This question

Are comic superheroes considered sci-fi?

seems to have the subtext of "Are all superheroes on-topic?"

Is there any superhero that wouldn't count as fantasy if it's not sci-fi?

What do we count as fantasy?

  • 1
    This seems very dupey. Could you explain how/why your attached question (+ answers) doesn't answer this question?
    – Valorum
    Aug 14, 2015 at 20:26
  • 1
    As long as the hero is either sci fi OR fantasy, they're on topic. What are you really trying to establish here? The question you referenced is from a time period when fantasy was not on-topic on the site.
    – phantom42
    Aug 14, 2015 at 20:49
  • Also, be aware that "The Marvel Universe" and "The DC Universe" are on-topic, full stop. Any superhero in those universes would probably fall under those umbrellas. A superhero that was on their own and had no speculative elements in their universe might not be on topic, but they probably wouldn't be called a "super" hero either.
    – KutuluMike
    Aug 14, 2015 at 21:12
  • @phantom42: No. I'm just asking about what the operating definition of fantasy is. Because if I imagine castles and elves and magic, then superheroes aren't it. Aug 15, 2015 at 0:05
  • elves with swords and castles aren't superheroes? don't tell that to nightcrawler
    – phantom42
    Aug 15, 2015 at 21:34
  • I would classify "superhero" as its own genre on the grounds that the tropes used are particular to it. It is not the only genre that overlaps SF or fantasy, though few do both.
    – Mary
    Dec 21, 2022 at 3:22

1 Answer 1


Any superhero that has a "superpower" is going to be either science fiction or fantasy, and thus on-topic for this site. Heroes that do not have superpowers (i.e. Batman) would have to be taken on a case-by-case basis. Batman, as well as many other heroes without powers, are part of universes where there are other heroes and villains who do have powers, or the universe that they live in is clearly "alternate history" and so they are on-topic.

Now as to whether a particular superpower is fantasy or science fiction is a subject of much debate. Many of the folks in the hard SF crowd hold that anything not strictly within the bounds of physics as currently understood is fantasy.

On the other hand, many super powers have scientific, "handwavium", or pseudo-scientific explanations, or are part of the spectrum of abilities categorized as psionics. Any powers meeting these criteria will generally be categorized as science fiction by most people (including me).


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