Cracked: After Hours THOUGHT they had come up with the best super-power. They're wrong.
Cracked: After Hours recently did a very funny video about super-powers. The premise: if you could have only one super-power, what would it be? BUT, you only have ONE, and you have to remain YOU in your life. Thus, no "Superman" with the powers of plot device, or Iron Man because you want an awesome house by the beach. One power, as yourself.
There are some obvious ones they missed. Infinite Adaptation sounds awesome, the ability to be able to instantly evolve to survive anything, except then sometimes you wind up with gills or claws that won't go away and Darwin was the only one in X-Men: First Class to actually die (somehow). Mimicry like Rogue (that you could control) or Peter Petrelli could be neat except that no one else in the world has super-powers so you'd be limited to real life, shaking hands with Rachel Ray so you get to be really good at cooking and wearing low cut shirts. And they did sort of limit themselves to classic superhuman abilities: save that there are better powers out there, I can think of absolutely no disadvantage in the power to transform people you don't like into lawn gnomes.
After much debate back and forth they decided that the absolute best power was "Time Out," the power Zach exhibits in Saved By the Bell, on the basis that it is extremely versatile and useful, completely inconspicuous, and lets life go Zach's way.
They're wrong. Here are some better ones.
You want life to go your way? Two words, folks: mind control. The ability to instill a post-hypnotic suggestion in anyone has virtually limitless applications, anything from world domination to cutting in line. Forget catching criminals: you can literally rehabilitate criminals with a thought. Or, take the opposite direction and go on a crime spree where everybody begs to give you their money and valuables. If that's getting your hands too dirty, force other people to commit crimes for you with no memory of it. As long as you show the slightest bit of discretion you can be a criminal mastermind (the only time this fails in comics is when the criminal gets insanely greedy and forces a slew of crimes suspicious enough to distract Batman from the criminals with costumes and horrible disfigurements.
Even with the limitation of being able to control only one mind at a time, you can still get the better of your boss, your spouse, your kids. Make Milla Jovovich worship your wang as the second incarnation of Christ. Turn WaMu into your personal piggybank. Convince the president he's your best buddy and control world politics as the power behind the throne. Make Kim Jong Il quit acting like such a little bitch. And if you ever get caught, freeze 'em and erase any memory that you ever existed.
The only disadvantage to this power is that you'll wind up being sort of an asshole when you no longer need to give a damn what people think of you. Also, heroic types and psychotic criminals seem notoriously competent at shrugging off mind-control, so whichever side of the law you wind up on might leave the only people capable of stopping you the same ones who'd really, really want to.
Remember that Twilight Zone where the gambler dies and thinks he's in heaven until he can't lose and realizes he's in hell. Sure you do. Futurama parodied it in an episode of The Scary Door.
Well, for a gambler this might be hell, but for the rest of the world, this is sheer awesome. A quick trip to Vegas four times a year gives you a comfortable income, so long as you're not stupid and flashy about it, and you can get your friends to undergo any number of stupid punishments until they catch on.
Used the right way, this basically becomes unlimited wish fulfilment. All you need to do is bet someone that the sky is red and rains marshmallows, and you'd be right.
Oh, you don't think this is an awesome power?
There just never seems to be enough time for one person to do everything that needs doing, let alone the stuff you want to do.
What if there was?
Jami Maddrox, a.k.a. the Multiple Man, is able to create identical copies of himself, then reabsorb them at a later date, gaining their memories and experiences and lessening any damage that's been inflicted.
So...imagine being able to go to work (and achieve the productivity of ten people while you're there) and get the yardwork done, and get the house spotless, and walk the dog, and get to work on that novel, and pick up the kids, and do the grocery shopping, and hit the gym for three hours plus yoga, and make a delicious dinner for four, and organize the garage, and take a trip to Cancun...all on the same day. You'd be an insane force of productivity. Hell, work ten jobs. Start your own company, and be your entire own softball league!
With this power, the dangers of evil twins aren't present, and since you and your duplicates were the same person a few hours ago and will be again a few hours later there is little danger of him running off to start his own life.
Even if the re-absorbing part is considered a second power by the rules of this hypothetical question, you can still Prestige the spare SOB you send to work while you sit at home on the couch playing X-box (and beating your own high score).
And this isn't even considering the sexual possibilities.
Since part of the rules of this game are that you still be you, so far all these powers have been about making life easier rather than necessarily being a superhero. But if you want the best of both worlds, try super-luck.
Imagine a life where everything is just a little bit easier. Red lights turn to green just as you get to them. Your boss gives the stupid assignment to an intern that happened to cross his path instead of you. That speeding car is able to narrowly miss you. The last customer didn't pay for their latte so the barista gives it to you for free, and it's exactly the way you like it. Lotto tickets never necessarily hit the jackpot, but you always wind up with more than you started. At the bottle toss you are the one person who walks away with the big stuffed Barney doll.
The point is that this power, by definition, could not be disruptive to your life. Anything that upsets the applecart too much would be negated.
Now put this power to fighting crime. You can take up parkour without worrying about spinal injury. You can get into a firefight and walk away with nothing more than a few grazes. And you never have to worry about anyone figuring out your secret identity. It couldn't happen. The only people who could ever learn your secret identity are those who would help in your fight against crime. Because that's what luck is.
Think how awesome life would be.
No, seriously. Think about it.
Yeah. Fuck yeah.
Isn't it nice having the right tool for the right job? Imagine if you had that all the time.
If you could reach into your wallet or purse and pull out exactly the right amount of cash. If you never had to wonder where you left your reading glasses. If you were never without a pen. If you never had to go shopping again. If you could see a commercial and instantly get the product, for free. If you could summon a butler to serve you, but like, literally.
With this ability, you are capable of creating matter (or even possibly life) from the ether, violating the second law of conservation with impunity, and conjuring whatever you fancy at the moment. Buy some land and create your own tailor-made mansion cleaned by catgirls and protected by Terminator robots. Wonder where Batman gets his wonderful toys? From you, baby!
Even if we're going to put a limitation on this power, so that, say, you can only materialize an object you've touched before, as soon as you get your hands on a chunk of gold you're pretty much set for life. One person could't really upset the economy and cause inflation this way, but it sure would be fun to try!
You've heard of being limited only by your imagination? That's entirely what this power is all about.
So far, several of these super-powers suggested would make life easier and get you what you want, but you still have to go through the tedium of getting to that process.
Hence, the Jump Cut.
"If only there were some way to get over that fence..." <activate power and find yourself on the other side, pulling up rope you've somehow acquired>.
"I'll never meet the guy of my dreams..." <activate power and appear in that dress that looks great on you, sitting in a sunny cafe across from a dreamboat smiling flirtatiously>.
"There's no way we'll be able to cross that minefield. Unless..." <activate power and...you get the idea.>
The only danger to this power is that you might skip too far ahead, like Adam Sandler in Click. Hence an even better power is...
The problem with Time Out as the ultimate power is that the event that triggers it has already occurred. What if you could not only guide and respond to any outcome, but negate any failure at all?
This is it, my friends. This is just about the ultimate super-power.
Remember in Groundhog Day, when Bill Murray got stuck in Punxsutawney, PA in the middle of February and kept reliving the same day over and over again? Well, just like that. Except you start resetting at any point, to any point, and keep going from there, and the only geographical limits are the planet Earth. Suddenly, there's no curse to the Groundhog Day movie. No depression and despair, just Murray mastering ice carving, becoming an overnight pianist, and befriending everyone in town.
The Reset Button is the ultimate power for several reasons. First, the convenience and freedom. Imagine if you only had to go to work one week a year. From your perspective, you call in sick for a whole year straight. Eventually you kinda feel like being productive, so you go in for a week in a row. By the sixth or seventh repeated day you know exactly what's coming and can have your work finished and polished before your boss even asks, making you a model employee. Or dodge the assignment altogether. Then take another year off. Meanwhile, read every novel ever written. Learn every language. Go on a year-long vacation in Tijuana and then wake up in bed the next morning with zero sunburn and as the same amount of cash and kidneys as you went to bed with that night. Only when you get tired of repeating a day (or more, or less) and go forward does anything you do have lasting impact.
This applies not only to work, but to all the strenuous stuff in life you don't like. From your body's perspective you might work out like a dog; but from your perspective you're really only hitting the gym every few years. Also, dieting is a hell of a lot easier if you can get that urge for a cheeseburger out of your system by eating the goddamned cheeseburger, but minus the calories. And it's a lot easier to wake up for the alarm at seven when you consciously believe you've sleep in until four in the afternoon.
Second, it's the ultimate power because you never get anything wrong. You can go back and do something again and again and again until you achieve it flawlessly, every single time, from the piano to the playstation to picking up someone in a bar. You would never have an accident. You would never have a hangover. You would never have a wound, because you could go back to the time before you got it and avoid it. Every basketball you throw would be a slam dunk. You can fight crime, dodging where you know the bullets will be, or even get there beforehand to prevent the crime from ever happening like in Early Edition. Except better. You have complete knowledge of future events, and you can try every single permutation to alter that sequence until it's to your liking. It's like Mario jumping over the pit with infinite lives...you can fail as often as you have to until you achieve success by chance.
Thirdly, you become effectively psychic. From your perspective, you are like the stage hypnotist who has the subject pick a playing card, show it to them, then forget that they showed it so they seem to guess the card. But for the whole world. You know exactly what's coming, from 9/11 to iPods, and you can put as much or as little effort into altering those events as you desire (and then do it again differently, and again, and again).
Fourth, the replay value. That person you picked up in the bar; you can try a whole relationship with them. Then another. Then another. Then with someone else. See what life's like living in the city or the suburbs or the country. You get to be a doctor and a firefighter and an astronaut and a college dropout and a meth-addict and a politician. Consequences disappear; you can try anything! And then, getting back to point #2, keep hashing away at it until you get it perfect. Not to mention the depth into which you can delve interpersonally. Imagine if every conversation with your friends and family was deep and meaningful, because you had foreknowledge of their own inner psyche and a full awareness of future events, and as much time as you'd ever need to get to know them better than you ever bothered to before.
Because life is a game with limitless depth and replay, that is unfortunately buggy with a time limit and a very permanent outcome simulator.
Which brings us to the fifth point: effective immortality. Cracked did an article on why immortality would suck, and this power negates almost every single bad point but keeps all the benefits. With the Reset Button you can live lifetime after lifetime after lifetime, either in a row or just fine-tuning to get everything right. If you get stuck in a cave or otherwise trapped (as there is a 100% chance will eventually happen when you live forever) you can reset to an earlier point and avoid getting stuck in the cave. You never have to worry about fads and language and culture changing around you; they will be limited entirely to your own lifetime. Your loved ones will eventually pass on and die but only at the rate they would anyway, and you can go back and give your final goodbyes or even postpone their ultimate demise. If you're not ready to die at the end of your life you can hop back and realize just how wonderful being 18 feels after you've been 80, or, once you've finally tired of living, close your eyes in acceptance and be the first person EVER to die with absolutely no regrets.
Yeah, you think this wouldn't make me a hero? Based on what your girlfriend was shouting last night, this makes me a fucking god.