These days, you can't throw Thor's hammer without hitting a superhero movie. Not that that's a bad thing; I have yet to see a movie about one of the comic book superheroes I loved growing up that I haven't liked (yes, even Daredevil kicked butt!). One of the best parts of the movies is that you get to, for two hours at a time, see what it might be like to be able to fly, turn invisible, or run fast enough to open (or close) a wormhole to a different dimension.
But after the movie is over, you go back to reality, where there are no superpowers. Unless you count all those things your kids see you do that they think are just the BOMB. My kids are still in awe over how I make a train whistle just by blowing into my hands.
You may think that all the cool stuff only happens in the movies, but you're wrong! There are quite a few people in the world, from the past and living now, that can do some extraordinary things. Whether it's through years of practice, or by some freak genetic stroke of luck, they can pull some stuff off that even Bruce Banner would be surprised to see.
Here are 10 of them, and the superhero name that they should have!
10. Marathon Man
Actually, according to his website, Ultra Marathon Man. You've heard of The Flash, right? The guy who can outrun a Black Friday stampede at Wal-Mart? Well, there also happens to be a guy named Dean Karnazes, who once ran 350 miles in 80 hours and 44 minutes—WITHOUT SLEEP—back in 2005. It was on a treadmill, but still! His other feats include running 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 days in a row, among other amazing long distance feats. He's been on all sorts of TV shows, from The Howard Stern Show to 60 Minutes, and featured in magazines from Time to GQ. It doesn't look like he's been in Playboy or Playgirl, though...that's about a whole different high-endurance, um, sport.
I know, Magneto is already taken, so I had to change it up a little.
Liew Thow Lin, from Malaysia, has the insanely cool ability to attract metal objects, like a walking talking magnet. Last time I checked, he didn't go around lifting bridges and stripping metal from cigar-smoking soldiers, so I have no idea what is cool about that, except that your hands would be free if you had to carry a bunch of metal stuff. But it's still neat. Scientists haven't figured out what's up with Mr. Metal, yet anyway.
8. The Brain
I was going to go with Brainiac or Brain, but one is used in the Superman world, and one is a super smart mouse hellbent on world domination. The show is Pinky and the Brain, but Pinky always called him Brain, so yeah...wow big digression there...
The human brain is AWEsome! But still a pretty big mystery to even some of the biggest and brightest brains on the planet. There are quite a few brainy people I could talk about here, so I'll just choose a couple. One man and one woman, so I don't get accused of being sexist, of course.
Daniel Tammet is the man with the memory!
He recited 22,514 digits of Pi in 5 hours and 9 minutes back in 2004, and can solve the most complex math equations in his head. He explains that every whole number up to 10,000 has its own texture, shape, feel and color, which helps him remember them all. Like most math whizzes, he was diagnosed with a form of autism; high-functioning autistic savant syndrome, in 2004, which happened to be the year of Pi for him.
The lass with the brain mass today is Shakuntala Devi, or should I say was; she died in 2013 at the ripe age of 83.
Being gifted from a very early age, her father showed her talents off as a way to make the impoverished family money. At some points, she was their sole wage earner. By the time she was an adult, she had traveled the world showing off her stuff, and at one point could rattle off the cube root of 849278123 and 2186875592 when asked.
Man, that's a catchy superhero name, if I don't say so myself. I might be partial, since I take about 300 snapshots a day at work for *hurk* PowerPoint presentations. This guy's name is Stephen Wiltshire, an architectural artist from Britain who can take one look at a landscape of pretty much any size, and then draw it perfectly. Cities from a helicopter? Not a problem for this guy. As with the math wizards, Stephen was diagnosed with autism at age 3. He's written books, traveled the world, and gained worldwide fame for his gift of photographic memory. I'm doing good just to remember why I went into the next room sometimes.
Again, Iceman and so many other cool ice-ish names were taken, so IceCycle it is.
Wim Hof. The man who stares freezing temperatures in the face and says...something really witty and daring. This guy has climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro in shorts in two days back in 2009, broken many ice-related records, and ran a half marathon in the desert without drinking. He explains he uses a breathing, meditation-like technique to prepare his body for the cold, and then takes the plunge, that it helps his immune system fight off the effects of the cold. Not enough? He also climbed to almost 22,000 feet at Mt. Everest wearing nothing but shorts, but a foot injury kept him from reaching the summit. Nothing. But. Shorts. Shrink city, man!
Isao Machii is one quick Japanese fella. Using a sword, he's done some pretty crazy things! Cutting BBs in half, peeling apples, and of course, multiple Guinness World Records for sword stuff and things. They've even created a robot that tracked and mimicked the movements of Isao, in an attempt to give him a challenge. Word on the street is the robot saw how awesome he was and cut itself in half to escape the awesomeness, or something.
Can you imagine seeing this guy in action? It'd be like the Matrix and Kill Bill all in one, with that sweet scene from X-Men, where pre-not-cool-Deadpool Ryan Reynolds slices those bullets in half.
I'll give you a moment to get over that stunningly witty name. Ready? Good!
Kevin Richardson is a South African animal behaviorist who prides himself on his animal whispering. He's been accepted into several lion prides and hyena clans. Insert something here about Disney's The Lion King! He's been on numerous TV shows, and written books, just like everyone else on this list, pretty much. I pride myself on becoming fast friends with animals, too... it's just kitties and dogs, though. This guy kicks it up a notch. Bam!
I had nothing on this guys name, sorry. Pang, maybe? That might be too close to Ping, from Mulan or Kung Fu Panda. His performer name, Zamora, is pretty cool, though! Tim Cridland is known around the world for sticking spikes in his face, pins through his, well, everywhere, pretty much. And apparently, he heals pretty fast too. This one is pretty dangerous, however. He could be on fire or cutting off an extremity (NO, NO, NO, NOT THAT!), and not even know it until it's too late. But until then, he continues to wow audiences with his pain resistance.
This one might be considered pretty boring, compared to IceGuy and RunnerMan, but think of the all the countries you could visit, if you could speak 58 foreign languages like Harold Williams did! It started when he was seven years old, after he learned Latin, and just didn't stop. He lived a relatively short life, dying in 1928 at the age of 52, but that was a pretty good run at things for that time period. A true superhero for all the grownups in the world who'd like to go to Italy and pose in front of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, holding that sucker up.
Some of the superpowers on this list might be brushed off as a hoax, but there's proof for this one. All a bunch of scientists have to do is stay awake and watch these guys. You might have had some pretty bad insomnia before, but imagine not sleeping for over 10 years at one point, like Al Herpin did.
He lived to be 94, unlike most of us. I'd make it a week, maybe, before I threw my proverbial papers up in the air, exclaimed "screw it!" and died.
Another contender for this superhero is Hai Ngoc, a Vietnamese insomniac that hasn't slept in over three decades, after he claimed a bout of flu in 1973 somehow made it so he doesn't need sleep anymore.
Doctors have no explanation for why he doesn't need sleep, however. Like Al, it didn't appear to affect his day-to-day activities.
I don't know about the rest of you all, but if I had an Insomnia superpower, the first person to exploit my gift for evil purposes would be my boss.