Superheroes in hot weather
August 1, 2019 6:30 AM   Subscribe

What are some occupational hazards a superhero might experience during a heatwave?

FWIW, I'm thinking about Spider-Man/Miles Morales during a heat wave in Ultimate Universe NYC, but general superheroes-in-hot-weather answers are also helpful.
posted by pxe2000 to Media & Arts (28 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Just how breathable is that full-body suit? And where, exactly, is the Camelbak? Even with the, uh, proportional endurance of a spider, web-slinging at high noon probably necessitates regular rehydration!
posted by Tomorrowful at 6:33 AM on August 1, 2019 [3 favorites]

Well, Iceman is gonna have a hard time.

Spidey and, oh, most heroes who wear costumes are going to have sweating and smelly costume issues.
posted by Fleebnork at 6:34 AM on August 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

I'd recommend "5 Reasons why flying in Summer is HARD" - OK so he's talking about problems affecting real world aircraft - but all of them still apply: any special cooling that the superhero needs is going to warm up the rest of the world, warm air is less dense meaning that take-off is longer, super stopping powers can heat things up too much, etc.
posted by rongorongo at 6:41 AM on August 1, 2019 [2 favorites]

Does the webbing have problems sticking when it gets hotter? Maybe it breaks down faster?

What if he webs up a criminal in their car or on a street lamp and they overheat before the cops take them into custody?

Sustained heat waves can cause things like buckled roads, water lines to burst, etc. It's not hard to imagine that Spidey might be swinging through the city and have one of the buildings or whatever lose a chunk where the webbing is attached, and maybe even cause a minor disaster. (e.g. a water tank failing and flooding a building or street.)

Probably the worst thing for a superhero like Spider-Man would simply be the increase in violent crime from everyday criminals. I think there are studies about crime rising with the temperature. So he's not only going to be uncomfortable in the spider suit, but busy AF too.

Not Spidey, but some other low-rent heroes might have issues with blackouts/brownouts in NYC. I doubt, say, the Fantastic Four would be affected - Reed Richards has probably got three levels of back-up for the power to the FF headquarters. But it might affect other superheroes. ("My super suit is only at half power because ConEd keeps cutting the power to the building!")
posted by jzb at 7:08 AM on August 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

and what is the melting point of the web goo? what if it gums up in the launchers or melts/falls apart mid swing?

i also envision sunburn as a problem for people like wonder woman given all that exposed skin, but that is kind of a year round concern i guess.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 7:09 AM on August 1, 2019 [2 favorites]

Jock itch from unbreathable leotard
Boob sweat
Smelly costume (may want to have more costumes so they can change and launder more often)
Higher dry cleaning bills (or else spray stinky areas with vodka like theaters do)
Metal costume pieces getting hot to the touch
That cape is going to be warm like a jacket
Skimpy outfit people like Wonder Woman will need to think about sunscreen
People with long hair may want to pull it up off their neck into ponytails or buns, or chop it short for the summer
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 7:11 AM on August 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

If you leave the Batmobile parked in the street for a few hours, you better hope those Batgloves are heat-resistant when you grab the steering wheel.

Aquaman and the Sub-Mariner are going to have more work to do as everyone heads to the beach.

I feel really bad for the Beast. I really hope his coat is insulation against the heat as well as the cold.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:29 AM on August 1, 2019

Furred heroes like Beast probably have the same issues with cooling and sweating that dogs and other furry creatures do. Does he have to pant to cool off? Can he only sweat through his palms and the soles of his feet? Or is he more like a horse, where he gets covered in gnarly white lather? Either way, he won't have the same thermal regulation capabilities as one of use naked apes. Bet he has to siesta through fights in the hottest parts of the day.
posted by DSime at 7:35 AM on August 1, 2019 [3 favorites]

Spidey would have to deal with a lot of AC units hanging out of places he might not be expecting (and maybe unexpected moisture from AC drippings). Roof tar is also going to be disgusting.

Also, NYC heat wave hot garbage smell might count as a supervillian on its own.
posted by dinty_moore at 7:40 AM on August 1, 2019 [4 favorites]

Pedantic note: Bobby Drake is an omega mutant, and he can just make ice whenever, wherever. He doesn't need ice or cold to start with. He's going to be fine, and can also keep himself cool. Someone with pyrokinesis needs to be careful not to cause a wildfire though.
posted by bile and syntax at 7:40 AM on August 1, 2019 [5 favorites]

you better hope those Batgloves are heat-resistant when you grab the steering wheel.

I mean, c'mon. It's Batman. Of course they're heat resistant.

I feel really bad for the Beast. I really hope his coat is insulation against the heat as well as the cold.

Fun fact, every June they take him to the groomers.
posted by jzb at 7:43 AM on August 1, 2019 [10 favorites]

I don’t know how Miles’s invisibility works, but maybe his presence might be revealed when he disturbs the heat haze in the air above hot surfaces. Or maybe the villain can’t see him, but can see the sweat that drips off him hitting the ground...
posted by ejs at 7:57 AM on August 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

Heatstroke is a serious problem, and assisting the elderly and other vulnerable people would probably be the best way to save lives during a heatwave. Repairing/powering AC units, moving people to cooling zones, etc. But it's not very glamorous and some supers might be put off by that. Plus the elderly or heat delirious might be afraid of "masked intruders", or misidentify their saviors to the press as more popular heroes with similar color schemes.
posted by Garm at 7:57 AM on August 1, 2019 [2 favorites]

Everyone's ancient mentors and beloved grandparents are going to be subject to Garm's concerns as well.
posted by teremala at 8:07 AM on August 1, 2019 [3 favorites]

Increased risk of UTI, cystitis?
Increased risk of just saying fck it and going to the park instead.
posted by runincircles at 8:39 AM on August 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

Not sure how the Spider Suit's eyepieces work but if it's especially humid, they might fog up whenever Miles steps from an air conditioned building to the steamy outdoors.
posted by castlebravo at 8:45 AM on August 1, 2019 [2 favorites]

Crime in poorer areas is likely to be higher, so they might be super-busy in addition to all of the above.

There would be a constant threat of the power grid browning out or going out completely, unless the grid has been totally updated or something.

Things like chemical plants and nuclear plants have new fun risks as temperatures get hotter, too. Runaway nuclear reactions or chemical reactions or what have you.
posted by cabingirl at 8:46 AM on August 1, 2019

Any of his tech might crash, computers stop functioning well over 75f.
posted by FirstMateKate at 9:28 AM on August 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

High humidity might also make it harder for, e.g., web-goo to adhere to things (so if he webbed a criminal to a wall to await the police, they might get away), or to get a good grasp on handholds while swinging about.

For anyone with enhanced senses, it's gonna smell so, so bad. Frankly his spidey-sense should be going off anytime he gets near the entrance to a subway station, from the peril of the stench alone!

Pedantic note: Bobby Drake is an omega mutant

Pedantic note: the idea of an "omega mutant" is a somewhat embarrassing late invention. ;) But I'd kill to be Bobby in this weather.
posted by praemunire at 10:03 AM on August 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

Given that Bobby could probably stop or at least significantly slow climate change by re-freezing the poles, I’d kill to be him any time.
posted by bile and syntax at 10:09 AM on August 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

Elastigirl can't use her powers when frozen. So it stands to reason a heatwave makes her a little too stretchy and pliable, and she has to concentrate more when doing long extensions.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 10:35 AM on August 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

Fireworks: false indications of gunfire / etc., particulates in the air, hair catching on fire.

Team members being on vacation

Algae blooms in bodies of water

I wonder if sunscreen might block x-ray vision

More birds

Pollen in the air

If Superman is powered by our yellow sun, maybe the increased sunniness could increase his strength in unpredictable ways

People in shorts/bikinis are harder to rescue in a sensitive/non-creepy way
posted by amtho at 10:36 AM on August 1, 2019 [3 favorites]

Spiders are hot weather beats and generally seem to prefer higher humidity - if Spidey got all the other spider powers, I'd guess that his body transformed to prefer heat.

This would be a better question for cold in my opinion, but so many mutants can go into freakin' space that I don't think few extra degrees in NYC or Gotham is really going to effect them.

There is more petty crime in the summer, with the longer days. I bet Batman longs for the fall.
posted by The_Vegetables at 10:53 AM on August 1, 2019

According to Edna Mode, super suits should breathe like Egyptian cotton.
posted by lharmon at 10:54 AM on August 1, 2019

Chafing. So much chafing.
posted by Weeping_angel at 11:05 AM on August 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

Blacktop melting more readily under the onslaught of super speedy running

Mecha suit overheating

Mecha suit getting mold in the joints, breathing apparatus

Not being _able_ to take a vacation

Running into parasailing people

More leaf cover provided by deciduous trees, making it harder to track criminals on the ground

Cicadas are loud and might mess with super hearing or sonar

There are birds nesting on the tall buildings, making it hard to find a place to throw a grappeling hood without disturbing the little birdies!

There are kittens in the Batcave entrance! Can't just roar through there!

I lost weight for vacation and now my costume doesn't fit right. Really important/life threatening for a super suit with skin contact technology and/or life signs readings. Uh oh!

My sweat isn't invisible like the rest of me.
posted by amtho at 11:38 AM on August 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

Depending on what one's power is, one might be just as sensitive to heat stroke as a baseline human. Like, Batman is a healthy dude, but he's just a guy. I read this article about what it feels like to die from heat stroke recently and depending on the situation a good dose of exertional heat stroke seems like it could hit any human-ish hero. (Warning, that article is really graphic so stay away if you want to avoid that). Particularly in a situation or storyline where the hero is travelling to an area outside their usual climate - the X Men travelling from upstate New York to Wakanda, for instance.
posted by DSime at 2:47 PM on August 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

If you used heat vision to burn things, dry timber in summer could be susceptible to catching fire as a side effect.
posted by amtho at 6:28 PM on August 1, 2019

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