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Material Mimicry

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"What, you're gonna stop me by tossin' concrete? So congratulations. Now I'm concrete. Now what?"
The Absorbing Man, Marvel Universe

A character or object can change itself into a material simply by touching that material. Most often seen with metal and stone, but sometimes seen with rubber, wood, or other materials.

Characters with this ability need to be careful what they choose to use their powers on. Sure, pummeling your enemy with stone fists is great, but if you accidentally turn into paper or ice, you're going to have a bad time. Their foes might try and use this to their advantage and induce Assimilation Backfire. It also requires some ability to think on one's feet to find a useful substance to turn into. Alternatively, maybe they carry around small objects so they always have useful transformations available.

Just like Chameleon Camouflage, this can be done for camouflage purposes.

Related tropes include Cannibalism Superpower, The Assimilator and Power Copying which are about absorbing the powers of other characters rather than materials. See also Elemental Armor, where the character is only encased by the substance without transforming. Contrast The Magic Touch, where touching causes the object to change as well as Taken for Granite, where the transformation is against the victim's will and freezes them.

Sub-Trope of Voluntary Shapeshifting. See also Elemental Shapeshifter.


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    Comic Books 
  • The DCU:
    • All-Star Squadron: William Markus fought crime under the name 'Amazing Man' after an accident involving the Ultra-Humanite gave him the power to copy the properties of materials he touched. His two grandsons, William Markus III and Markus Clay, took up the mantle after he died, though Clay's transformations only affected his skin.
    • In Batman and the Outsiders, Shift was originally an accidental clone of Metamorpho (he was a part of the original that had split off and developed his own personality), but eventually, he underwent Divergent Character Evolution, gaining the ability to absorb and mimic almost any substance he touched, whereas the original Metamorpho could only mimic elements found within the human body.
    • Firestorm had a Stalker with a Crush named Casey Krinsky with substance-copying abilities. She is defeated when Firestorm's transmuting abilities interact oddly with hers and accidentally petrify her.
    • Percival "Grunge" Chang from Gen¹³ started with the power to take on the properties of anything he touches by molecularly bonding to it. After Worldstorm, his powers were expanded to Power Copying.
    • Superman has an enemy called Anomaly, a clone of a gangster who can take the properties of what he touches.
  • Marvel Universe:
    • The Absorbing Man, a longtime opponent of The Mighty Thor and the The Incredible Hulk, can absorb the properties of anything that touches him, including solid objects, and energy. This extends to inanimate substances like steel and concrete, nuclear and magical energies, or even other people like The Incredible Hercules. Immortal Hulk sees him learn to absorb the properties of entire objects like rockets. Stonewall, his biological son, has also inherited this power.
    • Generation X: Mondo's power is to copy the properties of substances.
    • West Coast Avengers (2018): Kate Bishop's boyfriend Johnny Watts, a.k.a. Fuse, has this superpower, transforming successfully from steel to brick to rubber to even water. He wears Vibranium piercings for transformations into that element, but staying in that form too long cuts into his intelligence so he saves it for emergencies. His sister Ramone has a similar power, but in her case the transformation into Vibranium is mostly permanent.
  • The parody comic Captain Biceps has him defeat the Absorbing Man ersatz by throwing a stale baguette at him, making him much easier to punch than water or brick. An inconvenient side of Absorbing Man's power is also seen when he steps in a dog turd.
  • Madman: It Girl, member of the Atomics, has the ability to copy the genetic traits of anything or anyone she touches. Not only can she copy abilities from others, such as her teammate Mr. Gum, she can also take on the features of materials or objects and change her body to them.

    Fan Works 
  • Thieves Can Be Heroes!: Makoto's Quirk, "Absorption", lets her change her body into substances she touches, though only if she touched it with her right hand. She can also reshape transformed parts of her body.
  • Vanishing Act: Ez-E's Stand allows his body to absorb nearby matter into himself as armour.

  • David Banner in Hulk gets this power after injecting himself with Bruce's DNA, taking elements from the Absorbing Man. In the climax, he goes through electrical, rock, and water-based forms in quick succession.
  • In the director's cut of Terminator 2: Judgment Day, after the T-1000 gets frozen and shattered, he exhibits some malfunctions with his morphing ability. When he touches a steel railing in the factory, his hands take on the texture and painted warning stripes of the material.

  • Animorphs: Animal morphs are "acquired" by physical contact. The process puts them in a slight trance, useful for the more dangerous morphs like sharks and tigers.
  • In The Fall of Five, Number Five has this ability — he constantly carries a rubber ball and a steel bearing so that he can fight at will whenever necessary, though it does seem to be a choice response as he doesn't become cotton when wearing clothes and is able to roll the balls over his fingers when nervous.

    Live-Action Television 

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons: The zorbo is a malevolent koala-like creature whose skin takes on the properties of the material it stands on, becoming increasingly more durable if it's on wood, stone, and metal.
  • Magic: The Gathering: Tyvar Kell, a Planeswalker from Kaldheim, has both this power and The Magic Touch with natural materials. Examples of his capabilities include giving himself armor made of stone or growing thorns to get out of grapples.
  • Pathfinder: In Second Edition, striking a sea dragon with a weapon made out of metal or with a spell that uses metal will turn many of the dragon's scales into metal of the kind used, increasing their armor for the duration of the fight.

  • BIONICLE: A type of Rahi, called the Tunneler, has the ability to take the physical properties of a material used to strike it, like rock, crystal, or fire. In the novels, Vakama and Onewa defeat it by causing to absorb glass, which forces it to remain still. Since it was around twice the size its species is normally it would crack if it moved.

    Video Games 
  • Pokémon: Kecleon's Ability Color Change, while presented as Chameleon Camouflage, functions closer to this trope. Its type changes to that of the last attack that hit it.
  • Yooka-Laylee. The title character has the Slurp State, an unlockable move that allows Yooka to take on the properties of certain objects by licking them. For example, a beehive makes him sticky like honey, a cannonball makes him heavy, and a bonfire makes him warm.


    Western Animation