I belong to multiple groups that inhabit Geekdom, but one of the groups I align myself most is comic book geeks. Of that set, perhaps the most commonly asked question that defines the individual is: If you could have any superpower, what would you choose? If they choose invisibility, do they want to spy on other people? If they choose flight do they feel overwhelmed by life and want to fly away?
Before I provide my answer, I want to give you a sense of the evolution of it. While most other kids were planning to be a football star or an astronaut, I dreamed of being a superhero. In those early years I tried staring into the sun, paper clip in the wall socket, and mixing juices multiple times between two glasses just like the mad scientists. No luck. When that gave out, I wound up building batarangs in the basement with twine glued to the end hoping to climb the side of my house. Around 4th grade I accepted defeat and decided quarterback wouldn’t be so bad.
The earliest answer I can remember was flight. Then at around 4th Grade I started reading Dolphin Rider and Other Greek Myths multiple times and became fascinated with Hermes and by association, The Flash, and for a while I was all about the super speed (the DC version, real comic book geeks know the difference). As I grew older, I moved on to Green Lantern and the virtual utility belt that solid light constructs could offer. That transitioned into telekinesis and remained my go to answer up until grad school.
In one of my educational theory courses, my answer fundamentally shifted to: full-spectrum supragenius. I’m not talking Brainiac 5 with his pure logical reasoning, who can create an anti-gravity metal as a byproduct of another experiment and then doesn’t see how it will revolutionize his teammates’ ability to move three-dimensionally – I’m talking the whole enchilada.
The catalyst was my study of Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences. The theory goes that geniuses don’t just come in one variety, there are many types:
- Logical-mathematical: Math and scientific reasoning capacity
- Spatial: Ability to visualize – used by artists, architects, and Tetris afficianados
- Linguistic: Reading, writing, verbal recall, and assimilating new languages
- Bodily-kinesthetic: Body control/awareness/reflexes
- Musical: Absolute pitch, ability to compose music, and master instruments
- Interpersonal: Ability to judge others mood/motivation and communicate effectively
- Intrapersonal: Intuition plus deep understanding of self
- Naturalistic: Being in tune with nature – naturalists, gardeners
- Existential: Ability to contemplate beyond what can be seen/felt
If you want a good perspective on what this would look like, check out the movie Limitless which taps into most of Gardner’s intelligences.
You may look at that and say “But Tim, just being a genius? That seems pretty lame compared to being able to fly.” True, but the beauty of genius is the ability to overcome obstacles. Look at Batman – is there any superhero/villain he can’t take down given the time and resources? He took down Superman in Frank Miller’s epic “The Dark Knight Returns”.
The other factor to consider is the fact that with superpowers, you would begin to disconnect from humanity. Who can truly fathom what is being asked of you? Who can empathize with your gifts? Have you ever been in a room of people trying to convince them that your vision of some possible outcome is the way to go and none of them can either attune to your logic or will hear you out? That’s the beauty of full spectrum – Interpersonal, Intrapersonal, Existential, Musical, and Linguistic are part of the package, guaranteeing that you will be able to maintain your connection with the rest of humanity and be able to sustain meaningful relationships.
I don’t expect everyone to agree with me that this would be the best superpower, but if you’re considering your own answer, I highly suggest that you check out the following informative videos that may help you make a wise decision. Then feel free to post your own selection in the comments area and try and sway the rest of us to your logic (which would be easy if you had logical, linguistic, and intrapersonal supragenius).
And if you’re a Wolverine fan boy, consider: