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  • The Incredible Hulk has been this for years and years, but it became most apparent in World War Hulk where he easily defeats people he has no business defeating, most notably Doctor Strange.
    • Doc Strange was Justified, however poorly, mainly due to exploiting the fact that the characters are friends instead of a set of powers to be thrown against each other (Banner disabled Strange before the fight by tricking him and playing on his emotions). Aside from Strange, Hulk beating everyone else he beats in World War Hulk is completely reasonable.
    • There seem to be two competing ideas about how the Hulk should be used; one sticks closer to his original conception as "the strongest one there is" with a few exceptions. The other sees him as a perfect candidate for The Worf Effect and not much else.
  • Batman has become a walking Deus Ex Machina in comic books and "versus debates" thanks to the words "with prep time". Given enough prep time, he is speculated to be able to defeat: Superman, Galactus, Darkseid, Death, Taxes, Tofu, and Jelly Beans. The sheer amount of times he's handed Superman alone a smackdown would qualify him here even if nothing else would.
    • The 'Batman smacks down Superman' issue was subverted in The New Frontier; initially, it appears that Batman handed Superman his cape after Superman attempted to arrest Batman, who was refusing to register or resign as a superhero. It's eventually revealed that the two men staged it as a protest against McCarthyism and the witch-hunts of the 1950s. At Superman's urging, no less.
    • More concretely, he made contingency plans in one arc to take each member of the Justice League of America down should they go crazy. Of course, they fall into the wrong hands, and work remarkably well on all the heroes.
    • Even those plans are sometimes criticized by readers. The plan against Flash, for example, relies on him vibrating through a special bullet, instead of just, y'know, moving out of the way.
    • In several stories, it's later expanded to note that every single one of the Justice League members have at least some vague plan to take out their team-members in case any one of them goes rogue. They vary in effectiveness, though. Hal Jordan's contingency plan shows one of his own moments of Popularity Power - his plan to defeat Batman was to create a jetpack, strap it to him, and shoot him as far away as possible to be sure. Despite certain obvious flaws, his plan worked (even if it was entirely unnecessary for a guy that can casually exceed the speed of light and destroy planets without trying).
    • The entire issue is parodied in this Dinosaur Comics strip.
    • In one alternate universe, after Jason Todd was killed Batman went ...a little more nuts than normal...and killed every single villain on Earth, resulting in a utopia. No one thought this was unlikely.
    • Fortunately Alan Moore seems to be immune to Popularity Power. During Moore's run on Swamp Thing Batman takes on the much more powerful title character with plenty of prep time after making careful preparations, including putting wood cutting buzz-saws on the Batmobile and bringing a herbicide thrower. Swamp Thing wipes the floor with him.
      • There are a few crossovers where Batman isn't shown as an all-around invincible badass. In one crossover between Spider-Man and Batman, they got into a brief scuffle and Peter grabbed Bats, tossed him half-way across the building. The priceless look on Bruce's face said it all as he was being thrown so easily.
    • And sometimes, even "with prep time" is unnecessary. Like putting down Cheetah, who is a recurrent Wonder Woman villain, at times able to take a punch from Superman (who, for the uninitiated, has Super Strength and Super Speed, which Batman lacks), with a single punch, running with three adults on his back, and sucking enough bullets to sink a frigate. And apparently, doesn't need to sleep.
    • One issue of Batman Confidential had him fighting several members of the proto-Justice League. He took down Wonder Woman, The Flash, Green Lantern, and Aquaman. This was their first meeting, and he didn't know what any of their abilities were when the fight started. It helped that neither did the writer. Let's see... throwing a smoke bomb in front of The Flash is yet another example of writers forgetting that 1. He has Super Reflexes and even so wouldn't immediately crash into a wall if blinded 2. If you're in a small room with The Flash, there is no time to throw something before he reaches you. There's not time for a human to do anything before he reaches you. Wonder Woman cannot be taken out by kicking her in the stomach with human strength. At a best case scenario it's ineffective. Worse case, you break your foot. The same goes for Martian Manhunter. Batman's ability to manhandle Aquaman or utterly incapacitate Green Lantern with a batrope is also just slightly dubious.
    • Frank Miller's Batman/Spawn crossover actually has their fight be even, to a degree. Batman beats down Spawn, but when Spawn turns the tables the rest of the fight is conviently off panel.
    • Wonder Woman beat down Batman in one of her issues. A criminal Batman was after sought sanctuary in Wonder Woman's headquarters, and Batman demanded she turn her over. Wondy said no. With her foot.
  • The Joker has been such a popular villain in all of his incarnations (both in comic books and onscreen) over the past 70+ years that he named a related trope.
  • Despite allegedly being just a hair above maximum human potential, some of Captain America's feats have gone seemingly far beyond what he "should" be able to do. Any average human superhero or villain who goes up against him is sure to lose. Even superpowered denizens like Spider-Man and Wolverine fold before the Cap. And if that weren't enough, Captain America has actually gone rounds against Namor, Hulk, and the other super heavyweights of the Marvel Universe and STILL come out on top (or at the very least, fought these beings to a draw). Why? Because he's popular. Because he wears the red, white, and blue. And to top it all off, Marvel loves him so much that they'll never have the guy lose, just like DC is never going to have Batman lose.
    • This is made especially ridiculous in the animated movie, Ultimate Avengers, which has the team fight The Hulk in the finale and has Cap last better than any others who engage him in a direct fight. Notably, The Hulk takes down The Mighty Thor (an ACTUAL GOD) in two blows. Cap gets thrown all over the place and manages to endure around/over FOUR. Sure, he's bleeding and disoriented afterwards, but logically he shouldn't even be conscious.
    • Although there are a few well-known instances of Captain America subverting this trope. There are plenty of battles where he shows up, makes an inspirational speech about determination over power, then gets his ass handed to him (most famously against Korvac, Thanos, and the Masters of Evil).
    • It should be noted that Cap's shield is often described as playing merry havoc with the laws of physics. For example, it's not just indestructible (it can shrug off a direct hit from everything short of Thor with the power of Odin), but it also arrests most (if not all) of the momentum directed at it, too. One imagines that works in reverse when used as a weapon. But still, all it should take is one shot from most people listed here and Cap is down for the count.
      • In a Fantastic Four story, Cap's shield takes Gladiator (Superman's Captain Ersatz) at bay for minutes. Heat vision ("The heart of a star") and lighting-fast, moon-blasting punches don't even ruin the painting of the shield. Maybe it's not even Captain America Popularity Power in action - the Star and Strips logo must be a reality breaker.
      • During the 90s, Cap had an encounter with a few of the X-Men in a scuffle which saw him getting frozen from the waist down by Iceman. The move did not stop Captain America on his tracks. He then somersaulted across the air and knocked Iceman out while his entire lower body was frozen, meaning that he shouldn't even have the kind of momentum to pull off such a move. Not only that, he effortlessly beat the crap out of Beast. To make things clear, Hank McCoy is no Hulk or Thor, but he's still a highly dangerous mutant who possesses strength, speed, and agility far better than the best of Olympic athletes AND he can lift well over thirty tons. That didn't stop the Cap from making short work of him.
    • Cap himself puts it best in Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2:

 "I wear the flag. That means I don't lose."

    • Civil War at least is fair about about it. Iron Man always wipes the floor with Cap in their various duels, causing him to need rescue by more powerful allies, unless Cap cheats by shorting out his armor in which case Iron Man is basically helpless to do anything but lie there and eat shield, not really making Cap look all that powerful.
      • Civil War also had Captain America defeat Spider-man, and Spidey offers a debatable justtification for it.. Captain America, in canon, is one of the most experienced superhero on the planet. "There is no 'next move' to read, for him, it's all one long move from start to finish, he has it all planed out in advance while you're still trying to react to his last blow."
        • He's not really the most experienced superhero on the planet as characters like Namor, Wolverine, Thor, and Hercules are all significantly older then him and have been fighting longer. It doesn't stop him from fighting and in some cases beating these guys though.
        • Keep in mind that Spiderman's reflexes are technically precognitive. More than that, Spidey is at least several times stronger than Cap, making any plausible difference in hand-to-hand skills essentially moot for the same reason even the best featherweight boxer in the world just won't be able to beat a mediocre heavyweight one.
    • Lately Deadpool has been shown as possibly being Cap's superior. In a recent team-up, an enraged Deadpool got into a heated battle with Steve Rogers, now Super Soldier. In that battle, Deadpool managed to put a really good hurting on the former Captain America. Just when it seemed that Deadpool was finally overpowering Rogers, he was shot in the back with several tranquilizer darts to end the battle and even then Deadpool was the one still standing while Cap was the one on his knees who looked worse for wear. Considering how Captain America usually shows up other superheroes like Wolverine and Spider-Man in their own comic books, it's quite amazing that Deadpool managed to come off looking really strong against Captain America with the implication that he might have won their interrupted battle if he were to continue going all-out.
    • Perhaps some of Captain America's most controversial battles are his battles against Spider-Man. In almost every encounter, Spidey ends up getting beaten around like a ragdoll while his inner thoughts reveal how he thinks Cap is better than him in every way. This is in light of the fact that Spider-Man possesses strength, speed, reflexes, and even a precognitive spider-sense that far surpass Captain America's power stats. Not only that, it's arguable that Spider-Man is at least as experienced of a fighter as Cap, having fought against dangerous supervillains and criminals since he was a teenager. But whenever they meet up, Captain America always ends up making Spider-Man look like third-rate sidekick material.
  • Heroes aren't the only ones with Popularity Power. Dr. Doom has become a villainous equivalent of Batman who can defeat anyone(given enough "prep time"). Despite being the villain of the story, the good doctor has gained an immense following of fans who believe he's capable of defeating anyone and anything, including the most powerful beings in the comic books multi-verse. Given enough time to study opponents, it is said that Doom could defeat Thanos, Galactus, Magneto, Hulk, Thor, Darkseid, Superman, Batman, Silver Surfer, Jesus, and even the almighty Rubik's Cube. It really is an almost endless list.
    • However fan-wank can't save him from Squirrel Girl. While he does have buttons on a control panel to unleash various robot soldier designed to defeat his specific foes (fire-proof for the Human Torch, spider-sense jammers for Spider-man, gamma absorbers for the Hulk, etc.) his button for her is one that opens a panic room that he flees into.
  • And of course, there's that one Elseworld where The Punisher wipes out all the Marvel Comics heroes. All of them. Even Thor. Yep. Many were killed offscreen and given Hand Wave explanations. And the one who finally brings him down? Daredevil. (Not by beating him or anything, mind you, just by making him feel sufficiently guilty that he commits suicide after killing DD.)
    • In the current Suicide Kings Deadpool storyline, the Punisher beats Deadpool up to the point where he needs rescuing by Outlaw and Daredevil. With a sword. This is despite the Punisher being an ordinary human and Deadpool being a guy in peak physical fitness who heals all injuries, never gets tired and is almost definitely the best swordfighter in the Marvel Universe - plus, it's his book! In fact, any fight between someone with a Healing Factor and someone without is only going to end one way - that would be why they apparently put DP's factor on a major go-slow for this series.
      • To make this worse, in an old Punisher/Batman crossover, while beating him down easily Bruce Wayne noted how the Punisher's fighting style was merely that of a bar brawler. Frank didn't last more than some panels. Oh, and when he first appeared in the Marvel Universe, Deadpool was said to be so skilled that even Cable and Domino suggested the rest of X-Force that the best way to deal with him was to make him a better offer (since he's a mercenary).
      • The aformentioned Punisher/Batman crossover is really a simple case of bad writing, given Frank Castle's rather extensive training includes SEAL training and one particular writer went into detail on his martial arts techniques. But mostly, that crossover is also another case of Batman's own Popularity Power at work.
  • That time Spidey took down Firelord, a former Herald of Galactus. We're talking Silver Surfer-level power. Granted, Firelord swore he would fight Spider-Man in single combat (and not just, you know, OBLITERATE NEW YORK STATE WITH A THOUGHT). Spidey beat him after throwing him in the East River, tricking him into a building in the process of being demolished, and exploding a gas station on him, but come on. This guy flies through stars!
    • To further explain how batshit insane this is: Firelord was in a knock-down-drag-out-through-the-walls-and-outside-the-building brawl with an enraged Hercules for several minutes, with neither side even getting winded, until Thor showed up and stopped the hissy fit. Firelord then fought alongside Thor & Hercules against Class 100+ strength constructs created by Ego the Living Planet, giving and taking at least as good as they both did. Later on, mind control was used to make Firelord fight Thor, and again it was a tie (including a scene of Firelord just smacking away a thrown Mjolnir as it headed for his face). In another encounter, Firelord went up against the original Phoenix, who blasted him so hard that he started in Manhattan and ended up in New Jersey, and flew back into the scene entirely unscathed less than a page later. The above is the sum total of every appearance Firelord had in Marvel Comics prior to the Firelord/Spidey fight. In which Peter KTFO'ed him just by 'hitting him repeatedly'. Seriously, what the damn hell?
      • And in the storyline immediately after the Firelord/Spidey fight -- and we mean immediately after, as in the very same day -- Firelord got smacked by the full power of the Sanctuary II battlestation, which had just finished spanking the entire Skrull Armada. Firelord was blasted all the way across the solar system and headfirst into a moon at relativistic velocities... and got up out of the smoking crater, staggered a short way, and only then collapsed unconscious. So, Spidey's fist > Death Star level firepower and near-lightspeed collisions with celestial bodies.
    • Said incident was even mocked by Spidey himself in Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2, assuming you play as him during the endgame.

 "Did I mention I beat up Firelord once? No, seriously. Firelord."

  • For Wolverine, take for example Marvel vs. DC/DC vs. Marvel comics, which was literally one big popularity contest. One issue had a scene in which Wolverine is able to make short work of Lobo, an alien being that gave Superman a run for his money and destroyed an entire planet, in less than four panels, simply because polls showed that his stats were higher that week. Moreover, both of them have regenerative healing, but Lobo is able to regenerate his entire body From a Single Cell if his entire body is destroyed. The best part? The final blow of the fight took place off-panel, because, apparently, even the writers couldn't figure out how Wolverine could possibly win.
    • According to Stan Lee the "single panel" part is a Coconut Superpowers moment...the polls were held close enough to the publication of the DC vs. Marvel volumes that most of the comics had to be drawn before the polls were finished. The result was drawing all the fights such that they could easily go either way until the very end.
      • And the artist had drawn an alternate ending depicting Lobo's victory (in fact, only the three final panels were different, where instead of Wolvie, it was Lobo raising his hand, picking the cigar from the counter and smoking it).
    • A later issue of Lobo's own comic implied that he was paid to throw the fight regardless, which is in-character for him while also nicely avoiding an outright denial.
    • The same series also had Wolverine's X-Men teammate Storm hand a smack-down to Wonder Woman, which seemed more than a little unlikely to many objective observers; however, X-Men were selling better than Wonder Woman at the time.
      • Context on the above fight; Storm did not win by keeping the fight at range and spamming typhoons at Diana until she fell over, which would have at least made some kind of sense. Diana was able to make it to melee range and successfully connect with a kick to Storm's head, and Storm still stayed conscious.
    • In his recent "Brainwashed by Hydra" arc, Wolverine takes on the like of Namor, the Fantastic Four, and Stan Lee knows how many others, without getting beaten or captured once.
      • Somehow, Wolverine also managed to defeat Hercules with little difficulty. The same guy who's faught evenly with Heralds of Galactus and Thor.
      • A "What If...?" of this storyline saw Wolverine practically wipe out the entire Marvel Universe. This was especially headachey because it had Magneto, who canonically pulled the metal from Wolvy's bones and left him for dead in the original, shanked. It did, however, have Kitty prove why phasing is awesome.
      • Perhaps as ironic Hand Waving, Wolverine sometimes encourages low-powered Morality Pets and quasi-sidekicks who are also nonetheless popular characters that their own powers are pretty badass with the right mindset.
    • One of the most satisfying things about the Ultimate Spider-Man video game was that Venom's first boss was Wolverine, and he hands Wolverine his ass pretty handily, despite a lot of posturing from Wolvie.
  • Parodied by the Marvel character of Squirrel Girl, who manages to hand some of the most powerful, godlike villains in the Marvel Universe a humiliating defeat despite having not particularly impressive superpowers.
    • It's reached the point where other people are starting to recognize her tendency to beat nearly godlike beings, with Deadpool gaining extra recognition for being powerful enough to be defeated by Squirrel Girl.
      • Twice.
    • This is helped along by those writers who dislike the idea of a joke character winning against people who outclass her. Those writers invent Ret Cons or Hand Wave the victory away... and the rest of the writers have her beat up someone bigger instead.
    • As her squirrel companion Tippy-Toe once pointed out in a Breaking the Fourth Wall address to fans who reacted more humourlessly to her tendency to defeat Dr. Doom:

 "Yeah, that's right. Squirrel Girl totally pwns Doc Doom. Know why? 'Cause of somethin' that happened in a story by Steve-freakin'-Ditko! That's so in continuity. So just deal with it, fanboy."

  • A notable aversion came in one of the DC/Marvel crossovers, when the JLA went up against the X-Men. Batman, the most popularity-powered character of them all, sprang a surprise attack on Cyclops who, while he has plenty of fans, also attracts more hate than probably any other X-Man (with the possible exception of Gambit). Guess which one got taken down.
  • In Fables this is one speculated source of the eponymus Fables' powers. The more popular the story about a Fable is, the more powerful they are. For example, Snow White recovered from a sniper's bullet to the skull--her sister Rose Red might not have survived since most people have forgotten her part of the fairytale-- Frau Totenkinder is one of the most powerful Fables in existance because she is every anonymous witch in folklore, and Goldilocks raises this to a level bordering on Blessed with Suck when she discovers she can't heal any faster than the fish are eating her.
    • Jack Horner, who is every Jack in fairy tales (except Jack Sprat), exploited this by going to Hollywood and making a trilogy of movies about him. He's now effectively immortal, but not invincible.
    • It also has the effect that Fables' powers are different in different areas. Baba Yaga is powerful in Russia, but in America, Frau Totenkinder is far more powerful, because more people know, say, Hansel and Gretel, than know Baba Yaga's stories.
  • Deadpool once realized that this was the reason that he can never die, so in order to die he decided to go out and kill all of his fans.
  • Inverted in the case of Larfleeze a.k.a. Agent Orange who became a favorite of fans and his creator alike following his debut. Initially he was firmly established as an incredibly powerful nutcase, being able to hold his own against the Green Lantern Corps and the Guardians of the Universe and displayed enough power to outright kill multiple members of the Guardians even before that. However, during Blackest Night Larfleeze rarely displays such power again, being forced to run away from the Black Lanterns and even being threatened by Sinestro and Atrocitus (even though said threats don't do much to pursuade him), who are rather powerful as far as power ring wielding individuals go, but they simply can't logically be as powerful as Larfleeze who is effectively a one man Lantern Corps by himself, let alone expect him to take as kindly to threats as he did. To be fair, Larfleeze's popularity is largely due to his amusing personality quirks rather then how powerful he is, and he has remained entertaining despite having his abilities downplayed.
  • Back in 2000, Kurt Busiek and Stuart Immonen wrote a short graphic novel, Superstar, about a hero who was powered by popularity. Kind of. The hero of the story gained superpowers as long as he had the energy to spare, but it was limited and did run out. His father ended up merchandising him to hell and back (even against his express wishes sometimes) with toy lines, live shows, televising his battles, etc. Part of the cost to watch the shows or buying the merch? A small energy donation, not even enough to make you weeze from tiredness. Of course, being really popular and taking energy donations from millions of fans, he was actually rather powerful.
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