Four Letter Nerd

Superpowers: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

If you are anything like me you grew up wishing you had superpowers – flight, super-strength, invisibility, x-ray vision – the powers found in comics seem amazing… but are they? Let’s take an objective look at a completely subjective topic by looking at the pros and cons of individual superpowers.

Flight

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Prominent users – Superman, Thor, The Human Torch

Flight is probably one of the most popular superpowers. Almost everyone has probably thought about stepping outside, waving goodbye, and just taking off up into the sky. Sounds great, right? Not so fast! Flight would be great, right up until you fly into a goose. According to the FAA, bird strikes cause an average of one plane a day to land prematurely. Imagine zipping around the sky, enjoying the scenery, and the BAM goose beak to the forehead. The faster you fly, the more dangerous these kinds of collisions would be. Not to mention all of the tiny debris that would get in your eyes midflight, so you would have to wear goggles further restricting your peripheral vision. Flight would probably be best used in tandem with invulnerability (but to be fair, most of these would probably be best used in tandem with invulnerability).

Super Strength

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Prominent user – Superman, Thor, Hulk, the Thing

Super strength would also be pretty awesome. Lifting cars, hurling boulders, performing Herculean feats of strength. You would amaze your friends and impress the ladyfolk… right up until you accidentally tore their limbs off while trying to shake their hand. If you have the power to hurl a 1992 Ford Aerostar into the next county, then you better be pretty damn gentle when you are trying gently push your girlfriends hair back behind her ear. Every movement you make would have to be micromanaged so you didn’t shatter the foundation of the building you were in, or pull every door off its hinges by turning the doorknob. That sounds exhausting.

X-Ray Vision

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Prominent user – …… Superman

With this power you would make a wonderful search and rescue operator. You could look through walls of a building on fire, or look under landslides, but most of you don’t think of those things first. But for the most part this power would just be great for perverts. You could see right through girls clothing, or shower rooms, or whatever, but this has a downside too. First off, I am pretty sure if anyone could prove that you had just looked at their girl parts you’d go to jail (I am not sure the law involving superpowers here). Secondly, could you imagine losing control of this power? You would see a LOT of things you didn’t want to see. Think of how many insanely attractive people you’ve seen – now think of everyone else. You would see it all. Also, if these actually function like X-ray’s I guess you would see what TSA agents see when they look through your things… oh, and you’d probably give everyone around you cancer.

Time Travel/Manipulation

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Prominent user – Hiro Nakamura

I am sure there are a lot of metaphorical uses for this power, but haven’t you seen any movies dealing with time travel? Good luck not screwing up and erasing your entire families timeline, or accidentally helping the next Hitler come to power. I mean, time is so intricate, just you popping up somewhere is enough to screw up something. Especially since most of us would use it to just go back and fix our own screw ups, like saying something stupid to your girlfriend.

Echolocation

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Prominent user – the Daredevil

This power is probably the stupidest power on this list. I am honestly just putting it on the list to make fun of Daredevil. Seriously, his “superpower” is that he can see some of the time? That’s not a superpower, that’s still a handicap. If I was a criminal in Hell’s Kitchen, I would just make sure to pack an airhorn along with my firearm, so that when I the Daredevil tries to stop me I would just blow the airhorn and then shoot him.

Atmokinesis

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Prominent user – Storm, Thor

If you want to make people think you are a god, then this is the superpower for you! The ability to control weather is probably the second most dangerous power on this list. You could wipe out entire civilizations by withholding rain; you could make sure your civilization flourished by helping make sure the weather is favorable to maintain your own resources. But more than likely you would screw up the fragile ecosystem and ruin everything for everyone.

Superhuman Intelligence

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Prominent user – Dr. Manhattan

I feel like the average person wouldn’t want superhuman intelligence. The main reason I wouldn’t want this power is the lack of empathy that would almost surely be a byproduct. Look at Dr. Manhattan, once he knows all there is to know, he no longer associates with humanity (and no longer deems it necessary to wear pants).

Force Field

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Prominent User – the Invisible Woman

This would be an excellent power to have. I sat here for while trying to figure out how this could backfire, and I couldn’t really think of anything. You wouldn’t have to worry about muggers, bullies, shooters, or other crazies. You could also throw one up when someone gets in your personal space, which would be a godsend in most work environments.

Invisibility

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Prominent user – …. the Invisible Woman

Have you ever walked through a busy mall, or a hallway, and tried to not bump into anybody? Pretty difficult task, and that’s when people can actually see you (although, to be fair, half the people act like they can’t see you and just expect you to get out of their way). Trying to navigate through a crowd when no one can see you would be frustrating beyond belief. This power would really only come in handy if you were a career criminal, pervert, and/or were hiding from your loan shark, and even then you better be really good at being quiet.

Healing Factor

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Prominent user – Wolverine

Wouldn’t it be terrific to be able to heal from any injury? You could survive from any sort of horrific accident. Unfortunately, healing factor doesn’t negate pain, so you would still feel everything that would kill a normal person. Yes you would survive that gunshot wound, or fire, or motorcycle collision, or tragic bowling accident, but you would also feel everything while your body suffered a traumatic event and then stitched itself back together. You would also outlive everyone you ever loved, and survive everything they couldn’t, leading to all kinds of survivor’s guilt and other mental health issues.

Communicating with Animals

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Prominent user – Aquaman

I am going to hold off on my obligatory Aquaman joke for now. When most people think of speaking with animals they think of Dr. Doolittle. You’d think you would meet all sorts of sarcastic animals and get into all sorts of wild hijinks, doesn’t that sound great? Well, animals lack the neocortex portion of the brain, which is what allows humans (most of us anyway) to perform higher-level thought. This means that animals don’t think like we do. We wouldn’t understand them, and if we did all of their thoughts would be based on instinct not conscious thought. Also, communicating with animals doesn’t predicate controlling animals, meaning that even if you could tell what a bear was thinking, your only advantage would be to know it was about to destroy you a little sooner.

After taking a look at some of the negative effects of these powers, it’s starting to look like the best superpower is no superpower. Perhaps Batman IS the greatest superhero after all. That’s my take on it anyways.

If you could choose a superpower, which would you choose?

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Cam Clark

Cam is a husband, father, and a fan of many things. In college, he wrote his senior thesis on Mythological, Philosophical, and Theological Themes in Star Wars, and now spends his days causally specializing in Star Wars, Tolkien, and cubical work. No relation to Bill Clark.

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