Supergirl: Who is Mr. Mxyzptlk and what are his powers?

Peter Gadiot as Mr. Mxyzptlk in Supergirl
Peter Gadiot as Mr. Mxyzptlk in Supergirl. Pic: Dean Buscher/The CW

In this week’s episode of Supergirl on The CW Kara becomes the subject of advances from a magical imp called Mr. Mxyzptlk.

Kara (Melissa Benoist) — who is just about to tell Mon-El how she feels about him — tries to gently say no, but Mr. Mxyzptlk (Peter Gadiot) won’t stand for rejection and starts to cause all sorts of problems in National City.

This is by no means the first time Mr. Mxyzptlk has appeared in the DC universe, first being dreamt up by writer Jerry Siegel and artist Ira Yarborough for Superman #30 all the way back in September 1944.

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Interesting fact: Because of a delay in publication, he actually first appeared to the public in February 1944 in the Superman daily comic strip, created by writer Whitney Ellsworth and artist Wayne Boring, which was syndicated at the time in hundreds of newspapers.

Mr. Mxyzptlk can warp reality and has been a repeated antagonist of Superman over the years. Although not particularly dangerous or evil, he has reapeatedly used his abilities to constantly pester and try and get one up on the Man of Steel.

On top of his reality-bending, he’s also not subject to the normal laws of physics — so he can’t be hurt physically, doesn’t need air or water to live, and can exist anywhere, for example in outer space.

Basically, he can do pretty much anything.

However, despite being extremely powerful his is achilles heel is his personality, in that he’s extremely gullible so other people — including Superman — can easily trick him.

He comes from the 5th Dimension and back in the old days only used to be able to be sent back there if he could be fooled into saying his own name backwards, ie. “Kltpzyxm”. Once duped, he’d have to stay there for at least 90 days before returning to wreak havoc once more.

However, in the 80s Crisis on Infinite Earths reboot, this requirement was consigned to the annals of history. From that point on he would only go back to the 5th Dimension if Superman met certain requirements.

Mr. Mxyzptlk has appeared in several different forms over the years, firstly as a small bald man in a purple suit with green bow tie and purple derby hat.

Mr. Mxyzptlk and Superman on the cover of Action Comics #80 from January 1945
Mr. Mxyzptlk and Superman on the cover of Action Comics #80 from January 1945

A more futuristic version in an orange costume was introduced in the 1950s, however with the arrival of the DC Comics’ multiverse in the 1960s it was explained that the initial one comes from the Fifth Dimension connected to Earth-Two, while the more space-age one comes from the Fifth Dimension linked to Earth-One.

A later iteration of Mr Mxyzptlk, with his more space-age costume

There have since been several other iterations, including a more sinister version brought in with Superman: Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? in 1986, as well as versions in other spin-offs.

He has also appeared alongside Supergirl in the Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the Eighth Grade miniseries, where he pretended to be the principal of Supergirl, Lena Luthor, and Belinda Zee’s school.

However, in Supergirl on The CW he looks rather a lot less like an imp…

Supergirl airs Mondays at 8/7c on The CW.

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