Man of Steel is in theatres today! Wish you could to fly, turn invisible or read people’s minds? You won’t after considering the following…
Theoretically, superpowers are great (unless you’re one of the uglier X-Men, with an ability to burp acid or arouse bald men in wheelchairs). In real life, however, there’s no guarantee that any special mutant skills or talents would improve your life: Our age of technology has shown us that human nature will screw up even the most perfect wonders, and these advancements prove it.
Access to everyone’s secrets! Outflanking your opponents! Finding out what people are really thinking! Knowing which girls are interested before you buy them drinks! Yes, telepathy would be a fine secret power to suddenly develop.
I sense she’d like a “Why is this creep staring at me?” from the cocktail menu
The problem: Assholes
As proved by: YouTube, Yahoo Answers, every comments section on every website.
We already have access to honest opinions: It’s called the comment section. Ever scrolled through the comments under a Youtube video? See how many comments deep you can wade into these demographically diverse gatherings of the average citizen before someone says something overpoweringly stupid and hateful. One comment? Two? And these are people who know they’re speaking in a public forum -- imagine the terrible thoughts they’re keeping to themselves! Even if you discount the unintelligible comments and the trolls, you’re left with a wave of humanity at its ugliest. You’d be telepathic for about five minutes before you realized everyone in the world is much more insane/shallow/egeocentric than they let on.
Plus: You’d always be that guy at parties who—
Finishes everyone’s sentences for them?
Assume, for starters, that you’ve got a frictionless, zero-conductivity flight suit to stop your skin from freezing off, with a nifty mask to keep bugs out of your teeth and wind resistance from squishing your eyeballs into something not even British people would spread on toast. You take a running leap, and suddenly you’re rocketing through the air like a cruise missile! But…
The problem: Paranoia
As proved by: Radar
…Maybe too much like a cruise missile. Every radar screen in the county will scratch your hot trajectory onto the terrified corneas of FAA controllers, and when you fail to respond to radio hails (because, unlike a 747, you don’t have someone to take care of that for you), you’ll pick up a military escort faster than a Thai ladyboy on a Friday night.
Granted, you’ll have a snazzier finish, but that counts for little in aerial combat
Humans are a paranoid species, and when threatened, they bust out the gun. In just one 18-month period, U.S. defense stood by for more than 3,700 false alarms. Imagine what they’ll make of a high-speed blip making intelligent course corrections toward New York City? A large, fiery ball of organ jelly, that’s what.
Plus: Oh, you’ll just fly under the radar? Okay then, have fun navigating the purple mountains’ majesty in the dark or fog, and God help you if you smash into another flier while you’re patrolling the city, your impacted torsos and scattered limbs raining down on innocents below you. If people started flying about willy-nilly it’d be an absolute cluster-fuck. This and tequila are why we can’t have flying cars (or tequila).
INTANGIBILITY & INVISIBILITY
Just like Kitty Pryde, you’ve fallen in love with a humongous Russian – wait, that can’t be right…No, you can phase through solid matter! We’ll even throw in invisibility so you can breach any barrier undetected. Time to rob an art gallery, or at least hang out in the girls’ locker room, which is in no way a sleazy, cheap waste of this miraculous gift.
The problem: Mental scarring
As proved by: Security cameras, reality TV live feeds
It’s not going to take long before you’re disenchanted: your crush picks her nose, your friends talk about you behind your back, and you don’t even want to know what your parents do on the breakfast table when they think you’re not around, but it involves marmalade.
If you think she’s sexy now, wait till she starts plucking her nostril hair!
The point is, people act differently when they think they’re alone, specifically so we’re able to afford each other some respect. You go ghostly, and you’re stepping off the social grid. Very quickly, you will be revolted and appalled by everyone you’ve ever known, loved or respected (which will at least give you an insight into the life of Maria Shriver).
Plus: If your intangible self isn’t falling through the earth due to gravity, you have a bigger problem. The earth spins on its axis at just over 1040 mph while orbiting the sun at more than 67,108 mph … meaning unless you can keep up, you’re going to be left floating in space, where intangibility is about as necessary as a beautiful woman in a Logo sitcom.
No bond can hold you! No environment will kill you! You’ve anchored your teleportation coordinates to land on terra firma. Just like Nightcrawler, you can skirt the hassle at the airports and import anything you like duty-free! DUTY-FREE! MUAH HA HA HA!
Or you could choose shapeshifting and turn half your body into this
The problem: Poor attention span
As proved by: Chatroulette
Sure, you can be anywhere, so why stick around when things start to drag? When the party’s winding down in Ibiza, it’s warming up in Rio. Bamf! You’ll never form a lasting emotional bond, because you can always be somewhere else at the least annoyance. Bamf! You’ll never develop a backbone because you can flee any challenge for a better opportunity. Bamf! It costs you zero effort to move to the most rewarding situation. The path of least resistance takes many turns, but it always ends in Scarlett Johannson’s lingerie drawer (we assume it’s spacious). And then what are you? A superpowered perv with ADD. Congratulations on your new life feeling bitterly unfulfilled with everything.
Plus: You’re disassembling yourself, which means every time you use your power, you die for a second and then fire the information that comprises you elsewhere. You’re willing to trust that in a world that doesn’t even guarantee cell phone coverage in major cities? Sure, it’s fun to teleport into a Swedish bikini tour bus, but not when your dick fails to rematerialize and you end up just bleeding to death on the luggage rack.
GREEN LANTERN’S POWER RING
Making it work is simply a matter of wanting something hard enough. If you can will it into existence, there it is.
Now we see why the first thing GL makes is always a hand
The problem: Zero-cost wish fulfillment, and its inevitable conclusion
As proved by: Every fetish site ever
What fuels willpower? If world peace got folks paid and laid, we’d be dropping gift boxes of chocolate in the mountains of Afghanistan right now. You know what human beings want most? Their own-self-interest. To put it another way – who won the contest of wills in your head tonight? The superego who tells you to learn a foreign language, or the inner child that brought you here to the pretty ladies of Maxim? See? It’s hard to be a hero when you have a pipeline to your id on your finger. Instead of zapping things like Hal Jordan, you’ll be like Scott Baio in Zapped!, using your powers to manifest your very green fantasies. And at that point, it’s pretty much just a matter of time before you decide that yeah, everyone should agree with you all the time and you use your fantastical powers to turn the world into your very own, personal North Korea. Nice going, dick!
Plus: Once you realize you can use the ring to recover immediately after sex, you’ll quickly dive into a catatonic state of permanent, sustained orgasm. We’ll, er – we’ll get back to you when we’ve thought of a reason why this is a bad thing.
Brendan McGinley is a freelance writer/designer/illustrator in New York. His superpower is to make you love him.
Check out Craig Robinson on How to Prepare For the Apocalypse and the 5 Best Non-People Movie Dads.