I think this has to be a question as old as human imagination. Right? Once we began thinking of mythic beings, demigods, and superheroes – beings imbued with fantastic abilities – the next logical step after imagining their daring exploits would be to wonder what it would be like if we had those powers ourselves. And that ties to the question this little post will consider – If you could choose, what superhero’s power set would you pick for yourself??
As you can probably guess, I think about this a lot. Just the other day, Theresa and I were walking our “Atom & Eve” class down to the college behind our school to sit in one of their courtyards for a discussion of environmental stewardship (and clones (and A.I.)) and, as we strolled down the walkway, I kept imagining having Wolverine claws I could pop out and slice down the lampposts that light the walkway at night. It would be a total dick move, if I had claws and did that, as they certainly weren’t in my way and they help people on the path at night. But hey, you can only imagine having Wolverine claws so many times before you naturally imagine chopping stuff down with them. How Logan avoids doing that all the time is beyond me…unless it’s because his claws also carry the weight of all the battles he’s fought and the enemies (and loved ones) he’s killed or watch die so they don’t scream “frivolous fun” to him. YIKES. Okay, where’d that come from?? This is supposed to be a whimsical post. So let’s leave the dour reflections aside for now. Here are the rules for this all-important question.
It’s pretty simple. If given the choice, what superhero power set would you pick for yourself? The only stipulation I’m adding is that you can’t mix and match. So I can’t take, say Deadpool’s healing factor, Storm’s ability to control the weather, and Spider-Man’s spider-sense. It has to be the complete power set from one single character. From there, get creative. You can pick from comic books, movies, TV shows, cartoons, novels…whatever your little heart desires just so long as you’re only picking one person’s abilities.
When you add up all the time I’ve spent speculating about this with family, friends, quasi-random strangers, and in my own head you get…well, probably an unhealthy amount of time. BUT I finally found an answer to the question that felt right. Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, given my deep and abiding love for him, I’m not choosing Spider-Man. (Did the feature image fool you? Ha! Go me! If not, well done reader, well done.) He’s got the proportional strength, speed, and agility of a spider. He’s got his early warning spider-sense (unless you’re watching Spider-Man: Homecoming…) which would be super helpful. And I LOVE Spider-Man. But that’s not for me. He’s a great mid-tier character, power level-wise, so if I’m picking ANYTHING I think I’d like to skew a little bit higher on the power spectrum. I don’t need an Infinity Gauntlet or anything…but a bit more than Spidey would be nice. Also, I have no tech savvy whatsoever. So I couldn’t build web shooters or spider tracers or anything like that if my life depended on it.
My second favorite hero has always been Thor. But I don’t think I’m choosing her either. First, the whole balancing Asgardia and Earth responsibilities seems like a lot for me. Ask my students. Sometimes just grading papers takes me an awkwardly long time. I couldn’t handle protecting nine realms from trouble! Then, since I’m not Odinson, I’d have to worry about losing the hammer. Just about everyone who isn’t Odinson has to remain connected to the hammer and if Mjölnir is out of your hand for more than sixty seconds – POOF! – you’re back to being a regular ol’ mortal again. Not only does that mean I’m vulnerable to being ripped apart by evil forces but everyone could totally see my secret identity. I don’t know how Jane handles it.
I’ve always been intrigued by telekinesis and, if we’re picking power sets here, I think I’d go for the telekinesis/telepathy combo like Jean Grey. Think of how convenient it would be to be telekinetic! You could just move whatever you wanted to with your mind. It would be so cool! AND if you’re a powerful enough telekinetic and you’re well-trained, we’ve seen you can turn the power inward and allow yourself to fly. You can also use it to protect yourself and others from projectiles and the like. And telepathy would be pretty sweet too. Imagine how much easier dating would be if you could read someone’s thoughts. And let’s not overlook how much smoother it would be to proctor exams. It’s impossible for a student to cheat if you are literally reading their thoughts. Oh! I could even phase out testing entirely because a quick brain scan could show me how much a student knew. I would save so much time! Granted, I have diabetes so a power that could essentially allow me to never have to physically move myself again would not be a great idea. And I’m sure poking around in someone else’s head would be a HUGE invasion of privacy and I think it would make me feel uncomfortable. Also, it would probably be too much to constantly keep yourself from hearing everyone’s stray thoughts all the time. It would be like that scene in Bruce Almighty when he starts hearing the prayers except you’d lack the godlike ability to help many of the people. No thanks.
I’ve always loved the Fantastic Four. On that note, I’ve thought on more than one occasion how great Invisible Woman’s powers would be! First, how perfect would it be able to turn invisible sometimes? It would be great for pranking people and for getting out of awkward encounters you’d rather not have in the first place. Second, she’s the most powerful member of the FF, able to extend her invisible force fields in both offensive and defensive ways. There’s flying here and all sorts of other stuff too. But there’s still the danger inherent in not being able to hold your shield long enough or not being ready to project it in the first place. So, as cool as she is, I’m passing here. (But, seriously, we need the Fantastic Four to return! Head over to Green Onion’s blog if you’ve any doubts on the matter.)
So after years of perseverating, David and I settled on an answer. It’s Wolverine! Think about it. His claws couldn’t be more badass. Can you really think of any troublesome situation you’d find yourself in where extending razor sharp claws from your knuckles wouldn’t immediately calm? Let’s not forget those claws, plus his entire skeleton, are covered in unbreakable adamantium. Then he has heightened senses. That would make tracking easier, finding people/things easier, and – in general – it would just be sweet to have superhuman sight, smell, and hearing. Finally, there’s the coup de grâce – his healing factor. Wolvie can recover from just about any wound! Sure, you might be slowed down here or there but there’s nothing that’s stopping you. Disease, injury, even aging is slowed considerably. That’s it folks. Game, set, match. Wolverine’s our winner!
…until Kalie had to ruin everything. We were having this very conversation and, when I laid out our unbreakable (no pun intended) argument for why Wolverine is the best, she asked, “Why wouldn’t you pick Superman? Who wouldn’t pick Superman?” I explained to Kalie that, sure, Superman is completely invulnerable (save Kryptonite and magic), super strong, faster than the speed of sound, has super hearing, super vision (x-ray, telescopic, and heat ray), doesn’t need to breathe as we do (since he’s fine in outer space and underwater), possesses a perfect eidetic memory and the ability to understand/speak any language he encounters, and a genius-level mind that works faster than a supercomputer…but he’s kinda too perfect. Right? That’s why some people say it’s a struggle to write consistently compelling stories about Superman. He’s too strong. How do you create real drama? Wolverine however is far cooler. I mean, you’d look like a much bigger badass if someone shoots you and then they watch you slowly get up as the bullets fall out of you as opposed to them just bouncing off of you like it’s no big deal in the first place. Of course you’d pick Wolverine! He’s so much cooler!
Kalie looked at me like I was insane. “Are you being serious?” she asked. “Who would ever pick Wolverine when you can be Superman? I don’t care how ‘cool’ Wolverine is. If you could really choose any of these superpowers who would ever take the pain of getting shot and then healing over everything just bouncing off of you? Plus, look at everything else Superman can do! No one in their right mind would ever pick Wolverine over Superman, even if they thought they were less ‘cool’ as a result. Plus, what’s ‘cooler’ than being Superman?” I’ve been haunted by her words ever since. Is Kalie right?? Superman is, technically, a god-like being with no conceivable limits. I guess…well, I mean maybe she is right. If I really got to choose, having Superman’s abilities would beat out being able to chop down lampposts with my claws or look like a tough guy if someone tried to stab me.
But I feel like I’m betraying Wolverine (and, in a way, Marvel Comics in general) by saying this!!! How can I pick Superman?? But, after Kalie’s remarkably bulletproof (no pun intended here either) argument…how can I not pick Superman?? Ugh. I think she’s right. I think, if I could really choose any superhero’s powers, I’d end up choosing Superman. I think I was out-nerded by Kalie. I think it’s Superman and DC for the win here. I have so much to think about.
I’m not normally one to end posts with intentional questions to try and spark comments but I’ll ask anyway. (Kalie’s already turned my logical understanding of the world upside down so what’s one more irregularity you know?) If you’d like to share, what superhero power set would you choose for yourself and why? And can anyone make a compelling case for why I should choose Wolvie over Supes?? Because I think Kalie’s right…