What makes a superhero super? Is it a costume that bears a symbol or monogram? Maybe it’s a birthright, or even an unfortunate accident in a science lab, but regardless of the circumstances, super powers play an incredibly interesting and intricate role in superheroes. So where does this power, or magical ability, derive from and is it still super if it’s easily attainable by anyone? With the advancement of modern science and technology, the things that make superheroes extraordinary may not be strictly limited to the colorful pages of comic books and graphic novels.
Arthur C. Clarke once said that “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”. From microchipping and robotics to body modification and neuroscience, mankind is quickly discovering new ways to expand the abilities of our mind and body. These improvements are astonishing and although they seem to be the fiber of science fiction and comics, we may see them sooner that we think, bringing the famous Spider-Man line into focus – “With great power comes great responsibility”. Would our favorite superheroes be who they are without their given abilities, or if someone else could purchase the same modification, or skill?
Marvel’s Matthew Murdock, known to most as his alter ego “Daredevil” first appeared in the mid 60’s and gained popularity as a crimson figure with incredible reflexes. Although his blindness was caused by an accidental chemical spill, his senses were heightened and rigorous training assisted in his fighting expertise. This extraordinary character brings diversity to comics, and shows us that what appears as a disadvantage isn’t necessarily so. Despite the fact that humans are primarily reliant upon their sense of sight, some are actually able to use abilities such as echolocation, or the ability to locate objects by bouncing sound waves off of them. If you’ve heard the term echolocation you probably think of bats or dolphins, but this seemingly animal aptitude has improved life for the blind and visually impaired like Daniel Kish who lost his vision before age three. Kish uses echolocation to accomplish what most visually impaired people struggle with such as bike riding or even mountain climbing. By using clicking sounds, people are able to train themselves (and their senses) to locate items without relying on sight. Learning something like echolocation, or any skill, takes a lot of time and diligence, but it can be accomplished by programs offered such as Learn Echolocation Online website.
Modern technology has also advanced to the point where Iron Man isn’t only a red and yellow suit for Marvel’s Tony Stark. With companies creating advanced and powered exoskeletons, people with limited mobility from disease or injury are able to don a robotic suit that enables them to walk and participate in other physical activity. This may seem like a gift to those in need, however this technology is also being used for it’s potential to give superhuman strength and endurance to armies and soldiers. According to ListVerse, the Lockheed Martin licensed HULC (short for Human Universal Load Carrier) “enables a normally conditioned man to carry a 200 pound load at ten miles per hour, pretty much indefinitely without breaking a sweat”. While this machine is appropriately named similarly to the Incredible Hulk, let’s also hope we never see it angry…I’m sure we wouldn’t like it when it gets angry.
Where technology lacks, neuroscience adds as people become more and more interested in discovering the extreme possibilities of the human brain. With shows like “Brain Games” airing on National Geographic, the mind is examined and tested while we’re encouraged to exercise our brains and expand our abilities. Many superheroes, as well as villains, use skills such as mind control and hypnosis to bend others to their will, but this advancement is already in practice around the world – just not for evil. When people need to quit smoking, are struggling with addiction, or attempting to lose weight, they seek qualified and trained hypnotherapists to help them train their minds to curb their desires. Unless you’re swimming in gold like Scrooge McDuck, this can be pretty expensive, but there are easy ways you can enter and practice self hypnosis with websites such as Self Hypnosis for Beginners. Some believe that the ability to walk over burning coals barefoot or other daring acts rely on the individual’s control over their own body, and that this skill can be mastered by anyone by practicing intense meditation. Meditation is often used in exercises like Yoga, however it can be a very calming hobby and a great way to start your day. For beginners, learning to meditate can be easy to learn online at Learning Meditation as long as you have a quiet space that you can focus.
As mankind continues to push itself to the extreme, what once made a superhero different, and superhuman, may just become ordinary. What will the future of comics and graphic novel heroes look like in a world where medicines are administered remotely via chip implants and the marriage of mind and computer are part of our daily lives? As exciting as this may be, one can only wonder…are we ready?