Types of superheroes[edit | edit source]
In superhero role-playing games, such as Hero Games' Champions, Green Ronin Publishing's Mutants and Masterminds, Cryptic Studios' MMORPG City of Heroes and Champions Online, superheroes are formally organized into categories or archetypes based on their skills and abilities. Since comic book and role-playing fandom often overlap, these labels have carried over into discussions of superheroes outside the context of games:
- Acrobat: A hero whose skills rely on their incredible aerobic and gymnastic abilities (like Black Widow or Dick Grayson; not to be confused with the strong and durable Paragons).
- Aerials: A hero whose primary power is flight. These types fly either through physical means (wings like Angel,Falcon or Hawkman) or through special means (levitation or energy propulsion like Nova, Banshee or Cannonball). Heroes who are extraordinary aviators (like The Thunderbirds) may also count as Aerials.
- Armored Hero: A gadgeteer whose powers are derived from a suit of powered armor; e.g., Iron Man, Alcan foil-wrapped pork stock warrior, Steel and Kamen Rider.
- Aquatic: A hero whose abilities either come from living underwater (like Aquaman, Namor and Aspen Matthews from Fathom) or from being trained to adapt to underwater conditions (like the Sea Devils).
- Blaster: A hero whose main power is a distance attack, usually an "energy blast"; e.g., Cyclops, Starfire and Static.
- Brick/Tank: A character with a superhuman degree of strength and endurance and, for males, usually an over sized muscular body; e.g., The Hulk, She-Hulk, The Thing,Colossus, The Tick, and Lobo. Almost every superhero team has one member of this variety, a point X-Factor's Guido Carosella noted when he took the code name "Strong Guy" at a reporter's suggestion that this was his role in the team.
- Elementalist: A hero who controls some natural element or part of the natural world; e.g., Storm (weather), Magneto (magnetism), Swamp Thing (vegetation), the Human Torch (fire), Iceman (ice), Crystal (manipulation of classical elements) and Static (electricity).
- Energizer: A hero who emits great amount of energy in combat (ki, chakra, karma, etc.), either by supernatural powers (like Cole McGrath, Iron Fist, Havok, or Aang) or for combat.
- Feral: A hero whose abilities come from a more bestial nature. This bestial nature could manifest itself either partially (like Wolverine), fully (like Beast), or through therianthropic dual natures (such as the supernatural werewolf Jack Russell, or the mutant werewolf Wolfsbane). Such characters commonly possess varying degrees of superhuman physical capabilities (strength, speed, stamina, agility, reflexes, healing, etc.), heightened physical senses, fangs and claws. Another commonality for a feral hero is a sense of self hatred of their bestial nature (Wolverine's "berserker fury" or Jack Russell becoming a mindless animal.)
- Gadgeteer: A hero who uses special equipment or weapons that often imitate superpowers but have no super powers themselves; e.g. Batman, Iron Man, Moon Knight,Green Hornet and Nite Owl.
- Ghost: A hero with 'ghost' type powers: either invisibility (such as Invisible Woman); or intangibility (such as Kitty Pryde); or both (such as Martian Manhunter, The Vision, Deadman, Ghost and Danny Phantom).
- Government Agent: A hero (or sometimes antihero) who is recognized by his or her occupation as a government soldier, or special service agent of any agency on the planet such as Nick Fury, Black Widow, Men in Black, Maria Hill, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Phil Coulson - see also Registration Acts. This category can also include heroes who used to be an agent; e.g., The Punisher.
- Healer: A hero who is able to quickly recover from serious injury; e.g., The Crow, Wolverine, the Hulk, and Deadpool. This may also be a hero whose primary ability is to heal others; e.g., Elixir.
- Mage: A hero who is trained in the use of magic; e.g., Doctor Fate, Doctor Strange, Scarlet Witch, Magik, Zatanna, John Constantine. Harry Potter is sometimes also cited as an example of such.
- Marksman: A hero who uses projectile weapons, typically guns, bows and arrows or throwing objects; e.g., Hawkeye, Green Arrow, Cable, Gambit, and The Punisher.
- Martial Artist: A hero whose physical abilities are sometimes related to some sort of martial art e.g. judo, taekwondo etc. rather than superpowers but whose hand-to-hand combat skills are phenomenal. Some of these characters are actually superhuman or is empowered by an external source (Iron Fist and Captain America), while others who don't always have superpowers but are extremely skilled and athletic (Batman and related characters, Black Canary, Shang Chi, Raffles the Gentleman Thug, Wildcat and multiple characters from Watchmen).
- Mecha/Robot Pilot: A hero who controls a giant robot, a subtype common in Japanese superhero and science fiction media; e.g., Megas XLR, Power Rangers, Big Guy,Mazinger Z and Gilbert Ratchet.
- Mentalist: A hero who possesses psionic abilities, such as telekinesis, telepathy and extra-sensory perception; e.g., Professor X, Jean Grey, Emma Frost, Psylocke, andRaven.
- Molecular: A hero with the power to manipulate molecules, thus being able to alter the laws of physics (such as Doctor Manhattan, Firestorm and Captain Atom).
- Paragon/Flying Brick: A hero who possesses the basic powers of super-strength, flight and invulnerability. They are considered to be one of the most powerful of the superhero types: consisting of such heroes as the extraterrestrials Superman and Martian Manhunter, the magically fuelled Shazam; the cosmically empowered Green Lantern; or even mythological gods such as Thor and Ares.
- Possessed: A hero who harbors an entity inside of him/herself; e.g., Etrigan the Demon, Ghost Rider, Spectre.
- Rider: A hero who rides either a powerful vehicle, like Ghost Rider or the Silver Surfer; or rides a unique creature, like Shining Knight.
- Robotic: A hero whose own nature and skills are derived from technology. This category includes remote controlled robots (Bozo the Iron Man, XJ-9, Box), cyborgs (Vic Stone, RoboCop, Deathlok) and androids (The original Human Torch, Red Tornado, The Vision).
- Sentai Team: A style more commonly used in Japan, focuses more on a group of superheroes with the same/similar origin story rather than a single hero. Notable teams are Gatchaman, Super Sentai, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
- Shapeshifter: A hero who can manipulate his/her own body to suit his/her needs, such as stretching (Plastic Man, Mister Fantastic, Elongated Man), or disguise (Changeling/Morph, Mystique). Other such shapeshifters can transform into animals (Beast Boy), alien creatures (Ben 10) or inorganic materials (Metamorpho).
- Size Changer: A hero who can alter his/her size; e.g., the Atom (shrinking only), Colossal Boy, Apache Chief (growth only), Hank Pym, The Ultramen, The Wasp.
- Slasher: A hero whose main power is some form of hand-to-hand cutting weapon—either devices, such as knives or swords (Elektra, Blade, Katana) or natural, such as claws (Wolverine). Those able to form psionic blades such as Psylocke can be placed in this category.
- Speedster: A hero possessing superhuman speed and reflexes; e.g., The Flash, Quicksilver, Northstar, Velocity (comics), and Dash Parr
- Super Genius/Mastermind/Detective: A hero possessing superhuman/superior intelligence or intellect; e.g., Batman, Iron Man, Professor X, The Question, L, Brainiac 5,Mister Fantastic, John Constantine.
- Teleporter: A hero who is able to teleport; some teleport due to their own body chemistry (Nightcrawler), others via telekinetic energy (Blink and Mysterio II), others via unknown means (Vanisher).
- Time Manipulator: A hero possessing either a natural, magical, or science-based control of time. This could be either time travel like The Doctor or Waverider, the ability to make time stop like Tempo or both, like Hiro Nakamura (who can also teleport), or The Brown Bottle.
- Yeller: A blaster who can emit powerful sonic blasts through yelling; e.g., Black Bolt, Banshee, Paul Atreides or Black Canary
These categories often overlap. For instance, Batman is a skilled detective, martial artist and gadgeteer, and Hellboy has the strength and durability of a brick and some mystic abilities or powers, similar to a mage. Wolverine fits into both the slasher and healer categories, and Spider-Man fits into the acrobat, gadgeteer and brick groups. Very powerful characters—such as Superman, Thor, Wonder Woman, Shazam, Dr. Manhattan, Namor and the Silver Surfer—can be listed in many categories. Superman can be considered a "Paragon/Blaster" (heat vision, arctic-breath and super-scream), Shazam is a "Paragon/Mage" (the Power of Shazam), Thor is "Paragon/Elemental" (weather manipulation) andSilver Surfer is a "Paragon/Rider/Molecular" (by the Power Cosmic), or perhaps even the Martian Manhunter ("Paragon/Ghost/Blaster/Shapeshifter/Size Changer/Mentalist/Mastermind"). The Fantastic Four consists of a Shapeshifter/Mastermind (Mister Fantastic), a Ghost/Mentalist (Invisible Woman), an Elementalist/Aerial(the Human Torch), and a Brick (The Thing).