The Downsides of Superpowers

Graham Host
Comics Marvel
Comics Marvel DC

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to soar the skies like Superman and Ms Marvel? Or have the strength of Captain America and his reflexes to boot? How about the laser eyes of Cyclops or the telepathic abilities of Professor X? All the heroes (and plenty of the villains) throw around their abilities with ease and appear quite comfortable in doing so. But there’s a lot of unpleasantness that we just don’t see. Pretend that you’ve been offered one of these superpowers and let me guide you through the second thoughts you should hear first.

Super Hearing

My heart genuinely goes out to those poor buggers who have to deal with enhanced hearing. Superman has such powerful ears that he can pick out every heartbeat on the planet and identify which belongs to who. But now think about every time that Clark has to deal with a surprise party. Quite, stifled giggles followed what amounts to Armageddon on the eardrums. If he can genuinely pick out Bruce Wayne by his heartbeat from halfway around the world, that means everything louder than a heartbeat (basically everything) also registers. So at almost all times, Superman is forced to listen to Justin Bieber.

Strength

Hooray for all the underdogs! Now is your time to strike back at the bullies. But just remember as you lift their cars over your head – all that weight has to go somewhere. Namely, your feet. With great power, comes a bloody useless ability. Sure, you could probably pick yourself up a sofa and help your friends move houses but lifting anything heavier than a truck will sink you several feet into the ground. And no matter how high you jump, landing will probably shatter most of your bones on impact.

Telepathy

Patrick Stewart as Professor X

Something that cropped up in the X-Men film reboot, the horrific downside of telepathy. Sure, you can read your friend’s minds and make them get you the perfect birthday presents but you have to deal with the constant background noise. I’m not sure if this is worse than super hearing but they must be close. Trying to remember who you are with all the constant influences of the public is surely an unspeakable horror.

Flight

Where does his fuel come from?

Up, up and away! Quick question, how exactly are you flying? Giant wings? Magic powers? However it is that Superman does it? Frankly, once you take away any machines, like Iron Man, it usually gets weird. But you can be sure that there will be a price to pay. Fast metabolism, sapping away at your soul or simply having to live with a pair of giant wings, this is another power you may want to avoid. That and the chill factor up high is ridiculous.

Eyes

Cyclops dropped his glasses

There’s a lot of powers out there to do with eyes so I’m just going to squeeze them all together. Imagine blasting out laser beams every time you blink. Maybe the good old x-ray vision. But having to deal with all those, all the time, is probably hellish. Every time you open your eyes, you see everything down to the bones and only the denser objects left to see or reduce everything to a smoking crater. Take a blindfold and pick up a stick. It’s probably better than the alternatives.

Speed

What if you reached such speeds that you found yourself unable to actually slow back down? You now get to live in a world of statues. Believe it or not but that actually happened to Wally West a couple of times. It was only when Max Mercury reveals to him that he’s subconsciously supplying the speed that he finds himself able to slow back down. But if Max had been even a second late, Wally would have died of old age before the next tick of the clock. Only a main character would be so lucky.

Immortality

Something that seems to exist for anybody to slip on a pair of tights, the whole ageless gimmick is somewhat old. Sure, you get to have as long as you want to play games or watch films but then comes the downsides.

  • Everybody you know and love inevitably dies.
  • You still have to work to earn money. So that runs down to,
  • Constantly lying and creating identities to live under every few years or
  • Living under your own name until somebody catches on and begins the dissections. Welcome to eternity. There’s no way out.

Superpowers aren’t all that they’re cracked up to be. So here’s to the guys, girls, and groupies who suit up and head out into the crazy places. And an extra cheer for the people without powers who hold their own with them. Just remember, pretty much everybody wants superpowers ends up evil.

Graham Host
Graham Host is a member of the Fan Contributor program. In his spare time, he enjoys the works of Terry Pratchett, DC Comics and a wide assortment of video games. Under no circumstances should he be fed after midnight. Contactable only via Twitter or trained carrier pigeon.
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