The superheroes we see in movies and on television are typically the best of the bunch. They’re the coolest characters with the best powers, put on display for us all to admire and gawk at. But both DC and Marvel have over a half-century’s worth of duds mixed into their comics, and those are the ones we’ll be focusing on here.
Having superpowers, while potentially awesome, isn’t always all it’s cracked up to be, proved by this particular bunch.
1. Squirrel Girl
Of all the heroes in the Marvel pantheon, few are quite as strangely stupid and entertaining as Squirrel Girl. Her basic powers revolve around her ability to commune with squirrels (duh), and her buck-teeth that are capable of chewing through wood.
In a brilliant stroke of self-awareness, Marvel chose to make her the most competent hero in its entire universe, marked by the “Unbeatable Squirrel Girl” series. In it, she defeats the likes of Wolverine, Deadpool, Dr. Doom, and even Thanos, making her the dumbest hero to ever accomplish so goddamn much with so little.
2. Matter-Eater Lad
Here’s an idea: In a universe with powerfully iconic heroes like Batman and Superman, let’s add one whose main ability revolves around his ability to eat stuff. And not just any stuff, we mean all the stuff. Like everything.
And so, Matter-Eater Lad was born, gifting the DC universe with one of its lamest heroes yet. But hey, next time you’re trapped behind a chainlink fence or can’t finish that last bite of burnt toast, know that there’s a character out there who can eat straight through your problems.
Break out the pitchforks and torches X-Men stalwarts, because we’ve made our feelings on Jubilee pretty abundantly clear in the past, and this won’t be any nicer. To recap, she has the power to create bursts of light from her hands, an ability so dumb that the comics have rewritten it twice (including an ill-fated attempt at turning her into a vampire).
And even after the hype surrounding her casting in X-Men: Apocalypse, we still didn’t see her in action, as she was back-seated in favor of heroes with useful powers.
Oof. OK. Where do we even begin with this one? If Squirrel Girl, Matter-Eater Lad, and Jubilee are residents of Lame Superhero Land, Arm-Fall-Off-Boy is the Emperor. With a heroic “PLORP,” his sole power is (you guessed it, brainiac) removing his arm and using it to bludgeon his enemies.
He’s even a loser in his own universe, having been rejected by the Legion of Superheroes after literally falling apart limb-by-limb during his tryout. When you’re not even taken seriously in the fictional universe created by an omnipotent writer, clearly you’re doing something wrong.
5. Gin Genie
Drinking in excess, while making you feel like a superhero, doesn’t actually turn you into one. Unless you’re Gin Genie, in which case your powers increase exponentially relative to the amount of alcohol you take in. The more she drinks, the more potent her ability to fire off seismic blasts increases.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t help her attitude much, evidenced by her reputation for firing these blasts at her own X-Force teammates.
6. Color Kid
Arm-Fall-Off-Boy isn’t the only Legion of Superheroes reject on this list, he’s joined by the aptly-named Color Kid. The Legion rejected the poor guy after deeming his power to change the color of anything at will to be useless.
For abilities like flight, super-strength, teleportation, and even control of squirrels, there’s at least some practical use you can derive from them. Color-changing does not fall into that category, leaving Color Kid out in the cold when it comes to composing an effective superhero team.
7. Hindsight Lad
If we’re going to talk about superheroes with infuriatingly useless abilities, we’d be remiss in not mentioning Hindsight Lad. You may have guessed from his name, but his main powers revolve around his ability to suss out exactly how something should have happened, only after it had already occurred.
It’s a power so ridiculous, that South Park straight up stole his entire identity to create the equally-ridiculous Captain Hindsight.
8. Bouncing Boy
Oh to have been a fly on the wall during this pitch meeting. Bouncing Boy’s ability to inflate himself into an invulnerable elastic sphere is just about as weirdly irrelevant as it gets.
Incidentally, he was rejected by the Legion of Superheroes twice before they finally allowed him to join, clearly indicating that it’s not just us who question the usefulness of super-buoyancy as a power.
We don’t even want to try and imagine the horrific fever dream that led to the creation of Dogwelder. The name really explains it all: He welds dogs to criminals. That’s it.
It’s a PETA nightmare made real, with Dogwelder often luring criminals into traps with stray dogs before attaching the animals to their bodies with his super-welding skills.
On the same team of superhero misfits as Dogwelder, Defenestrator is a good example of a hero taking his name way too literally. He possesses no real abilities, past his penchant for carrying a window around, and slamming it into his opponents.
When your whole schtick is throwing people out of a portable window, it’s not hard to see why you’re running around with the likes of Dogwelder.
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