Robot 6

Still troubled by flying Superman, Stan Lee backs Thor’s method

jla vs avengers

In a particularly timely installment of “Stan’s Rants,” the legendary Stan Lee once again brings into question Superman’s flying ability — “The man has no visible means of propulsion!” — and points to Marvel’s Thor as a prime example of comic-book flight done right.

“When Thor wants to fly, we use a scientific principle. He has his hammer, he has a leather thong attached to his wrist,” Lee explains. “He swings the hammer around faster and faster ’til it’s going like a propeller, and then he lets go of it — well, the hammer goes flying off into space, but the thong is wrapped around Thor’s wrist, so he goes with it. So you have hammer propulsion.”

Take that, Angry Nerd.

This certainly isn’t the first time the “scientific-minded” Lee has expressed his problems with the Man of Steel. Just last year, in comments that will sound curiously familiar to anyone who skipped ahead to watch the video, Lee admitted he found Superman’s power of flight more than a little frustrating.

“You’ve seen Superman flying on the screen, haven’t you? What is his means of propulsion? What makes him fly?” he said. “He doesn’t have a jet engine, there’s nothing pushing him, he just sort of assumes a horizontal position, lies on the air and off he goes. When I wanted a character to fly, such as the Silver Surfer, I gave him a flying surfboard — perfectly scientific, perfectly understandable, and not the least bit as frustrating as wondering how Superman does it. So as you can see, science is really something I’m very much into and every factor of our stories is as scientifically accurate as I can make them.”

For those keeping track at home, hammer propulsion and cosmic-surfboard propulsion fall under “Perfectly Scientific”; whatever it is that pushes Superman through the air, however, does not.



Thanks, Stan. How the heck was the Hulk flying in the original Incredible Hulk #3? I get that his legs might be the source of the propulsion, but the Hulk visibly steers himself like a jet in those scenes. I’m no physicist, but somebody shouldn’t be able to jink and turn a whole lot when they’re operating as a pure projectile.

It’s comics. I assume that Superman flies because “he does” and I don’t want to think about it any harder than that.

I love Stan…..but he’s turning into my crazy, old Uncle. Loud, proud and harmless….

“When I wanted a character to fly, such as the Silver Surfer, I gave him a flying surfboard.”

No you didn’t, Stan. JACK KIRBY gave the Surfer his board.

– As Lee recalled in 1995, “There, in the middle of the story we had so carefully worked out, was a nut on some sort of flying surfboard”. He later expanded on this, recalling, “I thought, ‘Jack, this time you’ve gone too far'”.

Oh Stan, I love you. You’re like my wacky grandpa who doesn’t understand those newfangled Ipads.

Superman can fly because … well … he’s Superman. ‘Nuf said.

So how does The Vision fly, or Storm (i haven’t seen a wind strong enough to lift her indoor’s), etc etc?

*sigh* Ever thought of the power of flight in comics simply a power unto itself?

Superman flies because he has the power to fly, it’s a unique power called True Flight, generated by a close-rendering self-telekinetic field. It’s part of his energy matrix as a Kryptonian and telekinetic potential was also displayed in Superboy with his Tactile Telekinesis, which was an extension of Superman’s flight.

Many flying characters across comics possess this ability, with it also comes protection the user from such flight in high altitudes and speeds.

True Flight, bros.

Ehem. The human torch.

The Vision flies by making himself lighter than air.

I know little about science, but is Thor’s method so ‘scientific’? Wouldn’t it wrench his arm off? Surely Thor doesn’t need scientific justification anyway – he’s a god. How about Daredevil? Do his radar sense and other powers explain or justify his athletic abilities? Doesn’t Giant-Man’s growth break a scientific law? Is it scientifically possible for people to have conversations while they are pummelling each other, especially when what they are saying would take about 10 seconds but appears to be delivered in the time it takes to throw a punch? And Stan has stated more than once in the past that the Surfer was wholly Kirby’s creation, so I don’t see how he can take the credit. The Surfer’s board doesn’t seem any more logical than Superman’s power of flight. So, sorry Stan, all respect to you, but I think you’re forgetting (surprisingly for you) that comics, like fairy tales, to which you yourself have compared them in the past, are about psychological truths rather than physical or scientific ones.

This is SOOOOOOOOO funny. HAH.

Love your reasoning on Thor, Stan. But Silver Surfer can fly because he’s on a surfboard? There’s no engine on it and surfboards don’t fly. So that makes about as much sense as Superman flying.

nonnu – Vision can fly, in theory, by becoming intangible and therefore less substantial than air, I guess (although he has become tangible and even super-dense while flying, so like I said – in theory). And Storm controlling the wind to hold her aloft is a good enough explanation for me.

But how would you, Stan, explain Captain Marvel, Ms. Marvel, Marvel Boy, Legacy, Martyr, Gladiator, the Sentry, Starfox, all the Novas, Rogue (when she had Carol’s powers), The Blue Marvel, and M, et al?

To chubz: I recall Stan Lee’s original excuse for why the Human Torch can fly is that ‘bodies on fire are lighter.’ Good one, Stan, give small children an excuse to set themselves on fire.

Because people not Stan Lee never have these kinds of debates. Ever. Right? So he has a preference & he has his arguments. Why is his age being brought into this? (Via comments.)

Wow, it’s like all those people questioning Stan’s reasoning have never heard or read him before…

I think Human Torch is the easiest to explain of all. If he can shoot fireballs, he can do the same in the opposite direction for propulsion. He IS a jet engine.

God I hate Stan lee.

Okay. But Kirby’s the genius behind Thor’s flight.

This is the guy who didnt even know what gamma rays were when he created the Hulk.

Love how Stan Lee says the Silver Surfer using a surfboard to fly is scientific. Should’ve given props to Jack Kirby, though, for the Surfer.

PUNY query from a supposed imaginative mind.

Way to go, Stan Lee.

Sounds like too many of you are taking “Stan’s Rants” too seriously. Understand that most of the time, in interviews and other media-type appearances, Stan is pretty tongue-in-cheek and is essentially having fun playing a parody of himself as a cantankerous old man. I’ve been fortunate enough to meet The Man at several conventions over the last 20 years (most recently last year at a small show) , and he’s always been very gracious, humble and all-around nice guy that seems genuinely thrilled and lucky to be involved in a business he loves.

Then Stan, How in the world does the Human Torch fly?

Go home Stan Lee. You are drunk.

You know, I would have trouble understanding how cosmic radiation could give four astronauts (one of them being a teenager because kids are always hanging out in space) the powers of invisibility, rock hard skin, an elastic body or be able to ignite their skin and fly around shooting flames from their hands instead of, you know, dying because SCIENCE.

I would also have trouble believing or understanding how an orphan raised by his uncle and aunt gets bit by a radioactive spider and gets perfect health and gains special senses or a different man gets a radioactive chemicals on his eyes making him blind, but gets the ability to see sound with radar sense. Both guys didn’t get sick and die as SCIENCE would have otherwise suggested.

How about the guy who gets gamma rays and becomes a giant hulking “monster” or the man who can shoot a powerful energy beam from his eyes? How about the man who can read minds or the 16 year old girl who can shoot out psychic blasts and also read minds? What makes sense about ANY of the characters that Stan Lee co-created?!

When Siegel and Shuster created Superman they did so without any concern as to HOW he was able to fly. All they cared about was the fact that he was as human and alien as any of us and could do what only every person could only dream of. I will bet that not a SINGLE person who read it back then cared. Why? They were too busy dreaming of what it would be like to fly and run fast and be strong. Superman represents a humanistic ideal of who we all could be if we opened ourselves up to a higher standard.

I would have trouble believing the premise for every single Stan Lee creation or ANY superhero if it wasn’t for the VERY IDEA of the suspension of disbelief. Its what fuels the very IDEA of science fiction/fantasy.

If I can believe that a mystical hammer or cosmic surfboard could somehow send me into space then I think I can EASILY believe in a man who defies science.

I can’t believe this many people are discussing this

I can’t believe this many people are taking Stan seriously?

Well Stan, Superman flies by the unstable molecules generated from the gamma rays he got from a spider that bit him when he was standing on a cosmic surfboard which activated his X-tra abilities thus making him incredibly amazing and mightily fantastic enough to accomplish the uncanny feat of flight!

Stan Lee is a phony. ‘Nuff said!

@ Will Seith @ Dick Grayson You know how people complain how the portrayal of nerds in The Big Bang Theory is stereotypical, shallow, and not at all representational of actual comic fans?


… this thread.

nathan kotchasak

November 6, 2013 at 7:28 pm

A pox on all of your houses! Stan is a living legend. period. leave him alone. Where would we be without him?

Stan Lee is making an India super man these days.

Don’t get me wrong, i know he’s not making sense but i get what he means. The science on thor’s hammer is based VERY loosely on a scientific principle. Same goes for Hulk and The human torch, they might not make complete sense but the touch of science is there. Still i’m sure they explain Superman’s flight in the comics.

well,Supes telekinetic thingy was just something that was added later on anyway
,he is originally just jump very very high

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