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Sliding Scale of Superhero Scope

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Different superheroes manage different levels of crises.

This work is a proposed Trope, Tropers can vote and offer feedback in the comments section below.
Proposed By:
CosmicFerret on Oct 13th 2017 at 9:16:22 AM
Last Edited By:
benriley42 on Feb 10th 2019 at 10:55:13 PM
Name Space: Main
Page Type: trope

Superheroes have a big job, taking care of problems that rank above the pay grade of the local police force. However, how far above this pay grade generally depends on the experience and level of ability of each superhero.

Tier 1

These are typically the "ground level" heroes. Due to lack of abilities or budget, or even a particular affection for a given area, these superheroes typically stick to a smaller region, like a given neighborhood.

Examples

  • Daredevil focuses on his home turf of Hell's Kitchen due to a desire to clean up his neighborhood via a route not otherwise covered by his day job as a lawyer. Also, Disability Superpower aside, he is still legally blind, meaning he can't get a driver's license to travel to distant parts of New York City.
  • Spider-Man also focuses mainly on the areas around his home and school, as he must balance his superhero life with things like school, jobs, helping his Aunt May, and shoring up whatever semblance of a social life he has in the current continuity. His transportation is mainly the bus and his webbing (the latter of which obviously works better in areas with tall buildings and other such structures).

Tier 2

These heroes have the resources (finances, transportation, abilities), to cover a major metropolitan area and handle larger problems than Tier 1, but there isn't usually much demand for them outside their given city.

Examples

  • The Avengers when they aren’t together are generally this such as:
    • Iron Man: Being a genius inventor and billionaire who runs a company that makes some of the most advanced technology on the planet Iron Man is generally in this category as unless he’s with the Avengers he normally doesn’t travel outside New York City as much
  • Batman: In a similar position to Iron Man as with being the sole heir to the richest company in his city and arguably the whole DC Universe. Batman when not with the Justice League doesn’t really venture outside of Gotham much.

Tier 3

These heroes are powerful enough to handle countrywide crises, and sometimes international threats, but not generally threats to the entire planet.

Examples

  • Captain America when not with the Avengers generally fights crime in the entire United States and often has to stop international threats. He once set up a countrywide hotline backed by a team of computer-savvy teens to locate trouble in any state faster. When he isn't using an Avengers quinjet or some SHIELD transportation, he tends to favor motorbikes. His peak human physiology, excellent fighting skills and indestructible shield make him suited to any foe who isn't a Person Of Mass Destruction.

Tier 4

These heroes are powerful enough to defend planet Earth (or whatever planet serves as the story's setting) from an extraplanetary threat.
  • The Avengers automatically fall into this category regardless of the individual level of each member. There's a reason they're called Earth mightiest's heroes. The combination of their varied powers and hours of training make the team suited for almost any threat. They saved the Earth countless times from aliens and extradimensional invasions, and are the go-to team when a powerful supervillain emerges. Tony Stark and other Science Heroes provide them with advanced technology and they generally have access to government files. They also share mission records with the Fantastic Four. Depending on the situation, they can ascend to Tier 5.
  • The Fantastic Four are led by the world's smartest man, who is also an Omnidisciplinary Scientist. Literally every advanced device that wasn't made by Stark, Hank Pym, Bruce Banner or another genius comes from Reed Richards. The FF often fill the role of explorers of the unknown, and thus discover and stop many strange threats. They have more experience with cosmic threats such as Galactus than most Earth heroes and live in a building-turned-laboratory.
  • The X Men got a wide range of powers and excellent team coordination. They fought threats all over the world and they're associated with the Phoenix Force. Their headquarters have a training room even better than the Avengers' and the Blackbird is their signature plane. Mutants with teleportation or telekinesis abilities are also used to travel. They stopped several alien invasions and even defeated an Eldritch Abomination or two.

Examples

  • Justice League: very similar to their Alternate company counterparts
  • Guardians of The Galaxy

Tier 5

This is the top tier of superheroes. Is there something that threatens the existence of a solar system, galaxy, or even the fabric of reality itself? These are the guys you call.

Examples

  • The Avengers
  • Justice League
  • Doctor Strange
  • The Spectre

Feedback: 17 replies

Oct 13th 2017 at 11:34:49 AM

Took the liberty to correct some markup.

Not sure Tier 1 heroes suffer from a lack of training. All street-level heroes I've seen are often better skilled than planetary-level people because they often only got that ace up their sleeve.

Also, Spider-Man's main transportation method is actually his webs. As soon as he leaves the house/campus/whatever, he changes clothes and web-swings his way through Manhattan.

Oct 13th 2017 at 12:07:52 PM

Would you say Doctor Strange, the Sorcerer Supreme who defends the Earth from extradimensional threats, is Tier 4 or 5?

Oct 13th 2017 at 12:29:36 PM

Made some corrections to the original post.

Regarding Doctor Strange, I would regard him as Tier 5 due to handling extradimensional threats.

Oct 13th 2017 at 12:34:49 PM

Some examples:

Tier 2

  • The Punisher's endless war against crime is mostly street-level. He still has been seen going to different cities, fighting supernatural criminals or even disrupting foreign crime schemes. His Mission Control Microchip detects all shady bussiness in his league and provides him with custom high-tech weapons. The Punisher's main transportation method is his signature armored van.

Tier 3

  • Captain America fights crime in the entire United States and often has to stop international threats. He once set up a countrywide hotline backed by a team of computer-savvy teens to locate trouble in any state faster. When he isn't using an Avengers quinjet or some SHIELD transportation, he tends to favor motorbikes. His peak human physiology, excellent fighting skills and indestructible shield make him suited to any foe who isn't a Person Of Mass Destruction.

Tier 4

  • The Avengers automatically fall into this category regardless of the individual level of each member. There's a reason they're called Earth mightiest's heroes. The combination of their varied powers and hours of training make the team suited for almost any threat. They saved the Earth countless times from aliens and extradimensional invasions, and are the go-to team when a powerful supervillain emerges. Tony Stark and other Science Heroes provide them with advanced technology and they generally have access to government files. They also share mission records with the Fantastic Four. Depending on the situation, they can ascend to Tier 5.
  • The Fantastic Four are led by the world's smartest man, who is also an Omnidisciplinary Scientist. Literally every advanced device that wasn't made by Stark, Hank Pym, Bruce Banner or another genius comes from Reed Richards. The FF often fill the role of explorers of the unknown, and thus discover and stop many strange threats. They have more experience with cosmic threats such as Galactus than most Earth heroes and live in a building-turned-laboratory.
  • The X Men got a wide range of powers and excellent team coordination. They fought threats all over the world and they're associated with the Phoenix Force. Their headquarters have a training room even better than the Avengers' and the Blackbird is their signature plane. Mutants with teleportation or telekinesis abilities are also used to travel. They stopped several alien invasions and even defeated an Eldritch Abomination or two.

Tier 5

  • Outside of magical threats, Doctor Strange usually isn't more than a smart human. When dealing with magic, though, he stopped countless extradimensional abominations, including creatures that could kill him in a blink if he wasn't so smart and skilled with spells. He's the Sorcerer Supreme of Marvel's dimension, and the fabric of reality is basically his turf.
  • The Silver Surfer travels all over the universe stopping the schemes of Thanos-level threats, and even in other realms such as Mephisto's infernal dimension. His surf board, an extension of himself, lets him travel much faster than light. He's almost invulnerable and possesses the Power Cosmic, allowing him to do pretty much everything he wants. He got a deep understanding of alien life and is only bested by Galactus or stronger reality warpers.

Oct 13th 2017 at 12:47:20 PM

Not sure about the Hulk. He certainly is Tier 4, but his literally unlimited strenght and super-fast healing factor should put him in Tier 5. He's been seen shattering a planet, destroying a black hole and other incredible feats. He's generally immune to mind control and can see ghosts and astral projections. He often works with Doc Strange. But he still isn't called as often as the Avengers when all hell breaks loose and some godlike entities can overpower him. So maybe make him a Tier 4 that can ascend to Tier 5 depending on the situation?

Oct 13th 2017 at 2:21:06 PM

The scale breaks down in case of some Long Runners like Batman, who slides all over it: in some installments, he is happy beating up lowlife thugs on the streets of Gotham, but in others, he is facing down literal gods in defense of the entire humankind.

Oct 13th 2017 at 6:43:49 PM

Numbered tiers are frowned on. Better to call them something like "Street/City/Country/Planet/Universe Protector".

"Note that a hero's scope is not the same as their power level - it's fully possible to have a Guile Hero with no actual powers who saves entire galaxies, or a nigh-omnipotent Reality Warper who spends all his time beating up random thugs."

Oct 13th 2017 at 10:48:45 PM

In the Ask the Tropers thread What to do with the SlidingScale/ namespace? And other sliding scales., the moderator Madrugada said that "we don't need to be making any more" sliding scales.

So I'm afraid this is illegal as written.

Oct 14th 2017 at 12:26:33 AM

^ I wasn't aware of that... looks like I spent a ridiculous amount of time writing examples then. note  Anyway as Koveras said some heroes slide back and forth all over the scale so it's not a perfect classification. For what it's worth, I had the same tier 4/5 problem with Superman and Thor. Oh well. I'd say it could be repurposed into a sister trope of Super Weight (Super Scope sounds good) but a quick look at the page gives me a scale-y feeling.

Oct 14th 2017 at 4:49:28 AM

^^ Just for my reference: is the wiki adopting the common law practice with moderators acting as judges whose official statements become new law? Not arguing with any of this, just wondering whether I should be getting a wiki attorney to keep track of every thing every mod said on ATT, since nobody seems to bother to write this stuff into actual Administrivia guidelines. :-)

Oct 15th 2017 at 9:57:44 AM

I'm completely open to renaming it Super Scope and changing the various Tiers to Street Protector, City Protector, National Protector, Planetary Protector, and Reality Protector. Is there anything else I could do in order to get this in line with local standards?

Oct 16th 2017 at 12:07:43 AM

After a longer look at Super Weight, I'm pretty sure you can base this page on it, which is to say, have the examples in subpages. The main page seems to be only about the classification itself. I guess the categories can be fleshed out a bit. For example, Street Protector can be rewritten as:

"These are typically the "ground level" heroes. Due to lack of abilities or budget, or even a particular affection for a given area, these superheroes typically stick to a smaller region, like a given neighborhood. They tend to train a lot more than stronger heroes because it's often their only ace up their sleeve. They will rarely fight foes above city threat level. Their methods of transportation are generally the city's (car, bus, train...)."

Sounds like a lot of work, but I'm willing to help.

Oct 16th 2017 at 4:21:32 AM

Based on what we have so far, I'm guessing a table like Super Weight has won't be needed for now. I'll start hacking away at expanding the categories. I'm assuming the Rule Of Three also applies to splitting off into subcategories?

Oct 16th 2017 at 5:36:21 AM

Tier 1 is always calledstreet level

Tier 2 maybe Crimefighting With Cash

Tier 5: cosmic or Skyfather

Oct 16th 2017 at 7:50:05 AM

^^ If you mean you need at minimum of 3 examples in any category/subpage, yeah that's pretty much a rule.

^ Cosmic protector is fine. Every time I heard it, Skyfather specifically referred to "top gods" such as Odin, Zeus/Jupiter and similar guys. It also counts for the father figure of any fictional pantheon. note  You don't have to be a skyfather or even "just" a god to be a cosmic-level protector.

Oct 16th 2017 at 12:33:32 PM

^^ Using "level" invites misuse from people who treat it as power level, and feel like their favorite characters "deserve" a higher tier. Super Weight is already filled with that.

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