The downside of being Captain America (and 8 other superheroes)

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Evan Hoovler
Dec 14, 2012

We never get to see the difficulties of the day-to-day activities for those endowed with superpowers. For instance, we don't learn how Magneto probably gets a violent shock every time he washes his hands, or how Poison Ivy has to stay constantly hopped-up on allergy medication.

With this in mind, we considered some of the less-than-super side effects of being a comic book star.

Captain America

It's hard not to like the Captain's wholesome attitude and persistent spirit. He also probably convinced a lot of people that government military testing was safe, thus paving the way for suits to get tons of people fried during MKULTRA. Not his fault, really, and if it were he'd probably give an apology and an "aw, shucks," and we'd all forgive him.

But it's his tendency to be virtuous that probably gets the best of him sometimes. For instance, this awesome citizen gets his primary powers from the super serum he took many years ago. This serum prevents him from getting high or drunk. Seriously, now, what's more American than tobacco? Don't get us wrong, Captain America shouldn't light up, but if you threw in an inability to eat fried food he'd pretty much have nothing in common with almost any modern American.


There's some appeal to the notion that any stuffed-shirt nerd could actually be a superhero. But, in reality, having to tone down the big hero act must get draining. Being a reporter is a cool job, but you have to maintain the ruse eight hours a day. No using super speed to get all your typing done, or super hearing to get the next big scoop. If ever Spider-Man and Superman sees someone get bullied or robbed, and there's no place to change, they just have to sit and take it. That's got to be tough for guys who take the subway to work every day.

Sure, having a 9-to-5 gives them some sort of normalcy their superhero status could never be afforded. But they still miss out on so much of the average citizen's experience. "Hey, Clark, we could use another arm on our company softball team." "Sorry, can't." "Hey Peter, could you help me kill this spider?" "Sorry, can't." With coworker interaction like that, it's obvious why these guys can't move up in their field.


As Wolverine, one of the most pressing issues is proper dental hygiene. He has pretty huge, pretty useful teeth, and it would be a shame to see them rot due to improper care. However, with an adamantium skull, getting a reliable dental X-ray is pretty much impossible. Wolverine probably spends a lot of his downtime fearfully flossing.

Speaking of dentistry, people who have fillings sometimes report that they can hear radio stations. This is because the filling acts as a sort of antenna to catch radio waves. Wolverine must act as a veritable radio tower, picking up all kinds of simultaneous frequencies. No wonder he's so surly—we would be too if we had to listen to a mash of country, rap and Latin music all day and night with no reprieve.

Green Lantern

Although he's definitely in our top 20 superheroes whose names start with "Green," we never fully understood the drawbacks of vulnerability to the color yellow. Any superhero who has to cower in fear every time they use the restroom has a pretty hard life. If we had to fight the Green Lantern right now, looking around our office we'd probably make a suit of armor out of yellow legal pads.

What leads us to such confusion is that lanterns themselves burn kerosene in flames that are usually red and yellow. It's a simple matter of principle: If you go around calling yourself the "Red Dolphin," you better not be rendered helpless by dolphins. He could really use a ring that doubles as a green spray-paint can.


Yes, of course there are drawbacks to being visually impaired. But relying on echolocation can only get one so far. A recent experiment found that bats have great difficulty distinguishing between water and smooth glass. So every time Daredevil bends over to drink from a pool of water he's risking a mouthful of broken glass. Life is hard for Daredevil.


At first we chuckled when Deadpool broke the fourth wall with a clever aside to the readers. Why wouldn't we? But then Deadpool started referring to the artists themselves, which sent us into a philosophical brain hole. If Deadpool is aware of the artists, wouldn't he also be aware that he has absolutely no control over anything he says or does? Nothing he does matters, because he knows that in a few decades the universe will be reset? Depressing.

Perhaps we are getting a little pedantic with our application of real-life consciousness to a comic book character. Fine. But that doesn't mean we can't keep dreaming of a comic where Deadpool warns a bunch of superheroes about their limited control of destiny, and they all climb out of the panel and attack the artist.


We imagine most of Iceman's pet peeves stem from this fact: People don't always need superheroes, but they always need ice. Sure, it can be fun being super popular in Eastern Europe, but eventually this whole thing has got to be demeaning. The police chief calls Iceman over, only to ask him to sit on the keg at the black-and-white ball. People always trying to hold their wounds against him to reduce swelling. Not to mention the near-fatal danger that can come from licking a metal post.

Also, everything he touches inevitable ends up wet. That's got to make handling money and signing important documents difficult. We're going to stop with the jokes here so we won't mention how painful it must be to urinate ice cubes.


Controlling the weather is another one of those powers where people are always going to bug you over trivial stuff. They're fair-weather friends, so to speak. Thor's phone must always be blowing up from activist calls. "Thor, why won't you make it storm in Africa?" "Thor, why are you allowing global warming?"

When Thor's not busy getting blamed for all of the world's environmental problems he's getting accused of weather-related crimes. "Thor, 13 trailer park residents died in a tornado last Thursday ... but you wouldn't know anything about that, would you? You're just the lightning guy, which reminds us ..." The notion of having infinite problems becomes tangibly real when one is immortal.

Nearly every wonderful thing comes with some sort of drawback, and superpowers are no exception. So next time you find yourself wishing you had awesomely mutated abilities, remember that superheroes can't do the day-to-day things we all enjoy. Mainly because superheroes aren't real, but you get the point.