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It’s a question for the ages: in an epic superhero battle royale, who would win? Love it or hate it, the answer is Superman, according to a seven-year-long project by students at the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom.
The students assessed the physical feasibility and potential destructiveness of several superheroes’ powers to determine who would have the best abilities at his or her disposal.
Superman ranked number one, with seven useful powers and only one weakness. Wolverine ranked second with four useful powers and one weakness. Batman was at the bottom, with no feasible powers and two weaknesses—one of which would be killing himself when he landed from gliding around using his cape.
Over the past seven years, the students have published their work in two journals run by the University of Leicester: the Journal of Physics Special Topics and the Journal of Interdisciplinary Science Topics.
Superman gets his energy from the sun, so the students treated him like a solar cell. He could feasibly do things like fly and use laser vision if drawing on the sun’s power, but he would need to bask in the sun for quite some time—requiring several days of sun exposure in order to stop a moving train, for example.
Wolverine could conceivably have super-regenerative powers with a few biological tweaks—like increasing the rate at which his cells turn over with new cells, and the amount of the enzyme telomerase in his body. (Telomerase has been associated with slower aging in some studies.) The students even speculated that his high rate of cell turnover could contribute to amnesia and memory loss.
And for you Batman fans, all is not lost. The Dark Knight need only to invent a parachute system to soften his landing.
Cynthia McKelvey covered the health and science for the Daily Dot until 2017. She earned a graduate degree in science communication from the University of California Santa Cruz in 2014. Her work has appeared in Gizmodo, Scientific American Mind, and Mic.com.