(Originally published on the Nerdic Vikings website on 10th October 2016)
A ten-hour flight is a great opportunity to watch movies, so I begrudgingly decided to see ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’ so I could review it for you lovely people. I was looking forward to the first glimpse of Wonder Woman, at least.
But, to be honest, the beginning of the movie was so disjointed and angry that I lost interest and fell asleep for most of it, so in the end this is all I have:
1. Batman is pissed off at Superman for destroying buildings.
2. Lex Luthor is inexplicably excited at introducing a billionaire philanthropist to a junior reporter.
3. Batman destroys buildings while fighting with Superman.
4. Wonder Woman grunts like a female tennis player. A lot.
Obviously this is a pretty shit review and not worthy of a Nerdic Viking, so instead, I decided to consider the following question.
If you could have one superpower in the real world, what would it be and why?
It seems like another one of those easy questions but take heed and choose wisely, dear reader, for it is not as simple as it sounds!
My guess is that at least one of you said ‘I want to be able to fly!’ and hey, that’s not a bad superpower to have, is it? The trouble is that without also having super speed, and the abilities to breathe in a low oxygen atmosphere and survive sub-zero temperatures, you’re kind of restricted to slowly gliding along at about head height, like a grim human party balloon. Still sound like fun?
So how about super-speed? Well, let’s see. Without the ability to cope with the g-forces involved, you’re likely to black out quite a lot, and while you can likely avoid collisions with people and objects while you’re concentrating, how about insects? All those tiny impacts could make you lose your focus, and before you know it you’ve been smashed to smithereens along with the little old bloke you’ve just inadvertently collided with. And then there’s friction to consider. You might arrive at your destination in one piece, but the odds are that you’ll probably be on fire.
Let’s assume that, by having super strength, this strength also applies to your own body otherwise you would obviously break both your arms when you catch that falling bus. But wait, without the ability to fly or have that super-speed, when are you even going to be in a situation to catch a falling bus? Or a falling anything for that matter? Not to mention the fact that anyone inside that bus will be obliterated against the inside of windscreen due to the inertia of the sudden stop you created by catching it?
Now, you could make good use of your strength by getting transport to disaster areas and pulling wreckage and rubble away in order to find people buried beneath, that would be noble indeed. But the likelihood is that you’ll just destroy everything in your house while attempting to pick it up, and eventually get a job with a moving firm.
Talking to Animals
You can talk to animals right now. Go ahead, knock yourself out.
Talking WITH Animals then, you pedant
This might be pretty cool, especially if you’re a vet. However, philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein famously said “If a lion could speak, we could not understand him”, meaning that we, as humans, share no common frame of reference with lions that would make a conversation possible. This could also be true of all animals, even domesticated ones. Dogs, for example, experience the world through their noses in a way we could never understand, so even if we could talk to a dog, would we actually be able to comprehend anything it said? If you’ve ever seen the Star Trek:TNG episode ‘Darmok‘, you’ll know what I mean!
Transforming Into Animals / Birds
As a kid, I used to watch a cartoon series called ‘The Young Sentinels’ and one of the characters, Astria, could turn herself into any creature. I thought that was awesome. I wanted to BE Astria!
Now, though, I wonder if it would be that feasible. For example, if you transformed yourself into an eagle, you would then have the brain capacity of an eagle and technically that’s it, you’re stuck – your new ping-pong-ball-sized eagle brain makes it highly unlikely that you’ll possess the mental capacity to be able to turn yourself back into your human form. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Professor McGonagall.
It sounds like fun, sure! But the problem is that your invisible retinas will render you effectively blind, as the light will pass straight through them. Even if there was a chance you could see, it’s likely that by the end of the day you’ll be covered in all the dust and debris you’ve picked up on your travels, so you’ll end up looking like a strange ghost in need of a good hoovering. And do things you eat become invisible when they’re inside your body? Because if not, that chewed-up hot dog you had for lunch is going to look pretty gross just floating around in mid-air.
Nightcrawler is probably my favourite of the X-Men, but he’s already addressed the problem that comes with this superpower – he can only teleport to places he can see, otherwise he might end up embedded in a wall, or worse, merged with somebody else. In theory teleportation sounds awesome, but in reality you’d only be able to teleport safely a short distance at a time. Boo to that.
We’re starting to get to the more promising superpowers now! Telekinesis, or the ability to move objects with your mind, would be pretty incredible and you could achieve many good things in the real world with this power if you were so inclined. But if you weren’t? Then you’re restricted to either getting a job in construction, or becoming a total, lazy-arsed couch potato.
Possibly the superpower that could change the world! You could alter the minds of politicians, businessmen and anyone else in order to make it a much better place, or depending on the range of your power, eliminate greed and promote empathy and altruism. But, man, this is a slippery slope. You would effectively become a God, able to bend the will of anyone to do anything for you – could you control that power? Could you?
Now I know what you’re thinking, and I’m not really a Negative Nelly who just wants to find fault with everything. I just want to make sure that if anybody ever does come up to me and offer me one superpower, I’m going to bloody well choose the right one.
And after much consideration, here’s what I’ve decided.
At first, I wanted the ability to be able to find people who have disappeared, but I quickly realised that if I ended up finding a lot of dead bodies I’m probably going to be spending a lot of time in police custody.
So I’ve chosen to be a Warg from ‘Game of Thrones’, having the ability to enter the minds of animals and perceive the world through their senses. If I practice enough I might be able to control them too, which could help me find people who have disappeared without drawing too much attention to myself. Bargain! But even with this there are dangers – it sounds like it could be seriously addictive, and if I’m not careful I could spend all my time with a particular animal and forget that I have a real-life body that might potentially be drooling and sitting in a puddle of its own making.
There are a ton of other superpowers out there to choose from, so which one would you pick, and have you considered the drawbacks to it? Think about it…