Almost every kid dreams of being a superhero with superpowers, and some of us never grow out of that. Especially in these days of huge-budget comic book movies, the chances to identify with those characters who have great power and (hopefully) great responsibility are endless.
However, the powers that these characters possess aren’t the only unreal aspects of the media they inhabit; their entire universe is built to support and contain these powers. Even the advertised “realistic” depictions like the classic Watchmen or the ill-fated TV series Heroes ask you to suspend a great deal of belief about their world.
While it’s only natural to dream of having the amazing abilities that make many superheroes and supervillans…well…super, we usually don’t think about the implications that having those powers would carry in a world like ours. Here are 25 Superpowers That Would Actually Be Super Inconvenient.
Probably one of the first super powers ever conceived, there seem to be all sorts of immediate advantages to super strength. But the horrifying realities are literally brutal. As an example, let’s say you were as strong as Spiderman (not even Superman or the Hulk.) He can lift a paltry10 tons at his weakest. To put that in perspective, on average a deadly gunshot hits with less than half a ton of force (about 0.42 tons.)
The results? Even if the force you exert is distributed and assuming you hold back a large majority of your strength, you’re going to apply the equivalent pressure of just over seven times the force of that gunshot blast: Hugging somebody will immediately crush them to death, opening a door will rip it apart, and (without massive amounts of care, concentration, and training) it will probably be impossible to walk properly, as gravity won’t be able to compare to the force you exert when you take a step.
Another oldie but goodie, who doesn’t want to take to the sky like a bird (or a plane)?! Obviously all your transportation issues would be solved instantly, and if you were careful with your powers you could become the world’s greatest Olympic high jumper! Unfortunately, that’s probably about as exciting as it gets, and even that’s a stretch. Birds and planes are built (either naturally or artificially) to fly, you are not.
First, no matter your speed, you’d need goggles. Your puny human eyes are not made to handle constant wind drying them out and insects that can easily blind you at relatively low flight speeds. Speaking of speed, insects are one thing, but birds will straight-up kill you (Google: bird hits plane, you’ll get the idea.) You’d also cause panic to anyone who saw you, encounter problems with atmospheric pressure (which will make your lungs explode), and experience extreme temperatures; it might be better just to keep yourself grounded.
If flight has too many drawbacks, maybe we’ll just go with super speed. There’s probably not too much danger of detection if you move fast enough. As an extra, added bonus, I’m going to throw in the ability to process things visually as you’re running and the reflexes to avoid the things you see so that you don’t immediately pulverize yourself with whatever you run into. Not that it will matter, since there’s no avoiding science on this one.
If you’re traveling super fast, you’re going to literally set yourself on fire and rapidly burn to death due to molecular friction, so watch your speed. Inertia is another problem; assuming your organs can handle takeoff and your speed, you won’t be stopping on a dime. Trying to stop suddenly will quite simply kill you. Your heels will literally shatter and you’ll probably pancake yourself on the ground as your remains skid across the landscape.
Straight to the point of maximum transportation without all those pesky downsides, teleportation is much more a metaphysical stretch than other transportation powers. As a result, it (thankfully) avoids most of the impact-based issues. It’s also conceivably faster and more discreet. However, in this case, it’s the process that makes it nightmarishly undesirable.
The primary question is how do you navigate? Typically this is described as visualizing a place before activating your power. That’s great, but you’re going to have to be very specific with the picture in your mind, and keep a pretty clear focus on it. You also better hope wherever you’re going hasn’t changed since you saw it last. The result of screwing any of these things up is potentially teleporting into a solid object. At best, you might find yourself in excruciating pain with a Lego that is now a permanent part of your foot. At worst, there have been some remodels and they moved the walls, causing you to permanently (and obviously fatally) fuse with it when you appear.
Time Manipulation (AKA: Stopping Time)
It doesn’t matter how fast you move if you can simply stop time! This basically kills every drawback to travel-based powers! No pesky physics, no worry of obstacles, and no witnesses (because they’re all “frozen”). Even so, there are a few realistic problems that aren’t normally addressed.
Stopping time basically means you’ve paused the timeline of everyone and everything but yours. This is probably the result of some kind of energy field you generate that allows you to move outside of time. If that field doesn’t also animate the oxygen in your vicinity, you’re going to suffocate the moment you use your power. Assuming that’s covered, this also means you’re going to age faster than everyone else. If you’re using your powers to travel instantly, you still have to make the trip, and vehicles are all frozen, so you’re going to have to walk. Do this enough, and you’ll find yourself years older than people who were the same age. Another amusing but potentially horrifying possibility is freezing time while moving in a vehicle; you’d better hope your personal inertia stops with time, or things will get messy.