The Superhero Landing - sometimes referred to as a "three-point landing" - involves heroes touching down after flying or jumping from a great height by catching themselves on two feet and one hand, typically crouching into the kneeling position at the end, if not flat out landing on their one hand, one knee, and the opposite foot in a bend-leg crouch. Here to demonstrate it is Tony Stark - aka Iron Man - at his very own Stark Expo in Iron Man 2:
The landing is certainly impressive, and it definitely has a sort of heroic look to it, so the name isn't surprising. However, it doesn't seem to offer any real benefit to the hero performing it as an actual landing strategy. It's one thing if, when coming in for a landing from a height, landing forces you to actually kneel that much as you come to a stop and try to absorb the force, but to actually willingly assume the pose as a landing position in the first place is just asking for a physical beating. I mean, come on...it's one thing if you're Superman and you can casually just do it for the look:
After all, if nothing hurts you, you don't really have to worry about your joints. I mean, I can do the superhero landing too...if it's on a nice, soft mattress. But Superman pulls this off because he doesn't have to worry about the impact with the ground shattering his knees or breaking his knuckles. (Although Batman does have to worry about him breaking his face. Seriously...Superman vs. Batman? Let me guess, wait for the sequel: The Rock vs. His French Bull Dogs.)
But for a normal human being, or someone who's at least somewhat vulnerable to damage from ordinary landing surfaces? Seriously, landing like that would hurt like hell. Let's look back at Iron Man, for example. Sure, his suit might be able to withstand a lot of force, but his body - inside that suit - has to deal with the immense inertial force involved in starting and stopping abruptly when he rockets away or comes to abrupt landings like that. In fact, they even own up to this in Civil War, when Rhodey's suit is disabled and he free-falls to the earth:
Suit or no, the force is there, and as this scene clearly shows, it can wreak havoc on whoever's inside the suit, no matter how durable the suit is itself. Even in the case of super-strong characters, there is a broad gray area. Here, we see Deadpool make some commentary when Angel Dust jumps down from a bridge and lands in the pose:
Angel Dust is super strong, but if we watch the rest of that fight, we'll find that she's not... like... insanely strong. She's not Superman strong. Normal things can hurt her if she's hit hard enough with them, and hitting herself in the knee with the ground like that can't possibly be doing her any good. But then again, Deadpool realizes he's in a comic, so of course he's going to have more sensible commentary about some of these things than the rest of the characters he's dealing with.
Anyway, we all know the Merc with a Mouth will make fun of just about anything and everything when he's talking with the audience, so don't just take Deadpool's word for it. And for that matter, you don't have to take mine. For a completely non-fictional take on it from a scientist, listen to Kyle Hill (Because Science, Nerdist) discuss the physics of it, and why you should probably never do it:
Alternatives to the Superhero Landing
So you may be asking, "listen, if I can't land like a superhero, then how the hell am I supposed to land?" Well, just because I knew you'd ask, I've taken the time to curate a few good alternatives from a variety of sources on the web. First, let's learn a little about good falling form from a parkour expert:
Once we've mastered not breaking our hip walking from the kitchen to the living room, we can dial it up a notch and pretend that it's in any way safe to jump from a rooftop:
Of course, once you get to certain heights, the likelihood that you jumped on purpose decreases rapidly, so it's also important to be able to strategize where to land in case of an unsolicited fall from...like...you know...an airplane or something:
And, to wrap things up, let's turn once again to Kyle Hill to tell us a little more about the survivability of falls from heights for creatures of various sizes. (Hint: in consultation with Rachel, we've decided that the best kind of car to hit would be a Trabi, the East German-made car which was literally plastic.)
The logical conclusion? Get yourself an Ant Man suit so you can shrink when you're falling from great heights.
Because Ant Man often does anything but a superhero landing, so he needs all the help he can get:
We here at Superman and God obviously by no means recommend trying any of these techniques, or jumping from heights to begin with, and no part of this post should be considered to be intended as actual advice. If you're going to get into parkour, you're on your own. If you're going to jump out of a plane, then please enlist the help of trained skydiving instructors. We take absolutely no responsibility for injury or property damage resulting from the interpretation of this article as anything but pure entertainment.