21 Aug 2011

WHAT ARE SUPER-POWERS?

The Flash - Zoooooooom
I dream every so often that I am flying. Not in a plane or a giant kite or 50,000 helium balloons strapped to my waist. Not even a blimp, a hot-air balloon or Iron Man's suit. Flying in its most traditional and fictional form like Superman, Hancock or Peter Pan. I hope you realise the latter two were thrown in in an effort to create humour.
So I secretly would like to fly... Ok maybe not secretly but the point has been made. I flirt with the geek side of life more than occasionally and the question always comes up. What powers would you like to have if your laboratory accidentally explodes. If you don't have a lab then I'm sorry, this post is not for you. (I kid I kid)
This is a useful question to ask for a guy like me because I will eventually get super-powers and I wouldn't like to be unprepared... Either that or as an artist and writer it is helpful to create certain images in my head so as to entertain others when I draw comic books.
There is a vast array of super powers out there for the taking but for the sake of our non-nerdy readers, ill keep to the obvious ones like power augmentation and technopathy. Everyone knows those right? I'm certainly in the mood today.
Seriously though, the obvious candidates will be flight, super strength, super speed, heightened senses, telepathy, teleporting, intangibility, healing and regeneration, invulnerability and immortality. Feel free to throw in more and let your inner nerd take control.
The X-Men
The instant applications of these powers are theft, settling grudges, being worshiped, spying on people and getting "companionship." Its not for nothing that phrases such as "With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility" exist because who else in their right mind would do what Spider-Man does with his powers? I'd be in Acapulco having cocktails and I don't even know where Acapulco is.
As pointless as "Jumper" the movie was, they got one thing right. Any kid who gets the ability to teleport will rob a bank. That's just how it is. Its a science. Kid + Teleporting = Robbed Bank
So anyway, villains and detractors aside, if you suddenly stumble on super speed, you are likely to rob a bank and run across the Atlantic to the land of Disney where you shall blow all the loot on candy and popcorn.
I made the mistake of watching Hancock and Hulk on the same day and all I could think about was leaping over Hilton Hotel Nairobi... The feeling recurs pretty often now so I choose to take it as a sign that my laboratory will explode soon.
Now that I have your minds churning, I will abandon the subject like a lazy writer and skip to more important matters. If you grew up watching Superman, you were a witness to gross deceit which I would like to correct. Flying round the Earth at super speed to reverse its rotation and turn back time is neither a practical application of powers of flight nor is it a clever one. When you finally acquire your super-powers, do not attempt this. It is stupid and futile.
Captain America: The First Avenger
This is all fun to talk about and imagine but the truth about super-powered comic books is that there is an actual non-fictional war between good and evil. The powers are always a metaphoric representation of something greater; like discrimination and social injustice in The X-Men and self-sacrifice in Spider-Man. I watched Captain America this past weekend and took a lot from the film which my friends did not seem to take. They may have seen it as a popcorn film that was disappointing but there was SO MUCH symbolism that was underlying the main plot. To dismiss such a movie is to dismiss all that can be good in an honest person of influence. So much of the movie was about Captain America's pre-transformation scenes and how real heroes come from the smallest or darkest of pasts and not glamour or peer adoration.
Comic books are not just harmless entertainment or avenues for imaginations to run wild. There is something greater intertwined.  There is always a weaker and stronger force and more often than not, real heroes don't wear spandex and capes. They are just like you and me but they are willing to do what it takes to make a difference. A lesson can be taken from almost every comic book you read. Tony Stark didn't get out of the very lucrative weapons business for nothing. Superman doesn't lead the Justice League because of his muscle, otherwise Hulk could lead the Avengers. In the recent blockbuster movie, Thor did not lose his powers and come to Earth because a writer thought it would be a fun journey to explore.
Everything is not face value and if you look hard enough, you will learn something new every single time.

6 comments:

  1. After watching the Incredible Hulk, it was nearly impossible to walk through town and not pick up a car and throw it around as I screamed in (faux) rage. Only the need to avoid having to run from every government's army stopped me. What can I say, I like my anonymous life. And take a look at the comic Brit (a spinoff from Image's Invincible) and see the perfect application of a single power (invulnerability) when it's not accompanied by the usual super strength and healing/regeneration.

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  2. I will search for that right away. These movies have a lot of power man. My sister and her friends were shooting imaginary webs out of their palms after watching Spider-Man 1 in cinema. They just watched it to pass some hours but became so invested in it afterwards.

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  3. comics and powers have some serious appeal, that and transformers are proof that geeks are taking over, ahem, nyaks, ahem. My argument still stands though, IRONMAN rules!!! the shielded gymnast... not so much.

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  4. I'm sure you did literature. Look at themes and other subtle elements that were there beyond the crash-bang-boom.

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  5. Great musings ! I'm a whole month + commenting on this but hey I'm here ! I recall my first 'conscious' Halloween back in 1985 : dad got me a Batman costume and my kid brother, David a Joker costume. That was way back before Batman became the Dark Knight and before the Joker became a suicidal clown. The days when every punch on the day time series would produce a corresponding PLOW! BOOM ! KA-POW! speech bubble. Yeah, simple times. But even then the symbolism was still there. David and I would rush from elementary school, don our costumes and get into character; we'd partially fill the bathtub with steaming hot water ( imagining it to be a tank of piranhas ) and then proceed to have an epic Batman vs. Joker punch-up on the ledge of the bath-tub...earnestly trying to push one another into the tub ! Many a time we fell in...yes, dangerous games that kids play...!

    But I digress...we were on concept of power ! Ever since I wore the Dark Knight garb in the First Grade, I have increasingly come to understand this character better. Because Batman's greatest power is his lack of super powers i.e. he's an ordinary man in an extra-ordinary World.

    This film sums up what I'm trying to express on my post. I highly encourage all of you to watch it...it breaks down what power really means in the Super-Hero world and our World as we know it :

    Griff the Invisible. Sample it on : http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1509803/

    PS - don't be daunted by the rating, it's but a movie for the select few !

    Cheers !

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  6. Thanks for the contribution, true symbolism was very strong back then, maybe even more so than now because every plot twist was such a big deal to our young minds. A bad guy was much more than just a villain. He symbolized evil and feelings against him were really really strong. It wasn't just entertainment.

    I shall check-out that G.T.I.

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