5 Beloved Superheroes Who Are Actually Really Stupid
Most superheroes are as intelligent as they are powerful. Tony Stark invented a way to fly in an iron suit, Peter Parker invented a way to shoot webs, and Batman invented a way to make half-nude child endangerment awesome. Even the Incredible Hulk, whose whole thing is being dumb, spends most of his day as a nuclear physicist.
I've scoured the Golden and Silver Ages to find heroes who aren't as bright. And to be clear, I don't mean that their powers are stupid. I mean, yes, a couple of them are, but this isn't a list of suicidal fools trying to fight crime with fall-offable arms or a belt buckle full of their favorite bees. These are simply the least intelligent characters in the history of nerd fiction.
Thor has been living on Earth for over five decades and still talks like he's trying to get fired from a Dungeons & Dragons copywriting job. But Thor's idiocy isn't limited to his bumbling confusion over our strange Midgard customs. He also doesn't quite get how physics works. For instance, most viewers agreed that when Thor swung his hammer at the squishy ordinary human Captain America in the Avengers movie, he shouldn't have expected him to live. You can always tell when he's gotten lucky because some woman didn't show up at work and Thor's pelvis is lightly misted in human remains.
Let's take a moment to remember everyone we lost in Thor tantrums who didn't have a super cool American flag shield.
That absurd situation was actually very true to the comics. When the Avengers thawed Captain America's frozen body, the very first thing Thor did was try to kill him with his hammer. And they were in a submarine!
"BAH! THE GOD OF THUNDER NEITHER KNOWS NOR CARES WHAT THESE WORDS 'HULL BREACH' MEAN!"
Thor has the distinction of being the only superhero who screams his secret identity at the top of his lungs while he's in public.
"THESE MORTAL FOOLS MUST NEVER DISCOVER MY SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER OF SIX, TWO EARTH FIVES, ROUND, THREE, PINK, HORSIE, HORSIE, TITS PICTURE!"
And it's not as if the mortal guise of doctor Don Blake was any more clever when he was changing back into Thor:
"You must be the new resident. Welcome to Bellevue! Through here is our break room, where you can hear one of our surgeons secretly exploding into the Mighty Thor. Do your best to pretend like you don't notice. Oh, but if you're closer than 20 feet when he starts doing it, drop the act and just run."
In the '60s, Thor couldn't exactly fly. What he did instead was throw his hammer really hard and let himself get dragged through the sky by the wrist strap. This made him more of an impending disaster than a flying man. If you drew a face on a mortar shell, it and Thor would land at their location with the exact same level of heroism.
Aww, that was nice of that evil fella on the horse.
Thor had a serious problem spotting tricks. Which is strange, since he spent most of his time around criminals and his half-brother was the actual god of deceit and mischief. Still, Thor stumbled into every trap anyone ever set for him and lived in a near constant state of outrage and surprise. It's probably why he was both immortal and forced to wear a helmet.
"BAH! THESE STRANGE DISCS CONTINUE THEIR STRANGENESS!"
You might be thinking that Thor only seemed stupid because that's simply how comic books were written 40 or 50 years ago. You're right. They were sort of targeted at children, and the Comics Code Authority almost legally required them to be retarded. And yet when Thor got an all-new series in the late '90s, his very first adventure was stopping a bank robbery. The bank was being held up by a maniac claiming to be his god buddy Heimdall trapped in a human body. There were some holes in his story, and the officers on the scene assured Thor that, no, this was just an escaped mental patient. You won't believe the twist ending!
The escaped mental patient wasn't magically Thor's old friend THE WHOLE TIME!
When the Fantastic Four went into space, the three men gained amazing superpowers and the girl gained the ability to disappear. That's kind of a tough ability to use for anything heroic, but this was 50 years ago. In a 1961 man's imagination, the most amazing thing a girl could do was shut up and go away. But Sue Storm's power to vanish was anything but useless. For instance, if she was called into action in the middle of a hair appointment, it was great at protecting her vanity.
Ow, hey! More like Invisible BITCH.
It took Sue a long time to master her powers, mostly because of her crippling idiocy. She would try to vanish while people already had a hold of her, and at least once a fight she was discovered by a clever criminal who figured that Invisible Girl must be located somewhere near a non-invisible object she was carrying. To make matters worse, her helpless stupidity combined with her inability to block your view of the TV was extremely appealing to supervillains. They almost universally switched their plans from "world domination" to "wedding then rape" when they met her.
"OH, IF ONLY I HAD A POWER THAT COULD HELP ME AVOID SITUATIONS LIKE THESE!"
Dorks today know Sue Storm as an accomplished fighter and biologist who can project unbreakable force fields. Well, she didn't have those for the first two years of her adventuring. It cannot be overstated how pointless this woman was for years and years of Fantastic Four comics. There was an issue where the team actually broke the fourth wall to address the overwhelming number of letters asking why they let this dingbat anywhere near danger or science. Their criticism seemed harsh, especially when this is the kind of detective work she brought to the table:
"OHH, ALL THIS THINKING ABOUT SEARCHING MAKES ME WANT TO EAT ... OH, BUT MY THIGHS! I MUSTN'T!"
Her powers might have been worse than useless. She constantly, and I mean in every issue, forgot whether or not she was invisible. As you might imagine, this could be very dangerous.
At least a cop arrived on the scene to agree that was pretty goddamn stupid.
Obviously, that was a one-time deal. After all, what kind of moron would invisibly wander into traffic a second time?
Are you fucking kidding me, Susan!?
She was obviously a big help. I'm not sure how many traffic accidents or riots you have to single-handedly (and for no reason) cause before you no longer qualify as a superhero. Luckily, she was doing a lot during her down time to improve herself. Which leads me to my favorite Invisible Girl moment of all time:
Damn. That should have worked.
After a dozen adventures involving no dogs where literally every non-dog enemy found her, she's decided the one thing holding Invisible Girl back is that dogs can find her. Now here's where it gets crazy. She has theorized that somewhere out there is some perfect combination of scents that will make her untraceable to dogs. That shows a fundamental misunderstanding of ... well, everything. It's the kind of thing a grown woman should only say if she's trying to qualify for a coloring contest.
I want to be clear on something. This wasn't foreshadowing for some kind of daring smell-related rescue later in the issue. This was just a glimpse into what this idiot does all day, and it was never mentioned again! She was playing in perfume to trick dogs! Ineffectively!! And she thought she was doing science!!! Plus, the Fantastic Four doesn't have dogs -- she must have brought these poor animals in for this "experiment" alone. Now imagine what her husband, the world's leading physicist and researcher, will think when she tries to explain why she has a room full of dog corpses and smells like she was fingered by 3,000 grandmothers in a chemical toilet. He won't even have the vocabulary to understand what this stupid bitch is saying to him. Which may explain why he talks to her like this:
"OHH, REED! SOMETIMES I FORGET I'M A WOMAN BEFORE I SPEAK!"
Maybe it's because she was written exclusively by men, but the Invisible Girl's most useful ability was how she could somehow stop and realize how irrational her womanly hormones made her.
"OH, I SHOULDN'T COMPLAIN -- THE STICK HE USES TO QUIET ME IS WELL WITHIN GENTLEMANLY STANDARDS."
So yes, she was stupid, but she was not incapable of learning. After years of being easily spotted, kidnapped, and forced into marriage, she started to realize that she wasn't very good at this. In fact, sobbing about the hopelessness of each of the Fantastic Four's situations became her unofficial battle cry. I've collected some of these inspirational and heroic moments from Susan Storm. Please enjoy:
On the top right, that's the Molecule Man. He could control MOLECULES. To completely defeat the Invisible Girl, he threw newspapers at her and watched her low self-esteem do the rest.
I honestly had to stop myself from posting more examples of Invisible Girl being stupid. If you can't get enough, I'll add them to my Twitter throughout the day.
In 1940, Jim Barr wanted to be a police officer. Unfortunately, he couldn't shoot, run, or think, so they rejected him. That's when he got a great idea -- he should invent a serum that cures crime! As you can tell, most of Jim's ideas were a random series of unrelated words that meant nothing. His entrance form for the police academy said, "Crime not is always my porp. Forever Jim, age milk."
"AND THESE PUPPETS I'VE DEVISED CURE LONELINESS!"
When Jim finished his "crime cure," it didn't turn out to be something you injected into criminals to make them nice. It was something you drank to make your body capable of punching crime. It also made Jim into a genius, so he invented a gravity hat. He knew this wasn't enough, so he went a step further and salvaged a costume that would "strike fear to evil-doers." Let's see what terrifying outfit that super brain came up with:
Is evil really afraid of that? Because he looks like an underage dildo trying to sneak into a gay aviators bar.
The dumbest thing about Bulletman wasn't that he thought he cured crime by drinking a potion that helped inspire hatmaking. It was that the only thing he ever did to combat evil was punch, and his punches did nothing.
Sometimes his foes would simply leave after a punch ...
... but the traditional Bulletman-fighting technique was to take a few shots to the face, then hit him with furniture. Here's another example:
"IF ONLY MY CRIME-CURE-ENHANCED PUNCHES WERE AS EFFECTIVE AS ORDINARY FURNITURE!"
He soon picked up a sidekick named Bulletgirl. She had the exact same capabilities as Bulletman, but with weaker punches and less pants. Bulletgirl was so certain to get knocked unconscious and captured that she left five days of cat food out every time she went crime fighting.
"OOHHH! I STRUCK LIKE AN ANGRY BIRD BEATING OFF BEASTS OF PREY AND IT STILL HAD NO EFFECT!"
Bulletman's secret identity of Jim Barr was a closely guarded secret. There were a couple problems with this. First, his bulletproof helmet didn't cover his face. Second, Bulletgirl had a tendency to scream his real name all the time and for any reason. Now, if you were to combine those two issues with his pointless punches and weakness to thrown furniture ... well, it's almost too awful to think about:
"HEY, SUSAN FUCKING KENT. STOP ... SAYING ... MY SECRET IDENTITY NAME."
When you're weak enough to be defeated by any tiny table corner and you're stupid enough to think you cured crime by developing the world's pussiest punch, it's important to pick your battles. This was Bulletman's best talent. Not a single villain he fought had any powers, and most of them had legitimate physical ailments. It's with great pleasure that I present to you Bulletman's deadliest battle with his most fiendish foe -- an overweight elderly man.
Sorry, that went from 0 to rapey faster than anyone could have expected.
Mid-fight banter is important for a superhero. Take every opportunity to deliver one-liners to entertain your reader and disarm your opponent. For instance, if your opponent hammers you in your junk, that is the perfect time to firmly think "??" to yourself.
After he survived so many of Bulletman's famously impotent punches, you're probably wondering how they ever defeated this obese but otherwise non-notable menace. Brace yourself for the thrilling surprise ending. No, I mean it. Brace yourself:
"YOU TRIPPED ON MY GIRLFRIEND'S HAT, YOU FAT DICK! THAT'S HOW I CURE CRIME! BULLET! MAAAAANNNN!!!!!"
Captain Marvel was a little boy who could become a superhero by screaming "Shazam!" It was unapologetic wish fulfillment directed at young readers. Still, Fawcett Comics was worried that dumber children were having trouble relating to the character, so they created Captain Marvel Jr., a little boy who transformed into a little boy, perfect for readers with less elastic imaginations. Then they added the Lieutenant Marvels, three hillbilly Shazams to make their illiterate readers happy. Finally, they came up with the idea of a rabbit version -- Hoppy the Marvel Bunny -- for readers who were shitty assholes. Oh, I almost forgot -- after all that, they came up with this weird idea of making a girl one. Handicapped kids got their own Barbie before girls got their own Shazam.
The '40s shouldn't have expected much from a teenage girl who, by my count, was a seventh-rate Shazam knockoff, but what they got fell short of all expectations. Mary Marvel had three working brain cells, and two of them died trying to figure out a sanitary napkin. Her enemies were usually cranky teenagers with no powers who routinely eluded her by throwing something in her eye and walking away while she fussed.
She also might gossip with herself about you as you make your escape.
Mary had any shortcoming you'd care to name. She couldn't fight or solve crimes, and her reflexes would often take four or five pages to kick in. However, the most hilarious aspect of her idiocy was that she was incapable of seeing through even the crappiest of disguises.
"GOOD GRIEF! I WAS LOOKING FOR A MOON-FACED BIRD MONSTER MAN IN AN ORANGE COAT WHO DIDN'T HAVE A HAT. HOLY MOLEY, ALMOST."
Disguises haunted Mary Marvel's entire career. A change of slacks or a well-placed hat would throw her right off your trail. If you punched a puppy with your left hand and waved to Mary Marvel with your other, she'd apologize and ask you if you saw anyone run by left-handedly. She died a virgin because every time one of her beaus changed clothes she mistook it for a first date.
"GOOD GRIEF! I WAS LOOKING FOR A WOMAN WHO DIDN'T JUST CHANGE HER CLOTHES IN FRONT OF ALL THESE PEOPLE. HOLY MOLEY, ALMOST."
After hundreds of criminals used clumsy disguises to escape, Mary started to realize she had a problem. Unfortunately, problems aren't easily solved for the stupid. Her solution of assuming everyone was a villain in disguise had terrible consequences of its own. Here is an entire page from a Marvel Family comic that I did not edit in any way:
"HOLY MOLEY! AN OBJECT TO THE FACE AND A DISGUISE -- HOW COULD THIS FIEND KNOW BOTH MY WEAKNESSES!?"
Torpedo was a man in a flying suit who shouted every single thought that entered his head. This wasn't at all unusual for a superhero, except that Torpedo's alter ego, Brock Jones, was an insurance salesman. This meant that as Torpedo flew through the city, he often screamed information about insurance into the sky. If this was some type of weaponized dullness, it worked, because no one interesting ever attacked him.
And sometimes he screamed about how much he liked the "Sound of Music." Look, a lot of this comic book shit doesn't make sense.
Torpedo screamed to himself so often that he lived in a constant state of ambush. He never heard anyone coming. And what's strange is that this never changed, even when he began thinking to himself. For some reason, Torpedo couldn't hear approaching enemies over the sound of his own thought bubbles. Look here at this battle, where he's surprised three different times by the same guy in the same fistfight. And that guy is using a rocket pack.
"BLAST, I'M DROPPING MY COFFEE. ARRGH! FALLING COFFEE! AS IF FROM NOWHERE! HUNH!? WHY IS MY LAP BURNING AND WET!?"
It was truly impossible to not get the drop on Torpedo. In one issue, he sneaked into an office building at night to read insurance files, probably because some writer was being kept up by a new baby and he decided putting that in a comic was the best way to tell all children to fuck themselves. Now, this was the perfect kind of stealth mission where Torpedo would have the opportunity to finally hear someone coming. Instead, he is sneaked up on by four men quietly yelling over the sounds of their howling rocket packs. With those reflexes, he must have already been crawling into bed with his parents before realizing he walked in on them having sex.
"BLAST, HE'S SWINGING A FOOT TOWARD MY CROTCH! ARGH! SOMETHING HAS IMPACTED ON MY PENIS! I WAS CARELESS! IT'S A FOOT!!!"
I'm getting ahead of myself. It's important to understand the daring origin story of Torpedo before talking about his crippling idiocy, lack of reflexes, and inability to see or hear out of his hat. It started when Brock Jones witnessed Daredevil battling an old man in a jet suit. Their fight smashed a wall, dropping rubble on all three men. Brock decided that anyone fighting a superhero couldn't be all bad, so he pledged to the dying old man that he would carry on his legacy, whatever it might be. Then he bravely waited for the guy to die so he could take his clothes. You know, looking back on this as an adult, Torpedo might have just been some insurance salesman looting a corpse. And speaking of looking back on things as an adult, was "Funky Cold Medina" a song about drugging and molesting transvestites? Where were our parents!?
"*SNIFF.* I DON'T KNOW WHO YOU WERE, BUT I'M TAKING YOUR SWEET JET SUIT, ASSHOLE."
It's really just dumb luck that Brock put on a dead man's suit in front of the one blind superhero, but when Daredevil gets up, he can't tell the difference between them. He's also too embarrassed to admit he's blind, so he tries to arrest Brock for murder. What a mix-up! It was like that episode of Three's Company where Jack catches Janet wearing Chrissy's earrings and face after her corpse is found in the trash.
"WHAT!? NO! I ONLY STOLE AN UNREGULATED NUCLEAR TURBINE SUIT FROM A DEAD BODY AT A CRIME SCENE. THAT'S NOT A CRIIIIME! HEY, WHAT ARE YOU POINTING AT? I'M OVER- WAIT, ARE YOU BLIND?"
"BLIND!? WHAT? HA! HA! THAT'S CRAZY, TALKING AIR CONDITIONER!"
For some reason they let Brock keep the Torpedo, which allowed him to fly and throw turbine-enhanced punches. Unfortunately, his inability to shut up had a serious effect on the accuracy of those jet-punches:
"WHAT WAS THAT SSHH-STOOMM!? HOLY FUCKING SHIT, DID I JUST PUNCH MYSELF IN THE FACE!?"
The great Torpedo died the same way he fought crime -- screaming at air while someone walked right up behind him and hit him. In honor of his legacy, they even stripped him naked and stole his clothes. Comic fans will never forget his final words ... "AGGHH!"
AGGHH, beloved hero. AGGHH, forever.