Superman is one of the most popular superheroes ever created. Many characters have been modelled after the hero as he has become a huge pop culture icon. With that being said, there is a lot left to discover about the caped hero, one of those aspects being his superpowers. The hero has been a force to be reckoned with for as long as we can all remember, but what makes him so powerful? In fact, a person who can brush gunfire off without so much as a scrape should be considered immortal. And this is an excellent question to ask when it comes to the age-old comic book character. Outside of what makes Superman so powerful, the next best question is whether he is immortal.
As we have all seen or heard Superman’s origin tale in some form, it is clear that the hero is certainly not human. Although he may look the part, he is actually of Kryptonian descent. And, of course, an alien physiology would come with some remarkable abilities, which we can see in his laser eyes, flight, superhuman speed, strength, stamina, and senses. And while these are all cool powers, the most interesting is his invulnerability. So here is a breakdown of whether Superman’s invulnerability makes him immortal.
Yes, Superman is Immortal. But There is a Catch…
Judging from how difficult it has proved to be for many villains to take down Superman, it is a no-brainer that he is immortal. But, of course, this also means there is a catch to this ability because as difficult as it is to hurt Kal-El, we have seen the hero die both in the comics and on the big screen. However, strictly speaking, in the comics, the source of the hero’s invulnerability lies in his exposure to yellow sun radiation. Kryptonians absorb and store yellow sun radiation in their cells, which they can convert into various superhuman abilities.
In the case of Superman, one of these abilities happens to be his invulnerability. Being able to take attacks from missiles, blades, guns, explosions, and even nuclear weapons, he certainly earned the ‘Man of Steel’ nickname. However, if any of these weapons were made of Kryptonite, he would be severely injured or even killed. So, while yes, the hero is immortal, this does not necessarily mean that he cannot die. Immortality just implies that he cannot succumb to a mortal wound. Similarly, he is vulnerable to the effects of magic, which we have seen when he takes on Black Adam.
Likewise, the yellow sun radiation does more than keep the hero alive by granting him immortality. Because of an advanced chemical reaction that occurs within Kal-El’s body when exposed to the yellow sun, he does not need to eat, sleep or drink water. And all this is possible as long as he remains under some form of yellow sun. It also means he will have a much, much longer life span than the average human. Which, if we are being honest, is a bit of a scary thought for where he and Lois Lane’s relationship will end up.
Has Superman’s Immortality Been Canonically Proven?
Yes, the hero’s immortality has been confirmed in two DC Comics storylines. The first is in a series called DC One Million, where we see Superman Prime. Having become an extension of the sun, the hero leaves Earth at the end of the 21st century after outliving all his loved ones. He later returns to Earth in the 700th century, barely recognizable but still alive. Here, he has lived longer than any human or Kryptonian. The next is in Action Comics #1000, where he explicitly states that Lois Lane must regularly drink an immortality potion called the Eternity Formula so her lifespan can be closer to his. While that implies that even with the potion, Lois cannot live as long as him, it also solves how they would stay together.
While yes, Kal-El is immortal, he does have his weaknesses, and he can be killed. We see his death numerous times, with the most prominent and heart-breaking being in the “The Death of Superman” comic storyline. Here, he is killed by Doomsday while fighting to protect the city and his loved ones from the evil villain.