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Thanks to the super-soldier serum, Steve Rogers has greatly increased physical abilities, often described as being at the peak of human potential. Going along with this is usually the statement that he doesn't have superpowers or superhuman abilities. Both Wikipedia and the Marvel Wikia say that Captain America has "no superhuman powers". His official Marvel Power Grid gives him a strength rating of 3 ("peak human") and a speed rating of 2 ("normal"), both one point below "superhuman", which is consistent with this description.

His actions, however, seem to contradict this.

For example, he can run a mile in 73 seconds (1:13). That's about three times faster than the current world record, and even outpaces a champion thoroughbred. If the rules allowed it, Captain America could win the Kentucy Derby without a horse.

His strength is a little harder to measure. Wikipedia says that he can bench-press 1200 pounds, which again surpasses the world record, but not by nearly as much. His MCU incarnation is shown, in The Avengers, punching a heavy bag off its hanger and across the room, and replacing it with no visible effort. He is also able to pry open a door on the Helicarrier with his bare hands. In Agents of Shield, Mike Peterson pushes a bulldozer across a football field, and is told that he didn't do it as fast as Captain America.

Steve Rogers is said to be at peak human potential and not superhuman, but he is shown doing things that no ordinary human could do, no matter how much they trained. So, is he super-human or not?

  • I think the MCU version is based on the Ultimate version who is classified as superhuman. – Monty129 Apr 23 '15 at 22:07
  • A good discussion on the DC comic version of a similar question can be found here. – Firebat Apr 23 '15 at 23:25
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    I read somewhere (answer when I find a source) that the director of Cap1 wanted to show him as "peak human" (I remember a quote about "an Olympic athlete goes to war" or something), while in Cap2 the directors wanted to make it more clear that he is genuinely super-human. So even the creators disagree. – Nerrolken Apr 24 '15 at 1:02
  • May be related to tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/CharlesAtlasSuperpower (Warning: TVTropes). Comic books have a weird way of determining what is and isn't superhuman. – Theik Apr 24 '15 at 9:23
  • He’s not superhuman, he’s just a super human! – Paul D. Waite Apr 24 '15 at 10:45
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It would depend on who you ask. Captain America has always been listed as the Pinnacle of Human Evolution. The concept of Peak Human would be considered superhuman to anyone who wasn't. If you had a person who was an Olympic level athlete IN EVERY SPORT POSSIBLE, he would appear to be an awe-inspiring superhuman even to those people who were already Olympic athletes because of his breadth of abilities.

  • Captain America is NOT considered superhuman because in the canon Marvel Universe, it is at least possible for a human being to be capable of SOME of the feats he performs.

  • He is considered NOT Superhuman because he does not have any significant abilities outside of the BEST A HUMAN (any particular well-trained, Olympic-level athlete) could have (except for his running) -- that IS superhuman, no matter how you slice it.

  • He is not considered superhuman because if you were to analyse his DNA, you would find nothing out of the ordinary; no mutant genome, nor any trace of extensive mutagenic effects similar to the Fantastic Four or the Hulk. The Super-Soldier Serum altered his body by bringing out the BEST HUMAN GENOME OPTIONS possible (and the continued regeneration of the serum over time.)

  • In our universe, he would be most assuredly be considered superhuman because he has:

    • Strength greater than any known Olympic athlete.

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  • The agility of an Olympic-level gymnast, capable of feats of acrobatics not possible without his unique brand of strength, coordination and stamina.

enter image description here

  • The hand-eye coordination of an Olympic-level archer or marksman. He can throw an object like a baseball for over 100 yards with near-perfect accuracy.

  • The combat ability of a master martial artist, fusing, Judo, Akido, Boxing and his own acrobatic martial arts style into a unique and powerful offensive-defensive fighting style.

enter image description here

  • He is able to swim as fast as any Olympic-level swimmer and hold his breath for over 20 minutes.

  • The running speed and stamina twice that of any Olympic runner to have ever lived! He is faster than a horse!

enter image description here

  • He does not build up fatigue poisons at the same rate as a normal human, giving him unheard of levels of stamina and endurance. He can fight for over an hour, full out without fatigue, loss of puissance, or loss of accuracy.

In our universe, Captain America would be considered Superhuman because there wouldn't be anyone even remotely as capable in as many fields as he can encompass. In the Marvel Universe the border between Human and Superhuman has a slightly wider spectrum and in it, Captain America resides just at the border between Peak Human and Minor Superhuman.

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  • @Monty129 I wonder if the word choice is a pun based on the comparison to horses. – KSmarts Apr 24 '15 at 13:56
  • I wouldn't know what you're talking about @KSmarts... :) – Thaddeus Howze Apr 24 '15 at 18:11
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    So, basically, he is peak human, but that doesn't mean the same thing in Marvel's world as in ours. – KSmarts May 11 '15 at 15:14
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    Compared to humans in our universe, he is superhuman. It's not possible to bench press 1100 pounds raw and also be able to run a mile in a minute or comfortably jog at 35 mph. In terms of the Marvel Universe, he isn't superhuman. He can canonically lift (press) 800 pounds above his head - the human maximum. But there are people like Eddie Brock and the Kingpin, who are just normal humans who train, who can lift 750 and 650 canonically. He isn't that much better compared to MU humans. Just he's a lot better compared to our humans. – Race Bannon Aug 16 '15 at 14:49
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    It may be worth pointing out that if that frame is correct he is actually benching more like 2245, since the 1100 is on one side, and you'd match that on he other. Of course I'm making the unlikely assumption that the bar is a standard Olympic weight bar, when it might well be heavier to support that load. – Paul Mar 16 '17 at 22:25
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Scientist here: the answer is folks that NONE OF THE ATHLETES, Olympic level or not, that YOU have ever seen are "peak human" anything. The best human Bench Presser has not lifted anywhere NEAR the "peak human" ability of homo sapiens to bench-press. Not even remotely close.

A few things:

Remember, the Olympics prevent drug use. Imagine how much a human could bench press if all drugs were permitted? And if they had been practicing since birth? And if they had the perfect combination of genes (nearly impossible) to maximize bench pressing? Think of the stories you have heard about 110 pound mothers lifting cars off of their children in times of stress - imagine that potential also, embodied in this peak human. The REAL peak human bench press is probably a number that would astound you - it is likely well over 2,000 pounds - I would wager to venture in an alternate universe where the experiment were possible it would be nearly 3,000 pounds. Apply this reasoning to sprinting, long distance running, eyesight, and other human attributes and you get the idea.

The problem isn't that Marvel is inconsistent, the problem is we tend to underestimate (considerably) what "peak human" really means.

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  • That's an interesting point about the steroids, since Cap got the super soldier serum, which is sort of steroids on steroids. I'm curious about what a real human's maximum in sports would be if steroids were used freely/openly encouraged. – fyrepenguin Aug 31 '16 at 3:26
  • The Olympics prevent drug use, but plenty of people have used steroids to increase their performance, and none have come anywhere close to your suggested numbers. If a 2,000 pound bench press were possible we would at least have someone who could come close – Kevin Wells Sep 15 at 17:23
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It should be noted that Cap briefly gains super human strength in Captain America #159

enter image description here

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    Can you expand on, and provide some references for, this answer? Short answers without references are likely to be deleted. – Wad Cheber stands with Monica Jul 25 '15 at 3:57
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    Images from the issue would greatly improve this answer – Jason Baker Jul 25 '15 at 3:58
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    Please read the site guidelines for good questions and answers before continuing. Thanks! – Wad Cheber stands with Monica Jul 25 '15 at 4:03
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    How briefly, and why/how? While he may have gained superhuman strength for a short time, if he doesn't normally have it, it's kind of hard to classify him as being superhuman. – phantom42 Jul 25 '15 at 12:43
  • Cheers for the edit guys; I've been a member for about 24 hours now. I'll be a little more diligent in my posts from here on out! – alphaapple Jul 26 '15 at 2:52
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I feel like Captain America should be considered superhuman both conceptually and in terms of his feats. I mean, he was injected with the Super Soldier Serum and yet it only made him peak human? That seems like false advertising if I’ve ever heard it, and if I were Cap I’d get a lawyer to sue Dr. Erkstine’s ass.

But even still, the terms Superhuman and Peak Human are just terms; they don’t truly define what the characters limits are, nor should they. For example, in Marvel’s database, Spider-Man is shown to be a 25-tonner yet he has shown feats to showcase they he would be able to lift in excess of 100 tons. And characters like Crossbones are listed as Superhuman even though he never had a mutant gene or Super Soldier Serum, so how is he considered Superhuman and Captain America isn’t when he has had a Super Soldier Serum? Hell, I’m pretty sure Marvel lists Rhino’s speed as a 7 which means he’s able to move faster than light, and there is absolutely no way he can do that.

So Marvel’s database isn’t a reliable source of information, so if we truly want to get a grip on Cap’s strength, we have to look into the comics themselves. Cap has been seen bench-pressing 2200lb next to D-Man in an old Avengers issue. A lot of people mistake this for bench-pressing only 1100lb because that’s the number we see displayed on the plate. But if you have ever worked out, or at least know how weights work, you’ll understand that that is only the display for one plate and there is a plate on each side, meaning that the total weight would be 2200lb plus however much the bar weighs.

Cap has also been seen being able to holster a car over his head; I forget the make and model, but judging by its size compared to Cap, it could weight anywhere between 1500 and 3000lb. Cap has seen easily lifting and tossing a tree trunk which would most likely weigh upwards of 5000lb. He has done a lot more as well: he has broken a steel chain with his bare hands, and then lifted a giant eagle statue.

And that’s just examples of his strength. In terms of speed, he has been able to run a mile in 75 seconds and run 5 miles in just under 5 minutes, putting his top speed anywhere between 50 and 70 mph. And in terms of reaction speed, he has been able to dodge point-blank gunfire by, in his own terms, “seeing faster”.

This means that Captain America’s eyes are able to track movement and send information to his brain and down to his muscles faster than 1500 mph. The average human neuron fires at about 220 mph. This means Captain America’s reflexes are nearly 6 times faster than the most well trained human eyes. So whilst characters like Spider-Man and Daredevil are able to dodge bullets by sensing the bullet before it’s fired, Captain America literally sees the bullets flying out of the gun and is able to move out of the way at point-blank range.

Needless to say, I think I have made my point. Captain America, for all intents and purposes. should be considered Superhuman, but for whatever reason he is not. It kinda feels like it’s almost disrespectful to the character, because if someone in the Marvel universe could just get to his level from working out and good genetics, it kind of renders him as a character and the Super Soldier Serum in general pointless. If they wanted to go the whole Peak Human route for the character they should’ve made him a skinny kid who decided to work out and train in order to get to where he is instead of just being injected with a serum.

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    Welcome to SciFi.SE! Please use paragraphs, and please also provide sources for your claims about Captain America's feats. – F1Krazy Nov 4 at 23:14

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