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How Much Can Superman Lift? (Explained)

Comic Con attendee poses as Superman
(Photo by Daniel Zuchnik/Getty Images)

 

Superman is one of the strongest superheroes in the history of comics.

With the ability to lift buildings, use X-Ray vision, and even melt things with lasers that shoot from his eyes, he clearly has several offensive and defensive powers.

That said, you may wonder how much the Man of Steel can actually lift.

Here’s what you need to know about Superman’s strength.

 

How Much Can Superman Lift?

superman

 

Superman, with his normal strength, can lift as much as two billion tons.

According to Science World, Superman has lifted the Empire State Building before.

The Empire State Building weighs 365,000 tons.

However, throughout the comics, Superman has lifted heavier things than that.

It’s also worth noting when Superman becomes charged.

In the All-Star Superman, comics, Superman undergoes a treatment that enables him to take energy from the sun.

The sun essentially charges his powers to their maximum.

The consequence is that the sun will also kill him.

During that arc, however, Superman tests his new capabilities of strength.

He’s able to lift up to 200 quintillion tons with one arm.

In fact, they’re unable to find the upper limits of his strength.

As such, it’s possible that Superman could lift far more than just that.

Superman can lift two billion tons in his normal form, but when he’s super-charged, he can lift at least 200 quintillion tons.

 

Why Is Superman So Strong?

superman from dc

 

Considering that Superman can lift practically anything, you may wonder what makes him so strong.

Here are a few reasons Superman is as strong as he is.

 

1. High Gravity Pull On Krypton

Science World gives a great explanation as to why Superman is capable of some of the feats of strength that he has.

The main reason behind it is the fact that he’s an alien.

Although Superman looks human, he’s an alien from the planet Krypton.

His parents sent him to Earth to be safe while Krypton was being destroyed.

This is important because it’s worth noting the gravity on Krypton.

The planet has a very high gravitational pull.

This means that in order to move around, its occupants need to be strong enough to overcome gravity.

If they’re not strong enough, then they’ll be unable to move.

This is important because Earth has less gravity compared to Krypton.

In the case of Superman, it means he’s able to move on Earth a lot easier than he was able to move on Krypton.

It’s not unlike astronauts on the moon.

They’re able to bounce and jump around with ease because there’s less gravity on the moon than there is on Earth.

If the astronauts weren’t tied down, there’s a chance that they could fly off the surface of the moon and into space.

Superman has great feats of strength because his body comes from a planet with stronger gravity.

Lifting objects for him on Earth isn’t as hard as it would be if he were lifting them on Krypton.

 

2. Solar Radiation

Another reason Superman is strong is his relationship with solar radiation.

As a Krypton, Superman’s cells have a different reaction to solar radiation than human cells.

According to a study performed in 2020, solar radiation has both a positive and negative relationship with human cells.

In small doses, solar radiation can help treat certain types of skin damage.

In large doses, however, it can cause skin cancer and wrinkling.

Solar radiation is also helpful in determining an object’s color.

Depending on the light’s wavelength, the eye perceives a certain color.

Although humans have a love-hate relationship with solar radiation, Superman has only a positive one.

Kryptonian cells take in solar radiation like plants.

Plant cells use solar radiation to generate energy.

Kryptonians also absorb energy from the sun.

However, the planet Krypton was next to a red sun.

This is a sun that has reached the end of its life.

Since it wasn’t able to emit as much solar radiation, the Kryptonians who lived nearby were only able to get so much energy from it.

When Superman travels to Earth, his cells can regenerate with a much younger sun.

The Earth’s sun is quite a bit younger than the Krypton’s sun.

As such, it produces more solar radiation.

This essentially supercharges Superman’s cells and grants him incredible abilities like super strength.

He’s essentially using the power of the sun to fuel his own body.

It’s also why, in some of the comics, you’ll see Superman fly up to the sun.

He’s basically recharging his cells to give himself more energy to do incredible things.

Superman is strong because of his body’s relationship with solar radiation.

 

3. Electromagnetic Field Manipulation

During the Superman #123 issue, something remarkable happened.

Superman lost most of his abilities and regained new ones as the Man of Energy.

He essentially lost many of the powers that made him Superman to begin with.

For example, he no longer became an impenetrable force.

Bullets would simply go through him instead.

He also no longer had X-Ray vision or heat vision.

In their place, he was able to detect radiation and radio waves, and he shot energy beams from his eyes instead.

Most importantly, he was able to manipulate magnets and magnetism.

Not unlike Magneto of Marvel’s X-Men fame, Superman could manipulate a magnetic field around something.

In the comics that followed, he used his new ability of magnetic manipulation to prevent the Moon from crashing into Earth.

This makes him strong because, in this form at least, Superman doesn’t need strength to move an object.

He can manipulate their magnetic field instead and use himself as a repelling force.

Since he’s repelling the field, the object moves away from him.

This enables him to essentially lift or move anything that has a magnetic field around it.

Superman is strong because he can use himself as an electromagnet and use magnetic fields to repel or attract large or heavy objects.

 

What Makes Superman Weak?

superman toy

 

There are two main sources that make Superman weak.

The first is a lack of sun exposure.

Superman relies on solar radiation to give him energy.

Since it gives him energy, he doesn’t technically need to eat or sleep.

He does so to appear more human.

To make Superman weak, a villain could try and hold him in some underground facility and keep him in the dark.

Of course, getting him down into that facility is going to be an epic battle in itself.

The other big resource that can make Superman weak is the infamous kryptonite.

Kryptonite comes from the planet Krypton.

After the planet exploded, kryptonite formed from the residual radiation.

Although it has many forms, one of its most famous is a crystal formation.

There are several different types of kryptonite, too, with each type affecting Superman in a different way.

Here are the main types of kryptonite and how they all make Superman weak.

 

1. Green Kryptonite

One of the most famous types of kryptonite is the green variety.

It’s shown in both comics and movies.

Green kryptonite makes Superman weak by draining him of his energy.

It basically weakens his powers, and if he is exposed long enough, can even kill him.

Kryptonite starts working immediately.

As soon as Superman goes near it, his powers start to drain, and he starts to feel weak.

The more powerful the kryptonite, the faster his powers drain.

Because of how powerful Superman is, it can take some time for his powers and energy to drain completely.

The longer he’s exposed to green kryptonite, the weaker he becomes.

Green kryptonite is ideal for villains to use to make Superman physically weaker and lose his powers.

 

2. Red Kryptonite

Another famous type of kryptonite is red kryptonite.

This type has gone through several different versions throughout the comics and shows.

In the comics, red kryptonite overloaded Superman’s cells.

It caused him to feel incredible pain, and he even became almost invisible.

In another comic book arc, red kryptonite stripped Superman of his powers completely.

He was essentially human.

The change would have remained permanent if Mr. Mxyzptlk hadn’t found a way to get around its draining powers.

In some cases, red kryptonite caused Superman and other Kryptonians to grow a lot of hair in a short amount of time.

Once, it even caused him to turn into a dragon.

In the Superman television shows, red kryptonite has had a slightly different effect on Superman.

In Smallville, when exposed to red kryptonite, Superman lost all of his inhibitions.

It was like putting him on drugs.

Red kryptonite has a different effect on Superman, but the exact effect differs based on the comic book writer and story.

 

3. Gold Kryptonite

One of the most damaging types of kryptonite is the gold version.

This is an extremely rare version of kryptonite.

It strips Superman, and any other Kryptonian, of their powers permanently by making it impossible for their body’s cells to absorb energy from the sun.

Since Superman uses solar radiation to become energized and use his powers, if his cells are no longer able to react with solar radiation, then he no longer has his powers.

It essentially turns a Krypton back into what they would be like on their home planet.

This is unlike green kryptonite which only drains a Krypton of their energy and power while they’re at a close distance.

As soon as the green kryptonite moves away, the Krypton is able to get back their energy and power.

Gold kryptonite damages their cells, making it impossible for them to get their powers back.

Even if they were to travel to a different sun, since their body is incapable of generating energy from solar radiation, nothing would happen.

Being exposed to gold kryptonite is one of the worst things that can happen to Superman.

Gold kryptonite makes Superman weak by permanently removing his ability to generate energy from the sun.

 

4. Blue Kryptonite

Another type of kryptonite that has different effects on Superman based on the media and story arc is blue kryptonite.

Normally, blue kryptonite doesn’t have any effect on Superman.

It’s one of the few types of kryptonite that is actually harmless to Kryptonians.

That said, if the Kryptonian comes from Bizzaro World, it affects them like green kryptonite affects Superman.

They get their energy and powers drained for as long as they’re around the blue kryptonite.

In some of the story arcs, blue kryptonite has even had a healing quality to it.

In some of the stories, it’s a cure for the devastating effects of red kryptonite exposure.

In Smallville, blue kryptonite acted like gold kryptonite.

The only difference is that it only worked while the Kryptonian was around the blue kryptonite.

Blue kryptonite is either a powerful way to make Superman and other Kryptonians weak, or it does not affect them at all.

 

5. Synthetic Kryptonite

An interesting type of kryptonite called synthetic kryptonite made Superman a different kind of weak.

It was in Superman III that synthetic kryptonite got its big reveal.

The villain, Gus Gorman, created this version of kryptonite and exposed Superman to it.

While exposed, it made Superman’s morals start to degrade.

He ended up becoming more and more evil.

It resulted in him splitting into two halves.

Superman ended up having to fight the evil version of himself.

Although this type of kryptonite doesn’t weaken Superman in a physical sense, it did weaken him in a moral sense.

It only took his own internal—and then external—fight with himself to get back control from the kryptonite.

 

6. White Kryptonite

One type of kryptonite that no Kryptonian has to worry about is white kryptonite.

This is a harmless type of kryptonite in that it doesn’t affect Kryptonians in any way.

That said, it does kill all plant life in its immediate vicinity.

 

7. Platinum Kryptonite

Another rare type of kryptonite is actually a beneficial one.

Platinum kryptonite doesn’t have any effect on Kryptonians.

However, it can give a human the powers that Kryptonians possess.

When a human uses the mineral, they’re able to fly, become super strong, and exhibit many of the powers that Superman has.

Because this type of kryptonite can be a powerful tool to grant humans extraordinary powers, it’s rare for a reason.

If the wrong person got their hands on it, then Superman could have quite the fight on his hands.

While platinum kryptonite doesn’t affect Kryptonians, since they already have all their powers, it does give humans superpowers.

 

8. Black Kryptonite

Black kryptonite is similar to synthetic kryptonite in that it weakens Superman psychically rather than physically.

Black kryptonite first made its appearance in an episode of Smallville.

Clark Kent used it to separate the evil version of himself, so he could fight him.

Eventually, black kryptonite showed up in the comics, too.

Supergirl ended up becoming exposed to it which split her into a good side and an evil side.

When Superman became exposed to it, he actually lost his mind.

In his madness, he committed evil deeds.

Its use has even been as recent as in The Batman Who Laughs story arc.

In those comics, The Batman Who Laughs uses black kryptonite to commit murders.

Clearly, black kryptonite weakens the mind of most who become exposed to it.

In particular, it affects Kryptonians like Superman the worst.

 

9. Silver Kryptonite

Silver kryptonite essentially acts like a drug to Superman.

It makes him lose all of his inhibitions and even causes him to see hallucinations.

It’s likened to a bad trip on cannabis.

In Smallville, silver kryptonite has a slightly different effect on Superman.

It makes him feel paranoid.

It even causes him to have delusions that people are trying to kill him or cause harm to him.

Silver kryptonite weakens Superman by either causing him paranoid or making him lose his morals.

 

10. Pink Kryptonite

Pink kryptonite is rather rare because of how problematic it can become.

When it first made its appearance, pink kryptonite changed Superman’s sexual orientation.

When it showed up again, it turned Superman into a woman.

Both effects come with their share of problems.

 

11. Anti-Kryptonite

Anti-kryptonite works like green kryptonite in that it drains someone of their energy and power.

However, it doesn’t work against Kryptonians.

It only works on humans.

This is problematic because humans don’t have the kind of powers and energy stores that Kryptonians do.

They can become weak faster and are much more prone to dying.

Ultraman, a Superman version from the Antimatter Universe, actually uses anti-kryptonite as his main source of power instead of the sun.

 

Conclusion

Superman is incredibly strong in his regular form, but he becomes even stronger when he gets supercharged by the sun.

When he’s supercharged, there are virtually no upper limits to his strength.

That said, the various types of kryptonite can weaken him and even turn him human.


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