Part of the appeal of many iconic superheroes is that they have a set of easily recognizable superpowers. Superman can fly. The Flash runs really fast. Captain America is at "peak" physical strength and carries a shield. But many of Marvel and DC's best known superheroes also have obscure abilities that rarely appear in the comics, movies or television shows. Sometimes, these superpowers are wacky Silver Age story gimmicks discarded during a reboot, while others are just obscure abilities more likely to be mentioned in a round of bar trivia than in an actual comic book. Here's seven weird and unusual powers you might know your favorite superhero has:
The Silver Age was a weird time for Superman. In addition to his usual superpowers of flight, superstrength, invulnerability, heat vision and super breath, writers often gave the Man of Steel a gamut of bizarre powers for individual stories. Whether it was using "super muscular control" to change his face's appearance or using his super-mind to telepathically control others, the pre-Crisis Superman could seemingly do anything. One of his most bizarre powers was the super-kiss, a power most memorably seen in Superman II. Superman first used the super-kiss in Action Comics #306, when he planted a kiss on Lois Lane so hard, it left her dizzy, flushed, and uh, sweating profusely in the middle of the Daily Planet's Christmas party. While the rest of the Planet's staff wondered why Lois couldn't suddenly walk, Clark smirked and congratulated himself on his secret....tongue talents. Superman's tonsil hockey talents were then showcased in Superman II, when he planted a kiss on Lois to make her forget that they had shacked up in the Fortress of Solitude for weeks. Thankfully, Superman's creepiest superpower hasn't been seen since.
While Aquaman's often derided for his "goofy" ability to talk to fish, the King of the Seven Seas has a variety of useful aquatically themed powers. With superstrength, limited invulnerability and the power to swim at super-speeds, Aquaman's power set is uniquely crafted to handle any sort of underwater threat. One of his lesser known abilities is that he can see in near total darkness, which makes sense as the sun's light can't reach the full depths of the ocean. He also has a limited sonar ability, which also helps compensate for a lack of vision in murky waters.
And for the record, Aquaman can't talk to fish, he can only telepathically add compulsions and needs to a marine animal's thoughts. After all, it would be pretty stupid to think that fish are intelligent enough to be a hold a conversation.
Captain America's Healing Factor
Captain America's super-soldier serum grants him all sorts of advantages in battle. Enhanced strength and agility, the ability to innnately calculate the exact angle and speed needed to throw his shield and have it ricochet off multiple enemies and, of course, the ability to look good in a tight t-shirt. However, the super-soldier serum also gives Cap a pretty powerful healing factor, strong enough to help him stay on his feet during fierce battles. Cap's healing factor allows him to recover from gunshot and stab wounds in a matter of days, and helps him get back on his feet quickly after injuries that would be fatal for others. Once, Captain America broke his neck and got better in a week. That same healing factor also prevents him from contracting any sort of known disease, but at the expense of also keeping him from ever getting drunk.
Much of Thor's powers and arsenal comes straight out of Norse mythology. There's Mjolnir, of course, and his much more infrequently used Belt of Strength that temporarily embues him with even greater strength. Then there's his mystical chariot, which he can instantly summon to travel in between the Nine Worlds. Thor's chariot is unique in that it's driven by two large goats, named Tanngrisnir and Tanngnjóstr. Both goats have been shown to be extremely intelligent in various comics. Once Odin used the goats to summon reinforcements while another time they saved Asgard's children when the city was attacked by invaders. One mythological aspect that hasn't carried over is that Thor often eats the goats before battle and resurrects them the following day with Mjolnir. Guess they didn't wan't to show Thor regularly eating his pets.
Batman's Stage Magic
For a man whose only superpower is unlimited cash, Batman is really competent at a lot of things. Not only is he a skilled martial artist, the world's greatest detective and a technological whiz, Batman is also considered one of the DC Universe's top escape artists. Having trained under Giovanni Zatara (Zatanna's father), Batman is second only to Mister Miracle in his ability to escape from any trap. He also has a gift for stage magic and slight of hand, which makes sense when you consider all the theatrics he incorporates in his endless fight on crime. As he uses smoke and flourishes of the cape to disguise his movements, Batman probably pulls a coin out of a thug's ear right before he punches them into unconsciousness.
Wonder Woman's Bursts of Strength
Although Wonder Woman is typically portrayed as one of the DC Universe's strongest superheroes, most fans don't realize that she can temporarily increase her strength even more using a variety of tricks. In the Golden Age, Wonder Woman could convert her brain energy into extra reserves of strength, a side effect of her ability to control her body's electricity with her mind. Wonder Woman can also exponentially increase her strength by removing her bracelets, though in the Silver Age the increase in strength also caused her to go insane. When Wonder Woman recently regained this ability in the post-New 52 continuity, it's unclear if she still suffered from the "insanity" side effect.
Flash's super-speed comes with a variety of useful secondary abilities. Vibrating through solid objects, creating tornadoes with his hands and arms and even throwing lightning bolts from time to time. One of his less heralded speed-related abilities is his ability to think at super speeds. Not only does his super fast thinking help him react while racing at insane speeds, it also gives him a natural resistance to mind control. It's a bit hard to mentally overpower the Flash when his brain is racing at a billion miles per minute. The Flash can also "binge learn" to help master a skill or craft in a matter of minutes, but only on a temporary basis.