We are all fascinated by superpowers. And people who are bestowed with them enjoy privileges of the highest order in the comic world (Some are outlaws too). In the superhero world, be it Marvel, DC or anywhere else; there are two kinds of superheroes – One, who are born that way. Two, who are forced by circumstance (or a failed lab experiment).
If you ask my personal favourites, I would list them as Batman, Wolverine and Iron Man. Two of them are self-made and Wolverine would stand out as a successful lab experiment (for a change). There is one character who generates a lot of ambivalent feelings in the crowd. Some like him, some just dismiss him – “Big deal, he’s born with those powers.”
He has been gifted inhuman strength and many other powers from the moment he was born. I’m talking about Superman. You might have noticed that I’m trying to stress on the fact that he “was born” with these. The earth’s sun allows him to harness all these powers and make him what he is – The Man of Steel.
Let us take some time and step into the shoes of the young boy named Clark Kent. After his spacecraft crashed into Smallville, he was adopted by Jonathan and Martha Kent. His natural self became more and more evident with age. His powers surfaced and he was disciplined well under the Kent’s to be the fine man he is. Throwing cars, punching through buildings and burning through steel was all a part of the daily routine to save the day. It has been shown so effortlessly in comics that we tend to forget his struggle to blend in with us earthlings. Yes, I said STRUGGLE. Why? Because, you cannot even begin to imagine how it is like to possess such power.
i. Superhuman strength:
Imagine you have the meat and muscle of Superman. What would you be able to do? Lifting cars, buildings, army tanks and anything you can get your hand to. You can lift a whole god-damn planet! Seems amazing doesn’t it!?
Now after a long day of saving the world (I’m assuming you are a good person), you decide to meet up with a few friends in your alias, as a normal human. What is the first thing you do when you meet your friends? You either shake hands or hug them. Hold on for a moment, you have superhuman strength. Aren’t you afraid to crush your friend’s hand into cosmic dust? Does it strike you that if you hug a person, you might as well merge their ribcage and spine into one bone?
Imagine trying to control your power every single second of your life. To get a glimpse of his peak strength, you can quickly go through this insightful video by VSauce.
ii. Superhuman sense of smell and hearing:
As they quote “He can hear a bee buzzing in the next city”. If that is true, you will be able to hear birds chirping, rivers flowing, tectonic plate movements, people talking (probably about you), cars honking and aircraft engine sounds to list a few things. All of these with zero loss in quality. You will feel like listening to a radio which is subscribed to every channel in the frequency spectrum!
What are the implications? A person cannot process so much data without setting definite priorities. If you decide to listen to your girlfriend’s sweet voice for a few minutes, a couple of hundred people would lose their lives in a plane crash just because you weren’t listening to the right source.
I leave it to your imagination to decide what your nose may smell with those powers.
iii. Self Control:
You are the strongest, fastest and the most intelligent being present on earth. Also, you are the last living person of your exquisite race. Don’t you feel like god? No one would dare to question your actions. You are free to roam anywhere on the face of the earth. No one will even think of challenging you (Except a few supervillians and Darkseid. Darkseid and Superman kill each other by the way).
If all this power doesn’t get to you, then you are a saint. What can possibly stop you from ruling over the world? You can dictate the rules. You decide who wins elections. You decide everything. Eventually, people will despise you and your tyrannical rule and you will go down in history as the next Adolf Hitler.
Clark’s parents and their taught ideals have prevented this. Self-discipline does not come easy.
I’m sure by now you are inclined to think that being Superman is a mammoth task. There is a reason why he is called The Man of Steel and it’s not just because of his strength. “With great power, comes great responsibility.”