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Barehanded Bar Bending

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Things are looking bad now. You've made the monster really angry. It's going to beat down on you mercilessly. But it's all right; you think you can take this guy. You grab a metal beam to use as an Improvised Weapon and swing it away...

...except the monster has grabbed it out of your hands and has bent it into a nice right angle. For added threat, the monster could go the extra mile and twist it into a pretzel, and then discard the beam. This is generally a good signal to take the extra seconds you bought to turn and run as fast as you can. If the monster could do that to solid metal, imagine what it could do to human bones.

The beam need not be an actual beam; things such as swords or ray guns can also be bent to make a similar point that the foe has Super-Strength and is not to be underestimated. Subtrope of Intimidation Demonstration.

Not to be confused with Extra-ore-dinary. Contrast Spoon Bending, when such a feat is performed with Psychic Powers instead of physical strength.


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    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • Archie Comics:
    • Exploited in one comic. One day, Archie and Jughead go to a landfill and pick up a bent iron pipe. The two of them take it to a road construction site where similar pipes are waiting to be installed. Then, when arch-rival Reggie walks by, Archie grabs the bent pipe while Jughead yells that the construction crew would " mad if you keep messing up their pipe like that." This freaks Reggie out big time.
    • In another comic, Moose is trying to keep his temper rather than behaving as the Crazy Jealous Guy he usually is when any other boy talks to his girlfriend Midge. He's standing in front of an iron fence with his hands behind his back thinking to himself "gotta keep muh temper... gotta keep muh temper." The Reveal comes as he steps away from the fence, showing the iron bars twisted into pretzels where he had been bending them behind his back.
  • An early Lucky Luke comic has a boxer try to intimidate the other by putting a horseshoe around his arm and then bending it by flexing his muscles. He gives it to the other boxer "as a lucky charm", only for the other boxer to give it back to him with a knot in the middle, saying he isn't superstitious.
  • Used in PS238 to demonstrate that Argonaut has regained his powers. He hasn't; the beam he uses was gimmicked beforehand.
  • Wonder Woman:
    • Wonder Woman (1942): Diana very regularly bends, twists and tears bars meant to imprison her or her friends, and flashbacks show that she and Mala have been capable of doing this since they were Amazonian children.
    • Wonder Woman (2006): Genocide wraps Diana's arm in a steel support beam after forcing her to watch the slaughter of innocents and defeating her in battle.
    • Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman: When a Loony Fan pulls a shotgun on Diana in "Bullets and Bracelets", she grabs the gun and folds the barrels in half.

    Comic Strips 
  • Exploited in a Dilbert strip when Dilbert needs a steel rod bent into a U-shape. Wally's solution? Take it over to Alice, known for her temper, and tell her that it's the prestigious "Steel Spike Award" for best performance by a male employee. Within seconds, she bends it into the shape Dilbert needs.

    Fan Works 
  • Enter the Dragon: When Harry announces that he's going to go rescue Hermione from the troll, his fellow Hufflepuffs declare that they're going to help him out, despite his insistence that they'll just get in the way. Since he's just a first-year, they're confident that he needs as much help as he can get — until he proves otherwise.
    She trailed off as Harry reached out grabbed a carving knife from a nearby platter — eight inches of tempered carbon-steel blade and a four-inch tang wrapped up in a well-seasoned oak handle — and proceeded to wad it up with one hand as easily as if it were made of tissue paper. Even when he squeezed down on the edge, the steel gave way before his skin so much as took a nick. When she examined it after he dropped the mess of twisted steel and splintered oak on the table, Hannah could even see the boy’s fingerprints impressed into the metal.

  • Black Mask has the titular hero impaling a Unit 701 Super-Soldier on a set of construction bars before bending the bars to hold his opponent in place. Alas, it doesn't work — the 701 soldier simply un-bends the bar and un-impales himself to continue fighting.
  • In The Dark Knight, Batman bends the barrel of one of the Bat-Vigilantes' guns with one hand (the whirring sound that accompanies the act indicates mechanical assistance).
  • In Descendant of the Sun, the Superman Substitute protagonist fights off a bunch of enemy soldiers, getting his hands on one of their (metal) spears at one point. He then makes a smirk and bends the spear with his bare hands - cue every enemy mook packing.
  • In the Doom film, during the fight of Reaper and the infected Sarge. Reaper takes a detached railing and uses it to stab Sarge's hand. Sarge bends the beam around his hand to make improvised brass knuckles.
  • At least one of the Hercules (1958) movies has the titular character prove why he's the World's Strongest Man by bending thick bars with his bare hands.
  • In Hulk, the Hulk bends back a tank's cannon to point it at the wide-eyed crew.
  • RoboCop (1987) features another instance of the titular hero bending a crook's gun barrel with one hand. Both this and the Dark Knight example have characters with mechanical Super-Strength to justify it on their end, but Willing Suspension of Disbelief is still required, because the gunmen would have to be equally strong to hold the weapon steady while it was being bent.
  • Short Circuit 2 has the robotic Johnny Five pull off the pretzel variant when attacked by thieves trying to get him off their tail. Being an Actual Pacifist turned Technical Pacifist, he discards the bent beam and uses his metal-bending strength to contain one thief by rolling him up in a mesh fence.
  • Suburban Commando has the alien bounty hunters show off their strength to Shep by bending a metal bar. The first one bends it into a V shape, the second one straightens it out again. Shep one-ups them by bending it into the shape of a bunny.

  • In the second Alex Rider book, The Dragon bends a crowbar with her bare hands to prove a point (and that was before she knew who Alex really was).
  • Some Norse folklore recounted in the American Gods novella "Monarch of the Glen" makes use of this trope. There is a seductive forest creature called the Huldra/Hulder, which looks like a beautiful woman with a cow's tail. Sometimes men will win their love and will marry them, causing them to lose their tail. If a human husband mistreats the Huldra, she will remind him of her strength by bending barehanded a horseshoe or fireplace poker (sometimes a red hot one at that).
  • Animorphs: When the Venber are first encountered, one of them is seen bending rebar like spaghetti in arctic conditions.
  • In one of The Dresden Files novels, Thomas helps Harry intimidate some of Marcone's thugs by twisting a couple of barbells together.
  • In Flim Flam!: Psychics, Unicorns and Other Delusions, the author James Randi and several other sceptics are investigating a psychic who can allegedly bend metal tubes using the power of his mind. They find his sponsor is using outrageously slack methods of testing this man's authenticity, including a metal tube that turned out to be 99 percent pure aluminum, that could be easily bent using the pressure of one's thumb.
  • In Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, when Hagrid appears Uncle Vernon threatens him with a rifle. Hagrid yanks the gun out of his hands, ties the barrel in a knot, and chucks it in the corner.
  • In one Known Space anthology, a human telepath sneaks aboard a kzinti ship disguised as a kzin. He ends up in a duel with a kzin, preceded by a contest of this trope to determine the handicap. He ends up selecting a bar one grade thicker than his opponent's, and projecting an illusion bending the bar and then straightening it again, relying on the kzinti lack of curiosity to keep his deception undiscovered.
  • Mr. Men: Mr Strong can not only bend an iron bar with his bare hands: he can tie knots in it.
  • The Sherlock Holmes story The Adventure of the Speckled Band has Dr. Roylott threaten Holmes by bending an iron poker in half. After he leaves, the totally unfazed Holmes straightens it back.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Adventures of Superman:
    • Superman regularly bends the villains' guns after they get done Shooting Superman; when the guns are rifles or shotguns, Superman often twists them into knots.
    • In one episode, a pawnshop specializes in items Superman has previously bent, but it turns out that they're counterfeit: the store owner uses a bench vise to artificially bend the merchandise
  • In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Phases", Buffy shows a werewolf hunter what's what by bending the barrel of his rifle into a neat curve.
  • Doctor Who: In "Paradise Towers", Pex — who is proud of his survivalist skills and dismayed at Mel's refusal of his services — snaps a lightpost from the wall and bends the metal with his hands.
    Mel: [deadpan] Pex, if you could bend that back into shape and put it back where it came from, you might be more use. But you can't, can you?
  • The Hulk does this often in The Incredible Hulk (1977).
  • In Legends of the Superheroes, Giganta makes an appearance. Since the show had an extremely limited budget, special effects to display her growth power were out of the question, so her super-strength is demonstrated by her bending a prop metal bar instead.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series: When Kirk confronts Khan in the Enterprise engine room in "Space Seed", Khan grabs Kirk's phaser away from him and bends/crushes it in his bare hands. During the ensuing fight he boasts that he has five times Kirk's strength.
  • In the Supernatural episode "All Hell Breaks Loose, Part One", Sam tries to loosen one of the spokes from the steel tractor wheels by repeatedly banging on it with the fireplace poker. Jake simply grabs the spoke with his bare-hand and pulls it off the wheel.
  • In Wonder Woman (1975), our heroine is occasionally shown taking the guns out of her enemies' hands and bending them or snapping them in half. One instance involved a poker.

  • My Beloved Mother has Milan, the robot caretaker and Mama Bear to protagonist Sinbell, intimidating bullies trying to attack Sinbell by bending a bar one of them is trying to attack Sinbell with.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Bending metal bars around her forearms was a favorite of Ada Ash, showing off not just strength but also her pain tolerance. Joan Rhodes also bent metal, though not around herself.
  • Lucha Underground: At Aztec Warfare II, Joey Ryan tried to sit out the match by handcuffing himself to a railing. Unfortunately for him, Matanza was strong enough to bend and break the railing with one hand and drag him to the ring.

    Video Games 
  • In Batman: Arkham City and Batman: Arkham Origins, Batman does this when he uses his disarm and destroy technique on pipe-armed henchmen. The intimidation aspect is subverted when the henchmen continue attacking.
  • In Crash Team Racing, in the Adventure Mode's character selection, Tiny Tiger is effortlessly juggling a barbell around. If you select him, he'll bend the barbell into right angles.

    Western Animation 
  • One episode of Batman Beyond has Maxine in pursuit with a genetically altered human-dinosaur hybrid. She tries to fight him off with a metal bar she finds, only for the dinosaur man to bend it.
  • In Futurama, there's a class of robots who have this as their sole purpose: they bend girders. The main character Bender is one of them. When the Planet Express crew attend robot Olympics, this trope is shown when several brawny robot competitors in a bending competition twist several extremely large girders labelled "unbendable" into very intricate knots. This impresses Bender, knowing that he would never be able to keep up with that kind of strength.
  • Looney Tunes:
    • While not depicted as being super strong, Bugs Bunny will on occasion bend Elmer's shotgun, even tying it into a knot.
    • In the short "Muscle Tough", Daffy Duck gets into a strength contest with a bodybuilder, who ties a pipe around a pole. Daffy tries it with a fishing pole, but only manages to tie himself into a knot.
  • Sadie Mae from Scooby-Doo Meets the Boo Brothers takes her brother's rifle, bends it into a circle and uses it to bind him.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars: In "Hostage Crisis", Anakin, who is currently without his lightsaber or any other weapons, tries to wrestle the blaster away from Bane's assassin droid. The droid bends the barrel into a U shape right as Anakin gets to where he could shoot the droid with it.
  • Transformers: Rescue Bots: When the scientists of 1939 Griffin Rock find that the Rescue Bots have entered their time portal, they run the bots through a battery of tests, including ordering Heatwave to bend a large metal beam.
  • WordGirl can do this, often to tie up the villains. In one episode, she does it to a steel I-beam as a warning to any villains who were thinking of interrupting her favorite TV show.

    Real Life 
  • King Augustus II of Saxony and Poland (aka Augustus the Strong) liked to show off his strength by ripping a horse iron apart, which is mentioned in the novel Krabat.
  • Peter the Great liked to boast his strength by bending, twisting, and tying iron fireplace pokers into knots.