Superpowers are fascinating, and we all wish to have some kind of superpower. There are those who wish to be blessed with telepathy so that they could read minds and others want super strength and invincibility. No matter what kind of superpower you would like to have, the mere thought of becoming a superhero is always fascinating. However, as seen in the comic books, the superpowers are not as simple as they might appear to be and they all come with a price to pay.
The book On the Origin of Superheroes: From the Big Bang to Action Comics No. 1, was written by Professor Chris Gaavaler and he had a very intriguing opinion about the basic dilemma faced by the superheroes, and he stated that a superpower could be a boon and a curse at the same time.
“The notion that a superhero’s powers are also a curse has been a standard of the genre since the early 60s. I don’t believe it applies to Superman or most other WWII-era heroes, but Marvel Comics popularized the idea with characters like the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, and the X-Men. Often the curse is more psychological–the moral obligation that, as Stan Lee phrased it, “with great power there must also come–great responsibility!” The self-sacrificing curse comes in other forms too. The Thing, for example, routinely saves the world, but his powers also make him look like a grotesque monster.”
Comic series The Boys and the film Man of Steel are excellent exponents of the scenario that might unfold if some people had superpowers in real life. Having a superpower is not just easy. It is not as if you will get a power and will know how to effectively use it. That’s one major issue which was highlighted in Marvel’s Civil War. Superpowers often come along with real physical and behavioral changes that have to be adjusted in order to sustain and use the superpowers.
If you were to be the Human Torch, then you would expect your skin to be fireproof. If you were to be Iceman, you would expect to get dehydrated on a summer day, but, won’t evaporate. These things taken into consideration, now let’s find out about some of the most popular superpowers and how Marvel and DC have described them as supposedly negative traits.
Notable Character: Professor Xavier
No matter who you are, it is always remarkable to be able to read and control others’ minds. The Marvel’s X-Factor showed a character called Isolationist who had absorbed powers of all the mutants who survived the M-Day and his existence is a great display of how the seemingly beneficial mutation can be a huge problem.
Despite everything else, the biggest discomfort he experienced was telepathy. That’s because irrespective of what he tried, he always had voices flooding his head. In fact, things went so bad that he went to an uninhabited part of the world and took drugs to silence his mind. Ultimately, this superpower restricted his ability to do any good by using his other powers.
Notable Characters: Angel, Wonder Woman
The one power that has always been the fancy of most humans is the power of flight. The best option will be to be able to fly like Wonder Woman who could elevate herself mentally whenever needed. At the same time, it is flying like Angel is what would start causing problems.
Retractable wings are good to go, but, wings that are permanent would make it difficult to wear anything on your torso. Either move around topless or find an expert tailor who would cost you a bomb, but, will make you a custom-made suit that allows the wings to spread out of the clothes. The other thing to consider is how would you lie on your back with those giant flaps. The good thing is that Warren Worthington (the third Angel who is, fortunately, a billionaire without any of these problems).
Power: Super Strength
Notable Characters: Superman, The Thing
Superman said in Justice League Unlimited that super strength is always about being cautious not to destroy something. You have always to be alert about the extra strength you possess. This is then more of a constant curse because you know that you can anytime cause injury or damage to others accidentally.
Luke Cage and Jessica Jones are capable of enjoying intimacy without hurting one another because of their super strength. They were glad that they didn’t need to restrain themselves because of the fear of hurting their lover. This might be a happy situation for Cage and Jones, but, it is a dangerous thing, and that’s been repeatedly pointed out by various DCEU characters of Zack Snyder.
Power: Super Speed
Notable Characters: The Flash, Quicksilver
The comic books show super speed to mean much more than just lightning fast feet. This power also entails abilities such as reading and comprehending faster than normal and benefiting from various other accelerated activities. Super-fast metabolism might be a great thing. However, there are times when characters find it frustrating to be blessed with such extra pace. Quicksilver is grumpy about talking to others and walking when he could simply be running. He might be a weirdo, but, his point is not weird. In a world as fast as his, until you move at super speeds, everything seems to be almost frozen.
Notable Characters: Nightcrawler, Blink
Nightcrawler has a limited range to teleport within, but, characters such as Blink and Illyana Rasputin can teleport far and wide. This power is a risk because you might teleport yourself into some harmful setting. In the comic book X2: X-Men United, Nightcrawler was reluctant to teleport Storm blind because he was aware of this risk. Fortunately, the found themselves in an empty space. However, the risk is always existing for the teleporters of Marvel as well as Dc.
Notable Characters: Jean Grey, Nathan Summers (Cable)
Being able to move things by simply using your mind is great. Just imagine that you never need to get up to grab the remote lying on the far table because you have the power to look at it simply and it would come flying into your hands. In fact, imagine being so powerful that you could move/shift molecules by your brain power. That’s the kind of superpower that Jean Grey and Cable have as a routine. However, these are extremely ‘handle with care’ sort of things.
In the comics X2: X-Men United, Cyclops stated that the telekinetic powers of Jean were making things move around the room even when she was asleep and how this had a bearing on the unfortunate Scott Summers is known to us all.
New X-Men showed Hellion with enhanced powers. He used to be a highly powerful mutant earlier, but, he was no longer able to control smaller objects. He was able to fly at extreme speeds and raise a wall to stop a raging rhino. However, delicate things were not his game. Telekinesis is a power that gets refined with regular practice otherwise you will never be at ease with it.
Power: Time Travel
Notable Characters: Booster Gold, Cable
How about having the power to travel back in time and rectify all your mistakes? As seen in the film X-Men: Days of the Future Past, time travel is an incredible option. However, the problem is that it often fails to be successful. Those who have been watching the CW series based on Grant Gustin’s Barry Allen know how dangerous it is to interfere with the timeline. As far as time travel is concerned, The Flash can always teach us a lesson or two. Leave the time stream untouched for your own good!
Power: Shape Shifting
Notable Characters: Mystique, Copycat
We all want to alter our physical appearances to some extent. Having the power to shift shapes can enable you to redefine your physical appearance, and in case you are not happy being what you are then you can also become someone/something else. A case in example is what happened to Sylar in Heroes.
Sylar got the powers to shift shape, and then he started facing trouble remembering his real identity. He generally woke up as someone he had earlier copied and used to become someone else in the blink of an eye. Then there was the ex-girlfriend of Deadpool aka former Weapon X fighter Vanessa a.k.a. Copycat. She changed her physical appearance and identity so often that she found it tough to keep track of who she really was, to begin with. She struggled even to keep her normal face in place as her face used to droop if her concentration dropped.
Notable Character: James Madrox, The Multiple Man
There were situations when we all wished that we were at two places at the same time. The ability to self-duplicate can fulfill that wish. All you need to do is to create a duplicate, send it out and once the task is done then absorb the duplicate back in. There won’t be a thing that you will miss with this power. Jamie Madrox aka the multiple Man sent duplicates all over the world to learn things, and it made him an expert in a lot of things.
However, this brought forward two serious concerns. One problem was that his duplicates started living their own lives and disappeared altogether and it made Madrox feel that his body was incomplete. The other issue was with his memory. Every time he absorbed a duplicate, he couldn’t decide whether the memories he had were his own or belonged to the duplicate that he absorbed. Things would get mixed up, and it caused him a lot of confusion as well as issues with his loved ones.
Power: Healing Factor
Notable Character: Wolverine, Deadpool
With the healing power of Wolverine, you can live forever without worrying about a hospital trip. Logan is over two centuries old and is still athletic and looks no more than 50. That’s not all; his healing power also gives him an enhanced metabolism – however, this is what causes him a lot of trouble too.
Just check out the life story of two iconic comic book superheroes to figure this one out. Despite being fan favorites, Wolverine and Deadpool have tough lives full of terrible pains, and despite getting healed, they are constantly suffering from phantom pain.
In many aspects, longevity is a curse of its own because you outlive your family and your loved ones. Wolverine has witnessed two world wars and has seen more people die than any other human being on Earth. He lives on to see fantastic things, but, the dreadful incidents cause severe trauma.
Therefore, it is apparent that superpowers come embedded with negatives. These perils vary in degrees of intensity, but, it is to be observed that no superhero ever has a dream life. They all struggle throughout their lives, and it is a fact we all need to accept.