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Mundane Utility: Comic Books
  • In several adaptations, Superman is seen using his heat-vision to shave. Then again a single one of his hairs can hold a ton of weight comfortably, so it's not like he could just use a razor.
    • In Smallville, he uses it to make toast.
    • He tried using his short-lived electrical powers to shave, with...unexpected results.
    • Lois and Clark played this trope up more than any other. Superspeed was commonly used to clean up or paint the house, heat vision was used to heat coffee and ice breath was used to chill champagne. At one point he even played ping-pong with himself.
      • One rather creative and dizzying instance came in the pilot, when Clark, while talking on the phone and deciding how to arrange the furniture in his new apartment, uses his gravity-defying abilities to casually pace along the walls and ceiling.
      • On another occasion he tried on multiple sets of clothing by spinning in place at super-speed like The Mask (he even said "Smokin'!" afterward).
    • In the epilogue to the graphic novel Kingdom Come, there's a nice bit with Superman using his heat vision to "fix" Bruce Wayne's underdone steak.
    • Just after Lois and Clark got married in the comics they were moving into their new apartment and Lois was taking advantage of hubby's ability to pick up the sofa with one hand. "How about against that wall, no that wall, maybe there?"
    • In this article, an economist argues that if he were real, Superman should also spend his time making billions of dollars doing mundane things like lifting satellites into orbit or manufacturing diamonds. The author notes that if Superman objects to the crass materialism of the situation, he could simply donate all his money to charity and likely solve world hunger.
    • The Silver Age of Comic Books basically turned him into a full-bore doormat with this; flying dinosaur skeletons into the Metropolis Museum (with a specially-designed removable roof, no less!), smoothing out a ship's transport for Lois Lane by lifting it over his head...
    • Super-Landscaping.
    • Does Clark Kent "interviewing" Superman to get his job at the Daily Planet count?
      • It does if one accepts the "super hypnosis" explanation for Clark Kenting.
    • In Batman: No Man's Land Superman lands in Gotham as Clark Kent and uses his powers in a mundane way to help people. He uses his X-Ray vision to look inside seeds and see how they're progressing (he uses his pocket knife to split the seed open and give the sprout some help) and moves clouds over Gotham to get some water on the plants.
    • In Nightwing: Year One, Clark uses his heat vision to heat up tea.
  • The X-Men are known for their members using their powers for mundane reasons.
    • The movie X2: X-Men United has Iceman using his freezing powers to chill a bottle of soda that's been left out of the fridge for Wolverine.
      • He also created an ice rose to impress Rogue in the first one. Awwwww.
      • He does this in the comics as well, when in college.
      • Similarly, he creates a dancing ballerina figure to flirt with Jubilee in Evolution.
      • And in X-Men: The Last Stand he freezes the fountain in front of the school to make a mini ice-skating rink.
      • He also makes himself a makeshift pair of ice skates in that same scene by freezing a layer of ice over the soles of his normal tennis shoes.
    • This set of panels is the epitome of this trope (also Talking Is a Free Action): why bother walk around a hole or, you know, stop walking when you can use your telekinesis?
    • Wolverine himself (depending on media and writer) tend to do this as well, using his sensitive nose to spout out hidden food (in the 90's toon, he was quite aggravated about smelling salami but not finding it), or using his claws to slice open a beer bottle.
      • This is parodied in a Mini Marvels strip where Wolverine cuts bread with his claws...and nobody wants to eat it because of where those claws had been.
      • In the five-part Todd McFarlaine Spider-Man story "Perceptions", Wolvie uses one claw like a scalpel to surgically remove a bullet from the wounded Wendigo.
      • In an old Marvel Comics cartoon (Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends) the X-Men made a guest appearance. Wolverine's intro moment: crooking a finger, he extends one of his those bonded-to-his-skeleton claws and spears several items from a fruit tray, asking casually, "Wanna piece of fruit?"
      • One cover has Wolverine barbecuing a sausage on his claws. Some very thick, juicy sausage.
    • In X-Men: Evolution, Rogue used her ability-absorbing touch to copy Kitty's dancing ability for a school play.
      • And mutant baseball anyone?
      • It was something of a running gag that they could never get through gym class with the "no powers" rule intact, usually because some of the students have inherently superhuman strength or agility that they can't just turn off, and someone with more overt gifts would attempt to compensate.
    • Cyclops picked the lock of the team van when Storm locked the keys inside...with Eye Beams.
      • He's done the same things in the comics. It's something Professor X oddly enough trained him to do.
    • Do not ever, ever try to beat Cyclops at shooting pool. You will be bitterly disappointed. His powers include an instinctive knowledge of geometry.
    • Professor X himself gets in on the act. He reads the minds of authors because he can't read books fast enough. He's also calmed people down during arguments so they could think rationally.
    • In the comics based on Evolution Nightcrawler used his teleporting powers to take shortcuts to school so he can sleep in later. He's also done it to sneak out of school and to the local burger joint for a quick snack. The show itself showed him using his prehensile feet to steer the Blackbird and hold popcorn bowls, use his 'porting abilities to do awesome cannonballs in the pool, bypass stairs by leaping over them or crawling on walls, and abusing the settings on his image inducer to make himself look buff and hunky.
      • In an interview with Toyfare, the writers of Evolution said that Scott occasionally forgets himself and uses his eye beams on, say, an uncooperative soda machine to get it to work.
      • Lance aka Avalanche was introduced by doing the same thing. He touched a soda machine, used a bit of his seismic powers on it, and got a free can.
    • The movies did a good job showing Magneto using his powers casually, to pull up chairs for people or keep some steel balls bouncing back-and-forth in midair without strings suspending them.
    • Storm has used her powers to alter the climate to water her plants. Also to shower inside living rooms.
    • In the first movie, Wolverine gives Cyclops "the finger" with his claws.
    • He does the same to Sabretooth in X-Men Legends II.
    • The issue of the comic in which Scott proposed to Jean featured an argument over whether "no powers" was assumed or not for a game of football after Archangel (as he was then known) picked up the ball and simply flew towards the endzone.
    • The team frequently uses the resident telepath (usually Jean Grey or Emma Frost) to coordinate plans silently... and to hold school staff meetings so that the kids can't overhear them.
    • Early in the Dark Phoenix Saga, Jean Grey uses her powers to change her Phoenix costume into normal clothing at the molecular level. Seeing her use such incredible power so casually unnerves Cyclops quite a bit.
    • Gambit will occasionally charge an object without causing it to explode for these purposes. Most commonly, he'll use it as a light source or to light a cigarette.
    • And while Northstar's super speed can be super awesome, it's also useful when unpacking in a new apartment. Granted, his fiancÚ coaxed him into it, so there were some slightly more complex themes like 'desire to snuggle'.
  • An issue of The Flash comics had Wally West musing on a particular superspeed move that his uncle Barry Allen would do...spinning his hand at high speed to create a little wind tunnel. Wally noted that this was weak enough that Barry primarily used it to catch falling curtain rods from across the room. Wally himself was once shown using this maneuver to catch a bee that was flying near his girlfriend.
    • Both Wally and Superman also like to pull the "Honey, I brought home Chinese takeout! From China!" thing.
    • After getting married and moving to a new house he got impatient and unpacked everything in an instant. His wife Linda was not pleased with the results: "Books do not go under the sink!"
    • There was also that one comic where he was using it to do his Christmas shopping.
    • Yet another issue had Wally doing the dishes in seconds. Again, Linda was displeased because she wanted to spend the time to actually have a conversation with him while they did chores.
    • When Jay Garrick, the first Flash, got his powers, nearly the first thing he used them for was to save his girlfriend a trip to the library.
    • The Chunk, one of the Flash's supporting cast in the '90s, was a large man whose internal organs had been replaced by a portal to another dimension. He needed to send things through the portal to "feed" himself, but he could also use it as a storage facility; when the Flash moved into a large house he'd inherited, Chunk helped him move by sucking up all his furniture and spitting it back out at the new place.
    • Bart Allen uses his powers to get away with just about anything possible (eg. multitasking video gaming, eating and/or chores); part of the reason he was sent to live with Max Mercury is so that he could be trained not to do this as a reflexive reaction.
  • Fantastic Four: Mr. Fantastic, useless though he may be, almost uses his powers more for this than superheroing. Any given appearance of him in a comic, including his own, will have him in his lab, stretching his arms and neck so that he can be doing things at three different workstations at once; he's also been shown using his powers to make the world's greatest shadow animals for his son during bedtime stories (and it comes in handy in other places). All of the Fantastic Four do stuff like this to some level or another, considering the "domestic" flavor of the comic.
    • This (improved) Civil War panel shows what happens when it's raining, and Sue and Johnny don't have umbrellas.
      • Also, if you take a closer look, it appears that she is levitating the bags.
    • For a brief period Ben used his super-strength and durability to work construction...and was promptly fired for being too efficient (his work crew were paid by the hour rather than by the job).
  • Spider-Man's webbing. Used for his civilian career AND a bit of kink with the wife!
    • He's also used his super strength to move furniture while helping MJ redecorate.
    • Don't forget him using his powers to deliver pizzas.
    • One issue of Spider-Girl has him climbing on the ceiling to fix a banner that MJ had put up for their daughter's party.
    • His use of his wall-crawling and webbing in taking photos for the Daily Bugle is occasionally lampshaded by comments that his photos look like they were "taken while hanging upside down" or that it looks like he "just put the camera down and walked away."
    • He's also fond of using his powers so he can pull stupid pranks (such as making a web-bat to freak out Johnny Storm, and then ruin his suit).
      • Johnny himself uses his powers to pull pranks on his fellow Ben Grimm or on Spidey.
    • He got so accustomed to using his Spider-Sense he just uses it instead of just looking for danger with eyes. When he temporarily lost it he was almost hit by a car because he hadn't bother looking both ways before crossing the street in years.
  • One of the (many) things that pissed Green Lantern Hal Jordan off about Guy Gardner was Guy's habit of using his ring (a weapon limited only by the will and creativity of the user) to do utterly mundane things like open beers and change the TV channel.
    • A story arc with Kyle Rayner showed that when he first became Ion, he not only used his power to help stop civil wars on separate planets and cure world hunger, but also unlock creative portions of his brain so he could work faster on his comic strip (Kyle otherwise never uses his ring to help his art).
      • Kyle did however outright abused the power of his ring several times, like using it take out the trash while he was busy working on something else, or making a spare key when he forgot his.
    • Soranik Natu only accepted the Green Lantern Ring — thanks to Sinestro's tenure as planetary dictator, the rings were considered evil weapons of terror on Korugar at the time — because she was desperately trying to save someone's life, and she lacked the medical equipment needed for treatment. She used the ring to construct the sophisticated equipment needed to save her patient's life.
  • Sara Pezzini has used her Witchblade, a cosmic artifact of nigh limitless power to move furniture while moving, make toys for her daughter and to hold up her towel while she answer the phone.
  • Watchmen's Doctor Manhattan constantly uses his god-like powers in the laboratory, and he creates duplicates so he can *ahem* lavish attention on Laurie while working on an experiment. She actually gets pissed about that, both because he didn't ask (it's implied they've done this before) and because he was multitasking.
  • Jamie Madrox is greatly upset when he discovers that his duplicates are living beings and develop independent identities the longer they stay separate from him. Once he comes to grips with the metaphysical ramifications, he decides to use his power as a super-learning tool, sending his duplicates off to study different walks of life and learn a variety of skills to rival Batman. Another story shows him using his power as a super-babysitter.
  • Marvel Comics villain Taskmaster has photographic reflexes and can mimic any motion he sees. He uses this to copy his opponents' fighting styles, learn martial arts by watching movies, and also improve his golf swing and learn to ski from the winter Olympics. In high school, he became a star quarterback after watching one pro football game. And thanks to being an Iron Chef fan, he's also an excellent cook.
  • In The Darkness, Jackie once sent the Darklings, (foul-mouthed lesser demons that he creates and controls, typically used to kill at will) to pick up his dry cleaning.
  • Empowered: One advantage of shacking up with a girl with a super-strength granting alien battlesuit? Darned easy to rotate the tires on your SUV.
  • Hellboy's Liz Sherman uses her pyrokineses to light her cigarettes on occasion.
  • In the same vein, Mad Jim Jaspers once lit his ever-present cigarette with a fireball during his reign of terror in Captain Britain.
    • An earlier issue, he used his reality-warping powers to liven up a particularly dull party by changing the wine from white to red.
  • Bamse's super-ursine strength is probably more often used to help people with mundane tasks (the ur-example comes from the very first comic, where a kid lost some money under a truck, and Bamse casually moved it). At least for a while his day-to-day job was lumberjack, where superstrength comes in handy.
  • The Plutonian in Irredeemable is seen using heat vision to warm up a cup of coffee.
  • Billy Batson turned into Shazam's Captain Marvel (with casual clothing) and posed as his own father to get an apartment. Captain Marvel can also use his lightning bolt to power up machinery, act as a defibrillator, etc.
    • In a subversion, Billy turned into Captain Marvel to use the Wisdom of Solomon to cheat on a test. As Captain Marvel, he was too moral to go through with it.
  • Groo The Wanderer once used his sword to cut a pear from a tree. Not much of a mundane utility in itself, but it was worth it to see how his dog Rufferto chased after him, expecting a vicious battle, only to be disappointed by the outcome.
    • In one early issue Groo is asked to demonstrate his swordsmanship while he's face-deep in a seafood feast. In the time it takes to finish the question, he draws his sword, coats it with brandy by slashing through a bottle, flips one of the fish into the air, slices it into six fish-steaks, kebabs all six on the point of his blade, and thrusts the brandy-soaked fish slices through a nearby torch to set them all aflame. He then slides the still-smoking fish fragments onto the king's plate with his other sword.
    Advisor: Did you not see that, Your Majesty? Are you not impressed?!
  • Zatanna and her cousin Zatarra of The DCU often use their awesome magical powers for utterly mundane tasks, such as giving their magic shows that extra bit of dazzle. Zatarra also uses his powers to summon free pizza. In one scene he used his magic to levitate a slice of pizza to his hand even though the box was all of five feet away.
    • If your audience knows that your stage magic is powered by real magic, does that count as revealing the secret of how it's done?
      • In one episode of Justice League, she says the act was all regular stage magic, except for the last trick, which she threw in to give them their money's worth.
  • Well Spoken Sonic Lightning Flash of the Super Young Team has been known to use his super speed to tear up the dance floor.
  • The title character of The Pro uses her Super Speed to give 1,000 blowjobs in a single night.
  • In Mega Man, the second issue's Short Circiuts had Cut Man being used as a ribbon cutter, hedge trimmer, and to give Dr. Wily's hair a trim. Needless to say, he's unhappy.
  • Power Girl uses her combination of Eye Beams and Super Toughness to shave her legs.
    • She has also used her Eye Beams to tease her cat as one would use a laser pointer.
  • In his new post-Flashpoint series, Animal Man often uses his power to channel animal abilities for mundane things. In the first issue, he comes home late, so he takes on the weight of a bumblebee so his footsteps won't wake his kids up, then the napping ability of a cat to get to sleep quickly.
  • The Astro City story "On the Sidelines" is centered on this trope — it's about a group of super-powered beings who use their abilities in everyday life, with no interest in being superheroes or villains. Examples include a telekinetic who controls things for stunt work, a fire-manipulator who's a glassblower, an empath who's a club deejay, and a man with Super Strength who works in construction. Then a super-villain comes along who thinks their lack of world-breaking ambition make them ripe for exploitation...
  • Ex Machina gets a lot of use out of this. As the main character is a retired superhero who isn't legally allowed to fight crime any more, he's as likely to use his Technopathy to change TV channels as to defend himself.
  • Several superheroes have figured out that cleaning under large items of furniture is easier when you can pick them up with one hand.
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