A big chunk of the wish-fulfilment aspect of most genre media (sci-fi, fantasy, horror) involves inviting you to fantasise about how you would use your own vast superpowers to save the world in a time of crisis. But in moments like the one we’re all living through right now, the idea of having superhuman abilities takes on a slightly different significance. Here are a few we think would come in handy.
Miles Morales’ Spider-sense giving him psychic feedback. Image: Sony
Ironically, being able to sense danger around you during a plague would likely be something of a double-edged sword. On the one hand, the power would alert you in moments where your life was imperilled, but on the other, there’s a chance that the power would never stop trying to alert you, turning it into something of an ever-present humming in the back of your mind. Assuming that the power was sensitive enough to activate only when it was certain that you might be exposed to a deadly pathogen, though, it would be handy as hell.
Six feet, guys! Image: Marvel Comics
Invisible Force Fields
While most folks at this point understand that we should all be keeping at least six feet away from one another and covering our mouths and faces to prevent spreading the novel coronavirus, anyone who’s left their house recently knows that there are still people who refuse to do their part to contribute to the greater good. Force fields as a whole have always been a rather useful skill to have up your sleeve, but shields like the one Marvel’s Sue Storm has would be particularly excellent because of how versatile they are. Though they can easily be weaponized (see: manifesting a field inside someone else), their most obvious use is to purposefully keep people away from you. Letting people passively walk too close to your bubble only to get knocked down would be a great way to remind everyone to stay away.
Poison Ivy letting Batman know that she’s won. Image: Mikel Jann, Clayton Cowles (DC Comics)
Going to the grocery store in the midst of a pandemic is dangerous for reasons that should be obvious, but people do it because a) in many cases, it’s where they work, and b) literally everyone has to eat and because the vast majority of us cannot live on takeout, we must buy food to cook for ourselves at home. Being able to cultivate a garden capable of sustaining one’s family with fruit or vegetables is a lovely idea, but the reality is that growing produce (especially a variety of different kinds) simply isn’t possible for people who don’t have access to the necessary tools and land. However, chlorokinetics’ abilities allow them to make things grow where they normally wouldn’t under typical circumstances. With just a seed and a patch of land, they’re essentially made for a life where they’d need to consume plants in order to live.
Creating a tarp to insulate herself from a blast of electricity. Image: Funimation
In the same way that it would be useful to grow your own produce, so too would it be useful to be able to generate random necessary tools at a moment’s notice using nothing but the raw materials around you – like, say, body fat. Powers like these tend to be taxing and dependent on the user having access to the necessary resources, but at a time when you may not be able to just run out and buy a new screwdriver if you need one, the ability would prove itself invaluable.
Eva freezing everything within her time bubble. Image: Stuart Immonen, Wade Von Grawbadger, Marte Gracia (Marvel)
The most obvious application of being able to manipulate time in a situation like this would be to pop backward and make an attempt to prevent the terrible future from ever happening, but as we all know, wandering into the past to change things seldom works out the way people want it to. In the present, though, being able to “freeze” pockets of time has its own very handy uses. It would allow you to do all sorts of things like navigate large crowds without getting too close to people – or, if necessary, make your way into a store to grab the things you need and rush out before anyone knew you were there.
Faith going for a quick flight. Image: Francis Portela (Image)
We all still feel the need to get out and stretch our legs, but again: being around tons of people really just isn’t in the cards right now. High in the skies, you’d be free to go as far as you needed to within reason, and, assuming that superhuman bodies function somewhat similarly to human bodies, the act of flying (regardless of whether it was by wing or through some sort of psionics) would probably be a solid workout to boot.
Charlie reading a note from Hiro. Image: NBC
People often mistakenly assume that actively physical, combative powers are the only ones worth having, but being able to learn at an accelerated rate and then perfectly recall all of the information you’ve absorbed would have a multitude of applications during a pandemic. All of those productive skills everyone’s been trying to get into while quarantining would be infinitely easier to master, but beyond that, your mind could become an invaluable asset depending on what you decided to apply it to.
Monica subconsciously learning wrestling moves. Image: NBC
Memetic Muscle Memory
Picking up new mental skills is one thing, but being able to immediately learn how to do new physical things with your body would be just as useful, albeit in different ways. Unlikely as it is that anyone would have to perform acrobatic wrestling moves, being able to learn how to stitch wounds or throw knives just by watching someone else do it would be the best way of getting yourself prepared for the end times in literally minutes.
Cyclops’ student file on Elixir. Image: Randy Green, Rick Ketcham, Pete Pantazis (Marvel)
Out of all the super-abilities that could truly make a difference in the world as people are falling deathly ill, healing – especially healing that comes by way of being able to control virtually all of the body’s internal functions – would perhaps be the most powerful. Healing is precisely what it is that every single medical professional who’s risking their lives in hospitals and nursing homes is trying to do, and if one were capable of doing it on a massive scale, it would truly give people hope for a brighter future in these dark times.