While Marvel Comics has sort of glossed over the Fantastic Four in recent years, they did finally bring them back into the fold for their own series again a few years back. The team revolves around The Human Torch, The Thing, Mr. Fantastic, and the Invisible Woman. The team is quite popular, but what you might not know is that their powers have a lot of scientific backing. The real science behind Sue Storm is perhaps the most fascinating of the entire team.
She is known for her forcefield and invisibility powers, but they go much deeper than just this. The most notable thing about the character, with it even being part of her superhero name, is her invisibility. Yet it is the least important power she has. Her powers are actually based entirely on the forcefield abilities. Without that, her invisibility powers would not be capable of working at all.
Therefore, it is the force powers that enable the rest of her powers. Making them the most important of her powers overall, but clearly, that is not as compelling. We can understand how “The Invisible Woman” sounds better to say or can be marketed better than “The Forcefield Woman.” However, the real science of Sue Storm is amazing and well worth discussing more.
That led us to this article, where we will be breaking down the real science behind Sue Storm along with how she connects to her team, and much more. Let’s get started.
The Fantastic Four’s Glaring Movie Dummy Moment
Many people dislike FOX’s Fantastic Four films, and it’s not hard to see why. There are many reasons for this, but many often cite their use of Sue Storm as one of the many flubs the studio made in the original films. For example, they cast Jessica Alba as the character for the first few films. While she fit the character in many ways, the studio could not help but have a scene where the beautiful Miss Alba was semi-nude.
There is a scene where Storm is unable to control her invisibility powers perfectly. Yet she needed to use them to get to The Thing as he was involved in a traffic issue on the Brooklyn Bridge. Cops around are preventing anyone from getting by so Sue is the perfect person to get around them. Obviously, she can be invisible but her clothes can still be seen.
Needing to get to Ben quickly, she rushes to take off her clothing, then she accidentally becomes visible now in just her underwear. But this does not make any sense when you really think about the character and her powers. This is not the only scene where the studio makes sure to get Alba out of her clothing.
That alone is weird, but going back to the film overall, the underwear scene itself is nonsense. Sue’s powers allow her to “project invisibility” overall. That means her powers would cover her clothing too! They even give her an outfit later on that can become invisible along with her, as if it needed to be made special. That is clearly not the case at all.
Her Powers Connect To Her Teammates’ Abilities
When Stan Lee & Jack Kirby were coming up with the Fantastic Four, they knew Sue Storm was going to be one of the major members of the team. Not only would she be the only female in the group, but her powers needed to complement the powers & abilities of her teammates. That led to the need to consider what her three male team members could actually do with their powers.
- The Thing (Ben Grimm) is a large humanoid rock, flexible enough to move under his own power, equipped with super-strength and durability.
- Mr. Fantastic (Reed Richards) has superhuman elasticity, malleability, & durability with resistance to many physical assaults along with an immunity to electricity. His elasticity also gives him limited shapeshifting powers.
- The Human Torch (Johnny Storm) has pyrokinetic powers that enable him to fly, serve as a damage shield, absorb heat energy, and be resistant to extreme heat levels. It is also possible for him to reach incalculable temperatures that could reach the heat level of some stars.
Sue has the ability to make herself and others invisible on top of the power to project invisible forcefields, giving her the ability to generate projective shields and energy constructions. This also includes the power to control or manipulate objects.
The forcefield abilities allow her to control Johnny’s powers and isolate them in a given area. This means she could contain heat levels that can reach supernova levels. She can control The Thing by stopping him if he’s unable to stop himself or even add speed, giving him the power to tear through anything. While he can stretch himself, it is hard for Reed to maintain this after a certain point. Sue’s force capabilities give him the ability to stay in place for longer periods.
We Should Probably Explain Gravity
If you attended science class, you likely learned that gravity is a universal constant. Basically, it will exist in some form all across the universe. This might be on the surface of a planet, right outside of it, or even among the stars themselves. In fact, most large galaxies have a supermassive black hole, including our Milky Way Galaxy. This black hole has immense gravity levels and is said to be the very thing that keeps our galaxy intact.
Gravity does many things, but it should be referenced that the natural phenomenon exists in all things involving mass or energy. Both are attracted to gravity and will always be affected by it. However, while gravity can affect the planets and stars, it’s also capable of affecting light.
Basically, if one can tap into gravity, then one can control a lot of things. This is where the real science behind Sue Storm comes into play. Her forcefield powers are based entirely on gravity. Of course, “force” itself is gravitational. Therefore, it is not really shocking that she can do a lot of things with her powers.
Gravity gives something weight and power. Yet it also pulls and deflects. That is why, for example, our Moon affects the Earth’s tides. The Moon pulls on the Earth, but our planet pushes back with its own more powerful gravity. This keeps the Moon in its place near the Earth, but that pulling from the Moon won’t affect land. However, water is easier to manipulate and the Moon pulling on us gives us our tides.
Sue Storm Is The Woman Gravity Forgot
Sue Storm’s powers in the realm of gravity allow her to pull and deflect things, but she is tapping into the gravity around her to do this. That means the Earth’s gravity around her will fight back somewhat. That’s why she can develop forcefields, but cannot maintain them forever.
However, her forcefields are still capable of maintaining for a while. What causes her to lose them is that some type of being will likely end up attacking her, thus causing her to have the forcefield at all. This means that they will end up using force to attack her forcefield to harm her.
Now, gravity is being used in the realm of force even more. The attacks are forces in themselves, but Sue Storm is now projecting a forcefield using gravity around her. The more she is attacked, the more gravity she has to use around her to fix or keep the forcefield in place. Eventually, the weight of gravity around her along with any attack will break her forcefield.
You can only use up so much of the gravity around you before the planet will fight back, just like it does with the Moon every single day. Our Earth allows the Moon to pull as much as it does, but it has a no-pass point to stop the Moon too. Yet this pulling is only a small amount of gravity, and unlike Sue Storm, the Moon is using its OWN gravity to do that. Sue is manipulating Earth’s gravity, not using her own.
Gravity will be manipulated for a time, forgetting about Sue Storm. Then it will eventually remember only to stop her when she goes too far. That means Storm has universal limitations others might now with their powers.
The most important part of this entire article will be found in this section. The real science behind Sue Storm and her most notable power connect specifically to gravitational lensing. What exactly is this? The concept of gravity affecting light was predicted by Albert Einstein, as he referenced this in his General Theory of Relativity.
Isaac Newton also predicted in his physics papers that the bending of light could occur too. Yet he did not predict it would affect light or other things half as much as Einstein predicted. While Einstein did predict this, he never observed it happen before he wrote his paper in 1912. Einstein’s prediction was proven when Orest Khvolson in 1924 & Franktisek Link in 1936 separately discussed gravitational lensing in print.
Yet Fritz Zwicky is truly the person who gave this term its name in 1937. He claimed the effect could allow galaxy clusters to act as “gravitational lenses.” Scientists then proved the lensing concept to be true in 1979 as they observed it in the act.
Gravitation lensing itself is simply a distribution of matter between a distant light source and an observer that is capable of bending the light from the source that light travels toward the observer. Basically, if you look at something in a telescope and the light looks bent when it should not, you’re observing gravitational lensing in the act.
You might wonder, how does any of this connect to Sue Storm? We’re glad you asked.
Sue Storm Bends Light
Marvel Comics references exactly how Sue Storm turns herself invisible. She uses her force powers to bend wavelengths of light in such a way that she cannot be seen. This means as well that she can let light in for her own eyesight since she is bending it herself. In other forms of invisibility, eyesight is removed from the equation as light is completely removed around you. Sue has control of her force powers enough to give herself enough light to see.
This also means that Storm will bend light enough to not be seen, as she’s removing the light around her entire body. That also means her clothing or anyone touching or close to her can become invisible to the naked eye, along with her. Thus, the Jessica Alba underwear moment we referenced earlier is simply not logical, based on her abilities.
As we referenced, she can turn herself essentially invisible along with herself and even other objects if she wants. Marvel Comics claims that in total, her force manipulation power covers roughly 40 cubic feet. This equates to 4 feet in length, 2 feet in width, and 5 feet in height. That is technically enough room for her to cover herself and perhaps another person if needed. If something is further, she can project invisibility on it but cannot make herself invisible at that point.
She’d have to choose in a situation like this. However, it goes to show how impressive her powers are. She could even manipulate an object at a further distance. It all just has to be within that 40 cubic feet realm. Clearly, the real science behind Sue Storm is incredible as Marvel Comics is spot on with how the character could operate if she was real.
Sue’s Age Is Even Affected By Her Powers
Interestingly, the real science behind Sue Storm goes deeper than what we’ve covered thus far. Reed Richards has been seen aging in the Fantastic Four comics. This is odd considering he could easily remove wrinkles. Yet he cannot change the coloring of his hair, which is why it has gone grey or white. The coloring depends on who is doing the artwork for the comic at the time. Yet Sue Storm rarely ever seems to age much or at all in the comics she is part of. Why is this?
Marvel willingly shows age in Reed and has even given Johnny Storm a more mature look, but Sue never changes? Some assume it is due to comics wanting to appeal to boys. Older women would be unlikely to do that over younger women, they assume. However, there is a more scientific reason. Sue Storm controls force, so she still has gravity on her side.
Science has proven that time is nonexistent as it is completely determined by gravity. That means if one were to live on a planet with lighter gravity, time would move differently for them. Thus, the aging process that happens over a period of time on our planet will change when we experience gravity on other planets.
One could age 20 Earth years but only 1 year on another planet. Thus, one could return only one year older but see friends and family look much older than when they left.
Storm’s gravity control essentially allows her access to this. Therefore her aging process will move far slower than those around her. It might be something she is purposely controlling herself or it could simply be something her powers do automatically for her, such as an autonomic response.
Marvel Comics & Real Science
We hope you enjoyed our take on the real science behind Sue Storm. However, you should be aware that Marvel Comics has several superheroes and villains that have powers based on real science. Either that or they are limited by scientific laws as much as they possibly can be.
Clearly, you cannot limit the characters too much or they would not be as interesting. Therefore, you need to suspend reality a bit for the sake of story-telling. However, Marvel often gives us scientifically possible concepts that would work exactly as they claim should a character or event come to pass. That does not mean superpowers are possible for humans, of course.
In the future, it is potentially possible superpowers or superhuman abilities will be possible. That is likely due to gene editing, which while still in its infancy right now, has already proven to be a powerful tool. Eventually, we will likely use it to create humans with superhuman abilities. Yet until then, superhuman abilities are very unlikely for human beings to possess.
Of course, specific superpowers you see in the world of comics that some beings possess would be very unlikely. Although, an alien race of beings could likely possess abilities humans never could. Therefore, we cannot completely rule out the powers we see in comics. Time will certainly tell.