As a kid your parents and teachers constantly reiterate to you that you are special. The trouble is when you grow up, you actually aren’t that unique like a beautiful snowflake. Yes though beautiful, snowflakes are not actually unique. Perhaps this feeling has crushed you. It sure crushed me. To some it has caused you to say to the world ‘F*** it! I’m going to get high or go do some gardening.’ But your mind wanders and is always doubting the doubters. At times this thinking has led your mind to daydream in which you save a lady trapped in a tower or you organize a revolt against the capitol city with your bow and arrow in your coal-mining town during in some future dystopian land. But alas it's just some daydream, or is it? What if you were actually special? What if some inexplicable event happened that rendered you different from the masses or you discover later in life you actually are unique, allowing you to possess abilities above and beyond everyone else? The creators of super heroes have spoon-fed this narrative to angsty humans for millennia, probably. I’m sure there’s some study out there but I can’t be bothered right now. Do your own research! It’s been done so much that a new cultural trope has risen: the lame superpower. Tragic, comical, tragicomic (yeah I made it up), the superhero who fails so hard it marks a fine breed amongst character types: pegged for greatness, destined by an unnecessary or inconvenient super power to fail. Below, we have compiled our ten worst superpowers and the characters that wield them.
The Ability to Control Fish
The United States has not engaged in a major naval conflict since Operation Praying Mantis back in ’88 when Reagan and his pal George H. were still sore about Khomenei’s revolution and they were looking to run the ball for a couple first downs against Iran. Look it up. This is literally the only time the ability to control fish could sway the course of history. Even then, what could a whale shark do against literally any country’s navy? Don’t get me wrong: tiger sharks are fierce, and scientists believe that a sperm whale’s call can burst a human lung, but that applies only to the world of the ocean (and freshwater bodies). Sorry Aquaman and Namor/Submariner, but why are the fish even helping humans when we have set in motion conditions that will destroy their ways of life. FYI, the sea star wasting syndrome has killed entire communities of starfish and nobody knows why. Teach a man to fish, and he won't go hungry. Give a man the superpower of ichthyoid manipulation, and he will become a lame superhero.
Fireworks for Hands
Fireworks: The pretty explosives the Chinese used to prepare citizens for the sights of mass destruction when the Emperor’s army came to keep the provinces in check. If only there was something exploding out other than glitter. Jubilee is a member of the Marvel Universe commonly appearing alongside the X-Men (and Women). Sent to an orphanage after her wealthy parents were murdered by hitmen, she escaped to live in the Hollywood Mall where she discovered her powers while fleeing from Paul Blart. Jubilee is undoubtedly the lamest X-Person. Another question: is it insensitive to associate Chinese people with fireworks? We do not know, please enlighten us, readers.
Certain situations call for a large amount of low-density body fat. Swimming, for example, or surviving a nuclear winter in fallout shelter, mark wonderful opportunities to put a couple more slabs of bacon in the pantry. We do not, however, envy the thyroid surgeon who will one day be called in to check out the carnie mutant, X-Men nemesis, the Blob’s cardiovascular system. We hope he has insurance. We hope that, one day, the Blob decides to turn his life around, and that he ends his ways as a tyrant carnie, gets some daily aerobic exercise, changes his diet, and treats his body as the temple that it is.
Controlling Others Through Song
This one is plainly ridiculous and awesome. In 2009, the animated television series Batman: The Brave and the Bold did something truly brave: they came out with a musical episode. Aquaman (remember him?), Green Arrow, and Black Canary set out to stop Clock King, Gorilla Grodd, and Black Manta. All six of them come under the control of Music Meister (voiced by none other than Neil Patrick Harris) who can use his voice for mind control. He uses his captive heroes to take over the world via song and dance. The episode features a love song sung by Black Canary to Batman, along with a chorus of Arkham Asylum villains singing their complaints about the Dark Knight. While the Sirens almost dissuaded Ulysses, and there’s other cool sonic stuff like echolocation, Music Meister is a bright star that fades fast. What if there was an alternate reality in which ALL superhero tv shows and films were musicals? We’ll choose the burning lake first, please. Side note: sonic warfare/torture is so uncool.
Waffle Griddle of Justice
No matter how hard you prepare for mental fortitude, no matter how deep you stuff him in your subconscious, Dane Cook has a way of popping back up. Appearing here as the Waffle Man/The Waffler in Mystery Men (1999), Cook is positively useless and still not funny. We knew Dane Cook fans growing up. They could be seen posting horrible comments under YouTube clips. They drove home from parties drunk in their dads’ cars and they never got caught. They voted for George W. twice! Folks, if you know one of the thousands of people who still like Dane Cook, we suggest you drop them like a hot tamale. His loud, simple expirations have long ceased to echo through the halls of the comedic conscious. It’s time to move on.
The Ability to Control Squirrels
First, squirrels are terrifying. Their tiny, black, iris-less eyes evoke the black nothingness of the void. Second, an army of billions of them couldn't stop any self-respecting superhero or villain unless of course, it’s Doreen Green, a.k.a. Squirrel Girl, created by Marvel writer Will Murray. She did some stuff like save Iron Man from Dr. Doom, but in all likelihood, all parties no struggle with PTSD flashbacks about a locust horde of squirrels descending upon them. “I based Squirrel Girl ironically enough on a long-ago girlfriend who read comics and was into ‘critters’—wild animals of all types,” Murray said. Ugh get over your nerdy romances, Murray. Why not try to package SG as a new American Horror Story character?
Underwear could only be the most important aspect of any superhero’s costume. Has there actually ever been a superhero film without a love interest and libidinal activity? Venture Bros., the Adult Swim cartoon, is a superhero-tastic drama/tragedy. When was the last time you saw an Indigenous American making a boner joke? This superpower fails primarily because it would be incredibly difficult to a) use your power for any good or b) let anybody know you have it in order to collaborate on crime. It just sounds creepy: ‘Excuse me, I think my magic underwear might be of help.’
The Power of Emo
With great power comes great responsibility. One of the great moments of our lives was when Eric Foreman became Peter Parker, who was bitten by a radioactive spider. This glorious evolution from caterpillar to butterfly was soon eclipsed by Sam Raimi’s third Spider-Man film. How could you, Maguire? Your performance of Emo Peter Parker was so bad that you managed to alienate emo comic book fans—that’s your wheelhouse, Maguire, and you kicked them loose. You’ve had your breaks, Maguire. You had Donna, that spider bit you, you kissed Kirsten F***ing Dunst upside-down in the rain. Everything you touch turns to ash. “Each and every one of those Spider-Man movies were pretty damn challenging,” said Sam Raimi on the Nerdist podcast. “I messed up plenty with the third Spider-Man, so people hated me for years—they still hate me for it.” Now that’s a Hollywood director who knows how to shoot it straight.
Having a Super Big Head
Ugh, nerds make the worst superheroes. The private young children who dwell in their rooms, mulling over their superior intelligence, developing manipulation techniques to use upon their peers, glorying in their abilities of long division and grammar will one day grow into impudent Rodya Raskolnikovs, convinced of their superiority, and their ability to sidestep the law in order to promote themselves because they’re more important. They’ll just get caught killing amateur pawnladies and pay for it with hard labor in Siberia. Yeah, that was a Dostoyevsky reference, but come on, it wasn’t exactly a deep cut! Characters like The Leader, Hulk’s super smart nemesis in the Marvel Universe are so lame. They’re like Tony Starks with zero charisma. Next!
Having No Real Super Powers
OK, yes Bruce Wayne lost his parents at a young age and has led a troubled life ever since. That does not, however, conceal the fact that he pretty much paid his way into the superhero world. Basically the Donald Trump of super heroes, the Batman brand promises that if you are born into vast wealth or its just handed to you and maybe your parents die when you’re young, nobody will pressure you into becoming a surgeon or a lawyer. You can basically go around and kick people’s asses and not get into trouble because you know, money. Case in point: Batman!