Hey Uncle Billy!
I understand you wish you had superpowers.
Yes I do! I want to fly like Superman!
Everyone has a wish to have superpowers, Billy.
I still want to fly!
Okay, well, look up. See that? That's the ceiling. You would probably fly into it.
Naw, I would go outside.
Okay, let's look out the window. What do you see?
Yeah, see, you aren't seeing the power lines right above us. Those things are placed just out of our sight because nobody is expected to fly. So, you fly up, and then zap! Roasted child! You would probably look like a piece of charcoal.
Well, okay, I'll just be really careful then.
Great, so now you're up in the air, in the middle of the the day. Everyone can see you, idiot!
Yeah, it's awesome until some government agency finds out where you live and then stuffs you in a box running any sort of painful experiment on you that gets them answers.
Oh, I don't think that will happen. I'll just fly up high really fast where nobody can get a good look at me!
Ah yeah, you know what' showing to happen? You are going to get hit by a plane. That's right, a big jet. Planes hit birds all the time. In fact since birds are territorial about their airspace, they'll probably be squawking and distracting you long enough to be sucked into the turbine of a 737. Then the plane will probably crash and you'll kill 150 people. Good job.
Well, geez! I'll just fly up really really high where the planes don't go!
Ooop, not enough oxygen, you fall out of the sky like a brick. Maybe you wake up before you hit someone's gazebo. Maybe you don't go up so high, just high enough for it to be fucking freezing. That's going to be fun. Especially since moving really fast through the air is going to make you colder. Hypothermic dead person falling into a gazebo. Flying is only good for flying up on high buildings and mountains to get a better view of things. That's it.
Okay, well then I'll be invulnerable like Superman! That will solve everything!
Yeah, great, then when the plane sucks you into it’s turbine, you live, but 150 people die.
I could rescue the plane.
Sure, thousands of bits of flaming metal falling out of the sky. Super easy. Look, even if you don’t fly and stay on the ground, you are going to kill people in cars.
What about them?
Yeah, dumbass, If you are invulnerable, then you won't notice if a car hits you. The people in the car will, they'll be dead.
That won't happen.
Okay, maybe it doesn't happen, and maybe you are invulnerable. Being fragile is very convenient.
Like, if you need a shot of something, they can pierce your skin with a needle. That dumb Superman movie with Kevin Spacey pointed this out. Needles don't go through invincible skin, so if you need blood transfusion, that's not going to work.
Oh well, I won't need any of that, because I'm invulnerable, remember?
Great, you aren't getting this. Your skin can't be pierced by anything. That means any cellular matter generated by you also won't decay. So, skin cells fall off you and never go away. Your hair gets caught in the sink and can't be removed with drain cleaner. You can't even cut your hair, you don't have anything to cut it with. You are going to get really invincibly hairy pretty quick. That will be pretty gross looking.
I guess that would be pretty gross.
Now, imagine that hair gets caught on something and you can't get it out, because....invincible hair. Now you are trapped. Being trapped is the worst fate possible for the invulnerable, because you are trapped and can't die. You are trapped there until something frees you, like....erosion. You know, you could be trapped in one place for thousands of years. praying for death, but you can’t! You can’t die. Irony!
Oh, I know! I'll just have super strength too! That way I can cut my own hair, because I'm strong enough to!
So, yes, you have the ability to climb out of a rockfall or yank out your own hair. Solved the trapped problem. Maybe have the ability to save others from building collapses. Good deal. Except when you lift a car off of someone and then yank their arm off trying to pull them out from the rubble. Ooops.
You are just trying to make everything seem bad. I wouldn't yank someone's arm off!
You goddamn would! One thing that you didn't wish for, that people never think about, is Superman's greatest power: control. He has the most amazing motor and muscle control ever. He could make a rock explode in his hands, yet can easily drink out of a wine glass. He knows exactly how to lift up a school bus without accidentally ripping it in half and sending 30 schoolchildren to the bottom of a ravine.
I'm sure I could learn! Then I could be as great as Superman!
Yeah, but how many people die while you learn? Imagine your clumsy, poor motor controlled self trying to just...do anything. Drink a cup of coffee? You've crushed the handle off. You also bent the Mr. Coffee all to hell just trying to make the coffee. You also put a hole through your wall while asleep, having a nightmare about when you tried opening a beer bottle and killed ten people. When making a hole in the wall, you punched into grandmother’s head.
Oh I don't-
Shut up, shut up. You are going to be a menace! You just are, because even if you learn fine control, that's going to take years and hundreds of millions of dollars in damages. You are going to be a complete neurotic basket case, ever fearful of destroying everything you touch. Excellent work. Basically The Hulk is what people turn out to actually be if they had Superman’s strength.
Ok then, forget all that, I’ll just be invisible.
That’s a weird shift, but okay, you have the power of invisibility. Is it the kind where your body tissue becomes invisible? Great! Now you are blind. Your eyes need to bend light onto your retina for you to see, and both now allow light to pass through them. Furthermore, nobody can see you. So now you are a blind person nobody can see asking for help from people who can’t see you.
I'll have that Harry Potter cloak.
So, yes, let’s say it’s like a magic cotton-poly weave, where you can see yourself but nobody can see you. Fine, so…what are you doing with this power? Spying on people? That’s pretty creepy. What else are you doing with this? There's no good use of this power.
Argh! OKAY, super speed!
Right, so…friction! You are dead. As soon as you move fast enough, your skin burns off. That’s pleasant.
Let’s say that you are invulnerable, though. Well, you don’t get affected by friction but maybe everything around you does. You run through a field at 500mph, there’s going to be a grass fire following you. If you run through an office - office is on fire. In fact, if you go fast enough, like several miles per second, you start to compress the atmosphere in front of you heating it up, and setting A LOT of things on fire. In fact, if you go fast enough, the air will tend to just explode in a huge violent explosion that will not cause a fire, but a giant hole with fire around it. Good job, you have become Shiva, Destroyer of Worlds.
The Flash has a "Speed Force" that prevents all that from happening. I could have that.
Yeah, terrific, he moves really fast, nothing bad happens. Well, except, you know, endless impatience. If you are a person who can do anything hundreds of times faster than anyone, Everyday life is going to seem like an enormous drag. Waiting in line for anything is going to seem like an eternity. You’ll probably see how quickly you can kill yourself.
Oh come on.
Wait! Even more fucked up is maybe you move really fast, but from your perspective, everything slows down. So, you are doing things at what appears to be normal speed to you, but the world is actually moving relative to your speed, so if you are moving a hundred times faster than normal, the world is going a hundred times slower. So then, if you want to do any really amazing feats of….anything, you have to do it in real time. Yeah, have fun spending hours in a few seconds.
So, what, I should just be lame like Aquaman and just breathe underwater.
That actually has some practical purpose to it! You could have a pool cleaning business and be better than everyone else, because you are hand scrubbing the bottom!
You suck, Uncle Billy!
At least I'm not a potential mass murderer. Now, go to the kitchen and manifest me a whiskey sour, Zatanna.