What the fuck does "peak human" mean, exactly?
Humans don't all have one definite top level of potential. The maximum capabilities of any human are highly dependent on their genetics and life experiences: that's why we even have shit like the Olympics. It's a completely meaningless term, even more so by the fact there's apparently 10,000 characters who are all "peak human" when logically only one of them could actually be.
That's why Cap is a superhuman and not a regular human. He is simultaneously Olympic-level at every physical endeavor. Obviously that is not possible for a normal human, he is a mutated freak. The idea that his body shape and hair/eye color have anything to do with it is just nonsense people read into it, that's not part of his powers.
It means to have the physical height of human genetics.
The strongest men can bench press 3 ton weigts
The fastest men can reach 110 mph in quick burst
The most endurance men can move for multiple hours
The most adept fighting men can throw punchs/kicks at blurring speeds
and so on.
Peak human as in: "If they were to compete in the olympics, they would win gold in everything".
They are as good as a human can get.
Anything which is humanly possible, a peak human can accomplish.
This isn't a very difficult concept
Scientists trying to calculate the theoretical potential of a human's body isn't a new thing. They very rarely turn out to be accurate though. For example, at some point prior to the 50s, researchers had "proven" that it was physically impossible for the human body to run a mile in under four minutes. Then someone actually did it and rendered those calculations moot.
"Peak Human" is, assuming someone managed to come up with completely accurate statistics about the theoretical limits of the human body, someone who can perform feats at the highest calculated level.
How can any character that doesn't have a physical enhancement be that? At most they could compete and win in one or two disciplines, and even that would involve an extreme schedule of training that would prevent them from having most other skills or careers. I'm thinking of all those mutants with no physical powers described as peak human here.
I've always taken it to mean that that particular character is as good as they, they PERSONALLY, can possibly be, not necessarily as good as ANY human can be.
For a guy like Bruce Wayne, who has the time and money to travel the world for over a decade training with the world's foremost practitioners of countless disciplines, and who can create and stick to specialized dietary and exercise regimens, that personal limit might be pretty damned high.
But for your average street level vigilante, who may not have had the advantages of a good upbringing and limitless resources, may only have the capabilities of a high level athlete, rather than a one-man army.
Of course, it rarely ever plays out like that in media. Peak human literally means as good as the human body can get under optimal conditions. I.E., they do things that the rest of us would have to train all of our lives or be placed into a life and death situation to be able to do.
According to this book, given a unique set of circumstances including genetics, wealth and a suitable environment, a person should be able to become a peak human with a lot of very hard work.
It takes "peak human" to mean someone who would at least get into the top 3 of any solo olympic event.
The problem comes from maintaining it for a meaningful amount of time, and that's not even considering actually trying to fight crime or anything else.
Of course not. That's not what I'm saying. For somebody like that, who wants to get good in as many areas as possible, their personal maximum in each of those will likely never be achieved. That person would have to accept the fact that they are a generalist. Good or at least competent in many fields, but not outstanding in any of then, or at least not more than one or two.
Batman is occasionally portrayed this way if I'm not mistaken. Not often enough if you ask me, but it happens.
He's not as fast or as agile as Dick, he's not as stealthy as Selina (this one tends to vary), Cass could beat him in a straight up martial arts contest, he's not as tech savvy as Babs, and Tim is sometimes portrayed as being potentially more intelligent.
However, none of them possesses proficiency in all of these at once.
I think there are two different meanings, depending on how it's being used. In Batman's case, it refers to Bruce Wayne reaching the absolute peak of his potential. In the case of the Super Soldier serum, it refers to a human who has been increased to the theoretical limits of the human body without actually changing the structure to something that can withstand more (such as Spider-man having radioactive spider-blood or Wolverine's healing factor).
Of course, this is purely physical. Even with peak physical abilities, Cap is still prone to human error. For example, just because he can run at 40kph, doesn't mean he'd be able to actually doing it without spending a lot of time training himself in efficient running techniques first.
That's how I always saw it, anyway.
I always considered Captain America to be more bs than Batman.
People call him peak human, but he throws himself into brawls with super strong super powered people all the time.
His shield is like a force field that blocks everything, and he bears superhumans with punches.
In Avengers vs X-Men he beat Warpath who has superhuman strength.
They made him a superhuman but refuse to call him that.
He's full of crap, but a reasonably healthy human body is capable of some amazing feats when it's under duress.
I've heard of people bench pressing over 1,200 pounds, and others running in bursts of 30 miles per hour. Normal folks, not bodybuilders or sprinters.
However, in most of these cases, it was life or death, and adrenaline allows us to override our limits in a way that most of us can't replicate consciously without intensive training. And a lot of the time, those amazing feats resulted in some form of injury. Which is why we aren't able to do those things at will. Simply put, our brains won't allow it.
The highest feats are the ones that happen before adrenaline, the guys who can benchpress over a ton in weight without adrenaline are fucking monsters in terms of physical strength. Peak is the genetic physical limit of humans.
Measuring and theorizing the limits of human capabilities was a big trend in popular science and psuedophilosophy at the time. We might have a more holistic interpretation of individual limits these days, but back then it made more sense to say "peak human condition" with a straight face.
to be fair, his shield does, like, absorb vibrations or something. so at least there's a modest reason why he doesn't just crumple like a piece of paper whenever he blocks a megapunch or whatever
he is superhuman. He can lift like 3-4 tons, has faster than humanly possible reflexes, can calculate moes ahead more than humanly possible, it takes him hours acting at top effort to tire and so on.
it literally means "olympic athlete", e.g. Usain Bolt (but also pretty much everyone who has ever participated in Olympics as runner) has "peak human" speed. If this character wanted, they could make a living off their skills but they use them to be superheroes/supervillains instead. That's the point.
peak human IS a superpower. It just describes that Cap can do everything that is within human capability except at the same time.
thats why its always listed in cap's powers
he was fucking injected with a serum whose successor is giving soldiers fucking instant regeneration
In real life, someone is good at track OR weight-lifting OR swimming OR gymnastics OR etc, etc, etc.
Captain America is good at track AND weight-lifting AND swimming AND gymnastics, AND etc etc etc.