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Mundane Utility / Comic Books

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Jean Grey engages in a psychic snowball assault.

Several superheroes have figured out that cleaning under large items of furniture is easier when you can pick them up with one hand.


  • Superman:
    • 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.
    • Forgetting that he had lost his heat-vision, he accidentally tried using his short-lived electrical powers to shave, with...unexpected results.
    • Lois & 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).
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    • 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?"
    • The flip side of the trope appeared in another issue soon after Lois and Clark married: Lois is inconvenienced when making dinner because Clark has no oven mitts— he's never needed them. Becomes a Brick Joke a couple of years later, when during a storyline that had him lose his powers when not in costume, he burned his hands taking something out of the oven, due to forgetting the earlier conversation with Lois. Also, having to shave with a razor for the first time, he nicked himself at several places and had to show up at work with bits of toilet paper on the wounds.
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    • 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. However, Superman did try to solve world hunger... and failed. He has also manufactured a ton of diamonds in Superman: True Brit. Unfortunately, he made WAY too many...
    • 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...
    • In a Silver Age issue he uses... Super-Landscaping.
    • In a Silver Age crossover story with Batman, he cleaned up a spill of syrup caused by Mr. Mxyzptlk and Bat-Mite by hovering upside-down and spinning to "use his steel-strong hair as a mop". He does at least acknowledge that it looks silly.
    • 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.
    • In Superman vs. the Amazing Spider-Man, Superman uses his photographic memory to reassemble a computer at Super Speed, and Spider-Man makes a sling using his webbing.
  • Supergirl:
    • In The Supergirl from Krypton, Linda uses her powers to tidy her bedroom up. She bends the iron leg of her cot straight, dusts out her room in a big blow and fixes a broken mirror.
    • Supergirl has sometimes used her heat vision to roast marshmallows and her Super Speed to tidy an apartment (as seen in a flashback during the storyline Red Daughter of Krypton).
    • Subverted in Supergirl (Rebirth). Kara wants to use her Super Speed to rebuild the wrecked base of the DEO, but her foster mother suggests that she first needs to learn how non-powered people deal with disasters, so she helps out without using her powers for a bit.
    • In Supergirl Vol 1 #7, Linda stumbles upon Zatanna's frozen body. She wraps her cape around the magician girl and uses her heat beams to warm up her cape like an electric blanket and revive Zatanna.
    • In Supergirl Vol. 2 issue #13, Supergirl's adoptive father has trouble lighting his pipe, so his daughter helps him out with a burst of heat vision.
    • In Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade, Linda uses her powers to such things like reheat her lunch (sadly she got it burned) and to keep a tub of ice cream cold.
    • In Bizarrogirl, Kara floats up to her bedroom's damaged ceiling to paint it white.
    • Power Girl has been seen using her heat vision to shave her legs. Since she is nigh invulnerable, her options are limited.
    • She has also used her Eye Beams to tease her cat as one would use a laser pointer.
  • 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 actually having 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 (e.g. 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. At one point, he dealt with a library research assignment on France by running to Paris.
  • 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 abuse the power of his ring several times, like using it to 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.
  • 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.
    • After gaining his powers in the New 52 reboot, one of the very first things that Billy does as Captain Marvel is buy beer for himself and Freddy. They didn't like how it tastes.
    • Freddy himself often averts this, particularly in the original Fawcett run, by walking considerable distances on his crutch, sometimes for hours, when he could just transform and fly the same distance in seconds.
  • Zatanna and her cousin Zatarra 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 and in several comic books, it's stated that her act is all regular stage magic, except for the last trick, which she throws in to give them their money's worth.
  • 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.
  • Batgirl (2000): Cass befriends an Indian superhero named Aruna who uses her shapeshifting and martial arts abilities to make a living as a stunt double.
  • Robin Series: In issue 163 Tim thinks; “I wonder if any flying superheroes ever thought to moonlight as sky traffic reporters. Be a good way to make some extra dough.”
  • Superboy (1994): Kon uses his telekinesis to open his locker and fly to school, it helps that he has no secret identity so he's free to show off without worrying about revealing one.
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1: In the Golden Age Paula invented a Do-Anything Robot she terms a Space Transformer which can create Hard Light constructs, teleport people throughout the solar system, time travel and which she also uses to make new outfits.
  • 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 working while they were making love.


  • 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 medium and writer) tends to do this as well, using his sensitive nose to scout 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 very... homoerotic 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 thing 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.
      • It was shown early on that, although Charles is genuinely gifted, he used his powers in school to read the mind of his teachers and thus get better grades.
    • In the comics based on Evolution Nightcrawler used his teleporting powers to take shortcuts to school so he could 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. (Note that Archangel wasn't even on either team at that moment.)
    Person 1: We called "no powers"!
    Person 2: Did not!
    Person 3: Did too!
    Person 4: It was implied!
    Person 5: He scored—he's on our team!
    Person 6: Do over! Do over!
    • 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 fiancé coaxed him into it, so there were some slightly more complex themes like 'desire to snuggle'.
    • The post-M-Day mutant Kenji Uedo has the ability to warp his body into a techno-organic nightmare, similar to what happened to Tetsuo AKIRA. While he usually attacks people with it, he can also use it for more mundane uses such as cooking burgers made of himself. See here.
    • In the first X-Factor series, Jean lost her winter coat, and after she and Scott bought a white fur coat to replace it, they go walking through the park, where Jean decides to use her telekinesis to make snowballs and toss them at Scott, who used his beams to blast at them.
    • During Gambit and Rogues wedding in Mr. and Mrs. X #1, Laura uses her adamantium claws to trim Gambit's hair.
    • Ultimate X-Men: Xavier and Jean are not surgeons, but thanks to their telepathy they can "borrow" the expertise of nearby surgeons and treat Beast by themselves.
  • 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).
    • Issue 532 in 2005 features Sue using her abilities to slam cabinet doors out of anger while putting away the dishes. In the same issue, Reed comes home from an It's a Wonderful Plot storyline, and some time later, Sue sleepily comments on what a wonderful set of abilities he has.
  • X-Factor: 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.
  • 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 looking for danger with eyes. When he temporarily loses it he is almost hit by a car because he hasn't bothered looking both ways before crossing the street in years.
    • He has a Masters Degree in Biophysics. He is smart enough to get it on his own, but since this is the scientific area that his own powers would fall under, it is safe to say that he had an unusually intimate understanding of the subject.
    • Used against Spidey in one Ultimate Spider-Man comic where the web-head learns of a movie being made about him without his consent. He goes down to taunt Sam Raimi by pointing out how lame the actor playing him is and how he can't do all the tricks Spidey can (and proceeds to do). Sam than thanks Spidey... for saving him a fortune on special effects. Spidey spends the rest of the shoot sitting on a wall in full view of the crew and doing nothing but glaring.
  • The 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.
  • 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.
  • Young Loki repeatedly used their magic to move their Manhattan apartment in Loki: Agent of Asgard. Why go through all the trouble of moving if you can bring the whole thing, walls and all?
  • Professor Erskine, the scientist who created the Super Serum that empowered Captain America, had also created an exercise and diet regimen that could allow a human to become a Super Soldier naturally, though the military rejected it because it would take a lifetime of dedication and they wanted a quick fix. Erskine's grandson would use the research to start his own organic food business. He also put his own son Michael through the diet and exercise regimen.


  • 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...
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Clara of Death Vigil can draw magical portals in the air which can cause a monster charging at her to suddenly find itself a hundred meters in the air and falling to its destruction. Or, she can use them to scratch her own back.
  • 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. It's also been shown once that, since she can't carry tissues (no pockets), she has to wipe her "tears and snot" away with her hands and then "mini-vorpp" them dry.
  • 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.
  • 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?!
  • Livewire of Harbinger is a technopath who can text and tweet at once. She's used this skill to save her team before, albeit a different one.
  • Hellboy's Liz Sherman uses her pyrokinesis to light her cigarettes on occasion.
  • The Plutonian in Irredeemable is seen using heat vision to warm up a cup of coffee.
  • Lori Lovecraft: After her apartment is trashed by an earthquake in Into the Past, Lori uses her spare crystal ball to watch the basketball game she had been taping.
  • In Mega Man, the second issue's Short Circuits 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.
    • Another issue had Quake Woman, Centaur Man, Elec Man, and—surprisingly—Time Man using their abilities to save lives during a global blackout.note 
  • One Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers comic had Kimberly use her Power Morpher as a cup coaster. It bit her in the butt when she forgot it and she was needed.
  • The title character of The Pro uses her Super Speed to give 1,000 blowjobs in a single night.
  • Well Spoken Sonic Lightning Flash of the Super Young Team has been known to use his super speed to tear up the dance floor.
  • 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 answered the phone.


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