Kryptonian cells are able to absorb the yellow sun electromagnetic radiation, metabolize its energy and convert it into a vast array of metahuman powers ("Photonucleic effect"). As a side-effect, Kryptonian organism do not really need food to substain itself, once having been charged.
During night-time, cells can always tap into a big amount of previously stored solar energy and thus mantain the metahuman powers. The closer is the yellow sun exposure, the bigger is the energetic charge, the stronger are the metahuman powers.

Basic powers (Donnerverse/Singerverse/Snyderverse):

Neural acceleration (fast and improved brain processing)
Flight (including thin Telekinetic Aura)
Solar sustainability
Healing factor/immunity
Super Senses (including Telescopic Vision and Microscopic Vision)
X-ray Vision
Heat Vision
Super Lung (capacity to optimize oxygen at a massive level)
Super Breath
Freeze Breath

The Donnerverse Superman additional powers:

1- Telekinetic Aura/Aura of Tactile Telekinesis. It's an intense, invisible field surrounding him and his clothes which activates everytime he uses flight or superspeed. It can make people and objects "float" if physically connected to him while he is flying (Superman), or protect people and objects from lethal atmospherical friction if attached to him, wherever he is flying or running (Superman II).

It can also attract, amass and temporarily "stock up" large amounts of oxygen moleculas inside Superman's "individual orbit", and thus surround whoever travels attached to him with a thin telekinetically generated stratum of breathable air (Superman IV).

The aura can intensificate Superman's strength when he is flying, affecting whatever he is pushing or raising with his hands. So far, the biggest accomplishment was when Superman moved the Moon from his orbit (Superman IV), by virtue of more absorbed yellow sun radiation in close proximity, his natural superstrength, the tactile telekinesis and even his greater knowledge of the gravitational forces.

The aura provides costume and cape with additional invulnerability too.

2- Telekinetic Vision (Superman IV), the ability to move object through sight. If highly focused and combined with Microscopic Vision, it can turn into Molecular Vision, the ability to telekinetically restore molecular ties and thus fix small structures (Superman IV). Superman was able to recompose the Great Wall of China by using Molecular Vision on each fractured/pulverized brick at superspeed.

3- Super Breath (Superman II), the ability to generate powerful airstreams via breathing, and Freeze Breath (Superman III). Both to not be confused with Super Lung, the ability to optimize/amplify any pre-absorbed minimum quantity of oxygen to the point Superman doesn't require to breath new air in order to support himself for extensive periods of time.

4- Microscopic Vision is the one Superman used during the automatic "dematerialization" of his Comet Ship hidden in the farm, once he detached the Engine Crystal (Superman IV). He was "checking up" the process by focusing his ability to see the molecular/subatomic status and structure of a given object.

5- Occasional omnilingualism. Once freed from the Phantom Zone, where they have been languishing for 32 years, Zod and the Renegades were able to elaborate all infos and transmissions from Earth the Phantom Zone had absorbed and imprinted on their brains, as long as they were developing and refining their powers in close proximity to the yellow sun. Somewhat, their accelerated brains subconsciously processed the criteria to understand and speak basic English. Once arrived on the Moon surface, their minds started deciphering the astronauts's words and that basically rounded out the process.
We can also assume they super-fastly read some books off-screen, after the Idaho battle.

The Renegades and Nuclear Man:

Zod, Non and Ursa were able to express their telekinetic power via Laser Beams made of pure energy channeled into their fingers (Superman II). This different manifestation of telekinesis could be caused by the Phantom Zone energies permanently affecting their individual bioelectric fields and the related yellow sun based metapower income.
Supergirl may show this over time, since she has been trapped into the Phantom Zone too (even for a very brief period).

Nuclear Man showed a third variant: telekinetic energy channeled into his hands (and not just fingers).

Singerverse Superman:

In this universe, loosely based on the Donnerverse, Superman retains all his basic powers and the Aura of Tactile Telekinesis. Telekinetic and Molecular visions are not part of his spectrum of abilities.

Donnerverse devices in 'Superman II' (Lester), often misinterpreted as powers:

1- The S-Shield was an artificial gimmick stored into the Fortress of Solitude.
2- The "teleportation" battle between Superman and the Renegades in the Fortress of Solitude was just a combination between superspeed (used by the Renegades) and holographic projections generated by the Fortress's defense system (used by Superman).
3- The Super-Kiss to erase Lois's memory was some sort of Kryptonian hypnotical serum sprayed on Clark's lips. Plus, Superman must have learnt tactile hypnosis in his 12 years-long timespan spent in the Fortress and could have used it at superspeed rate in that same sequence.

Development of power:


Clark firstly absorbed a great quantity of yellow sun electromagnetic radiation once arrived in our solar system, during his original interstellar trip which made him land on Earth. His cells were still young and underveloped, so the first and only power he displayed at age 3 was superstrength. By the time he was 18, his spectrum of powers included: strength, speed, stamina and super senses.

The Renegades acquired the maximum level of power in the shortest time because they absorbed a vast quantity of yellow sun electromagnetic radiation from a very short distance, as adult and developed individuals (a process that could be defined "solar overload/photonucleic boost"). Their irradiated organisms were also able to maximize the limited amount of oxygen they had breathed seconds before the "crash" of the Phantom Zone Avatar. 

Supergirl travelled across the "Binary", an alternate transitional dimension composed of filtering strings, constantly exposed to stellar radiations flowing from our "Outer Space" - so she absorbed a massive yellow sun electromagnetic radiation long before emerging from the subacquean warp, placed at the bottom of Midvale's lake. Anyway, given her younger age (23), she didn't yet develop more extensive telekinetic-energy based abilities, and her overall level of power was noticeably inferior to Superman's anyway.


adjusted to earthling atmosphere after some time; as kid, he even displayed sight problems (indeed he wore glasses). His sight "fixed" the day he discovered a thin telecinetic field around his body which made him levitate for a brief moment.
His powers developed really faster, and by the time he was in his late 10s they were fully formed and operative. This means the Kryptonian physiology in this universe is more receptive and tends to optimize yellow sun electromagnetic radiation in some way.

The Kryptonian/human hybrid Jason White just showed a "rush" of superstrength during a particular stressful situation. Since he is just 5 years old, we don't know what will be his pattern of power development or his full spectrum of abilities once grown up. At this early stage, his immunitarian system appears weak, mirroring his father's puerile adjusting to our atmosphere.


Jor-El's Artificial Intelligence: "Earth's sun is younger and brighter than Krypton's was. Your cells have drunk in its radiation, strengthening your muscles, your skin, your senses. Earth's gravity is weaker, yet its atmosphere is more nourishing. You've grown stronger here than I ever could have imagined. The only way to know how strong, is to keep testing your limits."
Contrary to popular belief, Snyderverse Superman's powers only come from cellular absorption of the yellow sun radiation. Jor-A.I. is just surprised that - despite the Earth having a weaker gravity and thus a different atmosphere's chemical composition - Kal managed to survive and be eventually "nourished" by earthling environment. However, his only source of power is the yellow sun radiation.
During the Smallville fight, the Kryptonian criminals were wearing "Breathers" containing Kryptonian air. Still, they were super-powered. The helmets just had the unintended (and welcomed) side-effect to keep their supersenses restrained and not overloaded/saturated by external inputs.
On the Black Zero ship there was a system artificially generating red sun radiation or simulating the red sun environment, not just Kryptonian atmosphere.

Clark has been sick and ill for many of his first years on Earth, until his organism adjusted to earthling atmosphere. However, his basic powers developed at a very early stage (to the point he already owned Super Senses and X-ray Vision when he was a little child), and fully developed during boyhood, except flight which he only "discovered" in his 33th year of life.



1- Green Kryptonite is an alloy composed of 15.08% plutonium, 18.06% tantalum, 27.71% xenon, 24.02% promethium, 10.62% dialium, 3.94% mercury and 0.57% Kryptonium (aknowledged as "unknown element"). Basically, it has been originated by the radioactive remains of Krypton scattered across the universe. His exposure can almost instantaniously block the Photonucleic effect, nullify the metahuman powers and slowly "poison" Superman's organism. The longer is the exposure, the higher the risk of death. Kryptonite granules can also "cut" organic material coming from Superman; likely, Lex Luthor used scissors covered with microscopic Kryptonite granules to cut a single hair of Superman, later used as genetic basis to generate Nuclear Man.

2- The Red Sun Chamber, conceived by Jor-El, is an artificial system able to generate controlled red sun eletromagnetic radiation whose specific amperage and nature can permanently "traumatize" Kryptonian cells and block the Photonucleic effect forever.

3- Synthetic Kryptonite/Black Kryptonite, conceived by Gus Gorman, is a variant where the Kryptonium has been replaced with cigarette tar. Its radiation can generate in Superman a predominant evil personality which will eventually split the main organism in two quantic doppelgangers. The Evil Superman retains all his powers (except Super Lung, because he can be choked to death), while the "Clark Kent counterpart" in his standalone form only retains invulnerability and a certain degree of strength. It should be noted that - in his primal, integral form and not the separated one - Evil Superman shows signs of human immunity, since he can be inebriated/intoxicated by alcohol.

4- The Ultimate Computer was able to concoct a particular solid substance sphere which artificially absorbed air and managed to overcome the super lung ability, to the point Superman's perdurable supply had been totally depleted in few seconds. Besides, the machine even synthetized Kryptonium and thus produced a "Kryptonite Ray" 100% similar to solid Kryptonite in terms of interaction with Superman's physiology.

5- Nuclear Man's atomic fingernails and beams, powered by his specific energetic "signature" originated by the combination between Superman's D.N.A. interwined with Luthor's and nuclear radioactivity of the sun, can drain vital energy from Superman's organism and start an accelerated aging process. This process can be reversed through a specific Kryptonian crystal (Engine Crystal) able to depure the physiology of Superman via pure solar energy filtered and stored in its structure.
The complex relationship between Superman and nuclear energy has been reprised in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

6- Magic can affect Kryptonians despite their powers.

7- The Phantom Zone, the one where Supergirl and the criminals had been trapped, cannot permit any flow of interstellar radiation from the space neither any factual chance to escape, albeit if containing a singular "Exit" Warp opened to our mainstream dimension (located at the top of the mountain where Zaltar lost his life). Once trapped in this limbo, individual time is "blocked", and thus the Kryptonian cells cannot normally fulfill the Photonucleic process, even in regards of the previously-stored solar energy. In the proximity of the Exit Warp, solar radiation is allowed to filter and individual time starts clocking in again, to the point the organism's vital functions and superpowers are fully restored.

8- Lead can block the X-ray Vision.

9- Super Senses are not fully active 24 hours a day, and require focus in order to operate.


Green Kryptonite in this universe is different. It is composed of sodium, lithium, boron, silicate, hydroxide and fluorine.
Generally speaking, the radiation of this Kryptonite is not strong like the Donnerverse counterpart, and its power has gradually decayed over time. In 2006, pure Kryptonite shards were still able to hurt and sicken Superman's organism, without stopping the Photonucleic effect.
If mixed up with Kryptonite and let it grow, the Kryptonian crystal can turn into an hybridal form (Blue Kryptonite) which depletes Superman's powers only when he has direct contact/interface with it (not just when the pure mineral is in close proximity). As pointed out by Lex: "crystals inherit elements of the minerals around them".


1- Kryptonian atmosphere
can violently weaken Superman's organism, since he has fully adapted to earthling atmosphere in a timespan of 33 years.

2- Artificial red sun electromagnetic radiation inside the Black Zero ship can block the Photonucleic effect, but not instantaniously deplete his overall cellular solar storages.

3- Kryptonite is a natural Kryptonian radioactive mineral present in the World Engine' system as component. This mineral is also the byproduct of the process of Kryptoforming performed by the World Engine itself. Under the guise of smoke, it can weaken Superman and block the vast percentage of his solar stores: Superman loses almost all his powers, except a partial invulnerability/density.   

4- The energies of the Phantom Engine influenced his organism during the intergalactic trip which originally bought him on Earth, and thus his cellular structure is very susceptible to the gravitational forces of any active Phantom-based anomaly/singularity.

5- Shockwaves can unbalance Superman and even cause pain to him - either affecting his supersenses and his dense molecular structure. 

Conceived and written by Tiziano Caliendo.


  1. Nice work, I think you are stretching too far with this one: "5- Omnilingualism". They might have this ability, but we know they already spoke English when on Krypton and they spoke english to each other prior to any earthling communication. You might argue the latter is because they at this point already had unconsciously assimilated to english, but in line with their arrogant and nationalistic demeanor it would seem odd.

    1. You're partially right. I revised that point, because maybe I exposed my "theory" in the wrong way.