With Superman’s return, the discussion turned to super powers — in particular, which super power is the best to have, with the condition that you can only have one.
I chose flying, and not just because it’s been a recurring dream since childhood. For thousands of years, man has been jealous of birds for their ability to take off, move through the air, and land anywhere they like, all without mechanical assistance. It sure would make commuting a lot easier, not to mention cutting back on the amount of gasoline we use. It would also be nice to decide on a moment’s notice to go off on vacation somewhere and just do it, without having to worry about whether there’s a cheap airline seat available.
However, that brings us to our first problem. If your only super power is the ability to fly, then how do you go on vacation? You can’t take your family, because they can’t fly, so you would have to carry them, and without super strength, you’re not going to get very far. I don’t care if your wife is a size zero super model, she’ll feel like she weighs a ton long before you get to Cancun (not to mention that you have to carry the luggage, too!).
Hulk-like super strength sounds cool, but how often are you going to need it, other than being a human jack while your friend changes a flat tire or lifting the couch to find the remote? I also don’t see much use for Iceman’s frost breath (although it would have saved Stella Liebeck when she that McDonald’s coffee spilled on her lap) or having lasers shooting out of your eyes like Cyclops (known in the super-world as reverse-lasik).
Also useless in everyday life, with the superheroes who have them: the ability to zap people with electricity (Electro), throw fireballs (Pyro), or bend metal (Magneto). I’ll grant you that there are those who need bullet-deflecting bracelets (Wonder Woman), but they wouldn’t get a lot of use in my neighborhood.
Underhandedness and secrecy come into play with several super power wishes. Although no teenage girls seem to be interested in it, the one every teenage boy wants is x-ray vision (and you think you have trouble monitoring what they see on the internet!). One of my colleagues chose that one too, because he would like to use it to cheat at poker and blackjack.
One man said he’d like the ability to control the weather, like Storm, the character Halle Berry plays in the “X-Men” movies. I asked him why he wouldn’t just make every day sunny and 75 degrees. He said he’d use his powers to affect weather conditions at various sports events, and then clean up on bets he’d placed on them. Gotta give him credit — that’s real super villain thinking.
The dishonesty angle also appears in those who want super hearing, so they can listen in on their boss, family, and friends. Same with invisibility, which serves no other purpose than being able to hide in a room to see and hear what’s going on without anyone knowing you’re there. However, it also raises the question of whether your clothes also become invisible, or do you have to get undressed before going see-through? If so, where do you hide your clothes?
Another of my colleagues told me that there’s a character named Sandman, who can do anything sand can do. What kind of super power is that? I just don’t see the appeal in being able to get into everyone’s swimsuit and cause some chafing. Not so super.
Several people voted for super speed, like The Flash, which would certainly make it easier to be on time for all those things we’re constantly running late for. You’d be able to sleep later, too.
Personally, I’d rather have the ability to make other people move faster. I’m not just talking about slowpokes on the highway or in a crowd, but getting my daughter moving more quickly whenever there’s someplace to go or something that has to be done. It would make life a lot easier around the house.
We had suggestions for newly-created super heroes and powers, too. “Petro-Man” would have the ability to lower gas prices whenever he needed a fill-up. “Metabolism” is a woman who can eat all she wants without gaining an ounce. “The Rocker” is a guy who can pick up a guitar or any instrument and jam on any song with any band anytime. “Size Wise” could shrink or enlarge anything she wants (oh, get your mind out of the gutter — she wants to be able to pack a huge suitcase for vacation, then shrink it small enough to fit in her pocket, and return it to normal size when she gets to her destination).
Everyone agreed that the lamest super power belonged to The Shadow, who had the ability to cloud men’s minds. Big deal. So does any Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue.