Superman is undoubtedly one of the most powerful Superheroes of all time. He is a god living among regular humans. But are his powers infinite too? Where does he get energy?
Superman does not need to eat or sleep to survive as humans do. He does it to fit in with his community. Superman’s source of energy is the yellow sun.
Was this unexpected. Let us go deep into this topic, and see whether or not Superman needs to eat, sleep, or drink to survive. While doing so, we will also see where other Kryptonians get their energy from.
Does Superman Need Food and Water?
Yes, and no. Superman doesn’t really need to drink and eat like the way humans need it. But he does it anyway to fit in.
Superman was raised by a human couple, Martha and Jonathan Kent. They used to live in a farmhouse. When growing up, Superman used to take regular meals every day. He saw his parents taking meals every day, and that is what he learned.
Moreover, Superman might have a few favorite dishes that Martha Kent used to prepare for him.
If you think about humans, we can go for 30-40 days without eating. That’s a long time. Severe symptoms of starvation will start to appear after that. Humans will die after 40-60 days of starvation. However, there is a critical factor in this equation.
Humans can go that long without food given that they are properly hydrated. We might be able to live without food for a month straight, but when it comes to hydration, we can’t go longer than 36-48 hours.
After the first day without water, humans will feel fatigued, sluggish, and thirsty. But once they reach the 3-day mark, critical parts of their body might start to fail. Organ failure might vary from person to person. But no human can survive beyond that 3-day mark without water.
So where does Superman get his energy?
Well, Superman’s body is similar to a plant. If you were attentive in your biology class, you know that plants make food using daylight. When the sunlight hits its leaves, they use it to make food by a process named photosynthesis. And, this is exactly what Superman’s body goes through when exposed to the sun, only on a much larger scale.
But there is one thing Superman needs to consider when it comes to absorbing radiation – the strength and age of the sun. Under our yellow sun, he takes the shortest time to recover and has the most strength. But if you put Superman under a Red Sun, or any other star that is less powerful than the yellow sun, Superman’s power will decline accordingly.
For instance, if you place Superman under a red star, he will immediately see his powers declining. He might be totally ripped off his superhuman abilities, brought down to the level of mere mortals.
Now let us get back to the topic of whether or not Superman can eat normal human food. Yes, he can, and without any fear of contracting any disease. Unlike humans, Superman can eat a poisonous, or toxic food, and have no effect on its body. So if an enemy tries to kill Superman by slipping in a pill, or a toxic drug in his drink, he will not succeed. It will have no effect on Superman’s body.
But it is directly related to where Superman is at that moment. If he is near the yellow sun, then he can eat anything and everything we humans eat.
What happens after he eats? It gets absorbed by his body like any human body. However, he doesn’t need to dispose of the waste. No matter how much he indulges in a food fest, he will not have to worry about taking a dump in the morning.
Before the Crisis on Infinite Earth series, and before John Byrne joined as a writer, Superman’s abilities were infinite. Literally, no enemy or any extraterrestrial power could defeat him.
In the Post-Crisis era, along with eating, Superman doesn’t need to breathe as we do. He does breathe, but not as much as humans do. He can hold his breath for long hours and even days. Moreover, just like eating poisonous food without the fear of organ failures, he can breathe in toxic fumes in his lungs without the fear of damage. Superman can contain the toxic gas in his lungs, go out into space, and release it in the void.
Ardent comic fans know that Superman loves hamburgers. In the Action Comics #454 Superman’s Energy Crisis, we Superman devour 60 hamburgers a minute. But there is a backstory to it. Earlier that day, Superman had a fight with Toyman. He was also scheduled to appear on a late-night TV show that exact same day. But he was so tired from the fight that he fell asleep on the live show.
When he woke up, he immediately knew that he needed to eat something, as the sun wasn’t up yet. So he went to the nearest MacTavish Hamburger Restaurant wearing his Superman suit. Everyone at the restaurant was shocked to see Superman walk in, and order hamburgers.
They were even more shocked when Superman started to devour 60 hamburgers a minute. The shop wonder was struggling to make new hamburgers to meet Superman’s pace. Superman even swore that night that he would spend most of his salary from the reporting job on eating junk food.
So yes, Superman does eat, and he loves Hamburgers. But he will only need to eat food to reenergize himself given that the yellow sun isn’t up yet.
In Superman: The Animated Series, we saw him make the statement that he doesn’t need to eat, but old habits die hard.
Does Superman Need to Sleep?
Sleeping is another activity we humans need to do on a regular basis. The longest humans can go without sleep is 11 days. If a human is deprived of sleep for long periods of time, he will eventually develop deadly diseases in his body such as Diabetes, Heart Disease, and Mellitus.
Sleep is similarly important for every human, despite their age. We need 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep every night. Sleep gives the mind a chance to recover from stress, and recharge its batteries. It also helps to rejuvenate the different human organs.
But unlike humans, Superman does not need to sleep. However, he still goes to bed every night, unless Earth is threatened by some alien force he needs to fight. As we said before, Superman received a human upbringing. He engages in all those activities that a human does.
If Superman wishes, he can go without sleep for months. But he realizes that sleep offers the same benefits to his body, as it does to a human body.
Do Kryptonians Need to Eat?
Just like Superman, Kryptonians do not need to eat to survive on Earth. Just like Superman, their body will adapt when exposed to the yellow sun. They will get all the power from the sun in the form of radiation. However, they can surely indulge in a food feast if they want to. As their bodies have digestive systems similar to humans, they can process the food and turn it into energy.
We have seen on many occasions, Supergirl indulging in her favorite food. Just like Superman who often received a package of homemade food form Martha, Supergirl also indulged in the street foods of New York City. Pretzel was her favorite snack.
But if you place a Kryptonian on Krypton, they will need to eat. On Krypton, they will no longer be exposed to the yellow sun. If you remember, Krypton circled a red dwarf star that was inspired by the actual star LHS 2520 in the constellation Corvus 27. The red dwarf start doesn’t emit heat as our yellow sun does.
What Does Superman Need to Survive?
On Earth Superman does not need anything to survive. He doesn’t need to eat, breathe, rest, or drink. This is true if you place Superman on any other planet, that has a similar environment, gravity, and a yellow sun.
In several comics, most importantly, the Final Night, and Death of Superman, we saw how vulnerable Superman can get if he stays away from the yellow sun for too long. In its aftermath, Superman needed to stay near the yellow sun for extended periods of time to fully recover, and get his superpowers back.
If Superman were ought to travel deep into the universe, he voluntarily wore a spacesuit that came with an Oxygen mask. As there are many parts of this universe where we don’t have a yellow sun, Superman can faint mid-flight.
If you put Superman back in his home planet Krypton, he will no longer be exposed to the yellow sun, thus needing to eat, drink, and breathe to survive. Just like Krypton, the bottled city of Kandor has similar properties. Superman will need to drink, eat, and breathe to survive on Kandor too.
Moreover, just like Krypton, inhabitants of the planet Daxam will also experience super-human abilities when exposed to Earth, and any Earth-like planet.