I’ve been at this for over a year and haven’t touched this age-old geek question.
Please have a seat, and take a moment to geek-out with me over a classic [cliche] question.
What would your power be?
Flight, teleportation, invisibility, invincibility, and super strength are all pretty common answers.
Most comic book superheroes don’t apply their powers in a practical manner; unless you consider pummeling people practical. This is in large part due to the simple fact that fighting with powers looks damn cool.
A woman throwing a truck at a dude who can shoot lasers from his eyes is cool. A guy who has superhuman mathematical abilities isn’t exactly going to make for a sweet splash page.
Another thing to contemplate is that the powers really lend themselves to good or evil behavior. Think about it.
What is a guy with razor-sharp claws going to do with his powers? He’s either going to be a lumberjack (and that’s “OK”), or he’s going to kill people. Maybe they will be bad people, but mayhem will be involved nonetheless.
Mind control is another naturally evil power. There is no way to use that power without stealing a person’s free will.
It’s the less common powers that interest me, the ones you could use in a practical way.
The ability to detect flaws is interesting. To look at a structure and see it’s weakness, or perhaps the same with a plan or person. The drawback would be seriously problematic. How could you enjoy life when you see every single flaw in the world?
I would want a power I could use without people realizing that it’s a power. There was a little-known X-Men character named Cypher. He was just about the most vanilla character in comics. This was his power:
“Cypher was a mutant with a superhuman facility for translating languages, spoken or written, human or alien in origin. His superhuman skill also extended to his great facility in deciphering codes and computer languages.”
That’s the power I would want. It also happens to be the one that Joss Whedon stated he wanted during an interview on the Dr. Horrible DVD. This is one of many things that Joss and I agree on.
The creative applications for this ability are truly endless. Plus, never having to study to learn spoken, written, mathematical, or computer languages means that I could focus my efforts on tons of other things. Saving lives, creating new technology, and making a mountain of money are only the tip of the iceberg for that ability.
Who needs to “leap tall buildings in a single bound” anyway?