spent most of youth in an orphanage until he ran away to literally join the circus. Once there, Hawkeye was taken under the wing of Swordsman; a vigilante who fluctuated between being a hero and a criminal. Together with Trick Shot, Hawkeye was taught how to use weapons such as the bow.
Soon he surpassed his peers and with some further training with S.H.E.I.L.D, Hawkeye became the ultimate agent, marksman and hero. The quick witted and smart mouthed Hawkeye can not only handle any mission S.H.E.I.L.D throws at him, but he’s also a key member of The Avengers, capable of holding his own with the likes of Thor and The Hulk.
6. Black Panther
In the small African nation of Wakanda, the chief and king of the Wakandan people is given the title of Black Panther. The sole purpose of the Black Panther is to protect his people and the Vibranium-rich nation of Wakanda.
With the use of Vibranium, an almost indestructible metal that absorbs any vibrations and can be forged into any weapon, Black Panther is also at the peak of human fitness. With his acute senses, strength, stamina and reflexes, he is also a highly skilled acrobat and a master of hand-to-hand combat and martial arts.
The present day Black Panther is T’Challa who was given the kingdom and Black Panther mantle after his father died. T’Challa is one of the few Black Panthers to not only leave Wakanda but to make himself known to the world.
First helping out the Fantastic Four, T’Challa has been a key member of The Avengers and The Defenders. With a bit part in the recent Captain America: Civil War movie, and an upcoming Black Panther movie, expect to see a lot more from him in the MCU.
5. The Punisher
More of a vigilante and anti-hero than a straight up superhero, The Punisher has been involved in a variety of hero groups as well as helping out the odd superhero from time to time. Plus, The Punisher does live by his own set of rules that he tries not to break or cross, so for those reasons The Punisher deserves his place on our list of heroes.
When Frank Castle’s family is killed by the mob, Castle wages a one man war on crime. Using violence, kidnapping, extortion, torture and even murder to get results, Castle is a one man army that will stop at nothing to destroy the evil in the world.
Adopting the name The Punisher, Castle uses his marine training and guerrilla warfare tactics to his advantage. Castle is also an expert in all weapons as well as martial arts and hand-to-hand combat and is a master of stealth operations.
Although The Punisher doesn’t possess any super-human abilities, he is feared by many of his superpowered foes. Not just because of his skill set but because The Punisher will do whatever it takes to get his man, and he will cross any line he sees fit. This alone makes him one of the most dangerous men in the Marvel universe.
4. Green Lantern (Hal Jordan)
There is no denying that the Green Lantern possess great power. With the power of will, he can construct any hard light object. He has incredible strength, can fly, is capable of interspace travel and is the protector of a whole section of space. So with these God-like powers, why is the Green Lantern on this list? The answer is simple. Although The Green Lantern is powerful, unlike superheroes such as Superman, Hulk and Thor whose powers are part of them, all of The Green Lantern’s power comes from a ring. Hal Jordan as a man possesses no super powers whatsoever and relies completely on a mystical object to make him a hero.
Having said that, Hal Jordan is a very skilled pilot. Plus, he has a great head for tactics and the ways of military warfare. However, these skills in themselves don’t make Hal Jordan a hero. He never showed any hero qualities until he gained possession of the ring.
3. Captain America
This is an entry that will no doubt cause a lot of arguing and controversy, but the fact is that Captain America possesses no super-human or super-powered abilities at all. It’s true The First Avenger and Super Soldier Steve Rogers was given a serum that enhances human abilities. However, never is it said that Steve Rogers has super powers. All the serum did was enhance his abilities to the peak of human strengths and limits. The fact is that Captain America can’t do anything a normal human can’t do. He can’t fly or shoot laser beams and he’s not indestructible.
Steve Rogers himself possess skills and talents such as military training, which makes him an expert in hand-to-hand combat, and is a great tactician. Plus, of course the use of an indestructible shield does make Captain America a valuable hero, but he’s not super.
2. Iron Man
The billionaire playboy philanthropist, Tony Stark is not shy about his hero intentions, and unlike a lot of superheroes, he sees no need for any kind of secret identity. There are many comic book fans out there that see Ironman and Batman as two sides of the same coin. Both with genius level intellect and a love of gadgets. However, while Batman trains his body to the peak of human fitness, Stark relies solely on his tech.
Creating the most advanced tech in the Marvel universe, Stark is able to give himself powers and abilities to match the likes of Thor and Hulk; often being the one to stop Hulk in the times that his anger gets out of control.
However, like many heroes who start out with the best intentions, Stark’s quest for peace in the world often pushes him to extremes. He’s been quoted many times as saying he wants to wrap the world in a suit of armor. Stark is a great hero and leader of The Avengers, but he sometimes needs to be kept in check by the likes of Captain America.
Number one on our list is the most famous superhero of them all; Batman. Everybody, both comic book fan and non comic book fan, knows the origin story of the Dark Knight. His parents being killed in front of him pushed the young Bruce Wayne into the world of vigilante justice and crime fighting. Batman was born.
Unlike any other hero in any other comic book, there isn’t anything that Batman can’t do. Although Bruce Wayne spent most of his young life learning all the skills he needed to rid Gotham City of crime, including advanced knowledge of gadgets and all things tech, Batman is still just a man. However, Batman has not only gone toe to toe with Superman and won, but as part of the Justice League he has also gone up against the likes of Darkseid.
Not only does Batman always survive these encounters, but more often than not, he actually comes out on top. With all the skills that Batman possesses and all the gadgets at his fingertips, there’s one reason why Batman always wins, and that’s simply because he’s Batman!