This is a common debate within the wonderful world of nerds. Between all of the comic books and geeky movies, there are hundreds (thousands?) of variations of all the different kinds of powers and abilities one person can have. There are mental powers, physical powers, and flat out weird powers. Sometimes you have useful powers, other times you have Aquaman.
If a consensus must be reached, then we must first examine some of the different types of superpowers.
Strength, Speed, & Flight: These are some of the most common powers as well as some of the more popular. There are many different heroes in the Justice League alone who display these abilities. Five of the seven current core members display one or more of these abilities. That should be some testament to their usefulness. While these powers appear frequently in all of geekdom in dozens of characters, they are more commonly associated with the good guys. These are what I call the righteous powers. Common, useful, and not much of a downside. Perfect for the average hero.
Energy Beams of Some Sort: This is the category for things like Darkseid’s omega beam, Starfire’s star bursts, Gambit’s energy the thing, the works. This is my second favorite grouping of powers. These powers can cause heat and explosions and and all sorts of chaos. Because of the potential for chaos, these sorts of powers are about equally common with the good guys and the bad guys. That is both a strength and a weakness. Shoot energy at your villain and they can shoot it right back at you. But these sort of powers allow for precise ranged attacks we don’t really see with the righteous powers. The energy doesn’t usually create a strong physical prowess, so these powers are usually paired with one of the ones above (also considering flight is basically useless on it’s own). Again, good powers to have. Not exactly staple gifts, but definitely notable.
Mind Powers: If I could have any power, it would be a mind power. I would enjoy a collection similar to Charles Xavier. Getting into people’s heads, making them see things or do thing, causing seizures. The good life. While Such mental powers have huge potential for ass kicking, they are more commonly seen with the bad guys nowadays. Mind powers are tough becasue they tend to fall into the morally gray area. You know, invasion of privacy, taking will power, potentially leaving someone brain dead. For all of the advantages of these sorts of gifts, there are some major kick backs. Other than the moral grayness, you’ve got the potential for headaches and nosebleeds and, in some cases, you may touch so many minds you begin to forget who you are. These sorts of powers are also most commonly associated with alienation and mistrust, as well as psychological disorders. But they’re just so darn cool.
The Dark Knight himself
No Powers: One could argue that the greatest power of all is not to have any powers. To just work up your knowledge and your body to tap into the potential of the human body. Like Batman. And he’s the biggest bad ass of all time. Your argument is invalid. Because he’s Batman. There is a lot of evidence that would suggest the most popular power is to have no powers. Batman is currently the best selling comics between DC and Marvel and still is the biggest comic book movies franchise of all time. Don’t even get me started on toy sales. So many people love Batman because he wasn’t given power, he worked for it and he earned it. There are some weaknesses when going against people who do have powers, particularly the righteous powers, but that just makes this hero’s journey that much more interesting to see. And now just with Batman. There are several heroes and villains out there who don’t have any powers or don’t have any physical powers and compensate by being a ninja.
I realize there are so many more I could go into. Shape-shifting and primal abilities, healing factors and immortality, walking through walls and invisibility (the ghost powers), but I’d like to get into a couple of lesser known powers that really tickle my fancy.
Molecular Manipulation: This fun little tool is the ability to control matter at the molecular level and can be limited to simply biological molecules, plant matter, metals (etc.). It’s something that we get to see a bit of with the angels in Supernatural. You don’t want to help me? Have some cancer. Many argue that this sort of thing makes someone too powerful, but I disagree. Someone with this power could be physically useless, or using this power plagues them with headaches and nose bleeds or they have to focus to keep all of the molecules where they want them. It would be maddening. I love it so much that in my many writings I created a character with this sort of ability with plant matter. Useful, with the potential for many set backs. Not really a gift someone might want, what with everything that could possible go wrong, but a nice power to use in a story.
Gary from that actually-pretty-cool show Alphas
Transducer: A transducer is like a human antenna. They can intercept communications and encrypted messages with their minds. They can see electromagnetic wavelengths and have been known to hear frequencies that only exists in the code. This is really a cool and solid power. I usually just call it Gary Vision. Because Gary. This power allows one to hack into cell phone signals, TV broadcasts and the like with just their mind. This sort of thing makes the user weak to microwave signals and DoS attacks. . And, if you’re Gary, you might not be able to read Nokia and you might be just a little bit autistic. With this power, you could be a highly valued member of any team by hacking into, say, traffic cameras or decoding enemy encryption. You could also be immune to compulsion or photo stimulation. This power is so cool and it’s probably my favorite power of all time. I don’t think I’d want it as it would probably be a major pain in the ass, but still. I’d never really seen anything like it before and it remains new and useful and cool. And I like it a lot.
Yet, we have still not uncovered the best superpower of all time. You could make a case for almost anything. I don’t think we can really judge a power by what is best, but by how it works in different situations and for different individuals. That is not to say we cannot judge what is the worst. Because wow there are some bad ones out there.
So what is your favorite superpower? Which one would you love to have? Which one do you think is the best?