We've all fantasized about what it would be like to possess the power of our favorite superhero, and Hollywood's unwritten rule that every new movie must now contain at least one character with superpowers is helping to ensure the superpowered daydreams of a whole new generation. But since we here at Cracked love nothing more than to curb-stomp your childhood fantasies (because we can, that's why), we're about to show you how having your favorite superpower would likely have pretty shitty -- if not completely disastrous -- results.
Have you ever imagined what it would be like to chuck a lightning bolt at that car that just cut you off, like Storm from the X-Men? Impress all the ladies at your next backyard barbecue by lighting up the grill with a bolt from your Thor hammer? Go full-on Emperor Palpatine on your annoying cubicle neighbor at work?
"THE SHARED FREEZER FOOD HAS LABELS FOR A REASON, CHAD!"
Lightning has been a symbol of raw power ever since people thought gods lived on top of mountains and only came down to psychologically scar mortals and release Krakens. The ability to toss lightning at people -- specifically, deadly enemy people (or, failing that, jerks) -- who wouldn't want that?
So What's the Problem?
Think back to the last substantial thunderstorm you experienced. The flashes light up the room like a strobe light, while the accompanying booms of thunder rattle the windows a bit -- but for the most part, you can ignore the tempest like it's an annoying neighbor. Nature's got its territory, you've got yours ... everything's cool. And then, WHAM! A massive thunderclap sounds like it's ripped open the very heavens and challenged God to a pissing contest. The picture frames on your wall shift, your heart jumps into your throat, and you discover that your underwear is the most recent victim of Mother Nature's scorn.
Peter Kneffel / Getty
"Oh fuck, what lunatic gave God a whip?"
Now imagine that effect multiplied about 11 times. Welcome to the situation otherwise known as "every time you use your handy dandy lightning power." Those piss-provoking thunderclaps are nothing compared to a strike that begins at your fingertips. That brief flash of light made by distant lightning? When it's 4 feet away, every bolt is like the sun tongue-kissing your eyeballs. You'd better hit your target with the first shot, because you're going to be seeing precisely jack-all for the next few minutes.
And the thunder's even worse. The sound levels alone can make your eardrums rupture like a cheap condom, but the shock waves produced have been known to shatter windows and push nails out of the drywall inside houses. And now that's happening right in front of you. You're firing a weapon that can cause serious structural damage to a house within mere feet of your squishy human body.
Fanie Jason / Getty
Still, it's almost worth it for the chance to ruin the annual home owner association's Potluck Pool Party.
There's a real-world device that combines blinding light with dangerous levels of sound: a stun grenade. Would you enjoy detonating one of those bad boys right next to your face? Well, every time you fire your bolts off, that's exactly what you're doing -- willingly subjecting yourself to enough sensory overload to put you in the fetal position. And we haven't even gotten to the fact that the resulting air temperatures of up to 70,000 degrees Fahrenheit would melt your lightning-flinging hand clean off (hope you brought along a spare).
Have you considered wishing for a slightly less-offensive superpower, like, maybe chucking rocks?
So let's say you lean a little more toward the defensive side when choosing which superpower you fantasize about, and you prefer your superheroes of the "destined to appear only in shitty movies" variety. Fine -- you're Sue Storm, the Invisible Woman. You can conjure up an indestructible, invisible force field to materialize around you at will. Worries like car crashes, house fires, and ninja attacks are things of the past -- literally nothing can harm you now. You're the physical manifestation of the old "I'm rubber, you're glue" bit.
We'd like to glue a rubber to Sue Storm, if you know what we mean. (We certainly don't.)
So What's the Problem?
Let's face it -- if you suddenly find yourself with the ability to blow an indestructible bubble around yourself, the first thing you're going to want to do is show it off, Jackass-style. So say you decide to leave a building in the most Hollywood fashion possible: jumping straight off the roof and activating your force field just before you hit the ground. Well, sorry to tell you this, but your shield -- indestructible as it may be -- isn't going to save you.
"Wait ... what?"
You see, when you land, you'll face the same problem that your grade school egg drop experiment did: limited cushioning. If you're suspended rigidly in the center of your force field, as in most portrayals, the impact will absolutely kill you. There's no escaping the physics of it -- you're still losing all your momentum in an instant, and the force of the impact would turn you into a nice human puree. The problem isn't fixed if you're free to move around inside your force field bubble, either, because that would be like standing in a free-falling elevator -- you'll pancake onto the bottom of your shield on impact just the same.
"So I just won't jump off of buildings!" you say. "It'll still protect me from car crashes and whatnot!"
Whatnot, courtesy of Cracked's art department.
Unfortunately, nope. It doesn't matter where the force comes from -- physics is kind of an asshole that way. You face the same problem whether you're falling from a building, getting hit by a car, or being crushed by a comically oversized falling anvil. That force has to go somewhere, and your fragile human bits are as good a place as any.
"On the plus side, that force field makes cleanup incredibly easy."
Sci-fi fan or not, there probably isn't a person on the planet who hasn't dreamed of having the ability to stop time like Zack Morris or Hiro from Heroes. Hiro usually used the ability to get himself out of some life-threatening situation, but let's face it: If you're reading Cracked, chances are you don't want to use it as a life preserver so much as to convince your friend that his apartment is haunted by wet-willy-giving ghosts.
"Operation Put a Spider on Everyone has been completed. Unfreezing time in 5, 4 ..."
So What's the Problem?
For starters, boredom. You know what weakness computers, cars, televisions, phones, and the Internet share? They all need time. That's because anything electronic depends on electrons to function, and quick as they may be, electrons still need some time to get from point A to point B. So that puts most modern conveniences completely out of the picture -- when you stop time, you're effectively hurling yourself back into the dark ages. So much for using your new superpower to catch up on all that Internet porn surfing you've been putting off.
"I should have just bought a goddamn Hustler."
But let's make up some rules of our own to get around that snag. Let's say you can bring things with you -- anything you're touching when you activate your power comes into stopped time with you, people and objects alike. How confident are you that you'll never forget anything? Because if you zap back into normal time and forget to bring your stuff back with you, you're stranding it in stopped time. In the seconds it takes you to realize what a dumbass you are, an eternity will have passed in stopped time. By the time you get back, your stuff will be a pile of dust. And if you show off your new power to friends and forget to hold their hands when you come back, you've just sentenced them to everlastingly plead with what they perceive as a frozen you to come back for them ... until they die of starvation, that is.
If that's not enough to give you pause, keep in mind that every time you use your power, you're basically pausing physics for everything except you, effectively shortening your unstopped life. So you may get all the naps and breaks you could possibly need, but you'll also have to explain to your friends and family why you look 80 when you're only 45.
"I'll never live to see my children graduate, but at least I had plenty of time to spank it."