The MythBusters The MythBusters

MythBusters Episode 86: Superhero Hour

Premier Date: August 29, 2007

Superheroes can use grappling hooks to quickly scale walls.


To begin, Adam used a plain grappling hook and rope while Jamie had a special cannon that could shoot the hook 100 feet in the air. While it took several tries for Adam to throw the grappling hook over a 20 foot wall and gain purchase, Jamie managed to accomplish this task in one shot. They then attempted to scale the wall, but found that scaling a wall with just a grappling hook and rope was too difficult and time consuming. Adam and Jamie then began working on different parts of the popular grappling hook gadgets. Adam would build the gun what would deliver the grappling hook into the wall, while Jamie would build the winch that would allow the superhero to actually scale the wall. Jamie tested his hand held winch, which managed to pull him up 27 feet in just 20 seconds. Adam then tested his gun, which took numerous tries to find purchase in the wall. When Adam attempted to swing from the line, it instantly failed. Even with such mixed results, the MythBusters agreed that a hand-held grappling hook device was too implausible.

A superhero can punch a person so hard, he can leave a scar that matches the imprint on his ring.


First, the Build Team measured the force of their punches, and compared them to the punching strength of professional fighters. Grant then constructed a punching robot that could replicate these forces. Meanwhile, Tory constructed a ballistics gel fist while Kari designed the rings out of sterling silver. For the target, the Build Team obtained a human skull and stretched pig skin over it to simulate human skin. Punching the head with Tory’s level of strength caused some damage, but did not produce a ring-imprinted scar. The professional fighter’s level of strength produced similar results. The Build Team then used superhero level strength which crushed the skull. The Build Team concluded that a punch powerful enough to leave an imprint of their ring would most likely crush the victim’s skull, killing him.

(This myth was based on the comic strip The Phantom.)

A superhero can change into their costume while inside a phone booth.


The Build Team took turns changing from street clothes into their superhero costumes while inside a phone booth. Kari was the fastest, changing in just 33 seconds while Tory was the slowest, taking over a minute to change.

A car can fire a grappling hook and use it to make sharp turns at high speeds.


The Build Team converted the vehicle used in the earlier Knight Rider myth into a mock Batmobile dubbed the “Mythmobile.” They then built a nitrogen powered cannon portable enough to fit in the car and powerful enough to launch the steel grappling hook. They then tested how fast a car would need to go to make a manual turn impossible, which was about 30 miles per hour. While they were able to hook the grappling hook around the target, the cable always snapped when the car attempted to make the turn. They concluded that, while the other aspects of the myth are plausible, no rope or cable currently exists that is strong enough to withstand the force.