had the right idea. Why settle for the humdrum limitations of the mortal coil when you can knock it up a notch with some post-human Superpowers?
Comic Books, and their motion picture spin-offs, more or less have the monopoly on this particular Science-Fiction. But the proposal of transcending the customary limitations of the human form is a rich subject in Science, both fictional and otherwise.
So, it’s decided.
We all want superpowers. But while “vaulting skyscrapers in a single hop*” is beyond us for the foreseeable future, there are certain super-as-in-beyond-natural techniques with which we can transcend certain base limitations.
*This may not be a direct quotation....What We Want: Super Soldiers!
Chances are, ten weeks after The Avengers
hit cinemas, you’d not struggle to pick CaptainAmerica
from a crowd. Genes altered by a fancy blue slush-puppy, Steve Rogers
is beyond human, capable of bench pressing motorcycles, footracing sports-cars and attracting every female on the planet’s face with that sheepish grin.
The Games industry doesn’t shy from the thought of gene splicing either. Bioshock’s
horrific splicers unleash their unlocked potential at every turn, while Solid Snake himself
was genetically modified to age disproportionately fast (Old Snake
makes me Cry!) and be a general hardass.What We Got: Gene Therapy.
But D.N.A. man, it’s really got us by the unmentionables. Mercifully, the older-than-you-might-think practice of Gene Therapy turns the tables, employing DNA as a pharmaceutical agent to treat disease. Commonly used to encode functional, therapeutic genes, replacing or directly correcting mutations, over 1700 Gene therapy trials have been conducted using numerous techniques.
Recent clinical successes throughout 2006-2011 have spurred renewed optimism in Gene Therapy. Patients have been successfully treated for Leber's Congenital Amaurosis, X-linked SCID, ADA-SCID, Adrenoleukodystrophy, and Parkinson's disease.
As it stands, Gene Therapy won’t help us shoot lightning out our fingertips or more easily endure 20+ minute codec conversations. But with continued investment, who knows?!What We Want: Iron Man Suits!
Superpowers often come at a cost. Scales, gills, spontaneous combustion, being an alien... But what if the cost was merely financial? What if one could shed their trans-human capabilities and make with the cosies WITHOUT the looming threat of accidentally obliterating them with a lingering stare?
There are a lot of reasons to want to be Tony Stark
. But his business suit (his BUSINESS suit, that is) must be numero uno.
Even DC’s markedly less charismatic Steel
has the option of shedding his armour to better recline on the sofa with some slippers and a warm cuppa. Hell, even Earthworm Jim
took the occasional vacation from his super-suit!What We Got: Raytheon Exoskeletons.
Though not quite THERE yet, the XOS2
, Raytheon Sarcos's
second-generation exoskeleton is about four years away from production. Using a system of high-pressure hydraulics, sensors, actuators, and controllers, the XOS2
can execute a host of civilian and military applications. Allegedly boasting strength equivalent to 20xHumans and sufficiently agile to repeatedly volley a football, the main concern at Raytheon is the power source.
Although power consumption is being steadily reduced, don’t expect to soar the skies in a military grade exoskeleton any time soon.
Unless soon translates to 40+ years in your brain...What We Want: Demonic Possession!
In this specific instance, I’m leaning toward Neveldine
blissfully eccentric Ghost Rider
rather than William Friedkin’s
disturbingly disturbed Regan. Wilfully disregarding the rigors of scientific explanation, the opportunity to allow some Demon to hop inside and dope you up with copious undead mojo makes for some great storytelling and even better fantasies.
If nothing else, the darker, brooding, troubled Superheroes do quite well with niche crowds. So there’s the popularity thing to consider...
What We Got: Neurological Disorder? Nick Cage has been possessed by God Knows What for a while now. He's pretty cool. Enlarge
Sadly, the reality is less Ghostbusters
and more The Exorcism
. Not nearly as glamorous as simply donning skin-tight biker gear and styling your freshly aflame hair.
Despite varying details, most cultures, religions and societies retain some concept of demonic possession, the control of an individual by a malevolent supernatural force, resulting in (but not limited to) erased memories, convulsions, access to hidden knowledge or foreign languages, drastic changes to vocal intonation and facial structure, unusual injuries (scratches, bite marks) and superhuman strength.
Understandably, many psychological ailments are commonly misconstrued as possession, particularly dissociative identity disorder (DID), and predictably demonic possession is not recognized as a psychiatric or medical diagnosis by either the DSM-IV or the ICD-10.
Buzz-kills. Am I right folks?!What We Want: BAMPF!
Instantaneous Transmission from one point in Space/Time to another isn’t a pleasure reserved for Space Faring Vessels and overweight Scottish Engineers. Many meta-humans share this trait, from Dragon Ball Z’s Goku
, to the X-Men
’s religious, horn tailed imp, Nightcrawler
But teleportation is a much broader a concept than the staggeringly excellent opening of X-Men
2 suggests. Arguably the most outlandish, and by extension, miraculous design in all Science Fiction, teleporting is good for more than sticking it to the Secret Service while touring the White House.What We Got: Public Transport.
No matter what obscure journal article or science paper you uncover, rest assured, at the time of printing, Man (that handsome, curious species you HOPEFULLY belong to) has yet to crack the physics behind teleportation.
If you really need to get somewhere, best take the bus!