Basically I want my character to have only gotten their powers through the luck of two parents with the right genes mixing. Technically, given enough time and enough generations of breeding, couldn't it be possible for two people to create a near perfect human child, so that I could exaggerate on that and make him super? Or should I go about it a different route?

EDIT: for clarification, I want my character to be generic Superman-type super, because the story isn't supposed to focus on him and his powers all that much. It's supposed to follow his life. Picture Hancock, and how it followed his depression and recovery to be the hero he could be and why he was how he was, rather than focusing so much on him fighting crime. Now, for this question, I'm just trying to figure out if I could get someone on the same level as Captain America through genetics alone, and if so, then I'll exaggerate for my story.

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    $\begingroup$ What is your definition of super? $\endgroup$
    – Thorne
    Aug 14, 2018 at 1:11
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    $\begingroup$ Arguably a large fraction of top tier athletes benefit from this effect in some set of physical traits. $\endgroup$ Aug 14, 2018 at 1:13
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    $\begingroup$ Define superpowers. Do you mean stuff like flying and shooting lasers from the eyes? Or does something simpler like regeneration count? Some people are able to regrow fingertips in our own real world. $\endgroup$ Aug 14, 2018 at 1:13
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    $\begingroup$ Also, what's your definition of "near perfect"? In my opinion, my wife and I have created four perfect human children (so far). $\endgroup$
    – workerjoe
    Aug 14, 2018 at 1:14
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    $\begingroup$ @Joe not by the mods specifically, but by everybody with 125+ rep and who follow the stack rules. $\endgroup$ Aug 14, 2018 at 1:14

3 Answers 3


No, genetics, parentage, and luck alone cannot produce Captain America, Hancock, or Superman, to any degree

It's important to remember that superheros are popular because everyone can relate to the dream of being something more than they are... something that can overcome the many challenges, temptations, obstacles, and set-backs in our lives. We all know that can't happen, but it's a lot of fun to wish we could. I call it, "the desire to do great things."

What's funny is that people do great things all the time. Great acts of kindness, strength, mental prowess, sacrifice, fortitude, speed... they just don't usually rank to the level of a good Mavel Comics movie.

And that means you can do it!

It's your story! What parents in the world wouldn't wish their child could become something that rises above the status-quo? I encourage you to make the choice to allow two ordinary people to create an extraordinary child — someone who can do impressive things, someone who leaves people wondering, "how'd he do that?"

Frankly, I have my moments asking that question. How did Stephen Hawking, with all his physical limitations, conceive in his imagination the wonders of our physical universe? How does Michael Phelps (who is darn close to a genetically perfect swimmer) win his medals? How on earth does Usain Bolt run that fast?

And in your story, you need only push the abilities of your character just a bit more to make them simply superhuman. Granted, the further away from the average you push them, the less believable it will be... but you'd be surprised how far that envelope can be pushed. Pretty much everyone has the desire to do great things and the desire for their children to do great things.


Make it so! Pick up your pencil, or sit at your computer, or turn on your voice recorder, and write a wonderful story. Sometimes, a good story is more important than the reality in which it resides.


Go watch the movie The Age of Adaline. It describes an environmental circumstance that is impossible from the perspective of today's science, but the point of the story isn't that circumstance. It merely "justifies" the conditions of the story. It's a good example of how to tell the kind of story you're writing.


As a general rule, no. No supermen (though maybe Captain Americas). The limit is physics and biology. The human body is still build from the same basic components. You can make super hard bone, but you can't make bone that will survive being hit by a freight train. You can make fast contracting muscles, but you can't run any faster than your source of fuel (glucose) lets you. There's no known way a mutation could permit one to start doing cold fusion.

Now, could it happen? Of course. It is entirely possible that the entire cosmos aligns perfectly such that this few liteters of flesh gets bombarded with the exact right stream of atoms (like the small amount of gassious iron in our atmosphere) and you get things like steel plates that form. However, that sort of luck crosses way past the line into magic. There's nothing that prevents it from happening, but statistics aren't your friend. We're not talking 1 in a million. We're not talking 1 in a billion.

We're talking 1 in a 1000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000... okay I'm going to stop here.

I actually would have needed to keep going, but that'd just take up too much space in the answer.

Now there are plenty of super people out there. There's the Usain Bolts (9.58s 100m dash) and the Hafthor "The Mountain" Bjornssons (dead lifted 1041 lbs), and then there's this kid. But there are limits to what the form factor of H. sapiens can do. Superman and The Flash are simply outside of reality. Captain America? Maybe. Apparently he can bench press 800lb. Benching over 1,000lb is done.

  • $\begingroup$ You and I were definitely thinking along the same lines, and +1 just for that youtube link. Dang! $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Aug 14, 2018 at 3:56

I can think of two interesting mutations that can create plausible "superpowers", and both of them are hereditary, meaning that if combined they could create a child with both mutations.

One of these is a mutation in LRP5, a gene regulating bone mineral density. A mutation of this gene can result in a person with bones up to eight times more durable than normal, making them incredibly resilient and able to walk away from accidents that would kill most people. Weakness: Their high bone density makes them unable to swim. (The movie "Unbreakable" was loosely based on this condition, which is kind of annoying because they didn't explain why the character was vulnerable to water, but I digress.)

Another is the MSTN gene, which regulates myostatin, the protein that restricts muscle growth so that your muscles don't grow too big. (Why is this a good thing? Because big muscles require more food to sustain, and the need to survive on less food outweighed the need for super strength for most of our evolutionary history.) A mutation of this gene can result in double muscling, which basically causes the mutant to become incredibly buff without any effort (however, the mitochondria in the muscles will not increase without exercise, so they will still need to put in effort in order to maintain their endurance). The weakness is, as stated, a high food requirement.

A person born to parents with both of these traits and who inherits both mutations will be incredibly strong and resilient. Not Superman-level strong, but definitely not someone you would want to mess with.


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